According to news reports, a deputy from the Broward Sheriff’s Office shot a suspect yesterday afternoon in the parking lot of the Georgia Pig BBQ Restaurant located in Davie, Florida. The shooting allegedly occurred around 3:30 p.m.
According to BSO’s spokesman, Jim Leljedal, a traffic stop was made of the suspect’s vehicle “related to an investigation,” although the details of that investigation have still not been made public. Since BSO claims a large amount of narcotics were ultimately found in the suspect’s car, this was most likely a narcotics investigation. It is not yet known when the narcotics were found… whether before or after the shooting.
While I suspect that the deputies in question were in plain clothes and driving unmarked vehicles, these details are still not publicly known or verified.
According to Leljedal, there was a confrontation and shots were fired, although it is presently unknown who shot first.
Another BSO spokesman, Mike Jachles, stated “Things got very violent very fast. The suspect resisted arrest. There was a Taser deployed.” It is alleged that the suspect ultimately rammed several police vehicles as he or she tried to escape the parking lot.
My guess is that this was an undercover buy/bust operation that went bad.
After fleeing the scene, the suspect allegedly traveled west on Davie Road, ultimately crashing his/her vehicle into a tree. It is unknown whether or not the suspect died from the shooting, the crash, or a combination of the two.
The cause of the crash is also unknown. Did the suspect lose control of the vehicle because he/she was driving recklessly? Or, did the injuries the suspect sustained from the shooting cause him/her to lose control?
While all the facts are still not known and it is unclear whether this shooting is justified or not, this case is already beginning to sound like a textbook explanation of a police shooting.
It goes something like this: 1) Suspect is pulled over by police. 2) Suspect lunges car at police. 3) Police are in fear for their lives. 4) Police shoot suspect.
Just because the suspect’s vehicle crashed into the deputies’ cars, does not mean the shooting was justified.
First of all, did the suspect ram the vehicles before or after he/she was shot? Did the suspect ram the vehicles before or after he/she was Tasered? Did the suspect ram the police vehicles because he/she was injured or because he/she aggressively fled the scene without regard for the deputies’ safety or property?
Second, did the suspect know he/she was dealing with police? Were the police vehicles marked or unmarked? Were the deputies in plain clothes or uniform? If they were in plain clothes, did they properly identify themselves as law enforcement… and I don’t mean with a cheap badge or a velcro patch that says “Sheriff” (as if those items can’t be bought online by anyone with a credit card!)… I am talking about official departmentally issued ID.
Third, did the deputies actually have a lawful reason for stopping the suspect in the first place? If this was an undercover drug deal gone bad, did the suspect speed away, ramming unmarked vehicles in the process, out of fear that he/she was being robbed or threatened by other criminals?
The drug trade is a very violent business. Drug dealers are routinely robbed and killed by burglars who pretend to be be drug buyers all the time. It is simple… where there are drugs there is money. Both are valuable to criminals.
Now, I am not saying we should all feel bad for a drug dealer who gets robbed. I am simply saying we need to identify all the possible causes for the suspect’s actions before conclusions are drawn.
I would not be surprised if the police paint a picture of this suspect as a raging maniac drug dealer, hell bent on harming cops. But what if the cops themselves created the danger? What if this entire incident occurred because the cops in question mishandled the situation?
While the suspect may or may not have been engaged in something illegal (like possibly selling drugs), the issue here concerns the deputy’s use of lethal force and whether or not it was justified.
When analyzing a case like this, no objective person should assume that our friendly neighborhood policeman did everything correctly or honestly. This case calls for objective and unbiased analysis. Any conclusions drawn can only be based on the evidence present in this case.
The suspect’s family would benefit from hiring a lawyer to investigate this case. An unbiased analysis of the evidence is needed to make sure that police investigators draw conclusions that are supported by the evidence. If it is shown that the deputies acted unreasonably in their use of lethal force, the family may be entitled to monetary compensation for the suspect’s death.
The family should hire a lawyer with experience with police investigations, police standard operating procedures, forensic evidence, the internal affairs process, as well as shooting and accident reconstruction.
An effective investigation by the family’s lawyer would include locating independent witnesses, such as restaurant employees or patrons who may have seen the shooting. The family attorney should also try to obtain any surveillance videos from security cameras that may be located in the area or at the restaurant. It would also be helpful to know any information about these officers’ past… such as past internal affairs investigations.
Have these cops ever shot anyone before? Do they have a history for aggressive behavior or dishonesty?
BSO would also benefit from an objective and unbiased investigation into this case. On the one hand, BSO cannot afford to have trigger happy cowboys patrolling its streets. It also can’t afford to have deputies who fail to follow proper police procedure or who make bad decisions in the field when it comes to the use of lethal force. This is especially true when that force is used in a populated public area like a restaurant parking lot. BSO needs to identify the bad cops in its ranks so it can weed them out.
Think of all the innocent bystanders who are placed in danger when a police shoot out ensues…
On the same token, if the shooting was justified, the deputy should be exonerated of any wrong doing. This case may even turn out to be an excellent case study for the proper use of force when training other deputies.
Only the evidence can tell us what is true.
The public also benefits from unbiased and objective analysis of police shootings because we need to be safe! Sometimes police departments forget that they exists for our benefit and not theirs. We are the ones that endow them with the right to carry guns and the right to use deadly force. But we, the public, do so sparingly… when the use of deadly force really is the only option.
That is why the public deserves objective and unbiased investigations into police shootings. Every shooting is an opportunity to improve on police conduct, police procedure, and to perfect the manner in which police protect the public.
Unfortunately, we have a corrupt system. Presently, police departments investigate themselves. This is a COMPLETE conflict of interest and I think it should end.
Think about it like this: if the shooting was in fact illegal, who do you think will be paying the family for the suspect’s death? The same police department that investigated the shooting is the same department that would be liable to the victim’s family.
I believe it is absolutely impossible for a police department to objectively investigate itself without bias. First of all, on an emotional level, there is no doubt that brethren police officers sympathize with each other. Second, the police department has a very strong interest in making sure it doesn’t get sued and if it does, it has a strong defense.
Blaming the victim and covering for the shooting officer is a textbook way to bolster the police department’s defense and shield itself from civil liability.
If police departments were honest and truly sought justice in these types of cases, they would not investigate themselves. Just like a doctor does not treat a family member and just like a lawyer or judge is bound by rules that prevent conflicts of interest, so too police departments should also be bound.
You have to wonder why police departments are happy with the status quo… with the present state of affairs where they get to control who is labeled the criminal and who is labeled the victim…
Once all the information is in, a thorough case analysis by an attorney should be made. After looking at all the available evidence, a lawyer may be able to determine who is responsible. If it is determined that the police acted unlawfully, then the family of the deceased suspect should consider filing a lawsuit against the police department.
Ultimately, more investigation is needed before final conclusions may be drawn. Whether the deputies in question are exonerated or it is shown that they acted unlawfully, I hope justice is served for their sake, for the suspect, and for us, the public.