Thursday, February 07, 2008

"CSI: BS" isn't bad enough, take a look at this

excerpt from a book I just finished; how many inaccuracies and just plain bullcrap can you spot?

I reply that a high-velocity rifle shooting soft-nosed bullets made the wounds found on the body of the Brinks security guard, Peter Paige.

A high-velocity bullet travels at speeds of 1,200 to 3,000 feet per second. At maximum this means that a high-velocity missile crosses the length of ten football fields in a single second. Examples of such weapons include automatic pistols and service rifles. Bullets shot from low-velocity firearms, on the other hand, such as a revolver, travel from muzzle to target at around 600 feet per second.

High-velocity attack weapons, it is interesting to note, work by means of a spring mechanism that pops cartridges into an empty breech, then ejects the used cartridges after each shot. Forensically, there is an important distinction to be made here, since casings from an automatic firearm are often left at the scene of a crime, either because the shooters do not have the time or presence of mind to gather them up, or because they simply don’t care, as in the case of the Brinks robbers.

On the other hand, the casings from cartridges fired out of a revolver are not ejected, but remain in the drum of the gun until someone empties them by hand. For someone who ‘intends’ to commit a shooting, the fact that a revolver automatically avoids leaving a trail of casings behind makes it, in a sense, a lower-risk weapon than an automatic.

As I told the court, the ammunition fired by the high-velocity weapons used in the Brinks robbery is of a special kind, a type that comes enclosed in a very soft casing.

The DA asks about the significance of such a casing.

I explain that most bullets are enclosed in a hard copper casing. When fired into a human being, such bullets pass straight through the body without causing a great deal of internal shredding or ripping.

A soft-nosed bullet, on the other hand, is not enclosed in a copper jacket, and when fired by a high-velocity automatic weapon is moving extraordinarily fast. When such a projectiles strikes a thin, soft object, such as a piece of clothing worn over human skin, it passes through the material neatly, making a hole no larger than the bullet itself. But once a soft-nosed projectile enters a person’s body and strikes hard tissue or a piece of bone, it instantly and quite voluminously explodes, producing what we call a “star-burst” pattern, splitting into hundreds of fragments, ripping a gaping crater directly under the skin, and often virtually blowing apart a person’s insides.

In a preplanned criminal attack, I add, assailants intending to do as much damage as possible often use attack weapons that fire such bullets.

The DA asks me to explain further.

I continue: Even if the victim of a soft-nosed bullet is not struck directly in the chest, say, or in the neck, the internal wreckage inflicted by soft ordnance is so devastating and encompassing that a single high-velocity missile hitting the thigh can destroy the entire leg.

It is this type of high-velocity, soft, exploding bullet, I tell the DA, that created the gaping wounds on the undersurfaces of Peter Paige’s body, and that practically tore the left arm off Joe Trombino.

Done? This is from the book Dissecting Death by Frederick Zugibe, M.D., Ph.D., and David L. Carroll. It's on pages 123 & 124, and he notes that at the time of this case he'd performed or assisted in about 10K autopsies, and is a Board Certified Forensic Pathologist.

We've got people like this writing crap like this; no wonder so many people believe the garbage on tv.


BobG said...

Doesn't know a damn thing about firearms or bullets, does he?

JR said...

This is supposed to be a non-fiction?

If so, he is not ignorant, he is flat out lying.

Firehand said...

The book is supposed to be serious information on his work as a medical examiner. Which means while he may know his way around a body, he doesn't know squat about firearms/bullets. Which does not give me a warm feeling about the system.