Police Brutality, or Appropriate Self-Defense?

Have you heard about the case of Levar Jones who was being stopped for allegedly not wearing his seat belt, and ended up shot by the officer?

If you haven’t heard about this case I encourage you to watch the video from the officer’s dash cam. It tells the whole story:

Essentially, the citizen in this case was at a gas station. He had just pulled in, and the state trooper had just pulled in as well. The state trooper said that he saw Mr. Jones allegedly not wearing his seat belt, and the trooper was initiating a traffic stop in the gas station parking lot.

That’s all good, until things went horribly wrong. The state trooper asks the citizen for his license. The citizen seems to dive in towards his car to get something. The video doesn’t capture if Mr. Jones said something to the officer or if he just turned around into the car.

That movement definitely startled the trooper, who immediately drew his sidearm and took up a defensive position around the vehicle. The trooper starts yelling at the citizen to “get out of the car!” As this trooper is doing that, the citizen pulls himself out of the car, turns around quickly. And the trooper then fires several rounds at Mr. Jones.

Currently the state trooper is up on charges for assault and battery, and Mr. Jones is walking with a cane.

The most important question in this case is whether or not the trooper appropriately used force.

From an everyday person’s standpoint, it’s ridiculous that an officer would draw a gun in this situation. There was no gun at all in Mr. Jones’ vehicle. An everyday citizen might think that that’s crazy this officer would have drawn his weapon.

But you need to put yourself in the shoes of the officer. These men and women who do law enforcement never know what the other person that they are interacting with might do. They are always on their guard to make sure that they can come home at the end of their shift and see their family.

That’s not to say that they should always pull their gun and shoot people. However, when a person does something that seem suspicious or out of the ordinary, it certainly makes sense that an officer is going to become defensive. You never know when you’re an officer if this person is wanted for something or maybe carrying drugs, which would make the person extremely dangerous even for a simple traffic stop.

Whether or not this officer was justified in his use of force is something that the courts will have to decide. It’s very tempting for us to second guess officers, but we always have to try to analyze the situation from both perspectives.

Andrew Flusche

My name is Andrew Flusche. I am a traffic and misdemeanor defense lawyer in Virginia. I limit my practice to traffic tickets and misdemeanor defense, so I know the ins and outs of these offenses. I literally wrote the book on reckless driving in Virginia which you can get on Amazon here or download for free here. I opened my practice in 2008 after earning my Juris Doctor degree from the University of Virginia School of Law. Since then, I have earned over 600 5-star reviews from happy clients on Google, Yelp, and Facebook. If you’ve been charged with a misdemeanor offense in Virginia, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Your initial consultation is always free, and you'll talk directly with me about the details of your case.

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