Re: Is Law Enforcement Use of Lethal Force Investigated as a Crime
Carl explained that better than I could. But, to continue with his thoughts…yes, a police shooting (whether the person shot dies or not) will be investigated as a POTENTIAL criminal matter and, therefore, the officer is a known POTENTIAL suspect. BUT, the first thing that ANY criminal investigation must determine is whether any crime was, in fact, committed! Not every shooting death, whether the shooter was a cop or anyone else, is a murder or even a crime. I believe that every state in the union has laws allowing for justifiable self-defense, that includes the use of lethal force.
So, yes, a criminal investigation will be immediately commenced. Since it will almost certainly be known that the officer fired the fatal shot(s), the officer will be, by definition, a potential "suspect" in that investigation. However, the person shot is ALSO a potential suspect in that investigation. If the investigation shows that the officer acted in justifiable self-defense or defense of another, the officer's status is better characterized as the VICTIM of the criminal actions that necessitated the self-defense shooting. Only if the investigation shows that the shooting was a criminal act would the officer actually be labeled as a "suspect" in the investigation. A proper investigation has to determine what crime, if any, was committed BEFORE any labels like "suspect" or "victim" can be responsibly applied. In the vast majority of officer involved shootings, the investigation conclusively shows that the officer is the victim of the criminal activity and the deceased is the one that actually committed a criminal offense.
Behind the badge is a person. Behind the person is an ego. This is as it should be, person at the center and ego to the back.