Several days ago, an unfortunate shooting took place in New York City. A team of five undercover police officers were sitting in a van outside a strip club doing surveillance. There was an additional officer outside on foot in radio contact with the van. A gentleman of African American descent was celebrating his wedding which was supposed to be the next day with two of his friends.
The three individuals left the club, got into their car and came under suspicion of the officer who was on foot and in plain clothes. The officer approached the car, wearing his badge. The driver of the car bolted. The officer thereupon radioed the five officers in the van that I think he has a gun. At that point, the car with the three individuals in it crashes into the van with the five cops, not once but twice. A hale of bullets, some fifty in all follow.
One officer fired 31 times by himself. The driver of the vehicle, who was supposed to be married the next day, dies in the shooting, and his two companions were wounded. In the crime scene that followed no one finds a gun that could have been used by the gentlemen in the car. What follows next is EVERYBODY IS JOCKEYING FOR POSITION.
The Mayor announces that firing that many bullets (over 50) is "UNACCEPTABLE", while the police commissioner keeping his cool, talks about the evidence not being completely in yet to form a judgment. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton get in on the act, and stir up old angers in the African American community. The first thing I say is, "Thank God, two of the officers in question were black, and one Hispanic. The remaining two officers were white.
The second thing is that the Mayor has never been in a shoot-out. The closest he comes to a gun is the police unit that protects him, and his $10 billion dollar Forbes 400 fortune. So what is Bloomberg trying to do? We can only conjecture. It does seem possible that he is positioning himself for a run for the Presidency in 2008, and he does not want to seem overly bias to the police department. It seems to me he is patronizing the Black community, which is just as bad.
The Police Commissioner, Raymond Kelly is also positioning himself for a run for Mayor of New York in the next two years. This means he has to watch what he says also. I can't begin to imagine what a police officer has to go through to make a decision in an instant to use his gun. Human beings have five million years of evolution built into them.
The most primitive emotional basis of our history is the "Fight or Flight" response. In a moment of intense fear, or panic as in when lions were chasing us 50,000 years ago, our sympathetic nervous system kicked in. Our brains are not thinking, instead instantly, extremely powerful chemicals start to flush through the body. These include noradrenalin, adrenaline, and cortisol which are released by the adrenal glands.
These chemicals are so powerful that they overwhelm the body. Your emotional brain is preparing your body for FIGHT. The moment that first bullet went off; each officer involved assumed they were being shot at. All of them immediately emptied their automatic weapons at the car in question. NYPD officers are no longer permitted to carry revolvers as their primary weapons.
They are instead required to carry semi automatic weapons such as the Glock 17, with a five pound trigger pull and a magazine that can fire 17 rounds. It is called a Glock 17 because it was the 17th patent taken out by its inventor. Most police officers carry 15 rounds in the magazine until the spring is broken in. You can however fire all 17 rounds in seconds, and that's just what happened. The Mayor is playing to the grandstand, and knows less than nothing about a gun fight. Once you fire, you don't say to yourself is two or three shots enough? You don't even know if you have hit anything.
The adrenaline keeps pouring through your body, you can barely stand up. Unfortunately we have these preconceived attitudes generated by watching too many police shows on television. An example would be the various CSI television shows which show the crime scene detectives solving the case, and arresting the perpetrator. That's nonsense; crime scene detectives NEVER EVER arrest anyone.
They simply investigate the crime scene, and turn over the evidence to homicide detectives who do the searching and the arrests. Only in the movies and television do we see cool cops acting calm under pressure. In real life, the fear that takes over the body is completely overwhelming. At some point in each of our lives, you have probably been stopped by a police officer for a traffic violation.
You might remember the adrenaline rush you feel in your own body when this happens. What you don't know is the adrenaline rush the police officer is feeling in his body when this happens. There is nothing more frightening than a police officer pulling somebody over at night on a quiet road.
The officer has no idea what is going to happen, or who he is encountering. There is a feeling of panic that is pervasive. I am sure in the incident at the night club that the officers regret the unfortunate ending to a terrible situation. I believe that although they may be charged and tried for this incident, I do not believe that any REASONABLE jury would ever convict. If convicted by a biased jury, the case would be overturned on APPEAL.
Nevertheless, some people including the Mayor may try to make political hay out of this tragedy. If so, he will not benefit long-term, people tend to see through these situations to what is really going on. I will leave you with these thoughts. Seventy years ago, my father, than a 17 year old teenager was walking by an armored truck parked on the avenue.
The rear doors were opened and my father decided to peer in, somewhat upsetting a guard who was sitting in the truck. The guard looked at my father, and said, "You know young man; you hardly ever get into trouble minding your own business." When the car drove into the van containing the five police officers TWICE, the driver was certainly not minding his own business.
We should all pause for thought. Good luck.
Richard Stoyeck’s background includes being a limited partner at Bear Stearns, Senior VP at Lehman Brothers, Kuhn Loeb, Arthur Andersen, andKPMG. Educated at Pace University, NYU, and Harvard University, today he runs Rockefeller Capital Partners and StocksAtBottom.com http://www.stocksatbottom.com