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Posted: 12/19/2005 10:20:10 AM EDT
the badguy is your backstop!

Family Sues Buffalo Over Fatal, Stray Officer Bullet
MATT GRYTA
Buffalo News



The family of a Cheektowaga woman who died from a stray bullet fired by a police officer during a shootout earlier this year has filed a lawsuit against the City of Buffalo.

The parents of Amber Marie Keller filed the suit in State Supreme Court.

Officer Thomas P. English was returning gunfire from a suspect April 7 when the officer's bullet struck Keller in the head as she looked out the window of a nearby house on Genesee Street.

She never regained consciousness and died May 14 at the Center for Hospice & Palliative Care in Cheektowaga.

The lawsuit contends that Keller, 20, died due to "the negligent discharge of a deadly weapon by a police officer employed by" the City of Buffalo "in such a manner as contravened [the city's] training, policies, established standards and guidelines for the use of deadly physical force" to safeguard the public.

The suit accuses the Police Department of failing "to properly train, retrain, supervise, qualify and requalify, test and retest its sworn police officers in the safe and proper discharge of deadly weapons" in cases "where the lives and safety of the public are at risk."

Attorney Douglas S. Cream confirmed the lawsuit, in which the City of Buffalo is the lone defendant. No specific demand for money damages can be made against municipal defendants before a trial.

Corporation Counsel Michael B. Risman called Keller's death "a tragic accident." But Risman insisted the actions of the police officer that night and the Police Department's training of its officers "appear to be very defensible."

Mario J. Pittman, who had fired at English, was later apprehended. He was convicted of attempted murder for the gunbattle.

Because he was convicted of trying to kill a police officer, Pittman faces a mandatory life term when sentenced Feb. 16 by Senior Erie County Judge Michael L. D'Amico.

Link Posted: 12/19/2005 10:20:49 AM EDT
Link Posted: 12/19/2005 10:21:31 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/19/2005 10:21:55 AM EDT by fight4yourrights]
RULE I: ALL GUNS ARE ALWAYS LOADED

RULE II: NEVER LET THE MUZZLE COVER ANYTHING YOU ARE NOT WILLING TO DESTROY

RULE III: KEEP YOUR FINGER OFF THE TRIGGER UNTIL YOUR SIGHTS ARE ON THE TARGET

RULE IV: BE SURE OF YOUR TARGET (and what's behind it)
Link Posted: 12/19/2005 10:22:58 AM EDT
Link Posted: 12/19/2005 10:23:05 AM EDT
Shouldn't the criminal be held responsible? Isn't that usually the case? I mean damn even the top hostage rescue shooters in the world can miss in the heat of battle. Police don't have super human reflexes/accuracy and aren't robots.
Link Posted: 12/19/2005 10:23:46 AM EDT
this is what happens when you look out the window during a gun fight
Link Posted: 12/19/2005 10:24:24 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Alien:
Shouldn't the criminal be held responsible? Isn't that usually the case? I mean damn even the top hostage rescue shooters in the world can miss in the heat of battle. Police don't have super human reflexes/accuracy and aren't robots.



In CA it would be felony murder in criminal court.
Link Posted: 12/19/2005 10:25:12 AM EDT
Link Posted: 12/19/2005 10:25:38 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/19/2005 10:29:59 AM EDT by Grunteled]

Officer Thomas P. English was returning gunfire from a suspect April 7 when the officer's bullet struck Keller in the head as she looked out the window of a nearby house on Genesee Street.


Damn.... was she alone? Who doesn't bust ass to insure their child or the child in their care is not taking cover when you hear shots.


ETA: This was not a child.... missed that. Adults should damn well know better and she should share a portion of the responcibility for her own death.
Link Posted: 12/19/2005 10:27:16 AM EDT

Originally Posted By 1911greg:
this is what happens when you look out the window during a gun fight



That's what I was thinking. Sheesh, you hear a gunfight going on and you look out to see who is shooting???????????? DUH!
Link Posted: 12/19/2005 10:27:18 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/19/2005 10:27:51 AM EDT by BlammO]
I'm sure the "negligent pokey-outey-of-a-head-from-a-window-during-a-firefight" (NPOOAHFAWDAF) played no role in the event.

ETA: winky
Link Posted: 12/19/2005 10:28:15 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Alien:
Shouldn't the criminal be held responsible? Isn't that usually the case? I mean damn even the top hostage rescue shooters in the world can miss in the heat of battle. Police don't have super human reflexes/accuracy and aren't robots.



Somebody has to take care of the damages and make the family whole (in the eyes of the law) for the loss. Tack on a charge to the badguy sure, but it was the officer's bullet that struck her and there is no getting around it.
Link Posted: 12/19/2005 10:29:53 AM EDT
Well, the cop missed.

I feel this is a "shit happens" event, and end of story. *

*Unless there is some wildly offbeat circumstance that would warrent blame on the part of the cop person. Also, said circumstances are usualy found more works of fiction than real life.
Link Posted: 12/19/2005 10:31:21 AM EDT
that's something that was drilled into me in both CWP classes I have taken, in two different states.

"you are legally, and financially responsible for every round that comes out of your weapon"


definitely no winners in this situation.
Link Posted: 12/19/2005 10:34:12 AM EDT
I'll bet the city will settle for an amount that cost more than sending every cop on the force to Gunsite for two week every year. You get the police you pay for.
Link Posted: 12/19/2005 10:36:36 AM EDT

Originally Posted By AR15fan:
the badguy is your backstop!

Family Sues Buffalo Over Fatal, Stray Officer Bullet
MATT GRYTA
Buffalo News



The family of a Cheektowaga woman who died from a stray bullet fired by a police officer during a shootout earlier this year has filed a lawsuit against the City of Buffalo.

The parents of Amber Marie Keller filed the suit in State Supreme Court.

Officer Thomas P. English was returning gunfire from a suspect April 7 when the officer's bullet struck Keller in the head as she looked out the window of a nearby house on Genesee Street.

She never regained consciousness and died May 14 at the Center for Hospice & Palliative Care in Cheektowaga.

The lawsuit contends that Keller, 20, died due to "the negligent discharge of a deadly weapon by a police officer employed by" the City of Buffalo "in such a manner as contravened [the city's] training, policies, established standards and guidelines for the use of deadly physical force" to safeguard the public.

The suit accuses the Police Department of failing "to properly train, retrain, supervise, qualify and requalify, test and retest its sworn police officers in the safe and proper discharge of deadly weapons" in cases "where the lives and safety of the public are at risk."

Attorney Douglas S. Cream confirmed the lawsuit, in which the City of Buffalo is the lone defendant. No specific demand for money damages can be made against municipal defendants before a trial.

Corporation Counsel Michael B. Risman called Keller's death "a tragic accident." But Risman insisted the actions of the police officer that night and the Police Department's training of its officers "appear to be very defensible."

Mario J. Pittman, who had fired at English, was later apprehended. He was convicted of attempted murder for the gunbattle.

Because he was convicted of trying to kill a police officer, Pittman faces a mandatory life term when sentenced Feb. 16 by Senior Erie County Judge Michael L. D'Amico.


In Arkansas Pittman would be charged with his own shooting, and that of the bystander. We do have a few good laws.
Link Posted: 12/19/2005 10:43:41 AM EDT

Originally Posted By DVDTracker:
You are responsible for every round you fire out of your weapon. Period.

There are no winners in this situation in Buffalo.

+1. Sad for all parties involved. I'm sure it weighs on the cops concience all the time.
Link Posted: 12/19/2005 10:45:24 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/19/2005 10:46:59 AM EDT by Grunteled]

Originally Posted By AR15fan:
I'll bet the city will settle for an amount that cost more than sending every cop on the force to Gunsite for two week every year. You get the police you pay for.



True. Then again I'll bet even people trained at Gunsite have missed in the heat of a gunfight.
Link Posted: 12/19/2005 10:50:04 AM EDT

Originally Posted By 1911greg:
this is what happens when you look out the window during a gun fight



+1. While very sad and tragic, the criminal should be held responsible for it, not the police. Who doesn't hit the deck when there is sporadic gunfire outside?
Link Posted: 12/19/2005 10:53:15 AM EDT

Originally Posted By dvr9:

Originally Posted By 1911greg:
this is what happens when you look out the window during a gun fight



+1. While very sad and tragic, the criminal should be held responsible for it, not the police. Who doesn't hit the deck when there is sporadic gunfire outside?



I wonder if it could be that this girl had never heard gunfire before and looked out the window to see what it was.
Link Posted: 12/19/2005 10:56:33 AM EDT
Reminds me, soft of, of the Jennie Wade story. She was probably my first exposure to "collateral damage" when I heard her story during an 8th grade field trip:






Mary Virginia Wade, or better known as Jennie Wade was the only civilian killed during the Battle of Gettysburg on July 3, 1863 while baking bread for Union soldiers. She was struck by a single bullet that traveled through two wooden doors killing her instantly. Jennie Wade was 20 years old.

The Jennie Wade house, originally the McClellan home, lived through the Battle of Gettysburg and witnessed the tragic death of Gettysburg civilian Jennie Wade, as she was preparing bread for the Union soldiers. This brick house was not a good spot to be in during the fighting as it was between the two armies. Northern soldiers were setting up defenses south of town while Confederate forces were occupying the north side of town. As both armies fired on each other, the Jennie Wade house was struck repeatedly and riddled with bullets. The north side received most of the damage as it faced the Confederate position and today is marked with over 150 bullet holes.

Link Posted: 12/19/2005 10:57:05 AM EDT
Yep, most Americans have never heard a gun battle and learned to drop to the floor. Police are responsible for every round they fire, they arnt Military and using suppressive fire. If they need good marksmen call SWAT.
Link Posted: 12/19/2005 10:58:04 AM EDT
As Clint Smith always says, "Every round you send down range has a lawyer tied to it."
Link Posted: 12/19/2005 11:00:09 AM EDT

Originally Posted By DVDTracker:
You are responsible for every round you fire out of your weapon. Period.

There are no winners in this situation in Buffalo.



Exactly. However - the totallity of the circumstances should be weighed. If the officer fired consistent within the policies and training of the dept, that should receive heavy merit. Just as if the same thing happened if we were defending our home.

Responsible? Yes. Criminally negligent? No.

I would want to be judged on the same basis this officer should be. It's tragic, and horribly unfortunate... but that doesn't mean we have to burn someone at the stake.
Link Posted: 12/19/2005 11:02:47 AM EDT

Originally Posted By DVDTracker:
You are responsible for every round you fire out of your weapon. Period.

There are no winners in this situation in Buffalo.



+1
Link Posted: 12/19/2005 11:04:15 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/19/2005 11:05:03 AM EDT by Johninaustin]
Sad, but certainly responsible. As an aside, you'd be amazed how many spectators a gunfight will bring out. They must think it's live-action TV or something. I've had pedestrians cross in FRONT of my shotgun while I was covering suspects in order to get a better view
Link Posted: 12/19/2005 11:04:28 AM EDT
As my last firearms instructor said: "Every bullet has a lawyer riding on it."
Link Posted: 12/19/2005 11:04:57 AM EDT
Now.... for all you guys saying "you are responsible......" Are you saying that the office should be charged with criminally negligent homicide.... as we might if we accidentally fired a gun and it killed someone?

And if so - let me play the "what if" game.

What if you were shot by an intruder in your home, and while returning fire... your ability to remain accurate and proficient was somewhat diminished. Would you recognize that and stop firing - and let the guy execute you? Or would you continue firing in an effort to stop the threat?

Say you continued firing to try and save your life - and fired 6 more rounds. 3 of which hit and stop the bad guy. Three miss and go out your front window, killing a passing motorist.

Same deal? Criminally negligent? Or just bearing some sort of civil financial responsibility?
Link Posted: 12/19/2005 11:05:23 AM EDT

Originally Posted By FALARAK:

Originally Posted By DVDTracker:
You are responsible for every round you fire out of your weapon. Period.

There are no winners in this situation in Buffalo.



Exactly. However - the totallity of the circumstances should be weighed. If the officer fired consistent within the policies and training of the dept, that should receive heavy merit. Just as if the same thing happened if we were defending our home.

Responsible? Yes. Criminally negligent? No.

I would want to be judged on the same basis this officer should be. It's tragic, and horribly unfortunate... but that doesn't mean we have to burn someone at the stake.



Exactly

+1
Link Posted: 12/19/2005 11:06:29 AM EDT
Please rename this thread to "What happens when you watch a gunfight." Or "Why you don't go looking for gunfire." It's a terrible thing when someone innocent gets hurt, but then again it's terrible when stupid people get good people in trouble. If you follow the smoke, you'll only find fire.
Link Posted: 12/19/2005 11:11:37 AM EDT

Originally Posted By GotGuns:
Please rename this thread to "What happens when you watch a gunfight." Or "Why you don't go looking for gunfire." It's a terrible thing when someone innocent gets hurt, but then again it's terrible when stupid people get good people in trouble. If you follow the smoke, you'll only find fire.



I dont think that's a fair assumption in this scenario. Might have been the second round fired.... for those unfamiliar with the gun of gunfire.... the first natural response would be an inquisitive one... and to want to see what made that weird noise.
Link Posted: 12/19/2005 11:12:08 AM EDT

Originally Posted By GotGuns:
Please rename this thread to "What happens when you watch a gunfight." Or "Why you don't go looking for gunfire." It's a terrible thing when someone innocent gets hurt, but then again it's terrible when stupid people get good people in trouble. If you follow the smoke, you'll only find fire.



This specific incident doesn't address the real issue. The gunfight could have happened on a busy street where there's people running for cover, standing scared, etc etc....

The bottom line is that a civilian who wasn't tied to the gunfight was shot by a stray bullet. As it was said earlier there's no winners in this situation. Even though Darwin was involved, it's no excuse for what happened.

Link Posted: 12/19/2005 11:29:19 AM EDT

Originally Posted By 161Infantry:
Yep, most Americans have never heard a gun battle and learned to drop to the floor. Police are responsible for every round they fire, they arnt Military and using suppressive fire. If they need good marksmen call SWAT.



I'd like to see how long you would wait while someone is SHOOTING AT YOU!

The BG is firing his gun and is just as likely to hit someone too. The best thing to do is end the situation ASAP.

If your not going to wait for the cops to arive when someone breaks into your house, the why should the cops wait when someone is trying to kill them and anyone else who is in the way?
Link Posted: 12/19/2005 11:43:21 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/19/2005 11:43:55 AM EDT by Hokie]

Originally Posted By FunYun1983:

Originally Posted By 161Infantry:
Yep, most Americans have never heard a gun battle and learned to drop to the floor. Police are responsible for every round they fire, they arnt Military and using suppressive fire. If they need good marksmen call SWAT.



I'd like to see how long you would wait while someone is SHOOTING AT YOU!

The BG is firing his gun and is just as likely to hit someone too. The best thing to do is end the situation ASAP.

If your not going to wait for the cops to arive when someone breaks into your house, the why should the cops wait when someone is trying to kill them and anyone else who is in the way?



That's still no excuse for a police officer killing a civilian in the process.
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