On That Hoffstra Shoot

I’m a bit late to the party, but I thought I’d share my thoughts on this sad event:

A Hofstra University student being held in a headlock at gunpoint by an intruder was accidently shot and killed by a police officer who had responded to the home invasion at an off-campus home, police said Saturday.

Here’s the details

Azzata said the Nassau County police officer fired eight shots at Smith, who police described as having an “extensive” criminal background. Smith was hit seven times and died. Rebello was shot once in the head.

“He kept saying, `I’m going to kill her,’ and then he pointed the gun at the police officer,” Azzata said.

As horrible as it went, I have to say good shoot. First up, an innocent life was being threatened AND the officer was being threatened, the attacker could have killed any of them at any moment. Also all shots fired but the tragic one made their mark, and only 8 shots were fired. This was not the shameful mag-dumps we used to read about more frequently. I don’t even think I can shame officer training, which is generally too lax, as this was likely a VERY difficult shot.

I don’t think we should really look too much at the officer, but more WHY he was in this situation in the first place:

Earlier Saturday, police announced that Smith, 30, had been wanted on a parole violation related to a first-degree robbery conviction and had an arrest history dating back nearly 15 years.

Sounds like JUST the man that needs to be out on the streets. Oh, and this is New York, where people are disarmed, now by the very ironic “SAFE Act”.

Rebello was in the two-story home with her twin sister Jessica, a third woman and a man when Smith, wearing a ski mask, walked into the house through an open front door, Azzata said. Smith demanded valuables and was told they were upstairs, Azzata said.

Smith, apparently unsatisfied with the valuables upstairs, asked if any of the four had a bank account and could withdraw money, Azzata said. The intruder then allowed the unidentified woman to leave and collect money from an ATM, telling her she had only eight minutes to come back with cash before he killed one of her friends, Azzata said.

The woman left for the bank and called 911, according to Azzata.

Minutes later, two police officers arrived at the home and found Rebello’s twin sister Jessica running out of the front door and the male guest hiding behind a couch on the first floor, Azzata said.

You don’t need a gun to protect yourself! Just give them what they want!

What if what you have isn’t enough? What if they want to rape or murder you?

We’re putting all the weight on the police to protect us from criminals who SHOULD still be in prison, yet we let them go, and disarm their victims. Is there ANYTHING right about that?

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13 Responses to On That Hoffstra Shoot

  1. wizardpc says:

    Two points:

    1. He should be held to the same standard as the rest of us. I don’t care which one we use, I just want consistency. If the decision to prosecute is predicated on whether or not the shooter gets his paycheck from the government, that’s not cool.

    2. I’ve noticed in the reporting that the decision to use deadly force wasn’t made until he threatened officers. They were totally okay with waiting to see what he’d do when he had a gun to the girl’s head, but once he pointed it at one of them it was game over for him. They didn’t care about the safety of the victim, only themselves.

    • Geodkyt says:

      1. I’m with you all the way. If “collateral damage” is “manslaughter” when a private citizen under the same circumstances does it, it should be the same when a government agent does it. Not because it is smart (it would still be a travesty to prosecute a good faith shoot gone bad, whether the shooter is a government professional or a citizen amateur), but solely for equal protection under the law.

      2. The officer (wisely, IMNSHO) held his fire until he had no choice. A struggling hostage in a headlock is WAY too close to the target area to make a reliable CNS hit under the circumstances (maybe an HRT sniper at 50 yards might have risked it safely, but I doubt it). And, absent an instant stopper (i.e., good CNS hit), he’ll likely just kill the hostage after you shoot him — why not? The way this played out sort of proves why the cop (again, correctly, IMNSHO) didn’t feel he could take the “hostage shot” earlier. Once the officer was directly threatened, he didn’t have a choice — because if he’ll kill a cop, he’ll definately kill the hostage he’s already assaulting. . . and likely any other innocent who gets in his way. . . So, risky or not, the odds say that the best chance to save innocent life is to take the shot, even if you have a high possibility of hitting the hostage.

      • Geodkyt says:

        Let me emphasize —

        The WORST time to shoot a hostage taker is when he actually has a gun jammed into the hostage’s head. Even a slightly off-center CNS hit can readily cause him to pull the trigger.

        When he takes the gun off teh hostage to point it at cops, not only MUST the officers fire (for reasons stated above), but it is also the BEST time to shoot him — if he squeezes off a round as he dies, it ISN’T into the hostage’s brain.

  2. Instinct says:

    wizardpc – Thank you for that uniformed and totally wrong assessment of the situation. Standard procedure is to try and talk the perp down, but once he decided to try and shoot an officer yes, they do draw the line there because if the officer is dead who will stop the perp?

    Tragedy? Yes, but if you think that the officer who was involved doesn’t have it going in his head over and over every time he closes his eyes and that he didn’t care about the girl who his bullet killed, then you are an idiot.

    But hey, you armchair quarterback the shit out of this, OK. But please tell me what you would have done in the officers position?

    • Weerd Beard says:

      That’s the impression that I get.

      Also to give a small hat-tip to WizardPC’s sentiments, if the officer gets shot, then they’ll mag-dump the whole house and then burn it down.

      Yeah, I can’t fault the officer at ALL in this story. It was a difficult shot, and he was forced to make it.

      The blame lies in the monster who did this…and a little blame for the people who felt like he should be let out of the cage they had him in!

    • wizardpc says:

      if the officer is dead who will stop the perp?

      The other officer.

      But please tell me what you would have done in the officers position?

      Two options here. A) Not shot the hostage or B) second guessing myself from a prison cell for the next 10-25 years instead of being on paid leave.

      Liability for your actions cause you to make different decisions.

      • Geodkyt says:

        Um, “suicide” is not a job requirement for ANY law enforcement officer. If your choices devolve to “Make a risky shoot under shitty conditions,” or “Eat a bullet,” it’s OK to to take the shot.

        Bullshit Bushido serves no one, nor is a realistic expectation.

        • wizardpc says:

          Gun pointed at hostage: Suspect not an immediate threat and can be talked down.

          Gun pointed at one of two cops on scene: Suspect is such an immediate threat that the safety of civilians should be disregarded.

          This line of thinking is a problem for me.

          • lucusloc says:

            I get, and agree with, the sentiment. Tactically I think the officer made the right decision. The bad guy needs the hostage to be alive to prevent the officers from taking action, so the hostage is arguably in less immediate danger from the bad guy. As long as the gun is on the hostage and the bad guy is talking there can be reasonable certainty that the hostage is not going to be shot. A gun pointed at the responder (cop or otherwise) is a much more imminent threat since the responder has no value to the bad guy.

            Of course all this is dependent on a bad guy with some amount of logical reasoning, and is totally dependent on the situation. sometimes taking the shot asap, instead of trying to wait for a better opportunity, is the best course. I will not second guess someone for either decision.

            What is total bull (as mentioned above) is:

            1. The officer gets special treatment for his decision.

            2. The hostage was bound by law to be effectively defenseless, and basically had to rely on that officer for protection. Something that officer was obviously incapable of providing.

          • Weerd Beard says:

            3. The Monster was out on Parole when obviously he should not have been free at all!

          • Geodkyt says:

            No argument THERE, Weerd!

          • Instinct says:

            “Suspect is such an immediate threat that the safety of civilians should be disregarded.”

            So, once again I will ask you -WHAT SHOULD THEY HAVE DONE?

            We know he was willing to kill a civilian and two police officers, and from your statements above I guess your fine with a cop being killed, but I want to know how you think it should have been handled? How would YOU have made this situation any less of a shit sandwich all around?

            Oh, and gun pointed at a hostage IS an immediate threat, but shooting him at that point most likely would have resulted in the perp pulling the trigger just out of muscle reflex. The BEST time to shoot is when he has the gun pointed somewhere else.

          • wizardpc says:

            So, once again I will ask you -WHAT SHOULD THEY HAVE DONE?

            I already answered you.

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