After an off-duty St. Louis police officer was wounded by “friendly fire” from a fellow officer looking for suspects after a stolen vehicle crashed late last month, the department is looking at whether more training might help.
The police department is forming a committee to decide how best to train officers for such encounters.
In the June 21 incident, an off-duty officer was shot in the elbow by another officer after a police chase involving suspects inside a stolen car. People inside the car opened fire on police during the chase, police say.
The off-duty officer came out of his home after hearing the car crash. Two officers looking for the suspects from the car encountered the off-duty officer and ordered him to the ground, the department said. He complied. When they recognized him, they told him he could stand up and walk toward them.
Another officer just arriving at the scene saw the off-duty officer get up and, not knowing he was an officer, fired his weapon once at the man. He hit the off-duty officer in the arm.
Nationally, little research has been done on the topic because its rarity makes it difficult to draw meaningful conclusions or suggest best practices, said David Klinger, a criminologist with the University of Missouri-St. Louis who specializes in use-of-force issues
Klinger, a former Los Angeles police officer, has personal experience. One night in Los Angeles, Klinger said, he interrupted a man about to break into his car. Two officers happened to drive by. When confronted by his fellow officers, he had his badge in his hand, and moved it so his fellow officers could catch the glint from it. He identified himself as an officer and asked them what they wanted him to do. He complied with their commands to drop the gun — all part of the training he said he received, St.LouisToday reports.
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