There have been a few events in law enforcement history that went on to change policies across police departments.  On February 28th, 1997, the North Hollywood Shootout would leave a gaping wound of how outgunned police really were.

In the second episode of the Deconstructing Gunfight series, I talk with former Los Angeles Police Department officer John Caprarelli who was one of the responding officers that fateful day.  John had spent 15 years as a police officer and had been in various units but nothing would have prepared him for what he was going to face that day.

Larry Phillips and Emil Matasareanu were a pair of bank robbers who had escalated to murder during a previous heist.  Their acts of violence got worse each time they committed another robbery.  On Feb. 28th, 1997 they hit the Bank of America in North Hollywood.  They were prepared.  Each of the men were covered in layers of body armor and both carried fully automatic rifles and hundreds of rounds.  The LAPD had handguns and shotguns.  What follows is a first hand account that comes from the book John wrote called “Uniform Decisions”.

In this second episode I’ll find out what is was like to face men who had no regard for life or the law.  Men who would rather die than get caught.  We also discuss the aftermath and the wounds not just of the body but of the mind and John’s second fight, the fight with PTSD. 

It was truly an honor to speak to John who now enjoys retirement about what it was like to be there amid the rounds flying through the air and a city on edge in this second episode of Deconstructing Gunfights.

Links mentioned in the show:

John’s website

“Uniform Decisions” by John Caprarelli

Helicopter footage of the shootout

Audio dispatch from LAPD


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