“A Classic Shoot/Don’t Shoot Situation”
by Staff | Jul 5, 2012 5:18 pm
Posted to: Legal Writes, Westville
After leading police on a chase through Westville, a man stepped out of a car with a Glock .45 in his hand, presenting the police on his tail with a split-second life-or-death decision.
“It was a classic shoot/don’t shoot situation,” said Lt. Jeff Hoffman, relating the details of the Wednesday evening incident. “The officers would have been justified to use deadly force.”
The officers, Carmelo Rivera and Dwight Calderon, did not use deadly force. They chased the man, a 25-year-old convicted felon, and managed to capture him and his gun—without using theirs.
Here’s what happened, according to Hoffman:
At about 5:15 p.m. on July 4th, Officers Rivera and Calderon spotted a red Honda Accord that had been connected to an incident from the day before involving a man with a gun. They followed the car for a few blocks, then tried to pull it over.
The driver refused to pull over. He took off, leading cops on a “moderate speed pursuit” in Westville. He circled the block on Emerson Street, the address to which the car is registered.
On Emerson, the Accord struck a Dodge Caravan with a man and woman and two young children inside.
The fleeing driver then maneuvered around the van and started trying to bail out of the car. The car was still moving as he left the driver’s seat and crawled out the passenger’s side with a gun in his hand. The car continued rolling and struck a pole.
At that point, confronted by a man with a gun in his hand, Officers Rivera and Calderon had to decide how to play it. “It’s based on their training and their experience. It’s based on their instincts,” Hoffman said. Had they chosen to shoot the man, it would have been justified, he said.
They didn’t shoot. The man ran.
He tossed the gun over a fence and police caught up to him nearby. The cops tried to Taser him and eventually were able to get him into handcuffs. They recovered the gun, which had been stolen.
The arrested man, who’s 25, was treated for minor injuries, as was one of the kids in the van.
The 25-year-old was charged with carrying a pistol without a permit, criminal possession of a pistol, theft of a firearm/possession of a stolen firearm, having a weapon in a motor vehicle, interfering with police, engaging police in pursuit, evading responsibility, and various motor vehicle charges.
“The officers did an exemplary job. They stayed calm and made good judgments all around,” Hoffman said.
Rivera and Calderon were recently recognized by Chief Dean Esserman for their work getting guns off the streets in other recent incidents. “They’re one of the top teams in the city with gun arrests,” Hoffman said.
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It would appear that the difference between this and Pitkin Plaza was the officers involved. These officers used good judgment and maturity and thus prevented a tragedy. THESE officers understood that a permit or the lack thereof is not a reason for force…
It should go this well every time. Thank God no one was seriously hurt or killed. I hope when the day comes when it doesn’t go perfect that people don’t turn on these officers, as without cops like this the shootings would triple. There is never any guarantee that each of the stops officers make turn out like this, as a matter of fact the majority don’t, but that is the risk involved each time, and the public has to be patient when things go wrong, or officers like this will stop risking their lives and careers.