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Police officers have a difficult and dangerous job, and are greatly outnumbered by the general public. Of course, most citizens are honest and law-abiding. Many are even willing to help officers when needed, as shown by this concerned citizen who shot at a suspect during a traffic stop.

The incident, revealed on dash-cam video, happened a couple of weeks ago in Parma, Ohio. The video shows an officer pulling over a vehicle. The suspect’s car pulls into a parking lot, and the officer follows, stopping near the rear quarter panel, telling the suspect to turn off the engine. That’s when, however, a Jeep — driven by the “concerned citizen” rolls up from the opposite direction and blocks the front of the suspect’s car. The Jeep’s driver then lowers his window and observes as the officer walks up to the driver side of the suspect’s car. It is also when the driver of the Jeep pulled out a handgun and pointed at the car.

As the officer continues to tell the driver to “shut it down,” the suspect rams the Jeep in an attempt to escape. At the same time, the officer tries to stop the suspect from getting away. That’s when the driver of the Jeep fires four rounds at the suspect’s car, within inches of the officer. The officer yells for the Jeep’s driver to stay there before taking off in pursuit of the suspect. In the end, the police capture and arrest the driver.

Concerned Citizen Needs to Be Careful

After the situation ended, officers discovered that the concerned citizen had a concealed carry permit and was legal to have the handgun. Police were also happy that a citizen had enough respect to help. But, they had concerns with the method.

“Citizens should use caution,” Sgt. Dan Ciryak told Fox 8. “Even if they have a permit, the officer doesn’t know what their intention is, so when they pull that gun out, it depends on the officer’s perception at the time.”

In this case, the officer realized that the citizen posed no immediate threat. However, these types of situations can be fluid and chaotic. Over the Thanksgiving holiday, a police officer shot and killed a legal concealed carrier in a Birmingham mall. The officer mistook a military veteran for an active shooter. In another incident, an officer shot and killed an Illinois bouncer who had actually stopped an active shooter at his club.

Now this is not about emphasizing police mistakes. Police officers are human and most are doing the best possible job considering the circumstances of dealing with society’s worst. Police officers, in general, do much more good than harm. But, as humans, they can make mistakes. So, it is up to armed citizens who want to help to keep themselves safe from mistakes.

If you ever draw your gun, be sure you are the one on the phone with police. Then, be sure to give the dispatcher your description, and tell them when officers are arriving. Finally, follow all directions given by officers, including putting down the gun and lying on the ground if needed.

Police officers are doing the best they can in most situations, but can easily make mistakes by misreading the circumstances. And in those cases, they may have to deal with taking an innocent life, which can be devastating. But, it won’t bring you back if you’re the mistake.

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