Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson & Mike Brown
*Here’s some potentially devastating news for folks looking for justice in the killing of Michael ‘Mike’ Brown by Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson, courtesy of Professor John F. Banzhaf III, Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University Law Schoo.
Professor Banzhaf says that while much of the media is suggesting that the only defense in the killing of an unarmed Mike Brown, is that the officer acted in self defense to protect his own life (or possibly the lives of others), a Missouri statute authorizes shooting a fleeing robbery suspect.
Section 563.046 authorizes a law enforcement officer to use “deadly force” “when he reasonably believes that such use of deadly force is immediately necessary to effect the arrest and also reasonably believes that the person to be arrested . . . has committed or attempted to commit a felony.”
Thus, even if Michael Brown were in fact fleeing from the officer’s attempt to arrest him, and posed no threat whatsoever to the officer’s safety, officer Darren Wilson might still be able to argue that he reasonably believed that Brown had committed a robbery, and that he could not “effect the arrest” without shooting the suspect, says John Banzhaf, public interest law professor.
In addition to possibly providing another defense argument, the existence of the statute more clearly establishes the legal relevance of the videotape released by authorities which seemingly shows Brown committing a strong-arm robbery just minutes before his confrontation with the officer.
“Although many have argued that the videotape has no relevance to the issues in Ferguson, it is legally relevant because it provides a strong motive for Brown to attempt to resist arrest.”
Also, Wilson might have suspected Brown of being the robber – and therefore a very serious danger – based either on a physical description of the robbery suspect broadcast over the police radio, or if he noticed a box of cigars in Brown’s hands when he was stopped, says Banzhaf.