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REACTIONARY GAP: Maintain that gap, along with situational awareness.

August 29, 2016




A Sudanese refugee named Omer Ismail Ali found himself rapidly and promiscuously perforated by a police officer in Kelso, Washington recently. Ali assumed room temperature shortly after storming into a convenience store with a four-foot long stick and beating everyone in sight.

His rampage didn’t last long. A police officer happened to be in the back of the store reviewing a videotape of an earlier assault…by the same perp.

The video below shows the incident as it unfolded. There’s also a second video showing the Sudanese immigrant’s approach from the exterior view. Inside, viewers can see a female getting repeatedly thumped after failing to notice the erratic behavior (clue #1) of a stick-wielding (clue #2) man approaching and then entering the store.

The police officer emerged from the rear of the store and engaged the suspect a gunpoint, issuing commands. But the cop allowed the suspect to close the distance, hesitating before using deadly force. That hesitation caused him to be struck across the brain housing at least twice, maybe three times before he fired, ending the violence.

Watching the video, you can see how the first blow momentarily stunned the officer. He seemed to regain enough of his wits to fire repeatedly just as the suspect landed blows two and possibly three. The suspect struck the cop hard enough to break the roughly two-inch thick stick.


Situational awareness and the reactionary gap

Here’s a game for you to play when you’re out in one or more busy public locations. Find yourself a place to people-watch and play the imaginary role of criminal. “If I was a bad guy, who would I pick to victimize today…”  Robbery, sexual assault, etc.

When you see an ideal candidate, ask yourself what attributes that individual displays that makes them an attractive victim.  Then objectively look at your own behaviors and habits in public.  Do you share any of those attributes you found that made a person an ideal candidate for victimhood?  Do you have issues with task fixation (texting while walking, for example), submissive body language, oblivious situational awareness (texting while walking while wearing earbuds), indecisiveness or looking lost?

If so, it’s time for a personal intervention.

The best way to win a confrontation – or a criminal attack – is to not be there.  “Failing” a violent criminal’s victim selection process because you don’t exhibit behavioral attributes that make you an attractive potential victim is a win for you every time.

Now take a look at your friends and loved ones.  Do they exhibit those characteristics?  If so, it’s time for an intervention with them as well.

The customer in this video failed to notice the man armed with a large stick approaching the store or walking in.  If she had better situational awareness, she might have noticed him.   She might have kept an eye on him and ideally given him some space and put something between herself and the erratically behaving individual armed with a long club.

Her first indication of trouble was when the first blow landed from behind.  By then it was too late to avoid getting hurt.  Both the woman and possibly the clerk as well received blows before escaping the onslaught.

The police officer appeared moments later from the rear of the store, challenging the attacker.  The attacker had already practiced his thumping skills on two innocents moments before, yet the officer still allowed him to approach with little in the way of obstacles protecting him from the lunatic.

The Tueller Drill tells us that an attacker can close 21 feet in 1.5 seconds or less to hurt a good guy with a blunt force instrument or edged weapon.  When armed with a stout 4′ stick, that’s just almost two less steps the bad guy has to cover to inflict serious injury.

If you encounter a violent criminal actor in public that’s armed with a blunt-force instrument or an edged weapon, the first order of business is to put distance and obstacles between you and the bad guy.  Concealment and cover make excellent choices as well.

Distance (and obstacles) gives you time.  Time gives you options.  Options mean safety.

Who knows if the officer hesitated in part because of some of the recent social unrest following black suspects getting shot by police officers.

In any event, his justifiable use of deadly force almost came too late.
KOIN TV has the background behind the video:

KELSO, Wash. (KOIN) — The man who was shot and killed by a Kelso police officer has been identified as Omer Ismail Ali.

Ali was shot after attacking the clerk, a customer and the officer at the Fling K convenience store in Kelso at 8:15 a.m. on August 17. Ali was an immigrant from Sudan and had been living in Spokane, Washington since September 2013. He was known to be a transient.

Ali was a one-man crime wave.

Ali was well-known to Kelso Police after several encounters with law enforcement in the days leading up to the shooting. There were also 2 misdemeanor warrants for Ali from Spokane and Blaine, Wash.

On August 13, Ali was arrested for driving with a suspended license and deputies later learned he was driving a stolen rental car.

After he was released from the Cowlitz County jail on August 15, Ali reportedly trespassed at house on 8th Ave.