6 July 99

This from a friend in MD. This incident involves an officer from the Montgomery CO Police Department. It took place in April of this year:

“While on patrol, Officer Thielke observed Roberts (the suspect) standing next to a car in an apartment complex parking lot in the early evening. The passenger-side door was open. As the officer approached, he noticed that the ignition of the vehicle looked as if it had been ‘punched out,’ an indicator that the vehicle had a high likelihood of being stolen. Upon seeing the marked, patrol vehicle, Roberts then quickly entered the suspect vehicle and started to drive away.

Officer Thielke attempted to pull the vehicle over immediately, but Roberts continued to drive away, apparently ignoring the red overhead lights on the patrol vehicle. After a few blocks, Roberts finally did pull over, but, when the officer ordered him to exit the vehicle, he declined to do so.

Officer Thielke then approached the suspect vehicle with his sidearm drawn (Beretta 9mm, w/Federal 147gr Hydra-Shoks). The officer subsequently attempted to drag the suspect out of the vehicle. In the process, the officers pistol discharged accidentally.

A single bullet from Officer Thielke’s pistol struck Roberts in the liver, entering at a downward angle. Roberts was evacuated to a local hospital but died three hours later. Officer Thielke was unhurt.

A team of lawyers representing the suspect/victim (Roberts) includes well-known attorney, Johnnie Cochran. The lawyers have already announced that the Robert’s family would be seeking substantial damages from the County and from all involved officers.

It was the second time in two weeks that an unarmed black has been accidentally shot and killed by white, County police officers. The Montgomery County Police Department has, once more, been placed in the awkward position of having to deny it is racist.”


(1) Any traffic stop which is even slightly suspicious should involve at least two police vehicles.

(2) Getting into a wrestling match with a suspect, by yourself, is an invitation to disaster. If physical contact with a suspect appears likely, we need at least a three-to-one advantage. Until such an overwhelming advantage is in place, no physical contact should be initiated.

(3) Getting involved in a wrestling match with a gun in one’s hand is an invitation to a disarm or a tragic, accidental shooting such as happened here. When you have a gun in your hand, always maintain a safe distance from all suspects.

(4) Back to Basic Gun Handling! If you have not been trained to have your finger where it belongs, things like this are going to happen to you when you have a gun in your hand and are subsequently startled, lose your balance, and contract your other hand for some reason.

(5) Back to Basics II! If you don’t have a good grasp of muzzle consciousness, things like this are going to happen to you when you have a gun in your hand and you’re trying to do something beside shooting. Keeping one’s gun continually pointed in a safe direction is not just a range training procedure. It is difficult for me to imagine how shooting an innocent person or yourself is going to be helpful to you!