The use of deadly force by police officers is a very important subject in today’s society. Many consider the use of deadly force excessive in most cases. However, there are many aspects to look at when considering this topic, such as: Why was deadly force required? When did the officer feel it necessary to apply deadly force? What will be the implications for the officer after the fact? How does the use of deadly force affect society as a whole?
In order to get all of the answers to these questions, we must first define deadly force. According to the Legal Dictionary "Use of deadly force" is often granted to police forces when the person or persons in question are believed to be an immediate danger to people around them. For example, an armed man in a shopping mall shooting at civilians without regard to the safety of anyone around him, and refusing or being unwilling to negotiate, would warrant usage of deadly force, as a means to prevent further danger to the community. The use of deadly force is also authorized when a person poses a significant threat to a law enforcement officer, usually when the officer is at risk of serious bodily injury or death.
The OLR Research Report gives in detail what procedures Connecticut law requires when a law enforcement officer uses deadly force. In the summary, it states that “the statutory standards allow an officer to use deadly physical force when the officer reasonably believes it is necessary to (1) defend himself or herself or a third person from the use or imminent use of deadly physical force or (2) arrest or prevent the escape of someone the officer reasonably believes has committed or attempted to commit a felony involving the infliction or threat of serious physical injury and, if feasible, the officer has given warning of his or her intent to use deadly physical force.” There are also Constitutional requirements for using deadly force. The United States Supreme Court has ruled that the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits the use of deadly force to effect an arrest or prevent the escape of a suspect unless the police officer reasonably believes that the suspect committed or attempted to commit crimes involving the infliction or threatened infliction of serious physical injury and a warning of the intent to use deadly physical force was given, whenever feasible (Tennessee v. Garner,471 U.S. 1 (1985)).
Now that we have established what deadly force is and what the law states, let’s move on to the investigation that ensues after the fact. Let’s look into how the investigative process works for this type of incident and how the public views the use of deadly force. The FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin outlines six investigative elements in a case of deadly force; The Investigators, The Crime Scene, The Involved Officers, The Civilian Witnesses, The Criminal Justice Authorities and The Media. All of these play a pivotal role in deciphering a particular case of deadly...