During a dynamic vehicle stop, an FBI agent shot an innocent person who was misidentified as a subject of an armed bank robbery.
Review of the Case:
An arrest warrant was issued for a white male who was suspected of an attempted robbery of a bank. A federal agency working with a local sheriff’s department decided to arrange a meeting with the informant and subject at a local convenience store. Communications with police radios were poor, so they tried to use their cell phones to communicate. The informant was inside the convenience store waiting to meet the subject. No signal was ever established with the agents and officers outside on the surveillance for the informant to give when the subject arrived. He was using his cell phone to call his handler, but the battery went dead.
rappellingA vehicle that looked similar to the one the subject was supposed to be in with his girlfriend pulled into the convenience store parking lot. The female driver waited in the vehicle while the male passenger went inside and came back out a couple of minutes later with food in his hands and got in the vehicle, which then started to drive away. There was confusion as to whether or not this was the subject. The agent in charge decided to surveil the vehicle. When the vehicle was several blocks away, a decision was made to do a felony vehicle stop (dynamic stop) on the vehicle.
The lead agent pulled in front of the suspected subject’s vehicle forcing the vehicle to pull over and stop. The agents then jumped out and ran in front of the subject’s vehicle and started yelling commands to the driver and passenger. The agents in the other two government vehicles also jumped out and ran up on the vehicle, all yelling commands to the driver and passenger. All the agents were yelling different commands such as, “Show me your hands, don’t move, open the door,” etc. The agent who ran up to the passenger door was yelling at the passenger, “Show me your hands!” When the passenger responded to the agent in the front, whom he could see, who was yelling other commands, he began to open the door. At that time, the agent next to the passenger door stated he thought the individual in the vehicle was going for a weapon and fired one round from his assault rifle, hitting the passenger in the face. Agents took the passenger and driver out of the vehicle and administered first aid to the passenger. It turned out the passenger, an 18-year-old male, was not the subject. This was a case of misidentification and a poor vehicle stop resulting in the shooting of an innocent person.