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Film prompts discussion on officer-involved shootings

Documentary "Officer Involved" was shown at Winona State on Wednesday

Film prompts discussion on officer-involved shootings

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - Officer-involved shootings are the focus of a new documentary shown in Winona on Wednesday.

In 2016, 839 people were killed as a result of police-involved shootings in the United States.

Wednesday, the Winona State Criminal Justice program hosted the director of the documentary to take a closer look at how life-and-death decisions impact officers every day.

Winona Police Sgt. Jay Rasmussen knows that on any given day, the unthinkable can happen.

"Obviously a police officer makes a decision in a split second sometimes, and it's judged by the public, and by other people that... hindsight is 20/20," Rasmussen said.

And that moment can have a lasting impact on an officer on duty.

"Sometimes the public loses focus on the fact that we're humans too," Rasmussen said.

It's why Rasmussen and several other police officers attended "Officer Involved," a documentary made by Georgia police officer Patrick Shaver, on Wednesday at Winona State.

"Very shortly in my career, my friend went through a shooting, and soon after that, another friend asked me, 'Well, why can't you just shoot someone in the arm or the leg?'" Shaver said.

The film takes a deeper look into the lives of police officers who have used deadly force while on the job.

"We ask the officers what happened after the shooting. We don't get into why did you shoot, we asked, 'how did you feel afterward: What was the media like after the shooting? What was it like to tell your family? Did you have any religious issues? What was it like to get back to work?" Shaver said.

He hopes police officers and other viewers come away with a different perspective.

"When people watch this film, I just want them to see the officer is also going through something at the same time," Shaver said. "Now we can make judgments all day long about whether the officer should have, or should not have shot, but that doesn't affect the storm that's going to be happening with that officer."

And police officers hope they can take away something as well.

"I'm hoping today, I can just broaden my knowledge on how to deal with something like this, because I don't think you can ever train enough for a situation like this," Rasmussen said.

The film is not yet publicly available, but you can head to the website, officerinvolvedproject.com to learn more information.

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