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Video:  Jared Reston Will To Survive and Win Video




November 12, 1991, El Paso Texas, Patrolman Ernesto Serna was working an extra-duty assignment as security at the Wal-Mart Store at 1100 N. Yarborough. Officer Serna saw Jessie Romero take a coat from the rack and walk out of the store without paying for it. Officer Serna followed the shoplifter out of the store and stopped him in the parking lot. When Officer Serna confronted Romero, he took a handgun out from under his coat and fired at Officer Serna, striking him once in the face. The wounded officer returned fire and shot Romero three times, killing him. Officer Serna was rushed to Thomason Hospital where he died shortly after 9:00 p.m. Source: El Paso Times.  The rest of the story—test results showed that Ernesto Serna’s training and will fight helped to him push through the initial shot that he received, a fatal injury, to ending the threat, killing the suspect.


January 26, 2008, Patrolman Jared Reston was working an extra-duty assignment at a shopping mall.  Officer Reston went in foot pursuit of a suspect for theft of clothing.  In the course of the pursuit and attempt to arrest the suspect, Officer Reston suffered 7 shots from a 45 caliber pistol—Three to the chest (one center mass), one to the knee, one to his right elbow, one to the buttock, and one to the jaw. Officer Reston found the will to survive, and the will to fight, successfully “ending” the threat from the suspect who was actively engaging him in a gunfight.


These are two very similar incidents with one from our own jurisdiction.  These two similar incidents had very different outcomes, to the involved officers, but both have lessons that we can learn and apply in our daily walk and demonstrate warrior instinct.


Lessons Learned/Take Aways:

  • Foot pursuit’s take you into several hazards—corners, unknown areas, areas that may be known to the suspect and not you, traps.  Be prepared for these hazards, call-out your pursuit, beware your corners, be aware of your surrounding and assess the danger if you lose sight of the suspect.
  • Routine Calls—there is no such thing as a routine call.  Just because it is a shoplifter call or a repeat alarm call at a business, never let your guard down.
  • Taser dependence—know when its needed, know when to draw it, know when not to draw it and know when to get rid of it.  If it malfunctions and you are in the fight, should you holster it or chuck it away from you and the offender???  Think about it, your 10 ft from the suspect (half a car length), you drew your Taser, pulled the trigger and it doesn’t respond.  Now your mind goes “oh crap” and you have to decide what to do.  Studies show that it takes you, 1/2 second to see the problem, ½ second to formulate your response, and ½ second to act on your response, the whole time, you are in reactive mode and the suspect is in action mode.
  • Push/stiff arm or hold—you pursued the suspect who has already demonstrated to you that he does not want to be arrested and now you are up on him.  Do you grab to control and cuff, attempting to get a wrist and or arm control? Or do you push/stiff arm?  The decision will ultimately be yours, with arguments going towards both.  However, your stiff-arm/push may create distance and possibly even throw the suspect to the ground and disorient him.  Giving you time to go lethal if necessary and also to assess with lethal cover, allowing you to give commands and even call out your location.  You decide, ask your senior partners for their experience and of course abide by your policy. Just another tool in your kit.
  • Your Shot—now what?—Officer Serna drew and returned fire, stopping the suspect from being able to hurt anyone else.  Officer Reston was shot in the jaw collapsing his jaw with his teeth horizontal in his mouth.  You have to FIGHT.  Reston became angry and decided that he was not going to lie there and die.  It “pissed” him off and he said he was not going to let him kill him.  He knew that he had a job to do and that he had to “end” it an end it now.  Press the fight, take it to the suspect there is no guaranteed outcome, but you increase your odds when you fight.
  • Front Sight Focus(sighted fire)/One handed shooting—Reston used sighted fire, putting his front sight on the suspect who was closing the gap.  He used the suspect’s torso as a reference point for his front sight and fired in a controlled manner (see description in video).  Reston was shot in the right elbow.  He is a lefty and shot back with one hand.  Do you practice one handed shooting?  Do you practice prone one handed shooting?  It is something that should be practiced and prepared for.
  • Body Armor—Reston took three shots to the vest and one was center mass on the “k5 zone”.  Like Reston said and recommends, it is “a tool that keeps you in the fight”, it gives you like it did Reston the opportunity to stop the suspect.  Wear it, enough said!!!
  • Range Time/Practice—It is easy to make an excuse not to get to the range, but you have to discipline yourself to do it.  You may be in patrol, a task force or the member of a tactical team, it doesn’t matter, if you do not get to the range to practice, you will not be ready.  Annual qual’s or only practicing with your firearm on training days is not enough. You owe it to your community, family and partners.  So get some range time in. 


Walk the Walk and Live the Life




Lawrence Lujan is a decorated field operations and training sergeant with 20-plus years of service to the El Paso, Texas Police Department. A longtime member of the EPPD SWAT team, he was a key player as team leader, lead firearms instructor and overall tactics instructor of that Unit. Sergeant Lujan brings a very unique set of skills to the law enforcement arena, and has a wide and varied background in leadership, firearms and operational tactics.  Lawrence is also President of TCG-Tactical Consulting Group.


For Official Law Enforcement Use Only.  Suggestions are for improvement and overall safety of all LEO’s and are not intended as an arm chair review; it is through after action reports that we grow and learn

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Good article with many valid points.  Perhaps the biggest issue you address is taser dependence.  I hope we've beaten it out of our officers, but I frequently see officers on various reality cop shows running about with a taser in their gun hand.

Thanks for your feedback John.  I agree, I still see too many officers approaching deadly force situations with their taser out.  We have to keep reminding our partners of the danger that this creates.  


stay safe.......Lawrence


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