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  1. #1
    Vendetta's Avatar
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    Virginia Chief Says Slain Officer Erred

    Virginia Chief Says Slain Officer Erred


    Updated: August 4th, 2006 04:27 PM EDT


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    MATTHEW ROY
    The Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, VA.)



    NORFOLK -- Police Chief Bruce P. Marquis on Monday said Officer Seneca Darden bore responsibility for starting the chain of events that ended with his shooting death in Young Terrace on May 21, saying Darden should have stayed on his plainclothes detail in Ghent as instructed.

    Darden and another officer left the detail and went to meet an acquaintance of Darden's at a Burger King, according to authorities. From there they went to a chaotic shooting scene in nearby Young Terrace, where Darden was shot by a fellow officer who didn't realize he was a policeman.

    "Had they not blown off their assignment ... the events would not have happened such as they happened," Marquis said.

    Kenneth R. Melvin, attorney for Darden's widow, Brindle, said that Darden was simply reacting as a police officer to news of a double shooting nearby.

    "I'm very much concerned that the Police Department is taking such a defensive position. They're blaming the victim," he said.

    Darden was an aggressive go-getter who was doing his job when he was killed, Melvin said.

    Marquis made his remarks to the editorial board of The Virginian-Pilot on Monday morning.

    The chief acknowledged the department did not have a policy regarding uniform patrol officers who are assigned to plainclothes assignments. No department in the region did, he said. Such a policy is being prepared, he said.

    The chief said that an ongoing internal investigation will examine not only the actual shooting, but the police handling of the incidents that led up to it.

    On Friday, Commonwealth's Attorney Jack Doyle announced that K-9 Officer Gordon Barry, who shot Darden, would not be charged with a crime.

    Doyle's report, which was based on a State Police investigation, found that shortly after Darden arrived at Young Terrace, uniformed officers were trying to control a group of people upset by shootings that had injured two men. One officer pepper-sprayed people, and called for back-up.

    Darden tried to help, pulling his weapon and ordering a man to the ground. Some other officers also drew their weapons. When Barry ran up, he assessed Darden - who wore a white T-shirt and jeans, and whose badge was on his waist, concealed under the shirt - as a threat.

    Barry shouted, "Put the gun down" several times and released his dog with a command to apprehend Darden. Instead, the animal ran past Darden and bit another man.

    Darden turned. Barry, fearing for other officers' safety, opened fire.

    Marquis said that the use of pepper spray on people who were upset about the shootings may have aggravated the situation.

    He also said that at the police academy, officers are trained to stay at the perimeter with their badges displayed if responding to such a scene in plainclothes.

    "You're not supposed to enter into a scene like this," he said. But Darden and his partner that night did, he said. "They didn't even stop to check in with a sergeant. They just went," he said.

    Melvin said Darden was trying to help.

    The situation was "total chaos," he said, and was changing by the minute.

    "Seneca was doing his best to contain it," he said. "He was trying to act as a police officer, to calm the situation down."

    Marquis was asked what role Darden's race may have played in what happened. Barry, who is white, and Darden, who was black, were in a predominantly black neighborhood.

    "If you want me to take this uniform off and be Bruce Marquis, black man in America, versus Bruce Marquis, police chief of Norfolk, I would have to question, gee, you know, that could have been me," he said. "And given this, do I feel comfortable with this? No."

    He also pointed out that Barry attempted to take Darden down first with his dog, which bypassed the officer and bit somebody else. He noted that a witness said Barry gave Darden several verbal orders to get down.

    Melvin said a white police officer in the same situation would not have been killed, and said Darden's color made a difference. Plainclothes work is especially dangerous for black officers, he said.

    Marquis said he now is mandating that all patrol officers wear bullet-resistant vests, which previously had been optional. Darden had received written instructions to wear a vest on the detail but did not.

    Marquis also answered questions Monday about a spate of shootings involving Norfolk police. Since last fall, two officers have been killed and another was slightly wounded. And at least nine people have been killed or wounded by police.

    City police fired on people three times last week, striking two men.

    Many of the shootings stemmed from confrontations with armed people. To date, none have resulted in charges against police.

    "We've got people who have guns and are not afraid to use them against the police," Marquis said.

    He said officers on their own must make quick decisions.

    "I'm not there," he said. "And it would be tough to second-guess an officer out there by himself when faced with what he or she considers to be a life-threatening situation."

    Marquis said the department is researching the potential use of Taser guns and shotguns that fire bean bags as "less than lethal" ways to take down suspects. He noted, however, that the use of Tasers elsewhere has been called into question, and said the idea was only being studied.

    n\Reach Matthew Roy at (757) 446-2540 or online.com.

    In his words
    Excerpts from Norfolk Police Chief Bruce P. Marquis' meeting with The Pilot's editorial board on Monday:

    On the shooting: "It would be tough to second-guess an officer out there by himself when faced with what he or she considers to be a life-threatening situation."

    On the role race may have played: "If you want me to take this uniform off and be Bruce Marquis, black man in America, versus Bruce Marquis, police chief of Norfolk, I would have to question, gee, you know, that could have been me. And given this, do I feel comfortable with this? No."
    "And don't go home, and don't go to eat, and don't play with yourself. It wouldn't look nice on my highway", Buford T. Justice

    #1 Rule in Police: Sometimes its easier to ask Forgiveness than it is to ask Permission

    No one knows what it's like
    To be the bad man
    To be the sad man
    Behind blue eyes

  2. #2
    Retdetsgt's Avatar
    Retdetsgt is offline How did I get here!
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    That's tough. But when you're in plain clothes and pulling a gun around uniform officers, you better make damn sure they know who you are.

    Too much enthusiasm has gotten a lot of young officers hurt or killed.
    When I used to be somebody (I'm center top)

    "A burning desire for social justice is never a substitute for knowing what you're talking about". -Thomas Sowell-

  3. #3
    Vendetta's Avatar
    Vendetta is offline Today, We are All Hokies
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    Quote Originally Posted by Retdetsgt
    That's tough. But when you're in plain clothes and pulling a gun around uniform officers, you better make damn sure they know who you are.

    Too much enthusiasm has gotten a lot of young officers hurt or killed.

    Yeah when I first read that I was kinda pissed but after thinking about it I can see the chiefs point. I work in a county where every other officer knows im a cop. But some of these departments have so many officers that they will never know anyone.
    While I have jumped out of my POV several times with a gun and assisted my fellow officers and even the local guys I would be leary to do it if I worked in a big city.
    Im sure this young officer meant well buy it ultimatly was a bad decision
    "And don't go home, and don't go to eat, and don't play with yourself. It wouldn't look nice on my highway", Buford T. Justice

    #1 Rule in Police: Sometimes its easier to ask Forgiveness than it is to ask Permission

    No one knows what it's like
    To be the bad man
    To be the sad man
    Behind blue eyes

 

 

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