Abel Martinez was shot in the stomach and then tazered by police officers from the City of Pemrboke Pines after he allegedly attacked an officer. He has been arrested and is facing charges for aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer. The Sun-Sentinel is reporting that Martinez’s girlfriend called police because he was acting “crazy.” It is alleged that he woke up in the morning screaming his grandmother’s name. The actual facts of his mental state are still unknown.
At some point in the encounter, Martinez got into a fight with paramedics which prompted a police officer to enter the house and attempt putting him in handcuffs. Martinez fought back and the officer was only able to place one cuff on him. Using the free handcuff, Martinez attacked the officer, striking him in the head multiple times.
Apparently in an act of self-defense, the officer drew his gun and shot Martinez in the stomach. Unbelievably, this did not stop the attack and officers had to use a tazer to finally get Martinez under control.
For attacking the officer, Martinez is facing a second degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
The officer was later taken to the hospital where he received eleven staples in his head.
This entire incident is extremely unfortunate. From a criminal law perspective, there are two ways to view this case. Defense lawyers will undoubtedly analyze every detail of this case to determine if the officer’s actions were reasonable.
First, a police officer, like any other person, has the legal right to defend him or herself when under attack. On the other side of the coin, police officers routinely encounter crazy people acting violent. What was special about this particular crazy, belligerent person that created a situation where the officer had to use his gun? In fact, officers are trained in the use of force for the sole purpose of minimizing injuries when encountering such situations.
I wonder how aggressive the officer was. I wonder if the circumstances were aggravated in any way by his actions. Why didn’t he deploy a tazer first?
Again, these are just questions at this point in time. I do not place any blame on the officer since the details of what happened are not yet known. All I am saying is that it is not uncommon for officers to encounter belligerent crazy people. However, because it resulted in a police shooting, hard questions must be asked. We need to understand the mechanics of what happened not only for courtroom purposes, but for police training purposes as well.
Use of lethal force is an option of last resort.
Aside from causation, my other question concerns the use of the tazer after the shooting. I wonder if deploying the tazer to a person with an abdominal gun shot wound is appropriate or aggravating. Again, these are fluid events and I am sure the officers used the best judgment possible given the circumstances.
At the end of the day, this case will come down to the factual details and whether or not the officer in question acted reasonably when he used lethal force.
Hopefully the officer will have a speedy recovery. Luckily for Martinez, he isn’t dead.