Why did Ohio officers handcuff Jayland Walker after shooting him dozens of times?
The police decision to handcuff Walker after he was shot was a “further insult to a terrible loss,” Walker family attorney Bobby DiCello told CNN on Saturday. Walker’s family “cannot understand these so-called security reasons when they know Jayland suffered so much injury and deadly force.”
“It’s disconcerting. It sends a symbolic and inhumane message despite the procedure involved,” DiCello said, adding that the incident raises a critical question about the extent to which compassion comes into play when police officers decide to handcuff someone. one that has been shot dozens of times. .
“If no one thought he needed to be handcuffed, then why not just out of respect for the loss of life, avoid it?” DiCello added.
It is common practice across the country to handcuff someone perceived as dangerous and armed – even after being shot by police – so that the person cannot access weapons or pose another threat, three law enforcement experts said. order to CNN.
Choosing to handcuff someone who has just been shot by police is “not a matter of humanity or inhumanity,” said Maria Haberfeld, professor of police science at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Beyond an injured suspect, the broader circumstances of the situation can “impact (officers’) perception of the threat,” she said, adding that someone who is already clinically dead can show movements, suggesting that she is still alive and dangerous.
“That’s how they think, that’s how they’re trained — that you can never underestimate the threat level of someone who was shooting at you before,” Haberfeld said, speaking soberly. general police encounters with suspected suspects. to be armed.
Officers are told not to touch the body
Each police department has policies dictating when officers should use lethal force, usually when a weapon is involved and a suspect poses an immediate threat to officers and the public, experts told CNN.
But there is no national standard for restraining someone after they have been shot, they said. Most agencies train officers to immediately handcuff a suspect, so they can secure all weapons and assess injuries to render assistance, but they don’t explain how officers should use the restraints above. beyond guidelines for arrest control and officer safety.
Police say Walker fled as officers attempted to arrest him for traffic and equipment violations, and during an 18-minute car chase he shot what appeared to be a shot through the window. The chase then briefly turned into a foot chase, during which police shot Walker after he quickly stopped and they believed he was reaching for her waist and “felt that Mr. Walker had turned and was gesturing and moving into a shooting position,” officials said.
While a gun was found in his car after the shooting, Walker was unarmed when he was killed, Akron Police Chief Stephen Mylett told a conference call. press on July 3, when police released lengthy body camera videos of 13 officers at the scene.
If officers hadn’t handcuffed Walker as they approached him – as they believed he had fired a gun at them from his vehicle – it would have ‘surprised’ Thor Eells, the executive director says of the National Tactical Officers Association.
Even after that, “unless medical professionals asked to remove the handcuffs, so that they could perform some sort of advanced resuscitation that would require that, officers would not remove them,” he said.
If a person is pronounced dead at the scene following a police shooting, officers are generally advised not to tamper with the case by touching the body – including removing the handcuffs – so that it can be handed over at the medical examiner’s office as part of the investigation into the shooting, said Eells, a former commander with the Colorado Springs Police Department.
“Once they determine it’s now a fatal shooting involving an officer, most agencies learn not to touch or disturb anything,” he said. “It’s all left as is for the corner who has the legal responsibility to assess it all in its totality. (The coroner asks) questions like, ‘Has anything potentially contributed to or aggravated any type of injury or other ? “
‘It’s time to revisit these policies,’ says expert
But the chief acknowledged that the policy needed to be reviewed.
“If it was my brother, if it was my son, if it was my grandson, I wouldn’t like it,” Mylett told WEWS. “I understand that, I really do. And I’m going to have a conversation with others about the need for that.”
The Akron Police Department, city and police union did not respond to repeated requests from CNN to comment on the practice of restraining suspects, including those who were shot by officers.
In many cases like this, officers “simply adhere to their department’s rules,” but those guidelines may be outdated, said Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, a nonprofit research and development organization. police policies.
“These procedures were put in place a long time ago, and I think it’s time to revisit these policies in situations where it’s clear someone has been seriously injured and first aid is needed,” he said. he declared.
In Walker’s case, the preliminary report from the Summit County Medical Examiner’s Office contains several pages of thumbnail photos showing the young man dead and handcuffed at the scene and after his body arrived at the coroner’s office.
A final autopsy report will be delivered to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, which investigates any criminal acts committed by officers, and will be part of what the state attorney general’s office considers to present a case. to a grand jury.