The IFOP Labor Council is extremely disappointed by the decision of the City Manager that ANY discipline against Officer Norbits is appropriate, let alone a penalty as severe as a thirty (30) day suspension. While the death of Mr. Carrington is a tragedy, it is a tragedy that was brought about by Mr. Carrington’s own actions and not by any fault on the part of Officer Norbits.
Officer Norbits responded to a call at 906 W. Vine Street of residential burglary, a forcible felony. Officer Norbits had a duty to prevent the burglary and to detain or apprehend the suspects. Officers are trained that burglars and other felons can be armed with weapons. Thus, under the circumstances, Officer Norbits appropriately approached the residence with his gun drawn. There he encountered Mr. Carrington and his accomplice. Fully aware that Officer Norbits had his gun drawn, not only did Mr. Carrington fail to comply with repeated lawful orders to show his hands, stop, and get down on the ground, he chose to aggressively advance upon Officer Norbits and to engage him in a physical struggle. During the course of the struggle, the gun accidentally discharged, striking Mr. Carrington.
There are simply no facts to suggest that Officer Norbits handled his weapon carelessly or in a manner that was inconsistent with his training or Department Policy. It is unclear what exactly caused the gun to discharge. What is abundantly clear is that but/for Mr. Carrington’s aggressive and resistant behavior, the weapon would not have discharged.
The news from not only the City of Champaign, but from cities around the nation reports the sad and tragic stories of encounters such as this on a daily if not hourly basis. Like their counterparts, the police officers of the City of Champaign are called upon to make split second decisions in the face of situations similar to the one involving Mr. Carrington. In return, months of investigation and scrutiny follow – all in an effort to second guess what should or should not have occurred in the span of mere seconds. How unfortunate and disappointing to see Officer Norbits become the “victim” for doing exactly what he was trained to do in the name of making someone other than Carrington himself accountable for Carrington’s long-standing reckless behavior.
For further information contact Tamara L. Cummings, General Counsel, IFOP Labor Council, 708-784-1010.