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Report: Stockton (California) Police Response of Firing 600+ Shots ‘Excessive’

Wed August 19 2015 6:05 pm
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A new report claims that Stockton police used excessive force during a standoff last summer, firing over 600 shots and killing a hostage in the process. CNN’s Kyung Lah reports.

Thirty-three Stockton, California police officers fired more than 600 shots at a getaway SUV taken by three bank robbers in July 2014. The offenders took three women hostage and began a rolling gun battle with police that killed one of the hostages. The dead hostage was hit by 10 police bullets, according to a report (A Heist Gone Bad) released Monday by The Police Foundation — a non-profit foundation based in Washington D.C. dedicated to helping the police be more effective in doing their job.

The July 2014 armed robbery of the Bank Of The West developed into a multiple-hostage situation with three heavily-armed bank robbery suspects, leading police officers on a 60-minute high-speed chase through the highways and streets of Stockton, California. During the pursuit of the suspects, the officers faced continuous gun fire that disabled more than 14 police vehicles. Among the two hostages that survived, one hostage was accidentally shot by a suspect and dumped from the getaway SUV, while another jumped out of the SUV while it was fleeing — causing her to sustain major injuries.

The Critical Incident Review by The Police Foundation studied the Robbery Response, the Hostage Situation, the Use of Real-Time Intelligence, Command and Control, the Pursuit and Pursuit Policy, the 9-1-1 Dispatch Center, Traffic Cameras, Crime Analysis Center, Air Support, the Traffic Stop, Real-time Internal Police Department Communication, the Public Information Officer Interaction with Media Via Phone, Facebook and Twitter, and more.

The study’s review team did not specify an acceptable number of shots for the incident, but all review team members agreed that the 600 shots fired by 33 police officers was excessive. The number of shots fired by police is the main conclusion in the news this week, but the complete report reveals several other interesting issues — including an overarching theme that the City of Stockton was bankrupt, which resulted in lack of police officer training and the loss of several senior police officers prior to the incident.

Analysis of the 9-1-1 Dispatch Center Component

“While staffing and co-location of critical functions were assisting the dispatch center functions, the computer aided dispatch (CAD) system was struggling to keep up. Dispatchers became concerned that the system was not logging all of the entries and that the amount of activity might have crashed the system. An IT specialist was available onsite and worked to keep the system operational and reassured dispatch staff that all the entries were properly being logged.

The 911 center also noticed an increase of incoming phone calls from off-duty officers and other law enforcement agencies, asking about the status of events and if they were needed. The influx of calls frustrated dispatchers and interfered with their efforts.”

— Police Foundation

Kelly Huber, who had been a branch manager for three years at Bank Of The West, was talking to customers. The robbery would happen at the branch’s scheduled last day before closing its doors for good. As the suspects entered the bank, Huber immediately recognized two of them from a previous robbery six months earlier. Huber recalled that after the last robbery, “I had told my staff, ‘If it ever happens again, which it won’t, I will give them my (car) keys.’” She ended up driving her SUV as the getaway vehicle and was accidentally shot in the thigh and ankle by one of the bank robbers sitting in the back seat.

Huber didn’t actually realize she was shot until the robber in the back seat said, “Oh shit, I am sorry. I am sorry.” The bank robber in the front seat reached across Huber, opened the front door, and pushed her out of her vehicle and onto the pavement near the bank. Several police officers came to her aid, and for the rest of the police officers on the scene, the 60-minute pursuit began.

See the entire description and analysis …

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