FBI confirms previously unknown shootings to public

A family dog was the victim in the review of multiple previously undisclosed “intentional shootings” where FBI agents were found at fault, according to a new report.

Consistent Freedom of Information Act requests from The New York Times over the past decade have kept tabs on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s internal review, specifically as it pertained to what the agency dubbed “bad shoots.” Sunday, the newspaper detailed the latest findings pulled from a lot of records identifying two of the rare instances where agents actually got in trouble for discharging their weapons.

“One involved an agent in Arkansas who shot at — but missed — a suspect who was driving away to flee arrest. That agent resigned before he could receive a 55-day suspension without pay,” the Times reported on the data gleaned from documents ranging from 2017 to 2021. “The other involved an agent in California who fatally shot a family dog that he said bit him during a ‘family dispute’ while he was off duty; he got a five-day suspension.”

A third incident had been known to the public and recounted an off-duty agent firing his weapon from the window of his home in Queens, New York, wounding a man attempting to burglarize his car. Though fired, Navin Kalicharan has continued efforts to have the dismissal overturned, according to his attorney Larry Berger.

“While neither shooting, both of which took place in 2017, was a major imbroglio, their disclosure is notable,” the Times report continued. “For many years, F.B.I. agents almost never got in trouble for intentional shootings. The two episodes, detailed in records obtained via a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, add to a small but growing pattern suggesting that is no longer quite so certain.”

The report outlined that, following the shooting at Ruby Ridge, Idaho in 1992, wherein a review by the Justice Department found the FBI at fault for clearing agents, a revamped review policy identified at least 150 intentional shootings resulting in death or injury of people between 1993 and 2013.

Out of those, the FOIA documents reviewed by the Times indicated there were only two “bad shoots” that each occurred in 1996; one involving a fleeing suspect and the other a shooting of a dog. When carrying out warrants, the latter was detailed as “routine” and therefore “deemed faultless.”

By comparison, the 2017 incident in Riverside County, California listed aggravating factors in favor of the suspension without pay as improper storage of the agent’s firearm and firing his weapon with another person too close when he shot and killed his own family dog which had bit him that day after reportedly biting him “six weeks earlier during a previous family dispute.”

Attorney Dana J. Boente, who served as the agency’s general counsel from 2018-2020 told the Times, “Any time you have a ‘bad shoot’ it’s important for a lot of reasons.”

“You don’t want people who are reckless being agents. And you want to make sure you have a great review system that is fair and rigorous,” he added.

Details related to the Arkansas shooting highlighted the difference between compliant and non-compliant use of a firearm as a faultless agent was said to have “fired three to four rounds” toward a suspect who trapped the official between his vehicle and another.

“But when the car began to drive away, a second agent fired another bullet at the suspect, also missing him. The agent later claimed he had thought the suspect posed an imminent danger to law enforcement officials in ‘adjacent parking lots’ and to patrons at a nearby restaurant, but the bureau’s shooting incident review group rejected that justification,” reported the Times.

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