Audio from Motel 6 ambush reveals heroism ...and a practical, tactical reminder

Street Survival Instructor Dave Smith tells PoliceOne that an audiotape released by the Jeffersonville, Ind. Police Department in the aftermath of the ambush last week of two officers—Corporal Dan Lawhorn and Patrolman Keith Broady—includes a practical, tactical reminder for officers.

“While these transmissions reaffirm the courage displayed by our men and women every day in all aspects of law enforcement, they also demonstrate the situational awareness of responding officers,” says Smith. He is referring, in part, to Corporal Greg Sumler, who tells one of the wounded officers to initiate tactical breathing to help control the bleeding, well before Sumler even arrives on the scene.

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Officer ambush: Risks and awareness

Sumler says, “78 can you copy me?”

“Yeah, barely,” replies Patrolman Broady.

“All right, take some deep breaths and slow your breathing down,” Sumler advises.

Tactical breathing—also sometimes called Autogenic Breathing—is the deep diaphragm breathing usually based on a four-count exhale, remaining “empty” for a two- to four-count, followed by a four-count inhale, and being “filled” for a two- to four-count.

“This form of breathing not only relaxes us, it keeps us from fixating, controls anxiety, lowers blood pressure to assist in bleeding control, improves crisis decision making, and keeps motor skills from deteriorating,” Smith says.

“Remember, we don’t wait for anyone else to render first aid,” Smith says. “Each of you should have a tactical bandage, a tourniquet, and training to be able to not only start first aid on citizens, officers, and even offenders, but also on yourself! Be mentally ready to initiate self aid after either winning the confrontation or gaining a safe location.”

Corporal Lawhorn and Patrolman Broady were approaching a room at a Motel 6 near Interstate 65 in southern Indiana, just across the Ohio River from Louisville, Ky. when suspects started shooting. The Associated Press reported that Broady, 32, was shot in the chest in an area not protected by his body armor, while Lawhorn, 39, was shot in the right leg.

According to a separate report, responding officers used a dog leash as a tourniquet on Lawhorn’s leg to stop the bleeding. Fast action by responding officers is thought to have saved the lives of both men.

PoliceOne has learned that a local hospital has listed Broady in “serious but stable condition” and Lawhorn in “fair condition.”

Police arrested two suspects—Vincent Windell Jr., 22 and Kyle Bieber, 19—on Friday February 20, the day after the ambush. Later that same day, a third suspect—Robert Datillo, 37—was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Datillo had barricaded himself in a Louisville, Ky. home and after a daylong standoff with a SWAT team, hostage negotiators, and federal agents, took his own life.

The audiotape, initially available on the Website of TV Station WLKY in Louisville, can be heard in its entirety on BLUtube by clicking here. The station says that officers’ families were given the opportunity to hear the recordings before police released them this week.

About the author

Doug Wyllie is Editor at Large for PoliceOne, providing police training content on a wide range of topics and trends affecting the law enforcement community. Doug is the 2014 Western Publishing Association "Maggie Award" winner for Best Regularly Featured Digital Edition Column, and has authored more than 1,000 articles and tactical tips. Doug hosts the PoliceOne Podcast, Policing Matters, and is the host for PoliceOne Video interviews. 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).

Contact Doug Wyllie

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