Sunday, October 03, 2010

Food Court Team 6 in action.

When the 911 dispatcher asked the Costco Loss Prevention Specialist if he was watching Erik Scott on camera and the mall ninja replied that, no, he was in "full observation", I sprayed soda on my screen.

Ah, the Retail Security Operators of America, watching over us shoppers, their charges, like gods!

What lessons can we learn from this, other than it might not be a good idea to go heeled in public while on prescription painkillers?

When the store manager comes up and so much as asks "Is that a gun?" respond politely that yes, it is, and yes, you are licensed to carry it and, should even the faintest hint of concern flicker across their face in response to this, apologize and leave. Leave right then.

Do not sermonize. Do not give them the text of the 2nd Amendment, several choice Ted Nugent quotes, and two stanzas of Lee Greenwood, all in a red-faced and agitated tone, because while you're doing that, the pimply cop wannabe is going to be on the phone with the real cops, telling them that there's an "agitated man with a gun" in the store, and that's just not going to end well.

I know that I don't want the last words I ever hear on this planet to be:
14:16 (Unidentified Officer’s Voice(s) in Background): “Put your hands where I see them now, drop it, get on the ground, get on the ground...”


Skip said...

He may have survived the round in the chest.
The rounds in the back are asking the questions.

Carteach0 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tam said...


"It's not an automatic problem..."

You know this and I know this but "carrying under the influence" appears to be specifically against the law in Nevada.

Further, as this coroner's inquest shows, it can be used to drag your name through the mud after the fact, should you ever have to use your heater.

Everybody on internet gun forums wants to believe they can shoot whenever they feel endangered and then, after killing the obvious "bad guy", they'll get carried on the shoulders of the joyful throng to accept the key to the city, instead of being grilled over the medication they were taking by some lawyer in a million-dollar civil suit...

Carteach0 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joseph said...

I was once given the advice that in the case of a shooting to always yell "drop the gun!" "Stop" etc. Even after the shots are fired as bystanders will tend to construct the events in their mind so that they make sense.

Hence the extreme disparity of recollections among those that are present. Without video and audio, nothing will be certain.

Tam said...

Have you listened to the audio yet?

There are links and transcripts available at the Confederate Yankee link.

Anonymous said...

CarteachO: To expand on your advice, I would edit to add:

"be aware of (and control) your surroundings"

That's what Tam was actually saying in her fourth paragraph here, and it's a point I've expanded on quite a bit, not always with the enthusiastic agreement of others here.


jimbob86 said...

"What lessons can we learn from this, other than it might not be a good idea to go heeled in public while on prescription painkillers?"

Ummm.... STAY OUT OF VEGAS if you want to Carry? It seems to be full of trigger happy cops that can shoot a man on the ground and have supervisors and a judicial system that invariably finds them to be "justified" in doing so.

The supervisors/judicial system is the scarier part.

Anonymous said...

A heckler's veto cannot be allowed to stand. Caving to the heckler allows our rights to be driven from the field.

Shootin' Buddy

Carteach0 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Desertrat said...

Think "perceptions". The Costco folks perceived a need to fear an irrational guy with a gun.

The cops perceived that they were entering into a dangerous scenario, and were prepared to live through it.

Per Costco employee witness testimony from the trial, Scott did not follow instructions. The cops perceived that he was presenting a deadly threat, based on Costco folks' testimony.

Bottom line: Messed up in the head is messed up in the head, whether legally prescribed medications, legal booze or illegal happy dust.

"Carrying while messed up" can be a last, one-time event.

Carteach0 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tam said...

I am reminded of the old gag I first heard in driver's ed:
"Here lies the body of old John J.,
who died maintaining his right-of-way.
He was right, dead right, as he sped along.
But he's just as dead as if he'd been wrong.

Carteach0 said...

Yup Tam, you are right (g).

I commented several times, and each time mentioned we don't have enough facts to know what happened.... and then I went right ahead and formed an opinion anyway.

That's why I deleted the comments... I look stupid often enough, without adding fuel to that fire on purpose.

Anonymous said...

"Per Costco employee witness testimony from the trial, Scott did not follow instructions."

Is it planned that one cop yells, "Drop your gun," while another yells, "Don't move," and the third yells, "Get on the ground," so they can all three shoot him for not following instructions?
Which instructions are you supposed to follow?

Anonymous said...

As to "old John J"...

Jocular! Jugular! And a far more effective rejoinder to beseeching sum(other)dood to unilaterally resist "the heckler's veto" than I might have offered.


Tam said...

"Is it planned that one cop yells..."

Nothing in this fiasco struck me as being very planned.

Liberty Girl said...

"I know that I don't want the last words I ever hear on this planet to be:"

Nor do I want to be remembered as the person who died because they scared the piss out of a cop. Seriously, are we hiring nothing but pussies lately?

Anonymous said...

Situations rarely move to calm and control by themselves. They do spiral in to chaos and confusion at surprising speed.

If you’re carrying a gun you need to practice avoidance and de-escalation and keep the righteous indignation in check.


Carteach0 said...

"If you’re carrying a gun you need to practice avoidance and de-escalation and keep the righteous indignation in check."


Anonymous said...

You really need to learn how to carry concealed!! NEVER! NEVER! let anyone know you are carrying!!
And if you are confronted by these ignorant wantabe law enforcement types, just shutup and leave!

Tam said...

Liberty Girl,

"Nor do I want to be remembered as the person who died because they scared the piss out of a cop. Seriously, are we hiring nothing but pussies lately?"

A very unpleasant side-effect of the urbanization of our populace, the popular media, and officer survival training seems to be the idea that, at the very sight of a heater, one is supposed to scream "GUN! GUN!" and move to DefCon 1...

Anonymous said...

So, my question is this:

The cops show up to ambush a potential threat? What exactly did they see him do that would warrant setting up an ambush. Did they actually witness him doing anything that would warrant setting up an ambush? Was he actively shooting people left and right? Was he waving his gun around screaming that he was going to start waxing people?
No. They recieved a report that someone was armed and acting irrationally. The cops did not visually confirm that this was the case before stting up an ambush.

My brother managed to survive a situation similar to this once. His neighbor, being a nosy, ignorant 80-yr old woman reported that he was in his upstairs apartment, smoking drugs, and prancing about naked waving a gun in the air.

He was, in actuality, sitting at his kitchen table cleaning several guns from the day's range outing. The cops showed up and set up an ambush at his front door. When he recieved a call from the police, they told him to go downstairs and open the door. He did so, and found four cops with guns pointed at him. He calmly explained what he was doing, they searched his apartment, found nothing out of the ordinary and apologized for his inconvenience. They then commented that his firearms collection was fairly nice, then went on their way.

So, if all it takes to set up a potentially deadly cop ambush is a report that someone is acting irrationally and armed, why hasn't anybody called the cops to report that a crazed psychopath is running around wacking people with an axe at the Stihl Lumbersports annual championships. That would be a bloodbath of epic proportion.

Tam said...

It's not much of an ambush when the guy in question apparently walks past you before getting pointed out.

All civil and criminal issues aside, these cops did not exactly cover themselves in glory from a procedural standpoint, either. I'm surprised that their department is being so loyal, unless it's merely to try and fort up against the inevitable (and completely justified) civil suit.

Laughingdog said...

"Do not sermonize. Do not give them the text of the 2nd Amendment"

I don't do that. But I do get into what I consider "polite lecture mode". I've had a few instances, usually in restaurants, of someone telling me that it was against the law for me to be in there armed. I would explain Virginia law to them, with regards to firearms in places that serve alcohol, and that I'm not breaking any of them. Then I would explain that, were they to ask me to leave, I would be guilty of trespassing. The content of that explanation, combined with the way I present it, has always proved helpful. Even when they still ask me to leave, they're at least a lot less nervous about me doing something.

Laughingdog said...

My most entertaining encounter, along those lines, was at a restaurant in our local hippie enclave. It was just us and the one employee working as bartender and server. Well after placing our order, he noticed the firearm (open carry only in restaurants then), and gave me the "I don't think it's legal for you to do that."

I gave my little lecture, and then finished with "and bear in mind that, if you ask us to leave now, you have to eat the cost of our dinner. I'm not paying for something that you won't let me eat." Money overrode any discomfort apparently. I gave him a pretty good tip, as a reward for following logic instead of feelings.

jimbob86 said...

"He was, in actuality, sitting at his kitchen table cleaning several guns from the day's range outing. The cops showed up and set up an ambush at his front door. When he recieved a call from the police, they told him to go downstairs and open the door. He did so, and found four cops with guns pointed at him. He calmly explained what he was doing, they searched his apartment, found nothing out of the ordinary and apologized for his inconvenience. They then commented that his firearms collection was fairly nice, then went on their way."

Had the Officers in the Costco incident been on the scene, they'd have all given conlicting commands, shot your brother "to the ground" (heh) for non-compliance..... and been ruled justified in doing so if the Vegas Judicial system was doing the investigation of the incident. It would not have mattered if your brother had not been on drugs: the officers shot this guy before observing his behavior, solely on what the dispatcher told them.

Bubblehead Les. said...

Understand that Michael Bane recently posted something about how to Deescalate a situation when approached by the Law while carrying Concealed. Mas Ayoob also did a segment on Personel Defense TV a couple a seasons ago on how to do the same thing during a traffic stop.

Heinlein (PBUH) taught us years ago that "An Armed Society is a POLITE Society". Whenever I leave the Homestead Armed, it is MY responsibility to be as nice and polite as I can be to all those I come in contact with. Let THEM be the assholes, let THEM have to explain to the Judge why they violated my rights.

Too many people out there are being trained to report ANYONE with a Gun as an Al-Qeada Terrorist. "If you See something, Say something", right? The old days of driving into town with the 30-30 hanging from the rack in the Pick-Up are long gone.

As to this incident, the facts in this case are about as messed up as what happened at Kent State.

Bottom line for me, having been in front of the Judge for a shooting, I'd rather spend money on a Lawyer than on a Mortician.

Anonymous said...

Les: What Heinlein was actually saying of course, is that a "polite society" is the *result* of an "armed society"...

And yet I agree completely that his words can and should be turned around as an exhortation for all of us who choose to be *prepared* for the worst case scenario to do everything possible to *prevent* that scenario.


Kristopher said...

I don't argue with shopkeepers.

Just leave.

It's their property. If you think an employee is exceeding his authority, write a stern letter to the business's owner the next day.

Derfel Cadarn said...

Seems we`re trying to blame the shootee for some trigger happy hondos gunning a citizen down on the streets of Vegas.Who fired first,which side fired all the shots,how many shots were fired by the shootee and how many citizens were within killing range at the time shots were fired when taking these examples you can only conclude that the side firing all shots must assume a large portion of responsibility here.The leos here acted with depraved indifference and should be assessed accordingly. We can only be thankful that the shootee did not have his dog with him as this would have required a Marine air strike and resulted in greater collateral damage.The cops never get to shoot first never,remember they used to be called peace officers now their called thugs. Think about it,hard,and then do what is right. Citizen = Freed All that is required for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.Really just waiting for those good men in the LEO business to stand up .

Joe in PNG said...

A little story: A number of years ago I was chasing a few friends around my church and shooting them with an airsoft Walther MPL. It so happened I saw an passing Officer pause, and then speed off.
Knowing I was soon to be the focus of a lot of official attention, I removed the 'mag' from the toy, held the 'gun' by the barrel in my left hand, the 'mag' in my right hand, and waited in a visable location, arms out.
When the officer arrived I stood still and said "it's a toy"- but waited for him to tell me what to do- thus avoiding having to look down the muzzle of a real gun.

The lesson- a person's situational awareness should be focused on more than potential criminals.

Laughingdog said...

"Seems we`re trying to blame the shootee for some trigger happy hondos gunning a citizen down on the streets of Vegas."

You apparently did not read Tam's comment earlier, about the gag from Driver's Ed.

Being right isn't much consolation when you're dead. Sometimes, you have to put aside being right in the interest of being alive the next morning. In the motorcycle world, you have to learn that "right of way" does not override the "law of mass tonnage". I prefer working around some driver, or some cop, being wrong to standing my ground (or holding my lane) and ending up dead.

Anonymous said...

Derfel Cadarn: Total agreement to most of that. Tell it to the corpse. AT

Anonymous said...

BTW, cool name. To me it reads like "El Kabong"...


alath said...

Lots of things seem to have gone wrong here, but one of the most obvious is the bizarre miscommunications between the Costco ninja and the dispatcher. From the transcript it does not appear that either of these two people are capable of clear informative communication.

This seems an obvious contributing factor: the miscommunication between these two people seems to have jacked up the apparent threat way beyond reality.

For instance, how the guy was apparently opening a package of one product to see if it would fit into another product. After filtering through the ninja-dispatch loop, this comes out as a guy who's running around the store in a rampage destroying merchandise.

The PoPos went in expecting to confront an armed, drugged-out madman going berserk in a Costco. Easy to see how this could contribute to what looks like a wild over-reaction on their part.

Which brings me to my next question: do these dispatchers get any training at all in how to interview people? How to ask non-leading questions? How to verify details?

Anonymous said...

And a more important BTW for CarteachO...

Far from stupid, that was without a doubt one of the most mature and responsible things I've witnessed on these webz.

I was fortunate enough to have seen your comments this morning, and believe me when I say that I understand and know that it came from the heart...and I agree.

Which makes recognizing an emotional response as just that and retracting it out of concern for its possible effect on others who look up to you, all the more impressive.


Montie said...


As you might expect, I have some thoughts on the Erik Scott case. I have been following it through other blogs and news stories. I have not previously read any of Confederate Yankee's blogposts on it, but after linking there from your site, I left a couple of rather lengthy comments which I will not torture you with here.

I will be reading all of Confederate Yankee's previous posts on the case because I think he has a good analysis of it.


There are reasons that a person facing you at the start of a shooting incident can end up shot in the back due to the dunamics of the situation. Go to Force Science Research, Ltd.'s website for the studies they have done on it.

Derfel Cadarn,

Wow! All I can say is see my comments over at Conferate Yankee.

Jayson said...

If you loved that you'll adore me.

Cops sure do think they're the shit for being glorified revenue collectors. Oh, BTW, you cops ARE civilians, jackasses.

The rest i would add is too inflammatory. Let's just say i have no respect and little tolerance for the police anymore.

Tam said...


"Oh, BTW, you cops ARE civilians..."

Has someone here said they're not?

Buzz said...


Since you're in Indy, then you should appreciate that Shai's real name was actually "Sid Gurney."


Montie said...


Have you had a bad experience with the popo? Of course we are civilians (see 18 U.S. Code,Sec. 1385, also known as the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878).

I think I mentioned "civilian gun carriers" over at Confederate Yankee while explaining a point about how most departments are now dealing with officers involved in shootings and what a non-officer (better?) should do to provide themselves with similar protection.

I have carried a gun all of my adult life (I didn't become a cop until I was 30). I don't feel any different now than when I put one on before I was a cop except that I have an OBLIGATION to engage someone in situation that might result in injury or death for me. I had no such obligation before pinning on the badge, I carried for protection of my loved ones and myself, not for everyone else around me, although I probably would have gotten involved if I saw innocents being threatened (and in fact did), that's just the way I have always rolled thanks to my upbringing.

Being a cop doesn't make me any better than you, and yes, much to my dismay, often we do function as glorified revenue collectors. Regular readers here know that I can be pretty hard on cops who screw up.

Erik Scott was a genuine American hero, who survived combat sustained injuries while serving overseas in an elite military unit, only to come home and be gunned down outside a Costco in broad daylight and in front of numerous bystanders by the POLICE no less.

I am just not sure ...yet, that the officers involved in that shooting did anything wrong. I think a number of factors combined to end in Erik's tragic death. If I become sure that the officers acted recklessly and foolishly, I will be the first to condemn them. I just need more info before making that conclusion.

Will said...


The SCOTUS ruled that the police have no legal obligation to intervene in a crime in progress. That they are not protection for individuals, but for society in general.

You may feel a MORAL obligation, and public outrage MIGHT get you tossed if you don't (union might fight it), but no legal action will stand up in court if you just pass on by.

Tam said...


Does Montie strike you as the kind of person who has never heard of DeShaney? Seriously?

Tam said...


"Erik Scott was a genuine American hero, who survived combat sustained injuries while serving overseas in an elite military unit."

It heard that he was a treadhead who had never been deployed, and the "green beret" stuff was a bit of posering. (Not that I ever saw the like in all my years in gun stores, mind you...)

Anonymous said...

Pain Killers, from a doctor, and going heeled. Hell, I know more than a few cops that are on, gasp, pain killers (narcotic). And they still work, wear a badge and carry a gun. This guy being on pain meds is not an issue. And since we know how reliable witness statements are, glocktalk coptalk will inform you, we really dont know if he was acting weird. Gee. A video would help.

From what I have read on this, my opinion is that it stinks to high heaven of a cover up. Until more evidence comes out, at the civil trial that is sure to follow, my opinion will not change.

One thing that sticks out in my mind, from confederate Yankees blog, is that if this cat was such a threat to the public, why did the popo walk right by him and then had to have him pointed out to them? You'd think a proper description would have already been give, with the Costco Ninja in "Full Observation".


Montie said...


By God, you are right! I actually had gotten the information on Erik's service from one of my officers who first brought the case to my attention just before I started reading about it on all the blogs.

My officer, who is a current reservist (and last deployed in 2007) told me that Scott had been deployed to Iraq and received injuries there, which was why he was on pain killers at the time of the shooting. Coming from the source it did, I never really questioned that infrmation.

But...knowing how thorough YOU are, has caused me to dig into it a little and I had to look no further than his obituary to find that in fact he was armored while on active duty and left the Army before any of the current dustup, resigning his commission sometime in 1994-95 from what I can gather (the Army was flush with junior officers after Desert Storm, and I myself resigned my commission in 1992 having been on IRR for a short while and not able to get a combat slot, I knew promotion to Captain would be slow in coming, especially since I was OCS rather than West Point).

It would appear that Erik was addicted to painkillers due to injuries sustained playing football and while a cadet. At the coroners inquest evidence was presented that indicated his level of Morphine would have been enough to kill you or me (about 5 times what would be considered a lethal dose) and that his Xanax level was elevated above the therapeutic level, which indicates a LONG term addiction during which his body had developed a tolerance.

I will be telling my officer today that he needs to check out the facts on his "fallen hero" a little more closely. Of course I have contributed to the misinformation by repeating what he told me of Erik's service record.

With those levels of Morphine and Xanax, even with a developed tolerance, he had to be expressing some indicators that he was not 100% alright be it confusion, irrationality, doing the "narco nod" or others.

I still have a lot of respect for Erik Scott, as I do for anyone who can get into West Point and do well while there. However, claiming spcial forces status when one is not, reminds me too much of all the homeless alcoholics I have dealt with as a cop, who claim the same thing, but never even served.

I am still holding judgement on the three police officers at this point, until I dig further into the facts.

BTW, thanks for defending me to Will, I HAVE heard of DeShaney v. Winnabago Co. Social Services, and there have been numerous other cases that have established this such as Gonzalez v. City of Castle Rock, Warren v. D.C. (the two cases I think of most on this concept) and numerous others.

Montie said...


Just because he was able to walk past the cops in the evacuating crowd doesn't prove anything one way or another. You are right about cops and painkillers. Some cops I knew in a suburban department near here were recently fired over obtaining them illegally due to addictions developed from old injuries. It can happen to anyone who is on them long enough.

One of my officers is going to have surgery later this month for neck injuries he sustained in an especially vigorous patrol rifle course. He will be on painkillers for a couple of months after the surgery (and before coming back to work) and is very concerned about developing some kind of addiction and has discussed it with his doctor (who said "yep, you might become dependent so we will have to watch it").

Cops are people just like you and have no business packing heat when under the influence (even if prescribed), but taking a prescribed drug in the prescribed amount is far different than what Erik Scott had on board.

As I have said before, I think that a lot of things combined together in a sort of "perfect storm" that resulted in Erik being shot. The officers may have done some things wrong as did several others (including Erik) that ended in this tragedy, but I'm not going to assume a cover-up until I am sure that there is one.

Will said...

Montie and Tam,

my apologies for piling on. Warren vs DC tends to trigger a knee-jerk reaction in me when the subject of police protection comes up.

Was up all night with a bad food reaction, so not at my best, and then I let my emotions run away with my keyboard.

Phelps said...

Cops are people just like you and have no business packing heat when under the influence (even if prescribed), but taking a prescribed drug in the prescribed amount is far different than what Erik Scott had on board.

I react very poorly when cops start making medical judgments like this. It's the sort of mentality that leads to pain being undertreated because the government wants to lock up doctors that prescribe "too many" painkillers.

I haven't seen any indications one way or the other what his prescribed dose was. If you want to withhold judgment on the shooters until you have more info, I would advise withholding judgment on this also.

(And addiction does not equal impaired. Addiction actually implied non-impairment, since the painkillers are being taken for maintenance and not recreation.)

Tam said...


Have I ever given any indication of being a big fan of the Wo(S)D?

At the same time, there's a great big wider, (and imperfect,) world in which we live.

Suppose, instead of being smoked by the cops, Scott had instead smoked a goblin and, in the post-shooting investigation, had his blood tested?

We do not live in perfect Objectivistland, unfortunately, and these are things we need to take into consideration when we strap our heaters on every morning...

alath said...

Re, drugs...

I can see how this might be filed under "contributing factor." Even with high tolerance, high doses of benzodiazepines and narcotics can make people act funny. It might have been one of the things that led the Costco Ninja to over-embellish his description to the dispatcher, or perhaps make the shootee confused and slow to respond to police commands.

This is distinct from justification for shooting, though.

Also, can't assume that just because someone had developed high tolerance and was on high doses, that he was doing so without physician oversight, or that the physician in question was prescribing inappropriately. Managing chronic pain is a tricky business, and can involve tradeoffs between one evil and another.

alath said...

PS - that said, being a chronic pain patient on high doses of behavior-altering meds could certainly be a consideration when making the decision whether or not to carry.

Montie said...


I'm not making a medical judgement, my statements were based on years of experience in dealing with drug users/abusers. If your meds say "don't operate machinery, etc." then that is because you may be impaired by it. A person usually cannot make an objective decision about their own level of impairment.

A couple of years into my career, I had a DUI-drugs case go all the way to the Oklahoma Supreme Court. I arrested a female driver in the course of investigating a traffic accident who had taken a prescription drug, supposedly in the prescribed dosage. Her defense was that she was taking her prescription and was not high, and her blood test indicated that it was right around the therapeutic level within 2 hours of the arrest.

Expert medical testimony indicated that at the therapeutic level she would experience some impairment of motor skills and judgement, so the court said that the arrest stood, and that impaired by prescription was still impaired when you got behind the wheel, thus was no defense.

I have dealt with a lot of people over the years who could take on board massive amounts of drugs, and still function,but as I said they almost always show some signs if you know what to look for.

I have experienced it closer to home too. I dated a woman a few months ago who had a pill abuse problem she picked up after a car crash injury several years ago. She was working on her Masters in Environmental Engineering, was very smart and attractive, and everybody just loved her. But I started seeing things that I knew were indicators. She would at times be irrational and at other times cycle between lethargic and hyperactive (too quckly to be M/D or bi-polar), but the dead give away was sometimes she would go "on the nod" and no amount of "I'm just tired" could explain away what I recognized from experience. I finally confronted her and she confessed to Dr. shopping, buying from friends, etc. to get what she considered maintenence amounts but which would have killed me in the same handful at a time dosage.

I'm not blaming Erik Scott in this, I'm just saying he may not have reacted appropriately with the load of morphine and Xanax he had on board. There's plenty of blame to go around to all involved in this case.

Montie said...

Oh, and when I say I'm reserving an opinion on whether the cops were justified or not,doesn't mean I'm not reserving opinion on Erik.

I'd be VERY suprised though if any doctor would prescribe morphine at the level the M.E. fould in Erik's blood. If in fact they did and did not coucil with him on how it might affect him, then the doctor would share some blame too, along with all the other involved parties in this fiasco.

One thing I've noticed though on some of the blogs, is that witnesses who gave testimony that supported the police perspective are called liars or worse, but witnesses whose testimony made the police look culpable are considered to be standing up for what's right.

Maybe LVMPD has a history of covering up bad shootings by their cops, but to what purpose? Most large agency heads these days know that the brass can all go to jail when the Feds get suspicious an start looking into such things. Most will hang the patrol peons out to dry rather than risk their own necks even on a mildly questionable "good shoot".

Will said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Will said...


I have a problem with this:

"Expert medical testimony indicated that at the therapeutic level she WOULD experience some impairment of motor skills and judgement,..."

It's been my observation that to make such a blanket statement about a drug is far from accurate.

Don't know or care what the drug was. That statement alone should disqualify a doctor from ever being considered a court expert witness.

Unfortunately, we attach too much authority to medical doctors pronouncements. Took me quite a few years to realize they are wrong as much, or more, than any other field of endeavor. Probably due in part to the vast playing field they work in. They refer to it as "Practicing Medicine" for a reason.

Montie said...


Absent any signs of alcohol intake, the lady was showing signs at the accident scene which indicated a pretty healthy level of impairment / intoxication. When asked, she said she was on hydrocodone by prescription. I don't recall now some 23 years later exactly what for.

In a complex society like we live in, there has to be some point of reference where we say "past this point of substance intake you shouldn't get behind the wheel of two tons of steel and hurtle it along with hundreds of other people, within feet of each other, at X miles per hour, because you probably won't be at your best cognitively and reflexively".

It is impossible to custom tailor such things as in: "Joe Bob can't hold his liquor so he goes to jail if he drives after one beer, but Jim Bob has been a hard corps alcoholic for years and is still effectively sober after a pint of vodka, so he gets a pass til he gets to that point".

I'm actually pretty libertarian about such things. If you want to stay in your house and drug or drink yourself into a stupor every day, have at it. But when your actions start to have a negative effect on other people such as crashing into them and damaging their hard earned property (let alone injuring or killing them), well... that's not cool.

Flawed though they may be, medical doctors and researchers are the ones we look to for some kind of guidance in these situations. In this one case alone, there is a whole chain of interaction where human experience or opinion swayed the outcome, starting with her assumption that even if she was woozy, it was OK to drive because it was a prescription given to her by one of those flawed doctors. Next was my observation and opinion that she was too impaired to be driving, followed by a series of 3 courts involving one jury of her peers at the state court level that saw things my way (and those flawed "experts" way), followed by a panel of judges at the state appeals court level who agreed with the jury, and again another panel of judges at the state supreme court level.

Like anything else in life, when it comes to making judgement calls on things like this, we fall back on those who we think have the most knowledge and experience in the particular field in question.

That's why the hydrocodone bottle I got when I had a root canal recently had a yellow warning sticker on it telling me in so many words that I shouldn't drive, or operate dangerous machinery (including guns even if not specified) when taking it. Maybe I could function just fine at my therapeutic dose, but then again maybe not. Would you want to take the chance of me driving my popo car and packing my gun and dealing with you and your loved ones based on my own judgement that I was at 100%, or just play it safe and say stay home 'til you don't need them anymore.

Doctors "practice medicine", lawers "practice" the legal profession, and us cops we "practice" trying to do our best for a society that expects us to do stuff they don't want to do and deal with people that they don't want to deal with, hopefully surviving the encounter to go home after shift.

roo_ster said...

As far as drugs having an impact on or impairing LEO performance, I'd reckon anabolic steroids are as prevalent if not more so, than opiates.

They surely were when I was in the service and I have known LEOs at federal and local agencies who juiced. My unit did not test for them and I was offered them by more than one buddy after I had a career-ending injury.

While the "roid rage" thing is a bit overblown, there is no doubt IME that such drugs can effect one's mental state.

LEOs and servicemen are especially prone to roid use due to the very real performance gains to be had and the increased rate of recovery from injury.

If we are going to do a full blood workup on every non-LEO involved in a shooting, I'd think that turn-about would be just.

Tam said...

"If we are going to do a full blood workup on every non-LEO involved in a shooting, I'd think that turn-about would be just."

I'm down with that.

We seem to have no problem with private corporations testing heavy equipment operators, so random screening of our public employees who operate Glocks and squad cars (and enforce controlled-substances laws) should be a no-brainer...

Matt G said...
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Matt G said...

I'm down with that, too. We take blood from private citizens involved in fatal or near-fatal car accidents. Why not after a shooting, have the agency mandate a blood draw? (Note: if only mandated by the agency, rather than by law, there will likely be Garrity issues.)

I got in a car accident on the job a few years back, and begged to have my blood drawn, as soon as possible.

Tam, I watched the whole video, and as a cop, I was ready to hear Mall Ninja BS. I was actually fairly impressed at the guy who did the call. I felt that he was making a distinction between camera observation and direct observation (using the Mark I eyeball.). He didn't do too badly. He didn't sound very excited. Sure, he should have given cardinal directions of where Scott was in the store. But beyond that, he and the dispatcher were actually doing their job pretty well. You would not frelling believe some of the 911 calls that I hear, on the part of both the caller and the call-taker.

Whatever the actions of the responding officers (I wouldn't mind hearing the audio recording of the radio traffic), I don't think either the caller or the call-taker expected things to escalate to gunfire. Usually these things just end up in not much.

Will said...


Ok, I'll go with your assessment of impairment from observation at the scene. I should have assumed something along that line was the trigger for the drug test, in the first place. I'm pretty sure that here in Kalifornia, a field test has to be failed, otherwise a drug test alone is not valid.

Personally, I loathe DUI's, having been maimed by one. Not to mention the drunk/druggie that accidentally put me in the ER, from a kitchen! (flying telephone handset-go ahead and laugh, the ER crew did).

Now that I think about it, I may be more critical of doctors due to suffering some brain damage from a therapeutic dosage prescription med. I no longer have sufficient situational awareness faculties to ride my bikes in a manner to enjoy it and to deal with traffic. Which REALLY pisses me off, as I lived to ride (and race).

Montie said...

Tam and Matt,

Not only am I down with that, it is our departmental policy, and I kind of assumed it was becoming pretty much universal in the LE community (as it should be).

Matt is right, I thought the same thing after listening to the tape. The things I have heard on the part of both parties on recorded replays of dispatch range from seriously professional to totally ridiculous (and BTW, what MikeM said at CY about all the background noise in the dispatch office, was in fact background noise at Costco due to the fact that the police could be heard along with the shots and an increase in background noise as crowd level talking turned to screaming).

Montie said...

Matt G,

Since you raised the "Garrity" issue, it has made me go... hmmm. Having spent a good 10 of the last 25 years as an FOP president, I can't believe it didn't occurr to me when the policy was put into place. I think simply giving the warning before the test request would suffice, but I will be consulting with the Chief about that tomorrow.