A recent case from California, in which a police officer opened fire on the crime victim, underscores the value of defending oneself rather than relying upon the police in a life-or-death situation:
When Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies pulled up to Likun Sahilu’s liquor store moments after it was robbed at gunpoint Sunday, the slight Ethiopian immigrant was relieved. That is, until a deputy started shooting at him. Eight bullets. Eight misses. . . . The deputies, he said, were about 50 feet away with their lights off. He initially thought they were shooting at the robbers, so he continued to point in the direction in which they fled. Sheriff’s Department officials said the deputy mistakenly believed the unarmed Sahilu was pointing a gun at him and fired in what he thought was self-defense. When Sahilu realized the bullets intended for him, he dropped to the ground. A day later he says it’s a miracle the deputy missed. He said he was standing still, and within close range. “I’m lucky he is a new guy,” he said of the rookie deputy who shot at him. He said he has no plans of taking legal action against the department, but is surprised that no one from the agency has offered an apology.
Suffering an armed robbery is unpleasant enough. Being shot at by the police officer, who was supposed to be coming to your aid, only makes that bad situation much worse. The fact that the officer was such a bad shot that it took several rounds to even realize that you were the target would seem to be a blessing that simultaneously undermines one’s confidence in the police force even further. Finally, being offered not so much as an apology simply adds insult to injury.
This is not the first time that I’ve written about a police officer opening fire on the crime victim, rather than the perpetrator. As another example, Jill Ulmer was a domestic violence victim who was shot by police as they attempted to stop her ex-boyfriend from allegedly stabbing her in her own home. Jill died shortly thereafter, and the medical examiner believes that either the gunshot wound from the police officer’s bullet, or the stab wounds allegedly inflicted by Ricky, would have each been enough to end her life.
Anytime a citizen calls the police to intervene, there is inherent danger for that citizen. The armed officer may, as happened here, mistake the victim for the criminal, and shoot at that victim. Or, as happened in the case of Jill Ulmer, the officer may aim for the suspect but inadvertently strike the victim. Indeed, the statistics show that police officers are 5.5 times more likely to make this sort of error than an armed citizen who shoots in self defense.
Citizens who are themselves armed for self defense, on the other hand, are often able to stop the criminal, save themselves, and avoid harming any bystanders. This should come as no surprise, as the citizen who is watching the crime unfold should be in the best position to know which person is the attacker, while a police officer who is responding minutes after the crime has occurred may be hard-pressed to differentiate the criminal from their victim.