Local News

Group Takes Aim At Raleigh Police Deadly Force Policy

Posted May 14, 2004
Updated March 3, 2008

— When should a police officer use deadly force and when should they just get out of the way? It is a debate that has ignited into a controversy after a Raleigh police officer was charged for shooting a suspect who fled in a car.

The Raleigh Police Department's deadly force policy is under fire from the Police Benevolent Association. The policy forbids officers from firing at a moving vehicle unless threatened with deadly force.

Critics of the policy say it puts officers lives in danger. The Raleigh Police Department argues the policy protects its officers and the public.

Raleigh police Officer Jarod Reyes was thrown off the force and now faces criminal charges after he shot James Davis on Alston Street in September.

The police report states Davis, who has an extensive criminal history, was resisting arrest and attempted to flee in a stolen Saturn. That is when Reyes fired.

"The vehicle was moving away from the officer and was several feet away before the officer discharged his firearm. The bullets went through the back windshield, striking the man in the back," Raleigh police attorney Dawn Bryant said.

Those facts, according to the Raleigh Police Department, made the shooting an illegal use of deadly force.

"It's hard to believe this is happening," said John Midgette of the Police Benevolent Association.

The PBA, a group that defends police officers, says not only was Reyes justified in shooting Davis, but the police department's policy on prohibiting an officer from firing at a moving vehicle, unless another deadly weapon is displayed, is a dangerous policy.

"Unless that policy is immediately revoked, we believe that it will cause the untimely death of a police officer and/or an innocent bystander," Midgette said.

The Raleigh Police Department could not disagree more, saying the policy is there to protect the officer and pedestrians.

"If you shoot into a vehicle, whether or not you hit the vehicle, whether or not you hit the driver, you don't stop the threat. The vehicle is still moving -- that's like 4,000 pounds coming toward an officer," said.

The Police Benevolent Association also alleges the policy is unconstitutional because it is stricter than state and federal standards.

The Raleigh Police Department's response is that under the law, it has every right to enact policies that are more limiting than state and federal rules when it comes to deadly force.


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