Traffic stops: Lessons from dramatic dashcam video

Deputy James Boyd’s traffic stop on Evan Spencer Ebel reminds us about the importance of wearing a vest, trusting the gut, and never giving up

A dramatic dashcam video released today by the Montague County Sheriff’s Office provides us the opportunity to review numerous important officer safety reminders, but let’s consider just these three to begin: 

•    Wear your body armor
•    Trust your gut instincts
•    Shot doesn’t equal dead

Before he even stopped a 1991 Cadillac for making improper lane changes, Montague County Sheriff’s Deputy James Boyd remembers looking at the car and thinking “something is just not right” with that car. He was right...

Boyd had happened upon Evan Spencer Ebel, suspected to have murdered Colorado Prison Chief Tom Clements and a pizza delivery driver Nathan Leon. Ebel immediately opened fire on Deputy Boyd, who was struck twice in his body armor, and was grazed once in the forehead. 

Check out the video to the left, then let's discuss it...

The first person to arrive at Boyd’s side was an off-duty Detective from the Johnson County Sheriff's Department named David Blankenship, who saw Boyd’s flashing lights and “what appeared to be a body,” according to WFFA-TV News.

Blankenship saw Boyd on the ground in front of the vehicle, identified himself as a fellow peace officer “and told him that it was safe.”

To Detective Blankenship, I say, “Thank you brother, for your alertness to the situation, and your immediate action taken in response. Thanks too, to your mother — a registered nurse with you in the car that day — for her professionalism and assistance.”

Boyd, who is now recovering from the severe concussion he sustained in that video, is eager to return to the job. 

To Deputy Boyd, I say, “Thank you, brother, for your intrepid and indomitable warrior spirit.”  

Boyd is probably alive today because he decided when he put on the uniform before his shift that he would be sure to first put on his body armor. Enough said on that, agreed?  

Boyd’s assailant is probably dead today in part because this law enforcement hero refused to be stopped by the shock, the trauma, the surprise, or the pain of the event. 

Boyd knew he was still in the fight, and immediately got on the radio and called in details of the incident — the fact that he was shot, a description of the suspect vehicle, as well as its direction of travel.

As Boyd reached for his radio, the gunman stomped on the gas pedal in an attempt to flee. Ebel reportedly reached speeds of more than 100 miles per hour, and was shooting at pursuing officers in a high-speed running gun battle.  

The pursuit ended when Ebel ran a red light in the city of Decatur and was broadsided by a truck hauling rocks. Ebel exited his destroyed Caddy, got into a gunfight with other officers, and was fatally wounded.

To that I say, “Thank you, all responding officers, who ended the threat that Ebel posed to society, our citizens, and fellow law enforcers who otherwise might have encountered him.”

So, in addition to those three main takeaway lessons listed above (wear your vest, trust your gut, and never give up), we’re reminded that:

•    An ambush can happen anytime, anywhere, on any call
•    A passenger-side approach has its own potential dangers
•    An officer may be called into action even when off-duty

What else? Add your comments below, and as always, stay safe out there my friends.

About the author

Doug Wyllie is Editor in Chief of PoliceOne, responsible for setting the editorial direction of the website and managing the planned editorial features by our roster of expert writers. An award-winning columnist — he is the 2014 Western Publishing Association "Maggie Award" winner in the category of Best Regularly Featured Digital Edition Column — Doug has authored more than 900 feature articles and tactical tips on a wide range of topics and trends that affect the law enforcement community. Doug is a member of International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), an Associate Member of the California Peace Officers' Association (CPOA), and a member of the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA). Doug is active in his support for the law enforcement community, contributing his time and talents toward police-related charitable events as well as participating in force-on-force training, search-and-rescue training, and other scenario-based training designed to prepare cops for the fight they face every day on the street.

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