Not Just Bullets

Not Just Bullets

By Chief Joel F. Shults, Ed.D

Shots fired. Man with a gun. Those are not only the calls that send a surge of adrenaline through responding officers’ bodies but also comprise the fodder for the fictional encounters and shoot-outs of television and movies. Gunfire does, indeed, make up the largest percentage of murders of police officers, but the dangers don’t end there.

Montgomery County, Maryland Police Sgt. Patrick Kepp was intentionally struck by a fleeing suspected drunk driver and remains in recovery as of this writing. “The vehicle is observed actually intentionally moving from the middle lanes to the far-left lanes and Mayorga came directly at Sgt. Kepp as he was deploying the ‘stop sticks,’” Chief Marcus Jones said. “He intentionally struck Sgt. Kepp in the main lanes of I-270.” Keep has lost the use of both of his legs after Raphael Mayorga, 19 was speeding over 100 mph and having run another vehicle off the road. Keep was deploying spikes to stop the dangerous driver when he was struck.

Sparks, Nevada officers have finally been cleared in the shooting of a man who had been threatening others with a running chainsaw. During the attempt to arrest the man, 36-year-old Ronal Zendejas of Carson City was spotted in a vehicle near the scene of the scary assaults. Zendejas struck the officers’ patrol car and was shot trying to flee by officers who considered him to be an immediate risk to the public. Why it took the district attorney three years to make that determination is anybody’s guess.

Officer Nicholas McDaniel, 36 of Post Falls, Idaho recently succumbed to an on-duty cardiac arrest. McDaniel had 14 years of experience. Fellow officers located him slumped at the wheel of his patrol car after he failed to respond to dispatch calls. Police officers are 25 times more likely to die of heart disease than any other cause. The National Institutes of Health reports that “police officers have one of the poorest cardiovascular disease profiles of any occupation.

In October of this year, Wauwatosa, Wisconsin police stopped a vehicle for multiple traffic offenses. Officers contacted Robert Jobe, 26 who was the subject of a felony arrest warrant and fled when an officer opened Jobe’s door. The officer was caught on the door and dragged over 20 feet as the vehicle sped away. Jobe continued to resist, fleeing recklessly until the vehicle was disabled by road spikes, then fleeing on foot before officers used a Taser to subdue him.

Las Vegas police narrowly escaped being run over by one of their own patrol vehicle stolen by a naked man who punched officers during the struggle to take him into custody. The man was pursued until he crashed, injuring himself and others.

Chicago murder suspect Cristobal Santana was not content with merely shooting Illinois Trooper Dakotah “Kody” Chapman-Green at a traffic stop. After the trooper was wounded in both legs, Santana chased down the wounded trooper and beat him with a handgun causing facial fractures, a skull fracture, and a brain bleed, police say. The violent suspect was located by police aircraft and struck by a police vehicle during his arrest for attempted murder.

In Cayuga County Jail in New York, inmate Sincere A. Harrison, 24, suddenly attacked a custody officer, striking the officer on the head with a closed fist multiple times. The officer, with assistance, gained control of the prisoner and placed him back in his cell. Harrison had already attempted to grab an officer’s gun during his earlier arrest for domestic charges. The object of his assault may have been the custody officer’s keys. The officer’s handcuff key was located shortly after the assault on Harrison’s property in his cell.

San Francisco police pursued a man who disrupted services at a church, knocking out a parishioner during mass at the Saints Peter and Paul Church in the city’s North Beach neighborhood after being chided for mishandling communion elements after asking for money. The man, 42-year-old Concord resident Daniel Garcia, pulled a knife as he left the church, then led officers in a pursuit as he fled in a vehicle. Not satisfied with his assaults with his hands and knife, the fleeing driver threw a pipe bomb at pursuing officers, then a second device, that residents described as “powerful blasts” that “rocked the city” before crashing his car and being arrested by California Highway Patrol officers.

Bombs, stress, chainsaws, knives, vehicles, and more threaten officers every day. And guns. There are always the guns.