Was it Legal for a Cop to Shoot David Sweat as he Fled?

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New York State Police Superintendent Joseph D'Amico and Gov. Andrew Cuomo announce the capture of David Sweat.

Office of the Governor

New York State Police Superintendent Joseph D'Amico and Gov. Andrew Cuomo announce the capture of David Sweat.

The dramatic and welcome end of the flight of two vicious killers over the weekend shouldn’t stop us from asking an honest question about the use of police force in the encounter that stopped David Sweat’s run from justice.

Sweat, who before he escaped from Clinton Correctional Facility was doing a life term for shooting a sheriff’s deputy multiple times and running him over with a car while he was still alive, was apprehended Sunday a few miles south of the Canadian border. A state police sergeant saw him jogging and asked to speak with him. Sweat took off running, the trooper gave chase and, as Sweat was about to disappear into the forest, the trooper fired twice, hitting Sweat “in the torso,” according to published reports. Sweat was unarmed.

It’s unclear exactly where Sweat was hit. Most media accounts have avoided saying that Sweat was shot in the back, although photos suggest that’s where the bullets struck him. A spokesman for Albany Medical Center, where Sweat is being treated, refused to specify the location of his injuries, citing privacy laws.

In New York City, such a shooting might have been verboten. The NYPD patrol guide states that “police officers shall not discharge their firearms to subdue a fleeing felon who presents no threat of imminent death or serious physical injury to themselves or another person present.”

But state law appears to provide officers with more latitude.

Section 35.30 of the state penal code says that a police officer “in the course of effecting or attempting to effect an arrest, or of preventing or attempting to prevent the escape from custody, of a person whom he or she reasonably believes to have committed an offense, may use physical force when and to the extent he or she reasonably believes such to be necessary to effect the arrest, or to prevent the escape from custody … except that deadly physical force may be used for such purposes” under specific conditions.

One of them is when “the offense committed” by the fleeing person is “a felony … involving the use or attempted use or threatened imminent use of physical force against a person” which Sweat’s original crime was. Deadly force is also permitted when the person has committed “kidnapping, arson, escape in the first degree, burglary in the first degree or any attempt to commit such a crime.” Escape in the first degree is what Sweat apparently committed when he broke out of prison.

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  • Paul Mountain

    Law is a flexible instrument, same as our spines.

  • Jordan

    Dumb question, dumb article, dumb writer…just all around dumb

    • DUB

      You got it bud!

    • Ross Banick

      Have you ever read the Bill of Rights?
      Do you have any inkling of what it means?

      The press is exercising their rights to question the (almost certainly) illegal actions of the police.

      As “James Dean” (above) said, we’re not expressing sympathy for the fugitive; we’re worried about the US Constitution and our way of life.

      • RealitySucks

        I too am worried about our “way of life”. It seems that not too many years ago, most folks could be honest, follow directions, etc. and things were good. Somewhere down the line liberals showed up, decided to defend every scumbag who whines about how unfair life is and now we have a bunch of idiots who don’t seem to know right from wrong.

        Another item to consider – once you are tried and convicted of a felony, you lose certain rights afforded to law abiding citizens. If these two a-holes weren’t criminals, they wouldn’t have had the police shooting at them. Period.

        • Brad I

          I am astonished by the level of ignorance in this post. A felon loses the right to vote and a few other civic rights, temporarily, but every man, woman and child on this planet has the right to not be SHOT AT when they are running away from someone with a gun.

          • RealitySucks

            Every LAW ABIDING man, woman and child has the right not to be shot at when running away from a law enforcement officer. Sweat and his moron buddy do not fit that definition and therefore were shot. You are the definition of ignorant….

          • Brad I

            The unintended humor in your reply is great. So only law abiding citizens have the right to not be shot at? So anyone who breaks a law is free game? Holy crap, your reality does suck. Do you know what due process means?

        • Brad I

          Civilized nations adhere to a code not to shoot at enemy combatants when they throw down their guns and those are people from another country, who speak another language and were just actively trying to kill our soldiers. You guys are acting like the guy was a serial killer or Bin Laden himself.

  • Lee1001

    only in america

  • Brasher

    Fricking seriously? Wtf is happening to this country? Hes fricking lucky he wasn’t killed. That would have been the best outcome. Now hes going to have yet another trial, another tax appointed lawyer who wants his name put out there and milk this crap out for as long as he can… And you ask was it legal? Your a friggen tool.

    • DUB

      Couldn’t have said it better myself.

    • Dirk

      Amen to that. This guy is waste of food and oxygen. Admitted they were gonna kill that woman’s husband…. This loser will do anything to anyone to get what he wants, like somehow he matters and others don’t. Firing squad, and not in 20 years – next week.

    • James Dean

      The officer shot a man fleeing who he suspected looked like the perp. So you think it’s ok to shoot at someone based solely on suspicion. I personally don’t give two sh*ts about the guy and would rather he be deceased. But, I also don’t think shooting at unarmed people running without absolute certainty is right.

      • RealitySucks

        So, in your world, if someone kills and is convicted, sentenced and imprisoned and then escapes and is confronted by an officer who tells him he wants to talk to him and he runs, we should ignore the issue at hand and let him run off ? If there is probable cause for an officer to ask you to talk to him (there was) and you choose to run away, he should be allowed to shoot your dumb @$$.

        • James Dean

          I don’t think looking like someone is probable cause for lethal force no. He had no way of knowing for sure this was the man in question.

          • MAB21

            Are you James Dean from Brazzers?

          • Woehammer

            You’re right, resemblance to a convicted felon is not probable cause. However, properly identifying and apprehending criminals is in a law enforcement officer’s job description. The officer in question is a New York State Trooper, he likely had Sweat’s face memorized on account of having seen it on a daily basis, literally. Everyone looking for Sweat knew exactly what Sweat looked like, they would have known his profile, his height, his weight, what he was likely wearing, his demeanor, etc. That Sweat was in the area, looked like HIMSELF, did not respond to the officer verbally and then proceeded to run, the State Trooper was arguably obligated to shoot Sweat. People question the actions of law enforcement with such impudence that they forget the perpetrator is equally obligated to follow the directives of law enforcement officers. Sweat got himself shot. And that’s all there is to it.

          • MAB21

            I agree…They could have shot that poor guy that was questioned 3 times for looking like Sweat. He didnt get shot, nor did they point a gun at him. He responded to the questions… Sweat did not, he ran. They got the right guy. Still have doubts? Look at his tat on the left arm. They released a pic of him sitting in the grass with no shirt. Good judgment was used.

          • Diane W.

            1) “………he likely had Sweat’s face memorized on account of having seen it on a daily basis, literally.”

            You’re speculating. In addition, you’re implying that a state trooper can prove a person’s identity with 100% accuracy just based off of looking at pictures. That is disturbing.

            2) “……..the State Trooper was arguably obligated to shoot Sweat.”

            Obligated? Arguably? Since when is an officer “obligated” to shoot an unarmed person in the back who is running away and not posing an immediate threat?

            3) “People question the actions of law enforcement with such impudence that they forget the perpetrator is equally obligated to follow the directives of law enforcement officers.”

            That is a mindless comment, since according to your argument, it is OK in ALL instances for an officer to shoot and kill someone simply because the officer has a perception that the individual is “not complying” to his/her commands. You completely ignore the fact that some people have hearing problems (or didn’t hear the officer), mental disorders, or speak another language.

            Furthermore, the use of lethal force should be the LAST option. The officer had other options, which he did not take first. He should have pursed the suspect and called for back-up.

          • Woehammer

            1) I am absolutely speculating. You’re right. However, I am not implying a Sergeant Cook could prove Sweat’s identity with 100% accuracy just based off looking at pictures. Alternatively, I did imply Cook inferred that the person he had encountered was Sweat based off of appearance, behavior, demeanor, location, etc. Appearance is not the only indicator that Cook used to determine “this is probably the escaped, convicted murder that’s costing my state 20+ million dollars.” It was a reasonable assumption considering the circumstance.

            2) Seriously? Let’s think outside of your box for a second. In the moment it took Cook to decide whether to shoot Sweat, Sweat posed no immediate threat to Cook. Having said that, let’s objectively look at what Sweat did threaten in the grand scheme of his escape. As a convicted murderer, his presence threatened the surrounding community. As an escaped convict, he cost the state of New York 1 million dollars per day. That money comes from tax payers and is, definitely, an ongoing economic threat.

            3) “…OK in ALL instances…” Did I say that? I think you’re struggling with perspective here. Cook is a veteran law enforcement officer, specifically a New York State Trooper. Based off of these facts, objective observer (such as ourselves) can reasonably assume two things: Cook is qualified to do his job (State Troopers generally receive more training than most county sheriff/city/metropolitan police departments) and has extensive experience doing his job (21 years of experience to be exact). I don’t know you, I don’t know what you do, but based on your comment, I assume you’re NOT in law enforcement. In most instances, lethal force should be the last option. I agree. But the world doesn’t always allow for such cut and dried standards. In this particular instance, I believe that Sergeant Cook made the right decision to shoot an unarmed, fleeing subject in the back. While the New York City metropolitan police departments expressly prohibit this sort of response, New York State Police are granted more autonomy in how they deal with fleeing subjects. Why? Probably because New York State Police have a particularly larger jurisdiction. In fact, at the time, Cook and Sweat were 6 miles from the Canadian border. Had Cook not shot Sweat, allowing him to continue evading capture, Sweat may have had an opportunity to cross the border into Canada. So yeah, I firmly believe that Cook (specifically Cook, specifically in this one instance) was obligated to shoot Sweat to prevent a desperate, convicted murderer and escaped convict from crossing over into Canada and becoming their problem.

          • grassroot

            You don’t disobey a policeman’s order, as in Ferguson, this was an avoidable shooting too.
            You Liberals, code for Socialists, Always give the lawbreaker the pass and denigrate the law
            keepers.

          • gruntled

            Hmmm. I must have been a figment of my imagination that Cons rallied to the defense of lawbreaker Cliven Bundy, who has thumbed his nose at numerous courts and law officers.

        • MAB21

          If you want to be picky about stuff, David is not a murderer, He is an attempted murderer. He did not actually kill the cop… his cousin did. Matt on the other hand did kill 2 people but he was up for parole in 17 years. Sweat no chance for parole, but in fact, he killed no one. The whole system is not fully functioning…. Gotta be on both sides of the fence to see it.

          • DTB

            Well said.

        • Diane W.

          Your name explains it all — you hate accepting reality.

          Well, here is a dose of reality, son:
          It is not OK for a cop to shoot another person in the back who is unarmed, running away, and not posing any immediate threat. In an intelligent and civilized society we must act objectively when enforcing laws as opposed to letting our emotions get the better of us. Just because Sweat is a convicted murder does not mean we should take a vigilante approach when arresting him

          Many people, including myself, believe the state trooper who shot Sweats in the back is a coward. A real man would have chased Sweats down instead.

          • RealitySucks

            I am not your son and I have a much better handle on reality than libtards like you. Reality – libtards allow anyone in society to run amuck in the name of being “civilized” or “enlightened”. Reality – criminals like Sweat serve absolutely no purpose and should be exterminated ASAP. I’m tired of my tax $$ being used to support scumbags like Sweat. If they are bad enough to lock up forever, there is no earthly reason to keep them alive.

          • entertainedbyidiots

            libtards? good job being another partisan shill, because we don’t have enough useless brain-dead morons in society….

      • Brasher

        He knew who he was. Don’t play stupid. Read the article

    • Tiffanys Sales

      The new stated that the officer asked him three times to comply. Personaly I think hes a hero and should be treated as such. I’ve lived here all my life and I know these woods. They are tough! Its not an easy stroll through the woods like a lot seem to think. As far as the shooting of sweat…he shouldnt of ran after being confronted and identified. Office cook great job! Sweat was caught 5 mins away from my father in laws house where my children often play.

      • Diane W.

        A hero does not shoot an unarmed person in the back who is running away and not posing any immediate threat — only a coward does that. A real hero would have chased Sweats down.

        Furthermore, there is no objective evidence that states the “officer asked him three times to comply”. There were no witnesses to verify the officer’s claim.

        • RealitySucks

          So who would you believe – the officer or the convicted murderer ? Please tell me you are smarter than your comments suggest you are…

          • titsmcgee

            Given the fact that the officer was an out of shape, pencil dicked, cock twister, it doesn’t surprise me that he gunned down Sweat. He can make up any story he wants but we both know he should hit the gym more so he can earn the right to wear his badge.

          • RealitySucks

            I have seen several photos of the officer and he certainly is not obese. Your insight into the officer’s genitalia is a bit frightening. Maybe you should seek some help.

          • titsmcgee

            How did you get obese from ‘out of shape’?

      • Abe T.

        Good for your children dumbass. No matter what they do in their lives im sure you would never want them shot in the back by a coward

    • Diane W.

      You’re the simpleton, Brasher. It is not OK for a cop to shoot another person in the back who is unarmed, running away, and not posing any threat at the time. In an intelligent and civilized society we must act objectively when enforcing laws as opposed to letting our emotions get the better of us. Just because Sweat is a convicted murder does not mean we should take a vigilante approach when arresting him

      Many people, including myself, believe the state trooper who shot Sweats in the back is a coward. A real man would have chased Sweats down instead.

      • RealitySucks

        You are the coward Diane. Try dealing directly with the problem at hand, instead of relying on somebody else to do it and then sitting back and criticizing them.

        • titsmcgee

          How is she a coward? I’m a disabled vet. By your logic I’m also a coward because I rely on cops to do their job while I sit back and criticize them. Nevermind the shit I went through, or the better training I had that gives me the right to criticize their tactics. I guess I’m just a bitch. Is there inbreeding going on in your family?

          • RealitySucks

            She is a coward because she would put an officer in harms way to make herself feel good. Are you idiots at least cognizant that Sweat IS A CONVICTED MURDERER and was shot because he had ESCAPED FROM PRISON AND WAS FLEEING FROM LAW ENFORCEMENT ???

          • titsmcgee

            The subject was fleeing, how would the officer have been in harms way? When my dog chases the cat, my dog is clearly in danger…

      • Brasher

        yes, lets treat him to more trials, more tax payers dollars tied up into him. Lets set him up with a group meeting on feelings and lets set him up with similar criminals to discuss how they “hurt” and how they should have all the rights as free men. Lets just set them all free because ya know what… That’s a nice thing to do. And I’m glad your speaking for your many (which is maybe 3) people who call this officer a coward. You three are whats wrong with this society

    • howardr22

      That is correct remember escape is generally only a crime in the US and other countries mainly the EU escape is not. I repeat not a crime. Since it is natural for some who is locked up to want to escape, the EU countries felt that escape should not be a crime and it is not- no punishment for escape since it is natural to try to escape. sweat should not have been shot- the police should be able to run faster, or let him go to be arrested later by the RCMP.
      German law student here. I explained this here on reddit once but I will explain it here again as good as I can (my English isn’t that good).

      Prison escape in Germany is not punishable by law if the escaper doesn’t break any other laws. I can say, it is close to impossible to escape a prison without breaking a law.

      If the prisoner damage the bars, it’s damage to property(Sachbeschädigung?!), if the prisoner runs a way with his prison clothes on, it’s theft. Taking hostages, beating someone etc. will be punished as well.

      Any crime you do while escaping from prison will be held against you.

      Edit: It’s illegal to help someone to escape from prison.

  • Bruce128

    No, the officer should have turned the other cheek so this convicted cop killer could maim and kill others. That would have been the PC thing to do.

    • DUB

      LOL! you got it bud!

      • jimidawg

        his name is bruce yo moron.

        • DUB

          I know his name you goof-dawg!

  • DUB

    Was it proper for the cop to shoot this guy?
    That is a question that only an anti-gun,anti-cop,crime excusing dumb-a** could ask! Of course it was
    proper to shoot this fleeing escaped murderer,even in the back. Get real!

    • FritzH

      Question wasn’t “proper,” question was “legal.”

      • DUB

        OK.It was proper and legally justified.

  • Tim Sebold

    Legally speaking it’s not even a question. Graham v. Connor and Tennessee v. Garner settled this issue decades ago. You can shoot a violent fleeing felon, even in the back, if it is reasonable to believe that he poses a threat of death or serious bodily harm to others. Any reasonable person could deduce that an escaped cop killer is likely to kill again and would thus lawfully be able to use deadly force to prevent his escape.

  • Mercury

    Unlike most police shootings which involve suspects this case involves a convict, making it a different situation. The shooting would be justified, however if the convict was shot in the back, I have to question the press calling the officer a “hero”.

    • DUB

      You be a fool!

    • Tim Sebold

      He was a hero for even being out there willing to confront a desperate escaped convict with no backup, a convict who he knew had already killed a police officer before. That he had the courage to act under pressure and with the weight of knowing every move would be dissected by media pundits and lawyers, and yet chose to act anyway, is icing on the cake. The dude is a hero, end of story.

      • Dirk

        A+ That asshole had no problem mutilating and killing another person, who cares if he got it in the back? He deserved worse.

        • Dirk

          They will keep him alive to testify against those who helped with the escape. Then he should have an “accident.”

      • titsmcgee

        “the courage to act under pressure”???? This is what he was trained to do. Stop acting like he is a fucking Saint. Oh, and thank you for ending the story.

        • Tim Sebold

          Never said he was a “saint”, idiot, I said he was a hero. And he was. Now kick rocks, son, before you piss me off.

          • titsmcgee

            Well you seem to be worshipping him, so do you care to reexamine your choice of words? I’d like to see you angry, type harder chimp.

  • Jabe

    Should have shot him in the head, save the taxpayers any further$$$ keeping this piece of garbage alive.

    • shadowmane20

      Law Enforcement in the United States are taught to shoot center mass. The officer did his job to training standards.

      • Stryke

        C’mon…we can make a few exceptions.

      • 4Q4Q4Q

        How ’bout three rounds to the head?

    • 4Q4Q4Q

      Until it happens to one of yours. Cop did the right thing with the scenario presented. However not all cases are this clear cut. Please don’t take the “if he wasn’t guilty the cop wouldn’t have shot him” bait. The reason we have the few bad cops we do have is that attitude and the “thin blue line”. Most cops close ranks no matter how egregious the situation because the feel it could be them one day. Just like there are good and bad people in society, we punish the bad and the same should hold true for police officers. A badge is not a “safe conduct” for inappropriate behavior.

  • S Liss

    Kudos to the officer. He saved NY state a lot of tax dollars by finishing this fool’s adventure. Tax dollars that could be used on more worthwhile people.

    • Kiefer Alan Anderson

      Wait what about the tax dollars that’s gonna cost us to put him back on court?.. This country is stupid. If you kill someone you should be killed. End of story

      • gruntled

        Thanks for helping prove me right!
        I just knew some right wingers would criticize the cop for not killing Sweat outright.

  • TheOtherManWithNoName

    Let’s just stir the pot with a plastic spoon. This article raises BS questions. The guy was a murder. He shot some one 22 times, and while the guy was alive he ran over him with a car to finish him off. This is not Mary Poppins and this article is offensive, since it seeks to undermine the work of an extraordinary team of men, and an individual that most people could never do what he has done, period. Fortunately, he did it, and we can all rest now, except apparently the press, who must stir the pot some more.

  • gary

    it should illegal NOT to shoot that bastard

  • Danangme

    Should have asked him to please stop

    • Dirk

      Um, he did. The guy, a known murderer, took off running.

  • Johann Bach

    If it is legal for the tower guards to shoot a convict trying to scale the prison wall wouldn’t it also stand to reason that it is just as legal to shoot the escaped convict 40 miles away from those same walls? He chose not to stop when told and took his chances by running. He lost.

  • Jon B

    was it legal to to break out of prison , cost taxpayers $25 million dollars?

  • CovertOps

    Even though we believe the officer’s actions were justified – such cases often provide an interesting opportunity to evaluate the merits of rules and regulations regarding deadly force. We should not object to having a discussion about the subject.

    • Tim Sebold

      “Even though we believe the officer’s actions were justified”
      —-
      It’s not an issue of what “we believe”. It’s a “yes or no” issue. The officer’s actions were, as a matter of fact and of law, justified. The legality of the act simply isn’t open for debate or opinions. What is the point of having a “discussion” to debate the legal merits of something that is patently justified and legal? What else should we “have a conversation” about? The fact that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west?

      • Brad I

        “The legality of the act simply isn’t open for debate or opinions.” You’re right yet at the same time completely wrong. Can you please cite a Supreme Court opinion that distinguishes Tennessee v. Garner that allows an officer to shoot an unarmed, fleeing felon or inmate?

        • Tim Sebold

          Did you have a question, because that last sentence literally made no sense. The act of shooting a fleeing violent felon that poses a danger to others has always been legal. There has never been a time in the history of this country where it has not been legal. I am right on this, nothing you can say can change that.

          • Brad I

            Correct, but they most pose an imminent danger. You’re not citing the right principle and your misstating the current law. The fleeing felon rule was abolished in 1985. The last sentence in your reply is really funny. You sound like a little child on a playground.

          • Tim Sebold

            You are, of course, completely wrong. Tennessee v. Garner did not “abolish” the fleeing felon rule, far from it. The decision in Garner served to clarify that fleeing felons who pose a threat to others may be shot to prevent their escape, while those who did not can not reasonably have deadly force applied to stop them from fleeing. There was (and is) no language that specifies that an officer or third party must be in imminent jeopardy of physical harm, only that the officer firing the shot reasonably believe the person poses such a dangerous threat should they escape. There are numerous progeny of the Garner decision that reiterate this logic, if your goal is to find some of those I suggest you check with Google Scholar or LexisNexis, I’m not inclined to list them here. Needless to say, the list is rather extensive. As far as your assertion about what I “sound” like, you’ll have to forgive me: Next year will mark my 20th year in the business of law enforcement and I have a BS in CJ admin, trust me when I tell you that there is literally nothing you can teach me about this particular subject.

          • Brad I

            Where did you get your CJ BS? Because you need to go back for a CE course. I don’t even know why I continue to waste my time trying to educate people like you who think they know a subject when they clearly don’t.

            “Tennessee v. Garner did not “abolish” the fleeing felon rule, far from it.”

            Incorrect. The fleeing felon rule was a legal doctrine that allowed law enforcement to use deadly force on a fleeing felon. If you read any law textbook that includes this case, you would see that the holding of the case is that the fleeing felon rule was abolished.

            “There was (and is) no language that specifies that an officer or third party must be in imminent jeopardy of physical harm”

            Really? Let me lift a quote straight from Tenneessee v. Garner: “Where the suspect poses
            no immediate threat to the officer and no threat to others, the harm resulting
            from failing to apprehend him does not justify the use of deadly force to do
            so.”

            This quote is from a U.S. DoJ memorandum on the use of deadly force: “The necessity to use deadly force arises when all other available means of preventing imminent and grave danger to officers or other persons have failed or would be likely to fail…a subject may pose an imminent danger even if he or she is not at that very moment pointing a weapon at the officer if, for example, he or she has a weapon within reach or is running for cover carrying a weapon or running to a place where the officer has reason to believe a weapon is available.”

            As I said before, please stop pretending like you understand criminal procedure better than me. A police officer is not an attorney, you are not an expert in this field and I’ve seen hundreds of police officers embarrass themselves during trial by misstating the law. I have the highest respect for police officers but the typical LEO takes a 5 week (at best) course on criminal procedure when that same subject is typically a multi-semester course in law school. (Google Scholar? You do not use Google Scholar to do legal research.)

          • Tim Sebold

            First of all, you’re arguing semantics. As as legal doctrinethe “fleeing felon rule” did hold that all felons could be shot, regardless. Garner, however, did not flatly “abolish” the legal ability to shoot any and all fleeing felons, it merely restricted those who could lawfully have deadly force applied against them. However your original assertion was that I was applying Garner incorrectly, when in fact I applied it perfectly. The language you yourself quoted proves my point as it relates to the case at hand: The suspect posed no IMMEDIATE danger to the officer who fired, however he did pose a future (as in NOT immediate) risk to others if he were allowed to escape. As to the issue we are discussing (escape), the issue of an officer being imminent jeopardy is a moot point, for if the suspect presents “opportunity, ability and jeopardy” of death or serious bodily injury, then Garner doesn’t even come into play, it becomes a standard use of force in defense of self. I took the liberty of lifting my own quote from Garner:

            “Thus, if the suspect threatens the officer with a
            weapon or there is probable cause to believe that he has committed a
            crime involving the infliction or threatened infliction of serious
            physical harm, deadly force may be used if necessary to prevent escape
            .

            Shooting Sweat as he fled while apparently unarmed was legal under both Garner and the standard established in Graham v Connor. It was objectively reasonable to shoot a convicted cop killer and escaped inmate based on the totality of the circumstances. Period. No amount of semantic games is going to change that analysis, which was my analysis and point from the word “go”.

            “A police officer is not an attorney”,

            Don’t I know it. I’ve seen countless attorneys intentionally cite law improperly and take advantage of magistrates who don’t know better to get cases tossed at prelim when they shouldn’t be. The intentional misapplication of the Arizona v. Gant case comes to mind, in which defense attorneys try to argue that Gant overrides the vehicle exception to the warrant requirement when probable cause exists (it doesn’t). I have literally had to school a young prosecutor and dig up case law (with Google Scholar, no less) to show him case law to defeat a defense attorney’s BS motion to this effect in an armed robbery trial. Attorneys don’t have the corner on the market on knowing what the law is and how to use it.

            “you are not an expert in this field”

            Sorry dude, but you just simply couldn’t be more wrong. I may not have the law school degree, but I have an expert level grasp of the issues surrounding the use of deadly force and when it may be lawfully applied, a practical, real-world understanding born out of nearly two decades of experience and academic study. I may not be able to articulate it like a highly paid attorney in the courtroom, but on the street and with a weapon in hand, I know what call to make when it comes down to it.

            (Google Scholar? You do not use Google Scholar to do legal research.)

            Really? The language of the case laws is the same, whether I look it up through Lexis Nexis or Findlaw.

            “This quote is from a U.S. DoJ memorandum on the use of deadly force:
            “The necessity to use deadly force arises when all other available means
            of preventing imminent and grave danger to officers or other persons
            have failed or would be likely to fail…a subject may pose an imminent
            danger even if he or she is not at that very moment pointing a weapon at
            the officer if, for example, he or she has a weapon within reach or is
            running for cover carrying a weapon or running to a place where the
            officer has reason to believe a weapon is available.”

            You’re diverging again, it’s apples and oranges. We’re not talking about imminent danger, we’re talking about preventing escape of a violent felon who poses a future risk (be that 30 second, 30 minutes, 30 hours) should he not be caught. For example: Let’s say Ted Bundy was still alive, and he escaped. You are a lone officer near a wooded area conducting a search. You see Bundy and order him to surrender. He flees with no visible weapons, running at a full tilt toward a line of trees where you will lose sight of him. Does Tennessee v. Garner prohibit you from shooting him? NO. Does he pose an “IMMINENT” threat to you? No. Does he pose an apparently “IMMINENT” threat to others? No. Because Tennessee v. Garner does NOT make the distinction that the threat to another must be IMMINENT.

          • Tim Sebold

            Well I had a huge, drawn out, point by point refutation that didn’t seem to stick when I hit post, so here it is in a nutshell:

            From Garner:
            Where the officer has probable cause to believe that the suspect poses a
            threat of serious physical harm, either to the officer or to others (not “imminent”), it
            is not constitutionally unreasonable to prevent escape
            by using deadly force. Thus, if the suspect threatens the officer with a
            weapon or there is probable cause to believe that he has committed a
            crime involving the infliction or threatened infliction of serious
            physical harm
            , deadly force may be used if necessary to prevent escape

            Game. Set. Match.

      • CovertOps

        Well let’s see. Where is the line drawn between justified and unjustified? What if David Sweat was an African American who had just robbed a convenience store and was running away? What if his only crime was petty theft?

        Subjects like this warrant discussion.

        • Tim Sebold

          “If”. If any of the scenarios you described were the case here then we would be talking about those cases. As it stands we were discussing Mr. Sweat, and the law (both in statute and case law) is crystal clear. There is no debate as to whether or not the Sweat shooting was legal. Every situation is judged legally upon the objective reasonableness of the officer’s actions under the totality of the circumstances. Period. It’s not open for debate whatsoever.

          • CovertOps

            We are talking about those cases because of this case. That’s called public discourse, which occurs when incidents affecting important public rights occur. If you don’t want to talk about it, guess what, crawl back under that rock you came out from.

  • wilson blauheuer

    the quote from the lawbook is confusing and contradictory, in my opinion. “The officer may usephysical force, blah blah except that deadly force may be used” – does that mean deadly force is not a part of physical force? I don’t know how deadly force, or any force at all, that is not physical. Even if you electrocute, poison, or frighten someone to death, it is a physical act. In other states, you can shoot a person escaping from a prison after they are convicted, but once they have escaped the sight of the prison guard, they cannot just be shot down on sight at a later time. My opinion, this man deserves little sympathy- but it isn’t him we are worrying about, it is our country and it’s constitution and the liberties police are being allowed to get away with. The cop is a coward, in my opinion. I don’t like him anymore than I like David Sweat.

    • RealitySucks

      I am utterly dumbfounded by what you wrote. At what point do the rights and safety of the common citizen begin to carry the same or more weight than those of a CONVICTED DANGEROUS MURDERER ? The cop is a coward ? Easy for you to say, nice and safe, hiding behind your keyboard, mouse and monitor…

      • Tim Sebold

        Amen!

      • howardr22

        You need to review law books, the rights of a convict and the rights of a citizen are the same no greater or less weight is applied, they are both US citizens, your thinking is emotional and not logical. You need to think like a lawyer to understand this, I know its difficult, but strip your emotions from the decision and use the following legal tool found in most law schools that teach common law- IRAC:
        Which stands for Issue, Rule, Application, conclusion- how would that work here
        – what is the issue? prison escape-
        what is the rule- escape in the state of New York is illegal (this is important if the prisoner escaped to a county where escape is not illegal they may not return him/her even with extradition, the crime has to be a crime in both locations, generally with some exceptions)
        Conclusion- the prisoner should be rearrested but, only a jury can impose a death sentence- while the police in NY could have the right to use deadly force he shot from a distance away positive ID was not made, there was no reason to shoot?

    • shadowmane20

      There you have it wrong. I’m a Correctional Officer with the State of North Carolina. If he is an escaped felon, he can be shot for fleeing… period.

      • davptn

        Exactly right. “Fleeing Felon” and escaped inmate are two different things, carry a different standard for use of deadly force, and many here are getting them confused. A violent escaped inmate is, and is assumed to be, an immediate threat to anyone around them, and to anyone who they may come into contact with in the future. It matters not one bit that he wasn’t armed or did not make any threatening move toward the officer. As a convicted violent and escaped felon, his status as an escapee and his attempt to flee is all the just cause required to use deadly force.

        I’ve worked in LE and in a level 5 state prison facility. If I could have identified him and he attempted to flee, I’d have done the same. This officer almost certainly saved lives with his actions.

        This escaped inmate KNEW he was risking being shot the second he turned to run. The question in this inmates mind was likely not IF the officer would shoot, but rather if the officer would be able to hit him. Inmates know the rules. He knew full well what would happen to him if he attempted to flee an armed officer who could identify him. He played a stupid game, and won a stupid prize.

        People who are calling this officer a “coward” and stating he should be prosecuted for shooting Sweat in the back have no clue what the hell they’re talking about. This shooting was about as clear cut and clean as it can get. Thankfully the officer was able to put two rounds center mass on a moving target. Great job, and great shooting.

        • Brad I

          No, actually YOU have no clue what the hell you’re talking about. A fleeing felon is an escaping inmate. They are one and the same. And you ARE a coward, at best, and a murderer, at worst, if you shoot an unarmed man running away from you.

          • davptn

            Really? I only worked in the field for 13 years, but someone who cannot grasp the concept that there is a difference between a simple fleeing felon and an escaped inmate is going to school me. One (an escaped inmate) can be both, but one is not necessarily the other. Comprende?

            First, get it right. An escaping inmate is a fleeing felon, not the other way around. Seems that escapes you. No pun intended.

            In case you can’t grasp that, an escaped inmate IS a fleeing felon. A fleeing felon is not necessarily an escaped inmate. There are different standards for deadly force in dealing with these persons. Is that basic enough for you?

            One cannot automatically shoot a fleeing felon just for fleeing. Were that the case check forgers, burglary suspects, or a person wanted for nothing more than possession of cocaine (a felony) could be shot simply for fleeing. That is not the case. There must be other serious aggravating factors involved to rise to the level where it is permissible to use deadly force on a felon simply for fleeing, and the officer believes that failure to use such force where there are no lesser available or effective means will result in his escape, and where any other attempt to effect an apprehension could likely result in serious injury or great bodily harm to the officer or other people.
            Being an escaped inmate of the prison system and continuing said escape is an aggravating factor which allows for the use of deadly force. An escaped inmate of a prison system (not county jail) in the presence in the community puts that community in a very real danger of serious injury or death.

            In your mind that shooting makes someone a “coward”. Would you feel the same if this piece of trash was loose in YOUR neighborhood? Would you feel the same had the officer not fired, and this inmate went on to kill an innocent person in order to steal supplies or a vehicle?

            This was not simply shooting a fleeing felon. This was the shooting of a dangerous escaped inmate of the prison system who had a history of extreme violence. Had said inmate have been allowed to continue his escape if the officer has no other way to effect his IMMEDIATE apprehension, it would certainly have posed a very clear and very real immediate risk to the community.

            An officer has a responsibility to PROTECT the community he or she serves. This officer did that. Had he failed to do so (secure this dangerous escaped inmate) when he had the means at his disposal to effect the inmates capture, he would have FAILED TO PERFORM HIS DUTIES TO THE COMMUNITY.

            And you hide behind the safety of your keyboard and call him a coward for shooting a fleeing escaped dangerous inmate in the back. What would you have done? How would YOU have fulfilled your duty to your community and effected the apprehension of this inmate? Or would you have simply let him escape again because it’s “cowardly” to shoot someone in the back? Let’s hear it hotshot.

            And before you respond, NO, you are not allowed to let this escaped inmate out of your sight if possible. NOW explain how you would have handled this. This should be good….

          • Brad I

            As a matter of principle, let alone law, I would not shoot an unarmed person that was fleeing. I would have tasered him if I had a taser and otherwise I would have chased him on foot. And if we’re playing games and creating scenarios: what would you have done if you lived in the area and the officer missed and a stray bullet hit you or a family member? Or what if you had a brother who looked like this guy? Your brother hears the police officer yelling and think the inmate is nearby so he tries to get the hell out of there? How would you feel if the officer shot someone else in an attempt to protect the community?

            Also, let’s not pretend that the inmate had any intention of remaining in the community. Everyone knew they were heading for Canada. Had this officer not spotted him, he likely would have slipped into Canada and kept a very low profile. My prediction is just as likely as your opinion that the inmate would have been a serious threat to the community.

          • shadowmane20

            Okay, your taser fails and you have a sprained ankle. What do you do now? The taser is not the answer to everything. There are some police forces that don’t even use it. I don’t carry one, I carry pepper spray. Pepper spray won’t stop a fleeing inmate. You obviously have never worked in law enforcement. It shows.

          • Brad I

            I can’t tell if you’re trolling me or not… Are you suggesting that it’s okay to shoot someone when your tazer fails or when you sprain your ankle? What do I do now? I wait for back up, obviously. I don’t shoot at in inmate that is unarmed and running away just because I fell down and can’t get up. YOU obviously have very little grasp for criminal procedure and out Constitution. It shows.

          • shadowmane20

            No, what I’m saying is that a fleeing felony inmate is a threat to society, and can, should, and must be shot. Shoot center mass, two shots, then evaluate and scan for further threats. That is the law.

            And if I’m trolling you, its because you are still answering me. I know I’m right. I’m a Correctional Officer. You… I haven’t a clue what you are outside of ignorant.

          • Brad I

            ….Now fleeing inmates “must be shot?” Oh my God you terrify me. You need a psych evaluation.

          • Henrythefiffth

            He was shooting into a forest. You can’t taser someone you’re running at full speed to Taser and most police don’t carry tasters, they are too heavy. If you would not have shot him YOU would be responsible morally for future victims. But you would not be allowed to be a Police Officer to begin with so we all have one less thing to worry about in our lives.

            You also fail to see that the Killer of a Cop shot a dozen times and then run over by car with him driving and the recent planner of another murder 21 days before, and an escapee from a prison had not been searched for a weapon and like his partner could easily have had one picked up in a cabin.

          • Brad I

            And you fail to understand how the law works in this country. You would not be allowed to prosecute criminals, preside over a legal proceeding or write new laws so we all have one less thing to worry about in our lives. If this officer was a soldier in our army, he’d be dishonorably discharged for shooting an unarmed person running away.

          • Henrythefiffth

            “Sweat, 34, came to the Clinton Correctional Facility in 2003 to serve a life sentence without parole. He was there on a conviction of first-degree murder after killing a sheriff’s deputy in Broome County, New York, on July 4, 2002.”

            http://www.hlntv.com/article/2015/06/09/richard-matt-david-sweat-inmates-run
            and about 200 more references to HIS doing the killing and in the most heinous manner.
            He also planned to murder the prison worker’s husband has she picked them up after escaping.

            So much for that.
            ———————————–
            As far as how in the military you’d be discharged for shooting a man running from you:
            You would not under certain circumstances in war.
            So much for that.
            ———————————————————–
            You are an absolutist. You believe if in 1944 the Commandant of Auschwitz was fleeing to get back there and gas another 200,000 Jews, anyone who shot him while he was running would be the guilty party.

            Lookit, believe what you like. You’ve been told about Supreme Court rulings on this matter, about various laws to do with legal permission for Officers of the Law (or anyone) to stop a fleeing felon, especially a convicted violent killer who continually plans more killing, like that husband. There are reasons for these. rulings and Laws

            There was a rapist who morphed into a serial killer in my area. He used to kill his victims, all women, all raped first, with a ligature tied tightly around their necks.

            His first victim was 19 year old student at the university I teach at. She was killed in a wooded bike-path adjacent to the school and, at the other end, to a suburb.
            I used to take a walk along that same route, starting from the suburb side because I was armed, legally, and was there before the killer was found, but after the student’s body was found.

            If I had happened upon a man of the killer’s description, just putting a ligature around another girl’s neck and I had yelled out making the killer start to run away, I would have shot him in the back to stop him if that was the only way. Even if I was wrong and it was not the serial-killer, anyone attempting to murder and escaping would have been a near danger for anyone else. So, I would not have felt bad in the least.

            And I would not be charged in either case by the DA for anything.

            Supposedly you would have let the killer or attempted killer continue on into the community. But I think little of your ethics though you can of course believe in them wholeheartedly if you like and do.

          • titsmcgee

            I’m so glad you intended to make your pun. I wouldn’t have noticed it unless you pointed it out to me.

          • shadowmane20

            Just to point out a clarification… not all fleeing inmates are felons. Some are misdemeanants.

          • shadowmane20

            No, they are not the same thing. A fleeing felon could be a probationer absconding. There is a difference.

      • Brad I

        Oh my God… How long was your criminal procedure course? 5 days or 5 hours? Did you read Tennessee v. Garner? If you shoot a fleeing felon who is running from you, you will be sued, and God willing, you will be fired. Let me educate you a little: “Where the suspect
        poses no immediate threat to the officer and no threat to others, the harm
        resulting from failing to apprehend him does not justify the use of deadly
        force to do so.” That’s a direct quote from the Supreme Court majority opinion in Tennessee v. Garner. That is the current law of the land, in North Carolina and every other state.

        • shadowmane20

          North Carolina Correctional Officers don’t go through criminal procedures. We don’t need it. We don’t make arrests. If an inmate flees, we shoot. Period.

          • Brad I

            For your sake and the sake of your fellow officers, I would strongly consider you urge a supervisor to consult a DA or SA so that you are not sued, or worse if something like that happens. You do not have legal authority to shoot an unarmed inmate who is fleeing. http://cga.ct.gov/PS98/rpt%5Colr%5Chtm/98-r-0678.htm

          • shadowmane20

            If that were true, we would not have guns on gun towers. We would just let the felons climb over the fence. The only one I’m not allowed to shoot while fleeing is a misdemeanant. If a felon flees, he does so at his own risk. As a Correctional Officer, if he flees, I shoot. Period.

          • Brad I

            I’m not going to continue arguing about this (see above) but weapons in guard towers are NOT for shooting unarmed inmates that are fleeing. They are a psychological deterrent, they are to prevent outside forces from attempting forced entry and they are to protect officers on the ground who may be threatened.

          • shadowmane20

            Good. Then you admit you are wrong, and I’m right. I’m a trained Correctional Officer, and I know what I can and can’t do. I also know that the guard tower is there not just as a deterrent, but to shoot the inmate off the fence if he is stupid enough to go there. If he is fleeing my custody, I am fully justified by the law to shoot him, whether its in the back, side, head, leg, wherever. He is to be stopped from escaping the custody of the state, even if his life is forfeited in the process (for a felon, a misdemeanant is different, as I’ve pointed out before).

            I’m guessing you’re a lawyer, because someone trained in law enforcement wouldn’t be making such naive and stupid statements, and quoting case law that is untried in a correctional environment.

          • Brad I

            What? I wasn’t talking to you and clearly you don’t know what you can and can’t do. For the 100th time: you’re not at all justified in shooting an unarmed fleeing felon unless someone is in imminent danger. Are you slow or something? I KNOW you’re not a lawyer because you don’t even realize how flawed your logic is. You make a distinction between felons and other inmates but explain how a corrections officer is supposed to know which is which in that split second? But go ahead and shoot them off the fence, the other inmates will love having a former corrections officer behind bars. Don’t drop the soap buddy!

          • shadowmane20

            Its real simple. If you work above minimum custody, you are dealing with felons. Anyone fleeing from that prison is a felony inmate. If he flees, whether he is armed or not, you shoot him. He is not covered by any law out there. He will be shot for attempting to escape. He could be killed if the bullet hits a vital area. The officer shooting him will have done his duty, and will not be liable under the law. I’m not just saying this, this was taught to me by the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, Division of Adult and Juvenile Prisons.

          • Brad I

            Oh okay. It’s amazing how fast your policy changes! I thought it was violent felony inmates but now it’s just a felony inmate? Wow I’m so glad we have you here to invent rules and pretend you know anything about criminal procedure.

          • shadowmane20

            I’ve been consistent. Nothing I have said has changed. What planet are you on? What is your native language. Obviously it isn’t English, or you would know that there has been no contradiction. Only your complete ignorance.

          • shadowmane20

            By the way, that case law has not been tested vs an escaped inmate. It is only about suspects fleeing.

          • titsmcgee

            Ok Mr. ‘above the law’. Kind of ironic don’t you think.

        • davptn

          “Where the suspect poses no immediate threat to the officer and no threat to others, the harm resulting from failing to apprehend him does not justify the use of deadly force to do so.”
          You are not even understanding the very link or court opinion you provided to back yourself up. An escaped violent inmate continuing to flee is a de-facto “immediate threat to others”, and failure to apprehend him would have posed a significant and immediate threat to the community. An escaping / escaped INMATE of the PRISON SYSTEM does not need to make an overt threat to meet the standard of “immediate threat to others”. His mere presence in the community and any failure to apprehend him immediately IS THE IMMEDIATE THREAT justifying deadly force. Do you not comprehend that?

          • Brad I

            You can type in caps all you want, you can’t invent legal jurisprudence. Please cite to the SCOTUS opinion that distinguishes Tennessee v. Garner and states that an escaping inmate is an immediate threat to the community. You said yourself an escaping inmate is a fleeing felon. That means Tennessee v. Garner is the leading authority unless and until it is distinguished by another SCOTUS opinion. If you actually read Tennessee v. Garner, it is blatantly clear what the court means by immediate threat. Get this: they mean an immediate threat. As in, the fleeing felon or the escaping inmate is armed or is otherwise in the position to immediately cause serious harm or death to someone else. There is no such thing as a de facto immediate threat to others when the felon/inmate is unarmed and running away. I’m sorry the law does not agree with your interpretation or how you think the law should work but this isn’t the Wild West anymore and we don’t shoot people running away from us. Period.

          • davptn

            You can cite case law and judicial rulings and opinion regarding the shooting of a fleeing burglar who posed no imminent threat all you want, in this instance it simply does not change policy regarding escaping or escaped convicted dangerous inmates who are presumed to be dangerous and pose an imminent threat once that escape is in progress or has been effected.

            From our very own U.S. Dept. of Justice:

            “Deadly force may be used to prevent the escape of a fleeing subject if there is probable cause to believe: (1) the subject has committed a felony involving the infliction or threatened infliction of serious physical injury or death, (conviction for murder qualifies I’d say) and (2) the escape of the subject would pose an imminent danger of death or serious physical injury to the officer or to another person.

            As used in this policy, “imminent” has a broader meaning than “immediate” or “instantaneous.” The concept of “imminent” should be understood to be elastic, that is, involving a period of time dependent on the circumstances, rather than the fixed point of time implicit in the concept of “immediate” or “instantaneous.”

            And….

            “The necessity to use deadly force arises when all other available means of preventing imminent and grave danger to officers or other persons have failed or would be likely to fail. Thus, employing deadly force is permissible when there is no safe alternative to using such force, and without it the officer or others would face imminent and grave danger. An officer is not required to place him or herself, another officer, a suspect, or the public in unreasonable danger of death or serious physical injury before using deadly force.”

            Wait, there’s more:

            “Determining whether deadly force is necessary may involve instantaneous decisions that encompass many factors, such as the likelihood that the subject will use deadly force on the officer or others if such force is not used by the officer; the officer’s knowledge that the subject will likely acquiesce in arrest or recapture if the officer uses lesser force or no force at all; the capabilities of the subject; the subject’s access to cover and weapons; the presence of other persons who may be at risk if force is or is not used; and the nature and the severity of the subject’s criminal conduct or the danger posed.”

            “The leading Fourth Amendment cases in this area are Tennessee v. Garner, 47 U.S. 1 (1985) and Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386 (1989).”

            You mentioned possible taser use. With a maximum effective range of 25′, Sweat was not within effective range (or if he was, was quickly out of it as soon as he ran.

            Chasing a fleeing escaped violent inmate into the woods alone where there is cover present would be about as poor a tactical move an officer could make. And in this instance simply letting him go until backup, helicopters, or other assistance to arrive could have easily resulted in Spears being able to put himself in a tactically advantageous position over the responding officers likely resulting in serious injury or death. Or making it across the border just two miles away before efforts could be focused on a quickly widening search area. A human can run 2 miles in the woods easily under 30 minutes.

            An officer also is not required to employ lesser means of force if employing lesser means is not reasonably practical.

            Do you think the officer should have chased him into the woods and cover he was fleeing towards? Taken him on hand to hand and physically restrain him? Do you realize that inmates in the prison system practice for countless hours on how to fight off officers, work through retention holster systems, and disarm officers?

            Escaped violent inmates are presumptively very dangerous to anyone they may come in contact with. Add on to this that Spears had already committed a brutal murder of an officer in his past, and had stated intent to commit murder upon his escape, and there is more than enough there to presume him to be an imminent danger to the public.

            Case law, judicial opinion, and even the policy statement from the U.S. Department of Justice (approved by the AG) all say this was a justified shooting.

            Why bleeding hearts want to cry over this POS taking a double tap to the back is beyond me, and beyond comprehension. This was not a man fleeing a traffic stop and shot in the back as he ran away doing nothing more than simply resisting arrest. That was a clear case of murder, plain and simple. This case however is a clear case of an officer acting within policy and law, and getting a dangerous monster off the streets.

          • Brad I

            This is laughable. You just cited something that clearly indicated you were wrong and then simply left out the language that didn’t match up with your opinion. Let’s read the whole paragraph:
            “As used in this policy, “imminent” has a broader meaning than “immediate” or “instantaneous.” The concept of “imminent” should be understood to be elastic, that is, involving a period of time dependent on the circumstances, rather than the fixed point of time implicit in the concept of “immediate” or “instantaneous.” Thus, a subject may pose an imminent danger even if he or she is not at that very moment pointing a weapon at the officer if, for example, he or she has a weapon within reach or is running for cover carrying a weapon or running to a place where the officer has reason to believe a weapon is available.”

            Notice how all the examples cite the presence or imminent availability of a weapon? Under this definition, Sweat did not pose an imminent danger to anyone. If anything, your source has strengthened my argument considerably.

            “And in this instance simply letting him go until backup, helicopters, or other assistance to arrive could have easily resulted in Spears being able to put himself in a tactically advantageous position over the responding officers likely resulting in serious injury or death.”

            You’re telling me that it would have been MORE dangerous for the officer to wait for backup, including helicopters, dogs and a small army of officers than for him to engage Sweat by himself? Seriously?

            “Taken him on hand to hand and physically restrain him? Do you realize that inmates in the prison system practice for countless hours on how to fight off officers, work through retention holster systems, and disarm officers?”

            You’re not using logic, sir. Sweat has been on the run for weeks, there is a very high chance he was sleep deprived, exhausted and malnourished. But again, why couldn’t the officer just pursue him to try and keep him in his line of sight while back up was en route?

            “Or making it across the border just two miles away before efforts could be focused on a quickly widening search area.”

            You would make a terrible attorney. You’ve spent so much energy on arguing how Sweat would be an imminent danger to the community and yet then you help make my point that Sweat had no motive to be a danger to the community. You just aren’t grasping the fundamental idea of Tennessee v. Garner: deadly force cannot be used simply because the felon or inmate is getting away. Obviously everyone wanted this POS to be captured but that doesn’t mean the police are allowed to shoot on sight.

            “Case law, judicial opinion, and even the policy statement from the U.S. Department of Justice (approved by the AG) all say this was a justified shooting.”

            Case law and judicial opinion are the same thing. Furthermore, the U.S. Department of Justice does not interpret the Constitution,they are a branch of the executive. The judicial branch (i.e. SCOTUS) has sole domain over the interpretation of the Constitution. Furthermore, what you sighted is a memorandum (an old one, too) which is an opinion AND you interpreted it wrongly.

            BUT, you’re right in one aspect: the officer will never be charged with a crime. It’s futile to even argue about this because we’re arguing two very separate things. Case law does NOT support what Sweat did. Period. For you to continue to argue that what he did was legally justified or within the confines of reasonable force as codified by out laws and the Constitution is a disservice to your intelligence. You will not find case law to support this until or if SCOTUS distinguishes Tennessee v. Garner. BUT in the land outside of legal textbooks and SCOTUS opinions, you’re right. There’s a legal principle called nolle prosequi which essentially says a SA or DA has the final decision whether to charge someone with a crime or not. No SA or DA will charge the officer with a crime, despite his unreasonable use of force. I don’t even know why I’m arguing about this because I personally wouldn’t charge him with a crime if I was the SA or DA for that district because it would be career suicide. Not only that, the L.E. agencies would stonewall me ad infinitum and it would result in a greater injustice by handicapping my ability to prosecute actual criminals. So I’m not going to continue arguing about this. It’s a waste of time, it makes me look inhuman and the average person reading this doesn’t realize that, from a purely legal standpoint, the officer who shot Sweat was not justified.

        • Henrythefiffth

          He did pose an immediate threat to all others in any community he escaped to from Officer. He planned to execute another murder had the woman from the prison picked them up in her car: her husband.

          A Police Officer can shoot and escaping felon. He was a felon in just escaping from prison, he was a felon for the plan to kill the husband of the prison employee who enabled their escape, he was a felon because he was a COP-Killer, the man who stopped him escaping was a COP, and a lone cop by himself, he didn’t know if the convict was armed or not, he couldn’t search him- and on and on and on.

          You react like he shot Snow White. He was perfectly legal stopping shooting and WOUNDING an escaping Killer a short hop from another country once through the tree line he was running to.

          What’s the matter with you? Aren’t you capable of taking in an entire situation?

          • Brad I

            Go read my other comments. I’m not gonna rehash them here. The majority of the public is misinformed on the current law. Shooting someone is the use of deadly force, regardless if the person shot is only wounded. It’s obvious you’ve never studied criminal procedure so why are you trying to argue with someone who has? The only thing that’s the matter with me is that I’m educated.

        • howardr22

          German law student here. I explained this here on reddit once but I will explain it here again as good as I can (my English isn’t that good).

          Prison escape in Germany is not punishable by law if the escaper doesn’t break any other laws. I can say, it is close to impossible to escape a prison without breaking a law.

          If the prisoner damage the bars, it’s damage to property(Sachbeschädigung?!), if the prisoner runs a way with his prison clothes on, it’s theft. Taking hostages, beating someone etc. will be punished as well.

          Any crime you do while escaping from prison will be held against you.

          Edit: It’s illegal to help someone to escape from prison.

          also we do not have the death penalty in Germany nor life in prison as a possible sentence

    • Bill Kleinsturn

      Fat, dumb, and trolling is no way to go through life, son.

  • CJ Holmes

    It looks clear the cop in question could legally shoot this guy to catch him. Agreed.

    It is still valid to ask the question. Some police officers routinely over-exert their authority, which is not what we hire them to do. Without some kind of review you end up with cops shooting people in the back who aren’t even suspected of a crime, or or beaten and restrained just for asking “why are you doing this to me”. All of which is a shame not only because of civilians who get abused, but because of the loss of credibility suffered by the majority of officers who put themselves at risk trying to do a very demanding job.

  • Tenant1234

    The officer should be reprimanded for not shooting him dead.

    • MyTurn

      and what if he made a mistake and it was only a look-alike?

      • Tim Sebold

        If… If wishes and buts were candy and nuts, we’d all have a very Merry Christmas.

        • MyTurn

          sorry, but you are a fool.

      • Henrythefiffth

        The Law, even for civilians in Lethal Self-Defense, is Reasonable Belief, the governing principle of what makes a civilians or Police Officers actions legal. He has to have a Reasonable Belief he or others will be killed by this person. “Reasonable” legally means anyone under the same conditions and circumstances would believe the same thing.

        Neither the Civilian or Officer needs to be right, because that would require the Officer stop-action, the police come in and investigate and a trial be held., the man is found Guilty – and then the action resume. If the Officer had a Reasonable Belief – meaning anyone would have had the same in his circumstances – he can shoot or in my own Self-Defense, which includes defense of others in lethal danger, I can shoot.

        In any case this Officer was relatively close to the Killer, the Killer faced him, and the Officer having memorized the photo as they all had, recognized him AND the Killer ran to a tree-line, not only looking the part but acting it. If he had made it to the trees, many have said it is continuously impenetrable forest and a short walk into Canada, allowing the Killer another period of weeks to endanger countless lives. You expect a Police Officer would let him go anyway and say, “Ah, screw it!” ?

        • titsmcgee

          Wow that’s some Sherlock Holmes shit right there. Good job!

  • coondog

    I agree, the cop’s a coward. Do your job and catch him on foot. Too slow to catch an exhausted man who’s been on the lam for 23 days? Or too lazy? Or comfortable in the knowledge that it’s a police state with a bunch of people at home all rooting for cops like a bunch of cheerleaders?

    • I_h8_disqus

      Obviously, not everyone is at home cheering him. You are welcome to riot and destroy your neighborhood. Well, if there is anything still worth destroying in your neighborhood.

    • Bill Kleinsturn

      Troll.

  • OgOggilby

    Nonetheless that fact remained that yet another cop shot an unarmed man in the back and that is all there is to say.

    • Tim Sebold

      Only if you have an IQ of 30 is that “all there is to say”.

    • RealitySucks

      Uhh, unless I missed something, the “unarmed” man was serving a life sentence for MURDER and he escaped from prison. The officer gave him an opportunity to surrender. He chose to flee. He got what he had coming to him.

      • Henrythefiffth

        All that is true but more. Police essentially protect the community. This Officer like all others had an implicit charge by nature of his job to do that. Letting an escaped Killer, a wickedly violent killer, escape likely into another country and more communities is doing the OPPOSITE of his job. In fact, Sweat and his partner, if they had been picked up by the female prison employee, would have murdered her husband, a man innocent of any involvement; that was their plan.

        When people like THIS can be stopped or let go into doing more killing and mayhem, a Police Officer is obliged to capture him by any means to prevent death of the innocent.
        The Police Officer captured him and without killing him.

        He’s a good and brave man. He was utterly alone and acted according to the best of principles: to put himself at risk to save others.

    • Bill Kleinsturn

      Only if you’re a troll is that “all there is to say.”

  • MyTurn

    Had the fleeing person been black, there would be riots. Yes, he is a cop killer but he state made him live in a Friken country club setting. Sex, hobbies, food, free medical, wtf…if he had been working he would not have had time for all that bs. I think the ny prison system needs fixing.

    • gruntled

      If prison life is so luxurious, why would anyone want to break out???

  • Fremulon

    This police violence against fleeing, escaped convicted murderers armed with guns must stop! It’s like Ferguson all over! The felon was just trying to assert his right to free speech, probably by firing off a few rounds at the police officer. Let’s not even start on his poor escapee companion who was ruthlessly gunned down just for shooting at police. Is there no justice?

    • jeanne spivey

      You’re joking, right?

      • Fremulon

        We need to send a message to oppressive police forces everywhere. I recommend that we set fire and loot small businesses. That will clearly punish the police for their racist policies. Yes, it’s true. These innocent fleeing felons were shot down for having the wrong color skin and for simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. kumbaya my lord, kumbaya….everyone, join hands and sing with me…..kumbaya…..

  • Thank U NBC + Univison!

    Innocent and unviolent persons can never be shot merely for fleeing, because there isn’t credible information that their flight is likely or probable to hurt others. Not so for violent, fleeing felons who have been proven guilty, violent, and especially murderous. This was an appropriate and legal use of law enforcement power.

  • Ahmet

    If the police officer had not identified him before he fired -and it shoulds like the felon had not yet been positively identified – then there’s a problem.

  • PG

    I think the relevant question is did the Cop know the jogger was an escaped convict? What if it was someone else?

  • sociosquatch

    oh, all of you people judging this like “of COURSE our cops should shoot someone 3 times in the head if he thinks it’s the right thing to murder someone!!” that’s the one that should definitely be prosecuted and THIS guy was shot in the back! I was an MP in the army and would’ve been courtmartialed for either of these scenarios. you people should be ashamed of yourself.

  • FritzH

    Great article, thanks — I wondered the same thing. Everyone’s happy he’s been caught, but it’s a perfectly legitimate question.

    For one thing, the officer didn’t for sure *know* this guy was actually David Sweat, although he had pretty good reason to think so. In general, if cops can shoot anyone they *think* is a bad guy, that’s a slippery slope to get on.

    Secondly, some of the details around these two shootings are pretty vague. The first guy gets shot three times in the head after a verbal command to raise his hands… well, OK, he’s a deadly criminal with a shotgun. But that’s pretty fancy shooting, three shots to the head before (or as) he drops. Next, this sergeant shoots twice (we’re told) and hits twice in the torso as the guy runs across a field. OK, he’s a shooting instructor, but still: pretty fancy shooting.

    I’ve got no sympathy for these two killers and I don’t even mind them being shot, but I think this question makes perfect sense. Somebody asked during the press conference yesterday if the cops were instructed to shoot on sight and the state police chief said “No, no, no” but it seems likely they might have at least have been given instructions, “If you see these guys, don’t bother too much with the niceties.”

    • Henrythefiffth

      I just wrote a whole reply with much legal information a spit away from your own post which got the same thing wrong somebody else did. Do you just not read what was already posted and remain ignorant? It’s a good way to do it.

      • FritzH

        Hi Henrythefiffth,

        Thanks for the reply, and I appreciate your comments on the legality of the situation. I don’t think my comments really got things “wrong” — I was telling the author I appreciated the post because I, too, had wondered what the law was.

        I just read your earlier post. I don’t think anyone is suggesting that the officer should have said “Ah, screw it” or should have taken this killer lightly. But the larger point is, the law says that everyone should be given the same treatment, innocent man and terrible killer alike. We don’t *really* want to make our cops decide which person deserves “kind” law and which one gets “harsh” law — everyone gets the same law.

        We all understand that police have to make split-second decisions and that sometimes they will make right ones, sometimes wrong ones. It’s a difficult job and human nature plays a part. That doesn’t mean these things shouldn’t be held up to careful scrutiny to make sure things were done properly. In fact, it’s our job as citizens to ask those questions so that we’re all protected. And if the police were told “Shoot these guys if they so much as blink,” I think the public can handle that and should be told that.

        When cops have made good-faith decisions, as this one certainly looks like it was, I think history has shown that they’ve been exonerated. They’re tough enough (thank heavens!) to hunt and capture these escaped cons, so I think they’re tough enough to handle citizens asking for clarification.

        Best to you!

      • howardr22

        That is correct remember escape is generally only a crime in the US and other countries mainly the EU escape is not. I repeat not a crime. Since it is natural for some who is locked up to want to escape, the EU countries felt that escape should not be a crime and it is not- no punishment for escape since it is natural to try to escape. sweat should not have been shot- the police should be able to run faster, or let him go to be arrested later by the RCMP.
        German law student here. I explained this here on reddit once but I will explain it here again as good as I can (my English isn’t that good).

        Prison escape in Germany is not punishable by law if the escaper doesn’t break any other laws. I can say, it is close to impossible to escape a prison without breaking a law.

        If the prisoner damage the bars, it’s damage to property(Sachbeschädigung?!), if the prisoner runs a way with his prison clothes on, it’s theft. Taking hostages, beating someone etc. will be punished as well.

        Any crime you do while escaping from prison will be held against you.

        Edit: It’s illegal to help someone to escape from prison.

  • Stryke

    Sweat and Matt should have been executed years ago. What we need is for the state to declare itself temporarily insane and just do away with everyone on death row or in for life without parole. Great justice system.

  • gravegirl

    if he shot him in the back why does the photo with the oxygen mask show him with a wound in the chest? and notice how they keep saying torso and not back

    • James Dean

      A bullet has no problem going through someone’s body. The Nazi’s used to line people up to see how many heads a bullet would go through before it stopped.

    • Henrythefiffth

      He didn’t kill the Officer 10 times, he continued to shoot because he is a raging killer, this is my point. If the Officer stopped this man from doing more of the same he protected himself and all people in that area, and generally anyplace, anywhere if the escape was permanent. The Officer knew he was less than two miles from leaving the country as well.

      You don’t seem to appreciate the lethal threat this man was to everyone.

      He had a Reasonable Belief the man was Sweat – at the least, and he may have been certain; and the man did exactly what Sweat would do, run to escape into a tree line. All that’s required legally for anyone in Self-Defense with Lethal Action, and SD includes Lethal Action to save another, is reasonable belief in imminent death. “Reasonable” legally means any person under the same conditions would have had the same Belief. And, not at all beside the point, the Officer was correct, it was Sweat.

  • Keith Ramsey

    Liberal BS article! Maybe the author of this article would like to have this convicted felon come stay with his family? Once this criminal was identified, full force in stopping him is very justified! Good job State Troopers!

    • jimidawg

      boooooooooo

  • Ted Smith

    IT WAS A GOOD SHOOTING!!!! WHAT WAS THE NYS TROOPER, SGT. JAY COOK, SUPPOSED TO DO? SERVE THE BUM CAKE & COFFEE?

  • Ross Banick

    I’m happy that the press is upholding their role in protecting the US Constitution by asking such questions, instead of blindly parroting what the police want them to report.

    Bearing in mind that the police are taught to form the justification for their actions YEARS before the fact, we can assume “torso” is doublespeak for “back”. (It’s a one-way word though,because, rest assured, were a policeman to be shot, they’d be very clear it was “in the back” in their press announcements).

    This situation is no different than the one in Boston where Commissioner Davis insisted there was a “ferocious firefight” for three days, until he was forced to admit the lone gunman was unarmed, and couldn’t possibly have fired even one of the 200 shots that were fired (injuring a deputy in the process). Likewise, it’s no different than the San Francisco Fire Department, who knew in the first day (by the tire tracks clearly on her body) that they had run over a girl thrown out from a crashing airplane. They withheld that information for 3 MONTHS (even though they all knew it in the first half hour, because it was obvious the moment they carried her out of the flame retardant foam).

    It’s the job of the press to protect “us” from “them”, and the “them” in this case, is the police who lie as much as the criminals do.

    In this case, in no way could the policeman, at 200 yards, been able to identify the suspect positively. At best, he had a hunch. And, at best, the fleeing suspect’s back looked kind of sort of what the fugitive’s back would look like after three weeks in the woods.

    The fact is he shot a fleeing suspect who clearly posed absolutely no danger to him, in the back, and, the fact the police continually use the word “torso”, means they know what they are covering up.

    The added fact that Cuomo calls him a HERO is not only an affront to our senses, but Cuomo needs to be given a dictionary, at state expense. (What did he do that was heroic? Shoot a fleeing suspect in the back? That’s heroic now? We need a new definition of hero then.)

    Having said all this, it appears pretty clear that both Cuomo and the police are covering up for an illegal action, but the truth should come out, if the news has the gumption to follow through on their pledge to fairly report the news, and not just to parrot what LE wants them to report.

    • Wordy Qwerty

      Thank you! I don’t know if this shooting was illegal or not, but dammit the question is supposed to be asked!

      And your remarks about the role of the press are right on. I cannot believe all the comments insisting that no one should question this at all or that we have no right to get all the details. Maybe they are all police and correction officers.

      Again, my gratitude for both your comment and for this article.

      • Ross Banick

        The ONLY way the shooting can be LEGAL is if the HERO was so scared for his life that he shot at the fleeing suspect because, otherwise, HIS LIFE was in danger!

        Remember, in NY, the ONLY ones allowed to shoot unarmed fleeing fugitives are the tower guards, and that law is there for the reason that the guard tower needs to act as a deterrent force.

        NOBODY ELSE is allowed to shoot a fleeing unarmed person in the back, whether or not there is positive identification (which is patently impossible in this scenario).

        Remember, the fact that the fugitive hurt someone (yes, even a member of LE) has NO BEARING whatsoever on the legality of shooting him. What matters ONLY is that the HERO FEARED FOR HIS LIFE!

        Witness the Walter L. Scott case where Michael T. Slager similarly shot the fleeing man in the back (and had a ready-made long-ago-manufactured alibi immediatlly coming out of his mouth – EVEN BEFORE HE PULLED OUT HIS PISTOL!). Mr. Scott apparently didn’t want to pay child support. Now he’s dead because Mr. Slager, first radiod that he FEARED FOR HIS LIFE (he said so in his deposition!) and then his fear was so great that he had to shoot the unarmed fleeing man in the back and murder him in order to save his own life (dispensing justice with his pistol, which LE LIVES FOR!).

        So, let’s look at this HERO logically.

        Was he fearful of his life? Of course, and we can rest assured he said as much. Did he make a positive identification? Of course, and, again, we can be assured he has said so.

        Now think about those incongruous statements of fact.

        A man so quaking with irrational fear spots another man who runs from him, and, just before the man “gets away” into the wood line, this HERO (who was chasing said suspect) is so scared suddenly for his life that he feels the only recourse is to shoot the fleeing suspect in the back, before that fleeing suspect gets away?

        How Cuomo can call this officer a HERO is a debasement of the word, which for thousands of years, has had a far different meaning. (Someone needs to mail Cuomo a child’s dictionary.)

        Fact is, the ONLY legal way this HERO could have shot at the fleeing suspect just before the suspect got away, is if the OFFICER was so scared for HIS OWN LIFE that the immediate dispensing of justice (sans judge and jury) required it in order to save his own life (or egregious bodily harm).

        He’s quaking in his pants, so much that he fears for his life from a man he admits is “about to get away”, and then, Cuomo uses a cheap political trick to deflect the ensuing criticism by declaring the (clearly a coward or worse) officer a HERO?

        • Wordy Qwerty

          I looked at the Richard Matt death scene photo and I don’t see a shotgun. I wish some of our journalists would ask about that and then explain it to us.

    • Vatcha

      Torso is not double speak for back. It identifies the part of the body that was hit. It could have been the torso, the head, the neck, the arm, the leg … To someone of normal intelligence the fact that he was shot running away means he would have been hit in the back side of whatever body part they identified. So if he was shot in the neck you could assume it was the back side of the neck. If he was shot in the leg you could assume it was in the back of the leg.

      “This situation is no different than the one in Boston …” Maybe for someone like you, but for a lot of us its quite different.

      200 yards? Best I can tell you just made that up for dramatic effect.

      “fleeing suspect who posed absolutely no threat” I can hear it now if Sweat escaped again and later killed or injured another citizen or law enforcement member. “Well I could have shot him, but he was no threat to me so too it wasn’t my problem.” As an escaped murderer he was a threat to anyone he potentially came in contact with.

      The cop said that when Sweat faced him, he recognized him. In situations like that you have to rely on the professional judgement of the officer. Unless you have some evidence to the contrary, your comments about recognition are fabricated as well.

      You apparently seem to think that if, for instance, a convict in a prison tries to flee out a gate, a guard can’t shoot them. Guess what … they can. They are being kept there both through physical constraint and threat of physical harm if they don’t comply. They have forfeited their rights as regular citizens. If they happen to escape, that doesn’t change their status. They are still convicts. They have far fewer rights the regular citizens, and they are still subject to the ongoing threat that they can be shot by law enforcement if they don’t comply.

      I realize you are willing to put other people’s lives in danger to protect this guy, but I think most of us are not. He gave up that right when he didn’t afford the same consideration to the person he murdered originally.

      I do agree, the whole Hero thing is over the top. I doubt the cop would call himself that.

      • Jeremy Ratliff

        If you think it is okay to shoot an unarmed person in the back… no matter who it is, you sir, are part of the problem.

        • Vatcha

          Despite what people like you seem to think, he wasn’t wearing a big sign saying “unarmed”, but I guess you just don’t get it. The determination that he was unarmed happened after he was captured. Up until that point, as the authorities said over and over, these guys should be presumed armed and dangerous. I realize people like you would have preferred he have the opportunity to evade capture and have the chance to injure or murder more people. The fact that you don’t care about the safety of the local citizens and law enforcement is duly noted.

          • Jeremy Ratliff

            It being okay to shoot someone in the back, is going to do far more harm to local citizens in the long run, than it would do if he got away and went on to murder, dismember and consume 100 local citizens…. and you not seeing that is why I said you were part of the problem.

          • Vatcha

            So two cops are walking a beat, a guy steps in front of them and shoots one of the cops. He then drops the gun and turns and runs. Cop can’t shoot because he would be shooting him in the back. Now if he tried to run past the cops to escape and the cop had shot him in the chest would that be OK?

            Or a convicted murderer is working near the prison gate when it opens unexpectedly and he makes a break for it. Guards can’t shoot because they would be shooting him in the back. He get’s to the parking lot, carjacks a car and injures the driver and then runs over and kills a pedestrian making his escape and that’s the price they had to pay to not shoot a convicted murderer in the back. If the guard was between him and the gate and he tried to run past the guard out the gate and the guard shot him in the chest would that have been OK?

          • Jeremy Ratliff

            Those are all hypothetical situations…. First, lets point out that David Sweat may have been a convicted murderer (which makes no sense), but has never ever been shown to be violent. He was convicted of murder, because he was at the scene, while his cousin shot a cop, which pissed a bunch of people off. But, just last week, I was in my cousin’s car while he was speeding, does that mean that every cop should just assume that I am an aggressive driver who can’t drive the speed limit?

            If I had to go to prison for the rest of my life for a murder my cousin committed, I promise you, I would be willing to hurt innocent people to break out. I don’t blame him one bit, David Sweat didn’t deserve to be shot in the back.

          • Vatcha

            Change the subject. There you go. I didn’t expect you would actually answer the questions.

            So you feel that even though Sweat had an ever escalating criminal history with several stints in jail culminating on the night he and his partners stole guns from a gun store in the neighboring state after which Sweat shot a police officer and ran over him with his car doesn’t qualify as violent because it was his robbery partner that finished the cop off. That’s pretty twisted.

          • titsmcgee

            I’m going to start calling you MacGyver.

          • howardr22

            That is correct remember escape is generally only a crime in the US and other countries mainly the EU escape is not. I repeat not a crime. Since it is natural for some who is locked up to want to escape, the EU countries felt that escape should not be a crime and it is not- no punishment for escape since it is natural to try to escape. sweat should not have been shot- the police should be able to run faster, or let him go to be arrested later by the RCMP.
            German law student here. I explained this here on reddit once but I will explain it here again as good as I can (my English isn’t that good).

            Prison escape in Germany is not punishable by law if the escaper doesn’t break any other laws. I can say, it is close to impossible to escape a prison without breaking a law.

            If the prisoner damage the bars, it’s damage to property(Sachbeschädigung?!), if the prisoner runs a way with his prison clothes on, it’s theft. Taking hostages, beating someone etc. will be punished as well.

            Any crime you do while escaping from prison will be held against you.

            Edit: It’s illegal to help someone to escape from prison.

          • native new yorker

            So an escapee in Germany is just captured and returned to the prison, I hope.

          • howardr22

            correct but they could not be shot in the back running away

          • entertainedbyidiots

            that’s not how the law (regarding shooting a fleeing person) works; try again after you learn how the law is actually applied.

          • Ross Banick

            What if I think my next door neighbor is going to hurt someone.

            Do I get to shoot her from my bedroom window, in the back no less?
            What if I say “Please”, or even “Pretty Please”?

            Can I shoot her then?
            After all, it’s going to do far more good than harm in the long run for society.

            Where do you put the bar that I have to cross?

            [HINT: I have to be immediately fearful for MY OWN LIFE or the immediate life of someone else at that very instant of the shooting – as that would mean I have absolutely no other recourse.]

            This officer HERO had something on his belt that gave him recourse.
            It’s called a RADIO.

          • titsmcgee

            People who use the term ‘duly noted’ should be put to death, right alongside those who keep telling us their puns weren’t intended.

          • Vatcha

            duly …. oops

          • titsmcgee

            Clever

          • entertainedbyidiots

            i can point out a couple of obvious flaws in your argument; please have someone with critical thinking skills proof read your comments before you post them, just to prevent you from looking like you don’t know what you’re talking about….

  • Henrythefiffth

    The Officer was ALONE, He was facing a convicted COP-KILLER who shot the Officer he killed more than 10 times and then ran over him.

    He was convicted of Murder and serving a Life Sentence. He had made statements in the past that if he escaped he would never to be taken alive, which could mean cops would go down with him.

    He was a lethal threat to anybody and everybody he met or would meet if he continued free at this moment. He and his partner would have killed another innocent ,man if picked up by female prison worker,
    her husband.

    He is a complete psychopath and killer

    And he had escaped from prison, a major felony. Now it’s legal for the Officer to shoot him according to NY State Penal Law.. But it also makes ABSOLUTE COMMON SENSE. That police can go over the line has nothing to do with this Officer’s actions. It’s a separate topic. HE didn’t go over the line.

    He didn’t shoot Sweat for a traffic violation but for all of the above conditions AND he was about to escape back into the nearby community, perhaps for good.
    _____________________________________________________________________

    NOW, here’s what I’ve wanted to know for 3 weeks: why was he given Life in Prison when he killed a Police Officer and in the worst of depraved ways. Where did he do this, what state. NY State would have
    sentenced him to Death, even a state that has no Capital Punishment does for Murder I, the murder of a Law Enforcement Officer. What place is does not have the same?

    Can anyone explain this?

    Thanks

    • sociosquatch

      how did he kill the officer more than 10 times? and what if it was the wrong guy? cops can’t be judge jury and executioner

      • RealitySucks

        He didn’t say he killed the officer 10 times – he said he shot the officer he killed more than 10 times. If you don’t want cops shooting at you, don’t be a convicted felon who escapes from prison and then ignores 3 requests to talk to a law enforcement officer.

        • sociosquatch

          sorry, i didn’t hear him right the first time cuz i was jogging with headphones on.

  • Alderran

    You have to be kidding. If he got away I would not be surprised if the next house he stumbled upon would end up full of dead people.

    • titsmcgee

      Are you some kind of smart person?

  • pat studer

    shoot an unarmed man, he couldn’t be sure who it was, then we call him a hero, NOT>

    • RichardOwens

      After all It was a man hunt.

      Thousands of people involved.
      Lots of dogs.
      No fox was injured in the hunt.
      They didn’t kill the second guy.

      That said, the Guardian counter of police killings stands today at 544.

      544

      http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/ng-interactive/2015/jun/01/the-counted-police-killings-us-database#

      • jimidawg

        fox schmox this guy is innocent that they be chasing at. I can’t belieive in america that this goes on against the traditional constitution in the guns and peril of the fight that I was to know and know what the truth was and will be if that is not what they are looking for. Just a travisiting. you know what i am syain. just sayin.

  • jimidawg

    You people are cruel. He did not receive a fair trial if you read the documentation. He was set up by government peoples. That is probably why he leave prison because didnt get a fair trial. Its obvious. and then to shoot the guy is just unbelievable. So sad america. You know what I am sayin? Just sayin.

  • Ronin

    Good job catching the guy. I wouldn’t go so far as painting the cop as a hero. That word is used nowadays to describe anybody that actually does their job. I guess it’s the adult extension of every kid gets a trophy.

    • titsmcgee

      A hero is someone go goes above and beyond the call of duty, and willfully endangers their own life in the service of others. Think charging the hill with bayonets to help your buddies in combat. This guy put two in the dude’s back and can now write a book about it, just like the Manson Prosecutor. What bullshit.

  • DE Young

    For the love of Mike – where have all of you been? Watching way too much TV, no doubt. Where do we start? (FWIW, I was an assistant prosecutor 25+ years ago in Jackson County, MO – a/k/a Kansas City)

    1. Sweat has a life sentence – nothing changes that. Yes, he is likely to be charged with a plethora of new charges and it is entirely possible that he will have a court-appointed attorney or a public defender (potentially, a federal public defender, depending on the scope of the new charges).

    2. Exactly what defenses does Sweat have? Could he claim that he was always in lockdown and somebody impersonated him? Not really. In the majority of these cases the inmate waives a jury trial (if one is available) and the entire matter is just pushing paperwork for a year – to extend his already life term…

    3. Nothing says that any of the prosecutorial entities with jurisdiction *must* file charges. Hey – he’s got life – you don’t get more in NY – now, if he committed a federal crime with a death sentence penalty provision, yea – the local U.S. Attorney might well go for a death case to bump his/her credentials when they leave the public sector for private sector criminal defense work (much, much more $$$).

    4. Shooting a fleeing felon? Somebody’s got to be kidding me. I’ve litigated excessive force cases and they are among the toughest cases to win for a plaintiff that there are. Consider Officer Eric Casebolt of the famous Texas pool party case. We all saw an officer draw a weapon where no legitimate protocol would permit that degree of escalation of force. Absent the video evidence – Eric would still be on that force. Hell, he had an excessive force case (42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983) brought against him in 2013 that was dismissed.

    Turning to Sweet – that fleeing felon who was CONVICTED of the AMBUSH MURDER of a LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER – by every law enforcement protocol–save unconditional surrender–shooting to kill was, and is, the ONLY OPTION open to the officer apprehending Sweet.

    Want to spend some money where it will get the best results?

    (1) Reopen state mental hospitals and get (most of) the mentally ill out of prison; and,
    (2) Incarcerate as a last option and only where the crime is either violent or effects more than 100 people (yes, 100 people – consider the false “signing statements” the banks foisted upon our courts to create “mortgages” in arrears that could then be foreclosed through judicial or non-judicial means – lock up the financial criminals and our quality of life will increase dramatically); and,
    (3) Give up on the death penalty – it has only one valid use: “specific deterrence”. That means that the executed person will not live to harm another person – s/he is “deterred” by loss of life. Problems are monumental with the administration of the death penalty and our money should be spent on other problems.

    (3) The entire planet has embraced technology yet we ignore the incredible benefits of implantable disabling technology and geofencing. With a small amount of development and a serious push for a model law – every dangerous prisoner could be stopped in their tracks by a radio signal (or, the lack of a signal that keeps the implant from releasing its payload). We are well and truly Neanderthals where penology is concerned.

  • imakescomments

    This article is stupid.

    • Henrythefiffth

      No it had a purpose but the question asked, was the shooting justified, we here alone have answered plenty of times, in addition to others like the Governor of the State, every member of the community the Killer was in the midst of for 3 weeks and countless others, lawyers, experts in Law from all sorts of Agencies, you name it.

      This guy could be a troll or just someone who favors his beliefs in what was with what actually happened and the whole contract. It’s like trying to argue religion to a True Believer.

  • Sergio

    Bottom line. This hero cop gambled and was lucky it was Sweat.

  • Diane W.

    It is not OK for a cop to shoot another person in the back who is unarmed, running away, and not posing any threat at the time. In an intelligent and civilized society we must act objectively when enforcing laws as opposed to letting our emotions get the better of us. Just because Sweat’s is a convicted murder does not mean we should take a vigilante approach when arresting him.

    Many people, including myself, believe the state trooper who shot Sweat’s in the back is a coward. A real man would have chased Sweats down instead.

    • DE Young

      No.
      You are dead wrong. Our statutes in 49 states (except for whatever is provided for by the Napolenic Code that constitutes the statutes in the state of Louisiana – don’t know a damn about their code) permit the use of deadly force where there is probable cause to believe that a FELONY has been committed (that’s 50+.00000001%) and that the person targeted is reasonably believed to be the escaping felon. That’s a bank robber, a rapist, a mugger, a burglar, a kidnapper – all before they are charged, tried ad convicted.

      Sweet is a convicted felon who escaped from prison. Prison is our society’s determination that he poised too great a danger to other people to remain in our nation’s general population.

      He escaped from prison. Aside from his current convictions that gave rise to his incarceration (the ambush-murder of a law enforcement officer), escape is another (as yet, uncharged0 felony. Lethal force may be used to stop a “fleeing felon” and that force can be applied where and when possible so as to minimize the risk of harm to innocent bystanders. The law is clear as it can be: surrender or die.

      I’m a card-carrying ACLU member (who shoots Trap, Skeet, and have, in my younger days, successfully bowhunted Turkey) and in this nation as a trial attorney – yes, I have had occasion to have loaded weapons in my home and office (and, notified the police in the suburb where I live and the police where my office is that I have another threat – so they patrol more often). I’ve had the lawful “opportunity” to kill three idiots who tried to invade my office late one Friday afternoon – a rather stupid thing to do with the town’s police station less than 300 yards away, in the same building as the municipal court, the city hall, and the fire department. 911 works! Still, I had a Ruger .357 revolver alternating wadcutters and hollow points all at Magnum load. Those wadcutters will pierce an automobile engine.

      Sweet is a monster. I’m happy that he has been captured. I don’t want him to die (at least not until another 30 years, or so, pass with him in the can).

      Would I have shot to kill? Yes. If I did not kill him with however many rounds I fired, would I approach him to render first aid? NO! Unless he’s dead – he’s still a murderer and he might well take me with him.

      The officer who captured him is to be commended. I’d have called for backup and waited.

      • Henrythefiffth

        Excellent but you left out that he had planned another murder if the prison employee, the female, had indeed picked them up in her car,: to murder her husband who had nothing to do with any of this.

        However, our “friend” will not take in what you say, I say, anybody has said or could say. Ultimately our words, the words of SCOTUS, countless laws’ words, are all for the wind.

        Such is life…

    • RealitySucks

      There is nothing intelligent nor civilized in allowing pond scum like Sweat to live. You, and other “sheeple” who choose to not deal with scumbags like Sweat are why we have repeat murderers, rapists, etc. Have trial – found guilty – execute. No repeat offenders, no long term drain on tax payers. What in the hell has been accomplished by keeping Charles Manson alive all these years ? No wonder California is bankrupt – they are too stupid to make a simple decision that makes sense.

      • titsmcgee

        I’m glad you are able to make decisions on whether or not people should live. Thank you for acting as judge, jury, and executioner.

  • RIKKI

    maybe black people will finally get the message dont run from the cops….ya think?

    • DE Young

      You can run away any time that you have not been arrested or otherwise have a reasonable basis for running. A “Terry Stop” is about all that police are permitted to do – not, of course, what they really do (8 shots to the back – maybe we’ll see THE FIRST WHITE COP get convicted of the murder of a black man while on duty – in 239 years this nation has never had a white cop convicted of murdering a black citizen. Statistically – that’s total BS.

      Let’s add to the mess that the 12% of our population that is Black is almost entirely comprised of SLAVE DESCENDANTS. Why are our prisons more than 50% Black? How can it possibly be realistic that the 88% of the non-black population is so law-abiding? John Gotti, Lucky Luciano, Timothy McVey, Carlo Gambino, the Russian Mafia, the IRA, – and that SOB Bernie Madoff – last time I looked, they was “white”.

      • RIKKI

        slave descendant what utter crap de young it was black tribesman that sold us the slaves BECAUSE WE PAID MORE MONEY THEN THE LOCALS DID…………

        if we were cheap the slaves would have stayed in africa…….white men did not kidnap them black people did.

      • RIKKI

        why are so many blacks in jail……….Let the prisoners decide how long they want to stay in
        jail…..cool idea…its up to you…..all you need to do is read and discuss the New York Times in front of a parole board and ask for a second chance…that could take 5 or 50 years their choice……the problem is NOT racial discrimination, but severe functional illiteracy and we need to break the chains.

  • Frank V

    This country is in sad shape when we concern ourselves with something like where he was shot. Really folks, wake up, the guy murdered a law enforcement officer. Place your sympathies where they belong not with convicted murders who break out of prison.

    • DE Young

      I would worry if he was shot while on a kindergarten playground, at recess.

      If you are referring to the part of his body that was penetrated by high-velocity jacketed bullets – well don’t make a target of yourself by escaping.

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  • Cops EXECUTE Citizens nearly every day in the U$A — unarmed citizens — so it’s no surprise that society has accepted without question that a badge and a gun is a LICENSE to KILL.

    • DE Young

      I’m far from defending excessive force or the hyper-militarized law enforcement operations around this nation. The problem with your statement that cops execute citizens every day is that we just don’t keep those records. The Guardian, a British newspaper, is in the process of trying to document the number of police killings (within limits) that occur this year. 2015 – go look it up. We’re half way through the year. Let’s use real data to combat the monster.

  • John Valis

    don’t think the officer was right shooting him in the back, he should have called for back up and continued pursuing him.

  • Michele Hall

    can’t believe some people are worried about the rights of a convicted killer who’s on the loose, dangerous to the public and fleeing…law enforcement did an excellent job and should be commended, the public is safe again from these horrible men! Thank YOU!!!

  • DE Young

    A 1986 U.S. Supreme Court case known as Tennessee v. Garner laid out how force can be used to capture a fleeing suspect: Deadly force can’t be used to prevent escape unless “the officer has probable cause to believe that the suspect poses a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others.”

    New York state law also allows for deadly force if a dangerous convict is escaping from a detention facility, which is why armed guards may be stationed in towers at prisons.

    Hurt as few people as possible – that ought to be our default position. Physicians are supposed to consider their acts with, “First, do no harm!” as their guide.

    I’d have shot that convicted murderer and I’m a fine shot – the difference between real law enforcement professionals and an armed and alert attorney under the same circumstances (the attorney might well be better suited to judge the legal nuances of the situation than a law enforcement officer – but the officer would have all of the training and experience in restraining and capturing humans) – a convict like Sweet on the loose would see me shoot to kill and while I would be unlikely to empty a magazine (I’d want a couple of rounds in reserve – who knows what might happen) but, this officer shot twice. Just twice. That’s professional restraint. That’s appropriate use of lethal force – and the issue of excessive force does not arise in this fact pattern.

  • Lonewolf

    The fact that anyone would even question how this ended is just more evidence of the idiots that walk among us. I don’t care whether it was legal or not, he was running from the Officer. Anyone running from a Police Officer, (yes even a black man), takes the chance of being shot. If that happens it is they who are responsible for being shot, not the Police. As for being shot in the back, it’s a little difficult to shoot anyone in the chest when they’re running away from you. However, I do agree with some of the others here, he should have shot him in the head.

    • DE Young

      “I don’t care whether it was legal or not, ”

      Makes you one of the dangerous ones.

  • Brad I

    Wow, there really is no debate to be had here. I’m been posting the same thing on discussion boards and comment sections and I’m getting kinda tired of it but one last time: Tennessee v. Garner does not permit an officer to shoot a fleeing felon or an escaping inmate when they pose no immediate threat to someone around them. Whether you agree with it or not, this is how the judicial branch and our highest court have interpreted the law. This is the current law. Source: legal education and http://cga.ct.gov/PS98/rpt%5Colr%5Chtm/98-r-0678.htm

    • DE Young

      My exact words. The case sets the standard: “the officer has probable cause to believe that the suspect poses a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others.”

      Do ya think a man who murdered a police officer from ambush might just “pose a significant threat of death or injury to the officer or others”? A convicted murderer who had been on the loose for nearly three weeks and was escaping – could he have obtained a weapon somewhere in part of the most rural area of NY State? Hunting cabins are everywhere. No, most people don’t leave their deer rifles at the cabin – but a .22 or a .38 certainly are common.

      Most of the water is now so acid from midwestern power plant H2S precipitating out as H2SO4 that the lakes and small streams are sterile. The only outdoor sports are hunting, cross-country skiing, some boating, and very cold and hard winters make for empty cabins until around NOW. People are not rational where they have only a few weeks of vacation in any given year (if they’re lucky) and many of the cabin owners inherited them. Getting out of the metro areas and outdoors is a high priority. It is also close to a number of crossings into and out of Canada (when I was growing up nobody asked for a driver’s license when crossing the border – if you went across on a major road – hundreds of small roads are still open).

      I don’t believe that any rational argument can be made that Sweet was the victim of excessive force.

    • Vatcha

      This is a decision from 30 years ago about a fleeing suspect not an escaping inmate. The report you posted is from 17 years ago. In it its says “It is unclear whether the test in Garner will apply to the use of deadly force against a prisoner escaping from a corrections facility.” Do you have something more recent that addresses an escaping inmate? Unless you have some other decision to offer it would appear your original statement is correct. There is no debate to be had here.

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  • howardr22

    remember escape is generally only a crime in the US and other countries mainly the EU escape is not. I repeat not a crime. Since it is natural for some who is locked up to want to escape, the EU countries felt that escape should not be a crime and it is not- no punishment for escape since it is natural to try to escape. sweat should not have been shot- the police should be able to run faster, or let him go to be arrested later by the RCMP.
    German law student here. I explained this here on reddit once but I will explain it here again as good as I can (my English isn’t that good).

    Prison escape in Germany is not punishable by law if the escaper doesn’t break any other laws. I can say, it is close to impossible to escape a prison without breaking a law.

    If the prisoner damage the bars, it’s damage to property(Sachbeschädigung?!), if the prisoner runs a way with his prison clothes on, it’s theft. Taking hostages, beating someone etc. will be punished as well.

    Any crime you do while escaping from prison will be held against you.

    Edit: It’s illegal to help someone to escape from prison.

    • rnh17

      It’s also natural for poor people to want to be rich. So why is theft a crime in the EU?

  • native new yorker

    Who cares? I wish the cops had killed the other escapee too.

  • Lonewolf

    DE Young
    “I don’t care whether it was legal or not, ”
    Makes you one of the dangerous ones.
    Sweat and Matt were both killers, as was the guy in Webster that shot the first responders a couple years ago. That guy killed his grandmother with a hammer, did a few years under NYS’s criminal coddling policy, and was released to kill again. If New York had done it’s job in the first place and executed these killers, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. Under the current net of political correctness, if the fact that I don’t care whether Sweat got shot or not makes me dangerous, then I’d rather be dangerous than to be wondering where David Sweat was and how many people he was willing to kill to keep his freedom.