Portsmouth area man is shot during an investigation into property crimes. Is this use of force justified?

Mar 2, 2020 5:05 PM ET

The Virginia State Police were in the process of investigating an officer who had shot a man just outside of Portsmouth in Norfolk.


Man suspected of breaking into cars is shot under suspicious circumstances

The official news release says that the suspect had aimed a gun at the officer at some point during their interaction. Local police initially received a call about a man who was tampering with cars in the area of the 2400 block of Juniper Street at about midnight. They claim that as the man was running away, he briefly pointed a firearm in the direction of the officers on the scene. One of them responded by shooting the man.

The suspect left the area in a car, but was later apprehended near the 5900 block of Granby Street. He was then taken to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital to be evaluated. The following morning, the man was still in critical condition, but his vital signs were stable.

Police claim that they did recover a gun from the scene. The Virginia State Police will lead an investigation into the shooting, and the Norfolk police will be conducting their own internal investigation as well. The officer who fired the shots was placed on administrative duty while the investigation takes place, but his identity will not be released.


Situations where the use of force may have been unnecessary

In situations where police shoot and injure or kill someone, it is common for them to come up with dubious reasons as to why the use of force was required. Any officers involved may be briefly put on administrative leave while publicity tied to the incident dies down. It is also problematic when officers claim that a suspect pointed a weapon in their direction without any evidence that this actually happened.

Many departments are starting to implement policies that require body cameras to be worn and recording at all times during an officer’s shift to prevent these kinds of situations.


Use of force protocols

All officers receive some kind of training in the police academy about the use of force. This is considered a professional law enforcement standard and protocols that regulate the use of force are designed to minimize the possibility of injury or death to officers, suspects, and the public as a whole. Most cases of police brutality involve a situation where an officer clearly goes beyond what is acceptable under these protocols.


When use of force protocols are violated, the officers may be sued by the victim under various civil rights laws.


Get help from a local attorney today

There are lawyers in Portsmouth and other nearby parts of Virginia who focus on filing lawsuits against the police. Contact Kozak, Davis, and Renninger for more information. 

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