The Washington Post collected data indicating that 88 out of the 584 people who were killed in police shootings in recent years were really just trying to run away from the officer. Maurice Granton, and Walter Scott are popular examples of victims of police shootings, and there are many more undocumented cases in which officers pulled out their guns without thinking their actions through carefully.
Police shootings are relatively common since one of the perks of being an officer is the ability to use one’s weapon openly when there is a need to do so. The most important factor considered in cases where a police officer shot a suspect is whether there was a valid reason for the use of a lethal weapon. When looking at the Constitution, police officers can use their weapons under two circumstances.
- To protect innocent individuals from a serious threat
- To prevent a dangerous suspect from escaping
If a person saw an officer and started running away out of fear, and this person was unarmed and had no intent to harm anyone then an officer can be held accountable for shooting them. The force continuum indicates that officer should exhaust all other means possible, such as using their words, or bodily force, before pulling out a lethal weapon. If anyone has been shot at by an officer, they have every right to get in touch with a police brutality attorney to explore their options.
A police brutality attorney will be able to evaluate a person’s specific situation and let them know whether the officer acted rightfully or whether they have infringed a person’s basic human rights through their actions.
Are there any regulations controlling the use of lethal weapons for police officers?
There are state laws that govern when it is okay for an officer to use his or her weapon and the truth is these laws leave a lot of room for officers to do as they see fit according to the circumstances they find themselves in. In most states, police officers can shoot to kill if they feel like the suspect is armed and dangerous and that the suspect has a risk of harming themselves or those around them.
Some states have more lax laws than others when it comes to given officers permission to shoot a suspect. Florida, for instance, has the Fleeing Felon law that gives officers full permission to shoot someone who has committed a felony and is trying to flee from the scene of the crime.
This rule is controversial as it clearly goes against a court decision made in 1985 in which the justices of the Supreme Court decided that police officers are not allowed to shoot fleeing suspects. The Fleeing Felon law is also controversial because stealing a stop sign, or even stealing any farm animal is considered a felony and these acts clearly do not pose an imminent threat to the rest of the community, and therefore, do not deserve to be reciprocated through the use of lethal force.
If a person has been shot by an officer, or if they have lost a loved one due to a police shooting they should get in touch with an attorney at their earliest convenience.
- New York, What Comes Under Police Brutality and How Can it be Prevented? - August 18, 2021
- Nevada, What Can Stop Police Misconduct? - February 18, 2021
- Nebraska, Preventing Police Brutality and Misconduct - February 17, 2021