A joke delivered recently on “Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update with Seth Meyer,” was based on an actual police gunfight. Weekend update is a tongue in cheek delivery of news and current events, and during the broadcast on October 2, 2010, Meyers closed with this:
“A man in Colorado was arrested after he wounded a police officer by shooting him in the arm, because he thought the cop was a zombie. Though in the man’s defense, the cop did say, ‘Drop your gun and put your hands above your delicious brains’.”
Whether this attempt at humor makes a person laugh, roll their eyes, or become outraged is up to the individual, but here is the true story behind the punch line.
May 8, 2010
The Officer involved is David Blake of the Longmont (Colo.) Police Department. Blake is a respected veteran of the police department, whose decorations include nine letters of commendation and a Distinguished Service Medal for actions taken when facing a suspect carrying a 45 caliber hand gun in 2009.
While on patrol on May 8th of this year, Officer Blake spotted Brandon Duke, who he recognized as being wanted on an outstanding warrant for third degree assault. At 0805 hours Blake made contact and Duke fled on foot. After a brief flight he stopped and appeared to comply. Duke took the headphones from an MP3 player out of his ears and got down on his knees as ordered. He asked why he was being stopped.
After a few moments of feigned compliance Duke got up and bolted, reaching for something in his waist band. Blake fired his TASER, but Duke had outrun the reach of the X-26 and the probes missed their mark. While Officer Blake was still armed with the TASER, Duke suddenly produced a .380 Kel-Tec semi-automatic handgun and fired it repeatedly at Blake, but missed.
Blake said the moment the gun was produced and he was being fired at was, “Surreal. You never really think it’s going to happen to you.”
Officer Blake tossed the TASER and drew his Glock .45 caliber handgun. He fired twice as Duke ducked behind a line of commercial trucks. Moments later Duke emerged from behind the trucks firing. Officer Blake returned fire and hit Duke at a distance of approximately 40 yards. Duke went down. Officer Blake later reported, “I had no cover and the gun was pointed right at me. I had no choice but (to shoot Duke). I was still in total fear of my life.”
Officer Blake saw that the .380 was within Duke’s reach and ordered him to not go for the gun. Instead, Duke reached for the weapon, picked it up again to fire and Blake fired again, striking Duke. The gunfight was over. Blake found himself some cover and did a tactical reload and covered the suspect. One backup officer had arrived and Blake radioed in, telling dispatch what had transpired and he asked for additional units.
When additional units arrived the suspect was secured, cared for, and backup officers checked Officer Blake to see if he was hit. He was uninjured. Blake had fired seven times in total, striking Duke in the torso, the arm, and the head. Duke would survive his wounds.
During an interview with PoliceOne Officer Blake said, “I attribute my success in this situation to the excellent training I have received at the Longmont Police Department.”
After an internal investigation, the Boulder County District Attorney’s Office ruled Officer Blake’s shooting of Duke was, “entirely justified.”
Duke has been charged with First Degree Attempted Murder, First Degree Assault, and Carrying a Concealed Weapon. These charges have been ruled sustainable by Judge Blum, who proclaimed Duke has a “history of enmity toward officers generally.” Duke has threatened officers in the past and on one occasion, attempted to disarm a police officer in South Carolina.
Brandon Duke took a rather unique approach in defense of his actions. He claimed that he feared for his life, because he perceived that Officer Blake was a Zombie and that is why he shot at him. Because of the claim by Duke, Saturday Night Live was able to weave this circumstance into a joke. It remains to be seen whether Brandon Duke proves that the real joke is on the criminal justice system since he has pled “Not Guilty By Reason of Insanity.”
The Last Laugh
At the time of this event on May 8, Officer David Blake was not laughing — this was quite possibly the most deadly serious moment in his life. While on patrol he spotted a wanted suspect, gave effective pursuit, and when faced with a deadly assault on his life he was able to quickly transition from his TASER to his firearm, and end the threat to his life. This incident was as serious as life and death to Officer Blake.
PoliceOne salutes Officer Blake and seconds the assessment of his Commander, Tim Lewis, who proclaimed the officer to be “an outstanding officer, who dedicated his career to his community and we’re very grateful he survived and glad he has returned to service.”
There is an old saying, “He who laughs last, laughs best!” It is hard for the survivor of a gunfight to find humor in such an experience. However, thanks to this warrior’s courage, determination, and his decisive action, Officer Blake has not laughed his last laugh.