Cops have a problem. Sure, they get their fair share — OK, maybe a little more than that — of criticism around here for a lot of conspicuously bad marksmanship. But bitching about it on the ‘net’s biggest gun blog is one thing. As you’d expect TTAG’s frequented by a higher than average number of people who know what they’re doing around firearms. So you’d expect piss poor state-sanctioned shooting to be called out here when it rears its ugly head. But now, it’s not just The People of the Gun who have noticed the stray rounds, questionable decision-making and innocent victims. Conor Friedersdorf at atlantic.com has himself in a lather over it, too . . .

Here’s a recent example that caught his eye:

On a Sunday afternoon, Douglas Zerby, 35, left a Long Beach bar feeling too drunk to drive home, walked to a nearby house, and sat on the stoop. While waiting for his friend to come home, he played with the nozzle from a nearby garden hose. A neighbor, mistaking it for a gun, called police. The officers who arrived on the scene did not announce their presence, identify themselves, or tell the seated man to drop what they believed to be a gun. They did shoot and kill him, later claiming that he pointed the hose nozzle at them. The Long Beach Police Department says they acted reasonably. The district attorney cleared them of criminal wrongdoing. And on Thursday, a federal jury awarded the dead man’s family $6.5 million in a civil suit, concluding after brief deliberations that the officers acted negligently and violated Zerby’s civil rights.

It’s not just that Long Beach shooting that his him worked up. Friedersdorf also notes the free-fire zone that was Los Angeles during the Christopher Dorner manhunt.

So what’s his solution? Kinda like the Thunderdome rules (bust a deal, face the wheel), it’s very straightforward. Shoot an innocent, lose your gun.

Here’s the rule I’d like to see adopted: if you shoot at someone who turns out to be unarmed and innocent of any crime, you never get to work as an armed officer patrolling the streets again.

It’s automatic.

I understand that even good officers can make mistakes. But the best evidence we have of someone’s skill in these impossible-to-simulate situations is how they perform in the rare instances when they happen; it’s important to disincentivized these sorts of errors more given their frequency; and police can’t be trusted to adjudicate them on a case by case basis anyway.

Is that harsh? Proportional? Just desserts? Should cops have their ticket pulled if they plug an unarmed citizen?

113 Responses to Question of the Day: Should Cops Who Shoot Innocents Lose their Guns?

  1. I believe that officers should be given the benefit of the doubt especially when it comes to a highly charged, adrenaline filled situation, but that same benefit should extend to the average civilian as well.

    If the neighbor in the above story shot and killed the man drinking from his garden hose, he’d in up for probably 2nd degree murder and lord knows how much in a civil suit. No?

    Illustrating Chicago’s Murders, Homicides, Violence and Idiocy at heyjackass.com

    • > I believe that officers should be given the benefit of the doubt
      > especially when it comes to a highly charged, adrenaline filled
      > situation, but that same benefit should extend to the average
      > civilian as well.

      Wrong.

      An officer who shoots anybody — innocent or not — should be presumed guilty until proven otherwise for administrative purposes. The burden of proof should be upon the officer that he had a damn good reason to shoot. Otherwise, he should automatically lose his job.

      Any cop who shoots an unarmed person or the wrong person should automatically lose his job.

      I realize that the knee-jerk reaction is “but that violates his right to be innocent until proven guilty”. But “innocent until guilty” is a standard in a court of law, when one’s life, liberty, and/or property is in jeopardy.

      But in an administrative hearing, an officer’s life, liberty, and/or property is not in jeapordy. Only his authority. And he does not have a “right” to that authority — although police officers, police unions, police departments, prosecutors, and judges act as though they do.

      If, as a result of his actions, an officer faces criminal charges, then the normal standard of “innocent until proven guilty” applies. Because then his life, liberty, and/or property is in jeapordy, and he should be afforded the normal constitutional protections that all citizens are entitled to.

        • Makes me wonder how you believe in the US Constitution and yet write this jibberish. So you want a cop to prove his innocence to the prosecution (The State). How can you promote second amendment rights and yet write something so contrary to our Constitution is beyond me.

        • I guess you’re right. After re-reading, what you are saying is not that he should be guilty until innocent in a court of law…he should be guilty until proven innocent in a formal police hearing. This goes beyond my legal comprehension, but if that’s the way it is then I don’t know what to say other than thank goodness I never became a cop….13 years between the Marines and the Army were enough for me…

        • Are you brain dead Alex? There is a HUGE difference between an administrative hearing that determines whether the officer in question keeps his job or not and a criminal charge against that same officer for homicide. He’s talking about administrative law not criminal charges.

        • I guess I must have been “Braindead” p35flash….thanks for the helping me figure it out.

        • Yes — no one has any legal right to a particular job, much less one that comes with qualified immunity to wield violent power.

          Police officers should lose their jobs along with any benefits — including unvested retirement — until they prove that their killing of a civilian was justifiable homicide.

      • I have to disagree, in part.

        I agree with the sentiment, and that the officer must prove the need to shoot.

        But I disagree that it should be automatic loss of job for a couple of reasons.

        First of all, there are people who look armed, but aren’t. Some are innocent victims of circumstance. Some are trying to suicide by cop. It’s a fact.

        Second, I don’t think we want to put LEOs into a position where they’re thinking about their career before thinking about public safety. There’s going to come a point in every large department where someone is incorrectly identified and shot. I don’t want police who’ve been dispatched to my home to protect my family second guessing whether or not to shoot the bad guy because they can’t see 100% whether or not that’s an airsoft gun or real one. What are you going to tell the mother of the kid who gets shot and killed in his living room on the other side of the cop car, or the son of the dead LEO after he hesitated too long because he wasn’t 100%, after several warnings, on the guy pointing what looks like it might be a gun, in the dark, in his direction?

        That isn’t to say there should be no consequences for recklessness or negligence. I just don’t think it should be automatic. In a case like the one mentioned, they didn’t even announce themselves. How can that be anything BUT negligence unless bullets are flying when they get there?

        • ” I don’t want police who’ve been dispatched to my home to protect my family …”

          They’re not dispatched to protect your family.
          They’re dispatched to take a statement afterwards, if there are any survivors.
          Police have no requirement to “protect” you from anything.

        • ” I don’t want police who’ve been dispatched to my home to protect my family second guessing whether or not to shoot the bad guy because they can’t see 100% whether or not that’s an airsoft gun or real one. “:

          Then you better be prepared to bury a member of your family or yourself, because if you allow police to open fire without confirming a threat, you are saying you don’t care if that person they think is armed and dangerous is a actually you talking to 911 on your cell phone.

      • Largely agree, with one caveat: “Unarmed” doesn’t mean “not dangerous”. I would also suggest leinency for shootings in instances of shooting people who are aggressive and are trying to appear armed, even if they are not actually armed.

      • Yeah, gonna have to agree with this. I’ve seen and read too many news reports of suspects having shot themselves in the backs of police cars after searches, unarmed suspects being shot while in bed, and suspects “shot while trying to escape”.
        Police are civilians as well, despite self-styling and rhetoric to the contrary. They are not soldiers in a war zone.
        In my opinion, any shooting investigation that results in a finding that the suspect was unarmed and the officer/deputy/special agent should definitely administratively bear the burden of proof or lose their position involving the use of firearms in a professional capacity.

        • A Police officer takes on a challenging and dangerous job, in effect knowing he is placing his life on the line for other civilians in the name of protecting and serving the community. A Police officer is not a soldier he is in fact a civilian who has chosen to serve his community for compensation. Now follow this line with me. In far too many police precincts around this Nation there is a growing sentiment of Us against them.
          When a Police officer goes to his sidearm first all we shall continue to read about are tragedies of unarmed innocent civilians shot and or killed by police who prefer to be judged by 12 than carried by six.

          There is absolutely no way in hell any Cop in any jurisdiction of this Country be allowed to stay on a s an officer after killing an unarmed innocent civilian. That officer must be held to the same standard of law as any citizen that breaks the law. We are witnessing a rise in Police violence that is unprecedented, and my fear is that Police officers will eventually find bullets coming at them from law abiding citizens protecting themselves from their Violence, ineptitude, poor training, lack of discipline, and yes in many cases racism.

          The hammer must fall on Killer Cops because Douglas Zerby, Kelly Thomas, Kendrick McDade and so many others didn’t deserve to die by the hands of violent cops.

  2. In a word, yes.

    What would happen to me if I did that? I’d lose more than my job, I’d lose my freedom.

  3. Let me see, if an average citizen commits a negligent homicide, that person is going to be facing a litany of felony charges that will spell a certain guarantee of losing much more than 2A rights. Legal fees, humiliation and prison time are all on the menu. Tell me one more time how the people that are supposed to enforce the law are above it? Yeah, that is where I get confused. I’m not badge bashing, just demanding equal scrutiny.

    • +1 – one set of rules for EVERYONE. They are not somehow “higher-class citizens” who deserve more leniency or rights than us.

      • I disagree. Part of a police officer’s job is to intervene in the dangerous situations that a prudent civilian would avoid. They generally don’t have all the facts when they walk into those situations. They have to ask themselves a lot of questions as they develop awareness of the situation: Did the 911 caller tell the truth? Did he exaggerate to bring a quicker police response? Is an apparent domestic violence call a simple (if noisy) spat between a boyfriend and girlfriend, or was it actually a rape or murder in progress?

        As such, police will requently face dangerous, ambiguous situations and need to make split-second decisions. This suggests that they may need more leeway than a normal civilian, who is expected to avoid such conflicts.

        Despite that, I agree that police officers who inadvertently shoot someone they shouldn’t have should be assigned to less hazardous jobs. The bureaucracy of any city, county, or state will have many other positions that a trained peace officer could productively occupy.

        After the officer completes extensive retraining, he might again be considered eligible for work on the streets.

        • Let’s play a game. You and I are on our merry way out to a bar for a couple of pints and a few jokes. We turn a corner and see a man back-lit by a street lamp with his right hand held behind his back in a manner that would suggest he is hiding something from us. We are both sober at this time, so our judgement is not clouded by drink, and we are both licensed carriers. The shadow figure before us moves quickly and we quickly draw our weapons and dispatch the threat only to discover that he was holding nothing more threatening than his lunch box.
          Since we are both licensed carriers, is there a problem here? Umm, yes. If the officers in this 2+ year old story are so paranoid, then those folks have no use for the uniforms as they are clearly unfit for service. Cops are not supposed to be gun-slinging superheroes. Their job is to uphold the laws that are in place and protect the public at large. When officers fail to do that, then at the very least those officers should be subjected to disciplinary action. When those same officers fail to identify themselves and fire off 12 shots into an unarmed man without provocation (that is the problem here), then those cops should be held criminally liable. Of course gross negligence can be mentioned here, as the guy was killed.
          Explain to me and everyone here in simple terms why police officers are better than the rest of society and need to be treated as such. Explain to me why there was a push in California in the 1990’s to exempt law enforcement from domestic violence charges. Tell me again the little myth about how those thugs who raped ( a very pregnant) Clauida Diaz kept their badges. Tell me again why I should have such reverence for those who supposed to serve the public when in fact they are the single most self serving group in our borders today.
          You can not. Why? Because the laws that the rest of us are subject (Yes, SUBJECT) to should be applied to the same ones who are employed to enforce them.
          Spitting blood now…need scotch.

  4. depends on the situation, but in this one they should get the same penalty as a gang member who goes up to someone on a porch and shoots them. Even if he did have a gun, that is not reasonable suspicion of a crime.

  5. That’s a hard one. In the dark, I can believe that some water nozzles look like small guns. If they had told him to “drop it”…and it had been a gun…he could have gotten the first shot off. Or, if they had yelled “drop it” and, being drunk, he had turned and said, “Huh?” with the “gun” in his hand…

    I’m not defending the police here…just saying I can see circumstances where this could have been a rightous shooting. There are many, many expamles that are NOT rightous to use as an example. Like the guy at Costco in Vegas a couple of years ago. That was SO not a rightous shooting. In that case, yes, the officers should be banned from LEO work forever after that debacle.

    But…who decides. That’s the key issue. It has to be taken out of the hands of the local DA’s, because they will always lean toward protecting the local LEO’s.

    • Even if he had a gun, having a gun on a porch is not evidence that a crime is about to be committed. The tipster has no idea if he lawfully owns that weapon or is permitted to carry it, nor do the police.

      • Agreed. I didn’t mean to suggest the cops should shoot first in the dark without anouncing themselves…but I did…

        • Reread the quote. It starts off “On a Sunday afternoon…” It was broad daylight.

    • that is complete bullcrap. because the police were informed about him having a gun before they rolled up on him. if they had been approaching a guy at random and saw a “pistol shaped object” your point would have merit, debatable merit though. But in this instance you’re saying they can be told someone has a gun, walk up to him and then shoot based on being surprised he had a gun. if they were responding to a call of “man with a gun” they can’t claim a heat of the moment defense, they should roll up on him taking a defensive posture and call out on their loudspeaker for him to drop it.

      • Isn’t that why LEOs carry those blinding flashlights they have with the option of flashing in your face?
        I have a similar flashlight to check on my dogs late at night, pitch black, 60 x 80′ fenced back yard, to see if their extreme interest in back corner is due to a pissed off raccoon, about to go all out nuclear on them.
        Shoot first, ask questions later, is no excuse for ever nailing someone. Disturbing trend, shots fired at folks holding cell phones, household items etc. by LEOs

      • I guess I wasn’t clear enough. I wasn’t refering to this specific case. I was saying I could see where in different circumstances, a water nozzle “could” look like a gun. And if a drunk turns towards a cop as if he’s bringing the “gun” to bear, AFTER the cops announce themselves, then it would be a justified shooting.

        My apologies for the confusion…

  6. I’m not sure I agree with this. While there should certainly be harsh penalties, all this would do is put one more thing in an officer’s mind that could make him hesitate when the person he is about to fire on is NOT innocent and unarmed. Maybe if, and only if, it is proven beyond reasonable doubt that the officer acted improperly or in a reckless manner, but not in the case of an officer that does things right and everything still goes wrong (It happens).

    If it happened in every case, Reginald VelJohnson wouldn’t have been there to help Bruce Willis make it out of Nakatomi Tower.

    • The script would have gone back for a rewrite, and we’d still have a donut monster as the side kick. You really think Hollywood reflects reality?

    • Chris, I’m going to take a wild guess and say that over the past decade cops have shot more innocent people than they have guilty people.

      As the old saying goes, it’s better to let 100 guilty men go free than to convict one innocent man. In the same vein, it’s better for 100 cops (who are being paid to take the risk, remember) to get injured than it is for the cops to murder one innocent person.

      It’s your very coddling of police and saying “They shouldn’t face consequences, they have a tough job” that lead to the current “Shoot first, ask questions never” mentality among the police.

      • And you are basing that wild guess on what? Because I would wildly guess that the exact opposite is true.

        • News reports. It’s sickening how many times every week we get the “Opps, we just shot an innocent person (or multiple innocent people) – our bad! LOL!” and then the department gives them medals for “bravery” for shooting an unarmed person or, if there’s enough public outcry, the officer gets “punished” with a two week vacation.

  7. I think there needs to be some level of legal insulation for the police to handle situations that are obvious threats / justifiable shootings. This would include things like high speed chases, perps shooting back, etc. where there is no doubt that the violence is initiated by someone other than them.

    However, in cases where it’s found that the police shoot first and the “suspect” is very clearly unarmed (such as the case above, the paper delivery ladies in CA, etc.) then they should be punished just like any other civilian would be had they done the same thing.

    • Except, in the cases like those above, the police internal investigations (and the DA) find the officers acted reasonably…with amazing regularity. The thin blue line, standing up for their own.

      The victims’ families collect (from the taxpayers) via civil suits, but Officer Shootzalot is still out there on the streets in his patrol car. No skin off his nose. Just another potential accident waiting to happen. Again.

  8. Sounds fair to me, and even if it’s an honest mistake they don’t lose their employment. They can just do one of the many other jobs an officer can do.

  9. It’s very simple every case goes to a grand jury. If you’re indicted, you loose your job as a cop. If convicted, permanently. If a group of average people thing that there is reason to believe a cop acted illegally, they should not be a cop.

    • Then why does it almost NEVER happen? I can’t remember the last time a cop received any type of discipline for these “accidental shootings. In most cases, it is the victim, if they survive, that gets dragged through the system.

  10. We should be stricter on cops then we are now, and less strict on citizens, striving towards the end game of both having the same set of standards regarding use of deadly force.

    Will it ever happen? Of course not… the government is far too interested in protecting their own and doing everything they can to discourage citizen firearm ownership.

  11. It seems a fair proposal to me. It’s not like they are fired – just that they can’t carry a weapon anymore.

  12. The same rules should apply to the police as apply to civilians. The police do not deserve special dispensation to injure the innocent. We should not have royalty here in the US.

    • Rob, I touched on this in a recent post. Law enforcement has different laws from everyone else — that means a law enforcement officer has a title of nobility. However our U.S. Constitution forbids titles of nobility.

      I am wondering if we can use this distinction as the basis for a slew of lawsuits to eliminate the disparity.

  13. Did any of you bother to read the article? All these what if’s and blah blah blah.

    The police officers:

    Did not identify themselves!

    Did not tell him to drop the weapon (hose nozzle)!

    They just drove up, got out, and shot him dead.

    Simple….. immediate termination, face all the legal consequences that ANYONE should face for committing an unjustified homicide.

  14. The first money paid in such a suit should come from the officer(s) involved. When they are walking arround in pants made from newspaper, sleeping under park benches, we would have a good start. Second, strip them of their badge. No ifs ands, or buts.
    I’d also go for tattooing bad cop no donut on their faces, and sticking them in general population. If we start punishing them, the trigger happy kooks will go elsewhere.
    Police are PAID to be in the line of fire. The risk is part of the job.
    In this case, the DA who declined the charges whould be the second one made a pauper before any tax dollars or insurance money are handed over.

  15. > And on Thursday, a federal jury awarded the dead man’s family
    > $6.5 million in a civil suit,

    So that’s what a human life is worth.

    • I don’t think they are attempting to define the value of a human life, who could do such a thing, but if the PD is hit hard enough financially, they will start to adopt more stringent training and SOPs. At least be would hope.

  16. Here in San Jose, CA, the police are leaving in droves for many political / financial reasons, so the city is lowering its hiring requirements. When new recruits (less qualified recruits, or any officers really) are faced with the stressful situation that is law enforcement, well, they are signing on to this, they are not forced to take the job, so they should be held to the same level of scrutiny if they F up, they should be tried as if a civilian with no law enforcment background.

    If we in this country are not allowed to protect ourselves with firearms (our sherrif only gives CCW to people that donate huge sums of cash to her reelection) , and are forced to only rely on police, then they should be held to the highest of standards, they should be anyways, they chose the stressful and difficult career.

  17. Let me just say that after more than 13 years of living overseas (in italy), I know what happens to cops if they are treated equally as private citizens and are not covered by some kind of reasonable protection against mistakenly killing someone. Bascially, they dont show up when you need them. Some of you may say that’s already what happens, but I can assure you that overseas most cops make darn sure they arrive after the fact. Is that the direction we want to go in? What do the numbers really look like? How many people are actually killed in cases such as this? Do we want to make regulations based on numbers that don’t warrant change? Sounds familiar right….well that’s because I don’t want people making legislation on “assault rifles” based on the insignificant number of homicides they cause. Well…I don’t want legislation made on cops for the insignificant number of accidental homicides they may cause. After all, (and no amount of money will bring a loved one back) they did get 6.5 million in the civil lawsuit.

      • I’m not saying that at all. By the same token then, should you kill someone in your car one day….a biker lets say. You hit him and he dies. Should you have your license revoked for life? You may say yes….but I certainly don’t think that you should be jailed and having your license revoked for life is in my belief extreme. If it was a legitimate mistake and adjudicated such in a court of law (with innocence presumed) you should pay for your crime (which in these types of cases is calculated in monitary terms) and move on. You may not agree with that…but that’s the way our system works.

        • Al, its not negligent. the officers intended to shoot him. Its MURDER just like if it had been gang bangers in a driveby. As for the cyclist, depending on hte circumstances, yes, you could and would go to jail. Same if you hit a car, or cause another vehicle to take evasive action resulting in a crash and death.

        • The article says that the police never identified themselves, did not call on him to put it down, just shot him dead. The officers, Victor Ortiz and Jeffrey Shurtleff have been ordered to pay $5000 each. They should pay more. Chances are they won’t pay a dime.

      • Yep.. that’s exactly what he said to the T.. you nailed it..

        Reminder, reporting source has bias too, we were not there and do not have the entire picture (never will)

        Should police shootings receive harsh scrutiny, yes!
        Should officers who act in negligence be penalized, yes!
        Is there such thing as a no win scenario, damn straight there is! This sounds like one of them to me. I wasn’t there, don’t have the facts and reports so I cannot fairly make a call. But what has happened is someone ended up dead unjustly, the officers have to live with that. 6.5M to the family that won’t bring back a loved one, and the tax payers pay the fee.. in short EVERYONE loses. The cops, the citizens, the family, everyone.

        I caution everyone to remember that the reporting source has as much bias as the next guy. Many sides to the story, many vantage points, and this is just one

    • Simple, if they don’t do their job, fire them. Being a government employee should give no more protection than being a clerk at the Quiki Mart.

      • Well that’s a slippery slope…do you really want to make a law to penalize an officer for not being there on time. A law that already exists in the books? That’s basically what some of these anti-gun legislators are doing with some of the “new” laws they’re making.

  18. In Georgia, the same rules apply to law enforcement that apply to armed citizens:

    There are 3 code sections that govern when lethal or deadly force may lawfully be used.

    Defense from a forcible felony; A person is justified in using threats or force to the degree they reasonably believe it is necessary to stop another person’s imminent use of unlawful force. A person is justified in using deadly force which may harm or kill only if he or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent death or great bodily injury to himself or herself or a third person or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony (unless it is regarding defense of habitation, which has its own requirements below). You are not justified if you were the aggressor or you are/were/on-the-way-to committing a felony. (The state has pre-empted local cities and counties from further restricting this defense.)(16-3-21)

    Defense of habitation; (here habitation means dwelling, motor vehicle, or place of business) A person is justified in the use of force which is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm only if any one of the following is met:

    A person is breaking\has broken into your home in a violent and tumultuous manner, and you think that the intruder is going to assault you or someone else living there.
    A person who is not a member of the family or household and who unlawfully and forcibly enters the residence and you know it is an unlawful entry.
    The person using such force reasonably believes that the entry is made or attempted for the purpose of committing a felony therein and that such force is necessary to prevent the commission of the felony.
    (16-3-23)

    Defense of property other than habitation; Lethal force cannot be used to protect real property unless the person using such force reasonably believes that it is necessary to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.(16-3-24)

    (Stand Your Ground/Shoot First/License To Murder – went into effect July 1st, 2006) If you have determined you need to use lethal force (as stated in one of the underlined “Defense” sections immediately above) you do not have to try to retreat before using that force. If your defense is valid, you are immune from criminal prosecution (unless it is illegal to carry that weapon where you used it) and civil liability actions.(16-3-23.1, 16-3-24.2, 51-11-9)

  19. The devil is, of course, in the details. For example, if a “suicide by cop” turns out to be carrying an Airsoft?

      • No.

        I’m saying that if a suicide by cop occurs (and they do) and the gun turns out to be a convincing fake then does one penalize the cop?

        Let’s be clear in that I’m proposing this as a hypothetical.

        • No. If the officer was faced with a credible threat, they shouldn’t be penalized. That’s not what happened in this instance, tho.

  20. All citizens ought to have the same protections under the law no matter if they have a badge or not. Being a police officer is a job like any other such as working at a gas station or fast food joint.

    It’s a job not a status and some would do well to remember this.

  21. IMO, the same standard of scrutiny should apply to LE as it does for ordinary folk. If a cop shot someone in self defense, they should have to appear before a grand jury just like anyone else. The trouble with “internal reviews” is that there’s a risk of bias, and not necessarily in favor of the officer.For every case of a dirty shoot cleared by a corrupt police review, ill wager there’s two events of a cop doing the right thing who get put through an unjust wringer because of department politics. That’s not only bad for the sake of justice, but the next time an offender starts a fight an officer might not take a shot he needs to-what if the review board sides with the crook for political reasons?

    Set policy so that officers and citizens alike have the same scrutiny. A grand jury ain’t perfect, but this way patrol officers can take action without worry of being a political target, and citizens can rest assured no department corruption is taking place.

    • We had a shooting a couple years ago in Topeka where some off duty cops shot and wounded the Llamas brothers. The cops were drunk, and on the Llamas private property. The Llamas brothers have a reputation as being dirt bags, and they’ve earned it. The Police, the DA, and a special investigator whitewashed it. Those officers should be in jail, on remand, not on the streets of The United States.

      • Without seeing the case specifics, I can’t offer agreement or disagreement to your comment.

        That being said, I believe the Grand Jury-for-all approach alleviates another problem officers face after a defensive incident. Say an internal board does its due diligence and rightly clears an officer. Thanks to his corrupt forebears, no one will trust the verdict. Lets assume for a moment the officers in the Llama incident were justified; it wouldn’t matter, because people would still think “BS, they’re guilty as sin and the governments burying it.” Decisions made behind closed doors tend to have that stigma.

        A public Grand Jury serves as final notice of guilt or innocence.If a Grand Jury cleared the Topeka officers , those same cops could go back to work without the cloud of suspicion hanging over them. It also gives the media less room to play fast and loose with the story.

        • Only problem I have with this approach is…the local DA runs the grand juries and can make the evidence favor the police by selecting who to call. Maybe police shootings should automatically go to a federal grand jury??? Don’t know what the answer is to that…but it’s clear that leaving the investigation to local anybody taints the case.

        • The Topeka case never made it to a grand jury. it went to a special prosecutor who entered a report less the ntwo days after receiving the mountains of data. There wasn’t time to read it all. She was hand picked from the office in Kansas City that handled matters for the Topeka chief when he was in KCK.
          The Llamas are not loved in Topeka. Its a tough issue to call which is worse, but a lot of people feel that with the Llamas, there are only two vs quite a few too many on the TPD.
          TPD also had a case a few years back where their Street Crime Action Team raided a place with out a propper warrant or anouncing their presence. No knock claiming the guy was selling. The guy was on the phone with 911 crying for help as they charged in. he shot the first officer through the door dead. Jury took only a few hours to aquit on ALL charges iirc.

  22. If anybody shoots any body and they didn’t have it coming, that means that means positive identification of the threat did not occur. I have no sympathy. Adrenaline, high stress situation my arse. Train harder. Authority demands responsibility. Mistakes of lethal force are unacceptable and should be regarded as manslaughter at best.

  23. Sue the neighbor. That’s who started the whole thing. Once someone calls GUN, the police must assume it is true. Trigger happy police in Long Beach, certainly. But I take the neighbor calling GUN in the same way as calling FIRE in a theater. It’s the neighbor that let the dogs loose.

    • This happened in California. It’s illegal to have an uncased gun in the cities here and most everywhere else. If the neighbers saw a strange man sitting on someone’s porch at night playing with what looked like a gun they would have been justified in calling the cops.

      As for the cops killing the man. All citizens, cops included, should be subject to the same rules when it comes to guns. I like the grand jury idea.

  24. Only in cases of extreme negligence or gross stupidity. Case in point the two NYPD offers that went spray and pray at the Empire State Building and the entire LAPD.

    Yeah I don’t have any patience for those clowns in LA.

  25. Who watches the watchers?

    Quote: “They did shoot and kill him, later claiming that he pointed the hose nozzle at them. The Long Beach Police Department says they acted reasonably. The district attorney cleared them of criminal wrongdoing.”

    There is clearly not enough police oversight if this is the conclusion reached by both the department and the DA’s office. Officers work closely with the District Attorney to get convictions. This presents a conflict of interest anytime an officer needs be investigated for professional misconduct. As much as I loathe the idea of creating yet another government office, there needs to be an impartial committee capable of objective evaluation and investigation in circumstances like this. If the department’s Internal Affairs function can’t fill that role, then… well, what’s the point of Internal Affairs anyway?

    Every time something like this happens, every peace officer in every precinct across the nation should be made to pass an 8-hour threat identification course. Use the same approach the military uses.

      • Death by firng squad. For the officers, and for the DA who white washed it. Compose the squad from the same division as the officers who murdered Doug Zerby. Film it with high speed cameras, then follow up by exeuting every officer who did not shoot the rouge cops.
        Make the police police their own.
        When I was stationed in Germany, a GI got run down in a cross walk by a Polezi. German cops have total immunity. The cop who killed this soldier “somehow” died of a massive heart attack at the scene of the accident. His fellow officers disciplined him for his inattentive driving. I wish our police had that kind of integrity.

  26. I’m ok with that proposal. There has to be some penalty for the actual officers to encourage more discretion. This seems an OK one.

    In every law enforcement situation, there is a balance struck between “officer safety” and the safety of the suspect and the general public. My personal view is that the pendulum has swung WAY too far towards “officer safety” trumping everything else. SWAT teams are sent to serve warrants where there is no evidence suggesting that kind of force is necessary.

    Here is another example I am aware of: Alexandria, VA cops are investigating an optometrist because he made some football bets with an undercover cop. Do they call his office and ask him to turn himself in? No – they send the SWAT, who accidentally shoot and kill Dr. Culosi. The City had to pay the family $2 million.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/18/AR2011011805125.html

  27. Seems fair enough to me, reckless officers are a threat to the financial health of their political entity and should probably be directing traffic or fired if they can’t be trusted to control their guns.

    Short of that, removing immunities from civil or criminal prosecution would also be good, but then immunities should be removed from the justice-industrial complex in general. One law for all.

  28. Let us put this question in the context of system that has accountability for the use and misuse of firearms.

    Had the two NYPD patrolman who wound 9 bystanders in the Empire State Building shooting been Military Policeman they would been charged with breach of peace, assault with a deadly weapon and at least malicious wounding. The company commander and the platoon leader would have been relieved and the entire company would go into a stand down for retraining.

    So to the answer the question of the day not only should a cop who makes an egregious mistake with gun lose the privilege of having one, he should go prosecuted to the full extant of the law.

  29. Cops should be held to the same standards as regular citizens, or to a higher sandard since they are “highly” trained.

  30. They should have their firearms taken away and charged with murder until proven innocent, just like us civilians are. Enough with this special treatment.

  31. I don’t believe the “dead eye dicks” should just get a free pass. If they used really poor judgement they should be terminated though & face the same criminal charges we would. I don’t hear the bradys complaining about bad aim cops, I guess there’s a huge difference between being shot by one of them & a regular citizen, Randy

  32. The cop in this story should have been charged with murder.

    The jury sided with the family, clearly the officer with negligent, this should be the stepping stone to murder charges.

    Murdered. There is no other word for it. Period.

    He walked up on a dude and shot in him in cold blood without ever announcing himself or even verifying if the guy was the owner of the property or if the supposed gun was legally his to have on his persons.

    Murder.

    One more time.

    Murder.

  33. If I shoot someone I shouldn’t shoot, I go to prison for a long time. I lose my liberty. That’s fair. But if a cop kills someone he shouldn’t kill, he loses his gun????? What a crock of sh1t.

    I’m beginning to think that the only reason that cities don’t treat cops as equals under law is that, if the cities did, the jails would be full of cops.

  34. In a word…No. Police have the same rights to self defense that citizens do. Police are called into situations which can result in a shooting, citizens wander into them randomly. Every situation is different, you can’t monday morning quarterback what someone saw/heard/felt/smelled at the time a shooting occurs. Everything looks alot clearer and cut and dry after the fact, not while it’s happening. There can’t be a blanket rule…does that mean there should be no consequence…? NO, but it means that there can be no absolutes.
    If you’re involved in a vehicle accident that costs someones life, should everyone loose thier license? Every surgeon in America that has had someone die on the table should never operate again? Cmon…be real.

  35. Should be an automatic trial by jury same as the rest of us. That Uniform does not put you in a different class of people. You knew the job was dangerous and had its drawbacks when you took it, if you can’t handle them you need to find another job.

  36. In the case cited above, the police did not identify themselves or all upon the man to drop it. The police fired too quickly. Based on that and the man’s death I would support taking their badges away. Of course the investigation cleared the police; it’s called double standards under the law. If the shooter was you or me we would be in prison.

  37. When police act they are agents of the state. The state ALWAYS has the full burden of proof when they deprive a CITIZEN of rights. The right to live is the highest of these rights. The citizen employed as a cop may have the right to presumed innocence, but the citizen does not have a right to be a cop nor does the position of a cop have the right to presumed innocence. I see nothing wrong legally with a cop found to be negligent in a homicide being barred from future employment by the state even if the level of negligence fell below the level of criminal manslaughter. A cop’s job security isn’t worth more than human life, and cops that disagree tend to be the same ones calling all non-LEO’s turds.

  38. Cops should always be held accountable, but judged by the perception of what a reasonable and trained person would have done under similar circumstances. Shooting the Toytota Tacoma pickup in LA with the ladies delivering newspapers – clearly the wrong vehicle – merits termination. On the other hand, cell phone guns are out there, BB guns have killed people, and super soakers can be filled with gasoline. If you doubt me, use a little google-fu. Police encounter a whole lot of weird sh!t.

    Similarly, a civilian / non LEO shooting should also be innocent until proven guilty, or at least heavily dependent upon the reasonable perception of a responsible individual in the same circumstances, and the investigators on scene.

    • It doesn’t merit mere termination it merits a jail sentence, for what those two LAPD officers did to those ladies.

    • @Accur81, what you wrote makes sense, but — and this is a big but — cops are supposed to be trained. Their observations are given great credence in court. Non-cops are not trained, and their observations are less highly regarded. That being the case, shouldn’t cops be held to a HIGHER standard, rather than a lower one?

  39. Police should be held to the same standards as anyone else when they discharge their firearm. Being Pro-RKBA means everyone, including the Government, live and die by the same rules. No one should be outside the law nor get a free pass.

    An “Regular Joe” shoots and kills someone by mistake, he is charged with Manslaughter, not to mention loses his Gun Rights. A Cop does the same thing, he should receive the same punishment.

    Everyone should be able to carry a firearm and use it to protect themselves and others from deadly force. But when an innocent is harmed and/or killed, I don’t care who it is, they should be held accountable.

    Creating two classes of people only causes oppersion.

  40. The police don’t have any civil rights offered to them by the Constitution that I do not. They most certainly do not have the right to kill people “just ’cause (it’s safer.”)

    If, god forfend, I or a friend, spouse, neighbor ended up in a use of force situation we face the possibility of ending up like George Zimmerman. Police on the other hand, not with nearly the frequency that shitty movies and TV would have you believe, face these situations more often than any civilian I know. LEOs do this with the benefit of training and often foreknowledge of their own peril. So they should be held to more, not less stringent standards and punishments than the average civilian.

    That’s just good common sense. As a result of this reasoning I wouldn’t object to a law stating that the firearm of a police officer was to be revoked after an unjustified shooting. I would even go so far as to say that judicial review panels and criminal courts not be the only criteria which matter in these cases that should the state or municipality be found liable for damages in civil court then the officer responsible for the charges being brought should lose their firearm.
    The important thing to me would be that this law apply to the officer only as relates to their duties as a LEO. Meaning while in uniform they’re unarmed. It would not be acceptable to deprive them of their god-given civil rights without a criminal conviction after all.

    I personally may be a harsh guy from a disciplinary stand point but I’m not a dick, and I’m certainly not as infantile and puerile as a gun-grabber with regards to law and logic.

  41. Today, police are rarely sanctioned for negligent killings. Really — when was the last time that you heard of an ex-police office going to jail for an on-the-job shooting? When was the last time that one lost his job?

    The combination of civil service protections, union contracts and an “us vs. them” mentality on the part the law enforcement community — which includes prosecutors and judges — means that only the most egregiously heinous behavior will result in any serious discipline. The comments here are further proof that most Americans are so “low information” that they happily give the police a license to kill whomever they choose.

  42. Remember, NY cops have those ridiculously stupid heavy trigger springs in their pistols. The fact that they can’t hit a barn door with their most important 1st shot, has got to create anxiety when they have to pull their Glocks. Political correctness, muck muck muck.

  43. We already have too many jurisdictions where the police are apparently free to summarily execute anyone they see in posession of a firearm, with no warning, no notice, and no consequences, regardless of the US Constitution’s provision that the “…right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

    I can think of no greater infringement that a government official able to murder an individual at will for exercising that Right. Can you?

  44. I think we should stop the Monday morning quarterbacking of our police officers immediately. Since Ronald Reagan started emptying out the nations mental institutions 30 years ago the streets get more dangerous by the day. He may have been right about reducing the burden of these kind of operations to the state and local coffers in order to reel in massive federal spending. Anyway the loss of jobs and a sower economy facing returning GIs hasn’t helped either. The number of police is being cut too. This only dumps a heavier burden on the police force members still working. Your ilk wants to whine and gripe at every little thing like we are still on the grade school playground. Take a break and grow up. If you don’t want to leave the police alone then shut your big stupid mouths when we are forced to buy guns and protect ourselves.

  45. No one forst anyone to work in the enforsment.an it is saposed to be acomendible profesion.a one who CHOOSES to become an officer,MUST hold there self to the standerd.. an lead by egsample…. thay must be held aconteble,an the penelty for violating that trust MUST be verry harsh. At least three times the penilty then if a civlion. There is no ecs

  46. To those that use this forum just to bash the police, try this. Ride along with one of us in the worst areas of a large city for a week and see what goes on. It can be like living in a whole different world where logic does not exist. Maybe you will stop the bashing us so much. Now, if a police officer is negligent then he or she should be held accountable to the full extent of the law. Keep in mind that we have to make decisions in a matter of seconds and heaven help us if we are wrong. We could lose our freedom and our families. Our families could go from being secure to being broke in a mader of seconds based on a bad decision. We only get two choices in any encounter and one of them is always the wrong one.

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