Despite happening over a hundred years ago the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral has implications for our police work today. Wyatt Earp knew he was heading for a potentially deadly confrontation. As a result he got two additional officers to back up him and his partner. Since it was a potential gunfight, one of the officers took a long gun, a shotgun, with him. The officers started the event by giving the suspects verbal commands.
Thirty shots were fired in only thirty seconds. One of the suspects was shot in the gun hand, but he transferred his handgun to his off hand and continued to shoot. The officer with the shotgun fired all his ammunition and transitioned to his handgun. By the end, three of the four officers were wounded but none were killed. Two unarmed suspects ran away but the three armed suspects were all killed.
There was public outrage about the shootout in broad daylight. Some citizens supported the officers and others supported the suspects. Eventually, the officers were arrested but they were cleared in two different hearings. The coroners’ report was instrumental in refuting the claims that the officers had fired on suspects with their hands raised. The crime scene investigation revealed that one of the suspects had no powder burns on his clothing indicating he was not shot in a close range assassination as some witnesses alleged. Very little has changed in police shootings, even after almost 130 years; that’s what the SGT Says.