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Pasquotank County releases Use of Force policy for sheriff’s office

Pasqoutank County Sheriff's Office
Pasqoutank County Sheriff's Office(WITN)
Published: Apr. 28, 2021 at 9:59 PM EDT
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PASQUOTANK COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) -Pasquotank County has released the Use of Force policy for the sheriff’s office that, among other things, details what law enforcement officers should do in regards to shooting into a vehicle.

Last Wednesday deputies shot and killed Andrew Brown Junior in his car as they were attempting to serve an arrest warrant.

Brown’s family says based on the 20 seconds of deputy body cam video they saw, Brown had his hands on the steering wheel and was trying to get away when he was shot several times, including a fatal shot to the back of the head.

In court Wednesday as the media petitioned for the release of that video, Pasquotank County District Attorney Andy Womble said Brown hit deputies twice with his car before they opened fire.

Here’s what the Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Office Use of Force policy says about shooting into a vehicle:

300.4.1 MOVING VEHICLES

Shots fired at or from a moving vehicle involve additional considerations and risks, and are rarely effective. When feasible, deputies should take reasonable steps to move out of the path of an approaching vehicle instead of discharging their firearm at the vehicle or any of its occupants.

A deputy should only discharge a firearm at a moving vehicle or its occupants when the deputy reasonably believes there are no other reasonable means available to avert the imminent threat of the vehicle, or if deadly force other than the vehicle is directed at the deputy or others. Deputies should not shoot at any part of a vehicle in an attempt to disable the vehicle.

The Use of Force policy was posted to the county’s new website it created to provide " factual information to correct any false information and rumors that are circulating.”

In all, the policy is 9 pages long. Overall, it says, “While there is no way to specify the exact amount or type of reasonable force to be applied in any situation, every member of this office is expected to use these guidelines to make such decisions in a professional, impartial, and reasonable manner.”

The policy also addresses when to use force:

300.3 USE OF FORCE

Deputies shall use only that amount of force that reasonably appears necessary given the facts and circumstances perceived by the deputy at the time of the event to accomplish a legitimate law enforcement purpose. The reasonableness of force will be judged from the perspective of a reasonable deputy on the scene at the time of the incident. Any evaluation of reasonableness must allow for the fact that deputies are often forced to make split-second decisions about the amount of force that reasonably appears necessary in a particular situation, with limited information and in circumstances that are tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving. Given that no policy can realistically predict every possible situation a deputy might encounter, deputies are entrusted to use well-reasoned discretion in determining the appropriate use of force in each incident. It is also recognized that circumstances may arise in which deputies reasonably believe that it would be impractical or ineffective to use any of the tools, weapons, or methods provided by this office. Deputies may find it more effective or reasonable to improvise their response to rapidly unfolding conditions that they are confronting. In such circumstances, the use of any improvised device or method must nonetheless be reasonable and utilized only to the degree that reasonably appears necessary to accomplish a legitimate law enforcement purpose. While the ultimate objective of every law enforcement encounter is to avoid or minimize injury, nothing in this policy requires a deputy to retreat or be exposed to possible physical injury before applying reasonable force.

The policy also states deputies may use reasonable force to prevent escape or to arrest a person believed to have committed a criminal offense, to defend him/herself or a third person against the use or imminent use of physical force.

The policy also goes into detail about using deadly force:

300.4 DEADLY FORCE APPLICATIONS

When reasonable, the deputy shall, prior to the use of deadly force, make efforts to identify him/herself as a peace officer and to warn that deadly force may be used, unless the deputy has objectively reasonable grounds to believe the person is aware of those facts. Use of deadly force is justified in the following circumstances involving imminent threat or imminent risk: (a) A deputy may use deadly force to protect him/herself or others from what he/she reasonably believes is an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury. (b) A deputy may use deadly force to stop a fleeing subject when the deputy has probable cause to believe that the individual has committed, or intends to commit, a felony involving the infliction or threatened infliction of serious bodily injury or death, and the deputy reasonably believes that there is an imminent risk of serious bodily injury or death to any other person if the individual is not immediately apprehended. Under such circumstances, a verbal warning should precede the use of deadly force, where feasible. Imminent does not mean immediate or instantaneous. An imminent danger may exist even if the suspect is not at that very moment pointing a weapon at someone. For example, an imminent danger may exist if a deputy reasonably believes that the individual has a weapon or is attempting to access one and intends to use it against the deputy or another person. An imminent danger may also exist if the individual is capable of causing serious bodily injury or death without a weapon, and the deputy believes the individual intends to do so.

You can read the full policy by clicking the link below.

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