Shoot to Kill

Posted By Paulson Coletti Trial Attorneys PC || 9-Apr-2010

Here in Portland, OR, there has been a lot of talk lately about the police force and how some officers handle themselves in confrontations with citizens. There have been a few shooting deaths here recently, and many citizens feel the police were too quick to fire their guns and that the deaths were avoidable. The police contend the actions taken were in line with police training. So far there is no general consensus, and relations between some of the police and people of Portland are a bit shaky.

Well, it seems the story is the same in many areas across the nation. I came across an article from the Bay Area about the shooting death of a hospital patient by some sheriff’s deputies. The patient, an alcoholic, was in the ER. He was suffering from symptoms of alcohol withdrawal and had checked himself in.

A nurse placed the patient in soft wrist restraints because he kept trying to pull out his IV line. A number of hours after checking himself in, the patient tried to cut himself out of the restraints with a pocket knife and allegedly made threatening motions with the pocket knife. The two deputies who responded say they repeatedly commanded the patient to drop the knife, but the patient did not comply. When the patient lunged toward the deputies, they fired and killed him.

The children of the patient have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the deputies as well as Contra Costa County and the Sheriff’s Office. The deputies defend their actions and say they acted in accordance with their police training. An unfortunate death and a disconnect between police training and the expectations of the community? Sounds a lot like Portland. No matter which side you lean toward, it’s probably safe to say that communication is key.