San Jose police have dedicated a section of their website to officer-involved shootings.
Following a spate of officer-involved shootings this summer, the most recent one involving an unarmed, fleeing murder suspect last week, the department put its employee manual and use-of-force guidelines online.
The documents are part of a broader rollout on the department’s website under the Frequently Asked Questions section on police shootings. There have been seven officer-involved shootings this year, including two on consecutive days last week involving suspected killers. There have also been 20 homicides.
The department announced the new website section Monday.
“We believe it is important for the community to understand the investigative process, monitoring and incident review process,” the department said in a statement.
The site provides the department’s procedure for officer-involved shooting investigations, its use-of-force guidelines, describes its panel that reviews the incidents, points out where the results of the investigations can be found, and says that homicide detectives are the persons assigned to talk with the families of those shot by officers. The site also discusses why an officer would shoot a person and how the district attorney’s office investigates.
Police were criticized last week after they shot a fleeing murder suspect and said the man had reached for his waistband before changing their story and saying the man was shot to protect the public.
Richard Jacquez, 40, was already suspected of killing one man, had another potential victim beside him in the passenger seat of his car and was presumed to be heavily armed when he noticed he was being tailed by San Jose police.
He tried to speed away, turned onto a cul-de-sac, jumped out of the moving vehicle and ran away as officers gave chase and yelled for him to stop.
Jacquez was steps from the front door of a house when an officer opened fire, killing him.
Hours after last week’s confrontation, department spokesman Sgt. Enrique Garcia told reporters that Jacquez had reached for his waistband.
The official story soon changed.
Now, officials say Jacquez wasn’t armed and didn’t reach for his waistband. The officer shot at him first when his back was turned and again when he spun around. In explaining why the officer opened fire, Garcia said he feared for the safety of those inside the home Jacquez was running toward. Officers also believed he was going to kill the woman riding with him because she knew about the slaying Jacquez was tied to.
The shooting has generated debate in San Jose and sparked questions both about the police tactics used and why the official narrative changed so significantly.
LaDoris Cordell, a retired judge and former San Jose independent police auditor, filed a complaint with the department this week.
“Whenever a law enforcement agency issues a statement about a shooting, that is a thought-out, deliberate statement. It’s not off-the-cuff, ‘We know this happened,’” Cordell said.
Cordell said filing the complaint with the police auditor ensures civilian oversight of the internal use-of-force investigation. The department has a year to investigate the shooting and hand down any potential discipline. The office of the independent police auditor, which Cordell led for five years, reviews internal investigations conducted by police.
Garcia said the initial narrative was just a “miscommunication” that is being investigated.
Legal experts say the department appears to be ascribing last week’s shooting to a U.S. Supreme Court decision that permits shooting a suspect if the officer has a reasonable belief the person is an imminent danger to the officer or others.
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