Houston police open fire during a traffic stop. When are they allowed to use deadly force?

Feb 19, 2020 10:05 PM ET

A police involved shooting in Houston raises questions about use of force protocols and what kind of behavior law enforcement expects from members of the public during a traffic stop.

A local man was shot within minutes of when police first made contact with him.


Houston cops shoot a driver shortly after initiating a routine traffic stop

The Houston Police pulled over the 57 year old male victim just after midnight for a standard traffic violation. They say that he repeatedly disobeyed their instructions once they made contact with him. A witness in the area said that the victim kept ignoring police as they were asking him to roll down his window multiple times. The officer on the passenger side claims that he saw the victim pull out a pistol and shot in response several times.

The woman who was in the car with the victim says he was only reaching for his wallet to provide identification, not a gun as the police claim. She also stated that she was with him for the entire day, and he did not have a gun in his possession at any time. Others asked why the officer did not command him to put the gun down first before shooting. A community activist commented on the incident, and he claims that police are paranoid about being shot at, and taking drastic actions.

The local department claims they will review the situation to determine if the officer’s use of force was appropriate. The Houston Police did say that they recovered a gun from the victim’s car, but they did not specify exactly where it was located in the vehicle, or if the victim could have accessed it during the altercation.  


When can officers use their weapons?

As a general rule, police are only supposed to fire their guns if a suspect creates an imminent threat of harm to officers on the scene of members of the public nearby. Officers can be disciplined, terminated, or even charged criminally if they shoot someone without a valid reason. Many police brutality cases involve an officer who claims to have seen a gun or some other kind of weapon, which prompts a violent response. In some of these cases, it is unclear if the suspect was ever armed. Police will claim a gun or other weapon was found later as an attempt to justify their actions. In these cases, a civil lawsuit may be the only way to receive justice.


Get help from an attorney who focuses on police brutality

Blizzard Law is available to assist clients after a dispute or violent interaction with the local police in the Houston area. They can file a civil rights lawsuit on your behalf if the police have harmed you.

See Campaign: http://www.blizzardlaw.com
Contact Information:
Blizzard Law
5020 Montrose Blvd, Ste 410
Houston, TX 77006

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