Rich Smith Mar 8, 2021 at 12:40 pm

The Calls to Fire Him Are Just.



The 21 foot rule isn't "let's say" with a knife - it's specifically referring to a knife, based on the objective fact that the average person can cover that distance in around 1.5 seconds, confirmed by extensive experimentation. It's a good, solid piece of training that keeps people from being stabbed to death. Training procedures exist in the form they do because of precedent. Police procedures are invariably the way they are as a response to prior situations where officers were murdered.

Manuel Ellis's death had nothing to do with racism - a white suspect, fighting police while high on methamphetamine (which was almost certainly the cause of his death) would have received the same response. He wasn't subject to the Racism Maneuver.

Should your dad have run over a crowd attacking his car? Maybe not. But many people now believe they're an expert in police tactics based on what they've seen in fragments of cell phone videos. It's pretty easy to second guess decisions that had to be made in seconds to protect one's life, and a little harder to view them objectively.


@1 - 30-year Dallas cop here (retired now), and the 21-foot rule is horseshit.
It's junk science.

It may have a smidgen of validity if the person (cop) being charged stands there like a statue and doesn't move. But that's not reality. Good cops size up not only potential assailants but also their escape/retreat get the fuck out of the way!

I've been attacked with knives several times, even charged by 2 guys who had a large knife in each hand in 2 separate incidents. Closer than 21 feet. We all lived and no one was shot or stabbed.

That shit happens every fucking day to cops, and the times they don't shoot far outnumber the times they least in good police departments.

You may think this kid not qualified to comment on cop defensive tactics if he isn't a cop himself, but unless you're a cop yourself, neither are you. Either that, or you're both equally qualified.


Thanks, Morty...


@1: If you are not a cop you are definitely US cop material. And that is precisely the problem.
As @3 said, the "21-foot rule" is junk science.
But, rather than debate science, how about reality: for decades now police in the UK have not shot people with knives, swords, and a variety of other potentially deadly edged or blunt objects (except for rare cases involving terrorism).
How is that possible? Are the knives duller and the cudgels softer in the UK? Are the people in the UK less capable of wielding such weapons with deadly intent?
Of course not: the police are better trained and are committed to preserving ALL life, not just their own (think firefighter).
Even some US police forces (like Camden, NJ) have stepped out of the dark ages and provided their officers with the training and principles instilled in UK police.
Don't believe it? See:


that took guts! thanks!


Skewering your own father online in order to gain internet woke points. Wow.

I get that you want to distance yourself from this in order to avoid being associated with a controversial police officer, but there are better ways that donโ€™t involve damaging your relationship with your father.


@1 - I will wait while you find a single example of a cop in the United States killed by a brandished knife. In Washington State, you can find all officer deaths. Very few happened from knife wounds, every one of those knives were concealed not brandished. This is not just some theoretical exercise; Charleena Lyles died because of this idiotic training that is completely divorced from any real life experience. Bad training leads to completely preventable horrific outcomes.


The police should just stay out of it and let these things take their course, which usually ends with some chick getting side-swiped by an errant drifting enthusiast, flying 25 feet through the air, and ending up on World Star or wherever it is people go to watch videos of other people getting rekt these days.


@8 "Skewering"? Hardly. The author expressed that his father is not racist, but rather a typical example of the product of our deeply-flawed system of policing. He explained clearly what training leads to the dangerous attitude that is pervasive in U.S. policing, and how that attitude leads to violent actions such as those of his father.

It's hard for me to imagine how, without standing by in quiet complicity, this person could have taken a more gentle approach to the situation--his father having intentionally run an SUV into and over people.


If the cops in this region were smart they would...
1. Stop enforcing all traffic laws.
2. Stop making ALL investigative (self-initiated) stops.
3. Stop enforcing drugs laws... (whoops, skip that one)
4. Take NO enforcement action against minority suspects unless harm was caused to women or children.
5. Do respond professionally to all 911 calls for service and thoroughly investigate. (Don't forget #4.)
6. Protect women and children from harm at all costs.

Our culture is moving in this direction already. They may as well just get ahead of the curve.


@6 and @11 - I forgot to add that many police departments with more advanced levels of training have been quietly dropping the 21-foot junk over the last many years now...including my former department. Expect that trend to accelerate.


@1 nekrasova While you may find it easier in your mind to compare Manuel Ellis with George Floyd, the facts of the matter are his death was ruled a homicide by the medical examiner. A brave decision by that person. The fact is, not all cops are good people, and there are more than a few "bad apples".

The initial "investigation" was so shoddy that it got taken from the hands of Pierce County and sent to the State Patrol.The cops statements read like something from an Avengers movie.
The videos recorded show a totally different event. Tacoma PD doesn't have cameras, all the better to hide your crimes.
It was the videos of citizens that revealed the truth, that he was targeted for walking while black, then he was murdered. Not my word, the word of the medical examiner. And yes, he was murdered by the "racism maneuver", by being choked out, tased multiple times, put on his stomach while a large weight (230 pounds) was placed on his back and his lungs compressed until his body couldn't breath anymore. He told them he couldn't breathe, they screamed at him to STFU. Yes, we have that on video.

Much like what happened here with the racers, we only have the citizen videos to go by. Why dad was so close that he got surrounded by the crowd, I don't know. But I do know, thanks to the video he did have a way out, by backing up, but he chose a different path of hitting the gas and moving forward aggressively enough to run over people.

Was his dad scared? maybe. More than likely, given the training now seems to teach that you preserve your life at all costs, no matter the perceived threat, and you can just make up the "facts" to justify your actions. With Qualified Immunity, cops are given a license to murder and we have no recourse. We have no say so in the quality of officer patrolling our streets or responding to calls. We are forced to pay the salaries of sadists, abusers, addicts, and murderers, and we're also forced to pay for their lawsuits that get settled.


@Andrew K. Phan: Kudos on courageously coming forward regarding your dad.

@3 & @14 Morty: Thank you for adding your experience as a former Dallas police officer, too.


The "21-foot junk" is not a rule and is not policy anywhere. It is simply a concept. In some cases it applies, in some cases it doesn't. Every officer has to evaluate the situation based on the immediate circumstances and make the right call for him or her. It has never been a hard and fast rule. I find it interesting that instead debating police tactics that may or not be relevant, no one is wondering why there are so many people in crisis challenging cops while holding edged weapons. Some of these situations clearly fall under the heading of "Suicide by Cop." In those cases, no amount of de-escalation would likely change the outcome. Assume for a moment that the next OIS involving a subject armed with a knife is a case of "Suicide by Cop." It is certainly tragic that this person in crisis was driven to such an extreme. He or she was someone's son, daughter, sister or brother, and it's tragic. But it is also traumatic for the officer(s) involved. I never see the Stranger document the instances where local law enforcement successfully disarm suicidal individuals who were intent on dying. It doesn't fit into the anti-cop agenda. Most law enforcement websites document these types of encounters and the media can easily find them. But again, nobody wants to talk about the good that police do. You folks who want to defund, reduce or eliminate local police departments are going to get just what your asking for.



You might think you're a mensch because you're so obsessed with protecting women and children, but your attitude is nothing but an example of treating women as property. It's where rape culture comes from. The same attitude that creates lynch mobs to torture and kill the guy they think did a rape also creates the demand that a woman marry her rapist. The reason sexist pigs get so angry over rape is not that they give a flying fuck about women. It's because they don't like other dudes touching their stuff.

Have you ever noticed that the things victims advocates want and the things that macho "protectors of women and children" want are completely different? That's your clue. You are on the wrong wavelength.

As far as all your other blue flu and work slowdown plans, how about this: fucking quit. Just quit. Leave Tacoma. Leave Seattle. Leave Portland. You live in the burbs anyway. Go be a cop in Oklahoma City or any fucking where you think you'll be welcome. Don't try to teach us a lesson. Seattle didn't ask you to teach us a less on so maybe mind your own business, OK? You don't like us, we don't like you, and you don't want to be here. So stop being a greedy weasel hanging around because Seattle's idiotic government pays you so damn much money, and just go.

The fact that Seattle cops stick around, cashing those fat paychecks, in spite of everything they claim they stand for, in spite of how much they hate us, is all you really need to know. Their own cherished values mean nothing to them compared to the almighty dollar.

Go. You're bloodsucking parasites. Quit. Leave. Stop saying you're going to do it and fucking do it already. Are you really so afraid of making a necessary change that that you'll dither and whimper and quaver for so long that the Seattle Fucking City Council is going to grow a pair of balls before you do? Because they will, eventually, at long last, find the courage to cut your department to shreds. And then everyone will see they -- the Seattle City Fucking Council! -- had stones bigger than yours.

Go now before you embarrass yourself any more than you already have.


It takes a special kind of needy to virtue signal to the extent that you feel the need to publicly throw your own family under the bus. This reminds me of the kids in The Killing Fields or Hitler Youth who were rewarded for turning in their own family. If you have a problem with your dad, or want your family to hold him accountable, then take it up with your family. What is to be gained by this public display other than hoping that strangers pat you on the back? I hope that you let your dad know that you will not accept anything he leaves you in his will, since he made his living doing something you so disapprove of. Put your money where your mouth is.



You know the joke about the dancing bear? We aren't amazed that the bear dances so well. It's that the bear dances at all. So you want more attaboys for the police for all the times they wade into a mental health crisis they're totally unprepared to handle and it doesn't turn into a bloodbath? Is that the best we can do?

Do you think the best personnel to responds to a mental health crisis are police? Do you think police wish to be the first responders for mental health problems? Or do police, and mental health care providers, and the public, all realize that combat-trained, armed with deadly force law enforcement are not the most skilled and best trained people for that job? There are professionals whose actual job is to deal with these situations. Yet we send cops and marvel at the ensuing carnage.

You know who has been wondering why there's so many people in crisis? Everyone fighting for universal healthcare for the last 50 years. Conservatives, cops and the cops allies have stood against every effort to ensure nobody goes without the healthcare, including mental health care, that they need. So what's happening is, the people who are willing to do something about it are doing it without their input.

Which means when we take this work of the police department's plate and assign it to someone else, that does entail cutting the police budget. The money for the new first responders comes gets taken out of what we were wasting on our current failing police response. That decision got made without the police because the police, and conservatives in general, walked away from the table. Too bad, but hey, what did they expect?


In my time in the US military, I sickenly observed something that I later heard clearly articulated in a documentary about the My Lai massacre: that the ordinary soldiers, if unchecked by their officers and upper enlisted, will descend to the level of beasts. And now we have a militarized police force, engaged in the so-called War on Drugs (or perhaps more accurately a War of Control in the face of an ever-shrinking economic system), we see that same result. Paradoxically, because our actual soldiers would find themselves in Leavenworth if they'd fired upon an Iraqi healthcare worker in scrubs attending the wounded, as SPD did on Capitol Hill. Paradoxically also in our age of hyper-managerialism, where technocrats determine and evaluate the movement of every Amazon fulfillment center employee and Starbucks barista. The answer to bad management is good management, despite there always being those on either side of the issue who advocate that the answer be no management.


Respecting your parents is canceled, akin to turning in your family for speaking out against the government in Stalin's Russia. Well done but I am no Phan.


I am not normally a fan of police, but street racers are a danger to society and must be stopped. Street racing is violence. I have no doubt that this cop feared legitimately for his life.


@26: This wasn't racing; it was a side show. The streets were closed off and people were spinning their cars around in an intersection. Watch the videos. A half-dozen people who were milling around the street party atmosphere thumped their bare fists on Khan Phan's police vehicle as he drove by. No rational person would have feared for life in the situation this cop inexplicably threw himself into.


Its truly delicious how many Seattle area cops troll this message board thinking they aren't obvious.

If you feel enough fear seeing a nonwhite person or a group of nonwhite people "being aggressive" to warrant murdering them than your typical unarmed civilian, you shouldn't have a badge and state protection from prosecution. Police are already the go-to job for high school educated racists and rapists looking to get their rocks off frisking women, assaulting sex workers and potentially killing anyone too black or brown for their liking. This kind of shit is making the job a clear "sociopaths only" career position. With literally white nationalists like SPOG chief Mike Solan, King County Sheriffs Department head "Mitzi" and Snohomish County Sheriff Adam Fortney out in front to hold the line.


@17 - You are simply flat wrong. Countless police departments formally and officially base their edged weapons defensive tactics training specifically on the 21-foot rule, not "concept." Mine did when I was a rookie.

The 21-foot "rule" was discredited years ago, but most police departments have been slow to give up on it. Many have and more will follow, but it is still official training policy in way too many other police departments.

So, you are either lying or don't know what you're talking about. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume the latter.


This sounds like a staffing issue if the veteran police officer snaps and drives his vehicle into a crowd of unruly protesters, although anyone can agree that such a situation is terrifying on a visceral level, and the police officer's fear and impaired reasoning is understandable. More and better-trained law enforcement would help contain and defuse such chaotic, combative situations. These violent interactions are perilous for all involved because violence begets violence, and these situations can easily escalate and become bloodbaths for all involved, even innocent bystanders. This isn't a family issue, and the author is to be commended for offering insight into the father's regrettable behavior. This social unrest and collateral damage we have witnessed of late may the tip of the iceberg for badly managed cities that fail to address institutionalized racism and poverty. Witness the homeless people camping on sidewalks and random assassinations of innocent people of color. We need to accommodate all people regardless of wealth and social standing to prevent these angry insurrections from those who do not blend into the 'melting pot" so readily. Let us stop mangling social conflicts and then do post-operative damage containment in the great American way, like General Motors killing consumers with faulty ignition switches and covering up the evidence, when it would have been easier to design and build a better non-lethal product in the first place. Law enforcement needs access to mental health advisors, not only for their clientele, but for themselves to deal with PTSD and peacefully defuse tense situations, like the godawful and preventable Charleena Lyles debacle.

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