Friday, July 8, 2016

On Police Shootings

I highly doubt that any police officers out there today, particularly any of them in these recent controversies, deliberately committed murder because of race. Today, most cops are screened out and terminated when such tendencies exist. Even in the heart of a cold racist, in a world filled with cameras, it would be the height of foolishness to commit a murder, only to have someone live streaming it.

First, stop calling these police shootings executions. This was not an extrajudicial execution by a cop playing judge, jury, and executioner. Call them bad shoots, call them fuckups, call it manslaughter or even murder, but don’t call them executions. Those aren’t the facts.

There are probably zero cops on the street who are looking to murder anyone. None of the recent high profile shootings were executions and probably not murder. A potentially armed suspect is just as dangerous as an actually armed suspect. That still doesn't excuse injudicious uses of force though.

I believe what we seeing are police officers who work in a department where shootings are rarely or never seriously questioned. Some feel that if there is an armed or possibly armed suspect and a fear of death or serious bodily injury, it is permissible for them to shoot simply because it is legal. That’s not so. Bare fear alone is not sufficient. Some are so locked-in to a mentality of officer safety that they have mental and actual tunnel vision where all they focus on is the possible presence of a weapon.

In days past, without contradictory evidence such as video, statements were all investigators and prosecutors had. There was probably more of a bias in favor of trusting police officers, especially when it came to killings of minorities, in the past. If the story met the legal requirements, there was no further examination. In some cases, an officer's fear was all that was used to justify the shooting. That's not today's world, but the mentality of an officer's statement being trusted first still prevails.

Police are more likely to shoot than an armed citizen because a police officer knows that society, his department, prosecutors, and local government is likely to give him the benefit of the doubt. Often, police shootings are well justified. Officers also will usually have union-paid legal representation and immunity from civil suit. While the same self-defense guidelines about reasonable fear apply, police officers have a bit more latitude under the law. Citizens do not have that same benefit and in some jurisdictions must be wary of prosecution.

‘Officer safety’ is sometimes unfortunately used as a buzzword to justify a mentality that an officer should never take a chance to allow a suspect to become armed or shoot. Furtive moments or “he was reaching for a gun” have been used, rightly and wrongly, to justify shootings. In some cases, it is reasonable to use lethal force on someone who is, or appears to be, reaching for a gun. Under justifiable homicide laws, more than a bare fear must exist, but unfortunately, in some areas and departments, if the bare facts of the law are met, the shooting is declared ‘justified’ without any serious scrutiny.

Video cameras are changing that, for good and bad. Some officers acts are shown to be unreasonable in the totality of circumstances in a way written reports or cross-examination can never show. Yes, the suspect was armed with a knife and not complying, but was he an immediate threat to life? Just because you can, doesn’t mean that you should.

Oscar Grant, shot accidentally by a Bay Area Rapid Transit police officer mistakenly reaching for his Taser, was a felony level fuck-up. There was nothing in the video or in the officer’s testimony to indicate this was nothing more than a massive mistake borne out of confusion and stress. This was not an execution; this was someone too used to grabbing his pistol instead of his Taser. From the video and the officer’s reaction, there is no reason to believe that the officer, knowing he was under regular security camera surveillance, surrounded by cops and citizens, would deliberately execute a prone suspect.

Tamir Rice, who pointed a replica pistol at officers, was shoot when officer literally pulled up right next to him, exited the vehicle, and immediately shot him. This was horrible police procedure to a negligent degree. It is stupid and inexcusable to pull up next to a potentially armed person, then jump out and shoot with practically no warning. The officers theoretically inserted themselves into a dangerous position which would immediately place them in harm’s way rather than utilizing good police procedure and approaching for a distance or cover where they could, again in theory, given Rice a chance to surrender.

Alton Sterling was armed, he had a lengthy criminal history, and he was actively resisting. At first appearances, if the officer was correct that Sterling was reaching for the gun in his pocket, this was a legally justified shooting, whether you agree with it or nor. Sterling had every opportunity to comply with the officers. He chose to carry a gun illegally and he chose to continue to fight. Sterling is responsible for his actions. He should have ended

In the Philando Castile shooting, Castile was allegedly reaching for his wallet when he was shot. From what we know, Castile was a licensed concealed carrier who was armed. While the video does not show the actual shooting, in the immediate aftermath you can see that the driver/girlfriend is calm, while the officer is on the verge of hysterics. The officer’s voice is wavering on the edge of panic. One seriously wonders what happened before the video and if the officer was unjustifiably afraid. Because legal concealed carriers are typically very law abiding and the driver’s calm reaction vs. the officer’s panicked reaction, I feel that this may be a case of an officer who jumped at shadows.

Update: This article explains all might not be as it seems in this case.

Mistakes aside, many are too quick to condemn the vast majority of competent, law-abiding, trustworthy, and disciplined officers. Before one condemns law enforcement as a whole, one must remember that these are a minority of events given the size and scope of the country.

Police officers are human. They are subject to the same frailties and fears that we all have. Just like in your job, there are officers who are great at what they do and ones who would be considered incompetent by their peers. Department practices, training, and culture has a lot to do with it. In days past, racism or distain for criminals allowed cultures where shootings were viewed with a ‘good riddance to bad garbage attitude.’ Times have also changed that force is scrutinized far more than in the past. Even if justified under law, or if used by two private citizens in a fight, society is less tolerant of police use of force, lethal and non-lethal, than in the past.

Cameras also exposed bad shoots later justified by pencil whipping. The sad thing is that racial tension, anti-police, and anti-government hate is so strong right now that incomplete and unclear videos set the tone for many of these controversies. Very few come to the table with an open mind. We can’t afford to jump to conclusions or make rash statements. There is a fuse burning on America and I fear we will devolve into nothing but angry violence if we don’t take in all the facts and apply reasoning before coming to a conclusion.

Don't even get me started on the false-flag conspiracy theory horseshit.



  1. ...I can't believe what I'm reading in some of these...

    Tamir Rice: With all the videos we have available it is obvious the officer jumped out of the car and opened fire before he even saw a gun

    Alton Sterling: He was resisting after they jumped on him when he refused to provide ID. His hands in the video are nowhere near his pockets and the police shot him in the back repeatedly

    Philando Castile: From what we can tell, this is another "black man driving" so he was pulled over, especailly since the dispatch tapes prove he was pulled over for having "a wide nose" and was "black" leading the Chinese officer to believe, somehow, he was involved in a robbery. Castile told the cop he was armed, who then told him to provide an ID, and then EXECUTED HIM.

    Anyone else would be charged with MURDER in all of these!

  2. Also, you call it false-flag "bullshit". That's fine. Considering some of the people in the circles I had to work with before with "Operation Jolly Roger" being exactly what Dallas, the Boston Marathon, and a few others are what they claimed was coming down the pipe, I tend to believe some of it.