This week, a man who police allege was charging police as if he was in possession of a weapon was shot by an officer in the 1500 block of North Main Street in downtown Las Vegas.
The officer had stopped his patrol car in an attempt to intervene and de-escalate the situation, according to Carlos Hank, captain of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. While one of the individuals complied with the officer’s orders, the other
“became aggressive and started to charge at the officer.” The subject then “retrieved an item from his pocket” and held it inside his hand as if it was a weapon, continuing to charge the officer. It was reported that the officer retreated and continued to issue verbal demands, but when the suspect continued the charge, the officer retrieved and discharged his firearm, striking the suspect.
Although this type of fast-paced scenario is difficult to dissect in a moment-by-moment breakdown of events, these are exactly the type of split-second decisions that law enforcement officers are trained to make. Unfortunately, we have seen rampant police misconduct reflected in national media, covering those officers who choose not to work within their legal boundaries.
When is a Police Shooting Considered Police Misconduct?
While police officers need to make these split-second decisions in often very dangerous and volatile circumstances, they are specifically trained to do this. But there are officers who sometimes take the law into their own hands, well outside their rights. Law enforcement officers do not have the right to use excessive force or the unjustified use of a firearm except under certain conditions.
Under Nevada law, a law enforcement officer in Las Vegas may only use deadly force in limited situations. These include
- When necessary in making an arrest
- Stopping a dangerous suspect from fleeing
- Preventing a felon from escaping jail or prison
- Suppressing a riot
- In the immediate defense of life
While the above instance seems to fall into the immediate defense of life model, in order for this defense to apply, the officer must have reasonable grounds to believe that he is facing immediate bodily harm or death. In this particular case, it has still not been determined whether the suspect did indeed have a weapon during the incident.
When Police Investigate Their Own
A victim of a police shooting may file a complaint with the department of the officer and it will be investigated by their review board. During that investigation, the office may be placed on leave pending a hearing. If it is concluded by the board that there was police misconduct involved, the officer may be disciplined or even terminated.
When an officer is not justified in the use of deadly force, and it results in harm or fatality to that suspect, the officer, as well as the department, can also be held liable for damages to the suspect in a civil suit. This can result in the recovery of damages to the suspect or their family.
Pursing Police Misconduct
Unfortunately, police misconduct is difficult to pursue and often goes unpunished. Many officers are not held accountable, and what we get are the ones we have seen in the media who feel they can operate above the law.
If you believe that you or a loved one was the victim of police misconduct, our criminal defense attorneys at LV Criminal Defense may be able to help. Contact us at (702) 623-6362 or our online contact form to schedule a consultation to discuss your case.