LIABILITY ISSUES FOR POLICE
We have seen video-tape evidence of so-0called police brutality, especially in California with Rodney King, and more recently with the alleged beating of a black teen-ager. Several weeks ago, 120 rounds were fired by sheriff's deputies in Compton CA, into the car of an unarmed suspect. These were only a few of the alleged instances of police brutality, often done with the use of firearms. Makholm's article (2005) focuses in particular on the death of a female student in Boston caused by what he refers to as "less than lethal" weapons. The article covers the fac5t that, whether lethal or less-than-lethal weapons are used, the important point is "the use of force reasonable and appropriate under the circumstances" (Makholdm 2005 1).
Makholm describes himself as a trainer in "high liability subjects" (Makholm 2005 1). This means that the police may well be liable for injuries or deaths that occur when a court decides that unreasonable force was used in the particular incident. The article points out that even so-called "less-than-lethal" weapons can cause both serious injury, and n the case of the Boston student, Victoria Snelgrove, death. In such incidents, the police may be held criminally liable. Makholm writes that "part of the problem lies in the perceptions of officers that these types of weapons do not kill people and therefore are 'safe' to use" (Makholm 2005 2).
The article is clearly pointing out that no police officer should be guided into the belief (often mistaken) that these so-called "less-than-lethal" weapons, such as pepper balls, are safe and can be used indiscriminately. What's more according to Makholm (2) the officer himself can be held personally liable in case of a civil or criminal suit against the police department. The article then provides some tips on what individual police officers can do to protect themselves from suits. The author lists "Make...