In 2009, a New York Police Department panel, in the case of a fatal police shooting of a day laborer, said that officer Dawn Ortiz's use of deadly physical force was “within department guidelines.” Last year, says the New York Times, the police department notified Ortiz and another officer that fault had been found in their actions. Internal disciplinary charges were brought against them for failing to use proper tactics in the run-up to the shooting.
As the advisory panel that cleared them had indicated, less-lethal options could have been pursued – like the use of pepper spray or a collapsible baton, or simply evasion. The conflicting findings – rendered by the same police force, involving the same officers, based upon the same set of facts – highlight the sometimes complicated way that police officials in New York deconstruct police shootings and judge the actions of their officers. Police spokesman Paul Browne said that the two judgments were not contradictory, and that it was fair to judge whether an officer's use of force was justified, while also dissecting an array of other questions that might lead to disciplining the officer.