A man was fatally shot by a police officer in Santa Cruz after the suspect allegedly attacked the cop with a rake around 3:30 a.m. Sunday, ABC 7 reports.
The officers were responding to a disturbance call early Sunday morning after a person reported that a man was pounding on his door. When officers arrived, the man was making threatening screams to the public stating that he was “wanted to kill everyone.”
The suspect was found in the backyard when officers arrived. When the man noticed the cops, he went after them with a metal rake. When officers demanded he put down the rake, the suspect refused and continued attacking them. The officers used a taser, but it was completely ineffective.
As the man continued to attack one of the cops, the officer shot at him. Officers administered first aid to the suspect until the emergency crew arrived, however, he was pronounced dead at the scene.
According to KSBW, Police Chief Kevin Vogel told reporters that the incident may have stemmed from a burglary, but further details have not yet been released.
The department has agreed to allow the District Attorney’s Office to lead the investigation, however, the Santa Cruz Police Department will also conduct its own investigation.
The department policy requires the officer to be placed on administrative leave until the investigation has been completed.
The suspect’s name has not yet been released, but we know that he was 32 years old.
According to Legal Dictionary, back in the 12th century, Common Law allowed officers to use deadly force and kill a felony suspect regardless of the circumstances. However, more recently, the courts have limited the use of deadly force to only dangerous situations. The Supreme Court has ruled that an officer can use deadly force if the suspect is resisting arrest and is a “reasonable” decision.
In order for deadly force to be constitutional, officers must first determine that there is, in fact, no other action that could possibly work. When deadly force is considered, officers must determine what threat the suspect poses, the severity of the defense, as well as the suspect’s attempts to flee or resist arrest.
The Fourth Amendment, however, does violate an officer’s right to use deadly force on a suspect who is unarmed and nonviolent, according to Justice Byron R. White.
“We conclude that such force may not be used unless it is necessary to prevent the escape and the officer has probable cause to believe that the suspect poses a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others.”
Deadly force used by a citizen versus deadly force used by a police officer is different by law. When a citizen uses deadly force, the reasonableness rule doesn’t apply. What exactly does that mean? According to Legal Dictionary, the citizen has to prove that the suspect was threatening bodily harm or death, and must also prove that a felony was attempting to be committed or has been committed.
While it is unknown the exact circumstances resulting in the disturbance call and the police-involved shooting that caused the death of the suspect, the officers in this situation may not have had any other choice but to use deadly force.
As citizens throughout the United States are up in arms about officer-involved shootings towards black men, the police have been the subject of increased public scrutiny.
Recently, a female Chicago Police Officer chose to nearly lose her life than shoot a suspect because she did not want her family or the department to deal with the “scrutiny” in national news cycles. The officer, as of Friday, was still in the hospital due to the injuries that she succumbed during the beating by a suspect high on PCP, who had just ran his vehicle into a business.
Unfortunately, this makes for very difficult decisions for our law enforcement officers at times when they feel that deadly force is the only remaining option.
[Featured Image by Rex Wholster/AP Images]