Legal lens: Officer-involved shootings and controversial arrests

Legal Lens

ST. LOUIS, Mo. – There have been several national cases of police-involved shootings and controversial arrests. What rules are in place to protect officers and citizens? FOX 2’s Vic Faust talks it over in this week’s Legal Lens segment with Brown & Crouppen Attorney Andrea McNairy.

“Criminal context statutes vary from state to state. But, genarlly speaking, an officer is allowed to use deadly force if they feel there is an immenent threat to themselves or the public. You can see how the words reasonable and objective leave credence for subjective componets that other people think, or a police officer would think, is reasonable in that situation,” said McNairy.

Does officer immunity come into play?

“In the criminal arena, it’s hard for the state to prove an officer did not think they were reasonably in danger, and an officer confronted with similar circumstances wouldn’t have acted the same. So that’s hard for a prosecutor to meet that burden,” said McNairy. “In the civil arena, you’re talking about qualified immunity. That gives immunity or partial immunity to government employees. Including police officers for infringing on a constitutional right,” said McNairy.

McNairy says that police reform will continue to be a top topic in the news cycle over the next few years. How officers respond quickly while ensuring the public interest will be a part of the legal debate.

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