The incident which resulted in the September 2020 firing of Greensboro corporal Douglas A. Strader happened in 2019, almost a year before his termination.
On October 27, 2019, Strader was one of four Greensboro police officers who are reported to have fired on a vehicle that fled from a crime scene the officers were investigating at the intersection of South Elm and East Washington streets.
Almost a year later, on September 22, 2020, he was fired. Three days later, he appealed his firing to the city manager.
About two weeks later, on October 7, 2020, Greensboro city manager David Parrish provided his response to Strader’s appeal. Greensboro’s police department furnished a copy of the city manager’s letter, in response to a public records request from The Alamance News.
“. . .I am upholding the Greensboro Police Department’s (GPD) decision to dismiss you from employment,” the city manager wrote.
He amplified his reasoning: “Being a sworn law enforcement officer carries with it an awesome amount of responsibility. I acknowledge that you have carried out this responsibility for over 16 years. During your tenure with GPD you were promoted to the rank of Corporal and received numerous commendations,” Parrish said.
“The greatest responsibility that a police officer has is the obligation to use deadly force appropriately. I believe that given the circumstances of the night in question your use of deadly force against the driver and occupants of a fleeing vehicle were unnecessary and in violation of GPD Directive 1.5.13(A).”
A 600-page document, including all Greensboro police department directives, elaborates that the directive, entitled “Use of Force,” mentioned by the city manager, specifies, “Officers will use no more force than necessary in the performance of their duties and will then do so only in accordance with GPD procedures and the law.”
Parrish concluded his letter to Strader by saying, “A single mistake, error or lapse in judgment while using deadly force can have tragic and long-lasting consequences for our community. As a result, we have no tolerance for the misuse of deadly force. For these reasons, I am upholding your dismissal from employment with the Greensboro Police Department.”
Various court cases have generally concluded that force, including deadly force, can often be justified when law enforcement officers’ own lives are in jeopardy. So shooting at or into cars that are coming at police officers have generally been upheld by most courts across the country, the newspaper learned.
However, in cases when the “threat has passed,” such as when a car is fleeing from a scene, or away from police, as seemed to be the case in Greensboro, have frequently resulted in disciplinary action – or, in some court cases, damages to victims who were injured from such a shooting – against officers who discharged their weapons.
Other aspects of this week’s coverage of officer Douglas Strader’s hiring and two controversies he was involved in while serving in Greensboro Police Department:
Graham police chief defends decision to hire officer fired by Greensboro Police Department: https://alamancenews.com/graham-chief-defends-hiring-policeman-fired-by-greensboro/
Graham police chief says she will assess officer by his performance, not criticism or protests: https://alamancenews.com/police-chief-says-keeping-strader-will-be-based-on-his-performance/
Statement from the Graham Police Department on hiring Douglas Strader: https://alamancenews.com/statement-from-graham-police-dept-on-hiring-of-douglas-a-strader-formerly-with-greensboro-police-dept/
Strader was present in Greensboro during the encounter with Marcus Smith and his subsequent death, but officers not held responsible: https://alamancenews.com/death-of-marcus-smith-in-greensboro-police-custody-tragic-but-officers-not-implicated/
See Greensboro Police Department body-cam video from the tragic encounter with Marcus Smith: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P55gefPZDVM