Bucks County, PA -- An unidentified officer, who pulled his gun and shot an unarmed man inside a jail cell last month was allowed to retire and found out this week that he will not be charged. This decision by the District Attorney is in spite of the fact that the shooting was captured on video and the officer broke multiple department policies.
Bucks County District Attorney Matt Weintraub announced Friday that the officer is going to be free from criminal prosecution for shooting Brian Riling, 38, in the abdomen on March 3. He called the shooting, which left Riling in critical condition, "not justified, but excused."
During their "investigation" into the shooting, authorities found multiple violations of policy that led to the unarmed man nearly being executed. According to Weintraub, the officer who pulled the trigger had violated the department's taser policy by failing to go to training. Weintraub also told reporters that the New Hope officer who shot Riling in the abdomen wore his taser on the wrong side—another department policy violation.
The reason the taser violations are important is due to the fact that the officer says he "accidentally" pulled his pistol instead of his taser which led to the near fatal shooting.
“This violation of policy, however, does not constitute a violation of law,” Weintraub wrote.
The policy violation did not constitute a violation of the law, so for shooting the unarmed man, the officer walked free.
Riling is not exactly an upstanding citizen. He was in jail that day for intimidating his ex-girlfriend, stalking her, and threatening to hurt her if she didn't lie to police. However, things turned south with officers saw a small white "drug baggie" fall to the ground as Riling was getting undressed. When they tried to grab it, all hell broke loose, the officer shot Riling in the stomach and now the taxpayers will like shell out hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay for the officer's negligence.
As the video shows, a taser was certainly warranted at the time of the shooting as Riling was resisting officers and trying to flush the baggie down the toilet. After the shot is fired, we can hear the toilet flush, showing that he was successful.
Riling then doubles over in agony from the gunshot to the gut. The shooting officer's partner was nearly shot in the process as well and jumps out of the way, clearly in a state of shock.
Then, for nearly eight minutes, Riling lies on the floor in agony, telling police he is "dying" and as he begs them for help. He receives none.
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Despite the gross negligence leading to the shooting of an unarmed man, authorities have gone out of their way to praise the officer, who quietly retired days before the decision was made not to charge him.
"What I can say, to be fair, is the numbers of letters of support over his lengthy career far outweighed the very minor infractions he may have had in his historical past," Weintraub told WPVI. He refused to then elaborate on what these "very minor infractions" actually entailed.
The New Hope Police Department released a statement, saying, "The Department thanks District Attorney Weintraub and the members of his office for their thorough investigation and report. The Police Department has no further information to release, and no further comment on this matter."
In other words, "we investigated ourselves and found we did nothing wrong."
WARNING: The video below is graphic in nature and may be disturbing to some viewers.
This is the second video of a police officer mistaking a gun for a taser and shooting a suspect that we have reported on in only a few weeks.
As TFTP reported last month, Akai Lewis was pulled over by officer Ian McCann because he had forgotten to put on his seat belt—something that millions of Americans do every single day without harming anyone. Naturally, after he was told that he was being extorted for forgetting his seat belt, Lewis got angry, which is usually a bad decision when dealing with police, although not illegal.
The situation escalated and officer Brindley Blood was called as back up. When police attempted to take Lewis out of his car, Lewis was clearly stronger and dominated McCann as the two fell to the ground. Once the pair was on the ground, Blood then pulls out her gun and shoots Lewis in the back—a move that is not very atypical, but definitely rare when another officer is in the bullet's trajectory.
Unlike the unnamed officer in the video above, Blood was charged with aggravated battery, a felony, for allegedly recklessly hurting Lewis with her gun.