In a high crime area near New Orleans, a Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office Deputy is involved in a shooting just before midnight on July 26, 2016. In the video of the shooting, it appears to be completely justified.
The deputy has his pistol drawn, or draws it just as he enters. He is using a two handed hold and has his light on. Prior to seeing the deputy, we see the suspect enter the warehouse. It appears that the suspect considered taking out the pistol, a Beretta with an extended magazine, and leaving it, then changes his mind.
The deputy exercises good tactical sense by going wide around the corner of what may be an office on the right side of the picture frame. The suspect is approaching the corner from the right side. It is likely that they see each other at about the same time, about 8 yards apart.
The deputy brings his pistol to bear first. He may well have shouted a command to drop the weapon. The suspect brings the Beretta to eye level, and the deputy fires. The suspect attempts to bring the Beretta to bear again, but the deputy continues to fire and the suspect goes down. The deputy then demonstrates reasonable caution by approaching the suspect using the corner as cover.
The Sheriff says that the suspect tried to kill the deputy, but was unable to fire the Beretta. From nola.com:
"Devon Martes tried to kill one of my officers," Normand said, referring to the 17-year-old man who was killed. "Devon Martes is not the victim. The victim in this case is Deputy Dave Dalton."
Link to video
The sequence in the video varies a little from the statement given at nola.com, but not enough to change the legality or justification for the shooting.
The deputy fired six shots.
The Beretta in the possession of the suspect had an extended magazine. It appears that it was loaded with 22 rounds.
The Sheriffs says they believe the Beretta malfunctioned.
Looking at the picture of the Beretta, there are several possibilities for malfunctions.
Was a round chambered? It is a common mistake for inexperienced shooters not to chamber a round. Having taught hundreds of beginners, many have no idea that they have to rack the slide to chamber a round. Many think inserting the magazine is sufficient.
Was the safety on? It is in the picture. Law enforcement protocols call for not moving the safety on a piece of evidence without noting it. On the Beretta, it is not necessary to move the safety to work the action.
An examination of the 22 9mm rounds in the picture shows that six of them appear to have primer hits, all five on the right hand row, and the round with the nickled primer on the left. They are likely duds. If one of those were chambered, it is another potential point of failure. My experience with extended magazines is that I generally avoid them, especially after market versions. But as no rounds were fired from the Beretta, we cannot fault the magazine in this case.
One thing we do not know is what prompted Martes to proceed toward a likely gun fight, or to initiate one. All of the hype about "racist" police and the recent police assassinations may have encouraged him to initiate the gun fight.
We can never know for sure. We do know that a young black man made some very bad decisions that ended with his death.
The deputy made some good tactical decisions, and he survived.
©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.