It’s important to remember that the blame for the “friendly-fire” death of Police Officer Brian Mulkeen rests primarily with Antonio Lavance Williams, who apparently tried to grab for the officer’s gun, setting off the shooting by other cops that left both men dead on a Bronx street Sept. 29.
But this was the second such death this year, with the first officer, Brian Simonsen, accidentally slain by colleagues during their response to a burglary at a Queens cell-phone store. His widow, Leanne Simonsen, told the New York Post Oct. 2, “I know things happen in seconds. But there’s gotta be some way that you clear your guys before you just start firing.”
The answer lies in more-rigorous training than cops currently receive after leaving the Police Academy, James Mulvaney, a Professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, told this newspaper’s Richard Kavkine. The way most officers stay in practice—at a shooting range where officers can take their time before firing—offers nothing remotely approaching the chaotic circumstances they encounter in situations like the one in which Officer Mulkeen was inadvertently shot.
Compounding the turbulent atmosphere was that the officer yelled out that the suspect was reaching for his service weapon, then fired five shots. That meant the other responding officers were not only uncertain about their colleague’s safety but unsure whether the shots he fired were actually being squeezed off by the suspect and their own lives were at risk. Try staying cool in that situation.
What Professor Mulvaney cited as the reason for the NYPD not providing additional training in simulated shooting incidents—budgetary concerns—should pale beside the price it pays each time this kind of death occurs.
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