It’s not uncommon for Maryland police to pull over drivers they believe to be intoxicated. Police will find any reason to pull over drivers and conduct an investigation to look for signs of alcohol consumption. Whether it is slight swerving, failing to stop completely at a stop sign or a broken tail light, that can be considered probable cause to initiate a traffic stop.
Recently, however, what began as a seemingly routine drunk driving stop ended in dangerous fashion. Maryland police officers noticed that a man was swerving and didn’t have a working tag light on his license plate. At this point, the man pulled over and cops began to determine if the man was driving under the influence.
The scent of alcohol caused the cop to order the man to take a field sobriety test, but police reports show the man failed to comply. He apparently ran back to his car, and the officer followed him back and tried to prevent him from starting the vehicle. A struggle ensued, and the man started driving away with the cop still in the window. In an unexpected move, the cop shot the man in the stomach.
Typically, DUI stops do not end with the arresting officer discharging his or her firearm, which is precisely why this case has gained attention. Anytime a police officer shoots a suspect, they are typically put on administrative leave so an investigation can be conducted.
This case raises the importance of conducting additional investigation during a criminal trial. Although a police officer may give one account of an arrest, an independent invesitgation might reveal that a police report doesn’t reflect the defendant’s or witness’ version of events. Such descrepancies, especially in arrests involving lethal force, can make a difference in the outcome of a trial.
Source: Maryland Coast Dispatch, “While Hanging Out Of Vehicle, Cop Forced To Shoot Driver,” Shawn J. Soper, May 10, 2013
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