Last week, there was a vicious shootout between police in Rochester, New York and an armed suspect. A police officer, the shooting suspect, and a bystander were each struck by bullets.
The police could be in a heap of trouble, because the bullet that hit 47-year-old Gene McDougal came from a cop’s weapon. Chief James Sheppard explained that ballistic testing showed that the errant shot was fired by Sgt. Flamur Zenelovic.
The police attempted to rationalize the stray bullet by emphasizing the fact that Zenelovic was attempting to defend himself from a murder suspect. They said that Zenelovic was taking advantage of "his training by rolling around on the ground to evade the gunshots fired by [murder suspect] Ralph Strong."
The police chief added that he “did visit Mr. McDougal earlier this week at the hospital, to express my regrets that he was hurt during the shootout” and, quite possibly, to try to avoid a lawsuit.
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The good news is that McDougal was not seriously injured. He has since been released from the hospital and is recovering at home. It is currently unclear whether McDougal will chalk up the hospital visit to bad luck or if he will take Rochester police to court.
On the one hand, there is really nothing that can justify police shooting innocent bystanders. They are responsible for their bullets and need to restrain themselves if they could possibly shoot a bystander. It’s unfortunate that police have to endure that handicap while criminals don’t, but that’s simply the way things are.
On the other hand, the accidental shooting of McDougal was a result of a high-adrenaline shootout with a suspected murderer, and not because of police negligence. The shootout was apparently quite dangerous, as the suspect was shot and Zenelovic was shot in both arms. If Zenelovic had been more restrained with his shooting, it’s possible that this news story would have been about Zenelovic’s funeral.
What would you do if you were in McDougal’s shoes? Would you forgive Zenelovic for doing what he had to do, or would you try to sue the department’s pants off?
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Source: 13 Wham