Law enforcement agencies say that domestic violence calls are among the most risky jobs they deal with. Officers are aware of this fact and are prepared to deal with the worst when responding to domestic violence incidents. Unfortunately, the way police officers handle these potentially dangerous incidents can result in unnecessary casualties.
Consider, for example, a case last week near San Antonio in which sheriff’s deputies shot an unarmed man within seconds of him raising his hands to surrender. The man was reportedly shot in the front yard of a home in Bexar County where a woman was bleeding from her head and holding a baby who was suspected to have been injured as well. According to policy, the man refused to be subdued by tasers and riot shields.
The circumstances that prompted the fatal shooting have not been made public yet, as the sheriff’s department is conducting an investigation. There is a video recording of the incident, but the footage is frozen after the man raises his hands in surrender. In the audio, several seconds pass before two shots are fired. It is possible that officers in the case acted appropriate, of course, but the concern is that the shooting may have been out of proportion to the threat. As readers know, police departments all over the country are under increased scrutiny on this issue.
The outcome of domestic violence investigations can be uncertain not only for officers, but also for those accused of domestic violence. When officers investigate such incidents, they aren’t always able to get all the information they need to make a proper judgment about what occurred and how to best diffuse the situation. This is especially the case when the accused has a mental illness or some other special need.
In our next post, we’ll pick back up on the topic and speak about the importance of working with an experienced criminal defense attorney when facing domestic violence charges.