When a police officer uses his or her weapon in the line of duty, they need to have a valid reason for doing so. Whether they felt their life was in danger or the suspect they were pursuing was an imminent threat to them or others around, there must be some legitimate reason for firing a weapon or applying some type of physical force. In a recent case that has led to the filing of a wrongful death lawsuit, one California officer may have acted out of fear rather than using his best judgment.
According to SF Gate, Keita “Iggy” O’Neil was fatally shot just below the neck by a police officer who had only been on the force for four days. Officer Christopher Samayoa was caught on video shooting the 42-year old suspect who allegedly carjacked a California Lottery van on Potrero Hill. He assaulted the driver of the van after he shoved him out of the vehicle and onto the ground and then stole the vehicle. Once police were informed of the crime, they were in pursuit of the carjacked van. O’Neil attempted to flee from police but eventually arrived at a dead end. He jumped out of the vehicle, running toward police and that is when officer Samayoa shot O’Neil through the closed window of his police car.
Not only was O’Neil unarmed, be he didn’t appear to be a threat to the officers or anyone else. He did, however, commit a crime and attempted to get away. But, was it necessary for Officer Samayoa to fire his weapon? After the extensive training he was required to go through to receive permission to carry a weapon, could he not think of any other tactic to use to stop the suspect?
Because the act is now being considered to be a form of police brutality, the mother of the carjacker has taken the necessary steps to file a wrongful death lawsuit on her son’s behalf. The police brutality lawyer representing the family not only believes that it “was not a panic shooting,” but that it was “premeditated murder.” One piece of evidence that is likely going to be used against Samayoa is that his body cam along with the officer who was traveling with him was turned off. According to their department’s policy, it was supposed to be activated the minute they began pursuing O’Neil, yet he turned his on after he shot his weapon. Luckily for the family, the body cam captured 30 seconds before it was activated which caught the actual shooting.
The Police Body Cam Footage Has Left Community Members Outraged
Granted, it is an officers job to stop and detain a criminal who has committed an infraction of the law, but there is a procedure for doing so. Unfortunately, many officers have developed a misconception surrounding the rights and power they hold. While it is true police officers do have a certain level of power as they must possess this in order to do their job, they shouldn’t abuse it or over exercise it. Sadly, many do which causes cases like this one to develop. When an officer takes advantage of the fact that he or she is allowed to carry a weapon, someone winds up getting hurt or even dies. In this case, O’Neil became a victim of police brutality.
If you or someone you know was harmed by an officer of the law who applied excessive force, USAttorneys.com wants to help you locate a nearby San Francisco, CA police brutality lawyer to represent you.