National When cops and America’s cherished gun rights collide, cops win

bbbass

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Let me start by saying to all, thank you for the civil discussion on this and keeping this thread open with something that is important to all of us pro 2A folks, it definitely applies to all of us.


I've read a few articles over the past few years on this. Exactly what is stated above. There is no standard for reporting shootings or uses of force nationwide. Only fatalities are noted and even then, they are not necessarily separated as "officer involved", often just listed as homicide (the definition...not the same a murder). I think we all agree it would be helpful to have better statistical reporting in this area. Specifically being able to track the "why" behind what happened to improve training and other areas when working with the public.


Sadly, excusable is a standard. We are judged by the doctrine of the reasonable person. Life in these fringes is gritty, fraught with danger for both side almost always with limited or incorrect (an the time) information. Most people go through life either never or only extremely rarely experiencing this. They are nearly always only along for the ride when they do, not having to make life or death decisions.

By nature of the job, officers are frequently placed in these positions. Under the same conditions, knowing what they know (including training), if another officer would have found it reasonable to have the same action it will be ruled to not be a criminal action. This is how those of us who carry weapons for personal self defense will be judged as well. There is a phrase that sums it up (not mine), awful but lawful.

This is why, as some of you have noticed from posts in other threads, that I'm pretty much a zealot for us who carry firearms to have as much quality and documented training as possible. Heaven forbid any of us have to use deadly force and a legal case is brought against us, even knowing what we did was justified (different from excusable), we are allowed to show what the "reasonable person" looks like to us.

The officer's "reasonable person" includes all academy training, advanced officer training and, most importantly, typically years of experience of what really happens during violent encounters.
These discussions always lead to the same place, the same kind of posts needing to be repeated or explained over and over and over. I long for the days when we appreciated the service and risks of our LE brothers. Not to say that all LE is perfect, but it saddens me that the general attitude appears to have degenerated into "Ya filthy Screw!". :(:(:(
 

ma96782

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Reasonable Person(s)?

Rrrrright.....on the news this morning.....there was talk about making her the Sec of Defence.
Deplorable.jpg

Let's....
Ban assault weapons.
Forgive everyone's student loans.
Give everyone FREE Health Care.
Maybe even, guarantee a "living wage/income". So that no one is poor.
Biden_and_Harris.jpg

Aloha, Mark
 
One thing Ive seen over the last 16 years, whether anyone believes it or not, is a culture shift toward not putting up with complete azzholes, instigators, non-professionals, and misconduct. Officers got sick of having to use force because got spun up for no reason. Officers have gotten sick of being reduced to the lowest denominator. People think of the “thin blue line”, but I have stacks of enjoinment letters involving disclosure requests from officers reporting other officers. When its legit, no one hassles anyone about it.

The biggest time-bombs we have are officers that are kind, respectful, professional, and completely sheltered and untested. Its like tea, you don’t know how strong it is until its in hot water.
 

USMC1911

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The biggest time-bombs we have are officers that are kind, respectful, professional, and completely sheltered and untested.
Respectful and professional is what the public expects for your fairly well paid by the public service you render. Its a tuff job I and most everyone else understands this. But IMO the us vs them attitude a LOT of police officers show is the downfall and the reason for the distrust. Hope you understand I am not a cop hater by any means but think that things could be done differently to improve interactions with the public.
 

bbbass

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Respectful and professional is what the public expects for your fairly well paid by the public service you render. Its a tuff job I and most everyone else understands this. But IMO the us vs them attitude a LOT of police officers show is the downfall and the reason for the distrust. Hope you understand I am not a cop hater by any means but think that things could be done differently to improve interactions with the public.
This attitude seems to be prevalent in certain jurisdictions. Larger cites, etc. The South was famous for LE misbehavior but I don't know what it's like now.

Some things I lament are the us vs them attitude displayed by some here (not you) (btw, new member Ratfink, a retired deputy, was appalled by the anti LE rants of some pro 2A members and left us), the whining and pity parties some insist upon, the FACT that O'bummer reduced the post 2001 appreciation of LE, the MSM war on LE, and the BLM war on LE.

Yes, SOME LE could use an attitude change, but I think the problem is much less already than it used to be as they've been beat on for the last decade. If anything LE is looking the other way too often. Additionally, MOST public employees have an attitude problem today. Any ideas on how to change ALL this other than to say it needs to change???
 
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Respectful and professional is what the public expects for your fairly well paid by the public service you render. Its a tuff job I and most everyone else understands this. But IMO the us vs them attitude a LOT of police officers show is the downfall and the reason for the distrust. Hope you understand I am not a cop hater by any means but think that things could be done differently to improve interactions with the public.
I’ll tie the post together a little better for you. When officers are azzholes, we see it right away and try to fix it or send them down the road. When they aren’t, and seem to be a real nice person and such, we have to wait until they are involved in something bad to realize they are bad. This may happen during their probation period, or worse yet, way down the line when it’s harder to terminate them.

I wasn’t saying that being nice is a bad thing. Not sure if you intentionally cherry-picked that sentence, but in case you didn’t, there you go.
 

USMC1911

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[QUOTE="bbbass, post: 2752945, member: Any ideas on how to change ALL this other than to say it needs to change???
[/QUOTE]

Sure do. I am pretty sure this whole thread is based on one way with reduced qualified immunity. I also think use of forch standard should be the same as for a civilian. How bout more training in what the publics rights are. Just a few off the top of my head without really digging too deep. Remember respect is a two way street.

For the comparison on public employees well a police officer has a LOT more ability to change my life during an interaction then most any public employee.
 
OP
RedCardinalSeven

RedCardinalSeven

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We are judged by the doctrine of the reasonable person ... The officer's "reasonable person" includes all academy training, advanced officer training and, most importantly, typically years of experience of what really happens during violent encounters.
Because of the judge-created "qualified immunity" doctrine Deputy Sylvester's fatal shooting of Andrew Scott, the subject of the article in the OP, was never taken to trial and never measured against any "reasonable person" standard. Perhaps, a jury would have acquitted Deputy Sylvester after reviewing the entire case, perhaps not. We'll never know because the case never went to trial by judge or jury. There was no criminal prosecution and the civil case was dismissed on a pre-trial motion.

In the 1980s, one of my collateral duties was to teach, test, and certify other officers in the use of force. One of the tools we used was an interactive video simulation that would present the officers with various shoot/don't shoot scenarios. It was primitive by today's standards but it was a useful tool to get people to think about what they might encounter. One scenario I particularly remember featured an armed, angry male who never actually raised or discharged his un-holstered weapon. If you shot him that was a fail and you got retrained to take verbal command of the situation and/or to seek cover. [Edit: If you did not quickly spot the gun in the man's hand and unholster and aim your firearm at him in a timely manner while commanding him to drop the gun that was also a fail].

I left LE a long time ago and haven't stayed up on use of force policy but I don't believe any agency actually teaches or says that an officer can shoot an armed civilian out of simple fear. However, there seems to be lot of folks who are okay with LE killing the very civilians they are supposed to serve and protect under questionable circumstances. I don't get that.

I do get that an armed citizen should be prepared, thoughtful, and careful whenever they are armed and esp. around LE but, in my book, any LEO who excuses a civilian's death because the civilian wasn't as well trained or prepared as LE shouldn't be carrying a badge. Deputy Sylvester should have been tried both criminally and civilly and if the evidence was lacking he should have been acquitted but to let him walk without answering at all for his killing of Andrew Scott was wrong.

No honest person can call me anti-police. For example, I have long thought Powell and Koon were railroaded in the federal Rodney King trial. I think Mumia Abu-Jamal belongs behind bars and that, given the preponderance of the evidence, it was proper that Darren Wilson was never criminally charged or tried in civil court for killing Michael Brown. Heck, I don't even think Derek Chauvin should have been charged with the murder of George Floyd and, given the public evidence, I think he should probably be acquitted on the manslaughter charge. However, being pro-police shouldn't blind people to the fact that "qualified immunity" all too often shields inexcusable police misconduct.
 
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Because of the judge-created "qualified immunity" doctrine Deputy Sylvester's fatal shooting of Andrew Scott, the subject of the article in the OP, was never taken to trial and never measured against any "reasonable person" standard. Perhaps, a jury would have acquitted Deputy Sylvester after reviewing the entire case, perhaps not. We'll never know because the case never went to trial by judge or jury. There was no criminal prosecution and the civil case was dismissed on a pre-trial motion.
Doesn't Judge Conway's decision, or the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals decision count as trial by judge or jury? OP article says the lawsuit against the deputy accused him of violating Andrew Scott's 4th Amendment rights. Why the 4th amendment? The deputies didn't search anything. (They did feel the motorcycle engine to see if it was warm.) They never made it into the house before the shooting occurred. Do they need a warrant to knock on the door? If so, then yes, perhaps they should have been found guilty of a 4th Amendment violation.

Quote from OP article:

"Mauck and Scott’s parents filed a lawsuit in federal district court against Sylvester and the sheriff’s office, accusing the deputy of violating Scott’s civil rights under the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which protects against illegal search and seizure. Judge Anne Conway let Sylvester off the hook, too. Her main reason: Scott’s gun.

“Andrew Scott made a fateful decision that night: he chose to answer his door with a gun in his hand. That changed everything. That is the one thing that — more than anything else — led to this tragedy,” Conway wrote in her Sept. 18, 2014, decision to toss out the lawsuit.
.
.

In her decision, Conway determined that Sylvester was legally justified to use deadly force because Scott was holding a gun, and that the officer was thus entitled to immunity. Conway’s decision was later upheld by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. The courts’ rulings meant, in effect, that Scott gave up his Fourth Amendment rights when he exercised his Second Amendment rights."


It does sound like it may have been an unjustified shooting if he was just standing there with gun pointing at the floor, but we don't know what the deputy saw - maybe the gun did move toward them? We'll never know. We also don't know what information they had about the suspect they were looking for - maybe he was a bad guy. The Rutherford Institute article said they were looking for a motorcyclist involved in a "speeding incident", but the OP article said he'd been involved in an assault:

"... They had trailed a suspect in an alleged assault to the Blueberry Hills apartment complex on the outskirts of Leesburg, Florida, about 50 miles northwest of Orlando. The suspect, who the officers believed was armed, had parked his motorcycle in front of Scott’s apartment, its engine still warm...."


I'm generally pro-police. Never had any problem with them, and I call them when needed. I do think citizens need more protections against arrest for self-defense. There should be national stand-your-ground and castle-doctrine on your property, in your car, tent, RV, or anywhere YOU are located. If you shoot an intruder who breaks into your home, car, tent, RV, business etc, you should not have to fear being arrested and hauled to jail. If they want you to appear in court, fine, show up when requested, tell the court you or your home was attacked and you feared for your life, BOOM, automatic release with no record of the incident. Same if you pull a gun to make someone back off (Mike Strickland case) - you should not be charged, you have a right to defend yourself. If someone harasses you because of your MAGA hat, you should not be subject to arrest if you bust their head open, or shoot them, to keep them from attacking you and you should not have to wait until they've started hitting you! Laws in this country put good honest citizens at risk, and let the bad guys off - that's BS.

Is policing today safer than in the past? Doesn't matter one whit if it is or not; it is dangerous work and anyone who denies that is wrong. A fair chunk of the population are dangerous; it's common knowledge to those who don't have their heads up their butts. That's why we carry guns. However, the vast majority of the population ARE unaware of it; they are ignorant because they only pay attention to their social media, friends, sports, their smart phone, etc.
 
As I've harped earlier in other threads, with liberties come responsibilities.
As the line is steadily blurred on the difference between criminal and acceptable behavior, we will see more social misfits acting out, and normal, mouth breathing populace will expect the police to set things right.
And the pols will be there to tell you, they're going to keep you safe.
Yep.
Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.
Take away, or reduce "qualified immunity" from those whose job it is to go into harms way -- essentially playing stupid games -- and watch the police leave forces in droves.
The swing of the pendulum will fracture. Tree huggers and leftists will decry the violence, clamor for confiscation of all guns, and vigilante groups will take over where LEO will no longer tread.
Fun times ahead.
I agree, except for the pendulum has become an ever tightening ratchet...
 

bbbass

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For the comparison on public employees well a police officer has a LOT more ability to change my life during an interaction then most any public employee.
Disagree, since I'm not bloody likely to EVER get shot by any kind of local popo, but a public employee can take my house, my car, my grandkids, raise my tax so much that it soaks up all my savings, send me to prison for having a brace on my shortie, keep me from visiting my wife in the nursing home or visiting friends or going to church, make me wear a mask, make me lock up my firearms when they are not on my person, make me get a permit and pay a fee to install a lawn sprinkler system or to build a garden shed or remodel my bath/kitchen, limit my ammo purchases, tax my ammo, tax my mileage, tell me when and where and how much to pay to hunt or fish and price said licenses out of my reach, force me to share my home with indigents, start wars with nuclear armed countries, and on and on, ad nauseum. Bloody high-minded civic azzholes!!!!!!!

The beat goes on. Unfortunately. Stand by for Beijing Biden and a bloody Congress to send us all to Global Marxism. Does he care what happens to me... NOT! Does he effect my life more than the local popo... betcher azz!!!

And I've already said I'm not for reduced qualified immunity for officers and given my reasoning. I do however, object to qualified immunity being extended to the city for any mistakes that officer's make in the line of duty. That would be a worthwhile change.

I'm also not for holding officers to the same standards as civilians.... YOU take responsibility for confronting lawbreakers, DV cases, mental cases, man waving a knife, restaurant shootings, street shootings, armed criminals that want to kill you, every day, instead of being able to flee the scene and say it doesn't involve you or yours, then we'll talk.

As has been mentioned by those in the know, the "Thin Blue Line" attitude has already been changing. You will never solve every last bit of human interactions between the public and the popo. Any mistakes will continue to be blown up by MSM, cop haters, O'bummer and BLM. Saying please and thank you has never changed any of that. Watch a few vids about how "nice" cops get treated by the public and you will be clued in. "US vs them" started with "Ya filthy Screw!!".
 
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bbbass

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However, there seems to be lot of folks who are okay with LE killing the very civilians they are supposed to serve and protect under questionable circumstances. I don't get that.
Deputy Sylvester should have been tried both criminally and civilly and if the evidence was lacking he should have been acquitted but to let him walk without answering at all for his killing of Andrew Scott was wrong.
I generally respect your opinions. But you should know that I'm not "okay" with OIS mistakes. I just don't they they should be prosecuted by overjealous DAs responding to public pressure, nor should they be held civilly responsible. I DO believe that the city should have to pay compensation for such tragic outcomes.

Officers are human, we will never be able to take the human factor out of policing. If better training is what is needed, then so be it. But mistakes WILL be made. There is not, nor will ever be 100% split second decision making by human or machine. IMO it is unreasonable to hold officers criminally or personally liable for honest mistakes made in the line of duty. And we already have standards for LE criminal behavior.

Reduce qualified immunity for the city/county and call it a day.
 

WillametteWill

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Disagree, since I'm not bloody likely to EVER get shot by any kind of local popo, but a public employee can take my house, my car, my grandkids, raise my tax so much that it soaks up all my savings, send me to prison for having a brace on my shortie, keep me from visiting my wife in the nursing home or visiting friends or going to church, make me wear a mask, make me lock up my firearms when they are not on my person, make me get a permit and pay a fee to install a lawn sprinkler system or to build a garden shed or remodel my bath/kitchen, limit my ammo purchases, tax my ammo, tax my mileage, tell me when and where and how much to pay to hunt or fish and price said licenses out of my reach, force me to share my home with indigents, start wars with nuclear armed countries, and on and on, ad nauseum. Bloody high-minded civic azzholes!!!!!!!
This is gold right here and so true. I get that the consequences likely referred to by @USMC1911 like death and imprisonment are severe. Life and death actions by LE are split second most of the time and imprisonment have numerous layers to help assure people's rights.

With politicians and cubicle workers (strictly referring to the bad ones) they can hide behind the big machine and make our lives miserable. There couldn't be a better example than what is going on right now. They make horrible policies that years later other poor employees get to say, "But we have always done it that way." I have nothing but praise for civil servants who actually take their jobs seriously and fix things that need fixing, I've been blessed to work with many over the years. I've also had to un-bubblegum messes left by the bad ones to help the public as well. Whenever I received a call at my desk from a frustrated citizen because they had been transferred all around the department, I made it a point that it stopped with me and I figured out how to help them.
 

bbbass

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This is gold right here and so true. I get that the consequences likely referred to by @USMC1911 like death and imprisonment are severe.
Yup.

My point, which I'm sure you get but I want to restate, is that tho the "potential" for a LE interaction to go wrong is serious and severe... they don't have much interface with MY life, so there really is not much potential at all in my case. However, public employees interface with my life every day on every plane of my existence. They are, and have been, doing much harm, and the "potential" for harm is serious and severe due to the breadth and depth of their interface with EVERYBODY'S lives on a daily basis. Not just the occasional contact with LE. Which the last time for me was when I got pulled over by a very nice and respectful, typical of our local PD, officer for having a headlight out. I was kind to her and she was kind to me. Don't make trouble, generally won't be none. Sorry for those that live in densely populated areas where policing might be different. Or next to gangstas, been there done that, I moved. Not my circus, not my monkeys!!!
 

Andy54Hawken

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One thing that I truly dislike is when folks who aren't doing the job....
Want to tell those who are , how to do their job.

While I understand the need for standards and accountability if you ain't doing my job , or have any real practical experience with it , don't tell my how to do it or what my standards should be.*

*Granted I am not in law enforcement....but , like law enforcement , my job and job performance are often judged by others , who have no real idea of what it is that I actually do and how I have to go about it.

Now please don't read into my statement here....

I am just saying that some professions are often judged by those who don't have a clue about the job as well as being critiqued with unrealistic expectations , demands and conditions.

Again standards and accountability are needed....but they need to be tempered with real world experiences that fit into a given situation.
Andy
 

WillametteWill

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Let me provide an example of the unintended consequences of eliminating qualified immunity. Officer pulls over a car for suspected driving under the influence. Conducts field sobriety tests. Can tell the person has been drinking but does not think there is enough probable cause to arrest. But this is very much a judgement call. You cannot compel a person to take a chemical test before an arrest (you cannot require them to even perform field sobriety tests).

Officer does not arrest them but advises them that they likely should not be driving (but can't make them not drive). Guy drives away, gets in crash, kills / injures another person. Turns out he was over the legal limit. Should the officer be sued for this?

If you said yes, guess what happens the next time ANY OFFICER in the United States pulls over a driver and smells the odor of an alcoholic beverage, marijuana, or sees a Rx pill bottle. That's right, everyone goes to jail. Let the courts sort it out. But wait, then they get sued for false arrest. Now every officer is parked behind the fire station, trying not to see anything and calling for a supervisor on every call. Is this what we want?

@Andy54Hawken stated it well above. When we read about events like in the OP we are getting about 2% of the evidence, and only that which the media decides we get without extra research on our end (which is still very limited). In the OP case the prosecuting attorney decided there was not enough evidence to file criminal charges. They have considerably more information than we all have. There is already no immunity for against criminal conduct.

There are lots of moving parts to this, we only see the tiny percentage when things go very wrong, or are perceived to go wrong.
 
OP
RedCardinalSeven

RedCardinalSeven

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Doesn't Judge Conway's decision, or the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals decision count as trial by judge or jury?
No, it doesn't count. In the US most criminal and civil cases never go to trial.

Judge Conway's decision was rendered in response to Motions for Summary Judgment filed by both sides. A Motion for Summary Judgment is a type of pre-trial motion where the parties try to convince a judge to rule in their favor and end the case before a trial.
OP article says the lawsuit against the deputy accused him of violating Andrew Scott's 4th Amendment rights. Why the 4th amendment? The deputies didn't search anything. (They did feel the motorcycle engine to see if it was warm.) They never made it into the house before the shooting occurred. Do they need a warrant to knock on the door? If so, then yes, perhaps they should have been found guilty of a 4th Amendment violation.
Normally a "knock and talk" does not, by itself, implicate the 4th Amendment. The plaintiffs--Scott's girlfriend and parents--argued unsuccessfully that the 4th Amendment was implicated because the four officers adopted a "tactical posture" with weapons drawn before they knocked, because they did not identify themselves as police, and because when Scott retreated and tried to close the door Deputy Sylvester, without permission, pushed his way into the apartment to shoot Scott. Deputy Sylvester argued he had to do this to stop an imminent threat.
It does sound like it may have been an unjustified shooting if he was just standing there with gun pointing at the floor, but we don't know what the deputy saw - maybe the gun did move toward them? We'll never know.
Deputy Sylvester claimed Scott's gun was pointed at his face when the door opened. At least one eyewitness said it was pointed at the floor. Judge Conway assumed it was pointed at the floor and that under the circumstances it was still legal to shoot and kill Scott.

If there had been a trial there would have been, among other things, an opportunity to call, examine, and cross-examine witnesses, including the other three LE who were there but did not fire. The four dissenting 11th C.C.A. judges pointed to several alleged discrepancies in Deputy Sylvester's testimony. You might find their dissent interesting. It's too long for me to cut-and-paste in my reply but it starts at page 33 here (PDF). If you decide to read it then I recommend reading the footnotes, too.

I commend you for actually reading the OP article before commenting on it.
 
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RedCardinalSeven

RedCardinalSeven

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Officers are human, we will never be able to take the human factor out of policing. If better training is what is needed, then so be it. But mistakes WILL be made. There is not, nor will ever be 100% split second decision making by human or machine. IMO it is unreasonable to hold officers criminally or personally liable for honest mistakes made in the line of duty. And we already have standards for LE criminal behavior.

Reduce qualified immunity for the city/county and call it a day.
Thanks. I agree wholeheartedly with you that officers are human and I agree about honest mistakes but in questionable cases how do you ascertain what is deliberate unlawful conduct, gross negligence, negligence, or "honest mistakes"? "Qualified immunity" is a civil doctrine not a criminal doctrine so were talking about civil trial to determine if an officer is or isn't civilly liable for killing someone.

The Founders never wrote qualified immunity into the Constitution. No Congress or President ever signed a law creating qualified immunity. It's a wholly judge-created doctrine that the Republic seemed to do fine without before 1967.

One could argue that times have changed and now we need qualified immunity. I would say it's fair to argue that but under our Constitution it's something for Congress to put into the laws and for a President to sign (or not) into law.
 
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RedCardinalSeven

RedCardinalSeven

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Let me provide an example of the unintended consequences of eliminating qualified immunity. Officer pulls over a car for suspected driving under the influence. Conducts field sobriety tests. Can tell the person has been drinking but does not think there is enough probable cause to arrest. But this is very much a judgement call. You cannot compel a person to take a chemical test before an arrest (you cannot require them to even perform field sobriety tests).

Officer does not arrest them but advises them that they likely should not be driving (but can't make them not drive). Guy drives away, gets in crash, kills / injures another person. Turns out he was over the legal limit. Should the officer be sued for this?

If you said yes, guess what happens the next time ANY OFFICER in the United States pulls over a driver and smells the odor of an alcoholic beverage, marijuana, or sees a Rx pill bottle. That's right, everyone goes to jail. Let the courts sort it out. But wait, then they get sued for false arrest. Now every officer is parked behind the fire station, trying not to see anything and calling for a supervisor on every call. Is this what we want?
Your hypotheticals above are wrong. Drivers have given their implied consent to be field tested or to have their blood, breath, or urine tested if the police officer reasonably suspects that the person has committed the offense of driving while under the influence of intoxicants (ORS § 813.095 et seq.) If you refuse to submit to field or breath testing for intoxicants you can still be and most likely will be arrested for DWI and your refusal to be tested can be used as evidence that you were DWI (ORS § 813.136). This is basically the law in every US state. The rest of your hypothetical that "everyone goes to jail", false arrest suits, cops hiding, etc. is just slippery slope nonsense with no evidence.

Here's a hypothetical for you: Suppose a police officer sees someone swerving across the double yellow line and pulls the person over. The officer approaches the driver and smells the alcohol on the driver's breath. Well, it turns out the driver is the officer's favorite uncle or, maybe, the mayor's hot daughter. Or, maybe, the officer's shift ends in 20 minutes, he's tired, and the paperwork alone will take 40 minutes for an arrest.

The driver only has to go another mile to get home. For whatever reason, the officer decides not to make an arrest but to give a warning. After the driver assures the officer that he or she will go straight home the officer sends the driver his or her way. However, the driver only gets a half-mile before striking a vehicle with your daughter, her husband, and their two young kids inside, killing both parents and one of the kids.

The driver, whose BAC was twice the legal limit, comes away with minor injuries. Your surviving grandchild will need extensive medical care and rehab but the driver is broke and uninsured. How would you feel then about the officer's decision? How would you feel if qualified immunity or some other legal doctrine shielded the city, agency, and officer from all civil liability stemming from the officer's decision not to arrest the drunk driver?

@Andy54Hawken stated it well above. When we read about events like in the OP we are getting about 2% of the evidence, and only that which the media decides we get without extra research on our end (which is still very limited). In the OP case the prosecuting attorney decided there was not enough evidence to file criminal charges. They have considerably more information than we all have. There is already no immunity for against criminal conduct.

There are lots of moving parts to this, we only see the tiny percentage when things go very wrong, or are perceived to go wrong.
The point isn't that we or the media should decide these cases in the court of public opinion. The irrefutable point of the OP article is that there is a federal judge-created legal doctrine called "qualified immunity" that prevents injured plaintiffs from having their day in court and prevents juries from weighing the evidence. If you're one of those people who likes judges making laws that Congress never approved then that's probably just fine with you.
 
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