How relative is fighting from your vehicle? What are the realistic scenarios from a vehicle you might find yourself in where you need to employ lethal force?
Grand theft auto
I was shown a video not too long ago of some live fire drills from a vehicle. Taken out of context it might look questionable as far as realism goes, but before you jump on that bandwagon you might want to first consider your circumstances. For instance, are you rolling heavy in an up-armored vehicle part of multi-vehicle mobility operation. Cricket, cricket… No, what about are you in a low profile role conducting reconnaissance on future targets? Cricket, cricket… Yep, didn’t think so. What about a uniform officer in a a marked unit at a stoplight. We finally start to enter the realm of possibility. From there, we can talk about the most likely scenario where you would have to employ lethal force because the likelihood of you actually doing it represent a damn small percentage. While we are the topic of percentages and since this industry is so enamored with statistics does anyone even know know what those statistics might look like?
Means, intent and opportunity
Now that we have that out the way, let’s talk about realistically dealing with a lethal force scenario from within your vehicle. Let’s put some context into the picture by saying you are in civilian clothes driving a personally owned vehicle. So, what is the most likely scenario where lethal force would be justified? If you were to think about it the most likely scenario is a close quarters event such as aggravated robbery. Remember for you to justify lethal force you have to be in fear for your life for one, but the suspect has to have the means, intent an opportunity to cause injury or death. Let’s focus on the means, could a suspect open fire on you from your driver side at a distance of a 10 meters or more? I’m sure someone could create a scenario where that would pass the sniff test. However, I’m having a hard time justifying that scenario and therefore all the tactics that have been developed recently as a result.
Bad breathe distance around vehicles
I feel it is far more likely the suspect will be within 1 meter of your driver side door if not closer. Remember they not only have to have the means, but the opportunity. Opportunity is often defined by distance. In our current environment I see it far more likely a suspect will be right up on top of you in an effort to rob you personally or steal your vehicle. So, the real question is how do you respond to this situation and how do you prevent it from happening. We can make the default statements of maintaining situational awareness, proper standoff from the vehicle/obstacles in front of you as well as being mindful of drive-able terrain. As we start to see the situation deteriorate where a suspect is approaching our vehicle while we are at a stop you need to consider your options. The fact he has approached your vehicle is clearly not justification to use lethal force. They would have to do something that gives you reason to fear for your life. Is gaining access to your vehicle reason enough, hopefully you are smart enough to have your doors locked and windows rolled up so potentially you have thwarted their gaining access to you physically and can hopefully get off the X.
That leaves us with them gaining access or threatening you with deadly force, i.e. brandishing a weapon. OK, so I’m going to really fry your noodle now, if either of these actions occur will you be faster getting your firearm or…would it be better to deploy a blade? It’s kind of hard to stage firearms for quick access in your vehicle. There are limited locations, but fixed blades can be located in multiple locations for quick access. It is hard to dispute the effectiveness of a blade in close quarters coupled with the ease of staging them makes them a viable option. Complying with commands in an effort to deploy your blade, then as my good friend Tony Blauer say’s “clear, control and counter” with the blade. So, if they have gained access and are within arms reach, do you go for your pistol or do you go for your blade?
There is more to countering vehicle ambushes, but if you haven’t thought it all the way through what are you really training for then?
"You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength." Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor & Soldier