Officer Involved Shooting-Epilogue
I have been honored to represent many LEOs who were involved in deadly force situations. In most of these situations, the perpetrator was killed. Yesterday, I was in court when a suspect entered a guilty plea to several felonies connected with his assaults on two LEOs. The assaults ended when one of the LEOs shot the suspect, saving his partner’s life. I responded to the scene that evening. Now it was time to write the final chapter of the story.
There were several legal reasons for me to be in court yesterday. However, I would have attended the plea irrespective of those reasons. I wanted to see the court finish the prosecution process started by these LEOs on the day that one of my clients nearly lost his life. I knew the LEO who fired his weapon would testify. I also knew that the defendant would testify. I was convinced that the testimony of both men would give me a perspective on the process from two views that could not be further apart. I was not disappointed.
Our brother LEO made us all proud. He showed the court the professional face of law enforcement when he testified about his actions. He also shared his perspective as a victim. He told how this incident affected his family and himself. The court needed to hear this information from both perspectives. That, in my mind, was the second act of bravery by this LEO, and I am thankful that I was there standing with him.
The defendant’s testimony was, quite frankly, predictable. While he claimed to take responsibility for his actions, he also professed to “forgive” the LEO. Appropriately, on cross-examination, the prosecutor asked him if he was forgiving the LEO for shooting him. At that point, the truth came out. He had a pile of reasons why he acted the way he did and why the LEOs were wrong. Fortunately, he will have a significant amount of time in prison to consider his actions.
An epilogue is a short chapter at the end of the story that details the fate of the characters. The fate of the defendant? Jail time, permanent disability and, sadly, some future attempt to file suit against the LEOs and their agency. His suit will likely be dismissed in short order. The fate of the LEOs? They were cleared in both the administrative and criminal investigations. They are all still serving with the same agency and our community is fortunate to have them on the watch keeping us safe.
The LEOs thanked me many times for coming to the scene, helping them through the interviews and coming to court yesterday. It was my honor to do so. I’m fortunate that God gave me the skills and stamina to get through law school so that I can have the privilege to represent the folks who keep us safe. As I tell classes of recruits, “Be professional. Do what is right simply because it is the right thing to do. Do your job then come home at the end of your shift. Let the lawyers handle the details.”