REPORT TO THE CITY MANAGER AND CHIEF
The Homicide and Internal Affairs investigations as well as the findings of the Shooting Board have been thoroughly and exhaustively reviewed and evaluated by a four person team of the Citizens’ Review Board. The team, comprised of 1 Hispanic, 1 Caucasian and 2 African-American members, presented their findings to the full Board on April 11, 2000 after spending more than two months on their review. After thorough and lengthy discussion the Board forwards the following comments, finding and recommendations for your consideration and action.
Opening comment of the Review Team to the Board
This case was reviewed by all the team members at every meeting and we agree unanimously with the conclusions drawn. Members of the team visited the incident site individually.
In our review we attempted to put from our minds the considerable press coverage that was given to the matter, some accurate and some questionable. We tried to ignore the college as well as the athletic background that the press stressed and deal only with the facts that were available to us.
At no time did we find any indication that race was a factor in the events that occurred, other than the erroneous perception that might result whenever a confrontation occurs between members of two different ethnic groups.
We would ask you to also put aside previous prejudice that might have developed from the excessive press coverage.
After a complete and thorough examination of all the facts as presented as well as 14 unanimous witness statements, we have reached the conclusion that while tragic, this shooting was within existing policy and inevitable due to the circumstances under this policy. Officers Keating and Wills perceived that they were left with no other force alternatives in the face of a threat to their safety and lives as well as to the safety and lives of those in the area in which the incident occurred. That threat became abundantly clear to the Officers, in view of the events leading up to the shooting incident. This situation was also exacerbated by the officer’s assessment (later confirmed) that the subject was impaired by the use of drugs.
In view of this and subsequent incidents, the Department needs to thoroughly review its detainment and control policies. The police department has an obligation to protect the public, the officer, and the suspect from fatal action, except as a last resort. The Department should provide additional, not-lethal devices and appropriate training to control an individual, regardless of size and strength.
There is need for further study regarding the use of Nunchukas, in view of the possibility of their being taken from officers. It would appear that the Nunchukas present more of a danger to the officers than to the suspect. Perhaps their use should be limited to certain specific environments, such as crowd control. If they are to continue in use, there is a need for additional officer safety training.
When technical information is presented to a CRB committee, it is important that it be presented in a manner understandable to the layman.
While the Officers conducted themselves within the bounds of existing policy regarding detainment, they did not exercise sufficient discretion within this policy.
While it is recognized that Mr. Dubose was clearly under the influence of drugs or alcohol, he was not resisting the Officers’ inquiries, was calm and not resisting their commands. He only resisted when he was instructed to comply with handcuffing after being told he was not in any trouble.
The officers still had time to evaluate the situation. They were initially called to a "hot prowl", but when they arrived Mr. Dubose was there with other people, including the caller. The Officers acknowledged in their statements that this was obviously not a "hot prowl" and required some clarification. After their initial questioning of Mr. Dubose, there appear to have been three options available tot he Officers:
Officers chose the latter though there was no physical provocation by Mr. Dubose. From the Officers’ perception, the potential for trouble existed which motivated their action, which is the crux of whether good judgement was used in this case.
The thoroughness and presentation of the reports also raised concern. The Officers’ statements given to Homicide covered nothing after shots were fired. Questions of why Mr. Dubose was shot in the back were not addressed in the Officers’ statements by Homicide or IA. The officers may not have been able to provide this information but the question should have been raised. Also, the relative positions of Mr. Dubose and Officers was not clearly diagrammed although the positions of witnesses were distinguishable.
It is recognized that the Department wanted to treat this case like any other throughout the investigation. However, this is a high profile event and every effort should have been made to clearly address the issues of concern. While the homicide report contained a number of documents that eventually provided answers to our questions, it lacked focus which made it difficult to resolve a variety of pressing questions including why Mr. Dubose was shot in the back. A summary statement in an investigation of this type should be part of the format of each investigative report addressing all key issues and findings provided to the Board.
Fred J. Heske,
Source: City Manager's Office