Perception Matters

Juries are not always sympathetic to an officer’s actions in the field. In some cases this is justified and in others it is not. One should be circumspect in what one says and the manner in which one comports themselves post deadly force application. This holds true for non-law enforcement individuals as well.

Words can and do have an impact in jury perception. The world does not view your actions through the same lens as you might. What might seem quaint or humorous to one individual might seem indefensibly offensive to another. When I read articles in magazines or those posted on social media I oftentimes wince. These statements or postings are all discoverable during judicial proceedings. What one chooses to share on social media and how they choose to reflect themselves can be of critical importance down the line. There are documented cases where this has been detrimental to one’s defense. There is also a level of professionalism which much be maintained in “after action” statements.

One can disregard this advice and pay a fairly steep price for such myopia or one can heed such advice and present in a professional, logical and reasonable manner the accounting of one’s actions. I have observed first hand, juries disregard the facts in evidence due to the simple fact that they abhorred the statement(s) made by an individual either in their “after action” or what has been dug up online that reflects their character and biases. This can lead to a total collapse of reason to the deference of an emotional response.

The real work begins after the application of deadly force. There is a saying of “winning the battle but losing the war.” In today’s society one is justifiably held accountable for one’s actions. Words do matter and it is prudent to always bear this in mind.

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One Response to Perception Matters

  1. Greg Horton says:

    Scott this is incredibly valuable information for everyone. As you know, the first thing an opposing lawyer does is to have his staff comb through all of the varied social media sites. I too cringe when I read some of the postings made by coppers (who know better) and pray they don’t ever have to face litigation or worse a criminal trial. Rule of thumb is whatever goes out on the internet is there forever.

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