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Abuse of Force? PBSO Deputy Shoots Boy in Palm Beach, Florida.

In an unbelievable use of force, a deputy from the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office shot at a 17 year old boy driving the wrong way down Okeechobee Blvd. in Royal Palm Beach, Florida last night. The boy allegedly stole his mother’s van and may have ignored police orders to stop, but this example of police conduct sounds utterly outrageous.

I hate drawing conclusions without knowing all the facts, but this case sounds like another example of overly aggressive police conduct. As a result, this poor kid and two other people are sitting in the hospital.

Given my professional experience dealing with internal affairs divisions, I will bet anything that that PBSO exonerates these cops and concludes that their use of lethal force was warranted. In fact, I bet the cops will claim that they had to shoot at the boy because he allegedly drove in their direction. I have heard that one before…

While the boy is accused of stealing his mother’s van, an eye witness claims the boy did not start driving the wrong way down Okeechobee Blvd. until a police car made an aggressive maneuver in front of his vehicle.

In fact, this eye witness, Charles Humphrey, claims that the boy’s van was stopped with a flat tire at the intersection of Okeechobee and Royal Palm Beach Blvd. when he saw he saw a police car swerve in front of the boy’s van and come to a stop.

Humphrey says the boy then started up his van and took off, hitting the deputy’s car in the process. The deputy then fired shots at the boy, causing the boy’s van to crash into two other vehicles before coming to a stop.

“He was screaming, ‘Sorry, I didn’t mean it,'” Humphrey said.

While all the facts of this case are still undetermined, this case stinks of police abuse of force.

I totally understand the danger a driver poses when fleeing police down the wrong way of a major intersection, but it seems to me that shooting at the fleeing van was not the best course of action possible.

First of all, firing a gun in a major roadway like that puts other motorists and pedestrians in danger. It is bad enough that gang-bangers shoot at each other in public, killing innocent bystanders in the process, now we need to worry about the police too?

Where did that cop think his bullets would land if he missed the boy as his van sped away? Unlike what you see in the movies, hitting a person speeding away in a motor vehicle is very difficult and calls for deliberate aiming.

Also, why did the officer have to draw his gun in the first place? When OJ Simpson fled in his Bronco the cops chased him for hours. Not to mention the fact that it seems like the deputy’s maneuver into the front of the boy’s stopped van with flat tire is what startled the boy into fleeing.

Now lets be clear, I am not making excuses for the boy. It is never acceptable to flee police or to endanger other motorists by driving the wrong way down a major intersection.

For my purposes here, this discussion is strictly about the officer’s use of deadly force in a crowded street.

Why didn’t the police officers use their vehicles to stop the boy? Why didn’t they crash their own vehicles into the boy’s van like you see on the reality show COPS? Why was firing a gun into traffic the only answer?

With all of their training and experience when it comes to use of force and self-defense I do not believe for one second that these cops acted correctly.

The boy’s family should not be the only parties upset by this matter. If I was one of the other two people hospitalized because of this aggressive cop I would be angry too.

Police forget how serious their actions are. Just because you are given a gun and a badge does not mean you have a license to use them. In fact, it is the badge that gives you a greater responsibility. Cops have to do the right thing every time… no excuses.

Ultimately, the family of this boy and the other two parties involved should hire a lawyer to at least investigate this case. If it is determined that the police officers involved acted abusively then a lawsuit should be filed. The families and those affected deserve answers!

Cases like these are not only important for the injured parties, but for the public as well. I don’t know about you, but the thought of a trigger happy cop shooting off his gun into a busy street scares me more than a teenage boy on a dangerous joy ride.

Again, I am not trying to diminish the wrong done by the boy. Instead, this case is about poor police judgment and a lack of police professionalism. We should not forget that cops are considered professionals and are held to a higher standard.

This standard exists in part due to the role police play in our society and in part due to the specialized training they receive. For instance, police are trained to use escalating force. Meaning, they are supposed to use the least amount of force possible and increase incrementally as needed – situations permitting.

I do not dispute that there are times when lethal force is the only option. In fact, this case may be one of them. However, I will bet that is not the truth here.

If I was one of the people affected here, I would hire a lawyer with a background in criminal law. To accomplish the best investigation possible, the family and third parties need an attorney who is very familiar with law enforcement, police procedure, and police use of force. A good attorney for this case would also be very familiar with accident reconstruction and the criminal laws relevant to fleeing and eluding police.

In any event, a lot more information is needed before any concrete conclusions can be drawn. At this point, all parties would be served best by conducting as thorough an investigation as possible.

Hopefully justice will be served in the end. If it is determined that the officer acted incorrectly, I hope he is used to make an example for other officers so that we, the public, are protected.

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