Police chief defends officer who surrendered gun

Associated Press • Dec 28, 2012 at 11:20 AM

NEWPORT, Tenn. — Newport police Chief Maurice Shults says an officer confronted by armed bank robbers did the right thing when he gave up his gun.

Shults told the Knoxville News Sentinel that the officer, whom he declined to name, was overpowered and outgunned. One of the men carried a high-powered rifle with an extended magazine.

“He could not have won that battle,” Shults said. “It’s easy to second-guess when you don’t have a gun pointed at your head.”

Shults said police got a silent alarm from the Tennessee State Bank on Wednesday afternoon. The officer was nearby, so he drove to the bank and went in with his Glock service pistol drawn.

When he saw the two robbers were still inside the bank, he backed out and tried to take cover.

“He drew them out of the bank,” Shults said. “They came right up over or around the car. They told him, ‘Don’t be stupid.’ He felt like it was definitely going to go bad if he didn’t comply. You expect them to flee, not to charge you.”

The officer hit the pavement, emptied his clip and handed the gun over.

The robbers took the gun and fled.

A search for the two men is ongoing.

Asked about surrendering the gun, a national expert on policing said he wouldn’t criticize the decision.

“There’s no ‘always’ and no ‘never’ in the real world,” said Harvey Hedden, executive director of the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association. “If those two guys definitely had the drop on him, then he might have had no choice.”

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