Straight Shooter


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Drizzt
March 22, 2005, 01:26 AM
Straight Shooter

By Kevin Cullen | March 20, 2005

With Boston police under fire after an Emerson student was killed, Billy Kennedy is teaching the next generation of cops why sometimes the best decision is not to shoot. It's a life-or-death decision he faced in a chase 17 years ago, and it's what drives him today.

To this day, Billy Kennedy doesn't quite know why he's alive and Roy Sergei isn't. When Ted Jeffrey Otsuki, a career bank robber, came running out of an alley and pointed a gun at him one night in 1987, Kennedy's instinct was to press himself against the wall of the Back Bay storefront where he and Sergei, a pair of Boston cops, had given chase. The shots whizzed past in an instant 13 in all. "I felt the bullets go by my face," Kennedy recalls. "I fired a round at Otsuki. Then two people came up. He got behind them. I pulled my finger off the trigger. He went around the corner, and I couldn't see him."

During Otsuki's trial, at which he was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison, a witness testified that after Otsuki got out of Kennedy's line of fire, the robber ducked into a doorway. "He was waiting for me to come around the corner," Kennedy says, "to shoot me."

But his instinct to pursue was overtaken by his instinct to help his partner. Because the bullets meant for Kennedy had missed him and struck 42-year-old Sergei, who had been following behind. "I went back to Roy."

A third cop on the scene, 21-year-old rookie Jorge Torres, was badly wounded, hit in the arm and chest. A fourth, Christopher Rogers, got lucky and, like Kennedy, wasn't hit. But as he held his partner, Kennedy confronted a frightening reality: The bad guy was a better gunfighter than the good guys.

Now 49, Sergeant Kennedy is too much a cop to engage in psychobabble. But he won't deny that what happened near that alley 17 years ago is why he now reports to duty at tiny Moon Island off the Quincy peninsula, at the Boston Police Department's firing range. He is one of the department's firearms instructors, an accomplished competitive shooter and something of a guru when it comes to the use of deadly force and the question that every cop must be prepared to answer every day: When to shoot and when to holster? Kennedy's mission: to train officers to use force so that they aren't killed or injured; to minimize the risk to both cops and the people they use force against; to make sure that when cops do come up against someone determined to hurt them or others, that they incapacitate the bad guy as fast as possible.

But in the end, no amount of testing or simulated training can prepare even the most veteran officers for what might unfold on the streets, a harsh reality the Boston Police Department is facing after its Special Operations unit and its then-commander, Robert E. O'Toole Jr., came under a series of investigations following the death of an Emerson College student during the rowdy celebration after the Red Sox championship victory over the Yankees last October. Victoria Snelgrove, 21, was killed by a pepper-spray projectile fired from a so-called less-lethal weapon. It was the first time Boston police had used the weapon in a public-order situation. In fact, that type of weapon had been used only once before by Boston police, while subduing a mentally disturbed man who had attacked a college student and was trying to harm himself. But that successful deployment came in a small, confined space....


It's an interesting article, but a bit long to post here. Read the rest here (http://www.boston.com/news/globe/magazine/articles/2005/03/20/straight_shooter/)

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Third_Rail
March 22, 2005, 01:34 AM
Quite an interesting read. Surprising to see from a Boston outlet, though.

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