to handle a police shooting. What
they didn’t teach you at the police academy.
O.K.; I’m waiting for my attorney.
No one wants or plans to be involved in a shooting.
Most shootings happen in split seconds.
Generally there is little time to evaluate the situation and make
decisions except for those decisions based upon training and instinct.
When you took the job as a law enforcement professional,
you became part of the criminal justice system. This is the only profession that can legally take someone’s
life. As a law enforcement officer
someday you may have to choose to take another person’s life by deadly force.
Should you be put in this unenviable position you must remember that
society does not like this and that you must expect go through the steps your
government has devised to ensure that you did the correct thing.
If there ever was a statement that every police officer should get into their vocabulary this is it:
I’m O.K., I’m waiting for my attorney.
may not be afforded this opportunity but you should ask for it anyway.
If your union or association has counsel on retainer, then ask for him to
come to the shooting scene. Your
Union or Association should be prepared for this kind of event.
Hire someone with experience in these matters.
They should be aggressive in the protection of the rights of those
involved in a shooting.
if the shooting you were involved with was a “good” shooting.
you say something that you can never change. Remember, any statements you make
to supervisors or others at the scene can never be taken back.
When is it a good time for you to talk?
Certainly not right after a shooting or deadly force incident.
You should try to relax and get away from the scene if possible. If your department allows for it you should try to have a few
hours rest away from the scene. If
you could answer questions the next day you should take the opportunity.
You should watch what you say when your emotions are at a peak.
You will generally not be in full control.
It’s not that you may not tell it, as it should be, but more
importantly, you must tell it as it
was, not like it is now.
the crime scene technicians and the detectives and your fellow officers at the
scene, others will appear. Some of
them have their interests at heart not your interests. Certainly someone from the Chief’s Office will be there.
You can bet that Internal Affairs will be there.
Homicide Division will be there also along with the District Attorney’s
office. Someone from the Civil Rights Division might also be there.
Each has his own agenda and what you say can and will be used to
“paint” a picture about what has happened.
Your words will be forever written in stone.
You can’t take them back.
one in the department is your “friend”.
Not the Chief… Not IA. Just
because they wear a uniform does not mean that they will do anything more than
what their job duties call for. The
will make sure that he has his job after the shooting.
When was the last time you heard an IA investigator saying he is out to
protect your job and your rights. Remember
that before and when you speak.
society does not like police shootings and you must expect to go through the
steps society and your department dictates if you shoot someone.
Springer is the General Counsel of the Harris County Deputies Organization.
He is also the General Counsel of the Texas Union of Police and Deputy
Sheriffs. Burt is a former Deputy
Sheriff in St. Charles Parish, Louisiana and a former Police Officer in the City
of Houston. He has represented
Officers in over 200 police shootings.
Lane County, Oregon Officer Shooting Video
The link below will take you to a video presentation from Lane County Oregon about officer involved shootings. Its approximately 16 minutes long but has lots of good points.