Watch: Phoenix Police Officer Expertly Handles Deadly Encounter With Suspect Holding a Baby Hostage

Phoenix Police shooting

Screengrab from YouTube.

Phoenix Police Department officers were dispatched on Jan. 9 at approximately 3:15 p.m. after multiple 911 calls about a man fighting with a woman, now known to be his girlfriend, at a hotel in the area of Seventh Avenue and Van Buren Street in Phoenix, Arizona. According to a critical incident report that the Phoenix Police Department released Monday, the 911 callers said the suspect was “shooting at people and holding a baby hostage.”

PPD officers responded quickly and found themselves in one of the most challenging situations for an officer. Life and death hung in the balance as the suspect, identified as Paul Bolden, 37, fired his gun in random directions as police arrived on the scene. Bolden continued to point the gun at the baby, now known to be his own child, and other people in the area as the arriving officers ordered him to drop his gun, according to PPD.

Watch the video to find out what happened next.

Warning: Graphic content and harsh language are present in the video. Watch at your own discretion.

Coffee or Die Magazine spoke with Adam Bercovici, a retired Los Angeles Police Department lieutenant with more than 37 years of experience in complex police investigations and tactical training. An expert in law enforcement use of force, he is often called upon to provide his expert opinion in court cases. Bercovici shared his insights on the officer who fired the shot that ended the dangerous incident.

“This is an example of what a police officer is supposed to do. We go from being engaged in a warrior combat mode, and then revert to compassionate and caring with the way he dealt with the child — it’s perfect,” Bercovici said. “I see [...] that he had the correct weapon, the correct training, and the confidence to make that shot. It was definitely an immediate defense of life. There was no time because of the suspect’s behavior, the erratic nature of what he was doing, [and] the fact that he was presenting a danger, not only to the child but to other members of the community. [This all] necessitated him taking that dedicated head shot.”

Bercovici continued, “There’s a lot of places where you could have had a tragedy, but that officer had the courage. I saw the rifle, he had the correct optics on it. He was confident, and he made a tough decision, and the right decision, because that guy could have shot the baby or shot an innocent person.”

The standards are extremely high, Bercovici said, especially in today’s law enforcement environment. “As a servant of the people — a police officer is a servant of the people — you have to perform at the highest level,” he said. “The fact that you are a public servant means that you can’t operate at a minimum level; you have to operate at the highest level, very quickly.”

Joshua is a staff writer for Coffee or Die Magazine. He has covered the 75th anniversary of D-Day in France, multinational military exercises in Germany, and civil unrest during the 2020 riots in Minneapolis that followed the death of George Floyd. Born and raised in small-town South Dakota, Joshua grew up playing football and soccer before serving as a forward observer in the US Army. After leaving the service, he earned his CrossFit Level 1 certificate and worked as a personal trainer while earning his paramedic license. Joshua went on to work in paramedicine for more than five years, much of that time in the North Minneapolis area, before transitioning to a career in multimedia journalism. Joshua is married, has two children, and is currently pursuing his bachelor’s degree in multimedia journalism. His creative outlets include Skovlund Photography and Concentrated Emotion, which is where he publishes poetry focused on his life experiences.
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