The most recent fatal police shooting in Atlanta has reignited a heated debate over whether or not officers should fire their weapons at fleeing suspects in vehicles.
The most recent shooting occurred at a Shell station near the intersection of Whitehall and McDaniel in Downtown Atlanta. According to reports, eighteen year old, D'Ettrick Griffin jumped into Officer Oliver Simmonds' vehicle and drove away. Officer Simmonds attempted to stop the vehicle, but when he failed he shot at the vehicle.
The Atlanta Police Department has a policy that prohibits firing at fleeing vehicles. However, there is a broad exception that allows a “reasonable and necessary” use of force regarding fleeing suspects.
As a Georgia DUI Attorney, I will outline the offense of fleeing an officer in today's post so as to better clarify what the policy is referring to in this latest update.
Fleeing or Attempting to Elude an Officer in Georgia
Fleeing or Attempting to Elude an Officer in Georgia is defined by the Georgia Code as:
It shall be unlawful for any driver of a vehicle willfully to fail or refuse to bring his or her vehicle to a stop or otherwise to flee or attempt to elude a pursuing police vehicle or police officer when given a visual or an audible signal to bring the vehicle to a stop. The signal given by the police officer may be by hand, voice, emergency light, or siren. The officer giving such signal shall be in uniform prominently displaying his or her badge of office, and his or her vehicle shall be appropriately marked showing it to be an official police vehicle.
Any person violating the provisions of subsection (a) of this Code section shall be guilty of a high and aggravated misdemeanor and upon conviction shall be fined not less than $500.00 nor more than $5,000.00, which fine shall not be subject to suspension, stay, or probation and imprisoned for not less than ten days nor more than 12 months.
Other states have also moved towards the prohibition of officers' firing at fleeing vehicles. San Francisco banned firing at fleeing vehicle unless the occupants pose another threat. Philadelphia banned firing unless the officers are being fired upon.
As of right now, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation has revised its use-of-force policy.