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Officer-Involved Shooting
Every officer-involved shooting incident that results in death is investigated. The extent of the IPA’s role and responsibilities depend on whether a member of the public has filed a complaint about the incident.

The SJPD’s Homicide/Crime Scene Unit will conduct a criminal investigation; the Unit follows protocols developed by the Santa Clara County’s District Attorney’s Office. The District Attorney has the discretion to initiate a separate investigation. The District Attorney will review the criminal investigation and determine whether criminal charges should or should not be filed against officer. The legal principles governing his decision are generally enumerated in the California Penal Code; Fourth Amendment principles also apply. If the District Attorney determines that the officer acted legally, the District Attorney generally releases a detailed report to the public outlining his rationale. If the District Attorney files charges, the officer proceeds to the criminal trial process. If convicted, the officer is usually terminated from SJPD employment. A conviction in a criminal trial is based upon a “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard – that standard is very high.

The SJPD's Internal Affairs Unit also conducts an administrative investigation into the officer’s conduct. Generally, the goal of this Internal Affairs (IA) investigation is to determine whether the officer complied with Duty Manual section L 2638; that section describes when an officer may use a firearm during a potential deadly force encounter. Other duty manual sections may also apply (e.g., L 2602 Definition of Objectively Reasonable Force).  If the officer did not act within department policy, the officer may be disciplined, up to and including termination. The standard used to determine whether an officer acted outside of SJPD is the “preponderance of the evidence” standard; this standard is lower than that used in a criminal trial. If a citizen files a complaint about the officer-involved shooting incident, then the Independent Police Auditor is able to review the Internal Affairs investigation of the incident to ensure that investigation is fair, thorough and objective. 

 

There is a third review of the incident, separate from the criminal investigation and the Department’s administrative investigation. This review, called “Officer-Involved Shooting Review Panel” brings together staff from SJPD, the IPA and the City Attorney’s office to determine whether any training or equipment needs exist or if any changes to SJPD policies are recommended. 

 

Role of Independent Police Auditor in Officer-Involved Shooting Incidents

All Officer-Involved Shooting Incidents

          
Officer-Involved Shooting Incident In Which A Public Complaint Is Filed
        

IPA is notified of incident, and can respond to scene and be briefed by the Internal Affairs (IA) Unit Commander.

IPA is notified of incident, and can respond to scene and be briefed by the Internal Affairs (IA) Unit Commander.

IPA can participate in the shooting review panel. IPA is provided with pertinent documents to prepare for panel.

IPA can participate in the shooting review panel. IPA is provided
with pertinent documents to prepare for panel.

The purpose of the panel is to determine whether any training or equipment needs exist or if any changes to SJPD policies are warranted. The panel does not determine whether the officer acted within SJPD policy.

The purpose of the panel is to determine whether any training or equipment needs exist or if any changes to SJPD policies are warranted. The panel does not determine whether the officer acted within SJPD policy.   

         

IPA has independent oversight of the administrative investigation conducted by the IA Unit. The Department’s administrative investigation determines whether the officer acted within SJPD policy. 
           


IPA can attend interviews conducted by the IA Unit including those of witnesses and any involved SJPD officers.
                   
    

The IPA audits the Department’s investigation to determine whether that investigation was fair, thorough, complete and objective.
           

  If the IPA determines that the Department’s administrative investigation was not fair, thorough, or objective, the IPA can appeal to the Chief of Police and/or the City Manager.
           


Additional detail on procedures following an officer-involved shooting incident is provided by SJPD at http://www.sjpd.org/BOI/Homicide/OIS_FAQ.html