NEW ORLEANS POLICE DEPARTMENT OPERATIONS MANUAL
TITLE: USE OF FORCE
Effective: June 7, 1992
Revised: 05/10/1998; 01/23/2000; 07/08/2001; 11/23/2003 Page 1 of 4
Lethal/Deadly Force The discharge of a firearm or use of a knife to stab or cut another person, even though no intent exists to kill or inflict bodily harm; or any force applied in a any manner by any means that could reasonably be expected to cause death or great bodily harm.
Great Bodily Harm Bodily injury which creates a substantial risk of death or which is likely to cause serious permanent disfigurement or loss, or extended impairment of the function of any body member or organ.
Less-than-Lethal Force Force employed which is neither likely nor intended to cause death or serious injury. This includes the use of less-than-lethal devices, such as a baton or chemical agents.
Reasonable Cause to Believe When facts or circumstances the officer knows, or should know, are such as to cause an ordinary and prudent person to act or think in a similar way under similar circumstances.
Serious Physical Injury A physical injury which creates a substantial risk of death, or which causes death or serious and protracted disfigurement, or impairment of the function of any bodily organ or limb.
Excessive Force Force is excessive when its application is illegal, inappropriate, or unreasonable under the circumstances. The force may result in serious injury or death to the suspect, but this is not absolutely necessary for the force to be excessive. No single objective definition of excessive force can be offered, rather each situation must be evaluated according to its particular circumstances and within the guidelines established herein.
The purpose of this regulation is to define the Department's policy on the use of force and the circumstances in which the use of force is appropriate and justifiable.
- According to Louisiana Revised Statute 14:19, Police Officers may use reasonable force to compel obedience to a valid police order or to protect persons or property from illegal harm.
- The legal right to use force is contingent upon the reasonableness of the act. The concept of reasonableness is applied in two ways:
- The need to resort to force to accomplish a lawful police objective must be reasonable. That is, if another alternative, such as verbal persuasion, would reasonably be expected to be effective under the particular circumstances, and this alternative was not attempted, the use of force is not legal.
- The degree of force used must be reasonable. The officer may only use enough force to overcome the amount of resistance or aggression met. When such resistance or aggression is reduced, the officer must correspondingly and immediately reduce the degree of force he is applying, or the use of force is not legal.
- There are a number of non-lethal skills and equipment which are authorized for use when necessary to accomplish valid police objectives.
- Verbal communication and/or persuasion is a basic defensive tactic.
- Capsicum spray or other authorized chemical reagent is an intermediate level of force. The officer must complete departmental training before using this spray. If capsicum spray is used, the arresting officer shall handle the subject in accordance with current departmental regulations and the supervisor shall submit a Resisting Arrest Report along with an incident report through the chain of command.
- Bodily force, including hands, fist, and feet may be used in a variety of situations depending upon the individual officer's skill. If injuries result from the use of bodily force, the arresting officer shall handle the injured subject in accordance with current departmental regulations and the supervisor shall submit a Resisting Arrest Report along with an incident report through the chain of command.
- The baton is an intermediate level of force. The side handle baton or expandable baton is capable of causing serious injury. The officer must complete Departmental training before using the side handle baton or expandable baton. If injuries result from the use of the baton, the arresting officer shall handle the injured subject in accordance with current Departmental regulations and the supervisor shall submit a Resisting Arrest Report along with an incident report through the chain of command.
- A Resisting Arrest Report shall be prepared when an employee of the Department is involved in any situation where lethal and/or less than lethal force is used by or toward the employee.
- In all instances where physical force is used to control an individual, and the individual is injured or complains of injury, the supervisor shall complete an offense report covering the circumstances surrounding the incident. A copy of the report shall be forwarded to the Public Integrity Bureau within twenty-four (24) hours of its approval by a supervisor.
- In all instances where lethal force or less than lethal force is used (including chemical agents) and the suspect is injured, or complains of injury, the suspect shall be transported to a medical facility for treatment.
- If chemical agents are used, the officer shall follow the manufacturer's instructions relative to flushing or cleansing the affected area (if possible), and the suspect shall be transported to a medical facility for treatment.
- Any loss of consciousness, however slight, shall result in the suspect being transported to a medical facility for treatment.
- If the officer determines that by the amount of force used, the suspect has received an injury, the suspect shall be transported to a medical facility for treatment.
- In the event that a suspect swallows or attempts to swallow any controlled substance or object, officers shall refrain from using physical force, such as grabbing the suspect's throat or jaws, or utilizing capsicum spray to prevent the suspect from swallowing the substance or object. Such tactics are usually ineffective and the combination of swallowing the substance or object and the introduction of force and/or capsicum spray could cause the suspect to choke, thus causing serious injury or death. Officers shall verbally order the suspect to spit out the substance or object and if that fails, allow the suspect to swallow the substance or object. The suspect then shall be placed under arrest and immediately transported to an appropriate medical facility. The officer(s) shall obtain a search warrant for the contents of the suspect's stomach. The contents shall be deposited in Central Evidence and Property as evidence. Upon release, the suspect shall be transported to Central Lock-Up and booked appropriately.
- Deadly force is defined as that degree of force which is likely to cause death or serious injury. The discharging of a firearm constitutes deadly force, even if there is no intent to kill or injure.
- Unnecessarily or prematurely drawing or exhibiting a firearm limits an officer's alternatives in controlling a situation, creates unnecessary anxiety on the part of citizens, and may result in an unwarranted or accidental discharge of the firearm. Officers shall not draw or exhibit a firearm unless the circumstances surrounding the incident create a reasonable belief that it may be necessary to use the firearm.
- An officer shall exercise extreme caution with respect to use of deadly force. In all cases, only the minimum degree of force which is necessary shall be used, and every other available alternative shall be exhausted before deadly force is applied.
STATUTORY AND ADMINISTRATIVE RESTRICTIONS
- The use of deadly force is justified when the officer has reasonable cause to believe that such force is necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or others (in accordance with Louisiana R.S. 14:20 and R.S. 14:22):
- "When committed in self defense by one who reasonably believes that he is in imminent danger of losing his life or receiving great bodily harm, and that the use of deadly force is necessary to save himself from that danger"; or
- "When committed for the purpose of preventing a violent or forcible felony involving danger to life or great bodily harm, by one who reasonably believes that such an offense is about to be committed and that such action is necessary for its prevention. The circumstances must be sufficient to excite the fear of a reasonable person that there would be serious danger to his own life or person if he attempted to prevent the felony without the use of deadly force"; or
- "When in defense of another person, it is reasonably apparent the person attacked could have justifiably used such means himself, and when it is reasonably believed such intervention is necessary to protect the other person."
- Police Officers shall not use deadly force for the purpose of apprehending or stopping a fleeing felon.
- Officers should be extremely cautious in using deadly force in self-defense when the deadly force used by the other person is an automobile and the other person is trying to get away. The suspect's intentions are usually ambiguous, and the officer can usually escape harm at least as well by evading the vehicle as he can by standing his ground and firing at the oncoming vehicle. An officer almost never has a safe or effective shot at a moving vehicle. In making this determination, the officer must consider the consequences of stray shots endangering innocent parties and must consider the consequences of the vehicle going out of control at a high rate of speed. Police Officers shall not discharge a firearm from a moving vehicle or at a moving vehicle, unless the occupants of the vehicle are using deadly force, other than the vehicle, against the member or another person, and such action is necessary for self-defense or to protect the other person.
- Police Officers shall not fire warning shots.
- A Police Officer may fire his weapon to stop a dangerous animal if there is an immediate threat of serious injury to himself or to another person.
- Special Weapons And Tactics (S.W.A.T.) -
The use of force and related specialized equipment by Special Weapons And Tactics personnel shall be guided by state statute, accepted practices, and procedures involving S.W.A.T. incidents.