Personal Defense

Florida Police Ignore 21-Foot Rule, Then Shoot ‘Knife-Wielding Zombie’

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Lake County, Florida deputies responded last week to a report of a deranged young man cutting himself with a knife. They arrived to find 24 year-old Ian Saum, armed with a long carving knife and repeatedly slicing himself as he shuffled down the street.

Saum was verbally unresponsive to the deputies’ commands, and he continued to cut himself while they tried to talk him down.

From the Orlando Sentinel:

[Neighbor] McMinn tried to calm Saum for about 15 minutes while McMinn’s father and girlfriend called police. Saum continued to pace with a “blank” stare, McMinn said, while repeatedly cutting his arms. Once Saum heard police sirens he shuffled down the street dripping blood as he went.

Two deputies who arrived asked Saum to put down the knife. McMinn and [other neighbor] York said deputies twice fired Tasers at Saum, but the barbs didn’t attach to him. Neighbors said Saum continued to move toward the deputies with the knife until he was about six feet from them.

“He just kept walking toward them like a zombie with a knife,” McMinn said. One deputy fired a shot, McMinn said, which sent Saum to the ground, but even as deputies approached Saum he continued to fight.

Six feet? Six feet? I’m never one to advocate more aggressive and proactive police shootings of criminal suspects, but these deputies should have either fired or retreated long before allowing an armed, deranged and noncompliant suspect to shuffle within 6 feet of them. As has been reported here and elsewhere, a knife-wielding attacker can usually close with and fatally stab a gun-wielding defender within 21 feet.

The deputies survived unharmed, and Saum is reportedly alive and recovering from the gunshot wound. All in all, this is far from the worst possible outcome from an incident like this. At least it didn’t involve ‘bath salts.’

Discussion

4 responses to ‘Florida Police Ignore 21-Foot Rule, Then Shoot ‘Knife-Wielding Zombie’

  1. The 21 foot rule applies if the shooter is starting with his weapon holstered, I have to imagine the police had their weapons drawn long before he got that close. If they had already drawn and taken aim, a safe distance would have been just beyond arms length, not 21 feet.

  2. To be honest I think they made the right call, waiting as long as they did. He was clearly deranged and not really actively threatening anyone but himself. When he got too close to bystanders, they had no choice left. Hopefully he can get the help he needs.

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