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Home  >  Topics  >  Use of Force

January 05, 2010

Denver cop's use of force in shooting ruled justified

Officer Kevin Ford shot a suspect pointing a gun at his face

Denver Post

DENVER — A Denver police officer used reasonable force when he shot and killed a man walking through a residential neighborhood firing a gun, the District Attorney's office said Monday.

Officer Kevin Ford shot Nicholas Alvarado Morales, 29, after Morales leveled his own gun at the officer early Dec. 13, according to the DA's report.

Expert Perspective

This incident paints a clear picture of solid police work in action and the kind of controversy and skewed post-incident witness accounts that can cause officers to hesitate to deliver deadly force when justified and needed for fear of public outcry and legal ramifications (A phenomenon that was referred to in the Street Survival Seminar as “litigaphobia”)

As you read this article, use it as an opportunity to employ when/then thinking and as a chance to remind yourself that controversy and accusations of wrong-doing can be a seemingly inevitable result of police action in some situations. This should not lure you into hesitation and lack of confidence in your rights, responsibilities and abilities as a law enforcement officer.

A few quick take-aways from this incident:

1. Be mentally, physically and professionally prepared to take immediate and definitive action, including delivering deadly force, when you must, as dictated by the behavior of the suspect you’re confronting.

2. Don’t let the fear of facing controversy and public outcry make you hesitate. Hesitation can be fatal.

3. Just because a suspect is shot does not mean he’s out of the game. Make sure you cuff.

Read more: When it's time to shoot, shoot

Full story: Denver cop's use of force in shooting ruled justified

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