Being in Law Enforcement does offer good qualities by keeping our communities safe and the public well-informed when danger is nearing close. For this list, we’ll be looking at some of the most iconic police incidents that were caught on tape and not only were scary to deal with but have made an impression in the world of crime and bizarre moments. These are moments when officers acted to keep the public safe against the threats that were just outside of our communities. Everything that is about to be mentioned was caught on cameras and has been shown to the world. These incidents are unforgettable, scary and something that everyone should be familiar with.
Caution: The videos in this article deal with mature themes.
North Hollywood Shootout
On February 28, 1997, two men robbed a bank in North Hollywood, California. Unlike most robberies, this was different as the two suspects, Larry Phillips Jr. and Emil Mătăsăreanu, were heavily armed and their weapons were illegally modified to fire fully automatic and allowed to carry immense amount of ammo including the use of drum magazines. Their weapons and immense body armor that they were wearing were no match against the LAPD who engaged with the suspects for almost an hour after they left the bank they just robbed. These suspects are notable because they had robbed banks prior and were even suspected of robbing two armored trucks. Just three years prior they killed a guard and seriously wounded another during an armored car heist. During the shootout in 1998, an estimated 2,000 rounds were fired during with around 1,100 coming from the suspects alone.
After the shootout was over, both suspects would not survive, but the sheer amount of property damage and injured officers and civilians was insurmountable. After this ordeal, police departments were motivated to provide officers more powerful weapons in order to deal with suspects who may be carrying powerful weapons themselves. To this date, this incident is considered to be one of the most intense gun battles in police history.
Brentwood, California Bus Chase
October 9, 1993 was an ordinary Saturday until a man stole a charter bus in San Diego after being turned down for a job. Hours later, the owner of the bus company spotted the stolen bus driving down Interstate 805 and called the police. The suspect would lead officers on a nearly five-hour long pursuit. The suspect was weaving in and out of lanes and would crash into vehicles as if they were toys. The chase ended in Brentwood, California when the bus was cornered. Instead of giving up, the suspect reversed the bus and crashed into the California Highway Patrol and eventually crashed into a house. The occupants of the house were not home at the time but once he crashed, the suspect remained in the bus until officers had to force their way into the bus to arrest him. Ironically, when you watch the video of the pursuit, you have to admit that he was a good driver of that bus even if he put a lot of people at risk.
San Diego Tank Chase
On May 17, 1995, Shawn Nelson, a U.S. Army Veteran stole a M60A3 Patton Tank and led police on a twenty-three-minute chase in the neighborhoods of Clairemont and Linda Vista in San Diego, California. The tank itself was not loaded with ammunition and Nelson was spotted by a guardsman after attempting to steal two other tanks that wouldn’t start. While the tank only had a max speed of 30 mph, the tank weighed roughly 57 tons and smashed vehicles, fire hydrants, telephone poles, road signs and traffic lights with ease. Approximately forty parked vehicles including a RV were either crushed or damaged. After Nelson steered onto the State Route 163 freeway, he attempted to cross into oncoming traffic and got caught on the concrete median barrier where the tank lost one its tracks rendering the tank immobile. Officers swarmed the tank and were able to open the hatch and ordered Nelson to surrender. His only response was to continue steering the tank in an effort to rock it back and forth from being stuck on the median. One officer shot the suspect in order to stop him and removed him from the tank. He later died from his wounds at a nearby hospital. It was suspected that Nelson was suicidal at the time of this rampage and thankfully, he was the only fatality during the course of this slow chase via a tank that he stole from the California Army National Guard.
Marvin Heemeyer was a businessman who wanted a fair deal in the town of Granby, Colorado. After purchasing a Komatsu D355A bulldozer, he would modify the vehicle with thick sheets of steel that were sandwiched by pouring concrete in-between the steel plates. This allowed the vehicle to be armored against small arms fire and even explosives. The engine block, the cabin and even parts of the track were protected with these steel plates that were roughly one foot thick. On June 4, 2004, Heemeyer began his two-hour rampage on the town of Granby. He targeted specific buildings including his next door’s neighbor’s concrete business, the town hall, the newspaper that wrote articles against him, the home of the former Mayor and even a hardware store where the bulldozer became stuck after falling partially into the basement of the building from which he was in the process of destroying. The bulldozer became stuck and after several minutes of attempting to move the dozer, Heemeyer committed suicide by a self-inflicted gunshot wound. In total, thirteen buildings were destroyed and the damage was estimated at over $7 million dollars. According to recorded tapes that Heemeyer left behind, this all started because of a zoning dispute that would’ve cost him a fortune. There’s a fascinating documentary you can watch called Tread that I highly recommend watching to get the full story. The Killdozer itself is a marvel of engineering and was something that officers in the town of Granby had no way of combating. The story behind all of this is quite fascinating.
The L.A. Riots of 1992
Los Angeles has always had a unique history. You have the movie stars, beautiful weather and the history of racial tension and inequality. All of this came to a head with two specific cases that would rock the city in 1992. It was March of 1991 when the Rodney King beating was witnessed by a man who filmed the entire incident on his camera while the other was the murder of a fifteen-year-old girl named Latasha Harlins. These two incidents happened within weeks of each other and the people of Los Angeles wanted answers and above all else…justice. The officers involved in the assault of Rodney King were acquitted and the Korean woman who shot Latasha Harlins in the back of the head was given probation, time served and a $500 fine by the judge. After all this happened, the residents of the black community in Los Angeles were furious with law enforcement and from April 29 and lasting until May 4, the city rioted. Looting, assault and arson were majority of the crimes that were committed during this time and by the time it was all over, sixty-three people were killed, over 2,000 were injured and nearly 12,000 people had been arrested. Koreatown was the hardest hit during the riots and due to the lack of control by the LAPD, the California National Guard and the military were sent to Los Angeles in order to restore order. An estimated $1 Billion in damages occurred during the riots in protest of the lack of accountability and justice for Rodney King and Latasha Harlins. There’s a great documentary to watch that encompasses those fateful days and it’s called LA 92 that was distributed by National Geographic Documentary Films that premiered in 2017. The footage in this documentary is all taken from what was filmed during the course of those riots and we get to see everyone involved and begin to understand the motivation behind the violence and civil unrest that would follow. It’s a powerful and evocative documentary that is hard-hitting and emotionally captures the racial tension in Los Angeles in 1992.