In yet another police shooting of an unarmed person of color (POC), 25-year-old Deyon Marcus Rivas-Maestas started out minding his own business. He was sitting in his car on the roadside, waiting for…something (we don’t yet know what) when Douglas County Sheriff’s Deputy Proulx decided to make an unwarranted stop.
Little Deyon was not stated to have been violating any laws, so why the Deputy thought he had any right to harass him is beyond the scope of this article.
Nevertheless, as seen in the video below, Deputy Proulx pulls up behind young Deyon and approaches the passenger side. Deyon, seeing an Deputy and justifiably believing himself about to die, pulled an unloaded AR-15 and jumped out of his SUV to scare off his attacker.
Deputy Proulx mistook the unloaded rifle for a threat and opened fire on Deyon, striking him once and sending him to his knees where he left Deyon kneeling, bleeding and in pain, for several minutes while he continued to shout at the unarmed victim and continued to threaten the unarmed, bleeding boy with his issued pistol. Deyon, remaining on his knees at gunpoint offered repeated, sincere apologies to the Deputy, who ignored them but let Deyon continue to bleed.
This deputy’s actions earned little Deyon a trip to the hospital and Deputy Proulx a paid vacation.
Or…that’s how it will be told to the people who see all police as the enemy: Unarmed POC Gunned Down/Tortured by Racist Pig.
But let’s talk about what actually happened.
Here’s the footage:
Deputy Brad Proulx (sp?) was patrolling the area and came across what looked to be a stranded motorist. That motorist was Deyon Marcus Rivas-Maestas, 25.
Deputy Proulx was doing his job and investigating a car parked on the side of the road. Thinking it to be the putative motorist in need of help, he approached the passenger side window. He saw Rivas-Maestas through the closed passenger window and was motioned by the innocent man to come around to the driver’s side where the window was open, he then moved around the back of the SUV to approach the driver’s side.
Please note the lack of a gun in the Deputy’s hands as he rounds the back end of the SUV.
Please also note the AR-15 in Rivas-Maestas’ hands as he attempts to club Deputy Proulx with it.
You can hear Rivas-Maestas’ apologies to the Deputy. If is his attack had been successful, would he hav been as apologetic to the Deputy’s family?
How fast did that happen? In the Video Leak Police video above, they show the incident in real time and then, at the 2:21 mark, they slow down the assault on Deputy Proulx so you can actually see what happened.
Before the 2:21 replay, can YOU see the weapon in Rivas-Maestas’ hands? Can you tell if it’s loaded? It may not have a magazine inserted, but does that mean that there isn’t a round n the chamber?
Neither can the Deputy. In less than a second he has to switch from “Deputy Helpful” to fending for his own life against an unexpected, armed assailant.
Luckily, Deputy Proulx has a few things working for him.
Qualified Immunity. As a sworn agent of the government, Deputy Proulx is generally considered to be acting on behalf of the people of Douglas County, not in a personal capacity. As such, if he HAD made a mistake in this shooting, barring gross negligence on his part or a large population of “All Cops Are Evil” Progressives (see CA, NY, NJ, etc…), he’ll be ok, liability-wise.
Training. While we at Interritus are not familiar with the specifics of Douglas County’s Deputy training standards, there are certain commonalities present here which can be seen by the trained eye:
Mindset. Deputy Proulx did not waste precious milliseconds agonizing over whether or not the 25-year-old man charging at him was a threat. He knew it was and made the correct decision to react with the appropriate level of force.
This is an essential part of any firearms training program. It doesn’t matter how fast you are or how accurate you are; if you can’t rapidly and effectively discriminate between threats and non-threats, you WILL shoot an innocent person. You have to train to reduce the mental clutter and recognize the threat before you can engage.
Muscle memory. Deputy Proulx may not be the highest-trained member of the force, but you can see that he draws smoothly, and efficiently and brings his firearm to bear on the lethal threat presented to him.
This is not something you just pick up. Deputy Proulx has practiced his draw and presentation to the point where it’s simply a mental subroutine: threat detected, initiate draw and presentation procedure, fire/don’t fire?, reassess.
Training to the point of muscle memory means that you won’t be stuck in your own head trying to remember how to draw your sidearm, you just do it. This will leave you more brainpower to make the decision of shoot/no-shoot, move to cover/concealment, or any of the other hundred thousand things you need to do besides pull the firearm from your holster.
So, what does this mean to you, the armed citizen?
Well, the good news is that while these things happen to police every day. These things only happen to the average, law-abiding citizen between 50,000 and 2 million times per year. So, your chances of being involved in an encounter with a person who wants you dead for no discernable purpose are much lower than the average police Deputy (again, criminal sanctuary zones such as large cities or blue states excepted; you’re pretty-well hosed in those places).
The bad news means that you are more likely to fall victim to the complacency that infects the majority of the American Population. AS such, you may graduate from one of our defensive courses (or from some other, lesser schools) with the correct mindset of relaxed vigilance, but it won’t last.
As the days fade to weeks, months, and years with nothing bad happening to you, it is tempting to fall back into your previous mindset of, “Nothing bad will ever happen to me”. You’ll stop practicing good situational awareness, good threat area avoidance, and good non-verbal dispute resolution techniques. You’ll stop practicing that smooth, efficient draw and presentation. You’ll stop practicing your shoot/no-shoot drills.
However, who knows? The majority of police Deputys in American go their entire careers without ever drawing their gun in anger. The same may happen to you.
The problem is that effective defensive firearms skills, just like fire safety, water safety, and basic first aid, are skills which require constant maintenance and practice to ensure that on that one-in-a-million chance, you are ready.
Additionally, as a lawfully armed civilian, you lack many of the support structures that Deputy Proulx had in place. You will not get any paid time off to recover from the incident. You might even be fired from your job because your coworkers perceive you as a bloodthirsty killer now.
Further, you may even be actively attacked by the very governmental structures which are supposed to protect and defend you. This occurs most often in those locations where feelings matter more than facts, but CAN happen if you make enough procedural errors before, during, and after the incident.
So, how do we fix this skills loss?
Relaxed Vigilance. That state of mind that is open to and engaged with the world seeing what is going on around you and reacting appropriately. You are aware that there are people out there looking for easy targets and you keep an eye open for them, but you aren’t focusing specifically on that particular threat. (If you spend all your time looking for someone to jump out of the shadows at you, you can miss al that is beautiful in the world, as well as that car speeding towards you.)
Once you’ve cultivated the skill, though, it should be like an anti-virus program: alert, watching, but not really impacting your actions until a threat appears.
Training. This is HOW we create, maintain, and improve our skills and our relaxed vigilance. Defensive Skills are perishable. Just because you took a class on proper draw and presentation with that old holster, doesn’t mean that you can still smoothly and efficiently draw. You may remember the steps, but in a fight, you don’t have the time to think about all the steps involved in drawing that concealed handgun. And just like anti-virus needs an update, so too does your Relaxed Vigilance need an update.
You don’t HAVE to come to us, but you need to train somewhere.