In today’s blog, I’m discussing the procedures used by police departments when a citizen has been shot and killed by a police officer.
After the Shooting
The scene is treated like a homicide scene, and that means that only police officers and detectives will be at the scene. They will not be traipsing around as there might be important evidence at the scene. Instead, crime scene technicians will look for shells and slugs in the area, and also for any weapons that the decedent might have been carrying.
The Police Officer
The officer involved will immediately be placed on administrative leave (with pay). Internal affairs, or IA (these are the cops who police other cops, and they are not that popular with the rest of the department) will be involved.
The Role of Internal Affairs
IA will interview civilians and other officers to determine what caused the shooting — for example, IA will ask if the civilian was aiming/carrying a weapon around the police? If true, IA will ask the officer who did the shooting about the direction that the shots came from (or where the weapon was brandished by the decedent) and in what direction he shot. IA will also question the officer about the identity of others who who were at the scene, in so far as they were part of the assault or merely witnesses.
After these basic questions are asked, the officer remains silent until he or she appears at the IA office for more questioning. This questioning is more formal, as it is usually videotaped, and the officer involved in the shooting may
have an attorney or a representative from the police union.
The Autopsy Report
After all of the witnesses are interviewed, an autopsy report about the victim’s cause and manner of death is released, then the matter is reviewed by a local district attorney (DA) for the issuance of a report about whether or not an officer was right or wrong in taking the actions that he/she did.
The Office of the Independent Monitor
Sometimes people question whether a process like this encourages an impartial investigation. In response, many cities, including Denver, have initiated the Office of the Independent Monitor (which for Denver is a 15-member team) that looks into police misconduct allegations. It is a thankless job because both police and civilians involved in police action think, for different reasons, that the Independent Monitor is not doing its job.
Colorado criminal defense attorney Shaun Kaufman is aggressive in defending those who are accused of assaulting police officers, and Shaun has tried cases involving people charged with that or similar crimes. To contact Shaun Kaufman Law, fill out the contact form on the right of this page or call 303-309-0430
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