Cop who fired gun in Muldersdrift shooting could face legal action, warns criminal expert
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A police officer who shot a naked and irate Pretoria man in the head after the man disarmed a police officer after a prolonged verbal altercation - could find himself in hot water with the law, according to a legal expert.
It is alleged that Len Cloete, who was filmed in his underwear arguing with police officers, had been asked to leave the Misty Hills Lodge in Muldersdrift following an argument with management and security personnel. The police were also called to the scene.
In a video clip showing only part of the incident, Cloete is seen arguing with police who were called to the scene.
After swearing and insulting officers, he then disarms a female police officer and is shot in the head by her colleague.
While social media is divided over how police handled the situation, a criminal expert believes the officer who fired the gun is likely to face legal action.
Criminal expert attorney Jacques Botha said police reacted passively and should not have let the situation spiral out of control.
“Len Cloete was in every way the author of his own misfortune. He was not in his sound mind and was physically big, but the cops were passive to the point of almost not being present. The mistakes by the police, both individually and cumulatively, led to a disaster that was predictable,” he said.
Botha said the police conduct was so bad that when he first watched the video, he knew the situation was going to escalate purely because of gross police incompetence.
“The two police officers outside were not present to assist and deal with the situation. When you have a person who behaves like this, police are trained to progressively dominate it so it does not escalate.
“Their lack of assistance allowed the perpetrator to gain control and they were not present to immediately react, which is what happened.
“This left a small, timid police officer standing there who the perpetrator took advantage of, and then an inept police officer who then shot the man,” he said.
He said when Cloete disarmed the police officer, she did not use any firearm retention technique to stop him.
“She failed dismally to protect her firearm. It is also questionable as to whether she should have drawn her firearm at this stage because he was unarmed, but that is another issue,” Botha said.
He said police did not get involved when Cloete disarmed one of their own. He said at no point did any of the police officers act out their training.
He noted that police also did not use any other degrees of force to subdue Cloete, such as pepper spray.
“In my legal opinion, the shooting is highly questionable and at that moment, not justifiable. The problem here is, this video shows just about everything you need to see.
“You even see security guards who did nothing to help and police could have asked. That could have put eight pairs of hands on the perpetrator to prevent him disarming the policewoman.
“He took advantage of her. He behaved like a thug and I don’t know why she pulled her gun at that time because the perpetrator had already put his gun away,” he said.
Botha said he believed the situation could have been averted if police were more competent.
“Quite frankly, it is a serious indictment of a lack of training, a lack of ability, a lack of control to step in and get involved on the part of police; everything went wrong from their side.
“But, ultimately, Cloete has himself to blame for most of what had gone on but I believe the shooting at the exact moment when the shot was fired, was simply not justified. So that officer is going to face legal consequences for that.”
Major-General Johan Booysen, former head of the KZN Hawks, declined to comment on the shooting.
“Watching the video, it is apparent that a lot went wrong on both sides during the unfortunate incident. It would be foolish to venture an opinion at this stage though. Ipid and the police should be allowed to investigate the incident in its entirety and in context of what preceded the shooting.
“It is up to the prosecuting authority to then take a decision regarding a prosecution,” he said.
Ipid spokesperson Grace Langa said they were still investigating the matter.
Meanwhile, a family spokesperson has confirmed that Cloete remains in a coma. He is in a stable condition, they said.