On August 29th, 2015, Officer Randy Wheeler of the Trinity, Texas, Police Department was conducting a routine traffic stop. The traffic stop escalated quickly in a matter of seconds ad Officer Wheeler was forced to draw his gun on the driver just seconds after walking up to his window.
The below video is chilling and shows exactly what police officers must sometimes face. A split second can mean the difference between a dead suspect or a dead police officer.
The video begins from the dashcam point of view. It has no sound and, just witnessing the out-of-context events, a witness would find the whole altercation completely unacceptable.
From an outside perspective, Wheeler pulls-over a car, talks for a few seconds, and quickly draws his gun and aims it at the driver.
Just looking at it without context, one would naturally think that the officer was behaving recklessly.
However, the second half of the video shows the altercation from the officer’s vestcam. After pulling over the man, the officer noticed an erratic-behaving driver sitting next to a gun on the passenger seat. When Wheeler asked the man if it was a real gun, the man turned his back to the officer and reached for the real firearm.
Immediately, the officer had to make a decision. Should he trust this erratic-behaving stranger to not kill him?
Of course, the officer did the only real option; he drew his Glock and yelled to the man to not move. Apparently frightened, the wide-eyed man complied but the officer had to instruct him several times as the man did not readily comply.
The driver had a traffic warrant for his arrest and was also charged with unlawful carrying of a weapon, unlawful possession of a controlled substance, bringing a prohibited substance into a correctional facility and tampering with physical evidence.
Trinity Police Chief Steven Jones claimed that his department chose to release the video of the scary situation to illustrate a point: police have a fraction of a second to decide whether to shoot. Witnesses, the media and Obama’s rabidly partisan DOJ have days, weeks and months to armchair-quarterback the decisions made by professional law enforcement officers.
No, that doesn’t make them perfect. No, that doesn’t mean we can never second-guess an officer. However, the video illustrates a perfect example of a professional being placed in a tense situation and having only a second to decide what to do to possibly save his (and others) lives.
Officer Wheeler should just count himself lucky that the driver was white. Pulling a firearm on a black man, for any reason, is enough cause to ignite a political firestorm.
One should also note that the driver, though arrested, is alive because he complied. He did not charge the officer, he did not reach for the officer’s gun. He did not issue threats to or kick the officer. He complied and he is still alive. There is a lesson here.
Watch below and ask yourself, “What would I have done if I were the officer?”