Opinion Your Views — 18 July 2013
Comment in support of police officers’ actions doesn’t hold water

To the editor:

I am compelled to respond to the comment written by “James n.” on the Alexandria Times’ website and subsequently published in the print edition (“From the web,” July 11) in which he criticized “a police watch group … when they have no experience in police work or such types of stressful situations.”

In his comment, James readily admits that: “Most of the officers did not have a clear shot at [Taft Sellers].” This in itself would dictate the officers used poor judgment in firing their weapons when they knowingly did not have a clear shot at him.

The Alexandria Police Department’s standard policies and procedures should prohibit the firing of their weapons in such a haphazard manner. If not a policy or procedure, it should be implemented immediately.

Now to James’ comment that “it’s ridiculous a police watch group can criticize the police when they have no experience in police work and such types of stressful situations.” Here again, I am compelled to bring to his attention that during my career as a homicide/robbery squad detective with the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department, I was involved in two shooting cases in which it was necessary for us to use deadly lethal force to shoot and kill persons who were armed and pointing loaded weapons at us. In both instances, not all officers on the scene fired their weapons because of their inability to have a clear shot at the victims.

I do hope James will recognize his faulty account of this matter.
- Nicholas R. Beltrante
Executive director, Virginia Citizens Coalition for Police Accountability

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(2) Readers Comments

  1. Despite your “extensive” police experience it seems that you yourself have never been personally involved in a shooting. Let me refresh what Randy Sengel (Sellers Report dated 7-1-13) had to say on the matter regarding your criticisms, many of which could be deemed haphazard:

    “I reject the suggestion that because of ‘rumors…circulating in the community’ (Our View, Alexandria Times, March 28th, 2013) it is necessary or appropriate to request another law enforcement agency or prosecutor’s office to investigate this case. The integrity of the criminal justice system is not judged by rumor or beholden to innuendo.”

    “For example, a representative of an organization identified as Virginia Coalition for Police Accountability quoted in the Alexandria Times, March 28, 2013 edition, claims police could have used other means: ‘stun gun, tasers, or even just conversed with the guy. I think they were just hasty in their actions.’ Such assertions are not accurate.”

    Perhaps this is why so many people find you, Mr. Beltrante, to be unreasonable. These erroneous statements made before the final report is published serve to help no one and represent a disservice to the citizens of the Commonwealth.

  2. Mt. Beltrantr,

    With all of your personal experience in law enforcement I am a bit surprised you would make such statements and assumptions. You quickly and ignorantly formed your opinion about what occurred solely on the news of the shooting. Obviously you weren’t there, apart of the investigation, or knew of what exactly occurred. I find it troubling you actually are head of a watch group and even more troubling that after a very extensive investigation which showed a clear cut case of self defense you still had issues with the police actions.

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