On November 30, 2016, the locals District Attorney announced the decision publicly to not charge the officer involved in shooting Keith Lamont Scott in North Carolina. A civil lawsuit against the police department and the officer will follow.
I was on MSNBC with host Hallie Jackson to explain the decision and what police departments can do to mitigate instances of officer-involved shootings (OIS) in the future. Police administrators should ensure that their department has sound policies, procedures, and guidelines for Use of Force. It is the number one hot button topic today and it’s not going anywhere. Internal investigators, the media, and the public will scrutinize officer involved shootings. The court of public opinion is always the most critical.
U.S. Supreme Court Decisions
There are two (2) U.S. Supreme Court decisions that govern all use of force issues with the police:
- Tennessee v. Garner 471 U.S. 1 (1985)
- Graham v. Connor 490 U.S. 386 (1989)
Every police officer, citizen, and journalist should be well versed in what these two decisions have stated. In short, Tennessee v. Garner gave us the “Fleeing Felon Rule,” and Graham v. Connor gave us the “Reasonableness Standard.” Whether we like the decision in most police involved shootings, we need to turn to these decisions to determine if they fit within the law of the land.
Going forward, every police department should be examining their use of force policies and ensure training is conducted within those guidelines. Firearms training should take on a new role in reducing police involved shootings. There are four main training points that must be made every day to officers in the field:
- Take Cover
- Look for Concealment
Like I said in my opening statement, “There is no such thing as a good police shooting, they are either justified or not.”
Here is the complete shooting investigation report from the DA’s Office