As is the case in our technological society, several people had cameras and phones on that day. Some videoed the incident and it appeared on the internet. It clearly shows one man against a hostile group of idiots, a mob that was probably about to quench its thirst for trouble by continuing their inappropriate behavior. The cops would probably been called, eventually. The incident garnered national attention, sensationalized by those who have no clue about what happens in the real world, by characterizing it as a cop threatening innocent people throwing snowballs.
However, here is the bigger question: What if they had confronted an innocent citizen who had neither the means nor vigor to defend himself? What then? I contend that tough cops, when the appropriate situation is at hand, are the best defense. Most thugs are cowards when confronted individually, but when they congregate and form into a gang that dynamic changes. The only thing that works on those types is force, or at least the threat of it. It's the law of the jungle, and all of the rhetoric about the poor, disadvantaged punks who relish challenging authority is bunk.
I hate seeing this incident mushrooming into what it has now become. With so much publicity, neither side is likely to acquiesce. My fear is that good cops will look at the outcome and be reticent to pull their guns at times when it is imperative they do so. We train our officers to be ready, to be proactive, to stay ahead of the power curve. If we discipline our cops for simply pulling their weapon and having it at the ready when they feel threatened, we send the wrong message. We cause our guys and gals to become timid, while emboldening the cretins on the street.
My recommendation is this: don't change the way you're operating because of one bad call. You owe it to all of us to be the best cops you can be - that means being aggressive and tough when need be. I have no clue as to how this gun versus snowball issue will be resolved. However, if we begin to see officers and departments sanctioning "guns out of holsters," we are most certainly heading down the wrong road.
Stay safe, brothers and sisters!