Another Reason National Data on Police Shootings is More Necessary than Ever

Posted: March 28, 2014 in Crime News, Policing, Research, Violence
Tags: , , , ,
Image courtesy of Simon Howden /

Image courtesy of Simon Howden /

Graphic video was released this week of an officer-involved shooting by officers from the Albuquerque Police Department (APD). The video, which appears to have been taken by a police helmet cam, shows officers at the end of a nearly three-hour standoff with a man who was reportedly mentally ill. After several minutes, the man appears to turn away from the police and is then shot several times in the back.

Release of the video has lead to protests by local citizens concerned that this was an unjustified shooting and an excessive use of force against a vulnerable person.

Video of APD Shooting

According to local reporting, though, the APD police chief held a news conference to defend the officers’ actions:

Chief Eden called the shooting justified at the news conference, saying officers used non-lethal force first and that there was a direct threat made at an unarmed K9 officer. According to Chief Eden, Boyd was less than eight feet from the unarmed canine officer.

“Actually if you watch the video tape, all the less than lethal devices were in fact deployed. It was when the canine officer was down directing the canine dog that the suspect pulled out the two knives and directed a threat to the canine officer who had no weapons drawn. He was handling the dog,” Chief Eden said.

News 13 asked Chief Eden directly, “do you believe this was a justified shooting?”

Chief Eden responded, “Yes, if you follow case law, ‘Garner versus Tennessee’, there was directed threat to an officer.”

The article also notes, however, that at least one of the officers appears to have fired his weapon at the same time as one of the non-lethal options was being deployed.

Whether you feel the shooting was justified or not, this incident is yet another reason to begin gathering data about officer-involved shootings on a national scale.

I’ve written before about the lack of information surrounding police use of deadly force involving firearms, and the fact that the FBI is prohibited in most instances from collecting data on police-involved shootings.

We need to insist on more transparency and accountability on the part of police agencies, and we need to develop more effective ways to  prevent deadly force encounters.

Better data collection would be a good start in that direction.

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  1. Brittius says:

    The data would help identify areas requiring attention regarding the use of deadly physical force. No question about that. Issues are where municipalities settle out of court and have non-disclosure agreements with plaintiffs. Nobody wants to let the cat out of the bag, because once money payments are questioned, it can go anywhere. Politicians and administrators do not desire the attention. A larger issues are, where conflicts exist, due to training v. the real world, and one size, does not fit all situations or geographic areas of policing, at every moment simultaneously.
    Many years ago, it was drilled into our heads that you never touch anyone, unless placing them in handcuffs or helping them onto a gurney, or anything along those lines. A sticking point lately with me, personally, is the handshake stuff. I do not shake hands to begin with, and was raised where it was rote that Julius Caesar was left handed and would shake hands to immobilize a person as Caesar wore a dagger on his left side. A warning to beware. In Sicilian (-American) culture, that is something where your life could be on the line. In police work, I have personally heard from events taking place where a cop was being nice and somebody grabbed for the service revolver. I also had someone make a sudden lunge at me and grabbed my service revolver. I maintain arms length from people. Cops know this. Administrators are trying to make the world a nicer place, and see things differently. It places the cop at a disadvantage, which causes defensive instincts to go into hyper-drive, and who gets lumped up? The civilian. On the streets, you never draw any “red line” without carrying out a proper response to maintain order, and your authority. While some things change as far as techniques, there are certain areas where cops must be brought back to basics.
    It was drilled in, that you do not pull the service revolver unless you intend to use it, and had justification for that use of deadly physical force (NYS Penal Law, Article 35). We were trained to fight with our hands. I carried a slapped jack, it was authorized. I carried a 26″ wood nightstick, it was authorized. S&W Model 10 revolver, it was authorized. What did I rely on? My hands. When did all this change? As attorneys bellyached about cops beating up people, and courts came out with rulings. So things escalated on the streets. Punks. Loudmouths. The 9mm. Everyone, has “rights”.
    How is it, that over the years, I walked a foot post, I drove an RMP, I earned 48 Citations, and had relatively very little issues with people on the streets? Am I a little bit nuts? Probably. I went down to the old command a couple years ago. All new kids. A couple of them talked with me, and we compared notes. They couldn’t believe that we were on the same Job. In the cop DNA/Fabric, the new kids are the same as the old dinosaurs. In fact, they are better educated, and in my opinion, a better quality of policing. Administrators and elected officials, need to understand that in the real world, on the streets, nothing, will be perfect, ever. We walk into this mess with ten fingers, five on each hand. Hopefully when we leave, we still have ten fingers, but not six on one hand, and four on the other. Flowery policy, needs to be tested, and police funerals, or civilian funerals for that matter, are an unacceptable result of going too far into the nice guy realm of policing. Remember, cops avoid people and contact for a reason. People look to hurt cops as a means of revenge or sick desire against a civil society. Aside from this computer, I am asocial. I do not have friends, and I do not talk to anyone, not even my wife. Police work, is not a job. It’s a Calling.


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