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Officer-Involved Shootings

The role of the State Attorney in Officer-Involved Shooting Investigations or In-Custody Death Investigations (OIS/ICD) and in conducting its review is limited to determining whether a criminal violation of Florida law has occurred, whether any person may be held criminally responsible, and whether such criminal responsibility can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. The State Attorney does not establish agency policy, procedures, and training requirements. In addition, the State Attorney does not have any responsibility for determining disciplinary action nor pursuing civil litigation in these matters against a law enforcement officer. In other words, given the applicable law, the State Attorney’s role is to determine whether the actions of the involved Law Enforcement Officer constitute a criminal act that can be proven beyond and to the exclusion of every reasonable doubt.

In connection with our review and investigations there are two statutes that are often critical to our analysis; Florida Statutes 776.012 and 776.05Section 776.012, Florida Statutes, permits the use of deadly force when a person believes such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony. Further, Section 776.05, Florida Statutes, permits a law enforcement officer to use any force that he believes is necessary to defend himself or another from bodily harm while making an arrest.

Florida Statute – 776.05. Law enforcement officers; use of force in making an arrest.

A law enforcement officer, or any person whom the officer has summoned or directed to assist him or her, need not retreat or desist from efforts to make a lawful arrest because of resistance or threatened resistance to the arrest. The officer is justified in the use of any force:

  1. Which he or she reasonably believes to be necessary to defend himself or herself or another from bodily harm while making the arrest;
  2. When necessarily committed in retaking felons who have escaped; or
  3. When necessarily committed in arresting felons fleeing from justice. However, this subsection shall not constitute a defense in any civil action for damages brought for the wrongful use of deadly force unless the use of deadly force was necessary to prevent the arrest from being defeated by such flight and, when feasible, some warning had been given, and:

(a) The officer reasonably believes that the fleeing felon poses a threat of
death or serious physical harm to the officer or others; or

(b) The officer reasonably believes that the fleeing felon has committed a crime
involving the infliction or threatened infliction of serious physical harm to
another person.


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