There is a thin line that exists between a police officer applying force to protect himself and others and a police officer applying force in a manner that is intended to harm a person with no good reason. Because it is rather difficult to see this line, it can sometimes be hard to distinguish when an officer is following protocol or abusing his power and engaging in police brutality. Perhaps that is why the majority of cases involving police shootings don’t make it to court or the officer being tried is found to be not guilty and the charges against him or her are dropped.
There is no doubt that a police officer’s job is challenging, they have to make drastic decisions in a matter of seconds and sometimes, these decisions are deadly. While we have seen numerous cases of police brutality hit social media platforms and become viral, one incident that recently surfaced might have you on the fence as to who was wrong and who was right.
The Sun-Sentinel was one of the news sources that covered the story involving Jean Pedro Pierre, 42, who was seen in a video taken from the surveillance cameras from the Sunset Hills Condominium in Lauderdale Lakes grabbing an officers leg and attempting to hit him. According to the source, deputies were called to the complex around 4:50 p.m. to a report of a disturbance. Sean Youngward was the first deputy to arrive at the scene. When Pierre opened the door, Youngward was allegedly “overwhelmed by the superior size and strength” of the man.
Soon after their first encounter, they begin fighting.
The video footage we see from deputy body cameras and the video footage from the condominium show the two fighting and Pierre slapping the officer. Youngward then shot his Taser at him as they moved toward the parking lot. After being warned to “back down” and “stand down,” Pierre fails to stop. Bystanders filming the debacle even urge Pierre to stop and warn that he is going to get shot if he doesn’t. Eventually, Youngward called in a Code 3, which signaled he was in great danger, and more officers arrived. Deputy Steven Briggs quickly approached the two men and shouted to Pierre to “Get off him!” Pierre let go of Youngward’s leg and ran at Briggs which promoted him to react quickly and shoot. Pierre was shot three times and officers proceeded to render aid to the hurt Pierre.
He was then transported to a local hospital where he later died from the wounds. Although many might be obliged to feel as though this was an act of police brutality, officers are trained to act when they feel their life or others around are at risk. And that is what it seems Briggs did in this given situation. Neither the Sheriff’s Office or the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) will decide if this killing was justified, rather, the State Attorney’s Office will review the case. A grand jury will then make the decision as to whether a deputy is indicted.
While the officers are going to want to obtain representation from a distinguished criminal defense attorney, they might have a solid chance of getting out of being charged for this particular shooting.