Update: Police cleared? in Isaac Singletary shooting...


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hammer4nc
April 21, 2007, 04:53 PM
(This incident was discussed extensively, but both threads were locked; hence this new thread reporting latest development.)

Comment: I used the question mark in the thread title because another article suggested that the sheriff's dept. internal investigation had been held up pending this state atty's. report; and would now commence.

However, I'd bet a double sawbuck that the sheriff's dept. internal review will yield nothing more than micro adjustments in tactics. There have been comments to the effect that "reverse stings" (police posing as undercover drug dealers) is necessary deception, and will continue.

"Questioning tactics" doesn't even rise to the level of a slap on the wrist, IMO. Some will applaud this action, no doubt. :scrutiny:



http://www.jacksonville.com/tu-online/stories/041307/met_shortstein.shtml

State attorney's findings: Officers justified but tactics questioned

By BRIDGET MURPHY, The Times-Union

State Attorney Harry Shorstein released his findings about this year's three Jacksonville Sheriff's Office fatal police shootings and was highly critical of two of them.

The State Attorney's Office reviews such cases to determine if the shootings were justified and if there was any criminal wrongdoing on the part of the officers. The state attorney also can comment on police tactics in the cases.

Shorstein said there was nothing criminal about the officers' actions and their deadly force was justified because of the threats. However, he questioned the way they handled the Jan. 15 shooting of a mentally ill Vietnam veteran visiting his parents and the Jan. 27 shooting of an 80-year-old defending his property from what he thought were drug dealers.

He said police should have called in a mental health counselor for expertise in dealing with a distraught 65-year-old, Harry Lamar Shuler, on Gilchrist Road in a 12-hour standoff. He had threatened and held his parents hostage but the standoff continued after they were safe.

Shuler, who the Sheriff's Office was familiar with, came out unarmed to surrender, Shorstein said. But when the take-down team approached from the back, he retreated, got his gun and came back out. That's when three SWAT officers opened fire.

In the case of the 80-year-old, Shorstein said the undercover officers never identified themselves as police before the shooting. He said there also were conflicting statements about who fired first after Isaac Singletary brandished a gun trying to scare off what he thought were drug dealers outside his Westmont Street home. The only person to counter police statements was a felon, however, and couldn't necessarily be deemed credible.

A backup officer who pursued Singletary toward his backyard did identify himself before shooting him, Shorstein said. The 80-year-old also may have been delusional, he said.

The one case that Shorstein found no problems with was the Jan. 20 shooting of an 18-year-old who was trying to rob an undercover narcotics officer at Sable Palm Apartments. Several in the Emerson Street community argued that Douglas "D.J." Woods III only had a cell phone, but ballistics and gun residue tests showed Woods fired at the officer six times, with three misfires. The officer was justified in defending himself with deadly force, the State Attorney's Office said.

Shorstein said tactics should be adjusted but he'll leave that up to the Sheriff's Office. He said he's met with and provided the findings to the undersheriff and director of operations, but had not spoken with Sheriff John Rutherford. The Times-Union is pursuing comment.

bridget.murphy@jacksonville.com, (904) 359-4161

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