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U.S. Attorney's Office Decides Not to Prosecute Officer for Fatal 2016 Shooting in DC

By: Matthew Tievsky

Earlier this month, the U.S. attorney’s office elected not to prosecute a Metropolitan Police Department officer who fatally shot a man in 2016. (The officer’s name has never been released).

Police Brutality Lawyer in DCThe man who was killed was named Peter John, Jr. On February 1, 2016, according to the officer, he was driving a police cruiser in Northeast D.C. when he saw Mr. John, rolled down his window, and asked Mr. John if he lived nearby. According to the officer, Mr. John then fled, and the officer chased him down on foot. Mr. John fell to the ground, and the officer stumbled over and fell on top of Mr. John, which led to a struggle. During the struggle, the officer fatally shot Mr. John in the neck, because (according to the officer) Mr. John was reaching for a weapon. That weapon later proved to be a pellet gun.

This case is representative of a general rule: It is very difficult to criminally indict, much less convict, a police officer who shoots someone. This is true even when the shooting is wrongful, in part because convicting a police officer of a crime requires proving wrongdoing “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

It is in the area of wrongful police actions that the civil justice system can play such an important role: Successfully suing a police officer (and the government that employs him or her) for money requires only showing by a “preponderance of the evidence” (i.e., more likely than not) that the officer acted wrongfully.

If you or anyone you know has been injured due to the wrongful actions of the police, you should contact the personal injury attorneys at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C., for a free consultation.