The FBI Miami-Dade shootout, in 1986, went so badly that it's still used in police education and science.

The confrontation was between two suspects and eight FBI agents. After exchanging about 150 rounds, the two suspects and one FBI agent were dead. Six agents were wounded, and one unharmed.

I want to understand what happened before it in the FBI as an organization. They were not just shot at like rabbits. There was enough ammunition, enough weapons, they continued shooting when badly injured - nobody behaved stupid. So the problem is inside the organisation "somehow". Much of it is psychology - but I think not everything. I expect many sociological, and maybe some organizational things to play a role.

What actually happened is well known, for a close look at the marksmanship involved, see "FBI 1986 Miami Dade Shooting: An Analysis."

Note that I rewrote much of the text, while the relevant facts are still the same. As in "Ok, most agents did not die. But six wounded is still really bad, right?". I had the facts mixed up with a different shooting.

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    You got your facts wrong. There is only one shootout which fits the bill: The 1986 Miami shootout with 2 suspects and 8 FBI agents. Both suspects died, 2 FBI agents were killed and 5 heavily injured. The suspects were trained and heavily armed ex-soldiers (one Special Forces), so the outcome is not surprising at all, especially as both soldiers were tough and ended the fight only after 6/12 (!) bullet wounds. Commented Aug 25, 2018 at 3:19
  • @ThorstenS. Thanks, you're right. Yes, that's the shooting I mean, I did not remember the name. I need to check the source I used - pretty good analysis of some details of the shooting. But that was not about the event as a whole (it was about handling of weapons and ammunition,), so these facts were irrelevant there - but not here. (will link to youtube) Commented Aug 25, 2018 at 3:38
  • @ThorstenS. I have mixed up the Miami case with the Newhall shooting. Thanks for pointing it out! My original source is linked in the question. A scene I like: youtube.com/watch?v=iv8cByaVyNQ&feature=youtu.be&t=1100 Commented Aug 25, 2018 at 5:03

2 Answers 2


Your question is mostly about the psychology / cognitive collapse that led to the outcome? Psychology & Neuroscience might be a good place to start, but it almost sounds like your question would be so long it wouldn't fit our post length requirements. If you could link to the story, I'd recommend asking on their meta site, it sounds like you've probably got several questions there, and they could help you break it up, use the appropriate tags, etc.

But I'd first post on their meta site and let them know the line of answers you'd like to get, and make sure it's a good fit for them before investing any time in it. So, 15 minutes spent on a meta post just to see what folks think would be a good investment to start - anything else might be disappointing if it's just too broad for them.

It really all depends on what angle you're going after, and they are the best to guide you there. Seems vague enough that it seems like it could fit, but 'lay person' intuition can get you into trouble :)

  • Yes, most of the event is about psychology. But here, I am looking for all the other aspects, that certainly exist. I do not think there are any "failures" involved, neither of individuals nor organisational. They were fighting against one guy. With a small machine gun. And lots of magazines. In hindsight, just backing up and flee would be a wise thing to do. Does the police training contain methods to decide, as a loose group when to back up? There is hard mathematics required to understand that is not even possible! Do they learn fleeing first does not make one a coward? That's hard. Commented Aug 23, 2018 at 17:11
  • I start to see that what I look for can only be answered by an actual US policeman in quite high rank. I'm in Germany. That it's long is only background story, easy to make is shorter. For the psychological part, I may be able to break it down into independent aspects. Like "Can a policeman be trained to not feel like a coward when he flees first from a group?" "Under stress condition?" "When he can not decide rationally ?". Commented Aug 23, 2018 at 17:52

I'll agree with @TimPost's answer on where to post questions dealing with the psychology of the criminals, police, public, and others who were involved. As to the other aspects:

Looking at your questions, which are less about law and police tactics as they are about policy (which are used to direct police procedures) a good starting place may be Politics.SE. As questions about these policies can be highly opinionated, and emotionally charged: I would strongly advise you to focus on asking questions about specific policies* that were used or changed due to this case. Also, take time to read the other police tagged questions to help you determine the best framing to use for yours.

However, for those questions about any procedural or legal issues which arose from this case*, a better place to ask may be Law.SE. It can be hard to separate is this a legal matter or is this a policy matter if you are not used to reading policy and making procedure so I would again recommend taking time to read the questions in this site's police tag to determine the best framing for these questions.

The questions you asked in your comment have hard answers in military and police tactical training. So, you could research these and then ask the follow-up questions in one of the three given sites as it applies.

* This was studied in my Military Police School and there are both specific policy changes based on governmental decisions (Politics), procedural changes due to legal decisions (Law), and changes in the application of policy and procedures (could be either) at police departments (US) due to this incident.

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