Man Perceived as Threat Actually Deaf, Victim of Excessive Force

Florida Police Officer Shot and Killed Man Who Was a Perceived Threat, Now Faces Excessive Force Investigation

excessive forceA 52-year-old man was shot and killed on Saturday, September 20th, after officers noticed the man in a verbal altercation at a tow yard, and saw that he had a concealed weapon on his person. The victim did not respond to police verbal commands, according to the report, but the man’s family said that he was deaf from a childhood illness. The shooting is yet another in a series of shootings in the US that raises the question of excessive force and police brutality.

Unfortunately, there is no clear definition of “excessive force.”

Police officers often use force to subdue unruly suspects and protect themselves. However, police brutality such as that witnessed during the Ferguson, MO riots should constitute “excessive force,” when police officers are armed, scared, and on the offensive.

“‘Excessive’ will have different meanings in different jurisdictions,” says Mark Henriquez, project manager for the National Police Use of Force Database Project at the International Association of Chiefs of Police. This leads to accusations and lawsuits alleging excessive force or police brutality.

“The instant compliance is obtained, anything beyond that becomes excessive … [but] each time a defense to an arrest is offered, the officer has the ability to exercise whatever the minimum force is in their mind to counter [it],” said James Powers, chief of police of Fredericksburg, Va. and head of the IACP’s use-of-force committee.

In the recent Florida case, for example, victim Edward Miller, 52, had suffered a childhood illness that left him deaf. While picking up a vehicle from a towing company, Miller got into an argument with the company owner. Although police had not been called to the scene, Deputy Joel Hernandez and his partner were near the tow yard when the argument broke out, and decided to intervene. Although Hernandez was in plain clothes at the time, he reportedly notified Miller and the company owner that he was a police deputy. He said in his report that Miller was “brandishing a weapon,” although witnesses do not corroborate that. Instead, Miller had a gun tucked into the belt of his pants, which he was legally allowed to do with his concealed carry permit.

Miller’s 25-year-old son, also named Edward, was in the family’s pickup waiting for his father when he heard the shots. Two bullets went through the windshield of the vehicle, and then four more shots were fired after that, striking and killing the elder Miller.

“Hernandez perceived a threat and fired his duty weapon, striking and killing the man,” said sheriff’s office spokesman Gary Davidson.

This is not the first time Hernandez has been accused of using excessive force, however. In 2013, he shot and killed an armed, suicidal man who was ignoring police orders. He was cleared of excessive force charges in that case, but one month later, he was reprimanded for excessive force charges for kicking a man in the face for resisting police.

Protect Your Rights through Civil Litigation Against Excessive Force and Police Brutality

If you or  a loved one has been a victim of police brutality or excessive force, contact our South Carolina victim’s assistance attorneys at The Strom Law Firm, LLC today for a free consultation to see how we can help.  While we cannot change the past, we can help you secure your future. 803.252.4800

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