Following officers' commands in the field can mean a better outcome | News
When there's an officer-involved shooting or search for a suspect, decisions are often made in a split-second. During these incidents, a person's actions at a scene can sometimes make the difference between life and death.
During a recent search for suspects who were involved in a stolen vehicle chase, a south Sacramento man was mistaken as one of the suspects after officers saw him walking through a field near the scene. Officers drew their weapons and put handcuffs on the man, but later learned he lives on the property and was also searching for the suspects. The man was later released.
On Thursday, News10 spoke with Sacramento County sheriff's deputies about what can happen if someone is caught in the middle of a crime scene.
"In my experiences in law enforcement the individuals that cooperate with us, the individuals that listen to our directives, the individuals that follow our instructions usually come out ahead -- especially if they haven't done anything wrong, if they haven't committed a crime," said Deputy Cary Trzcinski.
Sheriff's deputies demonstrated several scenarios that often happen while officers are responding to a scene.
In the first example, the subject complied with the officer's commands. Sheriff's spokesman Deputy Jason Ramos said that is the best case scenario as the subject allowed the deputy to conduct his investigation and rule out the subject as a suspect.
"There's a number of different factors and officers might react differently," said Ramos.
"Because of how cooperative he seemed to be, he didn't necessarily raise my level of suspicion. Obviously, he could have something in his pockets that's going to harm me. I'm going to exercise due caution but he didn't advance aggressively towards me. He seemed to be complying with my directives and so I didn't have a problem with that but there could be an officer who perceived that as a potential threat and immediately directed him not to place his hands in his pockets ..." said Ramos.
In a different scenario, the deputies showed what happens when a subject does not comply and becomes argumentative. In the role-play, the subject refused to respond to the officer's orders and wouldn't remove his hands from his pockets.
"At this point, I would be balancing the commands I'm giving him with also getting on the radio, notifying our communications center of what's going on and probably calling additional officers to the scene as well," said Ramos.
"Try your best to listen to the commands that police are giving you," said Francine Tournour, the Director at the Office of Public Safety Accountability.
Tournour investigates officer-involved shootings and complaints from Sacramento residents. Tournour said if a person feels that the police used unnecessary force or overreacted it's often due to the lack of communication.
"Either the police officers aren't giving clear demands to the person, they're not telling them what they want them to do and how they want them to respond to them," said Tournour.
"Normally, if the police officers are dealing with you and maybe they think they have potentially a crime in progress, they're not going to play all their cards, if you will."
The sheriff's department offers more information in this document on what to do if you are stopped by a deputy.