A Fall From Grace – Rich Wyatt In Prison
Convicted on 10 of 13 counts, a Rich Wyatt prison sentence is likely and pending. He awaits sentencing on July 19, 2017, by U.S. District Court Chief Judge Marcia S. Krieger.
Sentence Update March 8, 2018: Richard Wyatt received a 6 1/2 year prison sentence, and 490 previously seized firearms were ordered forfeited. To read the full sentencing update scroll down to the bottom of the page, or click here.
Update January 18, 2018: Once again Rich has been given a continuance. The sentencing hearing has been continued again and is now scheduled for March 8, 2018 at 9:00 a.m. before Chief U.S. District Court Judge Marcia S. Krieger.
Update November 1, 2017: Richard Wyatt’s sentencing hearing has been reset, perhaps for the last time, to January 18, 2018 at 09:00 AM in Courtroom A 901, at the Alfred A. Arraj Federal Courthouse in Denver, Chief Judge Marcia S. Krieger presiding. It had been tentatively set for December 19, 2017 but that date was vacated by the judge. I would imagine that there won’t be many more delays before Wyatt is finally sentenced. Stay tuned.
Update September 22, 2017: Wyatt’s new attorney has yet to inform the court as to when they’ll be properly prepared to represent him during the sentencing hearing. It’s a delay tactic most likely. I’ve been told that it’s highly likely that a date will be set in October, meaning Wyatt’s sentencing date will be scheduled in October, for a later date, perhaps November or December even. I’ll update here as soon that occurs.
Update August 10, 2017: Rich fired his attorney (who had apparently requested to withdraw as counsel anyway) and so the judge will give new counsel some time to become familiar with the case specifics before proceeding with sentencing. The judge will likely schedule a new hearing within a week or two and when that happens I’ll update here.
Update July 20, 2017: I was in contact with the United States Attorney’s Office, District of Colorado, and was told that on June 27, 2017, Chief Judge Marcia Krieger reset Wyatt’s sentencing date. It’s currently scheduled for August 10, 2017 at 9:00 a.m.. However, on July 10, 2017, Wyatt’s attorney asked to withdraw as counsel, so that could change the sentencing hearing date yet again.
Rich Wyatt was found guilty on March 10, 2017 of 10 federal charges- one count of conspiracy to deal in firearms without a license and 9 various tax charges. He faces up to 15 years in prison.
The jury, which deliberated for 5 days, was hung on 3 other charges related to importing illegal weapons.
Rich Wyatt lost his Federal Firearms License (FFL) in April, 2012 (yes, in the middle of Discovery’s American Guns television series) due to violations of federal laws and regulations. But he continued to operate his gun store and sell firearms under a straw license belonging to someone else.
After he surrendered his FFL, Wyatt was found to have changed the address for Triggers Firearms LLC’s (Triggers) FFL to that of Gunsmoke, so that he could continue to sell firearms out of his store. Bottom line, Triggers was acting as a straw licensee for Gunsmoke without having lawfully transferred ownership of the firearms later sold under the scheme.
The Rich Wyatt trial will likely have the positive effect of forcing gun shops and those in the industry to tighten things up a bit, which is good for those of us who love guns because this negative attention only fuels the fires of rabid progressives.
Then there’s the tax issue. According to the United States Attorney’s Office, District of Colorado, Wyatt failed to pay personal income tax in years 2009, when he made approximately $290,000, in 2010, when he made approximately $123,000, and in 2012, when he made approximately $689,000.
Further, in 2010, 2011 and 2012, Wyatt failed to pay corporate taxes. In 2012, Wyatt willfully filed a tax return he knew to be false, stating that he lost money, when in fact he made at least $350,000 that he failed to disclose.
Related to these charges, back in 2013 agents executed a Search Warrant on Wyatt’s Gunsmoke Shop and that event created a lot attention. You can see a copy of that affidavit at the bottom of this article. Here’s a news report of agents searching Gunsmoke.
That’s a whole lot of bad! Who is Rich Wyatt any way?
You know him as the front man of American Guns and the amped-up owner of Gunsmoke Guns in Wheat Ridge, Colorado, which is a bustling suburb of Denver.
American Guns was the popular Discovery TV reality show which aired for two seasons in 2011 and 2012 before Discovery bowed to liberal pressures and cancelled the show.
Rich’s somewhat ‘high and tight’ haircut gives an enduring ‘clean cut and honest’ impression and his fast-talking, in-your-face mannerism makes him seem like half award-winning salesman and half professor.
The headline “Rich Wyatt Arrested” was seen virtually around the globe as Wyatt turned himself in to law enforcement on Thursday, February 11, 2016, related to these latest charges for which he was convicted.
Rich Wyatt Today
To understand Rich Wyatt today we should go back almost 2 decades to see the somewhat troubled path that led to his current, self-inflicted predicament.
Rich Wyatt says in his profile that he first attended Jeff Coopers Orange Gunsite Ranch in 1987 and after instructing with Col. Jeff Cooper for several years was certified as one of only six Master Instructors by the Col.
Rich claims he is also certified by the NRA, the P.O.S.T. board and the FBI. His profile continues that he is “certified by most major manufactures of firearms as an armorer. He has taught thousands of student in both law enforcement and the private sector. He also had the honor of traveling and hunting Africa with Col. Jeff Cooper. Rich is also the host of Spike TV’s Don’t be a Victim series Practical Tactical.”
Rich Wyatt has always had flair for the dramatic. In 2002, Wyatt bought an ad in Soldier of Fortune magazine offering a $100,000 reward to anybody who killed Osama bin Laden with one of his Gunsmoke rifles.
However, few people know that Wyatt also ran for Jefferson County Sheriff in 2002 (Golden, Colorado is the county seat and it’s a Denver suburb). He was unsuccessful, coming in second place in the County Assembly to Russ Cook, so he didn’t even make it to the Primary.
Not being one to shy away from the limelight or to “not win”, Rich Wyatt filed a lawsuit against his opponent. The lawsuit was dismissed and Sheriff Cook went on to win the election. Though in a bit of unrelated irony Sheriff Cook would resign 6 months after taking office in 2003, admitting that he was an alcoholic and needed help.
Rich says that he has 22 years in law enforcement and 25 years experience in firearms training. He claims to have “retired” as Chief of Police in Alma, Colorado.
However, the city of Alma disagrees and claims that he was fired in 2005. In a lawsuit filed in Park County, Colorado on May 23, 2013, in an attempt to get back the badge and credentials, the City of Alma claims that Wyatt was asked to turn his badge and city property in but he refused:
“Wyatt, who was fired in 2005, held on to his badge after his termination even though he had been asked to turn in all town property he possessed.“
That doesn’t at all sound like someone who “retired” and who left on good terms.
Apparently this suit was filed so many years later because Wyatt had used the credentials to get entry into a government event. More specifically,
“Wyatt used the credentials to get into the Colorado State Capitol building in March  to participate in discussions regarding pending gun legislation. He allegedly represented himself as a retired Chief of Police and then presented his badge.”
Rich Wyatt Divorce
On February 02, 2005 Rich Wyatt was arrested by the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Fugitive Apprehension Team, without incident, at Wyatt’s Gunsmoke shop. The arrest stemmed from Contempt of Court charges related to his 2002 divorce from ex-wife Rebecca Wyatt.
The two were divorced in 2002 and the judge in that settlement ordered Rich to pay his ex-wife $4,100 a month and to surrender to her two firearms. Rich was granted ownership of two parcels of real estate.
Rich being Rich, he didn’t pay the court-ordered money nor did he surrender the two firearms. Landing back in court he told the judge that he couldn’t afford the payments, which is when the ex-wife’s council provided bank statements showing otherwise.
The 2005 incident was a continuation of the 2002 divorce settlement and his ex-wife’s attempt to get the money and firearms, and something else… the Judge in the divorce case ordered Wyatt to return 100 nude photos of Rebecca.
Wyatt allegedly returned some of the photos but only after marking them up with lewd comments and remarks. Having enough the judge ordered his arrest for contempt. The ex-wife’s attorney, George Johnson, somewhat prophetically called Wyatt a ‘scofflaw’.
It’s not clear right now whether or nor Wyatt was still the Chief of Police at the time of his arrest, and perhaps it was the arrest itself that led to his dismissal, but the divorce almost certainly played a role.
Meet The Wyatt Family @ American Guns
Rich and Renee married sometime late 2005 or early 2006 and well before American Guns aired on The Discovery Channel. The children on the show, Paige and Curt, are not Rich’s biological children though they now bear his name.
It’s uncertain if they’re legally adopted by Rich or if the name usage was for TV only, though both still use the name Wyatt publicly. They were both born with their father’s last name, Grewcock.
Rich and Renee do have two biological children together, Brooke was born in 2006 and Ginger was born in 2009.
Rich was always one to find an opportunity, call it hard work or hustle. In 2011 he landed the Discovery gig and the show shot off with a lot of popularity. Season 2 was even more popular before the Sandy Hook shooting gave progressives another reason to wet themselves. Discovery bowed to the loud-mouthed pressure of the minority liberal fringe and canceled the show.
It’s unclear what will happen to the Gunsmoke and/or American Guns brand, but hopefully Renee and the kids pick up the pieces of Rich’s shenanigans and make the most of it. People seemed to be interested in their characters, given the reality-loving nature of us Americans.
The End Of An Era
Rich had a tumultuous life and climbed from obscurity to semi-fame, only to lose himself to greed and arrogance. Where it not for his defenseless decisions he could’ve rode off into the sunset, a millionaire and famous.
Where is Rich Wyatt now? Sitting in a jail cell somewhere in the Rockies waiting until July so that he can find out his fate. While it’s unlikely that he’ll serve a full 15 year sentence, it seems almost certain that he’ll be a full-time prison inmate soon.
Along with Richard’s 6 1/2 year prison sentence, he’ll be on supervised parole for another 3 years after he’s released. Of course 490 of the weapons that had been seized by the feds were ordered forfeited since they had been used in the commission of his crimes.
And then there’s the matter of fines and penalties for the Tax Evasion portion of his conviction, and those will be determined at hearing at some point in the future; I imagine they’ll be significant. His back taxes exceed $500,000 for 2009 – 2012, so yea, he’s in deep.
Here’s what U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer had to say about Wyatt.
A man has to make a choice, and Wyatt chose wrong. Unless your ambition is to serve a long sentence in prison, selling guns illegally and cheating on your taxes are going to be bad choices. Click To Tweet
As I had previously reported, Gunsmoke was using a straw license to sell guns. That is, they would have customers go to the other business (Triggers, a store in Castle Rock, Colorado) for the background check and paperwork, but the customer paid Gunsmoke.
And Wyatt was purposely covering up his shenanigans. Here’s more specific details that I’ve learned about the cover up.
Without a federal firearms license, Wyatt ran his business by directing Gunsmoke employees to enter firearm sales in Gunsmoke’s computer point of sales software system as “miscellaneous” sales rather than firearm sales.
Wyatt’s attorney had pleaded with the court to deliver a maximum sentence of 2 1/2 years, citing Wyatt’s loss of his 2nd Amendment rights as “severe as could be imagined aside from incarceration.” As you know a felony conviction causes a person to forfeit certain rights, which is a matter for discussion in and of itself.
In another failed attempt to gain leniency, Wyatt’s attorney referenced his client’s law enforcement background in order to paint some shade of favorable character… it failed miserably.
Both the U.S. attorneys and Chief Judge Krieger agreed that his being a former law enforcement officer only made Wyatt’s actions worse because it highlighted his blatant and willful disregard for the law.
Wyatt apologized to his family, friends and community for the damage and suffering he caused them. He went on to say:
“But I got in a little bit over my head. The pressure of it. The places I got to go and the people I got to meet … I drank the Kool-Aid and I thought I was special.”
The Denver Post’s Elizabeth Hernandez reports that when asked by the judge what he felt he did wrong, Wyatt answered “I didn’t do the paperwork, I didn’t pay my fair share.”
When Chief Judge Krieger was handing down her sentence, she cited Wyatt’s statement as evidence of his not fully understanding what he did wrong or how serious his crimes were. The Judge went on to say that Wyatt appeared to be only remorseful for his situation and not for his bad choices.
With Wyatt’s felony conviction comes the end of his firearms ownership and thereby any chance he had at resurrecting the Gunsmoke era. As of this writing he’s being held at the Federal Transfer Center in Oklahoma City as he waits for his final prison transfer.
Do you think the charges were too much or not enough, and do you think he ought to serve jail time for those crimes? What do you think about Rich Wyatt? Let me know in the comments.
1 Ted Cruz Booed For RNC Speech
It’s official. Ted Cruz Booed as he shows that he cares more about himself and his ego and his career than he does for the United Sates of America, and certainly more than he cares about the 2nd Amendment.
The outrageous and embarrassing Ted Cruz speech at the RNC tonight did more than get him and his wife Heidi Cruz booed (security had to escort her out of the convention), he mistakenly let his own ego and pride and wallet ruin his career and simultaneously he left the 2nd Amendment hanging in the wind like a jackass’s tail following his convention antics.
I was one of the earliest opponents of Donald Trump for President; it didn’t seem right because of the preconceived ideas I had of him. Now I know Trump better, and his ideals (especially about the 2nd Amendment) and I love his candidacy. He’s been endorsed by the NRA much earlier than any Republican candidate in a long, long time… that says something if you care about the 2nd Amendment.
Of course, I’ve always had Ted Cruz at the bottom of my list (anyone who knows me can verify it), because he just comes across as arrogant and flippant, both of which he confirmed tonight. He cocks those eyebrows “at will” to convey his innocence and sincerity… yet he’s totally shallow.
If you didn’t see the Ted Cruz Republican Convention speech I have it at the bottom of this post so you can check it out.
And Cruz has PROVEN that he’ll throw your right to defend yourself, the 2nd Amendment, out the window for the sake of his petty ego! If Hillary wins this election I don’t see how he can show his face in Texas, let alone hold another office there.
Washington Establishment Fears Donald Trump
Cruz made his name on the back of his “outsider” claims and “anti-establishment” banter. In truth, Cruz is a bought shill no different from any of the other big-name, established candidates, and it’s EXACTLY that, which Cruz proved himself tonight, that will get Trump elected and which will ensure that Cruz will NEVER hold the title of President in this country… maybe Canada?
Donald Trump is the only candidate we have who is truly non-establishment and who truly isn’t afraid to stand on principle and fight for our Constitution. People may not agree on everything with Trump, but name one politician who ever had that honor, ever.
But what people can do is believe what he says and trust him when he speaks. He has far more class than any of the staged politicians fronted by the wealthy elite who want Washington power and favor.
Did you know that within minutes of it becoming clear that Trump was going to win the nomination, that Ted Cruz’s financial donors (not the little guys, the one’s dropping MILLIONS), that they immediately began dumping millions in Hillary’s campaign? And we should be surprised at the Ted Cruz RNC speech?
Some political shopper and hedge fund schmo named James Simons dumped millions into Cruz’s campaign, and now all of a sudden is dumping millions into Clinton’s election? Anyone besides me see the real issue here? This guy is trying to buy power, or influence, or favors from whoever he can buy.
In the words of the Observer as to why donors buy candidates like Cruz:
Wealthy individuals contribute to campaigns because they know that, in order to keep large donations pouring in every year, candidates like Ms. Clinton and Mr. Cruz will return the favor. This cycle enables massive corporations and wealthy one-percenters to maximize their profits through tax evasion, outsourcing and government subsidies and tax breaks.
How does that make you feel about Cruz now? That his donors consider Hillary Clinton his “next best”, or “similar to” candidate?
The same with the Bush donors… they’re dropping MILLIONS to Hillary’s campaign because they fear that Trump won’t “play politics” with them and I can only assume that means they fear they’ll lose their favors and sweet government deals. Oh I hope they do.
What does this all mean?
It means these schmucks think they can keep buying this country and they’re pouting that their “guy” didn’t win and that Trump won’t “play ball” with them.
Screw Mitt Romney, the Bushes and any of the other power-elites who are whining about their loss of influence. Their refusal to show up at the RNC or to endorse Trump says it all and they’ve lost a ton of respect for their petty actions.
They would rather have Hillary as President, the person who left Americans to die, lied about issue after issue, risked national security via her careless email practices, supports the killing of law enforcement by radical anarchists, and on and on… they would rather see her win at the cost of the party values they allege to hold, rather than seeing someone win who is much more closely aligned to their party’s “stated” values?
Hmmm, I think even the simplest minded among us can see what’s going on, and just who is part of the “bought and paid for” D.C. crowd.
Party doesn’t matter, only that you play along. Guess what? I don’t think Trump will and that’s why even now billionaire power-mongers are cuddling up to ensure that Clinton wins… they don’t want to upset their control.
I didn’t expect to see Ted Cruz at convention parties, but I did expect his to show more respect and class for the conservative values and the millions and millions of Americans who are voting for Trump.
Cruz complains about his wife being attacked and uses it as his “reason” for not endorsing Trump, yet Trump and others are fairly certain that at the very least Cruz knew about and allowed Trump’s wife to be exploited and abused for political gain.
The Super PAC Make America Awesome published this little gem, which resulted in Trump’s attack on Cruz’s wife.
If you follow this site then you know I’m a registered democrat. I’m a moderate. I vote for America every time, not party lines. I love the old democratic platform and still believe in it, but the progressives and corrupt Washington elites are killing this country and robbing our youth of any tomorrow. They’re willing to start dismantling our Bill of Rights, too.
And no right I have, no passion I have, is more dear to me than my 2nd Amendment right. No party, no candidate, no amount of “coolness” is able to sway me to participate in destroying this country, period.
If you love America then get out and vote for it. Vote for Trump and for a fresh start, and not a Clinton “restart”.
You can read the article about Cruz’s donors at the link below, but first, please leave a comment and let me know how you feel with Ted Cruz booed by the RNC convention crowd after he revealed his true colors via his speech and failure to keep his signed pledge and word to voters and party officials and candidates.
99 Concealed Carry At Work | Corporate Culpability
For most people concealed carry at work isn’t an option unless they want to risk being fired thanks to corporate cowardice, and thanks to the too silent majority in America who let the fringe left run amok in this country.
If a business forbids employees from carrying firearms at work or visitors from carrying concealed on their property (despite them having a CCW), without then providing proper security and personal defense for those employees and visitors, is the company liable for injury or death that results from someone not being able to defend themselves?
In a sense, what these policies are saying is that you don’t have a right to protect yourself on their premises and the business won’t do it, either. So ultimately these “we are defenseless” laws are creating a sort of smorgasbord of helpless victims for any would be criminal.
Unfortunately, many of these victims are women who find themselves helpless to violent men. Which is why many people support the bring your gun to work laws.
According to the AFLCIO, 12.7% of ALL female violent crimes occurred at the workplace. Over 30% of women who are killed at work die as a result of a violent crime. In fact, Homicide is the second leading cause of death for women at work, behind only traffic accidents.
Think that this is mere hyperbole? Think again.
Could Concealed Carry At Work Save Lives?
In February 17, 2017, a helpless victim named Joyce D. Fox (50) was stalked and killed as she sat in her car, at work in the Far West Side UPS Distribution Center parking lot.
Danny R. Fabro, 54, who was her estranged ex-boyfriend, approached Fox’s parked car and shot her in the head. The maniac fled the scene in his pickup, and following a police pursuit ultimately attempted to commit suicide, unfortunately failing.
Charles Pepper, Joyce’s father, had urged her just a couple of weeks prior to buy a handgun because he feared her ex-boyfriend would hurt her. Fabro had beaten her a month prior to the point that she needed hospitalization.
It’s possible that had Joyce been lawfully armed this incident would’ve resulted in a minor obituary which mentioned in passing the death of JAT (or Just Another Turd for our progressive readers).
Ohio’s gun laws didn’t prevent Fabro from unlawfully acquiring a handgun (so throw out the “need more laws” argument), nor did UPS’s flippant anti self-defense policy help save another helpless woman’s life.
Concealed Carry Policy For Employees
When it comes to concealed carry at work Florida laws are CCW friendly. The Florida Governor, Charlie Christ, signed the first Bring Your Gun To Work law in 2008.
Titled the “Preservation and Protection of the Right to Keep and Bear Arms in Motor Vehicles Act of 2008”, signed into law on April 15, 2008, the law mandates that employers permit employees who are licensed to carry concealed weapons to keep firearms in their locked vehicles at work. The law applies to any employee, customer or “invitee” with a concealed weapon permit.
A few other states have followed suit, but not nearly enough. Now I hear a few progressives snorts out there, and that’s fine. But just like outlawing drugs didn’t solve the drug problem, outlawing guns won’t solve the gun violence problem.
According to the FBI, a full 60% of active shooter incidents ended before the police ever got there (the suspect committed suicide or fled the scene). So much for letting the government protect you.
In fact, as a long-time law enforcement officer I can say that it’s very rare that law enforcement prevents a violent crime at all, instead officers usually arrive after the crime occurred.
States With Bring Your Gun To Work Laws
When it comes to guns in the workplace state laws differ, a lot. According to ConcealedNation.org, the so-called “parking lot laws” are so confusing (because they vary so widely from state to state) that you’re better served diving into your specific state’s laws to determine exactly what it is that you’re permitted to do in your state.
Your local NRA office or state legislator can help you interpret your state’s law. Whether that be keep your firearm inside a locked vehicle or actually taking your firearm in to work (which isn’t likely). Some places like government buildings, schools, chemical and nuclear facilities, etc… have exceptions and exemptions to any right to carry law.
And quite a few states are offering immunity to those businesses who do allow concealed carry at work. That is, if a business allows its employees to carry at work, and then an employee commits a crime with that weapon at work, the business isn’t guilty of failing to provide a safe working environment as a result of its concealed carry policy for employees.
In my state, Kansas, for example, the state extends immunity from liability to 1) businesses which allow concealed handguns in the workplace and 2) those that don’t, except that an employer that prohibits weapons is only immune if it “provides adequate security measures.” Kan. Stat. Ann. §75-7c10(c)(1).
Specifically, if employers want to prevent firearms on their premises then they need to pony up the money to provide for the physical security of their employees, customers and visitors. No exception.
Among the states that do have some type of concealed carry at work laws include Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Alaska, Arizona and Utah. There are others and I’ll update this list when I’ve conclusively identified the states and their laws. If you know of any please let me know in the comments.
Concealed Carry At Work – Conclusion
Concealed carry in the workplace is a much debated topic and one that we’re not going to see resolved anytime soon. However, for those who support the 2nd Amendment and it’s implications then you need to make yourself aware of and familiar with the laws in your state. And also with your employer’s policies regarding firearms at work.
If your state allows you may be able to work with your company and help them to draft a ‘weapons in the workplace policy’ that helps protect your rights as well as alleviates their requirement to protect their premises from violent crime. Working together is our best hope at crafting reasonable laws.
I’d be interested to hear about your state’s “concealed carry at work” laws and also what you think about this issue, and any experiences you’ve had regarding it. Even if you disagree, let us know why and perhaps you can offer some intelligent information to the discussion.
Officer Involved Shooting | Officer Shoots Air Force Airman
Officer Involved Shooting On Video
On a crisp evening on March 6, 2014, driving along Alabama’s I-85, active duty Air Force Airman 1st Class Michael Davidson had no idea he was about to be the target of an officer involved shooting.
The young man was on his way to Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro, North Carolina after having finished training at Sheppard Air Force Base (F-15 Avionics) in Wichita Falls, Texas.
The then 20-year-old Davidson was a 2012 graduate of Beckville High School in Texas.
While driving along I-85 and through the jurisdiction of the Opelika Police Department, Davidson’s SUV lightly sideswiped a tractor-trailer (semi) and so dutifully both drivers pulled over to report the accident. The semi driver, Samuel Thomas Sanders II, was a witness to what would unfold.
Prior to this accident the Opelika Police Department had received a phone call about a SUV driving erratically along I-85 (Airman Davidson was driving an SUV), and so the on-duty officer, Phillip Hancock, was in the area trying to observe the reported vehicle.
When the call came in of the SUV / tractor-trailer accident, the officer was practically right there already. The officer’s dash-cam shows that he was pulling up behind the two vehicles as they were both still pulling off of the roadway.
The officer in question, Phillip Hancock (pictured below), began working as a Police Officer in 2006 for the same department.
Airman Davidson, displaying amazing consideration for the officer’s safety, pulls way off to the edge of the shoulder so that the officer isn’t forced to stand in traffic as he works the accident. It was this consideration that ultimately led to the chain of events that would result in the officer involved shooting.
Because Davidson pulled over to the edge of the shoulder, and onto the grassy area, his SUV was leaning to the right which meant that as he tried to open his door it would keep trying to shut on him; probably every one of us has had it happen to us while parking.
This is a traffic accident investigation, not a narcotics intervention or the tail end of a police pursuit. So keep that “setting” in mind when understanding the actions of both the victim and the officer.
Officer Involved Shooting Unfolds
Next, in the video you can see that the driver of the semi-truck (Mr. Sanders) is walking back to talk to the officer and SUV driver. After all, no one outside of Hancock, not even the semi driver, thought this was a “dangerous situation”. When Sanders reaches the back of his truck and Davidson sees him, Davidson also begins to exit his SUV. You know, exchanging information, whatever, it’s a fender bender.
Airman Davidson is exiting the vehicle with his hands visible and extended towards the officer for visibility, and his wallet (again, being considerate) in his hand. When the weight of the angled door tries to shut back onto Davidson it sets off what Officer Hancock allegedly mistook to be a “life-threatening” door shutting event.
Specifically, the door was shutting back on him preventing his from getting out, so he put his hands to the door to push it open. This was the fatal incident that specifically led to the officer involved shooting.
Officer Hancock yells at Davidson to “Let me see your hands” twice before firing. Not ‘Stop or I’ll shoot’ or ‘Let me see your hands or I’ll shoot’. Davidson got no fair warning that he was about to be shot if he failed to comply.
Ironically (in a twisted way) as Officer Hancock approaches the scene of the accident you can hear that his radio is playing the song “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
Officer Hancock fired two rounds. One of those struck Airman Davidson in the lower stomach area severing an artery and severely damaging his colon. Davidson can be seen laying on the ground and bleeding profusely as officers walk around him and ponder his condition. The second bullet apparently struck the ground.
Thankfully Officer Hancock wasn’t a good shot.
Remember, Officer Hancock was BEHIND his vehicle when the officer involved shooting occurred, so he had metal cover for protection. He had his headlights AND spotlight on Airman Davidson, so even if Davidson had wanted to shoot the officer with his wallet he couldn’t 1) see him and 2) have much of an opportunity to hit him (small target behind cover) before being shot himself.
Too Many Officer Involved Shootings
I was a law enforcement officer for many years (including as a county Deputy working alone in a remote area, so I’ve had the fear factor) and later served as an elected County Sheriff, and if this scenario in which Officer Hancock shoots Mr. Davidson qualifies as a reasonable standard for law enforcement use of deadly force then yes, we have a problem.
If an officer is so afraid that he shoots someone simply because a door is shutting on them, then we have a problem. There simply has to be a better way of vetting law enforcement candidates so that we’re not getting the types of officers who can’t adequately analyze proper ‘shoot’, ‘don’t shoot’ situations.
There are too many officer involved shootings, and the poor judgement calls are making it bad for those officers who genuinely needed to use deadly force.
And that’s my point entirely, that officers shouldn’t have to be criticized for saving their own lives while on duty and citizens shouldn’t lose their lives negligently to those sworn to serve them. We must get better and get this right, for everyone’s sake.
As Sheriff I had a deputy under my command lawfully use lethal force on a suspect who died of those injuries; I understand the peril that law enforcement officers face every day and I know first hand the effect it has on officers who are forced to use deadly force.
It’s never easy and the ramifications are often lifelong for the officer, too.
Police Shooting Video – Split Second Witness
If the situation preceding this officer involved shooting were a police chase, or something with violent activity or potential, then perhaps we’re having a different conversation based on what could loosely be called a resemblance of a weapon (the wallet).
But on an accident investigation the shooting is way beyond a reasonable response by an officer.
I’m not saying that the officer should be held criminally liable… I doubt that Officer Hancock had criminal or ill-intent. He was just poorly prepared to be in that situation, either because of training (or lack thereof) or he was simply mentally incapable of responding correctly in that type of split second situation (again, due to lack of training and readiness).
Hancock may be the nicest, sweetest, gentlest man to ever walk the streets of Opelika. But in this case he made a mistake. He’s not a demon or a bad guy. He made a mistake. And it’s one serious enough that there has to be consequences.
And because law enforcement officers face these situations frequently they must get them right, period. Failing to “get it right” in these situations means that we’re going to accept a certain number of innocent officer involved shootings and deaths of citizens, and that’s just not alright.
Anyone who knows me (you can read my opinions on this site) can attest, I’m a 100% hard-core law enforcement supporter. I hate crime and thugs. But sensible men and women cannot turn a blind eye to bad actions and then wonder when citizens start to doubt the police.
To my fellow law enforcement officers reading this, you cannot blindly support any and every officer involved shooting another cop is involved in regardless of the facts. If you love this country and her people, and our laws which provide us a veil of security and safety, then you must also condemn wrong acts by other officers, even if it’s simply an unfortunate event.
Otherwise we won’t have learned from it and a patriotic American suffers without compensation because of it. Airman Davidson shouldn’t be walking around with a Colostomy bag that he had to pay for, among what must be an enormous amount of other medical bills.
When turds pull weapons on cops, or threaten them in some physical way, and later get shot in the act of being stupid, then there’s no pity. Law and order means law and order. If you obey the laws, you shouldn’t get hurt.
When you do get hurt wrongfully, as did Airman Davidson, then there must be consequences.
And by that I mean at the least that the officer be removed from deadly-force capable positions (I said at the very least, because Hancock wasn’t), and the victim must be compensated and have their injuries and expenses covered, and in fatal cases their families need to be provided for.
I hope that this case is appealed to the Supreme Court and that the sensible men and women of the court can listen to the evidence and watch this case unfold for themselves, and see that this was a negligent act, plain and simple.
Officer Involved Shooting – Officer Hancock vs Wallet
Here’s the dash cam so that you can watch the officer involved shooting unfold for yourself.
What stands out after watching it? First, when I see this is just pisses me off. That could be you or I, or our family. Getting awkwardly out of the car now warrants deadly force… wow.
Over 5 minutes went by as this American citizen and U.S. serviceman laid on the ground bleeding (an artery was severed by Hancock’s bullet, as witnessed by the growing pool of blood) and not one police officer put on rubber gloves and tried to render medical aid (stop the bleeding, etc…), 5 flipping minutes! They walked around him like it was a side-show. How would you feel if it was your brother or son, or you?
Yes, law enforcement did later recover opened packets of the synthetic drug Spice (synthetic marijuana) from inside of Davidson’s SUV, but that’s really irrelevant because Davidson didn’t do or say anything inappropriate that would lead a reasonable officer to shoot him and the officer had no knowledge of it when the shooting occurred.
Davidson was in a fender bender and pulled over to report it. He went out of his way to be polite and cooperative. Click here to see the full front page of this police report.
Hancock Cleared In Officer Involved Shooting
Davidson rightfully filed a lawsuit against the officer and the city, which you can read here.
The 3 Judge panel of the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower courts ruling, in favor of the police officer, by stating:
“After careful consideration and review of a video recording of the shooting, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to Davidson, we conclude that a reasonable officer in Hancock’s position would have feared for his life.“
The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama Eastern Division, which issued the original decision on the lawsuit in December 2016, also ordered Davidson to pay $15,354.82 for legal costs to the city of Opelika, Hancock and McEachern.
Can the B.S. get any deeper in this case?
People say “you don’t know what it’s like to be a cop” or “you do that job“. Well, yes I do. And I have.
Cops don’t get to shoot innocent people and get away with it. Even if they did it on accident or they “thought” they were acting properly but were later shown to “not” have been. There has to be consequences like getting fired, or at the very least the employer having to pay for damages.
Officer involved shootings are a fact of life in our hip hop and Hollywood fueled violent culture, but we must strive for better.
If you had a CCW and made a similar mistake you would almost certainly be in trouble.
Concluding This Opinion Piece
My parting words are this. If anyone pulls a knife or gun on a cop, or is reasonably believed to have a knife or gun, or otherwise shows the intent and capability to harm a law enforcement officer then those officers have every right (and I expect them to) shoot those suspects. Most police shootings fall into those categories.
Those people who threaten and do harm to law enforcement, what do you suppose they would do to you and your family in a confrontation? Exactly… they’re bad people and when those criminals are killed or injured by law enforcement in a justifiable way then it’s one less turd on the street.
We can’t let officers who wrongfully shoot a citizen cloud our judgement against the men and women who do the dirty work of keeping us safe. Clearly there is an overwhelmingly larger percentage of good cops and great law enforcement happening in our communities, than there are officer involved shootings like the one with Airman Davidson here.
In fact, so many people fueled by ignorance or hate (often both) forget how much these men and women give for us and our families every day. Let’s never forget the price so many have to pay doing it.
However, we live in a society of laws and moral decency, and we expect it from every citizen and even more so from the men and women who wear the badges of honor that we bestow upon them.
In my opinion officers get into situations like this if they’re always looking for the bad guys and fail to see the good ones, that’s why it all becomes a blur and this shit happens.
Likewise, when the media and political scumbags use these rare police shooting instances as a platform for creating more divide for dollars (see my article on mass shooting statistics to see what I mean), then good citizens need to call then out.
Law-abiding citizens should be safe from negligent officer involved shootings, and there should be consequences when citizens are harmed by their protectors.
I hope the Davidsons pursue this appeal and perhaps even start a GoFundMe.com page.
And I hope Americans start having the back of good law enforcement officers. They need us as much as we need them, and officer involved shootings are truly a minor fraction of all police contacts. Don’t you agree?
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