What You Need to Do if You Witness a Homicide
Witnessing a murder has different immediate impacts on different individuals. The most important thing to do is get help and stay safe, even if you are afraid to contact the police or do not feel like you cannot handle any sort of interview. Be honest with authorities, and ask for clarification when you are unsure what is going on.
Call 911 and Get Help from Someone You Trust
Always put your safety first, and use your best judgment. In a recent homicide case, a Denver 911 operator was fired for failing to tell police that a woman’s husband had a firearm. The woman was killed 12 minutes into the call. An audit of the municipality’s 911 system found multiple incidents in which 911 operators suggested callers take unsafe actions, such as an operator who instructed a caller to follow a vehicle after a road rage incident. The caller was also murdered. 911 operators are not police officers; if you are instructed to do something you think is unsafe, trust yourself.
Be Honest and Forthcoming With Police
Wait until police arrive in a safe place. The police will secure the crime scene, and all crime scene evidence will be processed. You are legally required to tell the truth to law enforcement. Be forthcoming with all questions, and only tell them what you know. Remember, homicide detectives are unlikely to care about petty drug use or parole violations. Failing to disclose involvement in illegal activities such as drug use could actually lead to more serious charges.
Do Not Attempt to Protect the Perpetrator
It is not unusual for witnesses to not want to disclose who the perpetrator was. Often, witnesses are afraid about what might happen if they tell police what they saw. Similarly, witnesses may attempt to cleanup a crime scene to try to appease the perpetrator and stay safe themselves. Lying to the police or trying to cover up evidence can do more than throw off an investigation; you could be charged with associated criminal activity such as tampering or acting as an accessory to murder.
Ask for Legal Assistance When Things Do Not Seem Right
Understandably, a lot of things might not seem right after witnessing a murder. Homicide detectives are trained to compassionately interview traumatized or reluctant witnesses. Ask for legal advice before giving your consent for a DNA sample or before taking a polygraph examination. You need to be honest, but you also need to protect yourself from any wrongful accusations.
Let the Experts Clean the Crime Scene
After the scene is processed, contact a professional crime scene cleanup company. Aftermath Services LLC is the leading trauma cleaning company in the United States. Get the help you need after a traumatic experience; crime scene cleaners can help return you to a happy, healthy life.