The police’s decision to handcuff Walker after he was shot was an “additional affront to a terrible loss,” Walker family attorney Bobby DiCello told CNN on Saturday. Walker’s family “cannot fathom these so-called security reasons when they know that Jayland has suffered so many injuries and fatalities.”
“It’s mind-boggling. It sends a symbolic and inhumane message despite the procedure involved,” DiCello said, while the incident raises a critical question about the extent to which compassion plays a role when police officers decide to shoot someone who has been shot dozens of times. to be handcuffed. †
“If no one thought he needed to be handcuffed, why not just out of respect for the loss of life, avoid it?” Added DiCello.
It is common practice across the country to handcuff a person considered dangerous and armed, even after they have been shot by police, so that the person does not have access to weapons or pose a further threat, three said. law enforcement experts to CNN.
Choosing to handcuff someone who has just been shot by police is “not a matter of humane or inhumane,” said Maria Haberfeld, a professor of police science at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Aside from an injured suspect, the broader circumstances of the situation may “affect[the officers’ perceptions]of the threat,” she said, adding that someone who is already clinically dead may show movement, suggesting that they are still alive and dangerous.
“This is the way they think, this is the way they’re trained — that you can never underestimate the level of threat from someone who shot you before,” Haberfeld said, speaking generally of police encounters with suspects who are believed to be armed.
Officers are told not to tamper with the body
Every police department has policies that dictate when officers should use lethal force, usually when a weapon is involved and a suspect poses an immediate threat to officers and the public, experts told CNN.
But there is no national standard for restraining a person after being shot, they said. Most agencies train officers to immediately handcuff a suspect so they can secure weapons and assess injuries to provide assistance, but they don’t address how officers should use restraints beyond arrest control guidelines and officer safety.
According to police, Walker fled when officers tried to arrest him for traffic and equipment violations, and during an 18-minute car chase, he fired what appeared to be a shot from the window. The chase then briefly turned into a foot chase, with police shooting Walker to death after he stopped quickly and they believed he reached down to his waist and “felt that Mr. Walker had turned and gesturing and moved into a firing position,” officials have said. .
Although a gun was found in his car after the shooting, Walker was not armed when he was killed, Akron Police Chief Stephen Mylett said at a press conference on July 3, when police released long body camera videos of 13 officers at the scene.
If officers hadn’t handcuffed Walker as they approached him—since they believed he had fired a weapon at them from his vehicle—Thor Eells would have been “surprised,” according to the director of the National Tactical Officers Association.
Even after that, “unless medical professionals request that the handcuffs be removed so they can do some sort of advanced life support that would need to, the officers wouldn’t remove them,” he said.
If a person is pronounced dead at the scene after a shooting by the police, officers are usually advised not to tamper with the case by touching the body — including removing handcuffs — so that it can be handed over to the coroner’s office as part of the shooting investigation, said Eells, a former Colorado Springs Police Department commander.
“Once they determine that this is now a fatal shooting, most agencies are taught not to touch or disturb anything,” he said. “Everything is left as it is for the angle that has the legal responsibility to review it all in its entirety. (The coroner asks) questions like, ‘Has anything possibly contributed to or aggravated injuries or otherwise?’ †
‘It’s time to revise that policy,’ says expert
But the chief admitted the policy needs to be revised.
“If this was my brother, if this was my son, if this was my grandson, I wouldn’t like that,” Mylett told WEWS. “I understand that, I really do. And I’m going to talk to others about the need for it.”
Akron Police Department, the city and the police union have not responded to repeated requests from CNN for comment on the practice of restraining suspects, including those shot by officers.
In many cases like this, officers “just follow their department’s rules,” but those guidelines may be outdated, said Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, a nonprofit police research and policy organization.
“Those procedures were put in place a long time ago and I think it’s time to rethink those policies in situations where it’s clear that someone has been seriously injured and needs first aid,” he said.
In Walker’s case, the preliminary report from the Summit County medical examiner’s office includes several pages of thumbnail photos showing the young man dead and handcuffed at the scene and after his body arrives at the coroner’s office.
A final autopsy report will be submitted to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, which investigates any criminal misconduct by the officers, and will be part of what the attorney general’s office considers before submitting a case to a grand jury.