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Deputy Dilemma: Wrongful police shooting deserves serious review

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Posted: Tuesday, July 17, 2012 12:30 am

Imagine it’s 1:30 a.m. and you’re in your apartment. You hear a knock on the door.

If you own a weapon, you would probably grab it, just in case.

For 26-year-old Andrew Lee Scott of Lake County, Fla., that decision would lead to his death.

On Sunday, Lake County Sheriff’s Office deputies were pursuing an attempted murder suspect when they mistakenly knocked on Scott’s apartment door. Scott answered the door with his gun drawn at the deputies, who then shot and killed him.

Unfortunately, Scott was not the suspect deputies were chasing. Deputies knocked on Scott’s door because the suspect’s motorcycle was parked across from his front door.

Scott likely approached his front door with a gun because the deputies did not identify themselves, according to Lake County Officials, for safety reasons.

This was a tragedy that could have easily been avoided. When the deputies chased a suspect into the complex, they should have known that they could be knocking on anyone’s door. It seems like knocking on a random door unannounced is less safe than yelling, “Police!”

Lt. John Herrell told WESH Orlando, “The bottom line is, you point a gun at a deputy sheriff or police officer, you’re going to get shot.”

While that might be the case under normal circumstances, this should not be used as an excuse to justify the deputies’ actions. Scott was likely startled by the unannounced knock, and it’s not a crime to be cautious in your own home (or at least it shouldn’t be one).

Scott was not suspected of any crime and police did not have probable cause to enter his apartment unannounced. Central Florida News 13’s coverage of the story makes Scott appear more worthy of his untimely demise   — its story leads with “A Lake County man with a criminal history is dead after a confrontation with deputies.”

While it’s true that Scott had a criminal history and that drugs were found in Scott’s apartment, those facts have little to do with his death.

The deputies who killed Scott are currently on administrative leave, and if the events transpired as stated, the deputies should be fired and charged with his death.

While police are there to enforce the law, their badges do not make them above the law. If police wrongly kill someone, they should face the same consequences as anyone else.

Welcome to the discussion.

4 comments:

  • gawain3 posted at 3:02 am on Wed, Jul 18, 2012.

    gawain3 Posts: 1

    Coming from the field of criminal justice with nearly two decades of experience, I find the circumstances leading to Scott's death to be the most shocking and provocative display of a use of force displayed by a law enforcement agency. Clearly, this is not a textbook example of a "justified" use of force. Scott had a lawful right to protect himself, his girlfriend, and his home from an unwarranted and, arguably, an unconstitutional infringement on his civil rights. Predictably, Florida State investigators will side with these cowboy deputies. The Governor should make the judicious decision and ask the Federal Bureau of Investigation to investigate whether one or more deputies under the "color of law" unconstitutionally infringed upon Scott's civil rights by unlawfully killing him. Personally, I firmly believe there was a homicide here. (The coroner will find the same thing.). Upon the coroner's ruling that Scott died by way of homicide, the Federal Government should. Issues warrants for their arrest. What an oppressive, disgusting display of force by a government entity!

     
  • my2cents posted at 8:35 pm on Tue, Jul 17, 2012.

    my2cents Posts: 16

    This tragedy could have been avoided if both parties had used a little more sense and been a little less gun happy. If Scott had used a little more caution by asking who was at the door before opening it. He could have resolved the problem by finding out it was the police or refused to open the door to an unidentified person. If the police then decided to break in without identifying themselves he would have been perfectly justified to shoot in self defense. Opening a door with a pointed gun is only asking for something bad to happen.

    The police on the other hand seemed quick on the trigger. Any policy that tries to justify killing an innocent man in the name of officer safety needs to change. Lt Herrell comment is arrogant and inappropriate. If officers are going to take actions that lead to people point a gun at an officer unknowly, they officer needs to address the risk without killing someone.

     
  • Theotaurus posted at 2:23 pm on Tue, Jul 17, 2012.

    Theotaurus Posts: 1

    If they supposedly found drugs it's only after they probably planted them in order to demonize Andrew Scott and justify their killing him. This is exactly what happened in the Kathryn Johnston case. No knock warrant she was shot and killed in a raid the cops fabricated a story of drugs and planted drugs in her home and were latter proved to ahve planted them and were sentenced to prison terms for their actions.

     
  • Jeremiah Tattersall posted at 12:38 pm on Tue, Jul 17, 2012.

    Jeremiah Tattersall Posts: 84

    Killer cops should face the same public and administrative consequences as cop killers.