Escalating Brutality: Cop Slayings on the Rise

Odessa Police Sgt. Pete Marquez, one of the backup officers, says his dazed brother was still trying to direct arriving officers as Pete bundled him into the patrol car that rushed him to the hospital.

At some point, another group of officers, including Gardner, was sent to the back of the house. Caver says they believed the shooter was incapacitated, based on information that Abel Marquez gave before he was whisked away.

As Gardner crept along the back wall of the home trying to locate White through a rear window, Gardner was shot in the head. After he fell, White tried to burst out the back door. He was driven back inside by officers returning fire.

About four hours later, the standoff ended. White, wounded slightly, surrendered and walked out the front door.

Besides the criminal investigation, Odessa Police Chief Christopher Pipes says, the case will be reviewed to determine whether the officers should have handled the situation differently. So far, Pipes and Caver say, the evidence suggests they acted appropriately.

White's attorney, Woody Leverett, did not respond to requests for comment.

Among the evidence investigators have reviewed is a videotape of Abel Marquez taken from a camera mounted inside the patrol car that rushed him to the hospital.

The video, aimed at the backseat where suspects usually sit, shows Marquez in apparent shock, gripping his gun, peering at wounds on his arm.

"He was moaning," Caver says. "He told the (driver) to roll the window down. He had this shocked look on his face. "Looking at that image, knowing that he later died, it's hard to watch."

New push to restrict weapons

Until the internal review of the officers' response is complete, Pipes says he'll hold off on making changes to department policy. Other law enforcement agencies, however, are bolstering their defenses, alarmed by the apparent increasing threat to officers.

In addition to pushing for a new ban on assault weapons, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) wants a ban on high-caliber sniper rifles and armor-piercing handgun ammunition.

A previous assault weapons ban expired in 2004, and proposals to reinstate it have been bitterly opposed by the gun lobby, including the National Rifle Association.

Chris W. Cox, the NRA's chief lobbyist, says, "There's no comprehensive evidence" to support the ban. "The focus should be on substantive reform, not on arbitrary proposals like this."

The IACP sees it differently. "For the first time in decades, more officers are being … killed with firearms than are being killed in car crashes," it said in an April report. "The startling statistics make plain the need for more protections for our officers and more action from policymakers to keep them safe."

Scott Knight, chairman of the IACP's firearms committee, says an informal survey of about 20 police agencies earlier this year showed that since the assault weapons ban expired, departments either have increased the number of weapons in officers' patrol units or upgraded to military-style arms.

"There is a bit of an arms race out there to outgun the criminals," says Knight, the police chief in Chaska, Minn. "There is a view that (suspects) are more prone to shoot first."

Knight cited an armored car robbery Oct. 4 in Philadelphia, where two guards, both former Philadelphia police officers, were killed in an apparent ambush by a gunman.

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