Private Splain, who is on duty until the ongoing investigation is completed, has not returned calls or responded to a letter seeking comment. Other soldiers involved in the shootings or who conducted the investigations declined to comment or did not respond to the messages. David Kennedy, the president of the State Soldiers’ Union, responded on behalf of Trooper Splain to written questions, saying he had acted courageously and “was forced to make split-second decisions that no one ‘hope to have to take “.
Cpl. Pennsylvania State Police spokesperson Brent Miller said, “We are confident that we have the resources to thoroughly and objectively investigate such incidents. ” He referred questions about the murders to district attorneys. When asked if Private Splain had ever been disciplined, Cpl. Miller said those recordings were confidential.
All soldiers involved in shootings must undergo specialized training to assess their physical and mental fitness before returning to active duty, he said, adding that in some cases soldiers may also be required to undergo training in the field. use of force at the police academy.
Darrel W. Stephens, a longtime former police chief who now helps run a police research institute at Florida State University, called the four shootings a “red flag.”
“Quatre is incredibly unusual,” he said. “It’s over there on the edge.” Even though the shooting can be legally justified, he said, the pattern needs to be “very closely examined” to determine why the same officer repeatedly used lethal force. “Because they can, that doesn’t mean they should,” he said.
It is not known how common it is for police officers to fatally shoot multiple people during their careers. No database keeps track. In 2012, an officer in Scottsdale, Arizona, retired after his sixth fatal shooting. In 2015, a Broward County, Florida sheriff’s deputy was involved in his fourth fatal shooting. Both officers were from SWAT teams, called in to dangerous situations where gunfire is most common.
Private Splain, 41, is a patrol officer who works in largely rural Pennsylvania, where state police rarely kill anyone. During his time in the force, he was responsible for four of nine fatal shootings by soldiers in the three counties where they occurred, according to a Times analysis of cases identified by the Fatal Encounters research group. The murders of Private Splain were reported by local news outlets, although he was only mentioned by name in one case.