As a former prosecutor I spent 10 years prosecuting cases. As a Deputy District Attorney, I handled several felony trials and dozens of hearings that dealt with police using force. As a Deputy City Attorney, I handled hundreds of cases that dealt with this issue, including high profile cases like the occupy movement. I have now moved over to defend those accused on crimes.
I have seen that the force used in cases was fitting the situation. However, I have seen officers make mistakes. Officers are human and incorrectly use force when they did not have the right to use such force by their own training. In San Diego, the SDPD has a “use of force” matrix which is the standard the officers use when knowing when they can escalate their force in a given situation.
I have seen many cases where officers have not adhered to the matrix. Hopefully, the prosecution sees this and makes an appropriate outcome. In other cases it raises some more serious issues.
This is a section of criminal law that really needs scrutiny and constant examination.
In 2014, San Diego police documented 16,238 incidents in which an officer used force, like drawing his weapon or firing a taser.
Officers self-assess whether a particular “use of force” incident was effective or not, and SDPD says force has been effective 90 percent of the time.
This is for SDPD data related to force incidents on Nov. 16.
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We received this two-page .pdf document on Dec. 16 detailing how many times different force options were used between Jan. 1, 2014 and Dec. 1, 2014, nearly a year.
SDPD says information, such as where these incidents occured, injuries and surrounding circumstances, are not legally required to be disclosed because of the “investigations” exemption in the California Public Records Act.
San Diego police receive nearly a million calls for service a year and dispatch officers to at least half of those calls.
“Even before they arrive on scene, the officers are looking at the dispatches and they’re thinking about things. They’re wondering where the situation is taking place. They’re wondering if they have adequate resources,” said SDPD Sgt. Jeffrey Jordon, who is the vice-president of the San Diego Police Officers Association.
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With the halls of his police association lined with photos of officers lost, Jordon said somewhere in this city, an officer is going to face violence every single day.
“It’s the only job I know of that going into it, when you take this job, you know you’re going to get punched in the face at some point,” Jordon said.
Investigation found officers documented using their own physical strength the most often with 7,409 incidents. They used the foam batton least with only six documented incidents.
San Diego Police Department Use of Force Incidents | Create infographics
“In each and every one of those cases, no matter what they’re doing from pointing a handgun, deploying a canine, potentially firing a taser, or using less lethal force, and maybe firing bean bag rounds, every single one of those is documented, even though it’s one incident, there could be ten uses of force on that one incident,” he said.Jordon warned that the figures may be compounded with different officers involved in a single incident or officers having to escalate force until compliance is achieved.
Officers pointed their firearms 1,658 times in 2014, and used a carotid restraint, otherwise known as a chokehold, 246 times, the data shows.
Police document the effectiveness of the force used by whether compliance is achieved “to mitigate the risk of this person we may be using force against from getting out and injuring a large number of citizens. And that constantly plays into the officer’s mind as they deploy force,” said Jordon.
SDPD officers rated themselves with a nearly 90 percent effective rate on force options used. The most effective was the “take down,” and the least was the foam batton that is rarely used.
In general, the data shows more effective force options are used more often and those rated least effective were used less often.
San Diego Police Department Force Effectiveness
However, when an officer marks that a force option had “unknown effectiveness,” it is lumped into the effective percentage.
“The unknown category cannot be ruled out as being effective,” Lt. Kevin Mayer said.
Attorney Gene Iredale represents clients in wrongful death and law enforcement use of force cases.
He believes more oversight is needed.’
“Most of the time, that force is probably reasonable and justified, but sometimes, and unfortantely many times, people are killed who need not be killed, people are beaten who need not be beaten or brutalized,” Iredale said.
Investigation found that SDPD has nearly twice as many officer-involved shootings than any other city, out of more than 40 mid-size cities surveyed. The 25 officer-involved shootings in San Diego for 2012, 2013 and most of 2014 involved at least 12 fatalities.
The police departments with the next highest figures for officer-involved shootings were Dallas Police Department, which had 12 total, and Fort Worth Police Department with 14 in the same years.
SDPD had no response to questions about those figures.
The full article can be found here.
148. (a) (1) Every person who willfully resists, delays, or obstructs any public officer, peace officer, or an emergency medical technician, as defined in Division 2.5 (commencing with Section 1797) of the Health and Safety Code, in the discharge or attempt to discharge any duty of his or her office or employment, when no other punishment is prescribed, shall be punished by a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by imprisonment in a county jail not to exceed one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment. (2) Except as provided by subdivision (d) of Section 653t, every person who knowingly and maliciously interrupts, disrupts, impedes, or otherwise interferes with the transmission of a communication over a public safety radio frequency shall be punished by a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment. (b) Every person who, during the commission of any offense described in subdivision (a), removes or takes any weapon, other than a firearm, from the person of, or immediate presence of, a public officer or peace officer shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail not to exceed one year or pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170. (c) Every person who, during the commission of any offense described in subdivision (a), removes or takes a firearm from the person of, or immediate presence of, a public officer or peace officer shall be punished by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170. (d) Except as provided in subdivision (c) and notwithstanding subdivision (a) of Section 489, every person who removes or takes without intent to permanently deprive, or who attempts to remove or take a firearm from the person of, or immediate presence of, a public officer or peace officer, while the officer is engaged in the performance of his or her lawful duties, shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail not to exceed one year or pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170. In order to prove a violation of this subdivision, the prosecution shall establish that the defendant had the specific intent to remove or take the firearm by demonstrating that any of the following direct, but ineffectual, acts occurred: (1) The officer’s holster strap was unfastened by the defendant. (2) The firearm was partially removed from the officer’s holster by the defendant. (3) The firearm safety was released by the defendant. (4) An independent witness corroborates that the defendant stated that he or she intended to remove the firearm and the defendant actually touched the firearm. (5) An independent witness corroborates that the defendant actually had his or her hand on the firearm and tried to take the firearm away from the officer who was holding it. (6) The defendant’s fingerprint was found on the firearm or holster. (7) Physical evidence authenticated by a scientifically verifiable procedure established that the defendant touched the firearm. (8) In the course of any struggle, the officer’s firearm fell and the defendant attempted to pick it up. (e) A person shall not be convicted of a violation of subdivision (a) in addition to a conviction of a violation of subdivision (b), (c), or (d) when the resistance, delay, or obstruction, and the removal or taking of the weapon or firearm or attempt thereof, was committed against the same public officer, peace officer, or emergency medical technician. A person may be convicted of multiple violations of this section if more than one public officer, peace officer, or emergency medical technician are victims. (f) This section shall not apply if the public officer, peace officer, or emergency medical technician is disarmed while engaged in a criminal act.
69. Every person who attempts, by means of any threat or violence, to deter or prevent an executive officer from performing any duty imposed upon such officer by law, or who knowingly resists, by the use of force or violence, such officer, in the performance of his duty, is punishable by a fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170, or in a county jail not exceeding one year, or by both such fine and imprisonment.
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