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“Jury Decides on Justice for Deadly Handcuffing: Was Officer-Involved Shooting Criminal?

A jury is set to determine whether the fatal shooting of a man in handcuffs by police amounts to a criminal act. The case currently playing out in Portland, Oregon has stirred up nationwide debates on the severity of US police force and what needs to be done to reign in the use of force in police interactions.

At issue is the shooting of Andre Gladen, a 26-year-old African-American man who was handcuffed by police and then fatally shot by a Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office sergeant. Gladen was killed in June of this year in a suburban park. He had been pulled over by officers for trespassing in a closed area around midnight. After a brief interaction with officers, he was handcuffed and placed in patrol vehicle.

What happened in the next few minutes is an area of contention. Some witnesses claim that the officers then opened the door of the patrol vehicle and shot Gladen several times. But in the police version of events, the man was attempting to grab a pepper ball gun and thus constituted a threat to officers. Following this incident, the sergeant who killed Gladen has been placed on paid leave pending the outcome of an internal police investigation.

The case has placed a significant level of scrutiny on police procedure especially when it comes to the use of deadly force. Others have noted that police interactions with the African-American community are often tense and unproductive, and that Gladen’s death could have been avoided if more reasonable methods of de-escalation had been deployed.

Though it remains unclear how the jury will rule, the case has been thrown into the national spotlight and will be watched carefully. If the jury finds that criminal charges should be brought against the police sergeant, then it could potentially set a precedent that restricting or mitigating the use of deadly force may be necessary in police encounters.

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