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mreilly19
08-08-2012, 10:07 PM
Hi all, I am writing a novel set during the LA riots in 1992. My MC and his girlfriend have just escaped a speeding car which was trying to run them down; two police officers saw the danger and opened fire on the car. Some of the bad guys in the car were hit, then it turned and drove off.

My question is, would the police then detain the MC and his SO for questioning/reporting/interviewing? I'd prefer to write the story as the police saying "Due to how crazy the situation is right now with the riots, just go - we'll arrange a ride home for you." After all, the bad guys got away so that makes it more plausible, in my mind. Essentially I'd like the MC and his SO to shake hands with the cops and each group go their separate ways. Is this realistic, especially considering the riots which were going on in the backdrop?

Thanks for any advice!

Trebor1415
08-08-2012, 10:13 PM
I could have sworn you asked this question before. Maybe on THR or on one of the other gun forums? I remember there was a good discussion on this then.

mreilly19
08-08-2012, 10:22 PM
Well, I did ask a related question when I was planning the scene out. :-) I wanted to know if the cops would really open fire on the car full of bad guys. Input from the folks here established this was indeed believable, so now that I finally wrote the scene this AM (I just calculated that I wrote 100 pages in 4 months, which seemed impressive at first then I realized that's less than a page a day :-( this is my follow-up question.


I could have sworn you asked this question before. Maybe on THR or on one of the other gun forums? I remember there was a good discussion on this then.

Trebor1415
08-08-2012, 10:32 PM
Ah, Ok, got it.

Did the characters commit a crime in front of the police? Did they look like innocent people "in the wrong place at the wrong time?" Would the cops have a reason to be suspicious of them?

If you want the cops to send them on their way, they'd have to look like innocent people who got caught up in the riot. If they look like they were involved in a crime or anything suspicious it would be more likely the cops would arrest them and stick 'em in a cop car until they could get hauled to the jail. Often in situations like this cops default to "arrest 'em all and let the courts sort it out later" mode.

I doubt the cops would give them a ride home. They'd be too busy.

Melina
08-08-2012, 10:35 PM
Hi all, I am writing a novel set during the LA riots in 1992. My MC and his girlfriend have just escaped a speeding car which was trying to run them down; two police officers saw the danger and opened fire on the car. Some of the bad guys in the car were hit, then it turned and drove off.

My question is, would the police then detain the MC and his SO for questioning/reporting/interviewing? I'd prefer to write the story as the police saying "Due to how crazy the situation is right now with the riots, just go - we'll arrange a ride home for you." After all, the bad guys got away so that makes it more plausible, in my mind. Essentially I'd like the MC and his SO to shake hands with the cops and each group go their separate ways. Is this realistic, especially considering the riots which were going on in the backdrop?

Thanks for any advice!

Yes, the cops on the scene would ask some basic questions, like whether they were hurt, if they needed medical attention, if they knew the people in the car, if there was some incident leading up to the vehicle attempting to run them down. Then, they'd check the victims' IDs, get their contact information, and a detective would contact them later to investigate further.

mreilly19
08-08-2012, 10:43 PM
Good questions. There actually is a bit of a back story with my characters and these officers which I should have outlined. Basically:

-My characters go into Koreatown earlier in the story to help protect a friend's store from looters/arsonists. They encounter these same officers on their way in, and ask why the LAPD has retreated out of the Koreatown district. This is a somewhat confrontational scene which represents the anger felt by people towards the police that day, due to the LAPD's inability to protect all parts of the city. The police remain mostly polite, explaining they're following orders. They understand my characters are now going into a riot-torn part of the city to help innocent people defend their property (one of my characters says "we're doing YOUR jobs for you"); they also see my characters have guns and demand to see permits for these, which are provided.

-During the escape sequence I outlined, the car of outlaws is chasing my characters since they'd exchanged gunfire earlier and now the bad guys want to kill them. My characters run for the safety of the police, who recognize them from earlier and are aware of the danger the MC and his SO are now in. The police do not observe or suspect my characters to have committed any crimes and presume them to be innocents who are being targeted by the wrongdoers, so it sounds like it works for them to say "OK, on your way."


Ah, Ok, got it.

Did the characters commit a crime in front of the police? Did they look like innocent people "in the wrong place at the wrong time?" Would the cops have a reason to be suspicious of them?

If you want the cops to send them on their way, they'd have to look like innocent people who got caught up in the riot. If they look like they were involved in a crime or anything suspicious it would be more likely the cops would arrest them and stick 'em in a cop car until they could get hauled to the jail. Often in situations like this cops default to "arrest 'em all and let the courts sort it out later" mode.

I doubt the cops would give them a ride home. They'd be too busy.

Melina
08-08-2012, 10:51 PM
Good questions. There actually is a bit of a back story with my characters and these officers which I should have outlined. Basically:

-My characters go into Koreatown earlier in the story to help protect a friend's store from looters/arsonists. They encounter these same officers on their way in, and ask why the LAPD has retreated out of the Koreatown district. This is a somewhat confrontational scene which represents the anger felt by people towards the police that day, due to the LAPD's inability to protect all parts of the city. The police remain mostly polite, explaining they're following orders. They understand my characters are now going into a riot-torn part of the city to help innocent people defend their property (one of my characters says "we're doing YOUR jobs for you"); they also see my characters have guns and demand to see permits for these, which are provided.

-During the escape sequence I outlined, the car of outlaws is chasing my characters since they'd exchanged gunfire earlier and now the bad guys want to kill them. My characters run for the safety of the police, who recognize them from earlier and are aware of the danger the MC and his SO are now in. The police do not observe or suspect my characters to have committed any crimes and presume them to be innocents who are being targeted by the wrongdoers, so it sounds like it works for them to say "OK, on your way."

VERY highly unlikely that the cops would just send them on their merry way if they know the MCs have guns and are headed INTO the riot zone. Doesn't work that way. When there is a major disturbance, such as a riot on that scale, there would be a perimeter established to make sure that more people aren't placed at risk, beyond the people who are already on the scene. The cops would detain the MCs, and send them back to where they came from. They'd risk arrest if they disobeyed and went into the riot scene anyway, if they could even get past the perimeter.

mreilly19
08-08-2012, 11:09 PM
Thank you; you just spared me a major plot hole. :-) I am rewriting the scene as we speak so that the MC hides all traces of the guns before the initial encounter with the police.


VERY highly unlikely that the cops would just send them on their merry way if they know the MCs have guns and are headed INTO the riot zone. Doesn't work that way. When there is a major disturbance, such as a riot on that scale, there would be a perimeter established to make sure that more people aren't placed at risk, beyond the people who are already on the scene. The cops would detain the MCs, and send them back to where they came from. They'd risk arrest if they disobeyed and went into the riot scene anyway, if they could even get past the perimeter.

Melina
08-08-2012, 11:37 PM
Thank you; you just spared me a major plot hole. :-) I am rewriting the scene as we speak so that the MC hides all traces of the guns before the initial encounter with the police.

It's not just the guns. The cops wouldn't be letting anyone into the area; the aim on these things is to prevent as many people from getting hurt as possible--so they keep people out.

Also, if the MCs exchanged gunfire with anyone, and the cops knew it, the MCs would be going to jail, for all kinds of charges, at the very least because it's illegal to discharge a firearm within city limits.

mreilly19
08-09-2012, 12:18 AM
No problem - I can invent a scene whereby the cops lecture my characters to turn around and drive home, and they appear to do so, then double back through some unguarded alleyway, possibly sneaking past a cruiser as the cops are dealing with gangs of looters, etc.

As far as the cops finding out my characters exchanged gunfire with looters, I can have my characters conceal their handguns in their pockets and tell the police they were unarmed; this should be no problem since it fits the story as to why they were running from the bad guys in the car; they can say they were defenseless (they were actually not defenseless but the MC opts against shooting at the car while running from it, reasoning they'll just run him over anyhow so their best bet is to get the attention of the LAPD).

I suppose this would require the police NOT to search them however. If it seems likely they they would, I'll have to figure out another angle; maybe have them admit they carried the weapons but didn't use them.

I appreciate all the helpful input!


It's not just the guns. The cops wouldn't be letting anyone into the area; the aim on these things is to prevent as many people from getting hurt as possible--so they keep people out.

Also, if the MCs exchanged gunfire with anyone, and the cops knew it, the MCs would be going to jail, for all kinds of charges, at the very least because it's illegal to discharge a firearm within city limits.

ironmikezero
08-09-2012, 12:25 AM
FWIW, it's usually a very bad idea to shoot at a moving car, notwithstanding that moving targets are hard to hit anyway. Even if the shooter scores hits, the projectiles won't stop it - simple physics. In the off chance a round strikes the operator (let's assume a CNS hit that turns him off like a light bulb), the vehicle (mass) is still moving (velocity/inertia) and likely won't stop until it hits something of more significant mass or runs out of fuel.

Consequently, most LE agencies strongly discourage shooting at moving vehicles. Aside from the tactical shortcomings, the subsequent civil liability exposure can be staggering - and not just for the individual officers, but the agency and the jurisdiction (govt body) as well. Civil cases can and frequently do drag on for years.

It may work well for your story, but be aware of the reality. Even in a riot situation, the laws of physics will prevail.

Trebor1415
08-09-2012, 01:01 AM
The second time the cops encounter the characters (after the shootout) the cops would, at a minimum, frisk them. It is also very likely they'd search the car.

Having the characters encounter the same cops on the way out as they did on the way in is going to make those cops very suspicious of those characters since they already tried to stop them from entering the riot area. This would be even worse if the characters mouthed off to the cops earlier.

In that scenario I really don't see the cops letting them go with a nod and a handshake. Instead, after the cops save the characters from the pursuing car, I see the cops conducting a felony stop on the character's car, dragging them out at gunpoint, handcuffing and arresting them, and hauling them off to jail. (Heck, I still think that's a likely outcome if the characters showing up with another car in pursuit and shooting at them even if these were different cops that the characters hadn't intereacted with earlier).

As to the guns, if the guns are found, the characters are going to jail. Period. In 1992 it was very difficult (still is) to get a concealed pistol license in California. In the LA area you had to be politically connected or a celebrity. The average person couldn't get one.

In this scenario of one car chasing another, and shots fired, I believe you are overestimating the cops tolerance. They *might* let the characters go, after getting their info, but if they find any guns (and they would frisk them and at least peek through the windows) they would arrest the characters. Just carrying a gun without a CCW permit is a crime.

Now, on the other hand, if the cops had some "peacefull" interaction with the characters (without involving people shooting) and saw the characters were armed, they *might* let it go, considering the circumstances. This assumes the characters aren't trying to go around a police roadblock into the riot zone though. There's no way they'd let people they know are armed into the riot area and very likely they'd stop everyone from entering.

jclarkdawe
08-09-2012, 02:52 AM
Here's where I have problems with this. Police set up a perimeter, announce it over the news, and set up road blocks on all major roads. It's easy to get around a police roadblock, however. Any local with half a brain can usually do it.

So coming out they get stopped by the cops. The cops figure out they don't live in the riot area. First question is, "What the fuck were you doing in there? Are you some kind of fucking nuts?" Next question, "How the hell did you get in there?"

"Oh, I was just driving around. Don't know how I did it." Any answer that implies you knew you weren't supposed to be there and they've got you for disobeying a police officer, or something similar. Even without an admission from you, they've still got plenty of reason to believe you're not completely stupid, although shown clearly to be an idiot.

And then to make it even worse from the police view, you're pissing off the locals, causing them to shoot at you. And because you're an idiot, you're likely to be dumb enough to go back in and inflame the situation even more.

I'd arrest you for disobeying a police officer, violating a police blockade, and let you enjoy the fun of being processed out of jail. By the time you do that, I'm at least going to be off shift and if you're dumb enough to go back in, not my problem.

I'd have to go and do some research, but I'm pretty sure that all the strays that wandered into Watts during the riots were arrested. It got them out of the way and let the police sort it out afterwards. Question is always whether one or more of the strays is actually there trying to incite the riot.

Personally I would not buy them letting them go, unless something else came up that overwhelmed their resources.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

jclarkdawe
08-09-2012, 03:23 AM
After I posted my response, I went and looked at some material. I'd forgotten about the Koreantown aspect of the riots. The question that you need to answer is whether the police were sympathetic to the Korean's situation, or not. Because I think that will be the answer to this situation.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

mreilly19
08-09-2012, 05:00 PM
That's exactly the angle I was going for; the police do support the Korean merchants and are frustrated that they've been ordered to pull back to the border of Koreatown, so that's going to make them sympathetic to my characters, who were there helping to protect property and not loot.

I've revised my story as thus:

Main characters approach police roadblock by car en route TO Koreatown. "Hi officers, are the roads closed? You're recommending people stay out of Koreatown? OK, we're going home then." The cops don't specifically say "You cannot proceed" but rather "We're advising all citizens to stay clear." No confrontational or negative interactions. The characters then enter Koreatown via car using a narrow side street and avoid police detection.

Coming OUT of Koreatown it's the same chase scene (my characters are on foot, actually, and the car of bad guys is trying to hit them) with the police using deadly force to protect these pedestrians from the thugs in the car. I realize shooting at a moving car may yield unlikely results and may boil down to a fifty-fifty chance the police would actually engage like this, but since it's important to the story (I present multiple types of people during that period in L.A. - bad rioters, good minorities, bad cops, good cops, etc.) I'll squeeze it in.

The cops recognize my characters from earlier, but don't frisk or detain them since they were pedestrians coming out of the riot zone who were clearly about to be victims. My characters have brought two Koreans with them who owned the store they were help protecting, so it's clear they were evacuating a hot spot and not causing trouble. The cops DO ask my characters "Hey, didn't we see you earlier today?" My characters respond "Yes, we went home then these Korean friends of ours called us and begged us for a ride home since they were stranded" (which is true). I think I can make it all fit somehow without too much suspension of disbelief.

Thanks!


After I posted my response, I went and looked at some material. I'd forgotten about the Koreantown aspect of the riots. The question that you need to answer is whether the police were sympathetic to the Korean's situation, or not. Because I think that will be the answer to this situation.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

Steve Collins
08-09-2012, 05:21 PM
FWIW, it's usually a very bad idea to shoot at a moving car, notwithstanding that moving targets are hard to hit anyway. Even if the shooter scores hits, the projectiles won't stop it - simple physics. In the off chance a round strikes the operator (let's assume a CNS hit that turns him off like a light bulb), the vehicle (mass) is still moving (velocity/inertia) and likely won't stop until it hits something of more significant mass or runs out of fuel.

Consequently, most LE agencies strongly discourage shooting at moving vehicles. Aside from the tactical shortcomings, the subsequent civil liability exposure can be staggering - and not just for the individual officers, but the agency and the jurisdiction (govt body) as well. Civil cases can and frequently do drag on for years.

It may work well for your story, but be aware of the reality. Even in a riot situation, the laws of physics will prevail.

As always Mike is right. Never shoot at or from a moving vehicle. That said, in a full blown riot situation anything is possible.

Trebor1415
08-09-2012, 08:43 PM
As always Mike is right. Never shoot at or from a moving vehicle. That said, in a full blown riot situation anything is possible.

The LA riots were 20 years ago. At the time the police were more likely to shoot at a moving vehicle than now. Thinking has changed on this issue over time.

Heck, if you go back 30 years, to 1982 or so, cops shooting FROM moving vehicles was still an accepted practice.

Go back another 10 to 15 years, say 1968 to 1972, and "Warning shots" were still part of police practice in many jurisdictions.

The thoughts on what is a justifiable use of force and what the best police practices are do change over time.

anguswalker
08-13-2012, 01:04 PM
It is extraordinary by the way reading this thread from the UK. There were serious riots here in the late 80s (a policeman killed in Broadwater Farm for instance) and the debate then, re-energised during the disturbances last summer, was over whether police should be allowed plastic baton rounds and/or water cannon. Neither has in fact ever been used on the British mainland, so the idea of police using live ammunition during a riot is mind-blowing.

Interestingly, during the prolonged and bloody disturbances in the 60s-90s in Northern Ireland both plastic baton rounds (rubber bullets) and water cannon were used and it has frequently been argued that the use of force by police, though well below US levels, exacerbated the Troubles (see here (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/dec/21/plastic-bullets-policing-north-ireland)for instance).

Steve Collins
08-13-2012, 07:17 PM
Angus,
I was at the Broadwater Farm riots and we did have baton rounds there the only problem was that senior officers were too spineless to deploy them even when PC Keith Blakelock had his head hacked off which theuy wanted to mount on a pole and parade through the streets. Figure that one out.

Melina
08-16-2012, 11:32 PM
I found a great article on policy with regard to police firing at/from moving vehicles:

http://www.lawofficer.com/article/magazine-feature/shooting-moving-vehicles

mreilly19
08-18-2012, 07:35 AM
Thank you, this is really helpful!

On a side note, I did some scholastic "research" for my story and went shooting the other day with a .357 to make sure I got the scenes right (the LA police in my story carry .45s but my protagonist has a Colt Python .357). I will need to update said scenes to account for the ringing of ears and the incredible kick of the handgun - no "one-handed" firing scenes in my book!


I found a great article on policy with regard to police firing at/from moving vehicles:

http://www.lawofficer.com/article/magazine-feature/shooting-moving-vehicles

Trebor1415
08-18-2012, 10:55 AM
Thank you, this is really helpful!

On a side note, I did some scholastic "research" for my story and went shooting the other day with a .357 to make sure I got the scenes right (the LA police in my story carry .45s but my protagonist has a Colt Python .357). I will need to update said scenes to account for the ringing of ears and the incredible kick of the handgun - no "one-handed" firing scenes in my book!

I hope you wore hearing protection while shooting. Hearing damage is cumulative and permement. Ringing in the ears is not a good sign. Unless you're life is on the line you shouldn't shoot without hearing protection. (Especially a loud handgun like a .357)

During a fight the shooter is likely NOT going to notice the loud gunshots during the fight. In many cases a phenonomeon called "auditory exclusion" kicks in. This is a psychological event where "unimportant" sounds are basically not heard. The sound is there, and the hearing damage can/will still occur, but the person doesn't register the noise at the time.

It doesn't occur 100%, but it is still farily common. They may still notice a ringing of the ears later.

You should do some other research on the other pysiological and psychological reactions to stress that can occur in a gunfight. These include tunnel vision, auditory exclusion, loss of fine motor control, and adreline rush. Afterwards many people report that they get "the shakes" as the adreliene drains from their system.

As to one handed shooting, it is a valid technique and some studies indicate that many people wind up shooting with one hand in a gunfight especially in a close range fight that occurs quickly. The odds of the shooter using only one hand for at least part of the fight goes up even more if the shooter moves during the fight.

Now, your recoil control isn't as good shooting one handed and it will take a little longer to get the gun back on target for followup shots. This is very dependent on the caliber of the gun. The muzzle flip will be much more noticeable with a .357 Magnum than with a .38 Special.

Last point: Back in 1992 the LAPD carried Beretta 92 semi-auto pistols in 9mm. Some older officers still carried S&W Model 15 revolvers in .38 Special. Those were the standard issue guns. I believe the LAPD SWAT team carried 1911 pistols in .45 ACP, but the "regular cops" did NOT carry .45's back then.

mreilly19
08-18-2012, 09:48 PM
Great tip about the LAPD carrying 9mm Berettas - thanks. I may write in a scene involving the LAPD SWAT team specifically so I can reference what guns they possess. :-)

I did have ear plugs when I shot yesterday but those weren't the greatest... I'm going to buy some shooting earmuffs. The gun in question is mine; a Ruger LCR .38/.357 I just picked up. I wanted the Colt Python (nickel 4") but for $1895 that was a bit steep... maybe some day.

I've written the hearing protection issue into my story and equipped my protagonists with earplugs. I have a few "brief" shootout scenes during the riots in my story plus one climactic gunfight at the end between the M C/antagonist in which the details you mention will definitely come in handy. My MC does not actually shoot anyone during the riots so I spare him the psychological trauma of hurting/killing anyone (but another character does wound someone and I work in his guilt). However, I feel I need to make him a bit less blase about the encounters he does have; he's scared but takes it a bit too coolly for an amater, so mixing this stuff in will definitely be helpful. I'm going for as much realism as I can get so the reader will find this completely believable - I don't do sarcastic one liners or make my characters invincible gods.

That being said, good to know about the one handed shooting during a gunfight; I have also read that nothing occurs in a "linear" sense in that people don't make calm and rational decisions in a step-by-step basis, and later can have real troubles recalling what exactly happened. In the final shootout I have my MC explain to the reader that he's relating the story based on the still images in his head of what he saw; the bad guy seemed closer than he really was, his girlfriend (who was in the room) wasn't where he expected her to be, gunshots didn't seem to be loud or even noticeable, and there was no recognizable thought process to what anyone was doing; it was just pure survival. Will also do some research on those other reactions and work them in.

Thanks!


I hope you wore hearing protection while shooting. Hearing damage is cumulative and permement. Ringing in the ears is not a good sign. Unless you're life is on the line you shouldn't shoot without hearing protection. (Especially a loud handgun like a .357)

During a fight the shooter is likely NOT going to notice the loud gunshots during the fight. In many cases a phenonomeon called "auditory exclusion" kicks in. This is a psychological event where "unimportant" sounds are basically not heard. The sound is there, and the hearing damage can/will still occur, but the person doesn't register the noise at the time.

It doesn't occur 100%, but it is still farily common. They may still notice a ringing of the ears later.

You should do some other research on the other pysiological and psychological reactions to stress that can occur in a gunfight. These include tunnel vision, auditory exclusion, loss of fine motor control, and adreline rush. Afterwards many people report that they get "the shakes" as the adreliene drains from their system.

As to one handed shooting, it is a valid technique and some studies indicate that many people wind up shooting with one hand in a gunfight especially in a close range fight that occurs quickly. The odds of the shooter using only one hand for at least part of the fight goes up even more if the shooter moves during the fight.

Now, your recoil control isn't as good shooting one handed and it will take a little longer to get the gun back on target for followup shots. This is very dependent on the caliber of the gun. The muzzle flip will be much more noticeable with a .357 Magnum than with a .38 Special.

Last point: Back in 1992 the LAPD carried Beretta 92 semi-auto pistols in 9mm. Some older officers still carried S&W Model 15 revolvers in .38 Special. Those were the standard issue guns. I believe the LAPD SWAT team carried 1911 pistols in .45 ACP, but the "regular cops" did NOT carry .45's back then.

Trebor1415
08-18-2012, 11:22 PM
Now that you bought a gun a good training class is the logical next step. Look for a NRA Basic Pistol or similiar class in your area. The NRA website lists some classes and you can also ask around at local gun shops. The time to develop good technique under the watchful eye of an instructor is now, at the start of your shooting career.

As to reading more about gunfights, Google up "The Ayoob Files". Mas Ayoob is an instructor and writer who interviews gunfight survivors and recreates the fight in his articles. He examines what happened, what the survivors remember, gives insight on what went wrong, etc. There are a bunch of articles online. Just Google "The Ayoob Files" and you should get some hits.

WeaselFire
08-19-2012, 12:00 AM
One of the reasons many police officers won't use a 9mm or .38 is because the rounds tend to skip off a windshield. :)

Yes, officers shoot at moving vehicles. Normally these vehicles are headed toward them and are viable threats to an officer or others. But someone in a moving vehicle firing at an officer or others could easily result in officers returning fire.

Jeff