Lie face down and let yourself be handcuffed?

On Sept. 28 a Clark County coroner’s inquest jury predictably found three Las Vegas Metro police officers did nothing criminal when they shot and killed West Point graduate Erik Scott as he exited a suburban Costco store shortly after high noon on Saturday, July 10.

Medical testimony established the 38-year-old Scott was stewed to the gills on prescription painkillers when he entered the Costco on July 10.

The story’s well-known by now. Mr. Scott came to the attention of store management when he was spotted stripping the wrappers off cases of reusable water bottles and experimenting to see if they’d fit in a backpack. When assistant manager Vince Lopez intervened, he noticed Scott was wearing a handgun in his waistband. He told Scott the store had a no-firearms policy.

Scott had a concealed carry permit for his .45 — though apparently not for the .380 Ruger in his pocket. Mr. Lopez testified Scott “told me that it’s a (expletive)-up policy, and he continued to say he was a Green Beret, he could carry a gun wherever he went, and he wasn’t going to put up with that.”

(Although he was honorably discharged, authorities found Scott had no special forces training. Nor is there any “Green Beret exception” under Nevada law.)

Costco employees called police. The first officer on the scene, William Mosher, met the assistant manager outside the store, and instructed him to evacuate the building. As 50 people flushed out of the store, Officer Mosher pointed his handgun at Scott’s chest and shouted at him to get on the ground. Witnesses report that, after failing to react for several seconds, Scott lifted his T-shirt with his left hand and reached toward his holstered firearm with his right. They disagreed about whether Scott appeared to be attempting to draw and fire, or whether he may have been attempting to remove the holstered weapon and hand it over — which would have been an unwise move, to say the least.

Scott’s Kimber .45 was later found on the ground, still in its holster. Scott ended up dead, shot seven times, five in the back, by the three Metro officers on the scene.
The jury was asked to determine whether the police officers acted “with criminal intent,” and found they did not. That’s a sensible verdict, given the question asked.
Erik Scott did a lot of things wrong that day.

But did Officer Mosher’s instruction to stage an evacuation unnecessarily escalate the situation into one where the necessity of making a split-second “shoot/don’t shoot” decision became more likely?

Sheriff Doug Gillespie tells me his department’s Use-of-Force Review Board will examine that question.

In the long run, I found the most interesting testimony in the Scott inquest came from another witness, Christopher Villareale, who testified he watched the entire confrontation after being one of the last to leave the store.

Because Erik Scott did not comply with orders, Officer Mosher “did the right thing in shooting him,” Mr. Villareale said.

Encouraged in his chatty and useful testimony by the assistant D.A., Mr. Villareale proceeded to explain how things are supposed to go when one has a concealed carry permit and a police officer arrives on the scene.

Mr. Villareale, who himself has a concealed weapons permit, reported his own confrontation with police about a year before. He said he dialed 9-1-1 on his cell phone in that earlier incident, and that before police arrived he placed both his cell phone and his pistol on the ground in plain sight. When police arrived, he lay face down on the ground and let himself be handcuffed.

After police investigated, they set him free and gave him his back his handgun, unloaded, he said, quite cheerfully. Mr. Villareale clearly implied every sensible permit holder knows this is the way things are supposed to go.

There are several things that disturb me, here.

Yes, it’s sure dumb to make any movement that a cop could interpret as “preparing to draw a weapon” when confronted by an armed officer, pumping adrenalin and shouting at you.

But where is the statute that says we must instantly obey every shouted command of a police officer, and the punishment for failing to do so is death?

Meantime, why is the public now informed that a “license to carry a concealed weapon” actually constitutes a “license to be made to lie face down on the ground, to be handcuffed and disarmed until police are confident they have everything under control”?

The main purpose of the Second & 14th amendments is to retain our power to resist government authority should it someday become excessive or oppressive — a day which appears to approach ever closer. Where would we be today if George Washington et al. had agreed to be handcuffed and disarmed till the Redcoats had everything “sorted out” and decided whether to return the rebels’ arms … unloaded?

Using their dog-eared playbook for ridiculing constitutional concerns, the statists will doubtless sneer “How absurd! You’re comparing doped-up Erik Scott to George Washington!”

Actually, they mean it’s absurd to “equate” anyone with George Washington. But that’s a red herring. When we say it’s important to protect the free-speech rights of a Lenny Bruce or a George Carlin (or Dutch politician Geert Wilders), lest we eventually lose the free speech rights of people more like Thomas Jefferson, we do not “equate” the importance of the speech of a comedian who wants to say some dirty words with the thought of Thomas Jefferson. We only ask, once you set the precedent that free-speech rights can be curtailed in SOME cases, when and how will you later be able to say, “Wait a minute, now you’ve gone too far”?

Similarly, once the populace accepts that a) we need a “permit” to exercise our God-given right to keep and bear arms, and then b) that what the “permit” really means is that we must lay our weapons on the ground, lie belly down like a terrified bitch, ask the authorities to please handcuff us, and then wag our tails with joy if and when they determine “We’re OK,” unshackle us and return our UNLOADED firearms … can we really stand tall and proudly declare we’ve protected our forefathers’ blood-won heritage as an armed and thus a free people?

12 Comments to “Lie face down and let yourself be handcuffed?”

  1. Michael Haggard Says:

    Vin,
    I have not seen you in nearly 10 years… but I read your work often. I have lived outside of the USA for 7 years now. Sometimes, I think about coming back to he USA. I miss owning a gun. I miss good burgers. I miss you and our circle of friends. But when I read some of your stuff, especially stuff like this… I am sure I will not be coming back. Though I live in a land without such freedoms in writing, I live more free as a legally documented and restricted foreigner here than I did in the USA for the last 10 years there.

    Miss ya, Vin,
    Keep up the work.
    I have Shrugged as Atlas and gotten out.
    -Michael from Winslow

  2. GunRights4US Says:

    I can assure you I will NOT grovel before government-costumed gang members under ANY circumstance. If by being armed I can make cops nervous – good. Its high time they were given something to fear. Mama didn’t raise a fool, so I have no intentions of provoking the bacon boys out there. But I have reached the point where I won’t be lorded over, and pity the fool who tries it.

  3. Michael O. Kreps Says:

    Vin

    I agree that the police should not automatically tell everyone they come in contact with who is carrying a concealed weapon with a permit to automatically lay down on the ground and have their weapon removed. The second amendment permits us to carry a weapon. If that is a blanket policy it needs to be changed.

    Mr. Scott had medicated drugs in his system that obviously impaired his thought process and he should have left his gun at home that day. He should not have become irate and state he was a green beret. Why did he say that? And anyone who has any knowledge of green beret training knows the person is well trained in weapons and has the skills to kill you with their bare hands.

    As a citizen I want us all to keep the right to carry a firearm but if I am sick and taking a medication that affects my thinking process I just won’t put on a weapon that day. I have personaly been on a medication after visiting my dentist and deliberately left my weapon at home because I was impared and my thought process was not 100%. Also in most states if is against the law to carry a weapon if you are on certain medication. Plus it is just common sense to leave your weapon home that day. The amount of drugs in his system was at lethal limits but because of his tolerance he was able to somewhat function.

    Officer Mosher testified that the Metro station supervisor was the one who made the decision to evacuate the building that day. Maybe it was the wrong decison but in my opinion hard to Monday morning quearterback that one.

    But thank you for raising the rigth to carry discussion because it is important we not lose that right or have it severely curtailed.

  4. augustr Says:

    Has anyone read “Meditations on Violence” or “The Little Black Book of Violence,” Both available on Amazon?

    Yes, in theory you are correct. In reality, you end up dead on the ground with five bullet holes in your back. Read the books, think about what the authors are saying. These books are not about guns, but the issues are the same.

    All cops are not like these three were, but they are not mindreaders, and just like you they want to go home to their families after work.

    That “judged by twelve” counts for them also.

  5. G3Ken Says:

    Mr Kreps shows an ignorance that I find very disturbing. If the 2nd Amendment pemits us a blanket policy to be armed “it needs to be changed”? By who, exactly? The same folks in “law enforcement” who shot Mr. Scott to death in Nevada? Of course, “they” are fine with disarming the populace, because they are exempted. I find this mentality dangerous to freedom and cops who share Mr. Kreps’ mindset are NOT my friends. I respect those who respect the rights of American citizens. I don’t much care for the term “law-abiding” citizen either as the Constitution doesn’t grant rights dependent on whether someone chooses to obey or disobey a particular statute. I’m not advocating anarchy and Mr. Scott appears to have made some mistakes of his own, but that doesn’t mean he should have forfeited his life. I could be wrong, but I think the matter, at the very least, deserves more scrutiny.

    What are “medicated drugs” exactly? In my 25+ years in medicine, I’ve never seen that term. While Mr Scott may have had “fatal” levels of opiods in his system at the time of his death, folks should be aware that this is not uncommon. Opiods ( percocet, vicodin, oxycontin etc) are one of the most commons abused drugs for this very reason. The user’s body begins to quickly build up a tolerance to the medication, requiring an increased dose to induce the same effect. While a standard Percocet (5mg. Oxycodone & 325 mg tylenol) may make most folks loopy, many patients with chronic pain can have in excess of 100 mg in their systems and function with little or no motor impairment. Nothing should be taken in a vacuum.

  6. PeaceableGuy Says:

    Neither the second amendment nor the Constitution *grants* any person any rights at all.

    Read the Declaration of Independence.

    Almighty GOD gave untransferable rights to each and every human, and out government was created to protect such rights, among which is the right to keep and bear arms without any infringement.

    That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to such ends, it is the right and duty of the people to alter or to abolish it.

    These are facts, and they stand regardless of opinions about these facts.

  7. liberranter Says:

    PeaceableGuy, I can’t think of a more perfect summation of the subject than yours, one that needs to be drilled into the thick, suet-filled heads of each and every American. Your statement should printed in bold type on index cards and glued to the nose of each and every elected politician in this nation, as well as each and every government “employee” as a reminder of the fundamental purpose of their “work.”

  8. Lava Says:

    Kreps’ advice sounds like the much-scorned advice to the rape victim, Lie down and take it.

  9. Michael O. Kreps Says:

    G3Ken

    Whether you like it or not for now the Supreme Court has ruled that the constitution permits the citizens to possess a firearm. It did not rule on what the various governments can put the citizens through before a gun can be sold to them. If you want to change the constitution there is a process to do it. It is called an amendment. You should try reading the constitution to see for yourself how it addresses the issue of gun ownership.

    At the hearing Officer Mosher stated it was a right by the citizens to own and carry a weapon. Most law enforcement people I know do not want to take firearms away from the citizens. That attitude usually comes from our liberal politicans who want to disarm the citizens. That is the first thing Hitler did to the citizens of Germany.

    And Peaceable Guy is exactly right, our founders stated in the Declaration of Independence that God gives us our rights. They then go on to state in the Constitution, under Amendment II of the right of the people to keep and bear arms. Many local and state governments have written laws restricting the ownership of guns. Don’t blame the cops on this one because most respect gunownership and do not make laws.

    Does anyone think that Mr. Scott in his condition that day should have armed himself? In my opinion from listening to the testimony the amount of prescribed drugs, (medicated was probably not the best term) in his system impaired his ability to think in a normal manner.

  10. G3Ken Says:

    I completely agree with Mr. Kreps that Mr. Scott exercised poor judgement in carrying a firearm on that fateful day. I applaud Mr. Kreps for not carrying when he feels that his judgement may be impaired. More folks need to follow his lead.

    However, I do not need the Supreme Court to tell me what I can and cannot do. They are merely 9 political appointees who “interpret” the Constitution. If anyone believes that the modern SC does not operate with an agenda, I’ve got a bridge I’d love to sell them. I am well aware what the Constitution says about gun ownership and it makes it clear that it “shall not be infringed”. The collectivist interpretation of “well-regulated” and “militia” disregards the intent of the framers. In numerous other amendments in the Bill of Rights, it speaks of ‘the People” and it is clear that those are NOT collective rights, but individual ones. Why would it mean one thing for all the others and not for the 2nd? Answer: it doesn’t. I hope he’s not arguing for the collectivists. The 2nd exists to counter “tyranny”. Any attempt to change or pervert the meaning of the 2nd, is bordering on “tyranny” and we know what happened 234 years ago.

  11. Lee Says:

    It’s an interesting and tragic case involving quite a bit more than you have laid out in your post. I’d take a look at the analysis and speculation at Confederate Yankee for more details.

    http://confederateyankee.mu.nu/archives/cat_erik_scott_case.php

  12. JCMYHOPE Says:

    Folks are geting sick and tired of the GOV telling us (we the people) what the 2ed amendment means, and that the Constitution is an involving document.
    Vin you spark me into thinking about what the Constitution really means and (not) just some dirty old peice of paper laying in some Museum, look at all the independence days of france,mexico, and other countrys they CELEBRATE what ! no more freedoms, taken away there guns after ww2 saying to there citizens we trust you with guns when theres war but not afterwards !

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