Evidence Collection | Non-Confrontational Interrogations

Evidence Collection | Non-Confrontational Interrogations

 

If you’ve ever witnessed a professional wrestling match, it’s a complete and utter spectacle. People carry out incredibly brave and dangerous acts during these escapades. They hop onto the ropes and jump down onto their opponent. They smash chairs against each other’s heads. They clothesline each other at full speed. They seem fully engaged in tearing the other person apart. And yet, they all walk away with very little in the way of injuries. It’s all a very well-rehearsed, and from logic’s standpoint a gigantic lie. They aren’t making assaultive contact, and they are not breaking each other’s back. It’s all entertainment of the highest, or lowest form, depending on your perspective. When it comes to non-confrontational interrogations, we can learn a lot from professional wrestling. Here’s how:

 

Revisiting Interview vs. Interrogation

As we discussed previously, interviews are a process where we collect all information a person knows about a given situation, be it they are a witness, suspect, or victim. We don’t make assumptions about their involvement, we let the statements they make individually, along with what is known collectively, to provide us with a timeline we make investigative decisions from. We need to refrain from questioning people during this stage of the process concerning the major pieces of the incident. Getting clear definitions, and meanings is fine, but the more we have people stating their recollections exactly as they saw them, the better our next step is. Interrogation is when we get into significant questions, but before we discuss that, let’s separate our strategy and tactics in a non-confrontational interrogation.

 

The Non-Confrontational Interrogation

Here’s where our analogy comes into play. If we’re at the point that any type of interrogation is warranted, then we have a good idea of who did what at the event. Rewinding back to our scenario, where we’ve had an assault at a bar that led to significant injuries, and we were managing a crowd of people at varying degrees of intoxication, at this point we should be zeroing in on one person, since our scenario only included that two people were involved in the incident occurring in the bar, prior to the assault that happened in the alleyway. Maybe we’ve established that one or two others helped this assault along by instigating it, and maybe another person gave our suspect the mental “shove” into action, but outside of those considerations, we have one person we’re looking for in this assault, and through the interviews, we’ve identified them.

In this scenario, it would be terribly easy to go straight to a confrontational interrogation and go head to head with our suspect. We may not get as much information from that approach however, and it’s much better for case success that we act neutral to the suspect’s position in this incident. In staying neutral, we remove any thought that we are emotionally charged in “hunting our prey,” as some defense attorneys refer to it as. It also gives our suspect the chance to fully explain themselves, and that’s what our goal should always be in interviews and interrogations, fully explanations of everything. This can seem trivial, but we can never know what makes the difference in a judge or jury’s perspective when it comes to intent. Sure, a sight unseen assault leading to traumatic injury will most likely lead to a conviction, even if the quality of investigation is average. But a superb investigation, where the foundation is laid with solid interviews and interrogations makes a significant distance, especially when it comes to what a judge will be willing to accept in plea bargain, or even in what they’ll allow in sentencing.

Getting past our motivation, let’s consider what a non-confrontational interrogation should look like. First, our suspect, if we’re following our process is now in his second encounter with us. That makes people nervous. When we first sit down with our suspect, they’re going to be tense, and concerned, and reluctant. Instead of squinting our eyes, conveying our judgment, we need to be open. We need to be friendly, even a bit jovial. We suggest being reserved as much as possible. Being too interested can convey that level of judgment in our more forthright example that we’re wanting to avoid.

As the interrogation is underway, it’s important to keep in mind the questions we’re going to ask. Our questions should be a combination of verifying what the suspect originally said, and what we’ve established from indirect witnesses. These are witnesses that saw the incident from a wholly ‘innocent’ perspective, meaning they know neither party, and they’re not interested in the outcome of the incident either way. If they know of one of the parties, that’s ok. So long as they have no real meaningful connection, they’re perspective is indirect, and much of what they said can be considered unbiased. It does not mean they’re your best witness, or that they are your best provider of testimony. It means they have a lot of information about the incident from start to finish, but no background, nor any interest in the guilt or innocence of either party. You could add in material provided from a direct witness, those who know one or both parties and are possibly bias, but it is usually best to save that information for the confrontational interrogation.

We were gathering facts in our interview, now we’re confirming facts. But here’s the trick. As this interrogation continues, you may find that your suspect begins to manufacture aspects of their testimony, because they are clueing in our questions, and they think they know how to answer in a way that sheds their guilt. If you’re at this point, their guilt isn’t the question. Their integrity is the question. If they are not truthful here, then you know what they did was premeditated. But even with that information you’ll want to continue the process of the non-confrontational interrogation.

Finally, our premise meets our major point. Don’t be surprised if during this interrogation your suspect begins making the entire incident into a wrestling match. They had to block 14 strikes by the victim, and was only defending themselves. Their back was against a door frame, and they felt corner, so they attacked because their life was in danger. Even though the evidence shows the attack started with the suspect ramming the victim’s head into a trash can, just let them keep talking about their version. It’s their funeral, let them draw as much rope as they think they need. Notice that in questioning, we’re not giving away our biggest details, including medical evidence. That’s all designed for the confrontational interrogation. Partly, because that’s information that would form the basis of confrontation, but also because it’s our aim to have the suspect give their inaccurate version of events, that disagrees with their earlier interview, and use those two things as the final nail in arresting and charging the suspect. It’s entirely possible to make that determination after a non-confrontational interrogation.

If you’re not comfortable charging the suspect, that’s ok. You’ve got a confrontational interrogation still available. But it’s also possible to conduct multiple non-confrontational interrogations, the key is to separate information you want to confirm and discuss into sections that would conduct over separate interrogations. Sometimes a case warrants more than one whack at the piñata.

At the end of this entire process, you should be walking away with solid confirmation of whether your perceived suspect is indeed the culprit, or a series of lies by the suspect that confirm they are indeed responsible for the crime. The third potential result is that your suspect ends up appearing innocent, or is flat out not your suspect anymore. If this is the case one of two things happened. One, one or more of your witnesses lied a whole bunch to you, and the information you got in this interrogation should be pointing back to at least one of them. Two, something went terribly wrong in your interviews, and the entire process will need to be started again. As time passes, recollections change, people forget things, and you’re getting behind the 8-ball if you’re in this position.

 

Conclusion

Non-confrontational interrogations are not so bad. They can be a pain, and many people don’t like conducting them, but they serve a distinctly unique purpose that gives us a chance to move forward effectively with our case. And that matters more than anything, even if it’s going to be a wrestling match. Let the suspect jump from the top rope because the victim was asking for it. Let the suspect affect a DDT as he caught the victim’s fist with his bare hand. It’s their funeral, and they’ll wind up in a Tombstone anyway (for all you Undertaker fans out there!). The point is, they can take this interrogation whatever way they want to. If they can’t address the facts, if they can’t face the results of what they’ve done, then they face it in court, boldly.

Be safe out there!