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Shoot, or not? Police officers forced to make “split second decision” between toy and real gun


This news story was published on March 9, 2014.
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OMAHA – To shoot or not to shoot.

That was the question that faced an Omaha police officer when he spotted a young male walking down a street carrying a rifle, which the male refused to drop.

Omaha police described a situation late last month where officers responded a report of a black male, 18-20 years of age in a black hoodie, walking down a residential street carrying a rifle.

Omaha police officers Brendan O’Flynn and Chris Groth responded to the call. The ensuing incident then unfolded, as described by Omaha police:

Officer Chris Groth shows difference between toy and real gun (Omaha police social media)

Officer Chris Groth shows difference between toy and real gun
(Omaha police social media)

Officer O’Flynn observes a black male in a puffy coat carrying a black assault rifle in front of a gas station. Officer O’Flynn jumps out of his cruiser and with his gun aimed at the suspect, yells for him to drop the gun. The man holding the gun switches the gun to the other hand. Again Officer O’Flynn commands the suspect to put down the gun.What is the outcome of this story? At this point Officer O’Flynn has every reason to believe the suspect may shoot at him or some other innocent victim. He has a split second to make a decision.

Thankfully for all involved the suspect drops the gun. It is at that point when the gun hits the pavement, that Officer O’Flynn hears the rattle of the gun and realizes that it is not a high powered rifle but a bb gun. The suspect carrying the realistic looking rifle is 14 years old and tells Officer O’Flynn he purposely colored the “toy identifying” orange cap black so the gun would look more realistic.

This story has so many other possible outcomes. What if this young boy would have pointed the gun at a car load of gang members? What if he had walked into a store with an armed owner? What if he didn’t drop the weapon and Officer O’Flynn was forced to use deadly force on a 14-year-old? Just recently a 13-year-old boy was killed by Santa Rosa officers when he was also told to put down the assault rifle. Unfortunately, he chose to ignore the command and turned towards the officers. He didn’t survive.

So back to the outcome of this story, when speaking with the officers, the suspect showed no remorse or concern for what had just happened. When his mother appeared on scene she destroyed the gun, so that makes one less altered toy gun off the street. Make no mistake though, this post isn’t about gun control, it is about bad choices that have the potential for a deadly outcome.

This young man is lucky. He is lucky that he put the gun down when he did. He is lucky to have a concerned mother in his life. He is very lucky to be alive. If you had to decide if the gun was real would you be able to make that decision?

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9 Responses to Shoot, or not? Police officers forced to make “split second decision” between toy and real gun

  1. Maybe Reply Report comment

    March 9, 2014 at 10:29 pm

    I was just thinking of something. Say you get stopped and you have a CCW, you should hand the permit as well as your drivers license to the officer. Ok that being said, you have done everything correctly up till now. Then they will ask you for your weapon so check to see if it is stolen. If I have done everything correctly and have given them no indication that I am a criminal then why would they want to call in my weapon and would you surrender it to them?

  2. Philosophus Reply Report comment

    March 9, 2014 at 8:22 pm

    In a “Right to Keep and Bear Arms” nation, why would the officer have the right to interfere at all? If someone was walking down the street with that type of assault rifle in today’s world of mass shootings, prudent thinking would dictate the police investigate, but if a citizen has the right to keep and bear arms, why is it then assumed you must drop your weapon when the police order you to? Perhaps the right to keep and bear arms is really just an illusion after all.

    • Maybe Reply Report comment

      March 9, 2014 at 9:01 pm

      I would be willing to bet that he wasn’t carrying an assault weapon since they have been illegal since 1934 unless you have the proper license and permits, which I doubt he had. A semi automatic rifle is just that, NOT an assault weapon.

    • Philosophus Reply Report comment

      March 9, 2014 at 9:47 pm

      The cops are going to automatically assume the worst when a black male is walking around carrying an assault weapon-real or not. I completely understand why people would be freaked out…as I would also, but if we stick to the letter of our Constitution, a citizen “bearing arms” shouldn’t be an automatic police confrontation / standoff resulting in your death if you don’t comply immediately to police orders. Imagine if a British Red Coat ordered a Patriot to drop and surrender his weapon?

      • Maybe Reply Report comment

        March 9, 2014 at 10:05 pm

        You are doing what every liberal is doing, lumping every weapon into 1 category, assault weapon. It may not be anything to you but to me I see it as brain washing those with weak minds. The cops saw him walking with a rifle, is that so freaking hard to say?

      • Philosophus Reply Report comment

        March 9, 2014 at 10:11 pm

        Is the act of walking around with a potential weapon (a 2nd Amendment Constitutional Right) sufficient enough grounds to to invoke probable cause, and breech your 4th Amendment Rights to be secure in your person from unlawful searches and seizures? The police are acting on “potential harm”, rather than actual harm. Must you “get approval” from the police to exercise your 2nd Amendment right? If the police and the government themselves are corrupt…why would you ask them for permission?

        • Maybe Reply Report comment

          March 9, 2014 at 10:14 pm

          You are preaching to the choir there, I totally agree with you, it was your constant use of the phrase assault weapon even though you knew it wasn’t.

          • Philosophus

            March 10, 2014 at 6:01 am

            #maybe, relax. You are getting too worked up over semantics Those rifles were designed for “assaults” ie military application, thus the term carry over. I’m not trying to label the weapon into a corner so I can eliminate it, like some are trying to do. In theory, I support a citizen’s right to own or manufacture the very same weapons the military and police forces use, although practically I’m not sure how that would work. The people should be able to at least meet force with force.

  3. LVS Reply Report comment

    March 9, 2014 at 6:30 pm

    I had that happen to me a couple of years back. A young man (who just happened to be black) was walking down the street with a rifle in his hands. When he saw me looking at him he pulled it up and pointed it at me. The next think he knew he was looking down the barrel of my 357. I held my shot and told him to put the gun down on the ground which he finally did. Turned out to be a pellet gun. I chewed the hell out of him and told him he was very close to being killed and never to point again