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Police use deadly force against Boulder student with pellet gun

Deadly force is an extreme measure used when police situations are or appear to be life-threatening. A USA Today article recently reported there was no nationwide standard governing the use of deadly force or reporting confrontations. The Police Studies Council learned unarmed civilians were part of one in four deadly force incidents; two-thirds of the encounters happened in poorly lit areas where officers could misjudge whether an immediate danger was real.

A 23-year-old student at the University of Colorado was shot several times by Boulder officers in what authorities described as a standoff. The officers perceived the man was pointing a weapon at them from his University Hill apartment. Investigators later discovered the firearm was a pellet gun.

The shooting took place after a taxi driver notified police he argued with the student. The student, who apparently had been drinking alcohol, allegedly tried to skip out of paying for a cab ride and ran off to his nearby apartment. Three officers opened fire when it appeared the student was armed and aiming a weapon.

Criminal charges were filed as the student was undergoing treatment for the gunshot wounds at Boulder Community Health. Upon release, the student will face charges for misdemeanor theft, obstructing a police officer, resisting arrest and felony menacing. People close to the defendant said it was "uncharacteristic" of the student to act as authorities claimed he did.

The three officers who took part in the shooting were placed on administrative leave, pending an investigation into their conduct. The most experienced officer among the trio had been on the Boulder force just over five years. Two officers suffered non-serious injuries during the incident that were not connected directly to the student.

Police must have probable cause to take action against a person they feel committed a crime. The criminal defense system protects a defendant from civil rights violations during encounters with police.

Source: Daily Camera, "CU student shot by Boulder police to be charged with felony menacing, resisting arrest" Erica Meltzer, Jun. 02, 2014

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