Man Shoots Himself, Cops Return Fire, Unclear If They Hit His Vehicle

Cops in Alabama may have shot eight to six times but aren't saying if they hit the man, who died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, or his vehicle.

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Paul Walls, a man known to Madison, Alabama, police and involved in a domestic dispute police were investigating, was shot at by cops after shooting himself in the head near his estranged wife's home Tuesday night.

AL.com reports:

As Madison police exited their vehicle, officers heard the shotgun blast and saw the driver side window blown out. Officers then returned fire, operating under the belief that Walls was firing at them. Police had been advised that Walls possibly had a shotgun in his possession, [police spokesperson Brian] Chaffin said, that had been taken from the complainant's residence earlier in the day.

Chaffin said it has not yet been determined if any rounds fired by the officers struck Walls or how many rounds were fired by police. The officers are on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation, Madison police said.

One witness told local news he heard six to eight rounds fired. A preliminary autopsy by the state found Walls to have died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Not only are police unsure whether the cops hit Walls, they're unsure whether the cops hit Walls' vehicle at all.

While it may seem dangerous for police to fire in such a manner as to possibly miss their target completely, Chaffin defends police actions Tuesday night:

"A shotgun blast, at night, you're going to see a small flash or something of that nature. They see the glass come out of the car, which corresponds with what you've been trained. When you see a bullet fired outside from a vehicle, the glass comes out. They see the glass come out, they hear the shot, they take cover and return fire. It's training, muscle-memory. It's how we're trained.

"They reacted in a professional manner to a gunshot. They did not realize at the time he had put the gun in his face area and fired it. They didn't realize he had taken his own life. They felt he was firing on them."

Fortunately, no bystanders were injured.

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  1. “A shotgun blast, at night, you’re going to see a small flash or something of that nature. They see the glass come out of the car, which corresponds with what you’ve been trained. When you see a bullet fired outside from a vehicle, the glass comes out. They see the glass come out, they hear the shot, they take cover and return fire. It’s training, muscle-memory. It’s how we’re trained.

    Anyone want to translate this to English for me? Sounds like he’s admitting they’re trained monkeys who can’t actually think for themselves.

    1. I was disturbingly reminded of George Clooney’s character in Burn After Reading.

    2. Does it occur to them they may be admitting that they are being trained badly?

      1. That was a rhetorical question, yes?

    3. Muscle Memory. You were expecting maybe “Thought Process”?

      1. Muscle memory is what makes me use my work password at home. It should not be used when deciding if you should use deadly force against a citizen.

        1. *no, they’re not set to the same password, I just type the work one more often, so it’s what I reflexively enter before using the right one.

  2. It’s not the officers’ fault. They were trained to blindly fire in the general direction of any gunshots they hear.

    Remind me not to go to the range when there are cops present.

    1. They were trained to blindly fire in the general direction of any gunshots loud noise they hear.

      FTFY

      1. You know what those cops need? Fully automatic weapons. Yeah, that’s a great idea.

        1. You know what those cops need? Fully automatic weapons

          Comedically colored Nerf Weapons!

          1. Plus Benny Hill music playing from their cop cars everytime they stop and get out.

    2. It’s not the officers’ fault. They were trained to blindly fire in the general direction of any gunshots they hear dog, shadow, person, sunspot, alien craft, bigfoot, Nessie, or anything they think they see or hear.

  3. Translation: Panic fire is standard operating procedure.

    1. That’s what I thought, but then I thought “even cops wouldn’t be dumb enough to admit that… would they?”

      1. What consequences would there be?

      2. Never saw those articles about police departments refusing to hire people who were too smart?

  4. The perp was sittin’ sideways. Hard target I guess.

  5. I blame the cops for missing, but not for shooting.

    1. Police officers are not soldiers in a war zone. Panic fire should never be excused. You find your target first, then pull the trigger, not lay down suppressing fire and hope no citizens get hit.

      1. As I said, I blame them for missing.

        1. So with no knowledge of what happened, you condone them shooting the guy?

          Please do not join the cops in any jurisdiction near me and mine.

          1. If you’re walking down the street and someone suddenly begins shooting, shooting back is justified self defense whether you’re a cop or a general member of the public.

            1. You must reasonably believe that they are shooting at you and your life is in danger. If you shoot someone shooting into the sky (say on the 4th of july) or shooting a rabid dog Then you are guilty of manslaughter at the least.

              Similarly if they had been shooting at you, missed and then turned and were running away.

        1. Quincy has a better opening.

          1. My favorite part was always him feeling up the girl’s arm at the end.

            Pimp as hell.

            1. Well, he squeezes her arm, notices her arm fat content is too high, and then hands her a some sort of weight loss concoction only those who went to medical/detective school know how to make.

              Q may be a good guy, but that boat has a weight limit, damnit.

  6. “Cops return fire”

    Nice

    1. Indeed.

  7. “Police had been advised that Walls possibly had a shotgun in his possession, [police spokesperson Brian] Chaffin said, that had been taken from the complainant’s residence earlier in the day.”

    Even if they hadn’t been advised that Walls had a shotgun in his possession, hearing a shotgun blast and seeing the window blown out by what looks like a shotgun blast–should be considered pretty good evidence that a shotgun might be in the suspect’s possession…by anyone with more than couple of brain cells to rub together.

    Meanwhile, when cops hear a shotgun blast and see a window blown out, they should just stand there and wait to see if the shotgun is actually being fired at them–is that what I’m supposed to say?

    Let’s try to be careful about not crying wolf.

    1. No, straw man, but they should at least look at what they are shooting at long enough to hit something the size of a fucking car.

    2. The fact that they did not hit the car combined with their explanation is what makes this story noteworthy, not that they thought they were being shot at. At least that is what I took from the article.

      1. “They reacted in a professional manner to a gunshot. They did not realize at the time he had put the gun in his face area and fired it. They didn’t realize he had taken his own life. They felt he was firing on them.

        They were wrong about everything but were professionally wrong about it!

        1. “They felt he was firing on them.”

          Felt!

          1. So if someone starts shooting for no reason on the street, you can’t defend yourself until they actually hit you, to make sure they’re shooting at you specifically?

            1. Don’t be an idiot. Of course, there’s no requirement to wait until you are injured. There’s no need to even wait until a shot is fired. But when you make the decision to shoot, you have to be aware of your target. You can’t just fire randomly in the general direction of where the threat might be.

              In this case, there was no threat. The victim blew his own head off with his first and only shot. The police response was abject panic, and that’s not acceptable.

              1. You can’t just fire randomly in the general direction of where the threat might be.

                As I said: I blame them for missing.

                1. I repeat – ‘Missing’ isn’t the problem. ‘Shooting when there was no reason to shoot’ is the problem.

            2. Unless a reasonable man would believe you are in danger of serious bodily injury or death then in most states you cannot employ deadly force in your own defense. Someone discharging a firearm into the sky, or themselves would not qualify.

    3. C’mon, Ken. They made no attempt to acquire a target. This was panic fire.

      1. Which is a worthy example of what, exactly?

        This is not Ferguson.

        This is not Eric Garner.

        I’ve seen worse police abuses clearing teenage house parties.

        And my understanding is that missing from close range under fire is actually quite common.

        1. I think this is right. If you are standing around a car and suddenly a shot comes out the window at you, you are going to probably dive for cover while firing some shots for cover. I can’t blame anyone for that response.

          Just a day ago people were expecting cops to ninja disarm a deranged girl with a knife. “Why didn’t they taze her”? Well it turns out they tried then declined to go catch a knife with their hands. But people are still sitting back and proclaiming that the clearly logical response to that situation should have been avoided because they are cops.

          I’m no fan of cops and as Ken said, the po-po is a target rich environment for bad examples. But there needs to be some forethought before just jumping on the accusations. cops have all the advantages, which leads to abuse. That doesn’t mean every case was an example of this.

          1. “a shot comes out the window at you,”

            There was not evidence that any shots came “at them”.

        2. ‘Missing’ isn’t the problem. ‘Shooting when there was no reason to shoot’ is the problem.

    4. Meanwhile, when cops hear a shotgun blast and see a window blown out, they should just stand there and wait to see if the shotgun is actually being fired at them–is that what I’m supposed to say?

      Yes.

      Such is what I witnessed by a sane cop many years ago. A suspect in a parked car parked behind a pony wall adjacent to a restaurant parking lot, shots had been fired, cop approaches vehicle with gun drawn, cop speaks to suspect, suspect panics and his gun goes off putting a hole through the roof of the car, cop DOES NOT UNLOAD HIS WEAPON ON SUSPECT, cop tells suspect to exit the vehicle, everyone lives.

      1. Cop was immediately brought up on disciplinary charges for failing to shoot the suspect, and his little dog too.

    5. if you see what you presume to be a shotgun blast and are feeling perfectly fine then you have not been hit. Perhaps you might take cover and attempt to discover whether you had in fact been shot at . Any attempt to communicate would have revealed that the suspect was not about to do anything at all ever again.

  8. Muscle Memory? Is that what they’re calling panic fire these days?

  9. Two cars at a light on a Saturday night
    in the back seat there was a gun
    Words were passed in a shotgun blast
    Troubled times had come to my hometown

  10. “He’s shooting at us through his skull!”

    1. That was funny.

  11. “They reacted in a professional manner to a gunshot. …They felt he was firing on them.”

    Nothing says “professional” quite like wetting yourself in terror at the sound of a gunshot, immediately opening fire, shooting blindly, spraying bullets in all directions, but entirely failing to miss your target, or even the vehicle your target was in.

    Professional.

  12. “Officers then returned fire”

    No, they didn’t return fire, they opened fire. You can return fire only after someone has shot at your first.

  13. Let’s keep things in perspective here. All officers went home at the end of their shift.

  14. RIP Paul Walls grill

  15. Anyone sensible shooting from inside a vehicle at someone or thing outside the vehicle will roll down the window. If you don’t you wont hit anything because bullets deflect when they hit things, moreover the glass fragments could well hit you.

    The level of articulateness of the police spokesperson, the marksmanship of the officers, and the rational for returning fire from a single shot that doesnt exit the car or go anywhere near the oficers seem to be of the same tather subhuman level

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