Playin' Possum: Mississippi Deputy Escapes a Violent Death With the Oldest Trick in the Book



On Friday, Deputy Daniel Tatum of Marshall County, Mississippi was shot multiple times in a four-hour standoff.

During the melee, a gunman approached Daniel, who lay with bullets in his limbs.


In a moment of instinct, he played possum.

The whole situation began with a traffic stop. 33-year-old Randy Vaught left a drug house with two friends. Seeing the men exiting the home, Daniel pulled them over. When Randy couldn’t provide his driver’s license, he sped off. He arrived at his mother’s residence and ran inside. According to the friends — who bolted — the three had just taken meth.

When Daniel followed Randy through the back door, he was shot.

After being struck in the leg, shoulder, and arm, Daniel lay helpless. Randy stood over him, firing twice more into his chest.

The smart officer played like he was dead as a doornail, his bulletproof vest having saved his life.

Convinced Daniel was deceased, Randy forewent the otherwise-obligatory headshot.

At a news conference, Marshall County Sheriff Kenney Dickerson praised Daniel’s quick thinking, as well as the vest that stopped the bullets:

“That’s what, without any question, saved his life. No doubt in my mind and unequivocally had he not had that vest on he would have expired immediately.”

Randy later did go for a headshot — at himself.


He’s now a doornail.

Another day in the life of law enforcement.

And, in the case of Daniel Tatum, a really, really fortunate one.

“He was very, very, lucky,” Sheriff Dickerson noted.

Lucky indeed.

You can learn a lot from a possum.



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