CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Monday, January 8, 2007

CrimProf Ian Weinstein Comments on Excessive Police Shootings

IanFrom Fordham Law School CrimProf Ian Weinstein recently commented on the deadly 41-shot barrage fired by four police officers at the unarmed Amadou Diallo seven years ago  which sparked angry demands that the shooters face criminal charges – a scene that is now replaying in the recent police shooting of Sean Bell in a hail of 50 bullets.

Firepower and community outrage aside, the Diallo case serves as a reminder of the hard realities of prosecuting officers who are paid to carry guns and sometimes use them in dangerous situations. It also suggests the ultimate result of the latest case of Sean Bell could be a civil settlement for the victims' families and a quiet demise of the careers of the officers involved.

“Police officers are privileged to use deadly force,” said CrimProf Ian Weinstein. “The case will turn on whether the officers reasonably believed their lives were in danger, or that deadly force was justified.”

Bell, 23, was killed and two unarmed companions were wounded on Nov. 25 after a bachelor party at a strip club in Queens that police had targeted for an undercover operation.

The five shooters involved haven't spoken publicly about the incident now under investigation by the Queens district attorney. But statements by union officials and defense lawyers suggest a state-of-mind defense is in the works: The first officer to open fire, they say, was convinced there was a weapon in a car where none was found. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

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