Keywords: Firearms Expert, Ballistics Expert, Shooting Reconstruction Expert, Police Shooting Expert, Officer Involved Shooting Expert, Firearms Safety Expert, Hunting Safety Expert, Crime Scene Expert, Trajectory Analysis Expert, Tool Mark Expert, Microscopy Expert, Shooting Incident Reconstruction Expert, Firearms Design Expert, Firearms Catastrophic Failure Expert, Machine Gun Expert, Improvised Firearms Expert, Gunshot Wounds Expert, Gunshot Distance Expert, Discharged Cartridge Case Pattern Expert, High Velocity Blood Spatter Expert, Gunshot Acoustics Expert, Ammunition Velocity Expert, Gunshot Kinetic Energy Expert.
Ronald R. Scott, M.A., M.S.
There is always a question of justification when an officer uses deadly force. In general, the use of deadly force requires there be an imminent threat of death or serious personal injury either to the officer or others.
Since 1979 I have been involved in the forensic, criminal, and internal investigation of more than 400 police shootings where the officer either discharged his firearm or was fired upon.
This includes incidents where officers have inadvertently shot another officer (friendly fire) or a by-stander.
Over half of my 25+ year career as a Massachusetts State Trooper was in the Ballistics Section investigating officer involved shootings or supervising the investigation. I was a member of the State Police Firearms Review Board which assessed the internal investigation, forensics, training, and Policy & Procedure related to the use of deadly force. The MSP Ballistics Section conducted shooting investigations for 350 cities and towns, all state agencies, all Federal agencies in the state except for the FBI, and all the military services.
As an independent consultant I have had the opportunity to be involved in numerous criminal and civil cases involving police officer related shootings.
In a considerable number of cases, the police investigation can be described as incompetent and amateurish.
● Number of gunshots are under-counted.
● Overwhelming majority of incidents involving shooting at a motor vehicle are reckless and prohibited by policy.
● The belief that shooting the operator of a vehicle will stop it is fallacious; the vehicle becomes a moving missile.
● Basic forensic tests are never conducted.
● Officers give little more than a brief and vague report.
● Often the involved officer(s) does not submit any report nor make any statement.
● The multi-layered internal review process never occurs.
● The internal review & investigation does not even exist.
● The Department violates its own Policy & Procedure in reviewing shootings.
● Bullets and cartridge cases do not get compared to tests from officer's firearms to determine who fired or where they were located.
● Tests to determine muzzle to target distance are ignored.
● Officers resort to "contagious shooting" instead of their training.
● Evidence is moved about without any record of who and why.
● Crime scene diagrams have numerous errors and omissions.
● Evidence which should be present is not addressed since it may conflict with the officer's version of events.
● Crime scenes are improperly processed.
● Fatal shootings by an officer are investigated by the officer's supervisor instead of a separate unit.
Police shootings require a transparent and detailed investigation so that all the facts can be determined and evaluated.