Police are often given some leeway by the District Attorney and Grand Juries as protecting the public can be a dangerous job that relies on split-second decisions. Without the laws enabling them to use reasonable force, police would constantly be brought up on charges of assault, battery and murder. But despite the protections given to police, some officers still go too far and are charged with criminal offenses. In that case police, just like any other accused criminal, need the assistance of a top San Diego criminal defense lawyer.
Recently, one particular cop, Jason Van Dyke, has been brought to the forefront of this issue when he was charged with first-degree murder related to an on-duty shooting. This is not only rare everywhere, but it’s the first time it has ever happened in Dyke’s jurisdiction of Chicago. That being said, this wasn’t just any on-duty shooting. The officer exited his vehicle and began shooting within six seconds, hitting the victim 16 times. He then began reloading his gun when he was told to stand down by another officer. Adding to the case against him is the fact that Van Dyke has a history of making racist slurs and has had 18 civilian complaints filed against him though he has never been disciplined. It’s hard to say at this point if Van Dyke will be offered a plea bargain and it’s uncertain if most defense attorneys in San Diego or Chicago would even want to take one. That’s because despite the evidence against him -including a dashcam video showing the brutal shooting, his attorney and police union representatives have both argued that his actions were justified.
In Van Dyke’s defense, he works a deadly job and the victim was a threat to the police officers that had him surrounded. The victim was high on PCP, wielding a knife that he had already used to slash open the tires from police vehicles. Van Dyke was acting out of fear and instinct according to his criminal lawyer and that’s something most San Diego defense attorneys would agree upon.
Ultimately, this case will come down to whether or not Van Dyke’s fear was sufficient enough to motivate him to overreact to a situation and whether his history is enough to show that he was acting with malice or merely within his duties. It will be a tough case for both the prosecution and the defense.
If you are accused of a crime and believe your actions were justified, always speak with a San Diego criminal lawyer before talking to the police. You can schedule a free initial consultation with Peter M. Liss by calling (760) 643-4050 or (858) 486-3024.
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