Law Enforcement Protocol Helps Determine Whether Lethal Force Is Justified
30-year-old Alan Locke was fatally shot by Rapid City police officer Anthony Meirose over the weekend. Police reports indicate that Locke came at the officer with a knife. SDPB’s Amy Varland looks at what protocol officers follow after being involved in a shooting.
While family, friends, and community members across South Dakota mourn the loss of 30-year old Allen Locke, law enforcement officials are busy looking at details of the case to determine whether Officer Meirose was justified when he made the decision to use lethal force.
Rapid City Police Captain Dan Rud says lethal force is to be used only in limited circumstances and that three specific criteria must be met.
“The first criteria is means. The suspect has to have the means to take somebody else’s life. And normally that would be like a weapon – they have a gun, they have a knife, they have a club, they’re driving a car at a person, but it could be physical ability as well, such as training in martial arts or just, you know, extreme physical strength or ability,” says Rud.
The second criteria is opportunity – Rud says this means the suspect must be in a position to threaten the life of the officer or a third person.
Third, the officer’s life must be in jeopardy – meaning the suspect must be pointing the weapon at the officer.
Rud says if these criteria are met, that may leave officers with no other choice but to use lethal force.
When an officer-involved shooting does happen in South Dakota, authorities are notified, and the Division of Criminal Investigation takes over.
DCI Special Agent Pat West says once his office gets the call, officials are dispatched to the location of the shooting, a perimeter is set up, witnesses are identified, and the scene is secured to preserve evidence.
West says the officers involved are then taken to a law enforcement facility and processed and interviewed separately.
“The processing entails a couple different things. Number one, the officers are photographed and documented as to what they are wearing at the time of the shooting. Also their weapon is inventoried to identify how many rounds are in their weapon, as well as how many rounds may have been shot. During that interview investigators or agents will go through in detail what took place during the shooting as well as what the officers were feeling and thinking at the time of the shooting incident,” says West.
The Rapid City Police Department’s patrol cars are equipped with cameras – the audio and video are also used in the investigation.
Special Agent West says information gathered from the investigation is compiled into a case report and presented to the Attorney General’s office to assist them in determining whether the use of lethal force by the officer was justified.