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FOLLOW UP: Right decision, right weapon
[Lamar, CO]

April 18, 2001
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FOLLOW UP: Right decision, right weapon
[Lamar, CO]

By Hew Hallock
Lamar Daily News

LAMAR - Police Chief John Hall is calling an incident that occurred Monday night a textbook example of how less-than-lethal force can be used to resolve dangerous situation without serious harm or fatality.

Just before midnight on Monday, officers were called to the 900 block of South Seventh Street on a domestic violence case. According to the police, the situation escalated when John Lucero allegedly advanced upon officers, threatening them with two knives. Lucero was shot several times by Officer Tony Medina using a bean bag shotgun. The shots stopped Lucero without serious injury and he was placed under arrest.

Just a few months ago, the situation might have ended differently,

"We would have had a fatality, most likely," says Hall.

That's because until February, officers were limited in weapons available. There was nothing between batons or pepper spray and guns with live ammunition. In February, Lamar police began carrying shotguns loaded with bean bags or sock shot. Officers now have an intermediate weapon that can defuse a violent situation without firing live ammunition causing serious injury or death to a suspect.

The new weapons are shotguns loaded with shells containing a sock-like bag filled with small beads or "beans." The stocks are painted orange and wrapped with orange tape on the barrels so they are easily distinguished from other, more deadly, guns. A call is broadcast over police radio before the bean bag gun is used so officers will know shots heard are not live or deadly rounds. Just before firing the weapon, officers have been taught to yell so other officer on the scene also know the weapon is being used.

Hall compared getting hit with the bean bags to being hit with a fast pitched baseball at 100 miles per hour. Officers have been trained to fire at a suspect's legs first. If that fails to stop them, officers then aim at the mid-section. The bags are capable of knocking down an assailant, Hall says.

In Monday night's incident, the bean bag gun was the right weapon for the situation, according to Hall. Without it, Hall says Officer Medina would have had no choice but to use his sidearm which may have killed or seriously injured Lucero. Hall commended Medina for making the right decision in a split-second.

This article provided courtesy of Lamar Daily News - http://www.lamardaily.com

Full story: FOLLOW UP: Right decision, right weapon
[Lamar, CO]

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