The Sun Sentinel reported that an encounter between a Broward Sheriff's Office deputy and a suspect Friday afternoon ended with the suspect being found dead after his Honda crashed in unincorporated Broward County.
A Sheriff's Office spokesman said that a deputy made a traffic stop on U.S. 441 in Broward County.
The Broward Sheriff's Office confirmed that a confrontation occurred and that shots were fired. It is unknown at this time who fired first.
The incident occurred when deputies tried to get the suspect to get out of his car in front of a restaurant.
Allegedly, a violent confrontation occurred resulting in the use of a Taser. It is further alleged that the suspect then rammed several Sheriff's Office vehicles in an attempt to flee. Deputies feared for their lives and one deputy opened fire, hitting the suspect.
The suspect sped west on Davie Boulevard for several blocks, before crashing into a tree.
According to reports, a "large amount of narcotics" was found in the dead suspect's vehicle.
As per department policy with all police shootings, the deputy will be put on three-day paid administrative pending investigation.
People think that criminal defense attorneys and police have a naturally adversarial relationship. While questioning the credibility and tactics of law enforcement is a huge part of what we do, police officers are also citizens who are subject to the same laws as everybody else. Once in a while, even a police officer needs a good criminal lawyer.
Typically, police shootings are reviewed by two bodies. One is the State Attorney's Office, the other is the police department's own Internal Affairs department. Oftentimes, the department has some of their own homicide detectives assist in reviewing the shooting.
Police carry guns. No surprises there. And as the owner of multiple guns and a proud member of the NRA, I know that when you carry a gun, you must be able to use it if you have to.
Being a police officer is a very dangerous job. In order to protect their own lives, as well as the lives of fellow officers and innocent citizens, police are empowered with the authority and the weaponry to carry out lethal force.
However, the officer can only use lethal force if their life is in danger. If the suspect was trying to ram the officer with his car, then the officer had a well-founded belief that if he did not use lethal force, the suspect would strike him with the car and likely kill him.
If that was the case, then the officer's use of force should be justified.
However, if the investigation reveals that the officer's life was not in danger, and that the suspect was simply fleeing and eluding police, then the officer can be charged with murder.
Police officers are not above the law. And sometimes, they make mistakes and exercise lethal force when it is not called for. Many of you have heard about former Oakland, California, police officer Johannes Mehserle, who recently received a prison sentence for the shooting death of an unarmed suspect. While he was convicted of the lesser charge of manslaughter, he was still charged by prosecutors with second-degree murder. This prosecution demonstrates that police officers are held to the same standards as regular citizens. In this case, the jury found that while Mr. Mehserle did not possess the intent to kill, he acted in such a reckless manner than he should be criminally liable for the death of the victim.
Police officers sometimes find themselves seated at the defendant's table. It's not a fun place to be. Contrary to popular belief, the justice system does not take it easy on police officers. Rather the opposite is often true. In an effort to prove that police officer defendants are not given preferential treatment, sometimes prosecutors and judges will seek to "make examples" out of them, many times over-charging or sentencing them more harshly in order to show the public that cops are not above the law.
I believe in equal treatment under the law for all citizens, regardless of whether that person is affiliated with law enforcement or not. I also believe that police officers deserve the best representation available when charged with a crime.
The Law Offices of Eric M. Matheny, P.A., is a criminal defense firm that handles criminal matters in Miami-Dade and Broward. Contact Attorney Eric Matheny today.