How Close Is Too Close

Police Survival Shooting; 1995, From Massad Ayoob's Video

    The Point of "How Close Is Too Close" is that an assailant, in reasonable health,

can close a distance of:
21 feet in 1.5 seconds
    This demands that you be in the Low-Ready Position. See Gun Page, Menu, for
Why The Low-Ready Position
How To Perform The Low-Ready Position.

    "In March of 1983, Sgt. Dennis Tueller of the Salt Lake City Police Department
published an article that has the potential to save the lives and careers of both police
officers and civilians. It can also save your personal fortunes. The article was
entitled, 'How Close Is Too Close?' and appeared in the March, 1983 issue of SWAT
Magazine (Survival, Weapons, and Tactics).

    "In this landmark article, Tueller demonstrated just how rapidly a suspect with a
contact weapon, such as a knife or a club, could close what was previously believed to
be intermediate distance with a police officer and execute a lethal technique.

    "Going back to your basic academy training and the judicious use of deadly
force, you'll recall that three elements have to be present for you to fire the service

  • Ability: The opponent had to have the power to kill or to cripple.
  • Jeopardy: He had to act in such a manner that a reasonable man would assume he intended to cripple or kill him.
  • Opportunity: This is the most critical in a typical contact assault. The opponent had to be close enough to deploy his weapon to deploy his ability to kill or to cripple.

    "Typically, when an officer uses deadly force on the street, as judged by people
who do not even begin to understand the actual dynamics of violent encounters, the opposing counsel makes it appear that a man twenty feet away with a club or a knife was incapable of harming the officer---he should not have been shot until the knife was virtually at the officer's throat.

    "Personally, I have seen men go to prison because they did not have available the kind of training Dennis Tueller made available in this article, and today, thank God, in video tapes. I've seen men who've had that training stay out of prison, 5 of them I believe we can point to, and one of whom is alive today because of this training.

    "All of us here in this class are potentially instructors and are familiar with the concept of the oil stain effect. One instructor trains, in this case, a cadre of eight instructors, each of whom will go back and transmit that training to several hundred officers, and in time the training spreads and permeates the law enforcement community and reaches those outside that community that it needs to reach.

    "So this article was published in March of 1983, and after having read it, I incorporated what I call the Tueller Drill in all the LFI courses I teach.

    "In 1985, I taught this drill to a cadre of approximately 30 instructors in the Tacoma, Washington area, at the Tacoma Police Range, and strongly urged them to adopt the Tueller Drill and use it as a roll call exercise with all their officers. This was done by most of the involved departments, including, I'm happy to say, by the Tacoma police themselves.

    "The Tacoma police not only incorporated the Tueller Drill, but they made a training video tape they show to all their officers, both recruits and in service training. This involved role plays as well as the video tape.

    "In September of 1986, an incident occurred in the city of Tacoma where 5 police officers, 3 white males, 1 Hispanic male, and 1 white female officer, responded to the scene of a large, violent black male, an EDP (emotionally disturbed person) who had violently assaulted a female. They arrived at the scene to find the subject, 6'5" tall, 230 lbs, armed with a large butcher knife in his dominant hand, a 2 foot club in his less dominant hand.

    "As the officers attempted to array themselves around him in a controlling posture, he began to lash out violently. The responding sergeant, who had drawn his weapon, was at least 6 feet away when the subject lunged at him with the knife. This officer fired one shot from his Barretta service pistol. It was later determined that this round, a 9mm Winchester Silvertip, had struck the subject in the heart.

    "The man appeared to be startled, looked at the officer, and then violently lunged at him again with renewed vigor. In the seconds that followed, the other four officers joined the first in firing. A total of 20 shots was fired before the subject was neutralized, 8 of them striking the subject.

    "The community, not understanding what a trained policeman knows about the dynamics of violent encounters, thought it was a gross abuse of law enforcement use of deadly force. They felt that five officers at the scene should have been able to control a man with what they perceived as a lesser weapon.

    "Fortunately, all those officers had had the training and the Tueller Drill. In my recollection, having seen the paperwork, is that at least three of them made the statement on their initial reports, 'It was fresh in my mind from my training how rapidly that man could have closed the distance and killed the sergeant or the rest of us. We knew that for this reason, it was necessary.'

    "At the coroner's inquest that followed, their testimony reinforced that. The training they'd had was introduced. Now, coroners' jurors understood what the officers had understood. As you watch the incident unfold in the press, and the clippings from the Tacoma newspaper, with editorials and the news, you see the mood go from a situation where the public believed that a firing squad had executed a man because he was black, to a situation where the media, where the public, and where ultimately the coroner's jury, which included black members, realized and stated, these officers did what they had to do. They had no other choice under the circumstances.

    "Those officers were found to have been justified by the coroner's jury, and in that moment the situation occurred where those five officers, in my opinion, were saved from standing trial and possibly going to prison. That training undoubtably kept the sergeant from being stabbed to death by that suspect, and very possibly kept other officers at the scene from being killed.

    " We contrast that with situations like that of New York VS. Frank Magliotta, New York City, Manhattan Superior Court, in 1984.

    "Magliotta was a citizen with a gun permit, attacked for the fourth time that night by a violent junkie with a long history of criminal assaults, who was armed with a 2 foot club. Magliotta fired. His bullet struck and killed the suspect. It was testified in court that man was within 2.08 seconds, based on subsequent tests, of crushing Magliotta's skull. Magliotta, with the jury out of the room, was asked by the judge, 'Did you know that at the time the weapon fired.' Magliotta answered, 'No.' The judge said, 'Because you did not know that, it was not part of your mind set. It was not part of your decision making process. The jury will not know this.'

    "The jury, which did not know this kid was two seconds away from death, found him guilty, guilty indeed of depraved murder. The New York Supreme Court reduced that to a conviction for manslaughter. He remains, however, in Dana Morris State Penitentiary, essentially for no other crime but being unable to justify what was clearly a justifiable shooting.

    "The Dennis Tueller technique you are going to learn may save your career, your life savings, your marriage, and your peace of mind."

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, any copyrighted work in this message is distributed under fair use without profit or payment for non-profit research and educational purposes only [Gun Page: Reference Fair Use].

You'll be glad you read and studied these Gun Pages if this suddenly happens to you!

...and you'll be doubly glad you got one of these...and learned how to use it !

Return to Gun Page