The National Police Association asks Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to Rule in Favor of LAPD Officer in Justified Shooting

Published: Jun. 28, 2022 at 5:00 AM AKDT

INDIANAPOLIS, June 28, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- The National Police Association ("NPA") has filed a motion for leave to participate in Ninth Circuit case of Estate of Daniel Hernandez, et al. v. City of Los Angeles, et al., Nos. 21-55994 & 21-55995, which raises important questions about police use of deadly force. The NPA has filed briefs amicus curiae across the country in support of rules of law that recognize and support the discretion of police officers to respond to the difficult and often life-threatening circumstances to which they are exposed in their line of duty.

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Chester Brown / Alamy Stock Photo(PRNewswire)

In this case, after causing a serious multiple car accident, Mr. Hernandez confronted Officer Toni McBride of the Los Angeles Police Department with a box cutter in his hand, advancing on her and refusing repeated commands to drop the weapon. Mr. Hernandez' surviving relatives sued Officer McBride, the Los Angeles Police Department and the City of Los Angeles, alleging that Officer McBride violated Mr. Hernandez' constitutional rights by shooting him.

The National Police Association filed with its motion a comprehensive brief addressing the latest science concerning police decision making in complex and dangerous situations and how such research compels deference to officer decision making. Officer McBride arrived at a volatile scene that required her instantly to identify who was injured, assess the degree of those injuries for triage purposes, determine who or what might threaten injuries, and prioritize and get control of the threats.

Relevant research confirms that these circumstances, requiring complex "task switching," reduces efficiency, raises risk, slows reaction time—in a context where there is already a cognitive time gap between action and reaction of between 500 and 750 milliseconds. Extreme stress also causes changes in perception including narrowed peripheral vision, reduced depth perception and changes in the perception of time. Legal rules setting standards for officer behavior must take account of all these unavoidable human limitations.

Police officers like Officer McBride are required to make life and death decisions, subject to all of these limitations, in a matter of seconds. Officer McBride, though retreating as Mr. Hernandez advanced, was accused of firing too soon, and firing again after he got up again and appeared poised to sprint at her following the first two shots. Unlike a reviewing court, Officer McBride did not have the luxury of reviewing carefully documented evidence in a leisurely fashion.

The record, recorded on multiple video streams, also contains some indication that Mr. Hernandez was engaging in the phenomenon of "suicide by cop," in substance forcing Officer McBride to use deadly force upon him to defend herself and others. The NPA's brief presents relevant research on this circumstance as well.

In its brief, the NPA warns that it would be "contrary to the interests of law enforcement and social order generally to create a rule of constitutional law denying the use of deadly force against armed suspects advancing on police officers who refuse commands to drop the weapon."  Police officers cannot effectively maintain control of violent offenders on the Nation's streets, and prevent further injury to the public if their only option available is to retreat until the suspects can somehow be controlled without the use of deadly force. That will not work for many offenders and poses an unreasonable risk to the lives of police officers and the public. The U.S. Constitution does not require such a result.

The National Police Association is represented by James L. Buchal of Murphy & Buchal LLP. The NPA's amicus can be viewed here: https://nationalpolice.org/main/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/Hernandez-v-McBride.pdf

About The National Police Association

The National Police Association (NPA) is a 501(c)3 Educational/Advocacy non-profit organization. For additional information visit www.nationalpolice.org.

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SOURCE National Police Association

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