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Chicago Officer Facing Charges for Firing at SUV Thief

Under the law, police officers face the same consequences for committing crimes that the general public does. The issue that comes into play is the fact that police officers have more ability to manipulate the law to their advantage than the general public does. When they commit crimes, they understand how an investigation will unfold, they can cover their tracks, and they have the support of their brothers in blue to back them up.

Recently, an off-duty Chicago police officer was charged with discharging her weapon at Sam’s Club when a team of thieves attempted to swipe her SUV. She was in the parking lot with her husband when the theft occurred. The officer opened fire on the thieves and has since been charged with a crime: Reckless discharge of a weapon. Did she really commit a crime?

Analyzing the Charges

The officer is being charged with recklessly discharging her weapon, not attempting to hurt anyone. This is important because you can use lethal force to defend yourself, someone else, or your property. Instead of being charged with assault or another related crime, she is being charged with recklessly discharging her weapon. Self-defense is not a defense to reckless discharge of a weapon, but the police officer can still claim that the discharge was lawful under self-defense statutes. It does not, however, address the argument that the discharge was reckless. That will need another type of argument.

Reckless Discharge of a Weapon

Reckless discharge of a weapon is a sparse statute that simply states that it is unlawful to discharge a weapon in a manner that threatens the bodily safety of others. Since what constitutes a threat to the bodily safety of others is up for interpretation, the mere fact of a discharge is often used as a justification for these charges. However, in truth, when a weapon is discharged in public, police often have more aggressive options to pursue other than the reckless discharge of a weapon, which is a fourth-degree felony under the law. 

According to police, who have video surveillance of the altercation, the off-duty officer fired one shot into the ground as the SUV was driving away. Police say that there were children in the parking lot at the time and other cars were coming. However, it remains unclear that firing one shot into the ground behind an SUV constitutes reckless discharge of a weapon. If the prosecution had its way, any discharge of any weapon under any circumstances would constitute a reckless discharge of a weapon. Nonetheless, it remains unclear that a 19-year veteran of the force with extensive firearms training was placing the lives of others in peril when she fired a single shot into the ground behind her stolen SUV. 

Talk to a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney Today

If you are charged with retaliating against a thief or attacker, the police will probably charge you with a crime and let a jury or prosecutor sort the whole thing out. You will need skilled representation to defeat the charges. The Chicago criminal defense attorney David Freidberg can help. Call today at (312) 560-7100 to set up a consultation and we can begin preparing your defense immediately.

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