Dallas officer Richard Stewart was running a little late for work when he noticed an altercation at a liquor store. Several minutes later, he had a thief disarmed and in custody. While it is most likely not the sanest story to come out of any news source, it is yet another instance where a cop was able to deal with a bad situation in a non-lethal manner. Thankfully it ended with no one shot.
Here, via DallasNews.com, is what Officer Stewart did.
Officer Richard Stewart, a seven-year veteran of the department, said he was running a little late to work when he drove by a Love Field area liquor store and noticed in the corner of his eye a fight outside. Stewart, who works in plain clothes, pulled into the parking lot to try to figure out what was going on.
“I really didn’t want to get out if I didn’t have to,” Stewart said Wednesday. “Very quickly, I figured out it was a possible robbery and the guy had a gun.”
The suspect was fighting with two clerks at the store in the 1600 block of Storey Lane. Stewart heard the man tell the clerks that he was going to shoot them. The clerks had chased the suspect after he allegedly stole Tequila.
Stewart tried to intervene. He said he pushed the gun downward and struggled with the suspect for about five minutes.
At one point, the suspect pointed his revolver at Stewart. The officer said he managed to lodge his finger between the trigger guard and the trigger, preventing the suspect from firing. Stewart said the man still tried to shoot him in the head. Eventually, Stewart also used his hand to release the revolver’s cylinder.
Stewart, who has three children, one of whom was born in October, said he didn’t have time to be afraid of what might happen. “I was thinking, ‘I’m not going to die today,’” Stewart said.
Stewart said he has been in a few similar past confrontations with armed suspects. But he said he doesn’t know if he’d be able to repeat his actions if he could.
The man was arrested and charged with felony theft, aggravated assault on public servant, unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon, possession of methamphetamine, and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. His name has not yet been released.
Officer Stewart did something both insane and respecting of human life. He shows that not all officers want to pull a weapon first. He also shows that police can be just as brave without their firearm.
Insane? Yes, because he could have easily been shot when approaching the situation. My guess (and it is just that) is that he didn’t pull a weapon because he didn’t want it known that he’s a plain-clothes cop. But was it the pressure of the recent shootings of unarmed victims that caused him to react the way he did or the fact that he’s a plain-clothes cop?
I would hope it’s the latter of the two, because if cops are now making judgment calls based on the racist reactions of rioters, then a lot more lives could be in danger besides those of a couple of belligerent thugs who thought they were above the law.
If cops’ decisions are now based on concerns about grand juries, law suits and protests, rather than self-preservation and following the law, then having our priorities right just took another nosedive.