Killing a suicide Bomber

On last night “Law and Order: Criminal Intent” there was a suicide bomber who the police were trying to stop. Through subterfuge they were able to get his hand out of his pocket and off the button and during a struggle a sniper shot him through the head. Presumably they waiting for his hand to be off of the buton before taking him down so he couldn’t press the button reflexively as he died. My question is was this really necessary? Couldn’t they have just walked up behind him and shot him in the back of the head and he would have died without being able to set off the bomb or would have his death caused his muscles to contract and depress the button?

They probably could have, but it wouldn’t have made such for a dramatic storyline and shot.

Perhaps he would have set it off in some death spasm? Does shooting someone in the head kill them instantly?

In real video of one of the CA bankrobbers with body armor and automatic weapons involved in the shoot out with police, it appears that their sniper kill shot on him dropped him instantly and without reflex. He went down like tower of mayo.

If you’re hit by lightning, a final muscle contraction is likely but I think a clean bullet to the brain pretty much eclipses any lingering desire to push a button.

Even the best marksman can’t be absolutely sure that he will succeed in shooting somebody in such a way as to cause instant death. The guy may turn his head unexpectedly at the crucial moment, or whatever. Besides, if the guy’s finger is actually on the button, even if he is killed instantly the button may be pressed when the guy falls over.

And muscle tremors immediately after death are not unknown.

You can’t be too careful with these finger-on-the-button guys.

On that Law & Order episode, the police didn’t know the suspect was the suicide bomber until he put up a violent struggle with Det. Goren when the latter grabbed the suspect’s detonator hand.

“A tower of mayo.” What an evocative turn of phrase. :slight_smile:

As UDS points out, there is no way to be sure that the body won’t contract or jerk to trigger the bomb.

Any [semi-intelligent] terrorist who was going to confront authorities would probably be wise enough to use a dead-man switch to avoid the scenario described, though.

Like in terminator 2!

Blood for the Blood God, huh?

The situation is Judgement Day was a bit different. Miles Dyson (“the man most directly responsible” for Judgement Day, according to the T-800) was holding a “Dead-Man’s Switch,” which is a detonator that activates when it is released rather than pressed.

This makes it doubly dangerous to attempt a long-range kill, as the bomber is quite likely to release the mechanism as his body goes limp.

I actually had a related question regarding a recent suicide bombing in Israel. What happened was that the bus driver and another guy jumped on the bomber and held him down, shouting to all to run for it. When the scene cleared, they let him go and made a run for it themselves. They all escaped, but the suicide bomber simply ran up to another group of people and blew himself up, killing one woman and wounding a bunch more.

My question is why not simply strangle the guy to death? How difficult is this if you already have the guy on the ground? This is not something I’ve ever done myself, but from what I understand you can just clench a persons neck and squeeze as hard as you can and he will be dead or at least unconscious in a few minutes. Is this incorrect? If not, this should be standard procedure for such situations.

Actually, he wasn’t. He was holding a heavy weight above a push-button detonator and told the cops that he wasn’t sure how much longer he could do so. They could have tried shooting him in the hand, or just grabbing his arm, but they wisely chose to bolt instead. When Dyson died (or at least lapsed into unconsciousness) his arm relaxed and the weight fell on the detonator, creating an earthshattering kaboom.

Some people will tell you that really really good snipers will aim for the medulla oblongata because a shot there will NOT cause a death spasm or reflex action. Personally, I’m skeptical.

A google on “Sniper Medulla” led me to this site, which claims that the “no-reflex medulla shot” is a myth.

P.S. I just noticed that the homepage of the site I linked to (Sniper Country) has an age requirement. Please read the notice on their homepage first and don’t click over there at all if you’re under 18.

Sorry about the oversight.

Something’s with wrong with that boy’s medulla oblongata.

Sorry…couldn’t resist a Waterboy quote.

Oh, my! You have made me very angry.



Some self-defense instructors tell students that if the bad guy has his finger on the trigger pointed at someone, if possible you should try to distract him by yelling or throwing something so he will turn and lose his aim, then shoot him.

[slight hijack]

Unfortunately, in the US, the idea of popping someone in the head unless they pose an “immediate clear and present danger” to anyone is at least impractical. IIRC, police are expected and mandated to use lethal force as a last resort. I don’t know how the legality of things are involving weapons of mass destruction (WMD) such as a suicide bomber, but I’d venture to say the cops had to at least make an attempt. . .

God forbid, they shot the schmuck, and it turned out what they thought was C4 was really Silly Putt. :eek:

[/slight hijack]

No, Silly Putty isn’t explosive.