Police Use of Deadly Force. PSCI 2481. Within a 10 month period, four NYC police officers were killed in the line of duty. In the tense aftermath, a city policeman shot and killed a fleeing suspect. A New York Times editorial expressed outrage:
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In the tense aftermath, a city policeman shot and killed a fleeing suspect. A New York Times editorial expressed outrage:
“If a policeman needs to defend his life, the use of force is permissible, but if he is chasing a suspect, he has no right to shoot the man.”
“The Tennessee statute is unconstitutional insofar as it authorizes the use of deadly force against…an apparently unarmed, nondangerous fleeing suspect; such force may not be used unless necessary to prevent the escape and the officer has probable cause to believe that the suspect poses a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others.”
Jan. 30, 2002: Denver Police Officer James Turney and Sgt. Bob Silvas shoot and kill Gregory L. Smith, 18, as he came up the stairs of his home armed with a knife.
Oct. 25, 2002: Denver District Attorney Bill Ritter announces that no charges will be filed against the officers in the Smith shooting because of a lack of evidence.
July 4, 2003: Turney allegedly phoned his former mother-in-law In Iowa and threatened to kill her. Later, Iowa prosecutors agree to drop the misdemeanor harassment charge against Turney in exchange for his promise not to have any contact with her for five years.
Removed from Patrol (RFP)
“Short” Suspension & RTD
“Short” Suspension & RFP
“Long” Suspension & RTD
“Long” Suspension & RFP
Charged with Minor Crime
Charged with Major Crime
Fired & Charged with Crime
Subjected to Civil Lawsuit
Prevented from working for another law enforcement agencyOptions
July 8: Turney is suspended with pay while internal affairs investigates.
July 10: A community march to demand justice for Childs draws about 600 people.
Oct. 16: Ritter concludes that Turney perceived the boy, armed with a knife with an 8-inch blade, as an imminent threat. Consequently, Ritter said Turney could not be charged with a crime.
Oct. 20: A group of protesters gathered outside Denver Police headquarters to demand that Turney be fired. Four people are ticketed after they sat in front of the headquarters' doors and refused to leave.
Dec. 16: Mayor John Hickenlooper orders a comprehensive package of police reforms, including additional training for police, more alternative weapons and increased citizen oversight.
Jan. 6, 2004: Childs' family files notice of its intent to seek at least $5 million from the city in a federal lawsuit alleging civil rights violations.
Feb. 17: Attorney Johnnie Cochran and members of Childs' family met with Hickenlooper and urge him to seek the removal of Turney.
Mar. 1: A police disciplinary review board recommends that officer Jim Turney receive a written reprimand for his role in the shooting death of Paul Childs. The board, made up of four officers and two civilians, reduced a recommendation by an all-officer panel to suspend Turney for 30 days.
April 1: Denver Police Chief Gerry Whitman recommends a 20-day suspension without pay for Turney.
April 2: The Greater Denver Ministerial Alliance calls on Hickenlooper to push for a minimum one-year suspension of Turney.
The Houston Police Department’s policy regarding the use of firearms sets forth the general values which must guide officers’ actions. The policy is as follows:
The use of firearms is never to be considered routine, is permissible only in defense of life, and then only when all other means have been exhausted.
The Department’s policy is based on a belief that its primary duty is to protect life. Police officers, therefore, are to use firearms only to protect their lives or the lives of others. Since the use of firearms has the potential to endanger life, it should occur only when there is no other alternative. This means that officers are to use their firearms only when failure to do so would result in death or serious bodily injury to themselves or others,.
In situations where officers consider using firearms, they must carefully determine whether it is probable that someone will be killed or injured as a direct result of the observed actions of the suspect.
The Danger on the Street