This is the official blog of ex-Sgt Ellie Bloggs. I was a real live police constable then sergeant for twelve years, on the real live front line of England. I'm now a real live non-police person. All the facts I recount are true, and are not secrets. If they don't want me blogging about it, they shouldn't do it. PS If you don't pay tax, you don't (or didn't) pay my salary.

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Thursday, May 08, 2008

Why grief-stricken parents should not make laws...

Point of View 1:
"He was definitely mumbling stuff like a drunk person would but he wasn't shouting or being aggressive apart from when he was shooting. The shots were very loud. They were absolutely terrifying."

" I just ran for my life and my passengers all did the same. Everyone was completely terrified."

"There was a man opposite my house shooting into my daughter's bedroom. We thought they were firecrackers. He was at the window with a shotgun... an armed officer went straight to the broken window and the gunman fired at him. You could see the guy directly across the way, aiming. The policeman crouched down and returned fire, but I don't think he hit him."

Point of view 2:
Mr Saunders' father questioned why police had needed to shoot his son. Rodney Saunders said he did not believe the lawyer necessarily posed a lethal threat. "We will want answers as to why police shot him."

It must be the police's fault.

'Diary of an On-Call Girl' is available in all good bookstores and online.


Blogger uncommon said...

"It must be the police's fault."


Wivaht a daht, the coppahs dun wrong, again.....

Oh: them wicked po-leeece....

brendan (atlanta)

08 May, 2008 18:06

Blogger uniform said...

you should see some of the responses on the Daily Mail webblog to this story .

I sometimes wonder if I come form a different planet to other UK residents .

08 May, 2008 18:38

Anonymous xoggoth said...

Nor influence any decisions.

A fairly common thing, there was one in our local paper last year, is the case of a child (or other relative) killed in a road accident. "Why has he only got 1 year for killing a child? he should be put way for life! etc."

Well, maybe if he was drunk or deliberately driving dangerously, but for a momentary lapse of attention? Bad luck happens. One can wipe out a whole bus stop full of kids but still be not culpable or have only slight culpability.

Victims should never have a say in justice or it is no longer justice.

08 May, 2008 20:33

Blogger Mosher said...

I've only read the basic reports online, but as far as I can gather:

Man A was shooting at people, including the police.

Police shot back.

They were a better aim. Although they've not said if it was a police bullet that got him (was there a vigilante in the area?)

Madman stopped by the simplest means required in the situation. It happens. I'm sorry for his family, but get over it. How would they have felt if he'd killed someone else? Would *that* have justified his shooting? Should the plice have waited till one of *them* took a round in the face first?

08 May, 2008 20:42

Anonymous Mark UK said...

I'm not a bobby, and I'm often thought of as a bleeding heart. However, whilst I have a problem with unarmed people being shot by police officers, I have no issues in a case like this.

The man was shooting - therefore he was armed and dangerous. whether he was a danger "only" to the police or to the public as well matters not one jot.

Sorry if he was ill, but what else could the officers do, other than return fire. They're trained; he wasn't. The outcome was inevitable, albeit sad.

Was this a case of "suicide by cop"?

08 May, 2008 23:21

Anonymous XTP said...

Ellie at al,

I have to feel sorrow (as a father) for Mr saunders. He doesn't really know what he's saying at this point and obviously hasn't thought through the ramifications of what might have developed. He's lost his son and that's his excuse, and a fairly good one.

However - ALL the other mugs shooting from the lip on the other websites need to shut up soonest. Headshakingly stupid, every one.

Shoot at an armed Police Officer and you'll get what's coming. Providing he can shoot straight in the most stressful time of his life. Get over it.

TUPC - any thoughts?

08 May, 2008 23:44

Anonymous Dr Melvin T Gray said...

The greatest tragedy is the creation of a public execution NORM for anyone waving a sword or shotgun in public. Those who do not have a problem with that would never support law making by grief-stricken relatives. The more intelligent will consider how politic it can be for Establishment continuance with procedures denying Justice for them.

09 May, 2008 08:39

Blogger Conor said...

I couldn't believe some of the Daily Mail comments either. Some wondered why it needed so many police.
Apparently they should only have sent one and relied on him being faster on the draw.

09 May, 2008 08:52

Anonymous peckham PC said...

we have armed police on our borough pretty much every day, every shift. And not a day goes by without us needing to call them.

I think our thoughts need to turn away from the shot man and his family, and instead concentrate on the Officers from CO19 who are now suspended, and their families.

09 May, 2008 09:31

Blogger Mosher said...

Regardnig peckham PC's comment - yeah, I do find that all a little ridiculous. You train an officer to fire a gun and contain a violent situation. You allow him to do his job. He does it. Then you suspend him.

One reason why it is perhaps daft to send 15 armed police to take on one armed man. I assume we're now "down" half of that squad at least while some bureaucrat who's never seen a gun outside of the last Stallone filme check to make sure these highly-trained personnel did their job properly.

If we only sent 5 armed police, then we'd have more left to protect us while the bean-counting jobsworths do their bit.

09 May, 2008 10:47

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah! It’s amazing how quick 'opinion' can change when only parts of the facets of the incident are visible. Newspaper Reporting is aimed at selling Newspapers and can therefore be considered totally irrelevant in process of dealing with violent crime, or any crime come to that.

The words released by the Chief Inspector, though nicely put to the Press, the public , the survivors and the officers concerned, are really nothing more than a political attempt to stave off worse treatment on his Budget, His senior teams Moral and what may backfire when and if his Force get called to account in a court. So basically, pretty words, meaningless in truth (for crime solving), so we can ignore those too.
So what are we left with? We are left with little more than the experience of the Officer and the words of the victim. Ah, Victims dead, Oops! Ok we have the Officers account, where is that! I bet it states a dozen or so perceived facts of the circumstances at the time, and I bet it will include, (some officers name or position) authorised me to....!

So really, we may never have a clue; it seems, as to what can be done to prevent another dead Victim. (Even if they are not on the London Underground)

Training Officers to shoot at people is a job I would rather not have, even if in law I can be allowed to take another person’s life. The Officer cannot, ever, completely remove the effects of adrenalin, or the impact of excited others around him. From the very moment they don the clothing, the equipment, their psyche becomes charged. Adding a weapon supercharges them, the effect of putting the ammunition in the gun elevates them to a position that is way above any other persons in almost any other line of work, except maybe, a lunatic lone sniper that has watched too much CSI on the one-eyed-gob in the corner of the room. (When did we last have a trained and accurate sniper hidden on a rooftop picking off innocent unarmed people wearing something that could be red?)

The effects on them of getting to the 'scene of the alleged crime' hyper elevates them, the hide, the drawing of the weapon, the aiming. By this time, the officer 'may' feel in 'full control' but he is not, far from it. He has a thought process that runs a great deal faster than a normal persons, his vision is more or less monochromatic and tunnelled, his hearing is reaching into the upper frequencies searching for the trigger to fight or flight, his muscles are tight, his heart beat is powerful and erratic, his ability to get oxygen into his bloodstream is a single minded bodily function almost to the exclusion of other body processes. If he has a stress related issue, he may wet himself, but that is not through being scared, it’s the body mechanism to dump the contents of his bladder to make him taste worse and to carry less weight during flee.

He pulls the trigger and a chaotic mechanism takes over that demands he understands the wrong he is doing, conflicting with his instructions, aggravated by his feelings and the fact that now the officer has to do real work, reports, confirmation, cross checking his story is correct and that he understood the situation correctly and that he functioned as he was so authorized.

Check above for the missing two things we need here. 1) Can I disarm the victim without killing him? 2) Is there any other solution that can prevent loss of life, mine, the targets, and any other victims?

You won’t find them, for if they exist, they are ignored because the officer in question is tooled up, hyper, deadly focused, and is in deep intent to kill, but, It’s NOT his/her/their fault.

We know one hollow-point round when shot through the brain, has in most recorded instances, caused immediate and terminal loss of life. So why would we continue to pump round after round in, even when we have fired once, or our colleague has fired once? Because the officers in question are unable to stop themselves, akin to trying to hold back ejaculate during intercourse! Once the trigger and threshold have been crossed, there is a momentary chaotic process that is more reflexive than automatic.

We are at fault, for failing to either train officers how to not kill when firing a weapon at a victim, or for failing to use experienced exceptionally trained or experience laden people already conversant and practiced in fields of experience that has involved the daily use of the training to kill. (E.g. The use of Army trained personnel). Tooling up a dozen or so macho young men, giving them the suit and the toys and the badge of permission, does not make a qualified person to use a firearm in the public arena. We know this, we chant this, we make excuses for this, we dread the need to do this, but on a budget that is consumed every which way, the Chief that needs to get promised results, the media's need for a story, the fantasy of belief that arming an officer is somehow, god-like and forgivable all lead to a sad position, that we send, albeit well intentioned, armed and dangerous killers, to the scene of a crime involving possible weapon miss use in the public arena.

Do I have any feelings for the poor officers suspended on FULL pay, his poor family or his heartbroken parents, children etcetera? No, not a bit, He Volunteered, he knew the demands and he knew the effects, he chose to do it, and made several more choices that led him to kill. He dragged his family into it with him, no, I have no feelings for the family, and they supported him in his wishes to at some point in time, take life. Wrap it up anyway you wish, but that’s the basic truth, he chose to do it, and convinced himself that he was doing the right thing for the right reasons, he chose to do it…

Oh boy, are we going to catch the crap for doing that one day, I just hope and pray, it’s another force and we are not involved.

09 May, 2008 11:40

Anonymous Anonymous said...

A comment in the linked article states, "The police would have known they were dealing with a respectable chap, a barrister". Wouldn't mattered if he was a jobless Chav then? What astonishing hypocracy. A round fired by a barrister is still fatal, whatever the 'quality' of the accent behind it.

09 May, 2008 12:17

Anonymous xoggoth said...

As it happens there was something on TV last night with Denzil Washington where he kidnapped a lot of hospital workers at gunpoint so he could get his sick kid a transplant. I think we were supposed to sympathise with character. I was sitting there going "shoot the bastard!"

If someone is threatening others with a gun and there is no method that offers better safety to those others, they should get shot.

09 May, 2008 16:00

Anonymous Anonymous said...

" Mosher said...

Regardnig peckham PC's comment - yeah, I do find that all a little ridiculous. You train an officer to fire a gun and contain a violent situation. You allow him to do his job. He does it. Then you suspend him."

Just imagine the palava if the victim had been from an ethnic & religious minority.

09 May, 2008 22:51

Anonymous notellin said...

I think we should cut his Dad a break, i mean his comments may sound a bit off from our perspective but then we haven't just lost a son in such a manner.

Frankly, I am a Police Officer who knows a bit about this sort of thing but if the Police shot my kids dead regardless of circumstances i would be asking why, because that's what parents do.

Of course unless something bizarre turned up, in time, i wouldn't be blaming the Police, but it would take time for the emotion to subside enough for reason to be heard.

My thoughts are with the family, my thoughts are also with the families and Officers who will no doubt be effected, if not reported.

09 May, 2008 23:13

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I loved reading the "Daily Mail" comments on the incident.
I never realised we had so many firearms/seige/legal experts in the Country.
What I do know is that if this madman had shot even one innocent then the Police would have done wrong for not shooting him dead first....!!
Lets flick a coin....
Heads you don't win, tails you lose!

10 May, 2008 01:17

Anonymous JuliaM said...

"We are at fault, for failing to either train officers how to not kill when firing a weapon at a victim..."

You mean, by shooting the weapon out of his hand..?

Yeah, I've seen that one!

At the movies.

When I was ten.

Tell me, that 'effect on them of getting to the 'scene of the alleged crime'' business, that you say 'hyper elevates them'. Does it work in blog commenting too?

Because you seem to have suffered from a nasty dose of it...

10 May, 2008 06:31

Blogger Michael Radcliffe said...

I have to say that it's not just the Daily Mail.

Ummm.. Hello...? Why did he have a gun in the first place? Random shooting at people? How does that make him the victim?

What alarms me most is that a barrister keeps a gun. WTF?

10 May, 2008 12:01

Anonymous JuliaM said...

"What alarms me most is that a barrister keeps a gun. WTF?"

He was a keen country sports enthusiast. The gun was perfectly legal. Nothing to worry about at all.

It was his access to it and use of it while in a depressed state that turned into a problem, and that's not the fault of the police..

10 May, 2008 12:53

Blogger Michael Radcliffe said...

I wasn't suggesting it was the fault of the police.

I was suggesting that, as an ordinary member of the public, having a gun and using it in an urban environment is about the daftest thing you could be doing in the current climate.

As for being a country sports enthusiast - the operative word there is "country". Is there a lot of game running around in Chelsea? Many rabbits running around in that square in front of his house? Or perhaps the urban fox is a bit of a menace?

I really don't blame the police for their response at all. Rather - depressed or not, he is made out to be some kind of "victim" by the Mail which is ridiculously simplistic.

12 May, 2008 07:03

Anonymous JuliaM said...

"...the operative word there is "country". Is there a lot of game running around in Chelsea? Many rabbits running around in that square in front of his house? Or perhaps the urban fox is a bit of a menace?"

Plenty of people who pursue country sports while living in town keep their guns at home. Why shouldn't they?

"..he is made out to be some kind of "victim" by the Mail which is ridiculously simplistic."

I thought (for once!) the 'Mail' coverage was quite good, and fair. The 'Times' was pretty bad...

12 May, 2008 08:41

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's probably pretty clear to most people that shooting up the neighbourhood and in the direction of armed police is going to get yo ass smoked.

What I don't think anyone mentioned as a possible justification for not doing so is that this guy was TA and, as suggested, a "country sports enthusiast", who therefore likely knew how to make heap smoke with white man's firestick. Yet despite all the talk of him shooting "at" his neighbours and the police, he didn't actually hit anyone. Perhaps they had ninja / Keanu Reeves skills? Or perhaps he wasn't actually trying to hit them?

Seems most likely to me he was just a complete prize wanker who decided to make some poor bastard AR officer kill him in order to get snuffed in a dramatic fashion. Sort of like the rush hour train suicide, he wanted to take whatever "it" was out on the rest of us. If that was the case, why not just wait until his inner teenager got bored and he gave up? Solely on the grounds that it would avoid future emotional trauma for the AR officer, that is.

12 May, 2008 16:17

Anonymous Dave H. said...

The Mail are now holding a 'were the police justified...' poll. Idiots.

'were the police justified in shooting a normally very respectable, upper middle class person who happened to crack up momentarily under the influence' is probably the sub-text. Idiots.

Please! Please! Please! Armed Police, if the madman's well-dressed and holding a Purdey don't shoot!

My favourite from anon @11:40 was '...caused immediate and terminal loss of life.'

BTW a guy went mad with a 12 bore round here a few years ago, wandering along the road firing into the air. After passing him on my motorbike on the way to work, I really did spend several seconds anxiously looking in my mirror counting the yards between me and him, wondering if a rucksack full of books would offer significant protection.

He probably didn't fire at me because he's a Mail reader and I talk slightly posh. It all ended without injury after a day-long siege. He's probably out by now, hopefully without a shotgun certificate.

12 May, 2008 16:25

Blogger Area Trace No Search said...

Yes, a lot of the comments seemed to be "he was a decent chap though, one of us, what were the police thinking of?"

Bullets don't discriminate, and neither should we.

13 May, 2008 19:05

Blogger MerseyCon said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

14 May, 2008 02:39

Blogger MerseyCon said...

I have thought long and hard about whether to comment on this post, i myself am a firearms officer, however i will not be drawn into commenting in depth on tactics so please dont ask, but i will say this-

I am constantly asked by family and friends 'why don't you just shoot people in the leg' etc. etc. and 'what would you do if(insert bizarre scenario here)'.

Fact 1 - bullets kill people. so do shotgun cartridges.

Fact 2 - It takes a fraction of a second for someone to pull a trigger and 'bang', one less police officer/ member of public, so good luck taking the extra time to 'just shoot them in the leg (major arteries anyone??).

So people can feel free to add there two pennies worth to the mix, family members of the offender (not victim) can question tactics and options, and journalists can speculate over whether the police needed to shoot him, it wasnt like he was randomly firing a shotgun in the public domain.... oh hang on- yes he was!. Until a magic ray gun is invented that instantly neutralizes people the only way to stop someone with a gun, is, shockingly, by using another gun. If those who doubt this would like to try and find another way, be my guest, but i would advise you to make wills first.

Those that shout loudest usually know least, and no doubt some shouts will now come my way.

One final thing, short of hitting somebody in the hand, you stand a fairly high chance of killing someone no matter where they are hit, and just because a bullet enters in the arm, doesnt mean thats where it will finish off.

Dangerous things guns.

14 May, 2008 02:43

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Totally agree with the last comment by merseycon - also I seem to recall some mention of him renewing his license recently and misrepresenting his current condition in the application. Therefore it wasn't a legally held shotgun; should the previous be true, I haven't been able to verify it yet.
However the basic truth still applies - if you are going to do what he did, drunk or not, posh or not - you run the risk of being dealt with by armed Police, and they have homes to go to as well; and they aren't drunk, they tend to be very serious and sensible.

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15 April, 2009 10:32


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