Comment in support of police officers’ actions doesn’t hold water

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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