Updated Thursdays

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


There’s been a lot of noise about Dallas PD’s new policy of requiring cops involved in a shooting to have a three-day ‘cooling off’ period before making an official statement.
This was after police shot a man who was standing with his arms at his sides, eight seconds after the officers left their car; the shooter’s partner then gave an official statement that the victim had charged towards them with a knife.

This turned out to be slightly not true, as was later proven by video tape taken from a neighbor’s surveillance system. Oops. This memory lapse was blamed on the stress of the shooting, and Dallas’s Police Chief changed the policy prohibiting the officer from making an official report until at least 72 hours have passed.

There are a couple of reasons why this is so controversial; the first, obviously, is that this courtesy is not extended to the rest of the population. If you shoot someone, they’re not going to give you a few days to think about your statement, they’re going to haul your ass in to the station and start grilling you.

The second reason is, the policy change was ostensibly based on the rational that officers would remember incidents more clearly after a few days had passed. This goes against common sense and observable human ability, as well as multiple studies on recall.

So...why does any of this matter? What does it have to do with the case? You may recall that Jane Doe was not interviewed about her accusations until six days after the supposed assault. After this interview, during which the mother’s written statement was discarded, there was a period of three days, and then she was re-interviewed at the CAC (soon-to-be notorious for employees generating evidence to support police investigations, as opposed to helping child victims).

For the same reason that it’s foolish to allow a shooter to have three days to get his details straight, these delays in Coy’s case were not good practice. The gaps between accusation, interview, and then the second interview negated any chances of collecting physical evidence, and allowed time for memories to sharpen, level, and distort. If details were added to her story, it was during these times. Remember that her accusation evolved from touching to full-on oral sex, even though Officer Heidi Ruiz swore that both interviews were identical.

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