We’re continuing our discussion of the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation’s review of the Cary Police Department’s part in a February hostage situation. The suspect apparently did not intend to rob the bank, and he pretended he had a gun though he was unarmed. Police shot and killed. The SBI must determine if the suspect presented an imminent, lethal threat to his hostage.
As we said in our last post, the policy gives the police great latitude. But there is a caveat: Officers “should not feel compelled” to act quickly if those actions could endanger “their safety or that of the hostage.”
Protocol also called for the officers to warn the suspect that they would only take action against him if others were endangered. Many details of the three-hour standoff have not been shared with the public, because the investigation is ongoing.
Another incident during the hostage situation may influence the SBI’s findings. The suspect released several hostages in the first half hour of the standoff. One of those, a black man, claims that police treated him roughly and that they ignored his warnings that the suspect was unarmed.
The man was the only black person in the bank, aside from the suspect. He claims that police grabbed his arms and threw him to the ground before putting handcuffs on him. The cuffs were so tight, he said, that he had bruises. Officers then led him across the parking lot and slammed him against a police cruiser.
He maintains the Cary police treated him that way because of his race. This allegation, along with the allegation that police dismissed the man’s warnings that the suspect was unarmed, will likely influence the SBI’s findings.
Again, many details of the shooting are not yet public. The 19-year-old suspect was the first person killed by Cary police in the line of duty. The SBI will have to weigh the department’s relative inexperience, the testimony of the hostages and other witnesses and the fact that the suspect was black as they complete their report and decide if criminal charges against any of the officers are warranted.
Source: Raleigh News Observer, “SBI must parse Cary police policy,” Andrew Kenney, 03/08/11