After every crime there is a long process to determine facts about the crime and the criminal. This process is called criminal investigation. It is essential to the day to day work of the police and forensic service (Martin?Fumadó, 2012). This work is nothing like what the media present, it is far more complicated and long (Martin?Fumadó, 2012). The process is dealing with everyday arguments about problems eyewitness bring, if offender pro?ling is that effective and the use of forensic science (Martin?Fumadó, 2012). Criminal investigation is different for every crime, such as in explosions, shootings, fire, drowning, Strangulation, hit and runs, sexual offenses and much more. During this assignment the focus is on shooting. A description of the general process of a criminal investigation, what evidence is needed in a shooting, structure approach, witness in a shooting and examples will be given through the assignment.
The criminal investigation process needs to be examined as one, with the evidence found at the crime scene and going back again to the crime scene for reconstruction (Bitzer, Ribaux, Albertini, & Delémont, 2016). The process is divided into key decision steps. According to Bitzer, Ribaux, Albertini and Delémont these steps are the decision to: go to the crime scene and find evidence, collect the evidence, analyse evidence, use the evidence in the inquiry and use the evidence in court (Bitzer et al., 2016). These steps bring about the characteristics of the investigator, meaning if the investigator is good to attend that specific crime investigation (will he/she be bias in that specific crime), the way the investigator approach the search for evidence (is he/she experienced enough in the type of investigation) and other conserving the way to process the evidence to be well prepared in court (Bitzer et al., 2016). All this is not done by one person in each investigation there are multiple of people working in a group work. When it comes to evidence collection different ways to approach this exists. For the CSI the main goals are: reconstruct the crime, identify the person (the criminal), conserve the evidence for further analysis and during collection make sure that it stands up in court (LAYTON, 2017). For collecting the evidence specific tools are used like tweezers, a filtered vacuum device, plastic containers with lids and a knife, it is very important that the person collecting evidence is wearing proper gear such as latex gloves (LAYTON, 2017). The investigator is looking for various traces of evidence, body fluids, hair, documents, prints and weapons. Body fluids might include blood, semen, saliva, and vomit. There different way and techniques to collect and analyse. Hair and fibres are mostly collected from a rape case where the victim is search with specific equipment for this small evidence (LAYTON, 2017). Prints include finger prints and foot prints which both can be visible, molded and latent. For weapons it could range from a household object as a knife to a firearm. These type of evidence can be found in the place of the crime or at another place were the offender would take the weapon and dump it to cover his/her tracks (LAYTON, 2017).
When it comes to an investigation of a shooting all of the above applies. There is some difference in how to identify a shooting from an explosion, rape, fire and much more. A firearm has features that are uniquely designed by the factory (Thompson, 2010). These Features are decisive by the company that makes the firearm: include the size of the cartridge chambered by the firearm, the orientation of the ejector and the number, width and the rifling of the barrel (Thompson, 2010). These characteristics can be used as tool marks on the fired bullet and case during firing. These characteristics are most likely the first thing an investigator seeks for evidence (Thompson, 2010). When a bullet is collected either from a wall or flesh that bullet will be seen as primary piece of evidence. Every barrel has a specific groove in it that helps for accuracy of the bullet, therefore when two bullets are found in a crime scene the investigator can identify if they were fired from the same weapon or not (The Forensic Outreach Team, 2015). Furthermore the firearm goes through a specific process to rifle, the process to modify the barrel for more accuracy, the barrel so every barrel is unique as already mentioned. This makes it easier if the investigator did not find the weapon, now from the bullet he/she may identify a type and model of firearm (The Forensic Outreach Team, 2015). When a gun is fired not only the bullets comes out but also a residue from the gun powder. This residue is called Gunshot residue (GSR). It is a particulate matter formed after a firearm is shot (Maitre, Kirkbride, Horder, Roux, & Beavis, 2017).it is made from the particles of the primer, propellant and other materials from the cartridge after it is fired. Gunshot residue can be helpful because it can allow the investigator to find if the wound is an entry or exit whole and also estimating a shooting distance (Maitre et al., 2017). From GSR it can also provide the kind of ammunition used at the time of the shooting (Maitre et al., 2017). If the residue is not on the victim it can be concluded that the scene was not suicide (The Forensic Outreach Team, 2015). Gathering of this residue is usually from hair, hands, face and clothing by different techniques like swabbing, tape lifting and vacuuming (Reid, Chana, Bond, Almond, & Black, 2010). The collection should be quick because studies show that by the activity of jut arrest, putting hands in pockets and washing face or hands will decrease the amount of residue if not eliminate (Reid et al., 2010). There are 2 methods of collection the stubs and the swabs. In a study they were similar in testing and the results showed that the stub collection method is more effective for collection and consequent analysis of primer GSR, but the swab collection method should not forgotten and un used specifically for smooth surfaces and if gunpowder analysis is needed (Reid et al., 2010). Another clue that can be found in a crime scene is the bullet holes. The investigator can use sticks, which are correctly inserted in the bullet hole can identify the direction of the bullet. Now if there are multiple of holes a lot more can be identified like the height of the person (The Forensic Outreach Team, 2015). Also bullets that rebound will collect evidence from what they hit and by analysing the bullet properly the investigator can also have more information about the crime (The Forensic Outreach Team, 2015). Then there is the fact that when the shooter is loading the gun he/she touches the bullet which leaves a mixture of salt and sweat (The Forensic Outreach Team, 2015). When the bullet is fired the mixture will vaporise and leave the salts which will become molten and a chemical reaction occurs. This reaction will permanently attach the finger print to the bullet. A big part of information can be found in a wound. The type of wound can determine an approximation of the distance, velocity and direction of fire. This may also determine the type of gun and bullet fired if none are found (The Forensic Outreach Team, 2015).
Witness information is also a very important part of an investigation process. It is very important to use methods that are accurate and efficient such as fair line-ups and memory-enhancing methods (Mcclure, Myers, & Keefauver, 2013).This will determine whether the investigator will get a good evidence or a messed up information which will complicate his/her work or even result in an inconclusive evidence, therefore the characteristics of an investigator has to be implied in this scenario to make sure that the investigator has the right skills to identify if a witness is lying and to impose questions which are not biased (Mcclure et al., 2013). O’Brien (2009) suggested that when there are false convictions, they are most likely the result of a number of errors that could start with a witness, but after all it is the decision making that happens during the investigation that may make those errors (Mcclure et al., 2013). The investigator and his team must create objectives for the identification of witnesses (“murder investigation manual”, 2006). These objectives will depend on the situation and type of the case, like for a shooting crime witnesses could be victims or people who same the act (“murder investigation manual”, 2006).
Pamela Shelley died on her way to a hospital in 2001 after she was found with a gunshot wound to the head in the Texas (Sheppard, 2013). Investigators at that time said that her death was a suicide, but the case was re-opened seven years later at the emphasis of investigator Carl Bowen (Sheppard, 2013). Bowen never accepted the suicide ruling and enough evidence was at last gathered to prosecute Hendrick in October 2012. A few days prior to the trial it was found that it was not possible for her to shoot herself in the head from the angle done (Sheppard, 2013). This shows that in a shooting investigation the direction of the bullet indicates a lot about the crime and in this case it showed it was not a suicide but a homicide (Sheppard, 2013).
In summary every investigation has its own procedure. We can only categories some of them were they are similar for example shooting crimes. In all investigation the investigator has to be right for that crime meaning have knowledge about the procedure, is not affected that he/she will be biased, and chose the right team for the job. For collecting evidence of a shooting the main things that an investigator should look for are bullets, bullet holes, gunshot residue when having a suspect and even on victim and like in any other case body fluids. The investigator then has to come up with the right setting and possible areas for witnesses, have the right interviewer and make sure the questions asked are the right once to not result in inconclusive evidence. This is important because as seen in the case if it was not for the investigator to emphasise that the case was not of a suicide and look deeper than the other there would not have been justice with the family of the victim and the victim as well.
In conclusion a shooting investigation has its own process with unique evidence that will lead to the right criminal. All mentioned above is ways that the investigators go through to find the evidence, in this case of a shooting investigation, and a case that shows how important certain details are to have the right conclusion.