Deconstructing Shootthrough Fatalities
Why would officers hit more of their own brethren than “civilian” bystanders in this fashion? For the simple reason that while victims and potential innocent bystanders tend to flee danger scenes, the cops are conditioned to “ride to the sound of the guns.”
In a close-quarters situation where a violent criminal is attempting to harm or even murder another officer, cops try to grab him or stop him or even maneuver into a position from which to shoot him.
All these actions can put them in the line of fire of brother officers.
Tunnel vision occurs in a majority of life-threatening encounters. This is the perceptual phenomenon of being able to see only the threat and being unable to cognitively recognize other people or objects that might be in the line of fire.
Moreover, the body of the offender may simply block the shooter’s view of the brother officer who is trying to apprehend or restrain the attacker from behind. In these situations, a “shootthrough” is highly likely to kill or cripple one of the Good Guys and Gals.
What does this have to do with private citizens’ use of CCW handguns? Only this: Where the cops jump in to protect their brother and sister officers, brave citizens may step in to protect their actual brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, sons and daughters, or fathers and mothers. Now it is your loved ones who are behind the offender – unseen by you – when you discharge your CCW weapon.
Those 115-grain jacketed ball 9mm rounds will pierce more than two feet of muscle tissue-simulating ballistic gelatin. So will 230-grain full metal jacket 45 hardball.
By contrast, the depth of the average adult male thorax is probably no more than 10 inches, from front of chest to back. Nor is it solid muscle: the
spongy tissue and large air volume of the human lung offer little resistance to a bullet.
A Real-World Example
Many years ago in Los Angeles, an Aryan Brotherhood thug took several people hostage in an office. He demanded an escape vehicle and threatened to start
shooting hostages if he didn’t get one.
A vehicle was provided, and he got into the car with the victims. At this point, the LAPD SWAT team launched smoke, and two members of the team whom I happened to know moved forward through the gray cloud, their issue Colt 45 automatics up and ready.
When the perpetrator reached for his pistol, the cops opened fire, using department-issue 230-grain hardball. They fired four shots between them, and killed the offender before he could launch a single bullet of his own.
Autopsy showed any of the four hits would have been quickly fatal. However, only one of those bullets stayed in the offender’s body. One of the three exiting slugs struck one of the hostages. Fortunately, the wound was not
in a life-threatening location.
LAPD quickly switched to hollowpoints, which is what they use today. Lesson learned.
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This article was excerpted from Massad Ayoob’s book, The Gun Digest Guide to Concealed Carry. If you found this information about over-penetrating bullets valuable, continue reading by clicking here to order the book.