Dillon County (SC) deputy shoots man throwing baseballs


July 31, 2005, 05:04 PM

Dillon County deputy shoots man throwing baseballs

(Dillon-AP) July 31, 2005 - Dillon County Sheriff Harold Grice says a deputy shot a man twice in the legs after he would not stop throwing baseballs at cars and people.

Grice says the man in a baseball uniform was throwing baseballs outside the Dillon Video Store on state Highway 34 Saturday morning. The sheriff says when Corporal Charles Hester arrived, Thomas Gaeta kept throwing baseballs and bats, so the officer shot him twice in the legs.

Grice says Gaeta was taken to the hospital and released to the jail, where he was charged with possession of a deadly weapon, assaulting a police officer, and malicious damage to property.

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July 31, 2005, 05:07 PM
Ya know how we sometimes denigrate SWAT and "perimeter forming" and such?

Right here woulda been a good use. But I doubt the County had one on call with riot shields so the Deputy did what he could, in the time he had.

Which team's uniform? Cause if it was the Yankees, the Deputy should have aimed higher. :evil:

July 31, 2005, 06:06 PM
Sounds bad at first, but in fact it makes more sense than jumping a guy who's obviously not thinking straight and has a baseball bat. In those rural areas, backup can be a long wait.

Of course, if he had had beanbag rounds for his shotgun available, it would have been one more option short of lethal force. Recently a deputy around here used one to take the fight right out of a drunk who was throwing kitchen knives at him. Drunk went to jail with just a bad bruise, and the deputy didn't get hurt. Somewhat better outcome all around.

July 31, 2005, 06:24 PM
Attention all police occifers!!!!

THIS is a prime example of a case where the use of a tazer would have been okay. Guess the deputy didn't have one available. Tazer for grown up with bats and baseballs = okay. Tazers for 7 year old with a piece of glass = NOT okay. See the difference now?


July 31, 2005, 06:30 PM
Dillon County is one of the poorer ones in SC. I'm pretty sure officers there do not have the latest and greatest technology.

Sounds liked things worked out for the best if the BG has been released from the hospital, is in jail, and the deputy went home to his family.

July 31, 2005, 06:34 PM
Tazer? I dunno. Getting close enough to accurately taze while someone with a bat & balls is hitting at me sounds pretty sporty. Acouple of big cops with shields or shottie with bean-bag rnds makes more sense.

The story's not too details, so assuming the benefit of the doubt, IMO the officer did the best he could with what he had under the circumstances. He still might be open to a malicious woulnding suit depending on how whacked/litegeous the perp and/or is family is. Hope everything works out OK for all involved.

July 31, 2005, 07:06 PM
I used to be able to chuck a baseball at a pretty good clip. A baseball to the melon can put your lights out.

I can't say I blame the cop, but the best situation is a few cops in riot gear & shields to advance & subdue the wanna-be Rolly Fingers.

Spreadfire Arms
July 31, 2005, 07:27 PM
according to Taser International's website:


It has a maximum range of 21 feet.

an average human has a reach of 32-33 inches. then you add in a 32-33" baseball bat. so the bad guy has about a circle of force of about 6 feet.

but add that to the fact that he is mobile and can move towards a victim quickly at the rate of at least 10 feet/second (derived roughly from the 21-foot rule). so the 21 foot rule is actually more like 23+ feet here if you add in the wingspan of the baseball bat.

i think the Taser could have been applied with the presence of more officers at the scene.

to have one officer deal with this guy was not a good thing. OTOH, if two officers were there, one could have deployed with pepper and a firearm, while the other deploy with a taser and a firearm.

they could have then used more available options. i suspect the officer, even if he had a taser, may not feel comfortable deploying it by himself without a cover officer ready with a firearm in the event it needed to be used.

just my two cents.

July 31, 2005, 08:19 PM
all police occifers!!!!

THIS is a prime example of a case where the use of a tazer would have been okay. Guess the deputy didn't have one available. Tazer for grown up with bats and baseballs = okay. Tazers for 7 year old with a piece of glass = NOT okay. See the difference now?What I see in your post is the ranting of an anti-cop! Using a TASER in a situation like this one would likely have resulted in the officer being wounded or killed. This case did not require an officer getting in close enough to effectively fire a TASER (TASER not tazer, it basically is an acronym for Thomas A. Swift's Electric Rifle). Remember the guy was not swinging a baseball bat, he was THROWING baseballs and bats. Likewise, such would not require the use of soft or hard techniques prior to being employed; a TASER likely would fall into one of these two lower force levels in most departments and agencies. Yet, it certainly may have required deadly force if the officer (not occifer) decided it was appropriate and legal based on the situation at hand. Baseball bats and baseballs being thrown at civilians (well able to cause severe injuries or death at further than TASER range) in passing cars and at the officer constitutes the use of deadly force by the guy in the baseball uniform. Depending on the situation that was unfolding it may have been the only reasonable alternative to answer it with like force.

As for using a TASER on a 7 year old armed with a deadly weapon, that could be a tough call. Next time you are stabbed by a young kid, let me know what you think then. Why even bring up such in this thread in the first place?

One last thing for some of the other posters here. It amzes me how many of you think the cop would have done better to have waited for back-up, for a team with a shield and a shotgun with bean-bags to take the guy out or, something similar. This surprises me because this is THR and most of the folks on this site usually rant on about how comabt ready they are to shoot their guns in self defense and how they would shoot to kill, Yet when an officer does it - well there is just always a better way according to quite a few on this site. Amazing.

best regards,
Glenn B

July 31, 2005, 08:38 PM
On the plus side, I believe that the cop would've been legally justified in making the guy very dead. However, although I can't say for sure, it sounds like he purposefully shot for the legs instead of com in order to try to spare the guy his life. And I know, I know....he could've hit the femoral artery, so forth...my point is, it appears that the cop tried to solve the problem with the least damaging outcome as possible to all concerned.

July 31, 2005, 08:55 PM
If the man was throwing baseballs and bats at cars on the highway, I can see where he was definately endangering the lives of others. If not by being hit by one , by causing a potentially fatal traffic accident. On the other hand, I do think rubber bullets or bean bag rounds would have been more appropriate. I can't see where this could be a budget buster even for a small town. I wonder if he'll have to carry his bullet in his pocket like Barney Fife ? lol

July 31, 2005, 09:02 PM
. . . Thomas Gaeta kept throwing baseballs and bats . . . Non-compliant suspect using baseballs and baseball bats as weapons. All we have here is a 4 sentence media report, so it's impossible to say whether this was justified or not, but it's easy to see where it is possible the officer felt there was a credible threat of death or serious bodily injury to himself or others.

July 31, 2005, 09:08 PM
I wonder how many he had? Did he load up his combat wheelbarrow with them? Cause that could be dozens. :D

July 31, 2005, 09:25 PM
Those duffle bags they often use to carry baseball gear could hold quite alarge number of both.

July 31, 2005, 09:27 PM
Now there is an idea. I'll start to carry a spare mag of rubber bullets with me, yeajh thats the ticket, maybe in my shirt pocket like Barney - LOL. Just hope I never reload with that mag when I need the real thing.

Rubber bullets indeed, that was perfect as per the the Brits and, look at them now.

all the best, Gb

Andrew Rothman
July 31, 2005, 09:50 PM
I've seen traffic completely stopped on the highway for less.

Granted, we weren't there, but I'm guessing there were less-lethal options.

July 31, 2005, 10:13 PM
It's not the deputy's job to get into a pitch off with this guy. He's lucky he didn't just bean him with the cruiser. :D

July 31, 2005, 10:37 PM
They should put locks on baseballs....this is an outrage!!

August 1, 2005, 05:31 AM
The cop should of just dressed up like an umpire and then run up to the guy and get in a belly to belly, spit in your face argument over balls and strikes before giving him the 'ol heev hoe ( your out of here). Everyone would of went home happy.

August 1, 2005, 07:15 AM
What I see in your post is the ranting of an anti-cop!
Call me what you want. I have a few very good friends that are cops. What they are not is above the law or other citizens and they don't have a chip on their shoulders. Being a police officer is a job--not a superhero or robocop. What I see today is a migration away from honest to goodness police work to a more militant style approach. That's not a good thing to me. I won't paint it with a broad brush because this phenomena does not affect all young police officers, just some. But, it only takes one bad apple to spoil the bunch ya know. Not withstanding this particular example, a great deal of confrontations can be resolved by de-escalation techniques instead of force. I see a lot of force being used when other methods were not attempted.

Flame suit on...PM me if you have a problem with me because I won't be back to this thread.


August 1, 2005, 07:19 AM
They should put locks on baseballs....this is an outrage!!

HA! And background checks too!

"Close the Baseball Museum Loophole!!!!"

"No immunity for baseball and bat manufacturers!"

August 1, 2005, 07:51 AM
If that guy is throwing baseball and bats at me, I would throws some lead at him too. I am pretty sure most people on this forum would do the same as the officer.

Spreadfire Arms
August 1, 2005, 07:56 AM
Being a police officer is a job--not a superhero or robocop.

as a former LE officer, i do not see how people who have never done police work can have such a strong opinion and Monday-morning-quarterback an officer's decision to shoot without all of the facts.

i am not specifically stating tarpleyg did not have any experience/training/etc. however i think he said he had friends that were cops.

i've said it before, internet makes it easy for cop wanna-be's, second-guessers, mall-ninjas, and the like interject their non-trained, non-professional, and non-experienced opinion into a deadly force situation involving LE officers.

that's not to say they don't have the right to their own opinion, but for someone who's never had any sort of LE training, their opinion as to whether or not deadly force was applied correctly in an officer-involved shooting isn't normally considered valuable in any legal arena. yes, jurors, who are most likely untrained, may have to decide the fate of an officer in court, but, that would mean the department, District Attorney, and/or Grand Jury would first have to think that the shooting was improper in order for it to get there.

Ky Larry
August 1, 2005, 08:06 AM
The police office did the right thing, under the curcumstances. I doubt the BG had an arm like Nolan Ryan (100 MPH+ fast ball) but even still a baseball can break bones.. The LEO stopped a threat to himself and the public. He could just as easily put a full mag in the BG's X-ring.

August 1, 2005, 08:33 AM
a baseball can break bones..A baseball can kill you! And you don't have to be Nolan Ryan.

The story isn't nearly complete enough to form any strong opinion. I assume the deputy didn't have the back up to isolate the actor from the public. If someone was throwing baseballs at me, I would consider that a threat of death or serious bodily injury. No one has commented on shooting him in the legs. It worked this time but odds are it usually won't. If you miss, you are almost certain to have a ricochet flying who knows where. Center mass all the time.

August 1, 2005, 08:40 AM
Bottom line: Officer screwed up.
Shoulda shot the idiot in the head. Preferably several times.


It's like many of you have never been hit by a baseball.


August 1, 2005, 08:53 AM
It's like many of you have never been hit by a baseball.

I've taken many for the team before. A couple on purpose.(never hit with 90 mph + but several in the mid-80's) One broke my finger but all in all my injuries from getting hit by baseballs in the 15 yrs or so I played were not that bad at all. It is the bat I would be more concern with!

cortez kid
August 1, 2005, 08:56 AM
When you add up all the people killed by bb bats, all the people hurt and killed by fools throwing things at cars, and all the people(includingcops) injured and killed by out of controll whack-jobs, that cop did just fine

August 1, 2005, 09:02 AM
If the wacko had seriously injured, or even killed someone with a baseball or bat the same people who are critical of the deputy's actions in shooting the bg in the legs would be raising the roof now because he "didn't do his job".

You folks who think being a leo makes a person make perfect decisions regardless of the stituation are full of crap.

The Deputy was just doing what HE thought best at the moment. I doubt very seriously there is a chapter in the "deputy's what to do" manual about a nut job slinging baseball's and bat's at people.

That deputy is not a perfect human being. He is just like YOUR Son, Brother, Father, Uncle, etc.... He has to make life threatening decisions under severe circumstances and then have his actions 2nd guessed by people who were NOT present, and have NO CLUE what the actual situation was.

I'm NOT a cop, have no cops in my family and don't have ANY cops as personal friends. I have no ax to grind on the behalf of law enforcement, but IF I were a cop, or if I had a cop in the family, or if I had a cop who was a good friend in the same circumstances I would think shooting the wacko in the legs would have been a second choice.....

I would have aimed higher.

Law Enforcement is a very difficult, dangerous, job.... For every "Barney Fife" or "Rambo" you find in the profession you find 100 dedicated public servants who are underappreciated and underpaid.

So, unless YOU have a personal ax to grind against law enforcement the proper response you SHOULD have had when reading the story is "Man, that deputy sure had better control than I would have... That baseball throwing nutjob is a lucky dude".............

And if you don't think a thrown baseball, or bat, can be a lethal weapon you never played the game.

Flames welcome, and you're STILL WRONG.

JP :banghead:

August 1, 2005, 09:11 AM
Good point AK-74.


August 1, 2005, 09:13 AM
PX15 who are you addressing I think it is pretty apparent that the majority here agrees with you.

August 1, 2005, 09:57 AM

I was addessing the post on the previous page from TarpleyG...

I should have been specific as what post I was responding to, I guess, but I was so po at that inane posting that I forgot to take my usual "Zoloft, fiber, nap" before responding.. Normally I allow time to reflect and calm down when I read a stupid post, but just missed it this time.

I get so tired of everyone making "politically correct" observations at the actions of law enforcement that I just want to spit. When leo's save our bacon we feel, "well, that's what they're paid for, right?". But when a leo has to use judgement in what force to use he or she will be second guessed for months by every idiot with an agenda.

I'm NOT saying that leo's haven't been guilty of mistakes, I'm just saying that the policeman is trying to do the best job he/she can. We all make mistakes at some point in time. Everytiime a leo shoots someone his/her job is in jeopardy, so trust me, they DON'T like to shoot anyone if they can avoid it.

I just don't see how anyone, thinking rationally, would be critical of a deputy who HAD to shoot a nutjob IN THE LEGS to stop him from potentially killing someone.

I seriously doubt if Dillon SC, HAS a standing SWAT team standing by 24hrs a day, at the ready, waiting for a psycho to start hurling lethal baseballs, and bats, at the general public. I doubt that the Deputy was "TAZER" equipped anyway, and even if he was ONLY he could determine if it would have been effective, or could have been applied safely by himself.

If someone's loved one had been killed by a bean ball while the Deputy was trying to keep from hurting the bg then he would have hell to pay...

Danged if he does, danged if he doesn't......

Moral: If you choose to throw baseballs at people you are ASKING to be stopped from doing so. Potentially lethally....

Good Job Mr. Deputy.

JP :cuss:

August 1, 2005, 06:30 PM
Some posters would seriously kill someone for throwing a baseball at you?

I would be mad but I don't think I would headshot them as one of the posters eluded to. Every threat doesn't demand destroying someone with a mag of .40. It makes me glad that this cop didn't have a volatile personality and was able to rationally interpret the threat level and deal with it in an appropriate way.

I'm more scared of some posters than some of these suspects and I don't mean to be insulting.

August 1, 2005, 06:46 PM
Story as described indicated bg was "throwing baseballs and bats at cars and people."

I feel sure the Deputy asked the wacko very nicely to stop throwing baseballs and bats at vehicles, or people as someone could be hurt?

If the bg ignored the officer, what was his next option?

I doubt if a "please" would do any good.

Rational people do not throw baseballs and bats in this manner. Therefore it would seem logical that this person was AT LEAST TEMPORARILY a nutjob. Right or wrong?

Dealing with an irrational person is dangerous in it's own right, add a baseball or baseball bat and it gets much more deadly. For all we know the bg was wacked out on drugs... We don't know what his problem was, we can ascertain however that he DID have a problem, right or wrong?

I think the deputy did what he thought best at the moment. I certainly don't care to 2nd guess him, you do?

Can't please all of the people all of them time, no matter how hard you try...

You certainly didn't insult me, but thanks for the courtesy of mentioned it.. BUT, if YOU were throwing baseballs or baseball bats with serious intentions at myself or my loved ones I'm not as good a shot as the deputy, therefore I would aim for center mass... But then again, that's just me.

Good job Mr. Deputy.

JMO, opposing opinions welcomed and cheerfully ignored.


August 1, 2005, 07:06 PM
I'm always surprised at the number of times I've seen someone show up in court for a preliminary hearing 2-3 days after losing a shootout with police- usually on crutches or a wheelchair, but still out of the hospital. This is with multiple hits in the torso, too. Nobody wants to pay to keep some deadbeat in the hospital longer than necessary, and it gets more expensive when you're paying deputies or corrections officers overtime to sit in the guy's room guarding him. I knew one CO who more than doubled his base salary by picking up those assignments. The fact that he's been moved to the jail doesn't mean he's going to be on "Dancing with the Stars" this season.

I once saw a study- can't recall where now- that said LEOs actually shoot someone in about 6% of the situations where it would be justified. I've known LEOs to take crazy risks to avoid shooting someone. I'm sure this deputy tried to talk the guy into quieting down before he shot, and I'm not criticizing what he did.

August 1, 2005, 07:49 PM

I see where you're coming from. Although I didn't have you in mind when I posted. I too am very protective of my family and friends. That being said, I think as a gun owning and gun enjoying community we should strive for temperance though, or we end up with a stigma of "Bubbas" that gun people down at the first sign of hostility. If he cocked a bat back at me from 6 ft away then of course I would go COM on him. We are in total agreement. I guess that wasn't the case though and the officer felt confident that wounding him would neutralize the threat. I think he should be lauded for being judicious in his application of force. He granted that suspect life and took the highroad.

August 1, 2005, 10:10 PM
Was the deputy shooting hardball ammo?


August 1, 2005, 10:25 PM
first we have a tball coach that tells one of his players to bean a teammate in the head for 25 bucks to keep him out of the game, then a dad recently attacked a 15 year old umpire officiating a minors game, and now a nutjob throwing baseballs at people and cars!

I dont know how close the cop got to the nutjob, but if he got to within talking distance then a throw baseball can and will kill you if your face, neck gets hit. (bats well we know what those can be used for.)

August 2, 2005, 12:32 AM
At what point in our history did it become OK to assault the police and then get upset when they kill your stupid ass?

Byron Quick
August 2, 2005, 12:52 AM
Some posters would seriously kill someone for throwing a baseball at you?

The effects of concussions are cumulative. Have you seen a recent interview with Muhammad Ali?

I've had three concussions. I've had a stroke. In March, I had a spinal cord tumor removed from my neck. If some idiot assaults me and there is the slightest chance of a blow to my head or neck then I will shoot to COM until the threat is stopped.

You can place whatever value on your life and your health you choose to, friend. You have to live with your decision and I have to live with mine.

Word of advice, though...if you are concerned about the well-being of folks who commit assault...convince them not to assault me. Due to physical disability, I can not fight them unarmed and I cannot evade or run from them. I can shoot them. I will. I won't be aiming for their legs.

August 2, 2005, 10:02 PM
If I had encountered this event, even with my CCW I would have retreated and called the cops. I'm not a cop. The .gov couldn't pay me enough to do it. If the dude was threatening me or someone else specifically then I would defend them or myself with my gun, bats are very lethal.

No one mentioned the fact the cop actually hit the small target of the legs. I read on these pages about how horrible shots most cops are and here is one who can put not one but two in the legs. Pretty darn good shooting if you ask me. Especially trying to stay out far enough to dodge the incoming wood and leather and make those shots.

My hats off to him.

August 2, 2005, 11:50 PM
Some posters would seriously kill someone for throwing a baseball at you?

No doubt, no second guess, no question.

Look, I probably have a darker past than most people here. Most people on THR are good folks and would never think to do some of the things I have done before I grew up and realized I didn't need to be that way any longer. For that, I commend them. I grew up in a gangland neighborhood, and I had a big mouth and a chip on my shoulder. But I digress...

I clocked someone in the skull with an Easton once. I nearly killed him. That was 10 years ago, he is still in a wheelchair and eats through a straw. He was an all-star basketball player, and now he can barely lift his head up to watch the games. Not that I feel bad for him, he should have kept the bowie knife in the car before he came to settle something with me over a girl. But, I am not going to give anyone the chance to do that or worse to me. If you have anything that I perceive as a weapon and you show intent to harm me or mine, some serious heat is coming your way, post haste.

Some of you may have never seen what a shot to the noggin can do from a baseball bat, a brick, a pool ball, a master lock...I have. It can kill you very easily, and the chance of permanently ruining your ????e are VERY real.

Seriously, given enough motivation, someone can kill or badly injure you with any number of dense, heavy or blunt objects (a guy was beat to death with an old Atlantic Bell rotary phone just 2 blocks from where I grew up). If you choose not to draw in that situation, it's your life, I respect your decision, please respect mine to the contrary.

Glad this worked out for the officer, and the BG didn't have to die.

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