"44 Minutes": North Hollywood Bank Robbery Movie on FX


May 15, 2003, 02:16 PM
Anybody see commercials for this movie? You see people that are either cops or are playing cops, apparently in an interview, saying things like:

"Unless you were there, you can't understand what it was like."

"They had AK-47s."

"It was like a war zone."

Now, normally I have a policy of never criticizing anyone else's performance in a firefight. I've never been shot at, and never having done that, I'm certainly not going to judge anyone who has, as I have no way of knowing if I'd do any better myself (those who live in glass houses, blah blah blah; last thing I need is to act like mister big shot here, then pee myself the first time a round comes my way, right?).


Find a couple Vietnam vets, or now, Iraq War vets, and tell them about how scary two untrained goons with AK-47s are. Explain to them how half the Los Angeles Police Department was pinned down by two guys with rifles, who weren't even aiming or using any sensible tactics, for the better part of an hour.

Yes, yes, I know, the LAPD didn't have rifles. But guys weren't wearing armor on their legs or faces. It took them about a half hour to figure out to shoot the badguys in the legs, I noticed.

I know the patrol officers didn't have rifles. Is there any reason SWAT wasn't sent in? Is there any reason they couldn't deploy a sniper?

The problem here seems to be a lack of training issue. There's no reason the literally dozens of cops on the scene shouldn't have been able to take down the two guys, Kalashnikovs or no.

Seems to me way to prepare for situations like this is two fold. For one, make rifles available to the patrol officers. Not necessarily the latested tricked out AR-15s, either. Hell, one level-headed cop with a Garand would've been able to end that situation in about a minute.

For two, rifle/shotgun/handgun training should be increased, too.

Problem is, can all of this be done on the typical budget of a police department? That's the problem when you don't have officers who are also shooters, I guess; they don't like to practice on their own time.

So, what do you think? Am I being too hard on the LAPD? I'm not saying I could've done any better myself, but logically one would assume that the side with the vast numerical advantage would've won easily, not 44 minutes later after they raided a gunshop to get some rifles. (Ironically, that gun shop is now closed, I believe, due to the increasingly anti-gun climate in urban California.)

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May 15, 2003, 02:35 PM
have you watched the documentary's shown on the discovery channel about the shootout? it paints it in a different picture, showing how officers were pinned down immediately and were stranded behind their cover, and how some of their cover wasnt providing much cover as they were still sustaining wounds from rounds perforating their cover or ricocheting off the ground or other objects.

the BGs did seem to have a sense of how to operate their weapons, how to move while firing, and they effectively held off the police. they werent just spray and praying, they kept steady streams of fire on the officers positions.

simply a case of the BGs being in the most tactical place and having the tactical upper hand overall.

May 15, 2003, 02:51 PM
The bank robbers were wearing Level III armor from head to toe and they were looking to try to kill some of the LAPD. The LAPD wasn't prepared for that.

May 15, 2003, 05:10 PM
What would have been effective against that Level III?

Standard .308 or would you need to have AP rounds?

maybe a 22-250?

May 15, 2003, 05:23 PM
when is this supose to air? did i miss it.I think the way the BGs were on the move kept snipers from getting into position.I know I heard the POs that did take rifles out of that gunshop were sued.Its really a shame that the police depts across the country dont equip there people better.

May 15, 2003, 05:35 PM
Yes, the BGs could shoot. They used reasonable skill in fending off the LEOs. Also, I'm sure there was a sure case of "too many donuts and too little range time" on the part of the LEOs. If you watch the footage of the robbery, the LEOs looked like the Keystone Cops. It's a friggin AK, not a M1A1 main battle tank. I'm sure I would have wet my pants if it had been me, but you'd think that out of the 40+ responding officers, someone would have figured out to get them in a crossfire and take headshots or legshots.

May 15, 2003, 05:37 PM
Level III is vulnerable to .308. There are trauma plates for .308, but just Level III won't cut it.

May 15, 2003, 05:39 PM
I wasn't there. Therefore I have no clue what was going on.

But I'm always amazed by the bravery, skill, physical fitness and good looks exhibited by folks who weren't there. :)

May 15, 2003, 05:45 PM
I've always wondered why the LEOs didn't take the armored car they commandeered to evacuated pinned down people and simply run down the shooters, especially the one that was walking.

May 15, 2003, 06:04 PM
I rented the unedited home video on this incident. From what I could tell, the BGs responded with so much firepower that the cops were stunned into total confusion.

I am in awe of the bravery and heroism of the police officers there that day. But as a soldier I know a lot about fire and movement tactics. If the majority of the officers responding were trained by the US military, things might have gone down differently. That is an assumption on my part, for all I know the majority of officers there that day WERE all IRR soldiers and Marines. But I'd be inclined to think that they were not.

May 15, 2003, 06:07 PM
They weren't covered "head to toe" in body armor; one of them was killed by being shot in the head. I don't believe they were wearing helmets.

Making a headshot would've been very challening with a pistol, obviously, which is why they cops should've had rifles (though I'm thinking if they could get close enough, a shotgun would've done, and the cops were very close to the robbers on several occasions).

I dunno about the robbers' tactics; I remember them walking down the street, just taking pot shots at everybody. They weren't moving very fast, they weren't leapfrogging, they weren't using any kind of cover. This did get them killed, by the way, when they stopped using cover.

They were hopped up on something, I think; armor or no, you don't take that many hits and not flinch (unless they weren't hit that much?).

Correia, I made a point of saying I don't think that I, personally, could've done better. But I would like to think that me and a hundred of my (armed) friends, helicopter support, and (apparently) an armored car, could handle two guys on PCP with AK-47s. I've only had fairly basic combat training, so I can't say for sure.

Anyway, the special airs in June. I've seen the Discovery Channel documentary. It talked about how devastating, and poweful, and deadly a weapon the AK-47 is, blah blah blah. The special made the AK-47 sound like it was some kind of 50-foot tall battlemech with plasma cannon or something.

The big thing that perhaps needs to be improved (and perhaps has been) is the coordination of officers in these kinds of situations. Perhaps the reason the cops couldn't outflank and take these guys out is because they weren't coordinated or acting as a team; you just had dozens of cops all over the place, with no one directing the fray. Even with the vast numerical and logistical advantage the LAPD had in that shootout, it can be hard to win a firefight if your team is running around like a chicken with its head cut off. You need teamwork to prevail in combat.

May 15, 2003, 06:14 PM
Nightcrawler, I wasn't insulting you. In fact I'm in agreement with your assesement of the situation.

May 15, 2003, 06:19 PM

For the record, I am fabulously good looking, talented, smart, smooth, and courageous. :neener:

May 15, 2003, 06:31 PM
(You forgot trustworthy, thrifty, clean and reverent.) :)

May 15, 2003, 06:58 PM
well i am a smartass, and my rolls of fat have made my skin nice and smooth, plus i have a touch of courage, does that count for anything? :D

May 15, 2003, 07:05 PM
If I recall correctly the bad guys were both Ex GI's.

They still lost.

Mark D
May 15, 2003, 07:15 PM
Shock is a big player in combat. I wouldn't be surprised if the responding LEO's were just flat out too stunned to be effective. Unless your seasoned, it is difficult to get your brain out of "flight" mode once it gets there. Most of histories great military massacres happened during the losing sides rout, not during the battle proper. I can see how an ounce of disorganization and a pound of confusion/ducking for cover could throw the whole LEO response into disarray.

Praise God that the perps were not coordinated in their offense. A tiny bit of prep and comm on their side would have dreadfully outmatched the officers on the scene. We would count the damage they actually did as light compared to what they had the potential to do.

Hopefully, the LEO community at large has genuinely LEARNED the lessons that shootout taught. One of the biggest lessons is that your citizenry needs to be armed. That stunt would not have been possible in rural town. The shootout would have ended as soon as the free people of the effected municipality responded with their own weaponry… A prairie dog may take some skill to hit at three-hundred yards, but a bank robbers head is a snap at a mere one-hundred.

May 15, 2003, 07:49 PM
Mark, I love the prarie dog comment
so true :)

John Harrison
May 15, 2003, 08:24 PM
one of them was killed by being shot in the head. I don't believe they were wearing helmets.

In the video I saw it looked like he shot himself underneath the chin. Did anyone else see this or am I imagining it?

May 15, 2003, 08:24 PM
Interesting when viewed through the prism of what a citizen militia could do against "The Man" if properly prepared.

Imagine if it was 4 people with a plan.

May 15, 2003, 08:37 PM
In the video I saw it looked like he shot himself underneath the chin.

Yep. He shot himself.

May 15, 2003, 08:41 PM
i don't think there was one police force anywhere in the country at that time that had planned ahead of time to do battle with automatic weapons.

i'll bet theyre better prepared now.

meanwhile there goes the media, once again cashing in on yet another tragic event:fire:

Apple a Day
May 15, 2003, 09:09 PM
According to a previous show on Discovery channel one of the bad guys was approaching a cop, hispanic dude whose name I can't remember. He ducked around a semi- at one point. The cop swapped a few rounds with the guy, was terrified that the guy was coming after him, supposedly fired one more carefully aimed shot which hit the guy in the neck at nearly the same instant that the goblin turned his own gun on himself.
I ain't vouchin' for it, folks, I'm just repeating what the show claimed. The bad guy went down like a load of bricks.
IIRC the other guy was brought down by three or four officers who had been at some sort of training exercise and had nabbed ARs on the way to the scene. One guy was in such a hurry he showed up in body armor and a pair of ugly shorts. They shot the goblin a bunch of times with .223 and it still took a while for him to bleed out... corresponding lawsuit with family claiming that the LEOs stood by and let the guy die on purpose.
It should be an interesting show.

May 16, 2003, 07:25 AM
the LEO's get first preference to medical treatment and when all the LEO's are taken care of then we can worry about the goblin. if he dies in the process? well, nobody told him to rob a bank and start shooting up the neighborhood...


May 16, 2003, 07:49 AM
Not to break out the tin foil hats but,i heard,"thousands of rounds fired",and ,"11 people hurt,no deaths".How can that be on a crowded street?Were they trying not to kill anyone? I just don't see it.....

May 16, 2003, 02:53 PM
The street wasn't crowded, except for with LEOs. The bank is by itself on a small block on a large street. Across the large street is a supermarket stripmall, but with a very large parking lot in front. There's probably a good 200 yards between the front door of the bank and the buildings across the street. The bank backs up against a residential neighborhood. The shootout happened primarily in the parking lot/street of that bank and on a street going into the residential area.

I grew up about 5 blocks from that bank. My first bank account was at that bank.

May 16, 2003, 10:57 PM
If I was there it would have been different...!

I would have pulled out my "Nuclear Fully Automatic Assault Thinga-Majiggy" and "BAMMO' BOOM" they would have been Neutralized....!


They woulda maybe atleast "slipped and fell" in the rather large "puddle 'o' pee" that would have ran down my leg and formed a lake surrounding the area... ;)

I am just joshin' with you guys...

I don`t know what I woulda done, cause I wasn`t there...


May 17, 2003, 02:08 AM
Grasshopper, I watched it go down live on TV. The coppers were against guys with rifles armed with handguns. They contained the situation as best they could. And in the long run they won. If you had jumped in, just like I would have, you would've likely been shot by the coppers. Those cops were pumped like you couldn't imagine. No blue suit and you're a bad guy.
The only question, many years later, is why didn't the flat feet have rifles? Easy. No need prior to that day and no budget for it.
Somebody refresh our memories, how many cops went down that day? The're the ones to remember. And NO, I'm not a cop. I do hold a Queen's Comssion though. And I'd have been providing aide to the civil power like a dirty shirt.

May 17, 2003, 10:02 PM
If the majority of the officers responding were trained by the US military, things might have gone down differently. Tsk, tsk, tsk. Don't you know that militarization of law enforcement is the single greatest evil facing the United States today, and is single-handedly responsible for the destruction of the Constitution, the decline in home-cooked apple pies, and the rise in childhood obesity?

Bad LawDog! Bad, bad 'Dog!


May 17, 2003, 10:38 PM
FWIW, I believe one of the bad guys used an HK-91, and the other used an AK. Not sure if the HK was full auto.

May 17, 2003, 11:09 PM
I believe one of the bad guys used an HK-91

Weapons used/possessed by the robbers:

3 Full-Auto AK-47s (7.62x39)
1 Full-Auto Bushmaster AR (.223)
1 Semi-Auto HK-91 (.308)
1 Beretta 92 (9mm)

May 18, 2003, 03:42 AM
What exactly was the body armor they had? I've heard it was several cheap flak jackets layered to provide somewhat decent protection, and that they also had more of these cheap vests rapped around their legs as well.

Is that right or was it actually level III stuff on they were wearing?

May 18, 2003, 10:24 AM
Sadly, most police officers do not receive enough firearms and tactical training. What official, department sponsored training they do receive is geared toward training the officer NOT to shoot. If the officer shoots someone, the local government gets sued for 20 million dollars and the local politician is taking heat.

If a cop gets killed, they have a nice funeral and the politician gets to make a beautiful speech about what a wonderful person the cop was. Later, they put an ad in the paper and they have a bunch of bright eyed, dedicated, young men and women show up to take the test to be a police officer. Cost to the local city/state/county is minimal.

Could cops do a better job... hell yes. But, at least they are there doing the best they can with what they have and putting their a$$ on the line... which is more than I can say for a lot of the "gun store commandos" I hear all the time.


May 18, 2003, 11:43 AM
Just an open question to the thread members concerning Nightcrawler's lead post. Do we know whether or not the quoted comments are indeed actually from the LEO's who were involved in the shootout, or are just hype from the film's promo department?

Seems to me that knowing that may alter how we should percieve the comments.

May 18, 2003, 02:27 PM
I'm going to give the police officers the benefit of the doubt and say those comments seen on the commercial were dramatizations. Knowing FX, this "documentary" is going to lay heavily on the drama. Docudrama I believe is what they call them.

Another interesting quote? An (I hope) fabricated Police radio broadcast you hear in the background of the commercial:

"They've got assault rifles...we don't have anything that can take them down..."

See, I owned two AK rifles over the years. Neither were select-fire, but so what? So the bullets don't come out quite as fast? In any case, I just never regarded it as that devastating of a weapon. To hear the people in the commercial talk, you think the AK-47 was some kind of powered armor suit with chainguns and high-tech armor.

Greg L
May 18, 2003, 02:43 PM
Didn't the police have to borrow rifles from a (now defunct) gun shop in the area?

May 18, 2003, 03:54 PM
I know the patrol officers didn't have rifles. Is there any reason SWAT wasn't sent in? Is there any reason they couldn't deploy a sniper?In 44 minutes? :scrutiny:

What, are the SWAT guys just prepositioned with their gear in strategic locations? Possibly stored in a phone booth, with instructions that read "IN CASE OF RIFLE-ARMED, MILITARY-TRAINED BANK ROBBERS, BREAK GLASS"???

Are you serious? If we had a similar situation go down, we'd be lucky to get anyone with a rifle on-scene in under an hour. An hour. LAPD, unless they have secretly developed Star Trek transporter technology, is probably no better. They're a bigger department, but they also have a much larger area to cover, and the operational tempo of their SWAT team is probably even higher than ours...which means they're spread out even further, and in more congested areas.

Methinks that we all watch too much TV. :) A situation like that is going to be a 100% patrol response for the first hour, at least. Probably longer. Remember Columbine? Remember the DC sniper with the Balaclava-clad SWAT guys? THere was a reason for that.

Things like this are examples of the shining need for rifle armed and tactically trained patrol officers. But when we're not opining at great length about why they didn't effectively deal with a situation like North Hollywood, we're all busy screaming about the militarization of the police.

Mike :rolleyes:

PS Yes, I know its often not the same people on both sides of the debate, but it highlights the problems faced in policing a democracy. We need to figure out which we want. ;)

May 18, 2003, 05:11 PM
SWAT did arrive fairly quickly. The robbers were spotted by police entering the bank with masks and rifles. That is why so many cops were around when they came out of the bank. Otherwise, they would have been long gone.

The whole thing was over before SWAT could actually form up and begin to deploy as a group. Some SWAT officers did join in the fight as individual police officers.

This is another reason to provide the patrol officers with long guns since they are onscene quickly and may be there, on their own, for quite a while.
What exactly was the body armor they had?
I'm not sure of the exact body armor they were wearing, but they did have armor from the neck down. This turned out to be more of a problem than an aid. The reason they were walking around upright wasn't due to bravado. It was because they had overdone the armor and lost flexibility in the process. They couldn't kneel down and use available cover.

Didn't the police have to borrow rifles from a (now defunct) gun shop in the area?
Yep. They borrowed some pre-ban Bushmaster ARs from B&B Sales. Following the incident, B&B auctioned the rifles and attempted to donate the proceeds to the Los Angeles Police Memorial Fund. IIRC, the donation was turned down because it was not deemed politically correct.

In way of thanks, B&B Sales went out of business due to Californias ever growing firearm restrictions.

And some of my favorite comments about the shooting were made by CNN:

Police Badly Outgunned

That none were more seriously hurt was remarkable, considering that until the heavily armed SWAT units arrived, patrol officers with pistols were up against automatic rifles and armor-piercing ammunition.
Police were still sorting out the gunmen's arsenal, but it appeared that each man had at least one AK-47 automatic rifle or a similar SKS rifle, and had 100-round ammunition drums and 30-round clips, Lt. Nicholas Zingo said.
Both weapons, originally designed for the Soviet military but widely cloned by gunmakers worldwide, fire powerful 7.62x39mm cartridges.
The gunmen fired steel-jacketed bullets easily capable of penetrating body armor worn by patrol officers, Cmdr. Tim McBride said.

"Maybe an armored tank would stop these rounds," Zingo said. "If our officers were hit in the chest cavity area they would have been dead..."
"We can't give all our officers AK-47s," said the LAPD's Williams. "But we are outgunned, and we need to find ways to narrow the gap."

May 18, 2003, 05:52 PM
The bad guys were armored quite literally head to toe. They had duct taped armor plates to their arms, legs, and heads. These plates are normally held in a center pouch of ballistic armor and will even stop some rifle rounds. The bad guy that was shot in the head by the cops was hit in the eye area, where he was unarmored.

May 18, 2003, 06:41 PM
My question is this.

Wouldn't slugs fired from 12 gauge shotguns pierce the armor, or at least hit with enough kinetic energy that it would have quickly stopped those guys?

Almost every squad car has a 12 Gauge right, although I don't know if they carry slugs.

May 18, 2003, 08:59 PM

I dunno about LAPD...afaik they carry Ithacas, and I don't know if they're issued slugs, or how many patrol units are so-equipped.

When you get down to it, however, a pump shotgun with bead sights and slugs is still dicey against semiauto-rifle-armed and heavily armored assailants. Its a LOT better an option than handguns alone, but its still not ideal.

And, by way of example, there are about twenty officers that work my precinct. We have 2 shotguns. How officers are armed varies wildly from department to department.


May 18, 2003, 09:08 PM

Here is where I struggle..

I have a lot of great LEO friends, and I support them, they have a tough job to do, they are the janitors of our streets...

That said, I have also seen some LEO's at the range, and the quality of shooting they have..

I'm always curious if it wasn't LEO's, but a bunch of THR'ers that was in that situation, would we tactically fair a lot better?

In this situation, I would have thought a shotgun would have been a great weapon of choice.. A low shot would have immobilized the lower part of the perps..

I have seen some footage, and it is awesome!

Also, it makes me wonder if the cops learned about the anatomy of a car, like where to hide.. Most of them didn't know the power of a 7.62x39.. And some were hiding behind car doors, not the strongest or thickest piece of metal..

The armor they were wearing was more than sufficient to stop pistol rounds, which is what most officers were shooting at them with..

May 18, 2003, 09:31 PM
Well, there are two issues, training and equipment. Both are likely sub-optimal.


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