Massachusetts Cop Forum banner

1 - 1 of 1 Posts

MassCops Angel
121,497 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Consultant finds officer acted justly, but civil lawsuit pending from family

By Amanda Iacone
The Journal-Gazette

FORT WAYNE, Ind. - Fort Wayne police officer James Arnold will again patrol the city's streets next week after a consultant found he was justified in fatally shooting 24-year-old Jose Lemus-Rodriguez in December.
Fort Wayne Police Chief Rusty York said that an outside consultant hired by the attorney handling the case for the city ruled that rookie Officer James Arnold did not violate any department policies or procedures and that case law supports his actions. The department released the consultant's summary report Thursday afternoon.
York said he is comfortable with the findings and residents should know that city officers acted responsibly and professionally.
York also announced that Arnold would return to patrol duty next week. Arnold was placed on administrative leave for several weeks after the Dec. 23 shooting. He returned to desk duty in January and spent most of the past six months working in the Crime Stoppers office.
A local attorney representing Lemus-Rodriguez's family questioned the consultant's report. Mark GiaQuinta believes no one would have learned the contents of the report if the results weren't favorable to the city. And he also questioned why the department did not make public several videos that were taken of the shooting.
GiaQuinta said the videos could have verified to the community that Arnold acted appropriately. He has asked for the documents and videos related to the case several times and has been denied, he said.
The family filed formal notice in May that a civil lawsuit is pending. The family hasn't ruled out that option but doesn't know enough about what happened that day to decide, GiaQuinta said.
The city's consultant, Lt. Robert Black, a master instructor with the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy in Plainfield, also found that Arnold's military experience and training did not negatively affect his decisions that day. That experience might have helped him, York said.
York previously said he was concerned about Arnold's combat experience with the Marine Corps. Arnold was a sergeant in the Marines and served a combat tour in Iraq and two in Afghanistan.
The investigation found that Arnold relied on his police training. Officers are trained to shoot until the threat is stopped and that's what Arnold did, York said.
Arnold fired 18 shots, emptying his handgun. He fired several rounds, paused while another officer moved away from the crossfire and then continued firing, York said.
Arnold also fired directly at Lemus-Rodriguez and did not attempt to disable or stop the car. Officers are taught to fire at a person and not a vehicle because a 9 mm handgun won't be able to stop the vehicle, said Richard Beers, the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association attorney who worked with Arnold.
Beers, who saw the videos of the shooting, said that the videos don't depict what Arnold was seeing.
Lemus-Rodriguez tried to make a hard turn and ended up on the curb. He put the car in reverse, and an officer managed to open his car door to try and pull him out. That's when Lemus-Rodriguez accelerated, in reverse, and hit the officer's car. To Arnold, it appeared he was also about to be hit and he opened fire, Beers said.
Although the officers had drawn their guns, no other officers fired. Because of where they were standing, York said, their perspective was different than Arnold's. Three police car cameras captured the shooting, and a surveillance camera from a nearby building caught the intersection but not the shooting, he said.
Both York and Beers said the public would be able to view the videos at some point. York declined to release them Thursday because of the pending civil lawsuit.
The city hired local attorney Carolyn Trier to handle the case, and she called on Black to investigate whether Arnold violated department policies and procedures. York called off an internal investigation that was set to begin in early June to let Black, whose name officials did not release until Thursday, work instead.
Black wrote that through his initial review, he found Arnold's use of deadly force "objectively reasonable." " ... Nothing had been effective in controlling the life threatening behavior of Mr. Lemus- Rodriguez. Further delay in apprehension would have created a substantial and unreasonable risk to the police and others of death or serious physical injury."
Black also wrote that a federal court case allows deadly force to prevent an escape if the escape poses an imminent threat of death or serious injury, regardless of the original crime committed. An off- duty detective tried to stop Lemus-Rodriguez for driving erratically and running a stop sign. Later tests found that Lemus-Rodriguez was drunk and that he was possibly more than three times over the legal limit.
But GiaQuinta questioned Black's ability and expertise to interpret case law.
"They got what they paid for," he said of the report.
GiaQuinta read Black's summary report for the first time Thursday afternoon, he said. Department officials received the report Wednesday. GiaQuinta questioned the argument that Lemus-Rodriguez could have continued on and injured someone because officials have no way to know that.
Although Arnold hasn't read Black's report, he said he is ready to move on. "I'm glad to be getting back to work."
Arnold will have a day of training Tuesday and is scheduled to be back on patrol Wednesday, Beers said.
He will spend at least four months on probation and work with a field training officer, York said.

Wire Service
1 - 1 of 1 Posts