A Deadly Traffic Stop in Arkansas

FBI Summary of the incident

A 30-year-old patrol officer with the Trumann Police Department was shot and later died after attempting to make an arrest on April 12.

Around 11:30 p.m., the officer stopped a vehicle for a traffic violation and verified an active warrant for the driver of the vehicle. The officer, who had nearly 4 years of law enforcement experience, placed the driver in handcuffs.

The officer was then advised by dispatch that the person sitting in the passenger-side backseat had an active felony warrant. According to an assisting officer, the patrol officer walked around to the back passenger door, and the suspect in the backseat began firing a .25-caliber semiautomatic handgun. Both officers immediately tried to take cover. The patrol officer returned fire and hit the suspect. However, the suspect fired additional rounds, striking the patrol officer in the front of the head, neck/throat, front upper torso/chest, and arms/hands. The victim officer was transported to the hospital where he died early the next morning from the wound to the front of his head. The 37-year-old suspect, who had an extensive criminal history, was transported to a local medical center. He was arrested on April 20 and charged with Capital Murder, Attempted Capital Murder, Rape, Possession of Methamphetamine, and Felon in Possession of a Firearm.

NOTE: The POS who murdered Patrolman Jonathan Schmidt is currently on death row awaiting execution.

So what can civilians learn from this incident?

  • What is lacking in technique is often made up for in savagery and aggressiveness.
    • From the video, it appears that the bad guy did not employ marksmanship based shooting but relied on close range point-shooting and aggressive movement
      English: Night-time traffic stop on Gregson St...

      English: Night-time traffic stop on Gregson St in Durham, North Carolina. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

      during the attack.

    • When you must defend yourself, do it with the utmost aggression and without hesitation.
  • It is important to be able to sense points of situational vulnerability for both yourself and potential threats.
    • Even if you are caught behind the reactionary curve, you must be able to sense when you can turn the situation to your advantage.
    • Be aware of locations in which you would be in the most danger of criminal assault.
      • For a police officer, there is no such thing as a “routine traffic stop” or domestic violence call.

        A parking lot with landscaping and a diagonal ...

        A parking lot with landscaping and a diagonal parking pattern designed for one-way traffic. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

      • For a civilian, parking lots are a common place where criminal assaults occur as well as when getting into and out of a vehicle.
  • Distraction can be deadly.
    • The attack started with the bad guy shooting Patrolman Schmidt in the face while he was distracted with another task.
    • When you are in a location like a parking lot, keep your “head on a swivel” as opposed to chatting on your iPhone or texting.
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Posted in Officer Safety, Video Analysis

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