EPISODE 15

RECONCILING LETHAL FORCE

The JonBenet Ramsey Murder Mystery

In the mid-90s a little girl was reported to be kidnapped but was later found dead in the basement of her large, Boulder CO home. The case remains unsolved today, and several procedural errors on behalf of the officers and investigators who responded to the scene tainted our best chances to identify and prosecute Jon Benet’s killer. Many believe the parents or her older brother were to blame. A sex offender claimed to be responsible but there wasn’t sufficient evidence to prove it. Some think that the family’s wealth and political ties had something to do with it. We may not ever know the truth. Mike and Jim give a synopsis of the event and talk about some of the mis-steps that might have helped detectives solve the mystery.

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“I would just shoot him,” and other imaginary outcomes.

Most of us have daydreamed, imagined, and rehearsed what certain survival or self-defense encounters will look like in our minds, so we are going to make fun of our younger-selves and shed some light on something we are all guilty of: The Tactical Fantasy. This episode is about making sure that we ground those fantasies in reality. This goes beyond truck guns and the Zombie Apocalypse, it also speaks to the OODA loop, tactics, risk management, and other important concepts. Mike and Jim walk through some practical steps to stage our equipment, preparedness, and mindset accordingly.

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The Millennium Bomber: Terrorist Attack Thwarted by CBP

A terror plot at the turn of the century was thwarted by the professionalism of CBP Agent Diana Dean. You might not have heard of the foiled plot to bomb the Los Angeles International Airport amidst New Year’s celebrations for the year 2000. This Al Qaeda sponsored terrorist attack was prevented by an Agent who noted Ahmed Ressam’s suspicious behavior and sent him to a secondary inspection. We touch on pre-attack indicators, the radicalization process, and a defense strategy called “The Swiss Cheese Model.”

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A police officer on the east coast was fired for failing to shoot a suicidal person with a gun. We talk about applying critical thinking to discussions like this, because it’s important that we consider the arguments of both sides to such a debate. We’re going to talk about context in use of force, how lawsuits and litigation fit in to these sorts of discussions, and reconciling the fact that sometimes cops have to kill otherwise good people.

Original news incident that we cover

Remember that we publish new episodes on the 1st and the 15th of every month!

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Intro music credit: Bensound.com

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Additional episode details

Mike and Jim are going to give an overview of an incident involving Officer Stephen Mader of the Weirton West Virginia Police Department. Ofc. Mader is a Marine veteran who was involved in a confrontation with a suicidal person with a gun. Mader opted to not shoot the suicidal man and other officers on scene, seeing a gun in his hand, shot and killed the man. Mader was fired for his decision to not use force against a guy who other officers considered to be an obvious lethal threat. Mader fired a lawsuit against the City for wrongful termination and claimed that they smeared his name to help justify the decision of the other officers.

Mader claimed that his USMC training taught him that a person had to illustrate hostile intent to use force, and felt that this person was not likely to use force against him. We are going to talk about how difficult it can be to assume whether or not someone is going to attack us. Mader won a settlement from the city and we are going to talk about how settlements can often be “won” without actually having a legal claim—simply because it makes more business and financial sense to avoid the legal battle. 

Mike and Jim talk about having clueful friends who are willing to disagree with you, and how important it is to keep people like that in your circle to keep you honest and challenge your way of thinking. We are also going to talk about the use of force decision, related to whether or not we should shoot someone we don’t think is going to harm us. 

One of the things that comes up in this talk was a conversation that Mike had with our friend. It has to do with the fact that sometimes, cops have to kill people. Mike and Jim are going to cover the useful part of Sheeps, Wolves, and Sheepdogs—because this analogy was a useful teaching tool at one point that has kind of evolved into a caricature of police officers and members of the armed forces. We have to make sure we keep that concept in context, and remember that what it really boils down to is helping people like us reconcile the use of deadly force. Sometimes, the people on the other end of police encounters aren’t necessarily bad people, but they make decisions that force us into a corner where we have no choice but to make those difficult decisions.