TEMPE (3TV/CBS 5) - It could take months before the Tempe Police Department determines whether an officer committed a crime last week when he shot a teen in the back. That’s according to an expert witness who testifies in state and federal cases involving use-of-force.
“While it may appear something inappropriate occurred, it may still fall within state law,” says police practices expert Rob Robinson. “If it falls within state law, there are no criminal charges brought forth.”
It is standard in every officer-involved shooting that an agency conducts a criminal and administrative investigation.
[BODY CAM VIDEO: Officer involved in shooting of 14-year-old armed with replica handgun]
The shooting last week has sparked concerns about excessive use-of-force after the release of dramatic body camera footage. The video released by Tempe Police shows the officer responding to a call when he found a 14-year-old boy inside a parked truck.
Tempe Police say the officer was under the impression the boy was armed when he called out to him. The footage shows the boy take off running. The officer can be heard demanding to see the teen’s hands before firing twice.
The boy was hit once in the back and died later at the hospital.
“Once the [criminal] investigation is complete, a packet will be sent over to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office and they have a group of attorney’s who will review the case and decide amongst themselves whether or not the criminal charges will be brought forth on either side,” says Robinson.
Robinson says it is rare that an officer will face criminal charges.
“Officers receive a considerable amount of training,” says Robinson. “They understand what they can and cannot do in these types of situations.”
Robinson says any findings from the criminal investigation will then factor into the administrative investigation. If an administrative investigation finds an officer violated department policy, the officer may face other disciplinary action. Both investigations may also clear an officer of any wrongdoing.