Austin PO Armando Perez Gets Off The Second Shot
October 25, 2016 (Fault Lines) – On April 13, 2016, Darrin Martin, 25, decided to burglarize a car and was seen doing so by the concierge of a nearby apartment building in Austin, Texas. The concierge gave chase and was struggling with Martin when Officer Armando Perez of the Austin Police Department saw the struggle. As Perez pulled up and exited the vehicle, the concierge told the officer that Martin had been breaking into a car. Perez and the concierge tried to subdue and handcuff Martin when Martin pulled a gun and shot Perez in the stomach, below his bullet resistant vest. Perez then drew his gun, shooting and killing Martin.
The video is crystal clear. At 0:27 you hear the officer ask, “what did he do” and the concierge respond. At about 0:50 you see the concierge move back and Perez go for his holstered pistol. By 0:56, Martin has shot the officer and the officer has returned fire while moving away towards cover and safety. At 1:00 Perez puts out on the radio that he’s been shot, and has fired shots.
Look at how quickly this event took to unfold. It started as a normal arrest, an officer seeing someone trying to restrain another person and stopping to investigate. In less than five seconds, Martin has gone from a non-compliant suspect to an aggressor with a firearm. Martin has the advantage and indeed gets the first shot off, one that wounds the officer despite the officer wearing a vest.
You see, when an officer is fitted for a vest, they should always put it on while wearing their duty belt, and should then sit down. If the vest is too long, the pistol belt will push the vest up to where the top of the vest pushes into the officer’s neck. Thus, a properly fitted vest will always have a gap between the pistol belt and the bottom of the vest where the officer is not protected.
Perez had the survival mindset. He knew that he had been shot, but he did not know how bad he had been hit. He focused on the task at hand, drew his own gun and fired into Martin. He then moved to cover and called for help. Perez did an outstanding job to survive in a clear case of self-defense. I would like you to compare this with the Alton Sterling shooting in Baton Rogue, Louisiana.
In both cases you had a non-compliant suspect on the ground who had a gun. In both cases, the suspect was trying to get the gun out. In Austin, with just one officer and a civilian assisting, the suspect was able to draw and shoot the officer. In Baton Rogue, the officers were not able to control the suspect’s gun arm, and shot the suspect before he could draw the pistol and shoot an officer. The sole difference is that Martin got off the first shot.
Had Martin aimed higher, he could have hit Perez in the head and the game would have been over. Instead, he fired a non-incapacitating round, which allowed Perez to stay in the fight, return fire, and to stop the felonious assault of Martin. There’s been no real protest over the killing of Martin, while there has been ample protest over the killing of Sterling. It is a cognitive disconnect on the part of the public. They realize that the shooting of Martin was justified, but they don’t understand that the shooting of Sterling was just as justified, and for the same reasons.
An officer doesn’t have to be shot or shot at in order to claim self-defense. If the suspect is trying to get a gun, that justifies deadly force by the officer.
That’s not to say it shouldn’t be investigated. It should. I would have been happier if I knew for sure that an outside agency had investigated the officer-involved shooting, but that does not change the facts. The case was still presented to a Travis County Grand Jury, which no billed the officer.
The next time that you want to jump to a conclusion on an officer shooting “too soon,” I would urge you to look at this case again. An officer does not have to wait to be shot in order to use deadly force. There is no requirement for the officer to take a bullet first.
The officer only has to have a reasonable belief that deadly force is immediately necessary to protect his or a third party’s life. That’s it.
Here it is crystal clear.