Vargas: Two officers shot, two killed and police still accused of being too paranoid


There will always be criticism of police officers being too paranoid and too quick to draw their weapons. There is currently a video going viral that shows a Campbell, CA, police officer holding a passenger at gunpoint until back-up arrives.

He was concerned because the passenger was moving around and had reached under the seat of the car.

His “Spidey Senses” were tingling. Due to the location of the stop and traffic, it took seven minutes for follow-up officers to arrive. On social media, critics sounded off.

According to some commenters, police officers are too “trigger happy.”

The incident ended peacefully, and police say the officer’s body camera revealed that the passenger apologized after the cell phone camera stopped filming.

Let’s try and understand what the officer might have been thinking.

Last week, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department released body camera footage of an officer involved shooting. During the shooting, two officers were shot and the suspect was killed. The incident demonstrates the real dangers police officers face when dealing with people in vehicles.

The incident occurred on Tuesday, August 1, 2017, after a victim had several cell phones taken from his vehicle. Using tracking software, he tracked the phones to a parked vehicle. Officers responded and contacted the driver sitting in the parked vehicle. The driver was uncooperative, and, as the officers tried to get him to comply, they became concerned at the way he was moving around the truck.

The driver twice tried to start the truck and when the officer attempted to open the door he closed it on him.

For nearly six minutes, the officers tried to get the driver to comply; one of the officers became concerned enough to hold the driver’s arm and threaten to use his Taser. Still, the driver would not comply. After nearly three minutes (2:50 in the video) the driver appears to calmly pull out a concealed handgun and shoot at both officers.

The driver fired nine rounds. Officer Richard Nelson was hit in the chest with the bullet exiting his back. The second officer was hit on his gun belt, but the round did not strike him.

The officers returned fire and ran to positions of safety. Officer Nelson was transported to the hospital by a responding sergeant. He has since been discharged.

The Las Vegas Metro Police held a press conference providing a detailed briefing regarding the shooting and included cell phone video from a bystander.

In Campbell, apologies and explanations were provided for a situation that ended peacefully. In Las Vegas, the uncooperative driver almost killed two police officers.

We live in an armed society where everyday people are getting shot and killed. Some are wounded. The lucky ones escape with with no or minor injuries. You see it every night on the evening news. Police officers encounter these people every day.

The Las Vegas incident is one of many.  Last week, two officers were killed during car stops. Lt. Aaron Allan  of the Southport, Indiana, Police Department was shot and killed helping the victim of a traffic accident. He didn’t know it was a bad guy who had wrecked his car.

Yesterday, Officer Gary Michael from Clinton, Missouri, Police Department  was shot and killed after stopping a car for driving without head lights. He was shot with a high-powered rifle.

Every officer makes decisions every day on how every call will be handled. Paramount in their decision-making is a desire to make it home. The real dangers that are out there are factors we should always take into account whenever we decide to pass judgement on how it should have been done.