On Wednesday, April 5, the Athens-Clarke County Police Department hosted a viewing of “Officer Involved,” a documentary produced by Georgia police officer Patrick Shaver about the aftermath of a police-involved shooting. The film particularly focused on the effects felt by policemen who are involved in shootings on the line of duty.
For Shaver, the filmmaking process began in 2013, or as he called it, “pre-Ferguson.”
Shaver said he had distaste for the term and noted that there have been plenty of other major events in American history that influenced the public’s perception of law enforcement, but that Ferguson was what everyone thought about during the time of filming.
“We wanted to just really focus on the aftermath,” Shaver said. “If we’re ever going to move forward…we need to be able to talk about this stuff.”
Shaver said the “video game Hollywood mentality” has caused the public to see fatal shootings as purely aggressive behavior. Shaver said it is realistically nearly impossible to shoot someone in the arm or leg with accuracy, especially in such a high-pressure life-or-death situation.
Shaver said that good officers never want to shoot people, and that when they do, it can cause serious consequences for their mental health.
“The things we do in this job can follow us around for the rest of our lives,” Shaver said. “My friend fired a round and it changed his life…the next time I saw [him], he was a completely different guy.”
“Officer Involved” included interviews from people across the nation and a variety of testimonies from officers who had shot and killed another person to law enforcement psychologists and other mental health experts.
Shaver said that he wanted this movie to contribute to the humanization of law enforcement by focusing on single narratives by a few cops for a more personal insight.
“It’s an educational piece,” said Epifanio Rodriguez, public information officer for ACCPD. “It’s very important I think not only people with law enforcement to be able to see it, but also people within the general community.”
The film was followed by a short discussion of Shaver’s filmmaking process and a question and answer session.
“Officer Involved” has screened at private shows across the nation, but has yet to be publicly released. It was also featured at the Knoxville Film Festival, which Shaver said was one of 38 festivals that would accept his piece.
Shaver said he was disappointed, not due to the rejection, but because he felt rejecting the film was a way of stifling a conversation surrounding police officer’s mental health.
“We can never decide for ourselves how media portrays [our story],” Shaver said.
The showing in Athens was Shaver’s last before he returned to his duties as a Georgia police officer. The documentary will soon be at the Levine Museum of the New South in Charlotte.