By Detective Wendell White
This is a forum for dangerous people, who may one day find themselves in dangerous situations doing dangerous things. After dangerous things are done there is the inevitable reckoning, at least most of the time. To assist in preparation for the reckoning from a lethal force event we had an outstanding training opportunity with Brent in Washington this past Saturday. I just want to discuss one of dozens of issues covered, in the simple hope it will assist dangerous people to continue doing dangerous things to dangerous people for a very long time - the investigative "time out."
This isn't a secret, but by the comments in the class wasn't especially known, so for the good of all I'll mention it here.
The initial police contact will involve into an investigative detention. The investigative detention, with its particular court-afforded latitude to law enforcement may allow reasonable suspicion to evolve into probable cause. When dealing with reasonable suspicion and probable cause a natural byproduct may, depending on custodial issues, be the advisement of one's constitutional rights. These rights, commonly known a Miranda Rights, aren't just instituted at the time of the advisement, but always exist - always...once again, always.
In the interview process following a lethal force event one may certainly desire to "be the good guy" and "help law enforcement"; Once again, the time-honored nature of the truly innocent person. However, one might have come to the understanding through education, experience, or work experience, that law enforcement is not necessarily their friend, but an independent, third-party, information gathering, intelligence vetting machine determined to process them, the scene and do all this before it gets too late and more typing is required. In this scenario, when presented with Miranda Rights, or not, the lethal force event winner might find themselves in a hard place trying to do the right thing between helping law enforcement, protecting themselves, and giving consideration to invoking those Miranda Rights we all know about but few understand. Remember, good guy or not, everything you say will be used against you....
May I suggest, since a lethal force event just occurred you (the shooter and good guy) might be under a medical condition brought upon you, not by your choice mind you, but the force cause upon you by another. This medical condition, which happens to law enforcement, war fighters and civilians alike, includes accelerated heart beat, elevated blood pressure, dizziness, perhaps a headache, or even confusion - all as the body releases and removes adrenaline. Do these conditions seem ideal under which to answer questions in the light of "everything you say will be used against you."? Is a respectful, amiable and/or tactical "time out" in order to allow you to consider your legal-aid options, answers, and more importantly your health? May I suggest it is.
By respectfully advising the investigator you were just in a lethal force event and the above five issues are affecting your ability to give an accurate, complete and dependable statement you'll have his attention. By requesting to be transported for medical evaluation (which mind you is valid as these issues are real, not imaginary or just for tactical deployment) the interview process stops and a "time out" with honor occurs. Now.....go call your attorney from the hospital.
By respectfully mentioning the five issues and requesting medical transport the scenario is now put squarely in front of the investigator of, "I don't want to interview this person now as I can't depend on their answers to be accurate, complete and credible." Hell, you just did that investigator a favor...maybe yourself as well. This is the "keeping the status quo" part. Please remember, statements that aren't credible, and/or lead to more investigative leads, issues or nonsense, create avenues of investigation which must be ran down to prove, and disprove, their authenticity. Basically, the more stupid shit you say, or mistakes you make, the more the detective has to do to prove you said stupid shit that was or was not true.
These actions described above aren't negative in nature, shouldn't be seen as such, but are simply you taking care of yourself and your interests first. May you choose to do so!
For the investigator...well, shit, you know we'd do it too.
May you choose wisely and remember "everything you say can and will be used against you."