Valley Police Academy Instructor Explains Use of Force Policy
PALM VALLEY – An officer involved in a shooting in Progreso is now out of the hospital.
Witnesses told investigators Progreso police first responded to a call about a man with a machete. Authorities said when the officer made contact, a struggle ensued. That’s when the officer shot the man, killing him.
The identity of the man has not been released.
An investigation will uncover if the use of force was justifiable or not in this case.
Palm Valley Police Chief Alvaro Garcia trains multiple police departments on the use of different levels of force.
Garcia laid out Tasers, bean bag rounds and less lethal shotgun on his desk.
"It all depends on the situation. Depending on what's happening. How many officers were around to assist you? So there are a lot of components that come into that situation,” said Garcia.
He said there are options for police to use when they feel their life and others are in danger.
"There have been times where I did have to fire my weapon one time, back when I first started. In the early 90s,” he recalled. “I've been in situations where an officer did shoot somebody and I was there at that scene as a supervisor.”
Garcia said it's the court’s decision to then see if the type of force was justified.
"Courts have said there always going to look at three things: they’re going to look at the severity of the crime, what kind of crime was committed or being committed, how much of a threat is that person to that situation to the officer and public?” he said. “And the last thing is that person, the force is going to use against. Are they actively resisting or trying to flee?”
Garcia said he educates his officers to look at situations like the one in Progreso more closely.
"Because now, if you respond to a call if somebody's got a sword in their hand – have they done anything illegal yet?” he said. “They haven't because they do not possess anything illegal until they actually decided to do something illegal with that device.”
The police chief said some illegal actions officers look out for are verbal threats and body gestures.
"Now, they're gripping their fists, they're grinding their teeth, focusing on you,” he said.
Garcia explained those are red flags all officers must know before an attack happens.
He explained not all departments have less lethal options to use.
Garcia recommends training is always needed to help officers make the right decision and protect the people they encounter.