Reality Training: Fla. officer shot point blank at traffic stop

Does every one of the officers in your squad room have body armor on, every shift, even in the heat of summer?


There are plenty of examples from which police officers can choose in order to reinforce the notion that “shot” doesn’t equal “dead." One such incident is a traffic stop conducted by Cape Coral (Fla.) Police Officer David Wagoner. 

Shortly before 0100 hours on April 16, 2011, Officer Wagoner had stopped a black Cadillac for expired tags. After questioning the female driver, Officer Wagoner circled around the back of the car to speak to the passenger, who almost immediately opened fire when Wagoner neared the passenger-side door.

He was struck twice in his body armor, and once in his abdomen. Regardless, Wagoner was able to return fire, and radio in to dispatch a detailed description of the vehicle and the suspect. 

Wagoner — who has since recovered and returned to duty — can teach us several lessons in addition to the dogged determination to survive and win an encounter even while groaning in pain. Check out the video and consider discussing the questions below in your next roll call or pre-shift lineup.

•    In addition to Officer Wagoner’s will to win, how many other positive actions/attributes can you identify in this incident?
•    Given a similar scenario, would you do anything differently with regard to positioning in relation to the subject’s vehicle? 
•    Officer Wagoner’s hands provide at least two excellent “lessons learned” — what are they?
•    Finally, does every one of the officers in your squad room have body armor on, every shift, even in the heat of summer? If not, what do you plan to do about it?

About the author

This series of columns takes recent situations in the news and uses video footage to start a discussion.

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  2. Police Trainers
  3. Traffic Enforcement, Highway Patrol

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