Police Attorney: Officers Involved in Fatal Shooting Not Required to Provide Statements to BCA

July 24, 2017 03:59 PM

As of 4:30 Tuesday evening, the officers involved Saturday's fatal shooting resulting have yet to give initial statements to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

According to a legal expert, officers are not required by law to give a statement during investigations.

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"Everybody needs to keep in mind these rights are afforded to all Americans, and that includes those who wear a badge," attorney Robert Fowler, said.

RELATED: TIMELINE of Events in Fatal Southwest Minneapolis

Fowler isn't involved in this case, but he has 17 years of experience representing police officers.

"In a lot of cases, if the evidence is not there to convict you, why would you want to provide that to the state by giving a statement?" he said.

RELATED: Questions Linger in Fatal Minneapolis Police Shooting

Under the constitution, Officer Mohamed Noor and Officer Matthew Harrity have the same rights as any other American, including the right to remain silent.

"When you're still under the stress and excitement of that, it's a really bad idea to give a statement right away, so we are trained to tell our officers to wait 48 to 72 hours after an event," he said.

A source with direct knowledge of the case said one of the officers is reluctant to give his initial statement to the BCA because of what he watched happen during the trial of now former St. Anthony Police Officer Jeronimo Yanez.

The initial interview Yanez gave the BCA after the fatal shooting of Philando Castile conflicted with the testimony he gave in court.

The differences included the question of whether Yanez saw Castile pull a handgun from his shorts.

RELATED: Officer Identified as Firing Fatal Shot Has 3 Complaints on File, City Records Show

"If I ask you to tell the same statement three times you're going to choose different words and that can be picked apart," Fowler said.

Without video of the incident and statements from the officers, prosecutors will have a lot less to work with if they try to bring charges.

Fowler says it may be more common to see officers withhold statements in the future for that reason.

"What we want to do as advisors is tell our clients give the best statement you can and the best way to do that is take your time," he said. "Be with your family. Get some sleep. Talk it over with me as your lawyer. Let's figure out what evidence is there, then give the statement once you're prepared."

He adds all internal investigations and policy changes should wait until this criminal case is resolved.

Credits

Katherine Johnson

Copyright 2017 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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