Nypd Rookie Of The Year


September 10, 2004, 11:10 AM


The New York Post
September 10, 2004

A routine foot patrol last May became a baptism by fire for a rookie cop, and could have turned into a nightmare if not for her smarts, cool and training.

Maribeth Diaz was looking for shoplifters near Macy's at Herald Square when, suddenly, a group of panicked tourists and office workers ran by her.

"I didn't know what was happening until somebody yelled, 'There's a man with a knife!' " said Diaz. "I thought, 'Oh, shoot.' "

An emotionally disturbed man with a large knife had just stabbed two people sitting on a bench in Herald Square Park, then stabbed two others who tried to stop him.

Diaz entered the park, drew her gun and ordered the man to drop his knife, cops said. But he refused, and allegedly moved toward the young officer.

Diaz, 23, who was only five months out of the Police Academy, fired once, hitting the man in the hip.

"Officer Diaz is a young cop, but she made all the right moves," said Richard O'Neill, a Post reader, who nominated her for The Post's New York's Finest Liberty Medal.

"It was surreal," said Diaz. "I was yelling, 'Drop the knife, drop the knife!' "

Diaz said the suspect, José de Jesus, 29, of Newark, was 10 feet away when she shot him.

"Police are trained that if someone has a knife and they are 20 feet away, that is a lethal distance," she explained.

De Jesus, who has a history of mental illness, told other officers at the scene he had hoped cops would shoot him dead.

Diaz, who's assigned to the Midtown South Precinct, said stopping the knife-wielding man was all in a day's work.

"It was my job, and I had to do it," said Diaz, a Lower East Side native who dreamed of becoming a cop since she was 17. She credited her months of training for her quick response.

"It was like my body took over," she said. "I didn't hesitate."

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September 10, 2004, 11:22 AM

Das Pferd
September 10, 2004, 11:56 AM

And bad shots. How do you hit someone in the hip from 10 feet away?

September 10, 2004, 12:06 PM
Her hands were probably shaking more than she'd like to admit. But she held her ground and got the job done. And it doesn't sound like she needed "counseling" afterward either.

September 10, 2004, 12:21 PM
There's a writeup by Massad Ayoob of this incident in the current American Handgunner. He attempts to say a pelvic area shot was what she was going for to bring the guy down.

I've previously read that shots to the pelvic area will put somebody down (if not out) but wasn't convinced by his article that it was intentional. Still, she did the job.

September 10, 2004, 12:21 PM
Or she was aiming at the pelvis. (http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?s=&postid=1227032#post1227032)

Andrew Rothman
September 10, 2004, 01:56 PM
And bad shots. How do you hit someone in the hip from 10 feet away?

[Edited to remove a low-road remark. Sorry, folks. :( Matt]

It sounds like her shooting was 100% successful: One shot, one stop. Good for her!

September 10, 2004, 09:34 PM
I'm glad she hit him on the first try and successfully stopped him, but I hate the aspect of the story that lends itself to the conjecture that she was intentionally "shooting to wound" and that the appropriate place to aim when someone is attacking you with a knife at close distance is the hip. I'd bet she was aiming for center/mass and was just a little off (which still isn't bad when you figure 75% of the rounds fired by police in the typical {point blank range} firefight miss entirely).

The old cliche of "why did the police have to kill him, why didn't they just shoot the knife out of his hand or shoot him in the leg" springs to mind. I know it can be done, I've seen it done (on video), but it was done by a SWAT marksman at a safe range - the idea that a police officer (or for that matter anyone) should try to 'shoot to wound' someone with a deadly weapon that is at a close range and moving toward them is preposterous.

September 10, 2004, 11:58 PM
One of my friends was in her class at the NYPD academy, and is assigned to the same precinct. The article jives with what he told me. What it doesn't tell you is how much of an emotional wreck she was afterwards - bad shape from what I was told. Still, that's to be expected: not even on the job six months and have an incident like this. Would any of us be better off?

It was a righteous shoot, and I'm glad she's pulled through.

kentucky bucky
September 11, 2004, 12:11 AM
Maybe she just hates men and was aiming at something else, but her windage was off!!:what:

Das Pferd
September 11, 2004, 01:32 AM
nother keyboard commando weighs in.

Ya thats what I am.

Its a perfectly reasonable question. If we are always trained to aim for vital areas, even cops, how did she hit his pelvic area from 10 ft away?

Go back to reading Soldier of Fortune Mathew, mom will be calling for dinner soon.

September 11, 2004, 02:03 AM
Das Pferd wrote:

Its a perfectly reasonable question. If we are always trained to aim for vital areas, even cops, how did she hit his pelvic area from 10 ft away?

Keyword being "trained."

It was probably the first time she had to draw her sidearm, seeing as she was only 5 months out of the academy. Then add on top of that a guy advancing on you who has a knife. Her system was most definitely saturated with adrenaline.

I'm a decent shot, but I've put quite a few fliers on my targets while at the range. Some wide enough to hit the hip area when I was aiming at COM. That was with normal levels of stress and adrenaline you'd have at a relaxing range trip.

It's entirely understandable that the round hit the man's hip. Not everyone is an Ernest Langdon class shot.

September 11, 2004, 02:53 AM
crazy with a knife, ten feet away, i wouldn't be surprised if she pulled the trigger just a bit early.

realizing she yelled at him to stop, she might have had her gun just a tad low to watch the man, and not raised it before firing.

personally, when training on paper targets, i sometimes notice that my accuracy improves with range. in other words, my eyes seem to pay more attention to sights if the target area is smaller (or farther), but the shots always hit the body mass. i think my mind is playing, a little, "minimum required accuracy" type game or something.

good for her, anyways.

September 11, 2004, 10:39 AM
As a fire arms instructor, I see a lot of people "get ready" for the shot by leaning their body forward into the gun OR dropping the barrel slightly. Not to mention the stress of having to shoot someone.... That's enough to make almost anyone a little off target. You never know though. My agency trains officers to make head shots, center mass shots and low center mass (pelvis) shots. Dont know if I agree with that, but that could have been her training.

OR.... she could have been focused on the knife the bad guy was holding (I have seen bad guys hold them at wast level). That can direct your shots also. Several officer involved shootings have had their first round hit the gun arm of the bad guy because thats where they were focused.

Too many variables to try to reason this out IMHO.

I am just thankfull another Police Officer goes home at the end of shift, thus obeying Rule #1.

Stay safe,


September 11, 2004, 11:12 AM
The most logical answer I think...

where you are focused is where you hit. My .02$

Don Gwinn
September 11, 2004, 11:51 AM
Das Pferd, it was not a terribly reasonable question, but I suppose it was acceptable. Personal insults are not. Matt Payne, that goes for you too. No personal attacks.

Now, in answer to your question:
And bad shots. How do you hit someone in the hip from 10 feet away?
You give him a knife first!

Even if you assume a rookie police officer is able to hit perfectly where she wants to place a bullet, you still don't know whether he jumped, turned, twisted or otherwise placed a hip in the path of the bullet. The focus on the knife is also a pretty reasonable assumption, but again, we don't really have any way of knowing from the article.

This reminds me of a thread on http://www.bullshido.net where a poster recounted the story of a prison guard who, attacked from behind with a razor blade strapped to a pen while he was inspecting a felon's cell, at first turtled up and was cut badly but then collected his thoughts, dumped his attacker and used his BJJ training to control him until he could get the cuffs on. I thought it was a fine example of training overcoming panic and carrying a man through a deadly situation, but more than one poster dismissed this guard as a "fool" and worse because he wasn't alert enough to avoid the first attack and because turtling wasn't the ideal response. I say big deal. He survived, he did what was needed, he displayed courage and presence of mind, and he probably learned a lot. Last thing he needs is to be called names by people who have not faced what he has.

Tom Servo
September 11, 2004, 11:55 AM
De Jesus, who has a history of mental illness, told other officers at the scene he had hoped cops would shoot him dead.
In Atlanta, they call it "suicide by cop." It's fairly common, and probably one of the most selfish and cowardly things anybody could do. I knew an officer who worked the area I was in at the time who had to shoot a guy on CHRISTMAS EVE, and it turned out to be the same thing. The perp survived, but still, the officer was a wreck, and I didn't see him after that. I heard he had asked for reassignment.

4v50 Gary
September 11, 2004, 11:58 AM
It has been said that under stress, a person responds the way they were trained. She responded.

Now, as suggested by jnh95, I wonder how she was trained when it came to marksmanship? Still, I'm not one to criticize her. She was in a life threatening situation and walked away a winner. Kudos to her.:cool:

Blackhawk 6
September 11, 2004, 01:19 PM
And bad shots. How do you hit someone in the hip from 10 feet away?

First, you assume she was not aiming for the pelvis. The pelvic shot is promoted in some circles for situations similar to the one described.

Second, standing on the range and making center-mass hits is one thing, making a center-mass hit on a human being 10 feet away who has a knife and has demonstrated that he will use it is quite another. In addition to the effect the stress of the moment has on one's marksmanship, the target is free to move in any fashion he wishes.

All of us can swap stories about how fast and accurate we are on the range against cardboard and paper bad guys. Commenting on another person's marksmanship, or lack thereof, in a life and death situation is poor form. We may all prefer to believe that we could do better, hopefully we will not be called upon to prove it.

Bottom Line: A relatively inexpereinced police office was confronted with a situation and brough it to a successful conclusion. Whether or not she meant to hit the bad guy in the hip, this incident still goes in the win column.

Andrew Rothman
September 11, 2004, 02:24 PM
An additional thought:

The pelvis is still part of the center of mass.

In going from "low ready" to firing, shooting from the bottom up makes plenty of sense.

In fact, the "zipper" technique, advocated by John Farnam, among others, suggests starting low on the torso and moving up:

15 Nov 00

Aiming point:

I am now teaching students, when shooting at a standing human, to put the first round into the navel, than move upward into the thoracic triangle with subsequent shots. We're doing this, because placing one's front sight immediately on the upper chest of an attacker makes it very difficult to track the target when he subsequently ducks and/or sidesteps.

When the front sight goes immediately to the zone just below the neck, and the felon suddenly ducks, the shooter is left with a blank sight picture! He must then drop his sights and search for the target. When the front sight goes no further up than the navel before the first shot is fired, no matter how the felon moves, he can't get away from follow-up shots.

I've been teaching it this way for some time now, but the technique was critically substantiated when we had students engage the famous Bob Berry "Ducking Target" during a training program in Pennsylvania several weeks ago. Students who automatically put their front sights too high invariably lost the target.

Several friends who teach the same thing call it the "Zipper Technique." Fair enough!


This thread discusses the same thing: http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?s=&threadid=93351

September 11, 2004, 03:32 PM
So he stabs four people who were unarmed, thanks to the laws of NYC and those that enforce them. Then that enforcer shoots him and that is all anyone is focused on?

What a wacky world.

Do any of you doubt for a second that she would have arrested any of those four stabbing victims prior to the stabbings if she had somehow found a gun on them?

September 11, 2004, 04:45 PM
Of course not. Barring an extremely rare CCW, it's illegal to carry a handgun in NYC.

It's also completely irrelevant to the topic at hand.

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