Saturday, July 21, 2012

Deputy Dilemma: Wrongful police shooting deserves serious review

Imagine it’s 1:30 a.m. and you’re in your apartment. You hear a knock on the door. If you own a weapon, you would probably grab it, just in case.

For 26-year-old Andrew Lee Scott of Lake County, Fla., that decision would lead to his death.

On Sunday, Lake County Sheriff’s Office deputies were pursuing an attempted murder suspect when they mistakenly knocked on Scott’s apartment door. Scott answered the door with his gun drawn at the deputies, who then shot and killed him.

Unfortunately, Scott was not the suspect deputies were chasing. Deputies knocked on Scott’s door because the suspect’s motorcycle was parked across from his front door.

Scott likely approached his front door with a gun because the deputies did not identify themselves, according to Lake County Officials, for safety reasons.

This was a tragedy that could have easily been avoided. When the deputies chased a suspect into the complex, they should have known that they could be knocking on anyone’s door. It seems like knocking on a random door unannounced is less safe than yelling, “Police!”

Lt. John Herrell told WESH Orlando, “The bottom line is, you point a gun at a deputy sheriff or police officer, you’re going to get shot.”

While that might be the case under normal circumstances, this should not be used as an excuse to justify the deputies’ actions. Scott was likely startled by the unannounced knock, and it’s not a crime to be cautious in your own home (or at least it shouldn’t be one).

Scott was not suspected of any crime and police did not have probable cause to enter his apartment unannounced. Central Florida News 13’s coverage of the story makes Scott appear more worthy of his untimely demise — its story leads with “A Lake County man with a criminal history is dead after a confrontation with deputies.”

While it’s true that Scott had a criminal history and that drugs were found in Scott’s apartment, those facts have little to do with his death.

The deputies who killed Scott are currently on administrative leave, and if the events transpired as stated, the deputies should be fired and charged with his death.

While police are there to enforce the law, their badges do not make them above the law. If police wrongly kill someone, they should face the same consequences as anyone else.

Original report here

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