In May of 2018 a Lawrence, Kansas Police officer conducted a traffic stop on a Ford Excursion after the officer observed the driver operating the vehicle without using his seatbelt. The driver immediately begins arguing with the officer and refusing to produce his driver’s license. Despite remarkable control of emotions, and a very logical and sympathetic explanation of the circumstances, the initial stopping officer was forced to place the driver under arrest.
Less than 6 minutes after initial contact, the officer began to physically attempt to remove the driver after repeatedly warning him that failure to produce his driver’s license would result in his arrest. With the driver’s refusal to comply, the officer informed the driver he was under arrest and began physically removing the driver from the Excursion. During the ensuing fight, the driver slipped from the officer’s grasp, and proceeded to punch, grab, forcefully body slam the officer to the pavement, and then elbow him in the back of the head. At that moment the backing officer fired one round from her duty sidearm striking the driver in the back and ending the fight.
In the subsequent investigation, the shooting officer claimed she mistakenly grabbed her sidearm instead of her Taser. During our breakdown of this incident we’ll discuss placement of weapons and gear on an officer’s duty belt, and the lessons learned from this shooting.
Editor’s Note: BlueSheepdog is committed to providing our readers outstanding officer safety analysis and training. With over 60 years of law enforcement experience between our primary article contributors, we provide unique perspective and critical insight for our readers. The intent of officer safety review articles, like this one, is not to disparage officers or their performance. We fully understand and appreciate the dynamic nature critical incidents unfold in mere seconds. Our intent is simply to dissect these incidents for educational benefit, so that officers can learn best practices and avoid repeating any mistakes.
Lawrence, Kansas Police Shooting
The initial interaction between the Lawrence, KS Police and the driver of the Excursion back in May, 2018 began from a common activity – a vehicle stop for a minor traffic infraction. Kansas is one of 35 states with a primary seatbelt enforcement law, allowing officers to stop motorists simply for failing to wear a seatbelt. There are 15 states with a secondary seatbelt enforcement law, where officers must have another lawful reason for stopping a motorist before enforcing their seatbelt law. Only New Hampshire has no seatbelt law at all for adult motorists.
In this particular stop, the officer does a magnificent job attempting to deescalate the driver’s antagonism, while explaining the reasons and process to conclude stop. The officer emphasizes to the driver his arguing and refusing to produce a driver’s license is only prolonging the stop – one of the driver’s complaints. However, the committed driver ultimately resists arrest, physically assaults the officer, and is subsequently shot by a backing officer.
Initial Signs of Trouble
In the events of May 2018 the Lawrence, KS Police officer was patrolling a major thoroughfare with multiple lanes of traffic during the daylight hours, when he observed the driver of the Excursion failing to wear his seatbelt. The officer had been driving past the Excursion, in the opposite direction, providing an excellent opportunity to observe this violation. The officer turned around and was able to stop the driver of the Excursion a short distance later.
The driver of the Excursion stopped in the right-turn-only lane of a 4-lane roadway. The daytime traffic is pretty heavy at the stop location. When the officer contacts the driver he identifies himself and explains the reason for the stop.
Editor’s Note: BlueSheepdog highly recommends officers identify themselves and explain the reasons for the stop early in the encounter. This establishes the officer’s authority and lawful reason for detention. Should events turn hostile quickly, this simple step places the officer on very solid legal ground for any use of force that may follow. Failing to identify yourself, or explain the reason for the stop early, can often lead to unnecessary distrust, arguing, and escalation. We’ll discuss some reasonable times to go outside this procedure in the “Final Thoughts” section at the end of this article.
The initial indications this stop may go south is the driver’s immediate verbal complaint, followed by the Excursion rolling forward as if the driver intended to flee. The officer notices this action and was in the process of returning to his patrol car in preparation of a pursuit when he ordered the driver to stop and gained compliance. Despite the possible attempt to flee, the officer remains remarkably composed, and carefully re-contacts the driver in an attempt to complete the stop.
Instead of being compliant with the officer’s instructions, the driver immediately begins the name drop game. The driver apparently knows a sergeant in the police department and attempts to assert authority over the officer by demanding the supervisor be contacted. This is a fairly common tactic by some violators attempting to avoid their culpability in a law violation, and throw the officer off balance by inserting doubt or fear of a supervisor overruling their decision. In this incident, the officer handles the driver very well and explains he will not be calling the supervisor.
Editor’s Note: Officers should follow their Department policies in regards to notifying or summoning a supervisor to the scene. Some agencies may require a supervisor respond when citizens demand one, like this incident.
Unfortunately, the driver will not be satisfied and continues to resist the officer’s attempts to conclude the stop. Despite several attempts to calm the driver, explain the process, and even providing warnings of arrest if resistance continues, the driver refuses to comply.
The relatively minor violation initiating this enforcement contact becomes a side note to the seriousness violation if a driver or occupant refuses to comply with lawful orders. When practical, officers should inform subjects of their legal requirement to comply, and provide warnings continued resistance could lead to physical arrest. The Lawrence officer did a great job on both concepts.
New Jersey Example
Here is an example from New Jersey where an officer does not explain the reason for the stop, and focuses simply on ordering the driver to produce his driver’s license, registration, and insurance.
When the driver asks why he is being stopped the officer refuses to tell him, stating he will only advise the reason when he obtains the information requested. When the driver repeats his request, even stating he will produce the documents, the officer stands firm in his refusal to explain the reason for the stop. The resulting escalation of force is hard to justify.
The Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution are specifically in place to protect citizens from an abusive and overbearing government. Simply stating the reason for the stop could have likely changed the entire course and conclusion of this stop. Regardless of if the officer’s insistence on documents first was lawful, this contact could have been concluded much more reasonably on the officer’s part.
In just 13-seconds the officer went from demanding documents, refusing to explain the reason for the stop, to opening the driver’s door and grabbing the driver while ordering him out. Do you think a Federal Court, or a jury of citizens, will think the officer was reasonable in his actions after only 13-seconds? Especially seeing the only apparent offense to warrant the officer’s physical confrontation with the driver was the driver’s request to know why he was stopped?
Be professional, and reasonable (Graham v. Connor) – identify yourself and explain the reason for the stop.
Prelude to an Arrest
The officer quickly redirects the driver to the fact the stop was for a minor seatbelt violation, and his intent is to quickly cite the driver and get him back on his way. This is another excellent tactic by the officer (redirection and de-escalation), but unfortunately, the driver is committed to his non-compliance and resistance.
The verbal non-compliance and prelude to resistance by the driver manifests itself in several ways:
- The driver began talking over the officer, in an obvious sign of contempt and disrespect. This is often done in an attempt to throw an officer off balance, and often accompanies a driver/occupant’s attempt to hide a higher level of criminal behavior.
- He continues his demands for the officer to “go get someone else,” indicating his refusal to comply with the officer through some mistaken belief he has some higher authority over the officer because of his request for a supervisor. (Make sure you follow your department guidelines on these situations).
- The driver implies the officer used racial motivation to stop him by inserting he did not stop all of the white drivers who he claims were not wearing their seatbelt. This is another diversion tactic commonly used to try to cause officers to back down from their enforcement action out of fear of a racial profiling complaint.
- A serious indicator of future resistance is the driver’s escalation of tone, saying “get the fuck out my face man, I’m telling you” and his attempt to end the conversation by saying, “bye.” Another indicator the driver will become physically resistive is his statement, “I’m already hot, and pissed off,” possibly indicating a predisposed reason for his resistive behavior.
- Finally, the driver feebly attempts to minimize his violation and talk about his plans, in an attempt to make the officer feel embarrassed for stopping him for what the driver feels is not a worthy reason. In addition, he blames the officer for escalating the situation when in fact, it is the driver’s resistance causing the escalation.
Any of the reactions from above could be viewed as a driver being nervous about being stopped, or concerned about getting a ticket. However, the combination of these reactions and the prolonged resistance to complying with the officer’s lawful order to produce a driver’s license are clear indicators of future problems. In my experience, the level of resistance encountered here is most likely associated to the revelation of a more serious offense like driving on a suspended/revoked driver’s license or the discovery of outstanding arrest warrants or illegal substances in the vehicle.
Physical Resistance to Arrest
Officers need to recognize continued verbal non-compliance and verbal resistance, are most often indicators of future physical resistance. As such, officers need to be prepared to escalate their self-defense and control techniques.
“Escalation” may not be the buzz word of the day, but it is paramount to officer safety and survival in situations like this. The suspect is often providing the officer valuable clues of what is about to come, and a wise officer will pay heed to them. This is especially true when the original offense was minor and likely would have only resulted in a summons to appear and the release of the suspect. Small things blown out of proportion for a prolonged time, often indicate impending violence.
Here, the officer explained the stop should only take “four minutes,” and it is a “simple traffic violation, it’s a seatbelt ticket.” Despite the officer’s sincere requests for compliance, the driver refuses. The officer warns the driver this could lead to his arrest, but if he will simply produce his driver’s license he can avoid all of those problems. Still, the driver refuses, clearly indicating the driver is going to resist arrest.
After nearly 6 minutes of attempting to persuade the driver to comply, and the arrival of a backing officer, the initial officer makes the decision to remove the driver and place him under arrest. The arrest is not for the original seatbelt violation, but instead for the driver’s refusal to comply with a lawful order. In my jurisdiction, the refusal to comply with a lawful order falls under the same ordinance as resisting arrest. Additionally, in many jurisdictions (like mine), the failure to produce a driver’s license is indicative of the driver not having a valid license to drive.
This arrest is justified based upon the driver’s refusal to produce a driver’s license and comply with lawful orders after numerous requests and attempts by the officer. At some point, the legal process must move forward, and the refusal of the driver cannot stay the legal process. The officer informs the driver he is under arrest and opens the driver’s door. Immediately the driver provides the officer another indicator of the pending physical trouble by ordering the officer, “don’t touch my vehicle.”
Despite all the resistance the officer has faced, he still remains very professional in his conduct. Even after opening the driver’s door he does not immediately go hands-on with the driver but instead verbally orders the driver to exit the vehicle. When the driver refuses, and begins to move around inside the vehicle, the officer orders him to “give me your hands,” and only then reaches in to grab and control the driver.
When the officer reaches inside the vehicle, the driver immediately physically resists the officer’s attempt at control by pulling away, and ordering the officer “don’t touch me.” At this same time the driver gives an important clue that he is not just going to physically resist, but is in fact going to physically assault the officer. At (6:09) during the driver’s physical resistance to the officer’s attempt to get him out of the vehicle, he says “I’m going to knock you in your mother” before being cut off by the officer ordering him out again.
The courts have consistently ruled that officers may take a person’s threats at face value as long as they reasonably have the means and opportunity to carry out those threats. Here the driver had threatened to physically assault the officer, is clearly able to move his arms around (the means), and is in close proximity to the officer (providing the opportunity). The driver’s actions and threats authorize the officer to raise the level of force applied to the driver.
The officer is able to grab the driver’s hands and then deescalate his verbal commands. At (6:32) in the recording, the officer very calmly and clearly orders the driver, “I’m going to need you to step out of the car.” The driver unequivocally states, “no I’m not,” and then apparently tries to appeal to the female backing officer by stating, “he wanted to do this.” By this time it is too late for the driver’s appeals or attempts to cast blame back on the officer. His words and actions have clearly indicated his violations and need for arrest.
Shooting: Taser or Pistol?
At (7:00) the sirens of assisting officers en route to the call for assistance can be clearly heard on the audio recording. With his appeal to the female backing officer going nowhere, the driver suddenly lunges at the officer to forcefully exit from the Excursion. Whether the driver intended to flee initially does not matter, because he quickly assaults the officer.
The initial officer is somewhat knocked off-balance by the forcible exit, but grabs the driver around the shoulders. The two are facing each other when the driver twists his body and punches the officer in the head with his closed right fist, nearly completely knocking the initial officer off balance to the right. This opens up the officer’s back to the driver who attempts to punch the officer again. As the initial officer attempts to turn back towards the driver, the driver grabs the officer in a bear hug and forcibly body slams the officer to the pavement in front of a stopped vehicle.
As the backing officer runs around the back of the from her previous position at the passenger’s door, she sees the initial officer being body slammed to the pavement by the driver. The female backing officer is beginning to withdraw her sidearm as she rounds the back of the Excursion and witnesses the initial officer is being body slammed. She apparently has some trouble with the draw, requiring several attempts before successfully drawing her pistol.
Just prior to the shooting the driver had repositioned himself on top of the initial officer and delivered an elbow strike to the back of the officer’s head. The initial officer is attempting to recover from this blow, and is pushing off the pavement causing the suspect’s body to raise up. Simultaneously, the backing officer has positioned herself almost directly behind the suspect and his pointing her pistol at the suspect’s back in close proximity. Almost immediately after the elbow strike, and the suspect’s body rising to bump into the backing officer’s handgun, the pistol is discharged striking the driver in the back. If you listen closely to the video at (7:05) the female officer is yelling “Taser, Taser” just before and during the shot.
The driver immediately falls to the pavement and cries out in pain. The shooting officer backs off, holds the suspect at gunpoint, and then quickly holsters her sidearm when the initial officer is able to get into position for handcuffing.
At about the (7:09) mark in the video it appears the female backing officer exclaims, “I shot him.” There are several bleeps to cover profanity, and it seems the backing officer was surprised by the fact she has used deadly force and not less lethal force.
U.S. Supreme Court Ruling on Reasonable Force
The examination to determine if deadly force (or any force for that matter) is reasonable under the Constitution, the U.S. Supreme Court has outlined the following three (3) considerations for the lower courts to use in their evaluation:
- What was the severity of the crime the officer believed the suspect had committed or was in the act of committing?
- Did the suspect present an immediate threat to the safety of the officers or public?
- Was the suspect actively resisting arrest or attempting to escape?
Initially the crime involved was a minor seatbelt violation, which would weigh in the favor of the driver. However, the violation increased dramatically when the driver refused lawful commands, resisted arrest, and physically assaulted the initial officer. Kansas defines this action as battery on a law enforcement officer, and it is a Class A misdemeanor to a Level 5 felony depending upon the circumstances. The change in the severity of the crime weighs in favor of the officer.
The suspect posed an immediate threat to the officer through his active physical assault upon the officer. In addition, this incident took place in between the right-turn-only lane and a through lane of traffic further making the situation dangerous to the officers and other motorists. The driver’s actions presented an immediate threat to the officers and the nearby motorists, weighing in favor of the officers.
Finally, as mentioned already, the suspect was actively and violently resisting arrest. This initially started as verbal non-compliance, but then moved to verbal resistance and even threats of violence. Resisting arrest is a much more serious offense than the original seatbelt violation, and an offense courts looks very unfavorably upon. The driver presented a threat to the safety of the officers and motorists by physically resisting arrest on a crowded roadway, and then physically assaulted the officer. All three of the variables the U.S. Supreme Court laid out for review are manifested in this suspect’s actions, and this weighs heavily in favor of the officers.
Firearm Versus Taser Mix-Up
According to reports, the backing female officer was a new officer at the time of this incident, perhaps with less than one year of service. This shooting appears to be a negligent shooting, when the backing officer intended to deploy a Taser on the suspect. At the (6:04) mark in the video the female officer is moving from the driver’s side of the Excursion to the passenger side to assist the initial officer who is already physically struggling with the driver. As she walks around the rear of the Excursion the viewer can clearly see her Taser (yellow grip) positioned on the front, left side of her duty belt. She is a right-handed shooter, and her duty sidearm is on her right hip.
The most generally accepted rule on Taser placement on an officer’s duty belt is to have the Taser on the opposite side as the officer’s sidearm. This placement is designed to enhance the officer’s proper selection of weapon, by forcing a mental memory that the lethal firearm is on one side of their body, while the less lethal Taser is on the other. This recommendation unfortunately came after several high-profile incidents where officers carrying a Taser on the same side as their sidearm, mistakenly grabbed and discharged their sidearm during intense struggles. One of the most famous is the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Police shooting below (0:43).
In the Lawrence, Kansas incident we are debriefing, the officer appears to have her Taser on the left side, though in front and center of her duty belt. Her sidearm is on her right hip in a traditional holster placement.
However, in the dynamic and chaotic assault on the initial officer, the backing officer appears to go directly for her sidearm. Despite this action, there is clear evidence to support her claim to have mistakenly grabbed her firearm instead of the Taser.
At (7:05) in the original video, the backing officer yells “Taser” just prior to firing the lethal shot into the driver’s back. At the same time the shot is firing, she is saying “Taser” a second time, followed by a third “Taser.”
In addition, shortly after the shot, and as soon as the initial officer is in a position of control for handcuffing, the female quickly re-holsters her sidearm, and exclaims “I shot him” (7:10).
The video provides compelling evidence the backing officer indeed was surprised by the lethal shot and had expected to deploy a Taser on the driver. The mistaken retrieval of her sidearm, instead of her Taser, results in deadly force being used when not legally justified. This results in the officer and her agency being liable for civil damages, and the officer subject to criminal charges.
Here is another example in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. The suspect was arrested on assault and intimidation charges. During the booking process he was ordered to remove his belt. In doing so, a suspected package of drugs fell to the floor. As officers attempted to secure the evidence the suspect resisted, and was able to grab the suspected package of drugs and flush it in the jail cell’s toilet.
A backing officer grabbed his sidearm, apparently believing it was his Taser, and shot the suspect. Just prior to firing, the officer yelled out “Taser” in an apparent belief he was using a less lethal device instead of his lethal firearm.
Firearms within the confines of a jail is enormously problematic. Once suspects realize they are in a secured location, and facing the reality of their criminal charges, there is a higher risk of aggressive behavior. This is one reason almost every Detention facility, jail, or prison we are aware of requires officers to disarm their firearms, and often other weapons (OC, baton, knives, etc.) before entering the secure area of the jail.
The backing officer had not disarmed himself of his lethal firearms, but it is unclear if this was a violation of policy and procedure at that facility. Regardless, in the heat of the moment the officer mistakenly grabbed his firearm instead of his Taser, and shot the suspect. Despite the resistance of the suspect, the officer’s use of deadly force is not justified, and now subjects he and his agency to severe civil liability. In addition, the officer may face criminal charges.
The key point in the Bucks County incident is not the presence of a firearm in a jail setting, but once again the proper training necessary to adequately prepare officers for hostile encounters, and the appropriate response with the appropriate tools. In the close confines of the cell, under stress, and facing a very large and hostile suspect, the officer in Bucks County (like in Lawrence) mistakenly grabbed his firearm instead of his Taser. Failure to appropriately train officers for stress inoculation, and proper decision-making under stress, is a recipe for disaster and simply must not continue!
Training is the Key to Success
Training, training, training! The key to success in any venture is to practice and train to perfection. An often quoted axiom is, “amateurs train until they get it right, professionals train until they can’t get it wrong.” Another famous axiom, particularly in deadly encounters is, “you will not rise to the occasion, but will fall to the level of your training.” Both statements have enormous wisdom and truth, and any officer (and agency) would do well to heed them.
The female officer was a “rookie” and her level of training is not known. I have personally had the opportunity to train with SWAT Team members of the Lawrence, KS Police and they exhibited a high level of professionalism and skill. With that experience, I would expect to find the Lawrence Police provide its officers with excellent training opportunities. However, a rookie is still a rookie.
In the caustic arena of modern law enforcement, police departments have had to work extremely hard to find qualified applicants to wield the enormous weight of authority given to police officers. This often means manpower shortages and critical needs throughout the agency. Sadly, this often results in less training time, as commanders require officers to work their assignments, and fill openings, just to get the basic police services met. The failure to train often has tragic results, and can result in enormous financial burdens to the police agency, and the involved officer. In the worst scenarios, serious injuries or death can result for citizens and/or officers.
To Be Clear – BlueSheepdog is not aware of the level of training for the female backing officer. This includes her proficiency with firearms, and her qualification with the Taser. We only know, from several media reports, that she was a new officer. From this information, and the results of this incident, we are making an inductive conclusion on how this may have happened. That conclusion, based upon facts known and observed in the video, is that the female officer may have lacked enough force-on-force, and stress-induced training, to properly cycle her decisions and physical responses to meet the threat and actions of the driver appropriately.
Everyone responds to stress in similar and different ways. It is clear the backing officer becomes amped up by the sight and sound of the initial officer fighting with the driver and being body-slammed to the pavement. This reaction is not unexpected, nor is it inappropriate. In fact, the body’s Sympathetic Nervous System (fight or flight) is supposed to “amp” us up at a perceived threat. However, to properly cycle through appropriate actions (OODA Loop) an officer must be familiar with this type of threat stress, and how to properly focus the adrenaline dump to make sound decisions and actions. Without this experience, which can be acquired in good force-on-force training, officers must rely on their life’s experiences to develop and execute a plan of action.
How many new officers have entered police work without ever having been involved in a physical altercation? I know at my agency the numbers are staggering! These officers often respond just like frightened, and stress-overloaded civilians when they first encounter these situations during the Academy. However, with proper stress-induced force-on-force training, these officers can very rapidly acquire the skills and experience to process threats and respond very admirably.
From the video, it would appear the backing officer just did not have enough life experience with violence, nor enough realistic force-on-force stress-inducing training. In the heat of the moment, she inadvertently went for her sidearm instead of her Taser, and in just a couple of seconds fired a lethal force shot into a suspect who at the time was not at a level of deadly force.
The sad fact is force-on-force and stress-induced training can be accomplished very inexpensively and with minimal time constraints when necessary. Officers could be called in from the road, safety checked to remove live weapons and ammunition, and then outfitted in SIMS gear or Airsoft gear for a scenario or two of training. The training could be as short as 15-30 minutes, but provide enormous benefits in critical incident learning and stress inoculation for the participating officers. Firearms and Taser training should also incorporate physical agilities to raise heart and breathing rates to mimic real-life deadly force encounters.
In this case, the female officer was criminally charged, but a judge dismissed the case on the basis of Kansas law, which requires recklessness and not simply negligence. However, the judge expressed the Kansas law is somewhat ambiguous on how to proceed when the shooting is from a negligent officer in performance of their duties. Readers should be fully aware their State may have much clearer guidance on such matters, and the hope of escaping criminal charges in a similar incident may not be availing. The civil suit by the driver against the Lawrence Police and the former female backing officer is still pending.
Despite escaping criminal charges, the female officer quit her job with the Lawrence Police. It is not known if she has sought law enforcement employment elsewhere. It is understandable why she resigned, as it is a real possibility her employment would have been terminated by an agency facing serious civil liability over an unlawful use of deadly force. In addition, it would be hard to face your partners after a negligent discharge resulting in a citizen’s serious injury.
The driver was charged with battery on a law enforcement officer, interference with a law enforcement officer, no proof of insurance and driving without a seat belt. His case is still pending, but I would suspect a plea bargain will be reached that weighs his criminal actions with the injuries he sustained.
The point of this review must weigh heavily on the inclusion of realistic, stress-inducing, force-on-force training for officers. Police officers come from a wide range of backgrounds, and as mentioned some officers enter service with absolutely no experience with physical altercations. Training that simulates hostile encounters forces officers to use their communication skills, and then if necessary to use appropriate levels of force are absolutely critical to officer survival and success in real-life deadly threat encounters to verbally abusive situations. The ability to control the stress, and the emotions that arise from the stress, can result in highly professional conduct from calmer minded officers even in the face of the most egregious of circumstances.
It is the hope and desire of the BlueSheepdog Crew to encourage officers and their agencies to seek out these training opportunities often. We simply cannot fall back on the dead mantra of “no money, no time.” This failed philosophy has resulted in damning police actions, and the profession itself simply cannot tolerate its continuance. Train hard, train realistically, and develop those mental memories so when the real-life threat emerges you will be ready and capable to not only survive but to succeed!
Earlier we mentioned the recommendation to be professional during vehicle stops, and quickly identify yourself and the reason for the stop. This should be the practice in most situations. However, we all know Murphy comes at the worst times, and some situations require discretion rather than open honesty. For instance, if you stop a vehicle leaving a known drug dealer’s residence, it may be advantageous to offer a ruse as to the reason for the stop rather than blurting out the police know about the drug dealer’s location.
Still, a reasonable validation for the stop should be offered. For example, a person could be told they are being investigated because of an increase in thefts from cars, and their vehicle is unfamiliar to the area. Something that is a legitimate police action, and something that will not raise the suspect’s anxiety about the real reason for the stop. The courts have routinely agreed officers may conduct these ruses, so long as detainments for reasonable suspicion do not exceed the time necessary to determine if criminal behavior is present or not. Arrests, handcuffing, or prolonged detentions cannot legally stand if the officers do not continue to establish more reasonable suspicion or probable cause. KNOW THE LAW!
Finally, there may be a time where pleasantries are simply not prudent. If officers are approaching a vehicle to arrest subjects in a violent crime, after a pursuit, known to be armed, or similar circumstances the time to identify the officer and explain actions has to take a second seat. Additionally, if an officer is attempting to provide a community caretaker function, like removing unaware occupants from a burning car, or trying to stop a motorist from entering a dangerous area, then formal introductions can come after the action to prevent further harm.