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Published on Jun 13, 2008
The North Hollywood shootout was an armed confrontation between two heavily-armed and armored bank robbers, Larry Eugene Phillips, Jr. and Emil Matasareanu, and patrol and SWAT officers of the Los Angeles Police Department in North Hollywood, Los Angeles, California on February 28, 1997. It happened when responding patrol officers engaged Phillips and Matasareanu leaving the robbed bank. Seventeen officers and civilians sustained injuries before both robbers were killed. Phillips and Matasareanu had robbed several banks prior to their attempt in North Hollywood and were notorious for their heavy armament, which included automatic rifles.
United States patrol officers at the time were typically armed with a 9mm or .40 caliber pistol on their person, with a 12-gauge shotgun available in their cars. Phillips and Matasareanu carried fully automatic rifles and wore body armor. Since most handgun calibers cannot penetrate body armor, patrol officers had a significant disadvantage until SWAT arrived with equivalent firepower; they also appropriated several semi-automatic rifles from a nearby firearms dealer to help even the odds. The incident sparked debate on the appropriate firepower for patrol officers to have available in similar situations in the future.