By Anna Knight, Club Administrator, and Ron McBride, Chief of Police (Retired) and Law Enforcement Consultant
he IACP/DuPont Kevlar Survivors’ Club® pays tribute to those deserving officers who have avoided serious or potentially fatal injuries through the use of any kind of body armor. This column is dedicated to sharing their experiences, in hopes of persuading others to wear their armor. If body armor has helped you or a member of your department survive such an accident or assault, please contact Anna Knight, Club Administrator, IACP/DuPont Kevlar Survivors’ Club®, 5401 Jefferson Davis Highway, Richmond, VA 23234; 804-383-3853; 800-441-2746; fax: 804-383-2477; e-mail: Anna.G.Knight-1@USA.dupont.com.
The Survivors’ Club application is also available on the IACP’s Web site, www. theiacp.org, under Awards/Survivors’ Club.
Vest Saves Officer from Knife Attack
Officer Anthony P. Agnelli of the New York Police Department and his partner were working out of the 115th Precinct when they received a radio run to a residence in Jackson Heights, Queens. Responding to the call, they came upon a family dispute in which an 18-year-old male assailant had attacked family members with a baseball bat and retreated to an upstairs bedroom. Agnelli made contact with the assailant; then, without provocation or warning, the assailant attacked the officer with the baseball bat and retreated once more, this time into a closet.
The officer moved to extract the suspect from the closet and complete an arrest. Unknown to Officer Agnelli, the suspect had concealed a six-inch boning knife in the closet. When the officer approached, the suspect stabbed Agnelli in the chest with the knife. Fortunately, the thrust of the blade was stopped by Agnelli’s ballistic body armor.
The suspect then stabbed himself three times in the abdomen. Officer Agnelli disarmed the suspect and took him into custody, at which point he was transported to an area hospital for treatment of the self-inflicted stab wounds and was held for observation. The suspect, who had a criminal history of assault, was charged and convicted for the assault on the family members and Agnelli.
Officer Agnelli was transported to an area hospital, where he was treated for a minor laceration. Luckily, his body armor stopped the knife blade thrust into his chest. Agnelli was able to return to duty.
Detective Shot with .40-Caliber MP5 Assault Rifle Survives
Detective Robert W. Boyd, a member of the Special Projects Team of the New Westminster Police Department, British Columbia, Canada, was assigned to execute a high-risk search warrant pertaining to drug crimes. The team had reliable intelligence that the two suites to be searched were occupied by armed and dangerous criminals.
Detective Boyd was assigned to assist the entry unit along with another detective. Both were dressed in plain clothes and were tasked with entering the building discreetly. When given a cue, Detectives Boyd and Roest were to breach the exterior doors of the building to allow the emergency response team to enter quickly, secure the armed individuals, and prevent the destruction of evidence. After breaching the exterior doors, Boyd and Roest were assigned to cover a stairway leading upstairs.
The emergency response team entered and mistakenly identified Boyd and Roest as criminal adversaries. A member of the emergency response team fired one round from a .40-caliber MP5 assault rifle. The bullet was stopped by Boyd’s threat level II body armor on the lower left-side panel, but a significant backface signature injury resulted. Detective Boyd was treated for his wound and continues his recovery. Without question, Boyd would have suffered much greater injury or death were it not for his body armor.
Officer Saved from a Ricocheting .223 Bullet
Colorado Springs, Colorado, Police Department investigators were at a residence following up on a bank robbery when they learned that a suspect was located in the basement. The investigators secured the upper floors and requested activation of the special weapons and response team. A containment line was established around the residence, and an entry team went inside. After some time the suspect demanded that the police leave the area and fired one round. Police then deployed chemical munitions to force the suspect from his barricaded position in the basement.
The suspect reacted to the chemical munitions by charging up the stairs and immediately ran outside the residence. The suspect pointed a handgun at one of the containment officers, Rafael A. Chanza. Other containment officers reacted to the lethal threat by firing at the suspect. The suspect was hit with three bullets and surrendered. He was arrested and charged with armed robbery of a bank and assault of a peace officer. The matter remains before the courts. The suspect’s criminal history involves a prior arrest for a weapons violation, and he was under the influence of an intoxicant at the time of this shooting incident.
During the volley of fire at the suspect, Officer Chanza was struck in the middle of his chest by a ricocheting .223 bullet, in all likelihood from another officer’s assault rifle. The bullet was stopped by the ceramic front plate in Chanza’s body armor. However, the force of the bullet’s impact shattered the ceramic plate, causing shrapnel wounds to Chanza’s right arm. He was hospitalized for one day for treatment, recovered, and is now back on the job.■
Although manufacturers of bullet-resistant vests engineer their products to meet ballistic standards, history shows that such garments also provide limited protection against other threats, such as club and knife assaults (will not protect against sharp, pointed knives or ice picks), automobile accidents, motorcycle spills, falls, fires, explosions, etc. Nothing offers total protection, but personal body armor will improve the odds of surviving many of the life-threatening incidents constantly facing law officers.