Skip

Don't murder me bro.
January 5, 2009 11:23 AM   Subscribe

Early on New Year's Day, Oscar Grant was involved in a scuffle with an older man he hadn't previously met. The fighting continued and when the train reached Fruitvale, BART police stopped the fight and took Grant and several others into custody. The officers were armed with stun guns as well as sidearms. Three BART officers then proceed to place Grant face down to handcuff him, then one of them stands up, draws his weapon and shoots him in the back. Graphic video of the incident.
posted by Mr_Zero (367 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
BART Police, classy as always.
posted by ORthey at 11:31 AM on January 5, 2009


I guess the BART policemen has street cred now. Dumb f.
posted by Senator at 11:34 AM on January 5, 2009


Shameful. Absolutely shameful.
posted by OverlappingElvis at 11:36 AM on January 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Nixon: It's not illegal when the President does it.

Police apologist: It's not murder when a guy in a blue uniform does it.
posted by orthogonality at 11:38 AM on January 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


Well I suppose it is only a logical extension. Tasers were supposed to be a (nonlethal) tool to be used only in situations where firearms would have been used. Tasers have been employed willy-nilly for minor infractions, as tools of intimidation and control, since then, now firearms may as well also be employed that way.

And, what OverlappingElvis said.
posted by Hal Mumkin at 11:38 AM on January 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Don't worry this is just one more bad apple, right? Right?

How many dozen does it take to spoil the bunch again?
posted by WinnipegDragon at 11:38 AM on January 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


FUBAR[T]. Dear god.
posted by pyrex at 11:39 AM on January 5, 2009


What the fucking hell?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:41 AM on January 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


.
posted by burnmp3s at 11:41 AM on January 5, 2009


Thank god for cell phones. Without video there wouldn't have been the smallest chance of holding the cops accountable.
posted by small_ruminant at 11:41 AM on January 5, 2009 [29 favorites]


Clearly, this footage proves that in the future, steps should be taken to prevent such accidents from happening. I'm talking, of course, of banning cell phone video cameras from BART trains.
posted by billysumday at 11:42 AM on January 5, 2009 [21 favorites]


To be honest it seems accidental. I like how the expert family lawyer in a sports hoodie analyzes the situation for us.

Is it bad when I look at this video all I see is American cities with 20%+ unemployment? No wonder there are active duty elements on the mainland.
posted by norabarnacl3 at 11:42 AM on January 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


norabarnacl3: what the hell?
posted by nosila at 11:44 AM on January 5, 2009 [12 favorites]


sorry...i'm sure there's a better response to that comment, but i just can't think of it right now. maybe this one: what the fuck????
posted by nosila at 11:44 AM on January 5, 2009


To be honest it seems accidental.

honestly, i was thinking precisely the opposite. I'm not sure I see the accident in an officer drawing, releasing the safety, pointing and firing a gun at a restrained prone perpetrator.

this is insane. this is like rodney king multiplied a thousandfold. this should be historic. hopefully this will be historic. serious police reform should be enacted because of this. it's madness.
posted by shmegegge at 11:45 AM on January 5, 2009 [12 favorites]


You can see he had every intention of shooting him—he appears to reach for his gun several times before he finally gets up off the victim and is able to cleanly pull it from the holster. Cold-blooded.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:46 AM on January 5, 2009


norabarnacl3: I'm not an expert, but the second video in the clip pretty clearly showed the officer drawing, aiming, and firing his gun into the back of a guy lying face-down. Can you outline for me how that happens accidentally?
posted by OverlappingElvis at 11:47 AM on January 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


I'm not sure I see the accident in an officer drawing, releasing the safety, pointing and firing a gun at a restrained prone perpetrator.

I think I should amend that statement. I'm positive that I don't see the accident in an officer drawing, releasing the safety on, pointing and firing his gun at a restrained prone civilian.
posted by shmegegge at 11:47 AM on January 5, 2009


Wait was he actually cuffed? The news report said the officer tried to cuff him then got back up and fired. I'm not trying to stir anything up, but if he was never actually cuffed the post is misleading and inflammatory. This doesn't take into account that the victim might have been otherwise restrained when shot in the back.
posted by Science! at 11:49 AM on January 5, 2009


I can be a bit of a police apologist, But from watching the video, I think it's obvious the cop shot the kid in cold blood.

The victim is being cooperative, and his gestures come across as "Hey I'm being cooperative!" but they also show that he's frightened. The bald cop says something to him and the kid tries to make his grand "I'm no threat" statement by waving his arms dramatically and he appears to plead with them. Something spooked him.

I'd be willing to bet anything that there was some kind of history between the parties involved.
posted by tylerfulltilt at 11:50 AM on January 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


norabarnacl3: I'm not an expert, but the second video in the clip pretty clearly showed the officer drawing, aiming, and firing his gun into the back of a guy lying face-down. Can you outline for me how that happens accidentally?

The "accident" theory is that the officer thought he was using a taser when he fired. It's happened before.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:50 AM on January 5, 2009


Wait was he actually cuffed? The news report said the officer tried to cuff him then got back up and fired. I'm not trying to stir anything up, but if he was never actually cuffed the post is misleading and inflammatory. This doesn't take into account that the victim might have been otherwise restrained when shot in the back.

I did not say that he was handcuffed in the post. I said they had placed him face down to cuff him. I did not think that implied that he was already handcuffed.
posted by Mr_Zero at 11:51 AM on January 5, 2009


nosila: There are multiple parts of my comment that might outrage you. Is it that the lawyer was in a hoodie? That pisses me off too.

The shooting looks like a misfire of the officer's weapon because there is no reason he would just shoot the guy like that. It's so nonsensical there's not even much to debate. Even if he is a cold-blooded racist murderer, there are tens of witnesses in the area.

Officers regularly draw their weapons like that while another handcuffs. Regarding safeties, afaik glocks don't have separate safety releases.

The video really provides way too little information to make a judgment. Other than I hope the economy doesn't collapse lol.
posted by norabarnacl3 at 11:51 AM on January 5, 2009


"Don't murder me bro" as the title? Why? Did you feel this post needed some winky humour?
posted by picea at 11:52 AM on January 5, 2009 [9 favorites]


They were trying to keep him from flying to Vancouver I guess.
posted by GuyZero at 11:53 AM on January 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


if he was never actually cuffed the post is misleading and inflammatory

Not at all. Here's what the FPP says:

Three BART officers then proceed to place Grant face down to handcuff him, then one of them stands up, draws his weapon and shoots him in the back.

You'll note that the FPP never says unambiguously whether or not he was handcuffed, only that he was being held down in order to be handcuffed.
posted by ornate insect at 11:53 AM on January 5, 2009


It 's hard to tell but it looks like the police officer puts his hands to his face afterward like "oh crap what did I just do" after shooting with a real gun instead of a taser.

I think all police guns should have a video camera running showing what they are pointed at.

Thank god for camera phones, I've been thinking of getting one for my bike helmet just to record my commute.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 11:53 AM on January 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


norabarnacl3 writes "To be honest it seems accidental."

Really? What part seems accidental to you?

The drawing of the weapon? The aiming at the victim? The pulling of the trigger?

BART cops attend the Police Academy just like "regular" cops; they're trained to handle their weapons. So your contention is that this trained cop made at least three accidents in succession, pulling his weapon in contravention of his training, aiming his weapon at the back of a prone, defenseless man, and then pulling the trigger?

That's a quite the "accident".

What do you think might happen to a non-cop who committed such an accident? What do you think might happen to a non-cop whose "accident" resulted in the death of a cop?
posted by orthogonality at 11:53 AM on January 5, 2009 [37 favorites]


Mr_ZeroPoster: "Wait was he actually cuffed? The news report said the officer tried to cuff him then got back up and fired. I'm not trying to stir anything up, but if he was never actually cuffed the post is misleading and inflammatory. This doesn't take into account that the victim might have been otherwise restrained when shot in the back.

I did not say that he was handcuffed in the post. I said they had placed him face down to cuff him. I did not think that implied that he was already handcuffed.
"

You're right. I am wrong. I even read your post and the story twice to compare. Sorry about that.
posted by Science! at 11:54 AM on January 5, 2009 [5 favorites]


A couple months back I watched one of LA's high speed chases end with the suspect surrendering to police. As he stood with his hands on his head with his back to police, obviously cooperating and not resisting in any way, the police just went ahead and tased him. My roommate is a pretty stern law and order guy, and he about lost his mind when he watched this happen on live television. We had it on PVR so we rewound it and watched it again a few times. Amazing.

I'm normally a supporter of unions, but I don't think the police should be allowed to unionize. I think the existing police unions should be disbanded for the preservation of justice. I get the feeling the police know that the unions will back them up no matter what kind of wrongdoing they're involved in (I saw all kinds of this back when I lived in Portland) and the unions have enough sway to prevent the guilty from seeing justice. The police know this, and that's why they're able to get away with murdering people in cold blood on the BART and tasing unresisting suspects.
posted by mullingitover at 11:55 AM on January 5, 2009 [13 favorites]


nora: What I completely fail to understand is what this incident has to do with the unemployment rate. Go ahead and explain that, if you can. lol.

All I see is, at best, an absolutely idiotic officer who thinks his gun is a taser and, at worst, an officer who is so full of rage that he does not consider the consequences and murders a young man.

I see ABSOLUTELY NO REASON he should have pulled a gun in this situation. If you can show me something that shows this type of behavior to be according to protocol, I'd love to see it.
posted by nosila at 11:56 AM on January 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


"Don't murder me bro" as the title? Why? Did you feel this post needed some winky humour?

It doesn't and it is in bad taste. My apologies.
posted by Mr_Zero at 11:56 AM on January 5, 2009 [6 favorites]


I don't know. The other cop jumps off the kid as the first draws his gun. So maybe the cop did think he was pulling a taser and signaled the other cop to get off (so he wouldn't get zapped).

But I still can't see that happening. A taser must feel completely different in your hand than a gun. And it must certainly look different. Not to mention standard practice puts the taser in the holster opposite the gun. The cop would have to be seriously confused to make so many mistakes. Maybe someone without any training might do something like that? But a cop with training and two years under his belt? It's really stretching to explain it away as he went for the wrong weapon.

I think the cop thought the kid was going for a gun. Usually you get cuffed before your searched, so the cops really had no way of knowing he was unarmed. Then the kid started struggling when they tried to handcuff him. It doesn't look like they ever got him cuffed and then the kid started moving his hand towards his side or under him, which could be seen from the cop's POV as the kid reaching for a gun.

The article talks about how other incidents earlier in the day in that same area resulted in a couple guns being found on kids. I also read that there's a bit of a shortage on tasers during these big events. So the cop might not have had a taser to begin with and that's why he didn't use it to try and subdue the struggling kid.

It's so messed up.
posted by ruthsarian at 11:57 AM on January 5, 2009


"Which you'll see only on Channel 2..."

She doesn't get it.
posted by Joe Beese at 11:57 AM on January 5, 2009 [7 favorites]


> The "accident" theory is that the officer thought he was using a taser when he fired. It's happened before.

Sure, heat of the moment and all that, but how do you get this and a standard-issue handgun mixed up?
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:57 AM on January 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


"Don't murder me bro" as the title? Why? Did you feel this post needed some winky humour?

Sometimes if you don't laugh, you'll cry.
posted by ShawnStruck at 11:57 AM on January 5, 2009 [4 favorites]


There are multiple parts of my comment that might outrage you. Is it that the lawyer was in a hoodie? That pisses me off too.

An unarmed man is shot in the back and killed by a cop for no apparent reason and the thing that pisses you off is a lawyer in a hoodie? Get your priorities straight, dude.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 11:59 AM on January 5, 2009 [42 favorites]


It is unusual for police officers to mistake their handgun for a Taser, but not unprecedented. Tasers are similar to many guns, with a trigger that must be pulled, a safety device that must be switched off, and laser sighting.

I was going to lead off with a hilarious snarky comment but the more I read this sentence and the more I realize some people will actually take this as an excuse, the angrier I get.

This is pure bullshit.
posted by Spatch at 12:00 PM on January 5, 2009 [7 favorites]


Officers regularly draw their weapons like that while another handcuffs.

is there a citation for this you can provide? some kind of police procedure guideline that describes pointing a gun at a guy after you and 2 other officers have him pinned to the ground?

mr roboto: The "accident" theory is that the officer thought he was using a taser when he fired. It's happened before.

for real? people have said this before? how is that even possible? are tasers that similar to handguns? my understanding is that, outside of both being vaguely "L" shaped with triggers, they were completely different feeling and looking objects. am I just out of my mind, here?
posted by shmegegge at 12:01 PM on January 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


The man is prone, hands behind him, seemingly cooperative. Surrounded by cops.

Cop pulls gun, shoots him in the back.

SHOOTS HIM DEAD, WHILE HE'S LYING ON HIS BELLY ON THE GROUND.

Fuck.

Ill bet money this is what will happen: they'll take this guy's badge, give him five years probation, and that'll be the end of it. He'll get a job as a rent-a-cop at a mall somewhere and spend the rest of his miserable useless fucking life telling the story of how he once got to plug some kid for looking at him funny.

Because cops NEVER get what's coming to them. It's ALWAYS accidental, oops, sorry, ma'am, killed your kid, too bad he deserved it for fucking with my authority.

Sometimes I hate cops so much.

And, hey, to those who would contend that there's not enough information to make a judgment: put a uniformed cop on the ground. Surround him with three armed guys. When one of the armed guys pulls his weapon and fires point blank into the cop's back, what's your first reaction? That there wasn't enough information to make a judgment? I fucking doubt it.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:01 PM on January 5, 2009 [89 favorites]


I assume there must be sound in this video. Because as has been well-established by the ethics and legal experts on MeFi, if you don't have sound from the video, you don't know if the handcuffed, under-control man might have DESERVED being shot in the back.
posted by DU at 12:01 PM on January 5, 2009 [10 favorites]


The post-dinner Christmas conversation at my brother's was meandering through a variety of random topics, as post-dinner holiday discussions will, when the talk turned to the police. I was a little taken aback when several family members began telling my teenage nephew, who's about as sweet & innocent as any teenage boy can be nowadays, that cops are generally not to be trusted. And even though that's generally how I feel, somehow I felt bad about the whole thing.

Don't feel so bad about it anymore.
posted by the bricabrac man at 12:02 PM on January 5, 2009 [7 favorites]


Clearly, this footage proves that in the future, steps should be taken to prevent such accidents from happening. I'm talking, of course, of banning cell phone video cameras from BART trains.

In 5-10 years time, maybe we'll see the Recording Device Registration Act, or something very much like it, so that it is easier to control the reproduction and distribution of recordings of crimes by public officials.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:03 PM on January 5, 2009 [11 favorites]


In 5-10 years time, maybe we'll see the Recording Device Registration Act, or something very much like it, so that it is easier to control the reproduction and distribution of recordings of crimes by public officials.

Christ Blazecock, don't give them any ideas.
posted by Mr_Zero at 12:05 PM on January 5, 2009 [11 favorites]


ruthsarian writes "I think the cop thought the kid was going for a gun. Usually you get cuffed before your searched, so the cops really had no way of knowing he was unarmed. Then the kid started struggling when they tried to handcuff him. It doesn't look like they ever got him cuffed and then the kid started moving his hand towards his side or under him, which could be seen from the cop's POV as the kid reaching for a gun.

"The article talks about how other incidents earlier in the day in that same area resulted in a couple guns being found on kids. I also read that there's a bit of a shortage on tasers during these big events. So the cop might not have had a taser to begin with and that's why he didn't use it to try and subdue the struggling kid."


Well, except, the news reports indicate that prior to the shooting, the suspect was threatened with a taser, begged not to be tasered, and was placed against a wall by cops and possibly frisked.
posted by orthogonality at 12:06 PM on January 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


what a fucking idiot. how does drawing a weapon help you restrain a person who is face down on the ground? this is not accidental, its criminal. nothing related to "police procedures" can justify this.
posted by mano at 12:07 PM on January 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


Is it bad when I look at this video all I see is American cities with 20%+ unemployment?

Just go ahead and admit you're racist.
posted by Benjy at 12:07 PM on January 5, 2009 [26 favorites]


Fuck the police coming straight from the (SF) Underground.
posted by mattbucher at 12:08 PM on January 5, 2009


One source familiar with the investigation said BART is looking into a number of issues, including whether the officer had meant to fire his Taser stun gun rather than his gun.

Heh. That's some pretty weak sauce right there. They would have been better off to argue that the gun went off accidentally in his hand. This weighs seven ounces. An unloaded pistol probably weighs three times as much. Even in a tense situation, I have a hard time believing that someone trained to use these weapons would confuse them.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 12:09 PM on January 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Benjy, I'm really hoping that norabarnacl3 is just a garden-variety troll. We'll probably never know as, oftentimes, racists and trolls carry almost precisely the same stench.
posted by nosila at 12:10 PM on January 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


I wouldn't convict on a murder charge based on that video. Dozens of witnesses - some of whom are openly recording you? Not to mention security cameras? Then a convincing looking "Oh fuck!" gesture immediately afterward?

But even if - in the not-particularly-hot "heat" of the moment - he thought it was a taser, there's no excuse for pulling a weapon when there's another cop kneeling on the kid's neck. Let him serve 10 years on manslaughter and see how the other half lives.
posted by Joe Beese at 12:12 PM on January 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Too many inane comments to quote.

This guy was NOT being a threat. Thus there is NO reason to draw, much less aim*, much less fire a gun into his BACK!

If the cop thought he was drawing a Taser, WTF did he not make contact?

Speaking of, "Don't Murder Me Bro" is even more acceptable than "Don't Tase me." I'd rather take my chances with the latter.

If cop killers get handled differently by the justice system, then Cop killers should too. I hope this guy gets put in the general population. Then we can all make ass raping jokes until the schmuck is shived.

*To be fair, I don't think cops get Eddie Eagle training.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:12 PM on January 5, 2009


Well, except, the news reports indicate that prior to the shooting, the suspect was threatened with a taser, begged not to be tasered, and was placed against a wall by cops and possibly frisked.

Gotta be careful with assumptions here. The only report we have of him saying he didn't want to be tased comes from a girl filming it with her camera phone and making guesses as to what his gestures mean. You never hear exactly what he said and we've got no statements from those sitting next to him about what he was telling the cops as they tried to cuff him.

And the only wall he was placed up against, that we know of, was the one he sat against until the cops came over to cuff him.

And there's been absolutely no mention of him having been frisked.

Why the hell did he struggle when they made to cuff him? I'm certain if he just had let them cuff him he'd still be alive.
posted by ruthsarian at 12:13 PM on January 5, 2009


Well done to the TV channel.
posted by fire&wings at 12:13 PM on January 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


kittens for breakfast: "One source familiar with the investigation said BART is looking into a number of issues, including whether the officer had meant to fire his Taser stun gun rather than his gun.

Heh. That's some pretty weak sauce right there. They would have been better off to argue that the gun went off accidentally in his hand. This weighs seven ounces. An unloaded pistol probably weighs three times as much. Even in a tense situation, I have a hard time believing that someone trained to use these weapons would confuse them.
"

Unloaded Glocks in 9mm (a common police caliber) weigh 2-3 times as much as that TASER, loaded they will weigh even more.
posted by Science! at 12:14 PM on January 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm certain if he just had let them cuff him he'd still be alive.

I am not.
posted by small_ruminant at 12:14 PM on January 5, 2009 [20 favorites]


Sadly I am not terribly shocked at this, as I see police corruption and violence as endemic, systemic, and way out of control (hello Sean Bell, Ousmane Zongo, Amadou Diallo, et. al.).

I am surprised and disgusted at norabarnacl3's comment up there, though.
posted by orville sash at 12:14 PM on January 5, 2009


norabarnacl3 : Officers regularly draw their weapons like that while another handcuffs. Regarding safeties, afaik glocks don't have separate safety releases.

Yep. Glocks have internal safeties to prevent them from discharging when dropped and there is an integrated trigger safety which requires that it is drawn completely back to release the striker and fire the weapon, but there aren't any other kinds of active systems, like a bar or lock that keeps the trigger from being pulled or anything like that.

mr_roboto : The "accident" theory is that the officer thought he was using a taser when he fired. It's happened before.

I can't watch the video right now, but if this is the case then incompetence is just as damning as maliciousness. If the person is indeed face down on the ground, there would be no reason to fire a tazer into their back either. Additionally, the mere suggestion that it might be possible for an officer to mistake the less-than-lethal tazer from the very lethal sidearm indicates that said officer should have access to neither.

If I'm understanding this right, and an officer shot (anything) into a person's back who was laying face down on the ground, then that officer should be brought up on charges. There is simply no reason for this.
posted by quin at 12:15 PM on January 5, 2009 [11 favorites]


But I still can't see that happening. A taser must feel completely different in your hand than a gun. And it must certainly look different. Not to mention standard practice puts the taser in the holster opposite the gun. The cop would have to be seriously confused to make so many mistakes. Maybe someone without any training might do something like that? But a cop with training and two years under his belt? It's really stretching to explain it away as he went for the wrong weapon.
Remember Amadou Diallo? He was shot 41 times by four NY police officers as he reached for identification. One detail that isn't commonly known is that 32 of the shots came from one officer, who emptied the magazine in his pistol, reloaded, and emptied it again. I remember reading an article about this aspect of it, that some police officers involved in shootings will go on trained autopilot. Afterwards, they'll report that they weren't even conscious of what they were doing until they stopped shooting. It's something that can't be detected in training, but is widely acknowledged among police as something that happens to a non-trivial percentage of them. When they're actually involved in a shooting is when they find out whether they actually keep their wits about them.

So, it's plausible to me that this is an accident, for a particular meaning of the term "accident". Even after watching the video, it's not plausible to me that the officer who shot him decided "I'm going to kill this unarmed man" and then did so. It'll all be deliberate actions that killed Grant, and the officer is surely responsible for his death in a way that justifies prison time. But in the sense of "how did this happen?", it won't surprise me to find out that the officer was operating on trained autopilot that went horribly awry.

A comparable case happened in Montreal while I lived there. Police pulled over a car that contained someone suspected of theft (shoplifting, in this case). They had the suspect out of the car, handcuffed and face down on the sidewalk, with an officer kneeling on his back with his pistol to the suspect's head, and the gun went off. The inquiry ruled it an accident, blaming poor training and the double-action revolvers the police use (which have a hair trigger), but in the end it was a cop doing cop things badly and wrongly, and someone got killed.
posted by fatbird at 12:17 PM on January 5, 2009 [14 favorites]


Why the hell did he struggle when they made to cuff him? I'm certain if he just had let them cuff him he'd still be alive.

Certainty is a funny thing. Until today I was certain that most people don't expect to be murdered for struggling a bit while being cuffed by a cop. We all certainly know better now. Is it going to reach the point where anytime you see a cop the only safe thing to do is lie down on the ground, play dead, and hope they don't see you?
posted by Solon and Thanks at 12:18 PM on January 5, 2009 [22 favorites]


I thought "Don't murder me bro" was funny.
As for the video, even if the shooting cop thought the guy was reaching for a gun, there's still no excuse for firing his weapon. I don't see any way you can excuse this.
Also, I agree, it looks like after firing and putting the gun back in the holster, the cop raises both hands to his face, as if to say, "whoopsie!"

For once, the cops might actually be held accountable.

Finally, mullingitover, I don't see how a union will have any power to effect the outcome of a legal case against the cop. But perhaps I don't understand S.F. politics.
posted by Outlawyr at 12:19 PM on January 5, 2009


The cop would have to be seriously confused to make so many mistakes. Maybe someone without any training might do something like that? But a cop with training and two years under his belt? It's really stretching to explain it away as he went for the wrong weapon.

If you add up the total number of cops doing arrests in the country, and how often they use a taser on the suspect, the total number of chances for a mistake like to happen grows very high. Even a one in a million screw up is likely to happen given a million tries. A lot of big disasters are caused by people who should know better making a really terrible and unlikely mistakes. I'm not saying it was definitely an accident, but it's within the realm of possibility.
posted by burnmp3s at 12:19 PM on January 5, 2009


Regardless of whether the officer mistakenly thought that he was using a taser instead of his sidearm, there was absolutely no reason to tase the victim in this case. They had him prone on the ground and overpowered by two police officers and they still wanted to tase him? Bloody hell.
posted by ooga_booga at 12:21 PM on January 5, 2009 [4 favorites]


"Don't murder me bro". Really?

Mods, can you change the disrespectful headline of this post? Because it's soooo awesome to make street-slang jokes when a black guy gets murdered. I see that the OP apologized for his funny joke after being called on it, but it still sucks.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 12:22 PM on January 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Assuming that one buys the whole "taser instead of sidearm" argument, of course. This is incredibly shameful and should never have happened in the first place.
posted by ooga_booga at 12:22 PM on January 5, 2009


I remember reading an article about this aspect of it, that some police officers involved in shootings will go on trained autopilot. Afterwards, they'll report that they weren't even conscious of what they were doing until they stopped shooting...So, it's plausible to me that this is an accident, for a particular meaning of the term "accident".

It is implausible to me to think that this is a defense for manslaughter. From Wikipedia:

Voluntary manslaughter describes cases where the defendant may have an intent to cause death or serious injury, but the potential liability for the person is mitigated by the circumstances and/or state of mind. The most common example is the so-called passion, or heat of the moment killing, such as where the defendant is provoked into a loss of control, by, for instance, unexpectedly finding his or her spouse in the arms of another lover, or witnessing an attack against his or her child.
posted by nosila at 12:23 PM on January 5, 2009


After the shooting the cop appears to bring his hands to his head in a sort of "what have I done" expression, which would lend some support to the accidentally on purpose/thought it was a Taser excuse. Not that I'm fully on board with that, but the cop's reaction does allow for some interpretation of his motives.
posted by schoolgirl report at 12:24 PM on January 5, 2009


I think ooga_booga nailed the point here with his comment: There is no reason for the cop to have reached for any weapon, including the taser. However, the taser has become the de facto lazy cop's way of ensuring submission and control without having to think about it.
posted by Hal Mumkin at 12:25 PM on January 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


That's a murder rap if I've ever seen one...and I haven't. I've seen people go to jail for less egregious crimes, though.

Odds are, white cop + black kid = acquittal. If I know Oakland, that's not going to go over well...
posted by Chuffy at 12:25 PM on January 5, 2009


Officers are trained and instructed. When they pull their gun it is to shoot to kill. Guns are not pulled to intimidate. Shots are not fired to disable or injure. Officers pull guns for one reason: to kill. It is possible the officer saw a gun on the guy and saw him reach for it and he was resisting so he may have felt his own life was in danger.
posted by stbalbach at 12:25 PM on January 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


We likely would never have heard about this story if the kid had a gun. Anything is in the realm of possibility, of course, but there's usually no to-do whatsoever when an officer shoots and kills someone who's pulling a gun.
posted by nosila at 12:27 PM on January 5, 2009


Correction: In my previous post I mentioned that in the Amadou Diallo shooting, one officer fired 32 shots, reloading in between. It was the Sean Bell shooting that occurred more recently in which one officer did that. In Diallo's case, two officers fired 16 shots, emptying their firearms.
posted by fatbird at 12:27 PM on January 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Is it going to reach the point where anytime you see a cop the only safe thing to do is lie down on the ground, play dead, and hope they don't see you?

Even as a middle-class white guy who has never been arrested, I assume that offering anything but immediate, total, and silent obedience to a cop's orders is a form of Russian Roulette.
posted by Joe Beese at 12:28 PM on January 5, 2009 [10 favorites]


I keep this seeing this everywhere (and suspect it's how the union will officially counter the story):
"the officer thought he was using a taser when he fired"

As a 12yr old perfecting my shooting skills, I had a choice of multiple firearms in our home. Two of these had incredibly similar stocks, operation, and even trigger/safety arrangements. One was an air rifle and the other was a .22. One of the things I had to learn was to differentiate between these two weapons in order to make the accurate choice for a given situation. By the time I was 13, I could tell the difference between the two in the dark, based on weight and slight differences in feel.

This is common marksman/hunt training.

Those who are saying this is a plausible accident...I not only disagree with you, I assert that any institution or individual responsible for training these officers (or any others) should be dissolved and all officers trained by said institutions/individuals should be re-trained immediately if this is in any sense taken seriously by the powers-that-be.

It's a lame cop-out, it's avoiding responsibility, it's laughing in the face of the professionalism required to be a peace officer in any society, and it shows how little we are cared about by those providing our police forces if this can even for a moment be taken as a serious rebuttal to such an obviously egregious, heinous misapplication of force.

If my half-assed gun training can teach me to differentiate between two nearly identical rifles I didn't have to wear on my person 8-16hrs per day, these professional peacekeepers should be held to an even more stringent and capable standard.

I agree with those that this should spark change. Will it? We'll see. I'm willing to join in on any effort to make sure justice is served and this kind of overreaction (or accident) never happens again.
posted by batmonkey at 12:28 PM on January 5, 2009 [43 favorites]


Looking at the video, the guy had two officers on him, and several more in the immediate area, so it's not as if he was going anywhere. I doubt pretty seriously that the firing officer mistook his pistol for a taser, since he reached for it at least twice before he finally drew it and stood up. When he did, there was a full 4 seconds between the time his hand was on the pistol until he pulled the trigger.

2 possibilities: 1)He killed the kid in cold blood, or 2)He's an absolute moron. Either way, he needs to lose his badge permanently and do some time.
posted by spirit72 at 12:29 PM on January 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


The video really provides way too little information to make a judgment. Other than I hope the economy doesn't collapse lol.

Nora, usually when you barge into a thread to bray some uninformed, pointless noise for the sake of getting a rise out of people you at least have the sense to appear merely ignorant and not as a flat-out troll. In this case, though, I have absolutely no idea what the point of this little tidbit from you was, nor the remark about the lawyer's hoodie. Remarks like that serve absolutely no purpose in a discussion of what the video showed. I hope you never have to witness a family member shot in the back by a cop while he's lying on his stomach, and I certainly hope that if it does happen, you don't have to read any callous, dismissive, and frankly offensive comments on the matter later on.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:30 PM on January 5, 2009 [20 favorites]


"because there is no reason he would just shoot the guy like that"

Well with that kind of iron-clad logic I guess we can all just go home. Case closed.
posted by 2sheets at 12:31 PM on January 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


Why the hell did he struggle when they made to cuff him? I'm certain if he just had let them cuff him he'd still be alive.

This is actually one of my favorite excuses used by police apologists. Have you ever been slammed to the ground with both arms pinned behind your back? It's really uncomfortable. Besides having your arms put in a position they aren't designed to be held in, you are being forced to the ground with no way to break the fall. The human body being what it is, tends to have all sorts of reactions that aren't quite voluntary in such situations.

Beyond that, at what point does a person that is being restrained by three officers need one of the officers to get up and draw his weapon? There are numerous things that can go wrong in a such a situation. The cop could have shot another officer, he could have shot a bystander, or he could, and did, shoot the person being restrained.

This is bad police work and criminally negligent. That officer should have never drawn his weapon. The police chose to escalate the situation to deadly force. Police should be trained to defuse situations, not increase the potential for conflict.

On preview - if any of the people being arrested had a gun you can be sure that would be plastered all over the news reports as justification.
posted by ryoshu at 12:32 PM on January 5, 2009 [34 favorites]


"Don't murder me bro". Really?

Mods, can you change the disrespectful headline of this post? Because it's soooo awesome to make street-slang jokes when a black guy gets murdered. I see that the OP apologized for his funny joke after being called on it, but it still sucks.
posted by pseudostrabismus


It's not a street-slang joke. It is a reference to the "Don't tase me bro" incident at the John Kerry campaign speech where an unarmed student was tased after being restrained by officers...similar circumstances, different result.

Get a grip.
posted by Chuffy at 12:32 PM on January 5, 2009 [17 favorites]


The Diallo case I almost understand. Cop training basically tells you that you only fire your weapon to kill. And if that's the case, you don't pull off one or two shots, you empty your magazine to make damn sure your target is dead. Reports where cops fire off dozens of rounds at a suspect are played up in the media as signs of over-aggressive actions on the part of the police, but in reality that's what you do if you're trying to take a suspect down.

The fact that this guy only fired off one round and then stopped might persuade me that it was an accident rather than intentional. Either the gun discharged by accident (and by accident I mean he screwed up, held it the wrong way, or too tightly, or was so out of the moment he just gripped the trigger without thinking), or he really did think he had a taser in his hands.

It's real simple. If you're dealing with a cop, no matter how wrong the cop is, you do what you're told and you work it out in court later. Cops aren't mind readers. They don't know if you're going for your ID or a gun and they're trained to assume it's a gun. There are numerous videos (replayed all the time at cop training) that show officers who assumed a person was going for ID only to pull out a gun and shoot the cop. Everyone's a threat. You might think it's an insane lesson to teach cops, others (cops) will call it a key survival lesson.

There's no happy medium.
posted by ruthsarian at 12:33 PM on January 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Even if this was a mistake on the part of the cop, I'm reminded of a line from House: "Mistakes are as serious as the results they cause."

I only hope that there are serious consequences meted out.
posted by theroadahead at 12:33 PM on January 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Why the hell did he struggle when they made to cuff him?
It may have been struggling, or it may have been Grant simply moving and being moved as three officers pulled and directed him in various directions while controlling him.

I watched a video two years ago in which a highway patrolman has a guy on the ground against his car, with his weapon out and pointed at him. The patrolman is yelling "get up! get up!" while simultaneously pushing him down with his feet. The guy is saying "what do you want me to do? What do you want me to do?"

Then the patrolman shoots him several times. The victim? An Iraq war veteran and a marine. Not someone who'd have trouble following instructions, I'd think.

It's a mistake to believe that several police subduing someone are doing so in a co-ordinated manner. Hell, the officer who shot Grant may have seen movements caused by (or in response to) other officer's actions and thought they were threatening, when Grant was only trying to comply.
posted by fatbird at 12:33 PM on January 5, 2009 [18 favorites]


Why the hell did he struggle when they made to cuff him? I'm certain if he just had let them cuff him he'd still be alive.

Ever been cuffed by the police? Ever had two large, heavy, aggressive, loud, screaming, armed men put you face-first onto the ground and wrench your arms back into a very painful position with all their weight upon you? You telling me your automatic reflex wouldn't be to resist in some way, if just to alleviate the sudden pain, no matter how much of a compliant drone you might think you are? Really?

Police excel at creating loud, highly-confusing, threatening situations. It almost seems designed to give them an excuse to use whatever force they want. Remember...anything other than immediate, limp-noodle compliance is "resisting arrest". *BANG!*
posted by Thorzdad at 12:33 PM on January 5, 2009 [19 favorites]


Perhaps what occurred was something like this, only with a fatal result.
posted by Tube at 12:35 PM on January 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


A little more of the quotes of a witness/relative, and less paraphrasing:

Mario Pangelina Jr., whose sister had a 4-year-old daughter with Grant, said he was on the same train as Grant that night, but on a different car. He said he saw Grant's interactions with police immediately before the shooting.

"First, an officer grabbed Oscar by the neck and pushed him against the wall," Pangelina said. "Oscar didn't fight him, but he didn't go down either. He was like, 'What did I do?' Then another officer came up with his Taser and held it right in his face. Oscar said, 'Please don't shoot me, please don't Taser me, I have a daughter,' over and over again, real fast, and he sat down."
posted by cashman at 12:36 PM on January 5, 2009


Mods, can you change the disrespectful headline of this post? Because it's soooo awesome to make street-slang jokes when a black guy gets murdered. I see that the OP apologized for his funny joke after being called on it, but it still sucks.

Yeah, because paraphrasing a white guy getting abused by cops is SO inappropriate when a black guy gets murdered by cops. I share your outrage. Keep fighting the good fight.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:37 PM on January 5, 2009 [6 favorites]


I say this almost every thread about tasers, but taser shootings should be handled as any other usage of lethal force to prevent exactly these kinds of incidents. If you aren't willing to shoot someone with a gun in a given situation, then you shouldn't use a taser either.
posted by empath at 12:38 PM on January 5, 2009 [14 favorites]


This is actually one of my favorite excuses used by police apologists.

This is one of my favorite way for someone to start a post.
posted by smackfu at 12:39 PM on January 5, 2009


If someone was yelling "gun", or for whatever reason the officers thought the kid had a gun, and they were unable to restrain him, than the killing makes sense. It was not "cold blooded", as I said earlier, cops are trained to shot to kill, and to fire when the gun is drawn. It's not like the movies where they hold a gun in their face daring them to move. Things move quick and whoever moves quickest lives. It may be as another poster above pointed out, the cops training went into auto-pilot as soon as he thought the kid had a gun.

It's a real possibility. The cop was reaching back for his handcuffs, another kid laying nearby thought he was reaching for his gun and yelled a warning to his friend "gun!" and the cops heard that and thought the kid on the ground had a gun, and/or had some other visual or audio cues to suggest the kid had a gun (like reaching in his pocket) and so, unable to restrain him or unable to keep his hands free and clear they jump back and fire, as trained.
posted by stbalbach at 12:39 PM on January 5, 2009


Until today I was certain that most people don't expect to be murdered for struggling a bit while being cuffed by a cop. We all certainly know better now.

People don´t know how to get arrested. Period. I´ve edited hundreds of hours of "A night on Patrol with the Cops"-video, and is the same thing:

Most people (and esp. drunk people) reacts poorly when a cop wants to give them a ticket. One minute you are arguing with the doorman, about who threw that drink on that stupid chick. Next minute a cop wants to know your name and number.

The guy, that still wants to argue and not tell his name, gets cuffed. The guy, who don´t want to get cuffed and waves his arms around, gets wrestled to the ground. The guy who still dont want to lie still, gets a knee ind the back and three cops on top. Once in a while people die from this treatment, as a young guy did a few years back in my city. Most of the time people just gets a punch in the stomach or 'accidently' slam their head when getting into the police car. (I have seen all of this).

Sometimes the guns come out, and then anything can happen.

Non-cops should learn how to deal with the police, before getting drunk.
posted by up!Rock at 12:39 PM on January 5, 2009


stbalbach, that's a hell of a reach.
posted by small_ruminant at 12:41 PM on January 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


Non-cops should learn how to deal with the police, before getting drunk.

And the wtf-ing continues....
posted by Big_B at 12:41 PM on January 5, 2009 [25 favorites]


Sometimes when you really can't do much about a situation other than rage on a forum, pop culture helps .
posted by dawson at 12:43 PM on January 5, 2009


There is no reason for the cop to have reached for any weapon, including the taser.

They hadn't subdued the kid. He was struggling; resisting attempts to handcuff him. That's all it takes for a cop to have a reason to pull out and shoot you with his taser (or hit you with his baton or any other non-deadly use of force at their disposal). I think the official line is something like "when an individual presents a danger to himself or the officer" use of (non-deadly) force is allowed. Each police department has its own set of conditions that must be met before various levels of force may be used and they're typically very broad terms.

If my half-assed gun training can teach me to differentiate between two nearly identical rifles I didn't have to wear on my person 8-16hrs per day, these professional peacekeepers should be held to an even more stringent and capable standard.

Your training, did it include high-emotion/tense situations? Where the adrenaline is running very high and basic reasoning skills are hampered? It is a very different situation than one in which you're in a calm, safe environment.
posted by ruthsarian at 12:43 PM on January 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


.
posted by lunit at 12:44 PM on January 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


If my half-assed gun training can teach me to differentiate between two nearly identical rifles I didn't have to wear on my person 8-16hrs per day, these professional peacekeepers should be held to an even more stringent and capable standard.

I agree that poor training could be a major factor in causing an accident, but training is never foolproof. For example, pilots are very highly trained, and yet gross pilot error is a routine cause of accidents. Training is an important part, but if people really are dying because cops are mistaking tasers for guns, it may make sense to put more physical and procedural safeguards in place to prevent those kinds of mistakes from happening.

I also agree with the various people who have said that this never should have been allowed to happen, accident or not.
posted by burnmp3s at 12:44 PM on January 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


If someone was yelling "gun", or for whatever reason the officers thought the kid had a gun, and they were unable to restrain him, than the killing makes sense.

So, yelling "gun" is an easy way to make an arrest you're witnessing more interesting? Awesome! Cop training FTW!

The guy, that still wants to argue and not tell his name, gets cuffed. The guy, who don´t want to get cuffed and waves his arms around, gets wrestled to the ground. The guy who still dont want to lie still, gets a knee ind the back and three cops on top. Once in a while people die from this treatment...

Swell. Then we should have "how to be arrested, because cop training doesn't account for your natural reaction" classes in our schools. That would certainly be a help for our citizens. They might even bring back civics classes for that.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:45 PM on January 5, 2009 [8 favorites]



I say this almost every thread about tasers, but taser shootings should be handled as any other usage of lethal force to prevent exactly these kinds of incidents. If you aren't willing to shoot someone with a gun in a given situation, then you shouldn't use a taser either.


Um, what? It's degrees of force. There are plenty of situations where incapacitating someone is much preferable to shooting them (fatally or otherwise).
posted by yellowbinder at 12:45 PM on January 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


Pangelina quoted Grant as saying, "Please don't tase me, please don't shoot me, I have a daughter."

My God. I look a little bit like Grant. I have a daughter. I've often imagined that at some point I'll find myself having to say the exact same thing to police officers, even though I'm a pretty law-abiding person.

I also have a chronically-injured right shoulder that screams bloody hell when I have to put my arm behind my back for any reason. I would definitely make some involuntary movements that might look a lot like resistance if the cops were to put me in the position they had Grant in before the shooting.

I'm very frightened and sad now.
posted by lord_wolf at 12:46 PM on January 5, 2009 [21 favorites]


In 5-10 years time, maybe we'll see the Recording Device Registration Act, or something very much like it, so that it is easier to control the reproduction and distribution of recordings of crimes by public officials.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:03 PM on January 5


Here's what we need: over the shoulder or eyeglass mounted cameras that are constantly recording, like Tivo. They basically buffer the last two minutes of everything you see. When shit goes down, you hit a button on your belt or the side of the glasses, and it simply stops overwriting the last two minutes, and instead starts a separate recording to a file. And by "file" I mean it gets uploaded to youtube or a special site called MomentsAgo.com. Assuming everyone hits the network through their cellphones, all recordings would be timecoded based on the cell networks' clocks, all of which are synchronized (I think). The timecodes are recorded along with the video in a plain format and an encrypted format.

This way, you potentially have several recordings of exactly the same event from different angles, with proper timecodes. Now all that video can be easily and immediately edited together. And there's no argument about video photoshopping or funny business because the timecodes and other metadata are in the encrypted track along with the video.

Put the camera on one side of the face of the glasses, and maybe put an IR lamp on the other, to enhance recording in dim lighting.
posted by Pastabagel at 12:46 PM on January 5, 2009 [14 favorites]


Is it bad when I look at this video all I see is American cities with 20%+ unemployment?

The more you know: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the SF/Oakland metropolitan area had an unemployment rate of 6.1% in September, the most recent month for which full data is available. Fruitvale, the station where Grant was shot, is in the city of Oakland, which had an unemployment rate of 10.4%. But Grant lived in Hayward, where the rate was 7.5%.

The incident didn't involve a mythical urban terror metropolis with 20%+ unemployment. But, hey, that's not what you meant anyway.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 12:46 PM on January 5, 2009 [29 favorites]


They hadn't subdued the kid. He was struggling; resisting attempts to handcuff him. That's all it takes for a cop to have a reason to pull out and shoot you with his taser (or hit you with his baton or any other non-deadly use of force at their disposal). I think the official line is something like "when an individual presents a danger to himself or the officer" use of (non-deadly) force is allowed.

If he resists cuffing, it doesn't make him a danger. And there are six cops standing around. Can't 4 of them just grab his arm and move it? And there's always the tried and true tactic of stepping on the perp's neck to get him to comply.
posted by Pastabagel at 12:49 PM on January 5, 2009


All this "what could he/someone/ I do NOT to get shot?" questioning is starting to sound just like "what should women do to NOT get raped?" As in, it's the wrong question to ask.

I just don't buy that cops must be so hair-trigger that they have to routinely kill and injure law-abiding citizens or nonviolent offenders or suspects in order to protect themselves from the violent ones. I mean, in that case, are we any better off than we would be without them? My son has a minor muscular disability that makes him slow to respond to directions--he simply isn't capable of hustling at a moment's notice. If I live in a society where I have to worry that he might get shot because he moved too slowly for the liking of some cop...well, hell. Guess we should all stay home in our gated compounds so we don't rile up the pistol-packing guardians of our freedom.
posted by emjaybee at 12:50 PM on January 5, 2009 [43 favorites]


Five days into the New Year and I am already outraged. Sigh.
posted by cazoo at 12:52 PM on January 5, 2009


He was struggling; resisting attempts to handcuff him.
Interesting. You're sure he's struggling, and not simply being pushed and pulled in various directions by three cops trying to get him down and cuffed. I don't know about you, I can easily imagine that my body's attempts to deal with what's going on, combined with my head's attempts to move my body in a compliant way, could look like I'd whipped out a hot piece and needed some lead-induced calm.
posted by fatbird at 12:54 PM on January 5, 2009


It's amazing how easy it is for people to troll police threads. Just post "to be honest it seems accidental" and you'll make a dozen people go apoplectic.
posted by smackfu at 12:54 PM on January 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


If he resists cuffing, it doesn't make him a danger. And there are six cops standing around. Can't 4 of them just grab his arm and move it? And there's always the tried and true tactic of stepping on the perp's neck to get him to comply.

It does make him a danger because if he's resisting then he could be going for a weapon.

Notice there were dozens of people in that station? And there were like 6 cops there? Those other cops are either busy with cuffing other people or watching the crowd to make sure it doesn't get worse than it already is.

I also have a chronically-injured right shoulder that screams bloody hell when I have to put my arm behind my back for any reason. I would definitely make some involuntary movements that might look a lot like resistance if the cops were to put me in the position they had Grant in before the shooting.

And that's a very large problem with current police training. They're not going to ask for a medical history before they drag you to the ground. And if you start struggling are they suppose to assume it's because you're uncomfortable (they already know you are, it's not a natural position for the body) or because you're going for a weapon?

It's fucked up. And there's no simple solution.
posted by ruthsarian at 12:56 PM on January 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


small_ruminant: "stbalbach, that's a hell of a reach."

Not at all. Back in the 80s I was mugged walking out of a 7-11 by a group of about 12 young black kids in SE D.C. They wanted my 6-pack of Coors! I was too stupid to give it to them and did some fast talking, some BS story about it being for my sister. They didn't buy it, and grabed it from me. I kept talking saying give me 3 back etc.. then some kid in the group yelled "Gun!" and people scattered like hell. I got my 3 beers and my life. On the street in a scene like that guns come out real quick and people flip out. "Gun" is the watchword, hardly a stretch, happens all the time.
posted by stbalbach at 12:57 PM on January 5, 2009



We likely would never have heard about this story if the kid had a gun. Anything is in the realm of possibility, of course, but there's usually no to-do whatsoever when an officer shoots and kills someone who's pulling a gun.

I see this as just another way of supporting that it's a good thing that cops get recorded more and more often--and probably should be always. Because if this incident hadn't been caught on film, and had only had the confused impressions of unreliable eyewitnesses present, I think the odds of the kid having had a gun would have jumped upwards dramatically--as far as any official record of the event went.
posted by Drastic at 12:57 PM on January 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


smackfu: I'm not saying it's not an accident of some sort, but I think that tasers are overused, and their overuse leads to the possibility of things like this.
posted by Hal Mumkin at 12:57 PM on January 5, 2009


This reminds me of an incident a few months ago where a suspected cop-killer ended up dead in his prison cell under very suspicious circumstances. It was soon classified as a homicide. The law enforcement union instantly closed ranks around the guards, and I haven't heard a word about the case in a long time. I think they were investigating two guards but I can't find anything recent about any indictments or charges.

Last month, a kid in Greece was shot point blank by cops, and the whole country has lost its collective shit. I don't think we need that kind of response, but it's sad how much we come to expect and accept this behavior from our law enforcement.
<>
posted by wowbobwow at 12:57 PM on January 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


fatbird's discussion of the police going on autopilot when using firearms ought begin a serious conversation about the extent to which police forces should rely on them. Transit police don't pull people over. They don't enter domestic disturbances. They don't (or shouldn't have to) deal with drug trafficking. Do BART officers (and seemingly woefully undertrained ones), really need to carry handguns?

.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 12:57 PM on January 5, 2009


Why the hell did he struggle when they made to cuff him?

First of all, fuck you, because somewhere deep down you know that's completely bloody irrelevant.

But then, you might want to ask yourself what you would do if you were, without warning or provocation, thrown to the ground and restrained (likely through pain complaince techniques), in the middle of a rapidly escalating tense situation in a crowd of shouting people, including some seriously keyed up guys with guns who may or may not have beef with you or one of your friends. Are you certain, o Tai Chi master of mindfulness, that you'd be able to calmblueocean yourself out of a few panicky spasms, at least at first? Pretend that none of the people in this situation are police officers, if it helps.

The idea that he was going for a gun seems ridiculous on its face. He was on his back, with his hands behind him, with a cop on his back and one at his head. Is the defense going to submit that the victim was, in fact, The One?

I'm not convinced this wasn't simple incompetence - I've met my share of stupid cops. But even if he did think he was drawing a taser, he should still be fired, and brought up on charges of criminal negligence and aggravated assault, at the absolute least.
posted by regicide is good for you at 12:58 PM on January 5, 2009 [4 favorites]


Those who are saying this is a plausible accident...I not only disagree with you, I assert that any institution or individual responsible for training these officers (or any others) should be dissolved and all officers trained by said institutions/individuals should be re-trained immediately if this is in any sense taken seriously by the powers-that-be.

this is important. in my mind's eye, where I see everything police-related through the cameras of The Wire, I see a conversation between the head of the police union and some higher up in the city administration, and they're all sitting around talking civilly but making very serious threats to each other in order to make it clear that they're not taking the fall for this shit. on top of that, the union head keeps trying to insist that he's not going to let this cop take the fall "just for doing his job." the whole "thin blue line" thing. I'd like to think that this isn't going to be the case, that civil servants will sit down and have a serious conversation about their duty to the public and how best to mete out justice without making unduly dramatic or self-serving gestures. but all of the journalism i've read about police conduct behind the scenes (admittedly not much, and mostly David Simon) leads me to believe that it's all politics and corruption.

That being the case, I sincerely hope that at some point the representative for the police is sat down and has it explained to him that he gets two choices here: either this cop committed a crime, or the entire police force is guilty of being criminally incompetent and will have to be restructured, re-trained, re-armed (less lethally and without the taser crutch they've been leaning so heavily on) and a great deal of chaff will have to be cut from the wheat.

there is no happy cop road, here. there is no point where this was an unavoidable situation and nothing could be done. either the officer committed a crime and goes to jail, or cops shouldn't be carrying something non-lethal that they can feasibly mistake their gun for in the heat of the moment, or they should be trained not to so readily reach for their weapon, or (in all likelihood) all three. Most importantly, that god damned sense of invincibility that cops walk around with (not just invincible from harm, but from oversight and consequence) needs to be fucking eliminated. All of it fosters situations where things like this happen. Cops should be terrified of firing their weapons, and they're not. They should be terrified of tasering someone needlessly, and they're not. They should be terrified of the consequences of every one of their actions, and they never are.
posted by shmegegge at 12:58 PM on January 5, 2009 [15 favorites]


Non-cops should learn how to deal with the police, before getting drunk.

...

How about police officers learn how to use appropriate force and how to defuse situations instead of escalating them? There are plenty of officers that are very good at this and do it every single day. Those are the cases we never hear about because the police are doing their jobs.

It's situations like this where an officer escalates a situation and ends up killing someone that makes the police in general look bad. There will be hemming and hawing, some apologists saying "you weren't there man," and a bit of administrative leave before the entire thing gets swept under the rug. Maybe a nice juicy settlement, but as in the case above with the officer that shot the airman, there will be no justice.
posted by ryoshu at 12:59 PM on January 5, 2009 [7 favorites]


This almost makes me as mad as Where the Hell is Matt. No wait, it's worse. I was once arrested by the police, dragged down a flight of stairs and then handcuffed, only to have the cops begin to beat the hell out of (handcuffed) me while yelling "stop resisting arrest." That's cop-speak for "we're going to fuck you up now." I'd strongly urge anyone from believing this guy was resisting as well. If the cops have to yell loudly "he's resisting arrest," especially after they shoot you, the odds are they are lying.
posted by allen.spaulding at 1:00 PM on January 5, 2009 [18 favorites]


The "accident" theory is that the officer thought he was using a taser when he fired. It's happened before.

Because somebody so stupid as to confuse two different weapons on his belt should be allowed to carry two weapons on his belt. Such mistakes must not happen. If they do, this is proof that shit isn't working.

And people wonder why I hate cops? How the fuck am I supposed to tell that the cop stopping me for skating on the sidewalk is "one of the good ones doing his job" and not one of the psychotic, stupid, or fascist ones?

FUCK!
posted by Netzapper at 1:01 PM on January 5, 2009


One of the women who caught it on video says an officer tried to confiscate the camera she used. Which is almost more disturbing than the shooting itself.
posted by needs more cowbell at 1:01 PM on January 5, 2009 [18 favorites]


If someone was yelling "gun"

I don't share your conclusion that the killing would then "make sense", but this is an interesting, and troubling, observation, because it implies a potentially lethal non-physical lack of coordination between officers in just the way that fatbird describes potentially lethal physical lack of coordination. If officers are trained to verbally warn others of weapons, and officers are also trained to respond with lethal force when so warned, what happens when one officer sees an implied threat (arm waved; reach for pocket) and another interprets that warning as an explicit threat (gun drawn)?

If so, that's a major fucking weakness in police procedure.

Frankly, though, a trained officer shouldn't be too worried when on top of a face-down suspect with other cops at the ready. What is it with overarmed cops these days that they absolutely can't be bothered to use any of that training to actually subdue somebody? The man is face down on the ground. My little nephew could carry out a search in safety from that point on.

on preview: attempted confiscation of recording devices should be taken as a strong indication of acknowledged guilt of wrongdoing.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 1:04 PM on January 5, 2009


Pastabagel, I read a novel with that very premise. Sounds cool, but could make it very hard to have a decent conversation with anyone without worrying you're being recorded. Or just spied on.

/off topic
posted by emjaybee at 1:04 PM on January 5, 2009


Your training, did it include high-emotion/tense situations? Where the adrenaline is running very high and basic reasoning skills are hampered? It is a very different situation than one in which you're in a calm, safe environment.

You mean situations which the police themselves create? I'm pretty sure the guys with the badges and guns are FUCKING TRAINED TO HANDLE EXACTLY THOSE SITUATIONS!
posted by Thorzdad at 1:04 PM on January 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


How the fuck am I supposed to tell that the cop stopping me for skating on the sidewalk is "one of the good ones doing his job" and not one of the psychotic, stupid, or fascist ones?

The psychotic ones sometimes have neo-nazi tattoos above the sleeve line (true story, Long Beach PD).
posted by ryoshu at 1:05 PM on January 5, 2009


And people wonder why I hate cops? How the fuck am I supposed to tell that the cop stopping me for skating on the sidewalk is "one of the good ones doing his job" and not one of the psychotic, stupid, or fascist ones?

Or teachers. Can't tell which are good and which are bad. And you don't get a choice.

Life's a lottery. Good luck.
posted by ruthsarian at 1:05 PM on January 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


[...] Non-cops should learn how to deal with the police, before getting drunk.
posted by up!Rock at 11:39 AM on January 5


See, it sounds like you're excusing the cop for killing this man, or are suggesting this is an acceptable outcome in some way, and I have a hard time believing that's what you're doing.
posted by boo_radley at 1:06 PM on January 5, 2009


stbalbach, it's a reach because there's no evidence that happened in this case. You are fabricating something out of whole cloth.
posted by small_ruminant at 1:06 PM on January 5, 2009


See, if they'd only hounded him to suicide it would have been good investigative work.
posted by stet at 1:08 PM on January 5, 2009 [5 favorites]


From SF Chronicle:
BART officials declined to say whether the officer was carrying a Taser - a device that sends out two electrical probes and can incapacitate its target - when he shot Grant. The agency uses Tasers but does not have enough of the expensive devices to give one to every officer.
Shooting (fatally) first and asking questions later is just more cost effective.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 1:08 PM on January 5, 2009




Swell. Then we should have "how to be arrested, because cop training doesn't account for your natural reaction" classes in our schools. That would certainly be a help for our citizens. They might even bring back civics classes for that.

I did not mean it literately, when I said that people should learn how to be arrested before getting drunk.

But I call it like I se it. Police brutality (like the "minor" one I describe) happens all the time. But it is the cops jobs to use force and get hairy sitautions under control. Do you think, that cops make mistakes too? Do you thinks that cops despite their tranning are just a human (dumb, illtempered, bigoted) as everyone else? I do, and thats why I dont trust the police. Thats why i am scared of cops.

Thats why I just say, it's not the time to start arguing, when its 3 am, youre drunk and and the cops are trying to stop a riot and just looking for the first guy to pull from the angry crowd.
If it possible, walk away. If it possible, get arrested without struggle, and live to see the cops in court.

Regarding the Grant-case: It looks like the cop on purpose fired his weapon in the back of an unarmed man, who was trying to cooperate. I think the cop should lose his badge, and go to jail.
posted by up!Rock at 1:10 PM on January 5, 2009


Or teachers. Can't tell which are good and which are bad.

Yes, you can. Pretty quickly. And without exit wounds for your trouble.
posted by regicide is good for you at 1:10 PM on January 5, 2009 [4 favorites]


norabarnacl3 writes "To be honest it seems accidental. I like how the expert family lawyer in a sports hoodie analyzes the situation for us.

"Is it bad when I look at this video all I see is American cities with 20%+ unemployment? "



lord_wolf writes "My God. I look a little bit like Grant."

Do you look, ahem, "20%+ unemployed", or just "hoodied"? Because if you look "20%+ unemployed" (wink, wink), that's all some people will see. Well that, and your "natural athleticism" and propensity to be reaching for "a gun" and "shot while resisting".
posted by orthogonality at 1:11 PM on January 5, 2009 [8 favorites]


While I agree that cops these days are too quick to use excessive force, and would be happy to go off on a tangent about how all the new local police seem frightenly enamored of paramilitary gear and tactics, possibly having to do with the influence of all the returning vets in the force, BART is a sketchy beat and I don't have problems with BART cops being armed.
posted by small_ruminant at 1:11 PM on January 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Another point on the subject of accidental confusion of taser and handgun. Aren't Tasers like neon yellow or something? I thought they were. If they aren't they should be. Tasers and stun guns should be bright yellow or safety cone orange. With a red led on the side so that everyone's attention is drawn to the drawn taser. And they should have grips that feel uncomfortable and totally different from the grips of pistols.

Actually, come to think of it, Tasers should be pink. Bright pink. "Act Up" pink, if you will. Certain types of cops will never pull out a taser because of this.
posted by Pastabagel at 1:13 PM on January 5, 2009 [7 favorites]


I mean
"cops despite their training"... Tranning is something else...
posted by up!Rock at 1:13 PM on January 5, 2009


I can appreciate that sentiment, waraw. Cops do have a thankless job, and not one I'd be willing to take. Long hours, low pay, life-threatening danger and little gratitude. And it's precisely those cops who should be outraged with the behavior of hair-trigger hotheads like our officer here, instead of the usual wall of silence they throw up when cops beat, rape and kill. The system internally does not encourage bad cops to be singled out and kicked off the force or brought to justice. In fact, it encourages the exact opposite. Everyone knows this, especially people who "interact" with cops the most. It's little wonder there's a huge level of mistrust if not animosity towards an executive force that the public pays for but doesn't elect, and can do as it pleases with virtually zero accountability.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:15 PM on January 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Pastabagel- you can get them in pink and in leopard print, but they don't convey that tough-guy, paramilitary look.
posted by small_ruminant at 1:17 PM on January 5, 2009


I say this almost every thread about tasers, but taser shootings should be handled as any other usage of lethal force to prevent exactly these kinds of incidents. If you aren't willing to shoot someone with a gun in a given situation, then you shouldn't use a taser either.

yellowbinder: Um, what? It's degrees of force. There are plenty of situations where incapacitating someone is much preferable to shooting them (fatally or otherwise).

I certainly don't want to speak for empath here, but what I think he's trying to say is that if an officer uses a taser, it should be held up to the same kind of critical scrutiny as if he used his firearm. Departments have to fill out a lot of paperwork and officers typically have to undergo some form of counseling after a firearm discharge, I think it would be perfectly reasonable to expect a similar kind of investigation with a taser firing, to determine the appropriateness of its use.

At the very least, this kind of thing would significantly cut down on the unacceptable taser-for-basic-non-compliance that has become popular with law enforcement the last few years.
posted by quin at 1:18 PM on January 5, 2009 [4 favorites]


ruthsarian:
"Your training, did it include high-emotion/tense situations? Where the adrenaline is running very high and basic reasoning skills are hampered? It is a very different situation than one in which you're in a calm, safe environment."

Actually, it did. There were extenuating circumstances in my life and family that required me to be able to think calmly and clearly while using any weapon. Further, I've had to differentiate between situations where a firearm may be useful and where it would be overkill.

Although that's true, it's also irrelevant, because I'm not a cop and wasn't being trained to be one.

I wasn't trained by the best-of-the-best nor sorted by psychological testing, as our police candidates are supposed to be receiving. I wasn't trained day in and day out for months on how to respond calmly and steadily when chaos breaks out, as our police candidates are. I wasn't given frequent check-ins on my daily performance carrying a weapon, as our police candidates are. Nor was I going into this training knowing I'd soon be on the other side of a power differential wherein anyone I encountered could be someone I'd need to calm, restrain, or apprehend.

Our police officers are trained to expect stress and chaos, confusing situations, and randomly violent responses. This is their career, their calling, and their profession. They face a higher standard than we do, and it is appropriate.

Giving them excuses for not being what they should be is a refusal to hold them to the standard they are supposed to meet in order to hold the position in our society that they have chosen as a profession.
posted by batmonkey at 1:18 PM on January 5, 2009 [12 favorites]


At the very least, this kind of thing would significantly cut down on the unacceptable taser-for-basic-non-compliance that has become popular with law enforcement the last few years.

Though I like the idea (it'd be some kind of improvement, anyway) this vid would seem to disprove that notion.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 1:20 PM on January 5, 2009


VIDEO OF THE MURDER.

FUCK THE BART POLICE!
posted by mano at 1:21 PM on January 5, 2009


Also, on the "he thought it was a taser" argument is the question of weight. A taser weighs 7 oz. Glocks, even without the magazine, weight between 19 and 25 oz. I'd imagine that's a weight you could notice easily, even if the weapon being located in your gun holster wasn't a strong enough clue.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:24 PM on January 5, 2009 [1 favorite]



VIDEO OF THE MURDER.

FUCK THE BART POLICE!


why is that a tinyurl? is there something weird going on?
posted by shmegegge at 1:25 PM on January 5, 2009


BART officials declined to say whether the officer was carrying a Taser - a device that sends out two electrical probes and can incapacitate its target - when he shot Grant.

Because, clearly, the public has no grounds to want that information.
posted by Kwantsar at 1:26 PM on January 5, 2009 [6 favorites]


Disgusting.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 1:27 PM on January 5, 2009


Chief Gary Gee said he, too, had seen video images of the shooting of Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old supermarket worker from Hayward. But Gee said he found the footage to be inconclusive

What else does he need to do so he can come to some conclusion? Do some personal research by being restrained, prone, and shot in the back himself?

That officer, a two-year veteran, has not been publicly identified

He oughta be.

You want a little extra-legal justice, officer? You seemed okay with it in that clip, and if you're that free with restraint and due process, I'm sure you'll have no problem with the whole world knowing who you are and where you live.

. And it's precisely those cops who should be outraged with the behavior of hair-trigger hotheads like our officer here, instead of the usual wall of silence they throw up when cops beat, rape and kill.

Damn straight. The police image would be very different if they took great and public pains to demonstrate they're not exceptions to the rules or above the law.
posted by namespan at 1:27 PM on January 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


why is that a tinyurl? is there something weird going on?

No, it was probably a cut-and-paste. It's the precis version of the FPP clip.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 1:27 PM on January 5, 2009


Do BART cops keep their tasers in a right-side hip holster next to their service weapons? This would seem to me to be a poor place to keep it. If not, then I don't buy the taser excuse.

However, I do think the shooting is an accidental one, in the sense that the cop didn't mean to discharge his weapon. From the video, it looks to me like he pulls his weapon with his right hand, and is using his left hand to do something with it (perhaps work the slide?) when it goes off. His post-shooting behavior also points to this.

In either event, he killed the young man when he shouldn't have in what appears to be, at a minimum, a criminally negligent manner.
posted by moonbiter at 1:28 PM on January 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


According to the lawyer for the family,
"The officer leaned (in), was straddling over him and pointed his gun directly into the backside and shot (Grant)," said Burris, adding that Grant was handcuffed after he was shot[emphasis added]. "This was not a deadly force situation."
Is it normal police procedure to handcuff someone after you shoot him?
posted by RussHy at 1:29 PM on January 5, 2009


Okay, I'm back from browsing the Taser website. It has been fascinating to say the least.

First, my idea for a glasses mounted videocamera has been pre-empted by taser, which now sells something called TASER AXON, with pre-event recording (which I assume is tivo-like buffering). It even has the little event button switch to activate "evidentiary recording".

But the law enforcement tasers look unacceptably like ordinary guns. I notice that the Tasers in use in Europe are almost entirely yellow, whereas the ones here have only a bit of yellow around the middle.

Pastabagel- you can get them in pink and in leopard print, but they don't convey that tough-guy, paramilitary look.
posted by small_ruminant at 4:17 PM on January 5


As I discovered, this is actually true - you can get a leopard print or pink taser, if you are a consumer. The law enforcement grades only come in the one black glock-like model.

And I can't wait for this to get rolled out. Maybe when we get to that magical 20% unemployment number...
posted by Pastabagel at 1:29 PM on January 5, 2009


it was clearly the perps fault for provoking that poor gentle officer into murdering him in cold-blood

you damn lie-berals
posted by Damn That Television at 1:31 PM on January 5, 2009


I was having trouble with the embedded video so I found a longer version on YouTube.

It's basically the original raw footage of the original video as well as the raw footage the TV station shot of her watching and explaining the video. It's 10 minutes long.

About a minute after the shot she had the brains to step into the next train as it was leaving as there was a female cop who was walking up to her. After the doors closed the cop pounded on the window and told her to give up the cell phone.
posted by Bonzai at 1:31 PM on January 5, 2009 [15 favorites]


Oh, and let's not forget the XREP, which is a stun cartridge shell for ordinary 12-gauge shotguns that delivers the same stun effect as the TASER pistol.

You fire it from a regular shotgun. So that should keep the accidents to a minimum.

Someone needs to send TASER engineers to a usability seminar or two. Or twenty.
posted by Pastabagel at 1:32 PM on January 5, 2009 [5 favorites]


Not one comment here on the amount of money that this mans family is sueing for. 25 million? This guy gets murdered while acquiescing to the authority of the peace officer and they ask for 25 million dollars?

No way.

Go for enough to break the city, to shut down the BART, to make these pieces of shit squeal.

25 billion? I don't know. But 25 million is nothing against the murder of an innocent laying face-down.

Donate it -- I'm not saying out of greed, take your 25 million out if you want, whatever, give the rest to other families of US peace officers murderers, or make it available to pay for legal actions for past and/or future incidents.

Make these bastards hurt. Only then will other cities pay attention.

Put this murderer in prison for life, in general population, with all the other murderers. Only then will cops in the US pay attention.

Enough is enough.

This murdering by peace officers has to stop.
posted by dancestoblue at 1:34 PM on January 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


okay all snark aside this is probably the most disgusting thing I've seen in recent memory.
posted by Damn That Television at 1:36 PM on January 5, 2009


waraw writes "And yet we never seem to find a way to say, 'Thank you.'"

I know, and they do this all on a volunteer basis, totally working for free. Amazing that they aren't sainted for all their pro bono work.

Oh wait, that's right, we thank them by giving them a salary with our hard-earned tax dollars. I didn't realize we were also supposed to grovel. I personally don't complain about paying taxes, and I probably pay more in taxes than Warren Buffet.

Ironic that the biggest pro-police peeps often protest the loudest about paying taxes. Why can't they show some gratitude?
posted by mullingitover at 1:37 PM on January 5, 2009 [13 favorites]


Do you look, ahem, "20%+ unemployed", or just "hoodied"?

This actually one of the things about cops that drives me nuts.

Every single time I've been minding my own business and obeying the law only to be treated like a human-shaped piece of shit by police officers, I have in no way been dressed "street" or "hood" or like a gang-banger.

The one time cops should have had me dead to rights, I was dressed straight out of casting for "Young Black Male Criminal #1" and acting strangely. A friend was teaching me to drive a stick, and a cop pulled us over because they'd gotten a call about a suspicious vehicle driving slowly and stopping in a shopping center parking lot after hours. I had on a black wool watch cap pulled low over my head, dreds that looked more like cornrows at that point, wearing a black hoody, fingerless gloves etc. The cop didn't even ask for license and registration -- of which we had neither (long story) -- he just asked what we were doing. I told him the truth and he just laughed and left.

That's what's extremely dangerous for some of us in our interactions with cops -- you really can't tell whether you're getting the guy who's been wanting to beat someone up all day long or whether you're getting the guy who'll do just about anything to avoid having to fill out paperwork. And, compounding it, there's no telling what actions or utterances on your part will make the one guy transform into the other.
posted by lord_wolf at 1:38 PM on January 5, 2009 [16 favorites]


You fire it from a regular shotgun. So that should keep the accidents to a minimum.

TASER has the next-gen "less lethal" MOAT (Mother of All TASERs) coming out in a few years. It's a 9.5 ton TASER bomb that can incapacitate over 9000 dirty fucking hippies at once.
posted by ryoshu at 1:38 PM on January 5, 2009 [5 favorites]


Throbbing music in the demo video aside, I don't quite get the use of the TASER Shockwave. I mean, if the riot is advancing up the street, I doubt it will give the cops time to link together the five shot Shockwave kits into some sort of super TASER block. So that means the Shockwave needs to be set up before hand, but even then it would only take down the first wave of the charging mob.

I guess it could be used to divert the flow of a riot (Don't go down that street, there's a wall of TASERs!!), but so would a cop on a horse. Plus, it looks like the thing falls over after shooting. If I were a cop manning the battlements, I would not want my first line of defense to be something that could be knocked over by a hurled traffic cone.

The only possible use for the Shockwave is to take it to Pennsic and use it like some sort of Hwacha.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 1:41 PM on January 5, 2009


You don't cock tasers, you cock hand guns.

The officer should have realized right away, if it was any excuse at all. Of course, one could have their weapon pre-cocked, but then they miss out on the use of a warning sign (first draw weapon, if person still doesn't comply then cock weapon).

"Lock and load" is one of the worst expressions to permeate our culture. Unless you know someone's going to be shooting back at you there is never any reason to have your weapon cocked in advance.
posted by furtive at 1:43 PM on January 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


TASER has the next-gen "less lethal" MOAT (Mother of All TASERs) coming out in a few years. It's a 9.5 ton TASER bomb that can incapacitate over 9000 dirty fucking hippies at once.

Seriously, I wouldn't be surprised by the release of such a product. A 12 guage shotgun is also "less than lethal" if you shoot someone in the outer extremities, or use rock salt. A hand grenade is less than lethal if it goes off far enough a way to just knock you off your feet and toss some shrapnel into your epidermis. If the people trained to use them "as they were intended" end up killing people, hey, don't look at us. Our weapons are "less than lethal" when used as instructed.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:43 PM on January 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


So that means the Shockwave needs to be set up before hand, but even then it would only take down the first wave of the charging mob.

And couldn't you defeat it with a cloth banner held up in front of you? Wouldn't the cloth stop the darts?
posted by Mr_Zero at 1:44 PM on January 5, 2009


You don't cock tasers, you cock hand guns.

Yep, there's that, too. Tasers weigh a lot less than guns, they feel different, they're usually worn in a different place than the gun, and operate differently.

The more I think about his defense the less sense it makes.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:46 PM on January 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


And couldn't you defeat it with a cloth banner held up in front of you? Wouldn't the cloth stop the darts?

Officer 1: "Our superior technology is no match for their bedsheets!"
Sergeant: "Run!"
[Cue Yakety Sax]
posted by robocop is bleeding at 1:47 PM on January 5, 2009 [6 favorites]


stalbach: I'm not sure I understand what you're getting at. Even if everything you postulate is true (someone yelled gun, the officer reacted, etc) the officer in question should go to jail. Being a cop is not a get out of jail free card for something that would get you sent to the slammer if you weren't a cop. Oh, fine, it actually usually is such a card but it shouldn't be.

We allow police officers to carry weapons and give them the right to do things regular citizens can't do. In return we are supposed to hold them to a higher standard of responsibility of action, not a lower one. People like you hold them to a lower standard.

Even if someone yelled "gun", he killed an unarmed, face down man. He should go to prison.
posted by Justinian at 1:48 PM on January 5, 2009 [9 favorites]


Your training, did it include high-emotion/tense situations? Where the adrenaline is running very high and basic reasoning skills are hampered? It is a very different situation than one in which you're in a calm, safe environment.

You're writing that as if it excuses the shooting.

But the logical consequence of "Police are frequently in high-emotion situations where the adrenaline is running very high and basic reasoning skills are hampered" is "therefore, police must not be armed with highly lethal weapons such as firearms."
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:49 PM on January 5, 2009 [5 favorites]


I'm sorry, I'm confused. I thought the word for this type of thing was, "execution?"
posted by digitalprimate at 1:50 PM on January 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


A taser weighs 7 oz. Glocks, even without the magazine, weight between 19 and 25 oz.

Actually the gun-looking one that Pastabagel found is 19.2 oz.
posted by smackfu at 1:51 PM on January 5, 2009


RussHy:
Is it normal police procedure to handcuff someone after you shoot him?

Don't know if its official procedure to handcuff people they shoot, but bastard cops do it all the time. Recent local example: Gary King Jr.
posted by mano at 1:56 PM on January 5, 2009


Talk about starting the new year off with a bang.

Sad and inexcusable. This will ruin a lot of lives.
posted by grounded at 1:56 PM on January 5, 2009


Reports where cops fire off dozens of rounds at a suspect are played up in the media as signs of over-aggressive actions on the part of the police, but in reality that's what you do if you're trying to take a suspect down.

Funny, because New Zealand's AOS generally seem to down offenders without spraying bullets all over the neighbourhood, a magazine at a time.

Non-cops should learn how to deal with the police, before getting drunk.

I think police who can't deal with people under pressure in any way except shooting them to death should get a job they're competent to do.

All this "what could he/someone/ I do NOT to get shot?" questioning is starting to sound just like "what should women do to NOT get raped?" As in, it's the wrong question to ask.

Amen. Whatever the shortcomings of the New Zealand police - and there are plenty - they're looking pretty good to me at the moment.

Is it normal police procedure to handcuff someone after you shoot him?

Well, you know, when a man's spine is shattered and blood is leaking into his lungs, when he's trying to call out to his mother or his God or the daughter who'll never see daddy smile again, that's when he's at his most dangerous.
posted by rodgerd at 1:58 PM on January 5, 2009 [6 favorites]


Cops do have a thankless job, and not one I'd be willing to take. Long hours, low pay, life-threatening danger and little gratitude.

Please. Being a cop is substantially less dangerous than roofing, electrical work, truck driving, or even delivering pizza*. And that death rate includes all deaths on the job, including just keeling over from a heart attack while on duty. The death rate from violent trauma suffered by cops is, by definition, lower yet.

*Strictly, the statistic I found was for driver-sales workers, which also includes people filling vending machines and the like.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:00 PM on January 5, 2009 [13 favorites]


Actually, come to think of it, Tasers should be pink. Bright pink. "Act Up" pink, if you will. Certain types of cops will never pull out a taser because of this.

This is brilliant, actually. All police weapons should be pink with tassles and polka dots; something really silly. This will both discourage the police from drawing them, and help calm people down who are acting nervously around the police, but will in no way reduce the effectiveness of the weapon (provided you are stingy with the tassles.)
posted by davejay at 2:02 PM on January 5, 2009


Here's what we need: over the shoulder or eyeglass mounted cameras that are constantly recording, like Tivo.

pastabagel, I have no doubt that even if such a thing were technically practical, its use would blocked by the RIAA.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:02 PM on January 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is straight up murder.
posted by ioerror at 2:04 PM on January 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


You guys trying to find excuses for this shit?

You're the reason evil in the world finds so many willing minions. You're the same sick fucks who thought the Jews probably had it coming—why didn't they just cooperate? Or the communists in the US in the McCarthy era—why didn't they just act like everyone else? Or the enemies of the Party in Soviet Russia—why didn't they just keep their heads down like everyone else? You might not be active participants, but you're what makes it possible for people who want to do evil things to do them. A badge, or a uniform, or a flag, is enough to make you think that the person behind it has good intentions.

You'll keep finding ways that things like this aren't evil right up until you're lying on your face on the baking pavement, or standing in line between runs of razor wire, or identifying the body of a relative.
posted by sonic meat machine at 2:04 PM on January 5, 2009 [10 favorites]


This thread has grown exponentially in the time it took to write the post I put in above. In that time some of us have commented that no one ever thanks peace officers. Wrong.

Every time I get pulled over, the second that the lights come on behind me, I turn on my interior light, put both hands on the wheel, pull into a lighted area if that's possible. I do not reach for my license until after the cop is at my window; I tell him or her "I am reaching for my license" before I do so, telling them also where I am reaching. I do all that I can to make certain that it is easy for them, that it is not frightening for them.

I thank them, every time I speak with a peace officer I tell them thank you for doing the job they do. I have thanked them with tickets in my hands. They are doing a job that is remarkably difficult.

I speak with cops, every time I get the chance, and ask them about the job. Most of them are very insular, it's difficult for them to open up to one of 'us', they keep everything in the family.

They know they are loathed. They very, very rarely get thanked, and that is a fact.

Why do I thank them?

I thank them because they are doing a job which must be done. Who are you going to call when you see a drunk careeninig down the street, who are you going to call when some son of a bitch is pounding on your door, drunk, or has pounded through your door. Your mother? Your boy scout leader? No, you're going to call a cop, and you're going to be extremely grateful that you are able to do so, that they do the job that they do.

I got a (very deserved) ticket one night, 40 in a 25 zone. I thanked the cop after he gave me the ticket, for doing his job. A week later I witnessed a horrific wreck, unreal, and I ran up to the vehicle and the driver was still alive but it looked like something out of a horror movie, bones and blood and meat hanging out everywhere, I'm holding this poor bastards arm in such a way to stop the blood loss, I'm telling him that we've called the cops and EMS is on the way, I'm telling him "Don't look" as he keeps on looking at his arm, etc and etc. Cops show up, in just a couple of minutes; guess who was one of the cops to show up? THe same guy who'd ticketed me. An incident that I will carry with me the rest of my life -- the unreal horror of it, life in the balance, blood and guts -- and it's this cops every day.

I thanked him again. I think he said "You're welcome" this time.

The point being: They have an impossible job. They see the very, very harshest side of humanity, the ugliest side, they have to get tough as any veteren in Veit Nam or anywhere else, yet they must also keep their humanity somehow, and their judgement. This they do, because they are fundamentally good people, in my experience.

And that is why when one of them goes nuts, power mad, he must be made to pay, and his employers must be made to pay -- so that we can look the rest in the eye and know that we are safe in their care.
posted by dancestoblue at 2:06 PM on January 5, 2009 [71 favorites]


Modern pistols of the variety popular with US LEO are very light, almost toy-like carbon plastic. The Glock, the SIG Sauer. It is possible under stress they could be confused with an M26 Taser. Possible. But not likely.

It would be made possible because American metropolitan police training is becoming increasing abysmal. And BART cops I would not expect to exactly "elites." So. Yeah I can see this could be an accident. But I 'm not going to watch the video so... I dunno.

The real question? Why does that transit cop have a gun? I can see no reason BART cops should be carrying lethal fire arms. None.

Transit cops with guns. It's yet another symptom of the American Inferiority Complex as packaged and sold by Fear Incorporated. Just like the tiny little cow towns that all have machine-gun toting SWAT and APC Tanks and shit like that. Brilliant. Hand a bunch of under-trained, uneducated, hyped-out macho assholes more and bigger guns they can strap to their hips and strut around with. That's a good idea. I say this as a person who is full support of second amendment rights.
posted by tkchrist at 2:09 PM on January 5, 2009 [5 favorites]


From the FPP article:
"Many Bay Area police departments that use Tasers - including BART - force officers to take precautions, such as wearing them on the opposite side of their strong hand and facing backward. This requires officers to reach across their body to retrieve them."
posted by ericb at 2:10 PM on January 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wow. I was all set to make a joke about all the police apologists we usually get around here, yet here they are in shocking self parody. Some times people get so caught up in their viewpoints that their heads seem to twist off completely, or at least blood stops circulating to their brain. I mean, you watch a video of a guy pulling a gun on some one, and then shooting them and they say "Maybe it was an accident"?

What the fuck.

"Well, I know I just watched a video of someone shooting another person, but I just don't buy it. I mean there were so many people standing around and..."

Even if he had thought it was a Taser, he never should have used a Taser in that situation.

I don't know if the guy intended to kill him, but he should be thrown in jail for manslaughter anyway. You know, it's also a crime to kill someone on accident, especially when it's the result of gross negligence.
posted by delmoi at 2:11 PM on January 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Now what's more likely here, that this cop will be fired from the force and there will be some kind of civil action, or that he'll get whatever the maximum penalty the law demands for murder in the state of California?
posted by arimathea at 2:11 PM on January 5, 2009


...when one of them goes nuts, power mad,...

He may not be nuts or power mad, he could just be stupid. Either way, he needs jail time.
posted by RussHy at 2:11 PM on January 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh god, that Taser Shockwave demo video. Finally, a weapon for people who like to jerk off to both The Matrix and Powerthirst videos. Nothing says "for use by specially trained law enforcement officers" quite like snapping electrical discharge, pounding beats, an arrow, and the words "this way to enemy." (Where "enemy" seems to mean "civilians who are protesting.")
posted by evidenceofabsence at 2:11 PM on January 5, 2009


tkchrist, why wouldn't a BART cop need a pistol as much as any other cop?
posted by small_ruminant at 2:12 PM on January 5, 2009


evidenceofabsence, they sell bomber jets using Top Gun music and asthetics, which I've always found both hilarious and disturbing.
posted by small_ruminant at 2:15 PM on January 5, 2009


About a minute after the shot she had the brains to step into the next train as it was leaving as there was a female cop who was walking up to her. After the doors closed the cop pounded on the window and told her to give up the cell phone.

For what earthly reason?

Shouldn't this kind of demand itself be a criminal offense? Isn't it some kind of obstruction of justice?

Do there need to be laws that say under no circumstance can police seize citizen cameras to make it clear to the skulkers amongst police forces that this kind of shit is not OK?
posted by namespan at 2:15 PM on January 5, 2009 [10 favorites]


To echo what other people have said. I'm willing to buy that this was a negligent homicide rather than a premeditated one.

That still should be a felony conviction that would automatically exclude him from future employment in law enforcement, military service, and certain classes of firearm ownership.

And that should still be a few years of his life doing time.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:15 PM on January 5, 2009 [9 favorites]


The real question? Why does that transit cop have a gun? I can see no reason BART cops should be carrying lethal fire arms. None.

Well, they do end up arresting people who have guns, so if you think that warrants carrying guns themselves then it makes sense. From the article:

A source also revealed Sunday that BART police had been on edge before Grant's shooting because two guns had been recovered in separate incidents along the rail line in the hour before the shooting.

In one of the incidents, a teenage boy with a semiautomatic pistol had fled from police and jumped off the West Oakland Station platform, breaking several bones while landing. In another, the source said, a revolver was recovered after a fight at the Embarcadero Station in San Francisco.

posted by burnmp3s at 2:16 PM on January 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


From the weird reaction of the cop right after the gunshot (like "wat") I'd guess he was drunk or high off his rocker when the incident occurred. Only way for me to make sense of this bizarre shooting. Thinking this was either purposeful or justified is pretty batty. The really scary bit is them trying to confiscate the camera, though from the tape it sounds like the camerawoman is crowing I GOT YALL MOTHERFUCKERS LOL WHATS UP NOW??? which is just even double-bizarrer.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:17 PM on January 5, 2009


please don't shoot me, i have a daughter...wtf does that have to do with anything???
posted by billybobtoo at 2:18 PM on January 5, 2009


I am very, very troubled after watching that link to the ten minute version.

Beyond the broken heart I have for the family, the outrage I feel that it is now necessary that little kids be taught to not trust the police (not because NONE can be trusted, but because you have no way of knowing which ones they are), my mind is still reeling from the very fact that this video exists at all. The world is a very different place then it was when I was a kid, and I'm only 40. I'm still amazed by the home computer in a way that my nieces and nephews can't be, just as I can't be amazed by TV since it always existed in my universe.

I very much wonder what the mindset of the average citizen will be when they have grown up on video like this, and we have left the infancy of this age of video.
posted by the bricabrac man at 2:19 PM on January 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


arimathea: Now what's more likely here, that this cop will be fired from the force and there will be some kind of civil action, or that he'll get whatever the maximum penalty the law demands for murder in the state of California?

Well, usually the "maximum penalty" involves a level of premeditation, cruelty, or indifference that goes above and beyond what happened here. So probably manslaughter, which will pretty much ruin the officer's life anyway.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:20 PM on January 5, 2009


And yeah, I need to echo that the cop trying to confiscate the video from the woman on the train is one of the most troubling aspects of the whole story, and has to be addressed...something tells me we DO need to pass laws making that illegal (has this been addressed by the law before in any way?)
posted by the bricabrac man at 2:25 PM on January 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


i have a daughter...wtf does that have to do with anything???

Assuming this is asked in good faith, I'll attempt to answer. Grant is effectively saying, "I don't know how whatever prejudices you harbor may be making you see me, but you should know that even if I look like a gang-banger or a dangerous criminal to you, I'm not: I'm a father and I want to see my daughter again, whatever else happens here today."

Or he may have been trying to say, "I have something to live for, I'm not some hardened, nihilistic criminal who poses a threat to your and the other officers' safety."

Or he may have been trying to say, "Hey, maybe you're a father, too; maybe we have something in common, so don't use excessive violence, I'm no threat."

But I'll admit to projecting here, because those are all things I would mean were I to say what this young man said.
posted by lord_wolf at 2:28 PM on January 5, 2009 [38 favorites]


Much of the time, I read of injustice and political wrongdoing on MetaFilter after many others on the site, and am glad for the dozens of comments written already; along with providing supplementary discussion, reading them provides a sort of catharsis. In knowing others' justified outrage, I feel less angry and more informed. The vitriol helps me to feel vitriolic.

But not in this case.
posted by goldfinches at 2:34 PM on January 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


You're the same sick fucks who thought the Jews probably had it coming—why didn't they just cooperate?

"As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one."
posted by smackfu at 2:35 PM on January 5, 2009


I knew someone would bring that tired saw in. Fact is, smackfu, the comparison is not out of place. This was an abuse of authority, and the horror of the Twentieth Century is that authority was repeatedly, horribly abused while idiots stood by and did nothing. I think enabling an abuse of authority can be validly compared to enabling an abuse of authority, no matter how many rhetorically empty Internet memes you can quote at me about the comparison.
posted by sonic meat machine at 2:39 PM on January 5, 2009 [9 favorites]


the bricabrac man writes "And yeah, I need to echo that the cop trying to confiscate the video from the woman on the train is one of the most troubling aspects of the whole story, and has to be addressed...something tells me we DO need to pass laws making that illegal (has this been addressed by the law before in any way?)"

Theft is already illegal, and it's practically admission of guilt that he'd be trying to seize and destroy evidence. The police don't have a right to confiscate your legally acquired property without a court order.
posted by mullingitover at 2:40 PM on January 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


...helps me to feel vitriolic.

Less vitriolic, I mean. Less.
posted by goldfinches at 2:40 PM on January 5, 2009


Do you look, ahem, "20%+ unemployed", or just "hoodied"? Because if you look "20%+ unemployed" (wink, wink), that's all some people will see. Well that, and your "natural athleticism" and propensity to be reaching for "a gun" and "shot while resisting".

Back in the 80s I was mugged walking out of a 7-11 by a group of about 12 young black kids in SE D.C.

Yep, and as we know it's only black kids that do the muggings.

What was the point of mentioning their race in your example, stbalbach?
posted by ericb at 2:41 PM on January 5, 2009


I like this part:

BART police are looking into the possibility that the officer who shot Grant thought he was pulling the trigger of a Taser stun gun.

How long does it take to "look into" this? Either he claims this is what he was thinking, or he doesn't. If this is what he claims, then it's up to a jury whether or not they believe him. There's literally nothing else to "look into". What kind of fucking evidence do they think they're looking for?
posted by creasy boy at 2:42 PM on January 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


See, up until now my thought about how to handle being approached by an agitated cop was just to lie down on the ground with one's arms stretched out. Apparently that's just not good enough anymore.

I guess the really safe thing to do is ... ah ....

(weeps)
posted by seanmpuckett at 2:42 PM on January 5, 2009


small_ruminant: Based on a cursory Google search, I think you've turned me on to an entirely new category of disturbing videos to watch at 2 a.m.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 2:48 PM on January 5, 2009


Jesus. The incident was reprehensible, and the apologists in this thread are just depressing--ruthless, racist, sadistic, pathetic little shits.
posted by maxwelton at 2:50 PM on January 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


billybobtoo : please don't shoot me, i have a daughter...wtf does that have to do with anything???

It's a basic appeal to empathy, as lord_wolf already (much better that I could have said) pointed out, it's an attempt to get the officers to see this person as more than just a suspect; an effort to push himself out of the profile of "probable criminal" and into "person" or "someone's daddy".

Sadly, it didn't help.
posted by quin at 2:52 PM on January 5, 2009


Rarely do emotional pleas for one's own life require justification.

Particularly not when that life is taken moments later.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 3:00 PM on January 5, 2009 [4 favorites]


Just to add to the echo chamber: Tasers don't feel like guns. Guns are on the other side of the body. Guns require unsnapping the holster and releasing the safety. Unless that cop was stoned out of his bloody mind, there is no way to confuse a gun with a taser.

Even if it *were* possible, and I don't see how it could be, there was no reason that I could see for that young man to be tased, either.

Heads should roll for this.
posted by dejah420 at 3:00 PM on January 5, 2009


You have to keep in mind that we are talking about adrenaline junkies here. I was accidentally pulled over on an felony stop, walk backwards with your hands on your head, get down on your knees and cross your legs, then cuffed. When I turned around there was 6 or 7 cop cars and more than 7 cops. They all came for their fix. Like junkies everywhere the High is king.
posted by JohnR at 3:00 PM on January 5, 2009


BART officials have appealed for patience while they investigate. It's already been several days and there can't be much to do...the guy was surrounded by witnesses. I seriously wonder if people will be 'patient' about this.
posted by RussHy at 3:01 PM on January 5, 2009


How long does it take to "look into" this? Either he claims this is what he was thinking, or he doesn't. If this is what he claims, then it's up to a jury whether or not they believe him. There's literally nothing else to "look into". What kind of fucking evidence do they think they're looking for?

Whether they can charge the cop with aggravated assault instead of manslaughter (or murder.) If he thought he was pulling a Taser, then he was merely an incompetent fool who decided to punish a suspect and royally screwed up (hence the situational framing and fence-straddling.) You'll see a lot of "they were under stress that night" and "this wasn't the only fight with which BART had to deal" and so on, to cast as much confusion as possible as to the motives of what appears to be a cop shooting a prone, unarmed suspect in the back.

One almost hopes that's the case. Stupid and angry is horrifying, but understandable. No one wants to think this guy just arbitrarily shot somebody because he was pissed, or because he felt he could get away with it, or just "because."
posted by FormlessOne at 3:02 PM on January 5, 2009


fatbird's discussion of the police going on autopilot when using firearms ought begin a serious conversation about the extent to which police forces should rely on them. Transit police don't pull people over. They don't enter domestic disturbances. They don't (or shouldn't have to) deal with drug trafficking. Do BART officers (and seemingly woefully undertrained ones), really need to carry handguns?

Here are all the officers killed in the line of duty in CA last year. Not one BART officer.

Is this because they carry guns? In other words, I don't know how many situations a BART officer used a gun to avoid being killed. That would be a nice statistic to know. Or, taking away their guns not change the number killed at all? That's maybe the discussion that should be carried out.
posted by spicynuts at 3:02 PM on January 5, 2009


I wasn't buying the "handgun mistaken for taser" argument until I looked at the actual photo of the taser. If you look only at the parts that your hand would be in contact with -- the grip, triggerguard, and trigger -- it seems less farfetched than I originally thought. It looks like the grip angle is very similar, if not actually modeled after, a Glock, maybe a G26.

The backstrap-to-trigger distance is significantly different, and the taser has a safety lever on the left side that the Glock doesn't, and if the actual weapon was a full-size rather than a subcompact handgun there'd be the pinky issue (the taser only has space for two fingers on it) ... it's still an unforgivable error, but I can start to see how it might happen.

Regardless of how the particular situation in the video happened, the way those tasers are designed makes me really wonder whether officers should only carry one of them or a handgun, and never both. Even if that wasn't the cause of this shooting, they're similar enough that eventually I'm willing to bet it will. (Especially considering that many police wear fairly thick cut-resistant gloves while working with suspects that eliminate a lot of tactile cues, sometimes in addition to latex or winter gloves.)

Rather than going with a handgun-esque design, perhaps it would be better if departments mandated that tasers have some sort of very different control layout. Granted that would remove the "crossover" training advantage, but maybe that sort of "crossover" isn't a good thing? I can think of a lot of designs that are almost as easy to instinctively point and fire as the perpendicular-grip/horizontal-barrel design that handguns follow due to design constraints. Tasers don't need to look like that; you could build one that was shaped like a stick, and fired with the thumb, or where the grip was on top and the barrel was underhung, just as easily.

Giving officers handgun-shaped tasers is pretty much asking for an accidental shooting sooner or later. The more I look at that taser, the worse of an idea it seems.
posted by Kadin2048 at 3:02 PM on January 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


It's a basic appeal to empathy, as lord_wolf already (much better that I could have said) pointed out, it's an attempt to get the officers to see this person as more than just a suspect; an effort to push himself out of the profile of "probable criminal" and into "person" or "someone's daddy".

Sadly, it didn't help.


I can't imagine what they would have done to him, had he not been someone's father.
posted by Mr_Zero at 3:03 PM on January 5, 2009


People up-post have mentioned teaching their kids not to trust the cops, but this goes for everyone: never call the cops (an ambulance or the coroner, maybe). Recently someone I work with was taking a shower at home when the bathroom door burst open and cops pointed their guns at him shouting orders. Turns out his room-mate had an argument with his girl friend, cops got called, he ended up in the street in a towel with shampoo in his hair while they went "room to room" (this of course pales with being shot, but it's only a twitchy finger away). The fact is, cops should be braver than normal citizens (they get to carry guns and wear bullet-proof vests) but they are the worst cowards and your life is always in danger when they are around. Learn to take care of your self and avoid cops at all costs.
posted by 445supermag at 3:10 PM on January 5, 2009


Even as a middle-class white guy who has never been arrested, I assume that offering anything but immediate, total, and silent obedience to a cop's orders is a form of Russian Roulette.

Yep. Even in my minor dealings with police, I do the "Yes sir, no sir," slow movement or explaining what I'm about to do thing. The whole point is to let the cop know you're not a threat. You can argue whether it's right or wrong or fair, but you can only do that if you're alive.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:14 PM on January 5, 2009


The final paragraph on this page from Senator Patrick Leahy says a lot about the mentality of "authority figures" in this country. It concerns the Border Patrol, but I'm afraid the sentiment is one shared by many in law enforcement in the US.

It’s interesting - I went through one of those symbolic checkpoints in the state of New York driving back here. It was about 125 miles from the border. In a car with license plate one on it from Vermont. With little letters underneath it that said US Senate. We were stopped and ordered to get out of the car and prove my citizenship. And I said “what authority are you acting under?” and one of your agents pointed to his gun and said “that’s all the authority I need.” Encouraging way to enter our country.
posted by theroadahead at 3:18 PM on January 5, 2009 [10 favorites]


Ironic that the biggest pro-police peeps often protest the loudest about paying taxes. Why can't they show some gratitude?

Exactly the opposite of my experience -- the libertarian anti-tax types are generally also anti-police (well, anti-government-anything of course).
posted by wildcrdj at 3:26 PM on January 5, 2009


Here are all the officers killed in the line of duty in CA last year. Not one BART officer.

Is this because they carry guns?


Seems unlikely, as I would assume all of the officers killed in the line of duty in CA last year carried guns.

Of the eleven listed, three officers died in gunfire, while the others died either in vehicle accidents, being struck by a vehicle or vehicular assault (essentially either reckless driving or OWI that results in death). Of the three remaining, one was killed at the end of a high-speed chase, when the suspect stepped out and opened fire. One was an LA SWAT team member shot by a suspect who called claiming to have murdered three family members. One was shot in a firefight at a hair salon. None of these situations replicate the responsibilities of a transit police officer.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 3:27 PM on January 5, 2009


Our police officers are trained to expect stress and chaos, confusing situations, and randomly violent responses. This is their career, their calling, and their profession. They face a higher standard than we do, and it is appropriate.

Oh? Really?
posted by notreally at 3:34 PM on January 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


I watched the video several times - especially right where the cop fired. What I see (potentially):

Cop is struggling with kid, kid is face down.
Cop for some reason (can't tell) decides to stand and pull either a gun or taser (can't tell at this point).
Cop, holding gun in right hand, swings left hand over quickly to back of gun and immediately pulls his left hand back away from the gun very quickly.
Cop fires gun when his left hand leaves the back of the gun.
Cop holsters gun.

My thought upon seeing those details was that the cop meant to pull his gun and went to cock it (correct term?). His hand slipped and the gun went off.
posted by Bort at 3:40 PM on January 5, 2009


So, the officer reaches for his pistol, starts to get up, and then goes down on his knees to put his hand on the victim's back. Then he stands up again, and pulls his weapon, shooting the man in the back. The other officer sees the gun and steps away, but not in what I would consider a safe distance. The other officer then looks at him with body language indicating "What the FUCK?" -- but I'm not a professional, this is just my interpretation.

There was another detainee sitting there with his leg literally touching the victim when the gun went off. If that were me, I'd be freaked out. At that close range, I'd also be worried about ricochet...

What the hell happened to the other officers, and why did they not communicate with each other to stand back, or to stand down? It happens pretty quickly, but this guy obviously wanted to draw his weapon, and he clearly struggled to unholster it...
posted by Chuffy at 3:43 PM on January 5, 2009


Holy fucking fuck. Shot him like a dog. I don't care if it was a 'mistake', there were three cops together. No reason to draw a weapon whatsoever.
Thanks Mr_Zero
posted by nj_subgenius at 3:46 PM on January 5, 2009


notreally:
"Oh? Really?"

1. Eponysterical. Seriously.

2. The point, if you combine that response to ruthsarian with my earlier comment, is that they clearly aren't getting this level of training or the testing is inadequate. Or both. So, no, probably not really.

3. Still eponysterical, and now more so.
posted by batmonkey at 3:52 PM on January 5, 2009


"The point being: They have an impossible job"

Um, no, they don't. People have been doing it for thousands of years, sometimes better than others. Here in the USA right now, this is not a "doing it better than others" time, and people need to realize that.
posted by digitalprimate at 3:59 PM on January 5, 2009 [6 favorites]


Generally - what waraw quoted.

“Being a cop is substantially less dangerous than roofing, electrical work, truck driving, or even delivering pizza...”
- ROU_Xenophobe

Many stats don’t differentiate between beat officer and desk jockey or SWAT, etc. Much less federal agents, folks who serve warrents, blah de blah.

That tabled (either way) - falling off a roof is an entirely different experience psychologically than someone actively trying, doing their damnedest in fact, to kill you. Or kill someone else. Or pimp them out. Or hook them on something and use them.

Gives you a different outlook on the world than handing someone a pizza.

That said, that only reinforces the need for a high(er) standard of training and oversight so things like this don’t happen.

Re: the cop going to confiscate the camera - SOP. You gather evidence, it’s that simple.
Oh, I’m not going to cut anyone a break here and say the cell phone might not have gotten ‘lost.’ But strictly speaking, it’s evidence. You collect it. Nothing wrong with it from first principles.
But again - I’d speculate as well that given how it looks it’d vanish.

“Why the hell did he struggle when they made to cuff him? I'm certain if he just had let them cuff him he'd still be alive.”

Some cops dig their thumbs into nerve centers, pressure points, cause someone pain, etc. to try to get someone to swing or resist. Happens sometimes. Not saying that’s what happened here. But it happens.

“If my half-assed gun training can teach me to differentiate between two nearly identical rifles I didn't have to wear on my person 8-16hrs per day, these professional peacekeepers should be held to an even more stringent and capable standard.” - batmonkey

Yep. I have ...er... full-assed firearm training. Under very tense situations. Know what I do? I respond how I was trained. I also train folks to do a variety of things in adrenaline filled moments. I expect them to react exactly how they are trained.

Unfortunately most current (local and state) police officer training is pretty half-assed - depending. And so it isn’t ingrained.

“Cops should be terrified of firing their weapons, and they're not. They should be terrified of tasering someone needlessly, and they're not. They should be terrified of the consequences of every one of their actions, and they never are.”

I disagree. They should be supremely confident in firing their weapons, tasering someone, because they are certain their actions are proper.
I’ll grant, they should view an improper shooting, et.al. as equivalent to their own death and avoid it just as strenuously.
But fear, no. Fear is a terrible master for anyone.
Fear is why some police officers make poor decisions that can have lethal consequences.
Fear is why they want to cover it up.
Get a cop afraid of firing at someone he thinks might fire at him, you’re going to have a lot of dead cops. Eventually you’re going to have a vigilante mentality in your community, because the criminals aren’t going anywhere. And people don’t like being threatened every time they turn around.

Remember those bad-ass Guatemalan gangs? Yeah, folks got fed up with them. Formed local patrols with machetes. Think cops are bad? You don’t want to get caught by them after dark without an excuse.
But that was inevitable.
People (politicians, cops) forget the role of law enforcement in the community (whether it’s corruption, under-funding, violence like this, etc. etc.) and the community loses coherence and the right to not have to worry about doing it themselves and either the community dies off or they take matters into their own hands.
It’s not wrong or right really. It’s just what happens.

I do agree with your gist though. Accountability should be the natural order.

I’m not going with 445supermag on the ‘bravery’ thing. Police officers should disregard their own lives in the performance of their duty - like any other first responders.
Doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be careful. In my mind this means being professional and doing things in a manner that has been proven technically and that is predictable by other officers (most importantly the guys on your six), someone’s comfort is secondary to the possibility that lives are at stake.
It’s important to take every encounter seriously. Because yes, maybe you have to shoot someone, and maybe you might encounter a situation where one might think one has to shoot, but shouldn’t. So you rely on training and methodology no matter what. (The BART cop didn’t. Or, if he was trying to, he failed catastrophically.)

That said, yeah, some guys just want to play bad-ass.

“Last month, a kid in Greece was shot point blank by cops, and the whole country has lost its collective shit. I don't think we need that kind of response...”

I disagree, I think we need exactly that kind of response. Given it’s in a more calculated manner designed to send “we don’t have to take this shit” and “we’re watching you” kind of messages.

“This is bad police work and criminally negligent. That officer should have never drawn his weapon. The police chose to escalate the situation to deadly force. Police should be trained to defuse situations, not increase the potential for conflict.”
- ryoshu

Yep. Exactly. One of the standard decision matrixes is that excalation chain. This officer violated that. Period.
Taser, no taser, whatever. Doesn’t matter.

I don’t care what he thought or where he hit a snafu in training or something slipped or whatever. Maybe he completely innocently did this. I don’t care.
Bottom line - you don’t have to prove motive. He did what he did and his actions had this result.

Really, the only difference between this being an accident or on purpose is the nature of the crime. Whether he’s prosecuted for criminal negligence, manslaughter, etc. or premeditated murder.
Either way he belongs in jail for a very long time.
That’s part of the risk too.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:16 PM on January 5, 2009 [21 favorites]


Just a few things, no need to add much commentary on the killing itself, it is enough to simply add my condemnation of the police officer's actions to the growing list.

First, this is a picture of the Taser used by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI). Bright yellow and unmistakable. Of course it doesn't look like a gun from some sci-fi movie, so probably not that attractive to someone with a military fetish.

Second, the PSNI have only recently adopted Taser after much deliberation, and against the recommendations of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission. The following is an extract from the PSNI's FAQ on Taser:

Q. Will Taser be used in the same way as it is in North America?
A. ...[Some cut out] Taser will not be used as a compliance tool or as a public order tactic.

Any conclusions drawn from use of Taser in North America must be fully contextualised to UK policing, and should not be compared with how Taser is currently used in the UK or how in will be used in Northern Ireland.


----

Finally, and quite irrelevant to the topic, someone above mentioned that Tasers should be made pink to make cops worry about drawing them. That reminded me of the Thai police attempt to crack down on rule breaking, misbehaving cops had to wear Hello Kitty armbands.
posted by knapah at 4:35 PM on January 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


When my college was considering arming their police department I contacted a friend of my mothers about the decision to gain a better understanding of what was happening, the issues involved, etc. I should mention my mom's friend was a former instructor at the FBI firearms academy, and serves as the chief firearms adviser for a very well known military fiction writer.

After filling me in on the decision, he asked what model of gun they were considering. It was a Glock, which most police departments were moving to at the time (12 years ago or so). What he sent back was something that chilled me. The integrated safety quin wrote about above also means there is no "Conscious decision to fire". Pressing the safety, or flipping it, requires a conscious decision in the brain to fire the weapon. The difference is critical. Think of how you might grit your teeth, or ball up a fist, in a very stressful situation. Put a trigger in that hand and you've got a subconscious decision to fire the weapon. Glocks make that possible.

Is that what happened here? I have no idea. The questions of why the gun was drawn, and whether there was a stressor that caused the cop to react subconsciously, need to be answered.

Cause jeez this looks like murder...
posted by jwells at 4:45 PM on January 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Re: the cop going to confiscate the camera - SOP. You gather evidence, it’s that simple.

Look, saying things like "Standard Procedure, it's that simple" speaks with way more authority than I think that statement deserves, and implies that there's nothing wrong with an officer saying "give me that cellphone" without serving a warrant. (I recongize, of course, that you're saying there's nothing wrong with it if the officer is in fact collecting evidence and not simply making it disappear, and I also recognize that you're saying it would likely disappear. what I'm getting at is that even under those circumstances your statement seems completely wrong to me.) I have never, under circumstances such as these, heard of a cop simply demanding evidence from someone without paperwork before, unless it was specifically illegal seizure for the purpose of destroying same. I'm not a cop, so I may be wrong, but I really very strongly doubt that the kind of seizure we're talking about here is "SOP."

Fear is why some police officers make poor decisions that can have lethal consequences.
Fear is why they want to cover it up.
Get a cop afraid of firing at someone he thinks might fire at him, you’re going to have a lot of dead cops. Eventually you’re going to have a vigilante mentality in your community, because the criminals aren’t going anywhere. And people don’t like being threatened every time they turn around.


look, we've had the "cops are scum/no they're awesome" debate before, you and I. I'm not here to insist that we want cops who are afraid to shoot back in a firefight. I am, however, going to say that I want cops who are afraid to shoot first. Not at all, but first. And not trained, but afraid. The same way any person who isn't mentally unbalanced would normally be terrified of firing a gun at a human being for the first time. I speak only for myself, but I want them terrified of the consequences the way I'm terrified of them if I were caught committing a crime. I can see why the idea of cops who are "confident that their actions are proper" would seem like the way to go, I really can. But that's unworkable in reality, to my mind, because we get cops who are confident that they're pulling their guns at the right time when in fact they're responding completely unreasonably. So yeah, to my mind, we've seen too much overconfidence, and it's time to swing the other way. At some point, maybe we'll land in a middle ground. But for now, to my mind, we have an organized group of criminals (not all of them, but enough of them) who get away with it because they wear a badge and can walk around confident in the protection that gives them. So I say enough. It's time they felt the same fear of the law I feel when I contemplate a crime in my most desperate moments, the same responsibility for their actions I feel when I consider the consequences. And I don't buy the "dead cops" thing, either. That's what cop spokespeople say whenever there are restrictions imposed on the police, and it's nonsense. Other cops operate with far more restrictions than ours do, including not being able to carry guns at all, without having some kind of dead cop epidemic, so the hell with that noise. The undeniable fact is that too many cops literally get away with murder, and we live with a system that has far too much petty corruption in it. Something needs to be done, especially since IA seems to be just as bad. And for what it's worth, vigilantism is precisely what we have in our worst neighborhoods in the country. Except that instead of it being noble citizens taking the law into their own hands for the protection of the community, it's simply a lot of angry young people carrying guns and killing each other with them because they know they can't depend on the cops to protect them from the neighborhood gang and they join it instead. The cops are a serious part of the problem with vigilantism in this country, not its solution.

But to be clear: I'm not advocating for some sort of fascistic terrorizing of cops. Just the same fear the rest of us feel of prison. You know, the sort of fear of prison people who might one day go there if they commit a crime feel.

In the end, though, I think I agree with pretty much everything else you're saying. I think I'm just way more cynical regarding cops than you, which is why we've butted heads on this before. c'est la vie.
posted by shmegegge at 4:50 PM on January 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


Smedleyman - here's the use of force continuum. Pepper spray and baton seem to have been skipped entirely. Whether or not the situation deemed that appropriate is yet another question.
posted by jwells at 4:51 PM on January 5, 2009


I don't get how anyone is even talking about a taser being confused for a gun here. You don't cock a taser. Period. The only rational argument the officer could make is that the gun accidentally fired after it was brandished in violation of procedure.

My money says that'll be his defense, and that he'll be acquitted with perhaps a small settlement for the family. Oakland will then look like sissies in comparison to Greece when they fail to burn the Bay Area to the ground.
posted by mullingitover at 4:51 PM on January 5, 2009


you know what would clarify my point here? i just thought of how to say it that really gets to what I'm thinking.

this guy looks like he may have made a mistake. a terrible, horrific, unconscionable mistake that he SHOULD have been trained not to make. it may not have been overconfidence, arrogance, or racism that caused this crime, it may have been butterfingers. but it could, in that case, have been fixed by proper training, right?

but we're living in a culture where no one in charge of our police seems afraid enough of the idea of sending out legions of armed officers without the proper training to do their jobs when lives are on the line. that's the biggest part of the fear I'm talking about. not so much the individual fear of a particular officer at a particular time, but the general fear of a system of people that they might not have done their jobs, so innocent people are dying needlessly. specifically, the people who command and train these officers.

what we have instead are administrators and assholes who are more concerned with covering their own asses and their assuring their own personal aspirations are met, and the public suffers for it. that's what I'd like to see ended. I'd like to see men who are afraid enough that they may have badly trained officers out there to do something about it. But that fear can't exist in a system this corrupt. I think that's what I'm getting at.
posted by shmegegge at 4:58 PM on January 5, 2009 [5 favorites]


The site must be getting slammed, the video's not loading. Mirror?
posted by zardoz at 4:59 PM on January 5, 2009


I'm too weary of seeing these types of incidents to be shocked at them anymore. I want justice served, but I'm sure as shit this will happen again and again and keep happening as long as the idea that "boys will be boys, unless they're black boys; then it's EEEEVIL!" continues to be propagated in our society.

So young guys were fighting on a train. Young guys fight and raise their voices and posture. We all know this. I've seen all sorts of young men, including white ones, do this. But unless he's a boy in Athens, apparently no one's going to shoot the white kid who gets into a scuffle.

But this cop, well, he's going to shoot. He decided to shoot a young defenseless man in the back. I say "decided" because he stood up to get his gun out of the holster, though there was already backup to the wazoo. And this after pushing the young man face down on his stomach. After another cop puts his left knee on the young man's neck. There was no cause for him to shoot. At all. I don't even see why the man was forced to lie prone anyway. Stand him up, pat him down and cuff him, if it comes to that. This sort of "Get on the ground!" business is a power trip, pure and simple. I can just imagine the uproar had a black cop done this to some young white rowdy. Oh, wait... I've NEVER heard of that.

Don't you let them sweep this away, Oakland.
posted by droplet at 5:10 PM on January 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Re: the cop going to confiscate the camera - SOP. You gather evidence, it’s that simple.

Hahaha. Yes, I'm sure the cops' motivation for demanding the girl's camera was their concern that this evidence might not otherwise be preserved.
posted by applemeat at 5:10 PM on January 5, 2009 [4 favorites]


Officers regularly draw their weapons like that while another handcuffs.
is there a citation for this you can provide?


that has happened to me. LAPD and US customs have done that both. they seemed kinda routine about it and -as far as I could see- the non-involved officer pointed his gun at the ground while the other cuffed me. (one was a felony traffic stop where they mistook me for someone they were looking for, the other time was when I was being 'temporarily detained' at ORD.)

I can be a bit of a police apologist, But from watching the video, I think it's obvious the cop shot the kid in cold blood.

and I tend to always look at videos wondering what if I had been the one who fucked up. sometimes it seems not enough people do that on the webbernets.

I'm not prepared to say outright this had to be premeditated ("cold blood"). who knows what was going through his brain and why he shot. what's obvious to me is that he fucked up big time. the guy was on the ground (I can't quite tell if cuffed or not but he wasn't resisting a lot) and the officer had backup. he actually seems to have been the backup himself - he's not the one on the guys back. this should not have happened.

orthogonality: So your contention is that this trained cop made at least three accidents in succession

and that would be different from any garden-variety traffic accident how? it's never just one fuckup, it's always a series.

What do you think might happen to a non-cop whose "accident" resulted in the death of a cop?
what a weak argument. nobody has a reason or excuse for pulling a weapon on a cop. doing so is asking to get shot.

you don't have an explanation for what happened and I don't either. most of the ideas we all here can come up with don't make sense. you just don't teach people lessons in a place like that. I'm totally clueless as to what might have gone through the cops head and so are you. we might just have to wait and see where this goes next.

good news is they won't be able to write a false police report and get out of it without at least a nasty trial. the video is just too good for the for-profit channels not to go into abducted-child mode. (there will be graphics about the "what's his name saga" starting tomorrow.)
posted by krautland at 5:15 PM on January 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


This is one of the worst videos I've seen of police misconduct - well, cold-blooded murder - and I have seen a lot of it. If the officer in question isn't arrested soon I think that the local citizens would be morally justified in burning every station to the ground.

And let me point out once again that without a video this would be a non-story. They'd plant a gun on him, claim self-defense, ignore witness testimony, and lie to protect their own as they have done for generations. The police are not your friend and they are not there to help you. Never forget that.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 5:22 PM on January 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


My thought upon seeing those details was that the cop meant to pull his gun and went to cock it (correct term?). His hand slipped and the gun went off.

Okay. Interesting. (Smed you read that? I bet your groaning the same way I am)

I didn't watch the video. And I'm not going to. But. This description here sounds like a fucking textbook accident with a semi-auto with a "trigger-pull safety" or, IOW, no safety.

I bet he had his finger on the trigger when he chambered the round. I bet you 10 bucks. What an IDIOT. THAT'S whay he saying he went fot his "taser." Yeah. Right. That is semi-auto 101. And this guy is an idiot and he knows it. And i bet he is almost as ashamed of that than he is shooting the kid.

God damn. People. You carry a pistol with a round in the chamber and no safety KEEP YOUR GOD DAMNED FINGER OFF THE TRIGGER.

You have no idea how often this happens with even experienced shooters.

Now you want to start a REAL flame war on a firearms board (more than even talking handgun bans) go and say what I am about to say:

Nobody , and I mean NOBODY, outside of a combat soldier needs to be packing (as in on-person carry) a no-safe semi-auto. Cops included. ESPECIALLY cops. Since they walking around with a round in the chamber 50% of the time (though they are not supposed to). I am all for gun rights and owning a handgun. But the trade off is you had better know how to use the fucking things and 90% of the idiots out there don't. Again. Cops included.
posted by tkchrist at 5:24 PM on January 5, 2009 [11 favorites]


I've been doing my own kind of analysis, watching the officer up through the point of discharging the gun, and everything rings to the tune of an accident. For one, he reholsters his gun. The point of discharging a weapon is to neutralize a threat, and officers are trained to keep the weapon up as a precautionary/defensive measure. More telling, though, is when the officer puts both hands over his mouth for a split-second. Everything about his body language screams, "Oh shit."

The rest y'all can argue about.
posted by Christ, what an asshole at 5:28 PM on January 5, 2009


Now you want to start a REAL flame war on a firearms board (more than even talking handgun bans) go and say what I am about to say:

Nobody , and I mean NOBODY, outside of a combat soldier needs to be packing (as in on-person carry) a no-safe semi-auto.


WHATCHOO TALKIN ABOUT YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT IT'S LIKE FOR ME WORKING SECURITY AT THE MALL ON MY SEGWAY KEEP YOUR DUMB HANDS OFF MY GUN, SURRENDER MONKEY!
posted by shmegegge at 5:29 PM on January 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Uncle Frank (of Jimmy Kimmel fame) was an NYC cop for 20 years and never fired his gun on duty once, much less into the back of a prone suspect.
posted by nomisxid at 5:30 PM on January 5, 2009


More telling, though, is when the officer puts both hands over his mouth for a split-second. Everything about his body language screams, "Oh shit."

That, by the way, is a very difficult thing to see in the video the first time through. The first couple times I watched the video I didn't see it. Anyone who hasn't noticed it themselves, I highly recommend (if you can stomach it) watching it again and looking for it. The camera jumps up, unfortunately, making it difficult to see, but it does happen.
posted by shmegegge at 5:31 PM on January 5, 2009


Wow. Still with the inanity. If I saw this thread a month ago, I might not have joined. But since I'm in for my five bucks...

This was a restraint situation, at worst. Assuming he was actively resisting (and not just trying to position himself so the ground or the manhandling didn't hurt) there's about a dozen things that the two cops could have done before the third one SHOT HIM IN THE BACK!

I dealt with this kind of thing almost daily when I was working with MR/DD adults (some of them technically violent criminals.) Weirdly, we never shot, much less killed, anyone. If BART cops don't get that kind of training, it's insanely negligent. But even if it that's the case, that doesn't excuse the moron with a gun who SHOT THAT GUY IN THE BACK any more than it would excuse me if I did the same. (Well, ideally, I mean. This schmuck isn't going to do the kind of time I would do.)
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:35 PM on January 5, 2009


So, was it a Glock (I'm not watching that video, I'm pissed off and depressed enough just hearing about it)? I don't think Glocks have hammers to cock (they are semi-double action-only striker fired semi-autos) and as such, have a pretty hard trigger pull (though I have admit that I've put less than 100 rounds through a Glock in my life).
posted by 445supermag at 5:35 PM on January 5, 2009


Christ, what an asshole, regret does not indicate a lack of intent. Nor does a lack of intent stop this being a fucking travesty and a crime.
posted by Dysk at 5:36 PM on January 5, 2009


Previously
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:39 PM on January 5, 2009


Even in my minor dealings with police, I do the "Yes sir, no sir," slow movement or explaining what I'm about to do thing. The whole point is to let the cop know you're not a threat. You can argue whether it's right or wrong or fair, but you can only do that if you're alive.

No intention to single you out, BB, but I just want to point out that this is how cops become accustomed to unwarranted levels of deference. Then they think that questioning their authority -- even when it is absolutely a situation where that authrority should be questioned -- leads to a "teach Joe Public to question me" beat down/tasering.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 5:40 PM on January 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


should lead to, that is.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 5:40 PM on January 5, 2009


It's a bit hard to see, but it sure looks like Grant (the vicitim) is being held done by at least three officers. One then stands up & pulls a weapon. OK, maybe he meant to pull a Taser, and got confused, but why did he stand up and pull a weapon (any weapon) in the first place?

That's not a mistake, and there is no excuse for it. That's a decision to escalate the amount of force, and it seems completely unnecessary.

BART is saying that the investigation will "take weeks" and BART will have nothing to say until then. That sure sounds like the BART officials are hoping this whole thing will just blow over. I think that's a massive miscalculation on their part. The video will keep this on the front page, and in the lead of the nightly news, at least for this week.

BART also claims to have another video of the incident, taken from "another angle," but they have not released it.

The whole things makes me sick. I hope the cop who shot Grant goes to jail for a long, long time.
posted by FfejL at 5:54 PM on January 5, 2009


nobody has a reason or excuse for pulling a weapon on a cop.

That's not true. Kathryn Johnston had a good excuse as well as Corey Maye. So would the folks that get robbed in the middle of the night by thugs claiming to be the police.

doing so is asking to get shot.

Well, that's true, and sadly so in Kathryn Johnston's case. It seems that our LEOs in the US are becoming less of peace officers and more of wannabe paramilitaries.

The best way to find good officers for a SWAT team is to ask for volunteers and use the people that don't raise their hands.
posted by ryoshu at 6:00 PM on January 5, 2009 [8 favorites]


I'm always polite with cops in my interactions with them, and I've never been shot.

However, if I were being held up at gunpoint by a mugger, I would also be incredibly polite and obey orders.

I think in general, when you're dealing with an asshole with a gun, it pays to be polite.

That doesn't mean that its okay for an asshole with a gun to shoot you if you're not.
posted by empath at 6:12 PM on January 5, 2009 [5 favorites]


I am told by a friend who worked for a bay area PD that BART police who work graveyards also do the necessary tunnel maintainance that requires the system to close for four hours every night - except New Years Eve, when hours are extended. If that was his regular shift it seems very possible that, although he had a uniform and a gun, he had very little actual police experience.

This is not to defend the officer or his actions. I'm absolutely horrified by this. I suspect that the problem is not merely the actions of one dude, but a poorly trained police force.
posted by smartyboots at 6:12 PM on January 5, 2009


The whole things makes me sick. I hope the cop who shot Grant goes to jail for a long, long time.

That's not good enough. We need to fundamentally rethink law enforcement and imprisonment policy in the US. We're doing it wrong, that's all there is to it.
posted by empath at 6:14 PM on January 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


Maybe it is some kind of weird accident, stress, loss of judgment, whatever. Even if that were true, I can only ask this: what kind of sentence would someone who accidentally shot an unarmed police officer receive?

Assuming they didn't "accidentally" die in their cell.
posted by adipocere at 6:22 PM on January 5, 2009 [4 favorites]


Wow. So this is what it looks like when police brutality hits a new low. I was thinking, maybe some more gestapo-ey uniforms, or some sort of demoralizing chant, but wow. They went in a whole new direction.
posted by tehloki at 6:24 PM on January 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


From a Jan. 2nd news story, apparently before the video became available:

While witness accounts reported by news organizations indicate Grant was on the platform and handcuffed when he was shot, BART spokesman Jim Allison said the victim was not restrained when the gun discharged.

It seems to me the most logical stance to take with any official statements made by the police is: maybe they're telling the truth, maybe not. I really have no way of knowing.
posted by the bricabrac man at 6:42 PM on January 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


"give me that cellphone"

For accuracy sake some of the videos were shot by cellphone. The footage shot by Karina Vargas was on a new videocamera she had received foir Christmas. She was the one approached by a female officer, pounding on the subway car door's window, seeking to confiscate it.
posted by ericb at 6:47 PM on January 5, 2009


WTF? Why the hell isn't Oakland currently undergoing Greek style riots? Have we truly become such a cowed, fearful, people that even the outright, blatant, murder of an innocent person by cops isn't enough to spark righteous anger?
posted by sotonohito at 6:51 PM on January 5, 2009


25 million, that's all?
posted by Flex1970 at 7:01 PM on January 5, 2009


“Hahaha. Yes, I'm sure the cops' motivation for demanding the girl's camera was their concern that this evidence might not otherwise be preserved.” - posted by applemeat

Hmmm. What would be a cogent response to such a counter to my position. Fuck you, jagoff?
Yeah. That works: Fuck you, jagoof.

Whoops. Misspelled it. Boy, I’m sure going to catch hell for that. Man, I can’t wait to see the brilliant, well thought out retort to my mispelling a word. Boy, everyone is really going to see me put in my place now.
And it will be such a worthwhile use of time and energy too.

“I have never, under circumstances such as these, heard of a cop simply demanding evidence from someone without paperwork before,”

Well, first, yeah, it can be subpoenaed. But, much like an officer requesting to search your car - they can ask. Asking is standard operating procedure. You can refuse. Of course that opens a whole other can of worms.
You’re arguing whether it would be legal to record police - it is. Can the police take your property? No, not really.
But - I’ll go you one better. You, Joe Witness, can be detained.
This is all pretty loose depending on where you are in the country, but generally - there’s this thing called ‘investigative detention’ that is used to maintain the status quo of a crime scene while doing an investigation.
So, if you get a non-cooperative witness whom you know has testimony (that is - they have video of the crime) you can briefly detain them. You can even arrest them to ensure they appear at a trial (although typically an arrest warrant is required beforehand).

The gist is, if you’re at a crime scene, the cops ask “who saw it?” as standard operating procedure.
Why do you think no one ever says “yeah, I saw the whole thing?”
They don’t want to be detained. Well, the out is - “I didn’t see anything.” So they can’t really detain you.
But if you have a camera, they know you have some kind of evidence, therefore they’re going to try to collect it.

You seem to be arguing that confiscation of your property is wrong. I’d agree. But there’s also a whole thing about compelling testimony, etc. there.
So - seizure vs. asking, as well as the laws regarding witness testimony.
I don’t mean to imply it’s ‘right’ per se. But it’s what police officers do, by rote, collect evidence. I’m saying it’s a neutral type thing, not that there was any nefarious intent there.
Whether there was or not, really.

“however, going to say that I want cops who are afraid to shoot first.”

Ridiculous. Look, I’m just quibbling about a detail of word choice really. ‘Fear’ and ‘afraid’ all that.
I don’t want an officer being afraid to shoot someone whenever it’s absolutely necessary. I just don’t want them to shoot anyone other any other circumstances. There are ways to achieve that goal, other than generalized fear.

Look, I’ve actually fired weapons at live human beings. I’ve fought professionals and I’ve fought crazies and lunatics. The people that bring my attention to peak gain are the ones who are afraid. Nothing worse than someone full of fear - of any kind - with a firearm in their hand.

“And I don't buy the "dead cops" thing, either. That's what cop spokespeople say whenever there are restrictions imposed on the police, and it's nonsense.”

I enjoy how folks who never took an engineering class will remain silent when a professional with experience speaks of Stochastic responses of tension leg platforms to wind and wave fields and off-shore platform structures.
But a professional with experience speaks of human stress response and nerve lag in the Tuller Drill, and no way Smed, from my armchair here, I just feel you’re wrong.

You can ‘not buy it’ as much as you like. It’s not some sort of dodge. It’s what happens. If anything it’s a more damning indictment of the current system.

Indeed, I’m not arguing less restrictions on police officers. Quite the contrary. A well trained man doesn’t need some sort of regulation. He will react according to training.
However, that reaction needs to be anticipated by society and it needs to be visibly proper and appropriate in response. Therefore we require regulations, restrictions, laws, etc.
More restrictions would mean more training. I’d be happy to see that. I’d love to see cops well trained in hand to hand combat. In fact, I’d like to see them have to meet very rigorous physical skills tests involving body movement and non-lethal combat. I’d like to see a hell of a lot more of them on bikes. I’d like to see less equipment on them and more modular grouping - e.g certain officers carry certain things in small squads that can go out on patrols and reintegrate with other squads.
Got a lot of ideas that’ll likely never happen because of how government at the upper levels works.
It’s not about the policing really, it’s about what you can sell them and the pork you can get for all the paramilitary equipment (but feel free to blame those vets, yeah? We gotta step on their balls too at least once as long as we’re socking it to the cops. ‘Cos it can’t be the assholes in suits making money fault, can it? I mean, that’s too close to us, innit? - I’m not addressing you there shmegegge)

But don’t read crap into my argument merely because I’m not frothing at the mouth here.
I’m merely offering analysis. Doesn’t mean I’m siding with this asshole. Far from it. My criticism of these actions carry more weight than any vituperation simply because I have had some experience in these matters and I can lend an objective eye to these kinds of events.

You don’t want an accurate description of how things actually work, go build a bridge or a dam on your own. The information I’m imparting and observations I’m making - and they are observations, I’m of the *position* that this guy and anyone like him should go to jail - has no more a political/social/etc. position than a sack of concrete or figures on how and where to pour it.

Cops gather information. It’s what they do. They secure crime scenes. Look for witnesses. Etc.

You want to argue what they *should* do? I think one of the officers involved should have arrested the officer that fired the shot right there and then. I can’t imagine myself there and not doing it. Been tested by that kind of fire as well, so I’ve walked it. (Yeah, I’m not well liked, boo hoo).


“The cops are a serious part of the problem with vigilantism in this country, not its solution.”

I’ve said so myself. Implicitly in the statement you’re critiquing even. It’s a natural result of the failure of law enforcement to do its job properly.


“Just the same fear the rest of us feel of prison. You know, the sort of fear of prison people who might one day go there if they commit a crime feel.”

I have absolutely no fear of prison. None. I fear only doing something immoral or letting down some certain folks. Other than that, nada. I’d go to prison for a moral act.
I don’t fear killing another human being. Nor going to prison for it. I would die before I killed an innocent person. But that doesn’t scare me either. I’ve been shot. Doesn’t scare me. Oh, maybe I’d puke later. But at the time, no, I just react.

And seriously, do you not commit crimes only because you’re afraid of jail? I mean, I’ve never even thought about raping someone or something. But not because it’s like jail is holding me back from that.

Again, perhaps you’re letting your passion color your judgement. My only quibble is with this ‘fear’ business. I pretty much agree with the points you make otherwise.

But I absolutely guarantee you in an actual or potential firefight you’d want me or someone like me on the trigger making a cold decision based on training rather than some jittery dolt who has to think it over twice before he fires or not and is worried about going to jail.
Because I’d never have even pulled my pistol in this situation. Why? I’m well trained and I’d react accordingly.
At that moment, I don’t have kids, a wife, a family, there is nothing in the world other than what’s at hand and choosing the proper course of action. I’m not thinking of jail. It’s not a consideration. Only achieving the tactical goal.

Indeed, given the crowd and the circumstances, etc. my concern would have been for weapon retention.
Last thing you want is someone you’re struggling with is to take your pistol away from you because you’re in a stupid unstable position like this guy was with all your - and all your fellow officers’ - attention focused on the ground.

Don’t get me started on cops using the Glocks. F’ing fetish.

(saw this just before I posted - “Nobody , and I mean NOBODY, outside of a combat soldier needs to be packing (as in on-person carry) a no-safe semi-auto. Cops included. ESPECIALLY cops”

I disagree. Except for the bit about the cops)


“Whether or not the situation deemed that appropriate is yet another question.”

Yeah, I don’t think it did. Nor do I think this was conducted at all property given the suspect’s resistance (or lack thereof). And that’s just what’s on paper. There is scenario training for a variety of force resistance, escalating and decreasing intensity.
That latter one is tricky. Ok - the guy fires at you. Then! He puts the gun down. Now what?

I don’t know. I don’t think many of you have been in many team situations much less under stress. You develop certain protocols and ways of integrating with each other. The larger guy does the heavy lifting while the smaller guy goes low and the medium guy works to drive in a wedge, etc.

These cops reacted like a small mob. No coordination. No real teamwork. A lot of brute strength.
I’m just talking systems here. How the thing looks.
(Sorry if it sounds apologetic or some such. I haven’t had much sleep lately and I tend get more analytical.)
And there’s not even a breakdown of some system here, there’s a ‘never was.’

That’s the problem.
And when you have such a state of affairs you pretty much only have thugs with guns making a pretense at enforcing the law.

Action, especially violent actions, outside of war, has to follow a certain course to embody certain principles. Even in war, some laws must be obeyed.
What protects one is the training in those actions. Fear, and other considerations (racism, or any other internal baggage) are a natural impediment to following that course of action.
But men (humans) can be trained otherwise. They can be acclimated to a professional culture. They can be protected from even their own (some argue ‘natural’) reactions.
These men were not.

What’s disconcerting is that society holds that as an acceptable status quo.
Seems we can’t crap or get off the pot. Caught between this order and anarchy that results in a kind of soft-core corruption porn with these ‘accidents’ that crop up like nipple slips or the ‘oops’ porn videos ‘stolen’ from starlets and the wannabe famous.

It doesn’t have to happen. It really doesn’t.
posted by Smedleyman at 7:06 PM on January 5, 2009 [9 favorites]


:(

sadly, I am not surprised.
posted by autobahn at 7:08 PM on January 5, 2009


I don’t think many of you have been in many team situations much less under stress. You develop certain protocols and ways of integrating with each other.

See my earlier comments. Yeah, PLENTY of people do just this kind of thing every day without murdering each other. Cops seem to be the worst at it, for some reason.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:14 PM on January 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


WTF? Why the hell isn't Oakland currently undergoing Greek style riots? Have we truly become such a cowed, fearful, people that even the outright, blatant, murder of an innocent person by cops isn't enough to spark righteous anger?

Uh yes? I mean clearly. If this guy had been tasered it wouldn't even make it out of local news. If you watch the interview with the girl who video taped it, it seems like she wouldn't even have regarded the victim being tasered as that big of a deal, but people can die from it.

I remember when hearing about the riots in Greece how strange it was. If a kid got shot by the police here in the U.S, it just wouldn't be a big deal. I remember hearing a bout a teenager shot outside of a store at 2 AM in des moines a long time ago. A store owned by his family. It was in the news for like a day.

Of course, when you've got 1% of your population in prison, it's not hard to get away with whatever you want. If someone makes a fuss outside of the normal channels, just throw 'em in prison. If there was a Greece style riot in S.F. or Oakland, the government would have the ability to arrest and imprison every single rioter.
posted by delmoi at 7:15 PM on January 5, 2009


(Just to be clear, that wasn't a dig at Smedleyman.)
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:16 PM on January 5, 2009


Gah! missed this - sorry shmegegge.

“but we're living in a culture where no one in charge of our police seems afraid enough of the idea of sending out legions of armed officers without the proper training to do their jobs when lives are on the line. that's the biggest part of the fear I'm talking about”

In which case we’re in complete agreement.

And yes, in well trained hands, this never would have happened.
And to add - what you sed, plus the whole domestic side of the military-industrial complext that people seem to ignore a buch.
Whole lot of money in prisons, police uniforms, helmets, riot crap for the Podunk P.D. who’ll never see more than 8 people in any given gathering, homeland security blah blah, emergency management crapola.

...Not a whole lot of kickbacks in training.

Y’know, I am pretty tired. Sorry if I got up on my hind legs. Just sum up that last bit from my prior comment: ‘This didn’t have to happen.’
posted by Smedleyman at 7:22 PM on January 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Why the hell isn't Oakland currently undergoing Greek style riots?

Know what I'd love to see -- and what I think would be far more effective?

Something like the scene in Malcolm X, where a large group of well-dressed, well-disciplined and well-organized people keep a silent vigil in front of the police station (or City Hall). No signs; no chanting and marching; no jeans, t-shirts or sneakers; no screaming at the police or the anti-protestors. Just silent watching of the government building.

That would, I think, scare the hell out of the politicians, the media, and the police.

It's not likely to happen, but about all I can do nowadays is dream.
posted by lord_wolf at 7:23 PM on January 5, 2009 [9 favorites]


“Cops seem to be the worst at it, for some reason.”

That reason, I’m saying, would be training and the environment you’re in. Mindset is everything. There are leadership issues. The big problem is there isn’t a comprehensive standard - other than voluntary. I’m thinking CALEA and such.
(and on that note - re: community and execution in law enforcement. Bit simplistic, I’m sure the schools are good and there’s plenty of other factors, but...)
Also, I do think some folks should know how to get arrested.
The success stories are sort of a nice counterpoint to some of the anecdotes here.
posted by Smedleyman at 7:38 PM on January 5, 2009


lord_wolf writes "That would, I think, scare the hell out of the politicians, the media, and the police."

Yes, for a moment, and then they would just accidentally the whole crowd with billy clubs and tear gas.
posted by mullingitover at 7:44 PM on January 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


That's my BART stop. I didn't even realize that BART police carry guns, but I don't generally see them out of their cars.

It's pretty amazing, actually, at the lack of public outcry.
posted by puddinghead at 7:44 PM on January 5, 2009


I hope this guy gets put in the general population. Then we can all make ass raping jokes until the schmuck is shived.

Because here in America we spell "justice" A-N-A-L-R-A-P-E.
posted by MikeMc at 8:27 PM on January 5, 2009


MikeMc:
"Because here in America we spell "justice" A-N-A-L-R-A-P-E."

This goes well with empath's point.
posted by batmonkey at 8:36 PM on January 5, 2009


I have a hard time believing any cop, even a psychopath, would kill someone in cold blood in front of that many witnesses and fellow officers. I think he must have felt like the situation might be going in the wrong direction, so he pulled his gun as a warning to the other guys/bystanders, and accidentally pulled the trigger. They're trained to keep their finger OFF of the trigger for this exact reason---if you flinch or go to grip something, you can easily pull the trigger (though with the double-action-esque guns used by law enforcement today, it is a fairly long hard trigger pull).
posted by whatgorilla at 9:09 PM on January 5, 2009


I think he must have felt like the situation might be going in the wrong direction, so he pulled his gun as a warning to the other guys/bystanders

oh come on
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:21 PM on January 5, 2009


Pastabagel: This reminds me of Transmetropolitan, I'm not sure it would be that bad of an idea.

This is what popped into my head pretty quickly...Talib Kweli The Proud "What do I say to a dead cop's wife?/ Cops kill my people every day/ that's life"

I don't want the cities to burn, but it sure does seem inevitable.

I don't usually advocate torture, but the punishment for a police officer that murders an unarmed man should be torture.

/angry

*sigh*

Fuck.
posted by schyler523 at 9:27 PM on January 5, 2009


Caveat - haven't watched the video, don't know the entire situation, just an interesting tidbit about taser vs. handgun.

The training that officers tend to receive is so ingrained, so dedicated to creating muscle memory, that after the first few years of using tasers next to their regular holsters, they had problems with people drawing and firing the wrong firearm.

Some (or all, not sure actually), developed a cross-draw method, where you wear your taser on the opposite side of the normal firearm. You reach across to draw that, which is then repeatedly trained to reinforce the action.

Was this guy wearing the taser on the same side as the handgun?
posted by Lord_Pall at 9:43 PM on January 5, 2009


Oh yeah, caveat - If he was tasing him, he was doing it to be an asshole. It doesn't excuse the action, but I can't imagine he meant to kill the kid, more "rough him up" in a non-lethal way.
posted by Lord_Pall at 9:49 PM on January 5, 2009


MikeMC: pretty much my point, with the addition of "good for the goose..."
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:15 PM on January 5, 2009


just skimmed the last third of this thread here. who the fuck is Smedleyman and what is wrong with him?
posted by tumult at 10:23 PM on January 5, 2009


just skimmed the last third of this thread here. who the fuck is Smedleyman and what is wrong with him?
posted by tumult at 10:23 PM on January 5


a carriage return ate his family
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:46 PM on January 5, 2009 [11 favorites]


Why the hell isn't Oakland currently undergoing Greek style riots?


Go for enough to break the city, to shut down the BART, to make these pieces of shit squeal.


I notice that none of the people saying this live in Oakland. I live Downtown. I ride BART- I was on this train, but got off two stops earlier, at West Oakland. I'm not exactly sure why you're wishing more violence on my city, but I can tell you right now that we don't need it. Things are already broken here. Sitting at your computer and demanding riots and the shutdown of the transit system that many people, particularly in the crummier parts of Oakland, rely on- that's pretty condescending. As if Oaklanders only have riots and violence as a mode of communication. As if things are so shitty here that no one minds a fucking riot or two. No one has jobs or small businesses or anything like that, right? It's already a war zone, so who the hell cares if Oakland burns to the ground?
posted by oneirodynia at 11:10 PM on January 5, 2009 [15 favorites]


As a follow up to oneirodynia's point - while this occurred in Oakland (the stop before my station, in fact), BART Police is actually it's own separate agency because BART travels through so many different jurisdictions. It has nothing to do with Oakland city government or Oakland Police. As much as I love the idea of Malcom X-style protest in front of Oakland City Hall, they aren't the people responsible in this case and they have no control over the investigation or the officer.

In terms of proper police procedure, I have been told by those in the know that it is normal procedure to draw your gun when subduing someone who isn't restrained. However, you're not supposed to have your damn finger on the trigger, dumbfuck.

BTW, the current update to this is that there has been no statement taken from the officer who shot. Five days later. Which is profoundly against procedure and is doing nothing to make this look any better. I personally suspect it's because they know they're just fucked.
This just gets worse and worse.
posted by smartyboots at 11:48 PM on January 5, 2009


That bugs me too, oneirodynia. I'm kind of surprised that there haven't been riots, but I don't wish for riots to break out. That seems strange.

plus I'm not really eager for BART to get shut down for any length of time. I'm pretty damn impressed with the public transportation system in the Bay area, minus this police incident.
posted by needs more cowbell at 12:00 AM on January 6, 2009


just skimmed the last third of this thread here. who the fuck is Smedleyman and what is wrong with him?
posted by tumult at 10:23 PM on January 5


I think you may've gotten lost but I'm not sure where you think you are.

Just to clear that up: this is metafilter.
posted by flaterik at 12:46 AM on January 6, 2009


Tumult, Smedleyman is one of the few people here who actually knows about police officer training. Any regular reader should recognize his name. (BTW, who the fuck are you?)
posted by ryanrs at 3:12 AM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]




Poor poor policed ossifer. Confused by bright lights and angry people, he confused his taser for a sidearm. A simple honest mistake that anyone could make. What would YOU do in his place?

Ridiculous? This is what whatever panel who decides his fate will say.
posted by telstar at 3:57 AM on January 6, 2009


Smedleyman More often than not I find myself agreeing with you, but in this instance I think you appear to have been brainwashed by your training. Worse you appear to be completely, perhaps deliberately, ignorant of the fact that the pigs routinely cover up for one another, and destroy evidence to do so.

Remember the pig in NYC who tortured his victim for hours, including raping him with a nightstick? Remember that the pig proudly paraded through the station showing off his shit and blood covered stick? Remember that the other pigs stonewalled the investigation, lied to investigators, and destroyed evidence in that case?

Remember the pig in NYC who shoved the bike rider off his bike? Remember that the other pig in the video *NEVER* testified against his buddy?

The blue wall of silence makes all police officers pigs. Until it ends, until any and all cops committing crimes (yes, even crimes against poor people, or criminals) are immediately arrested and his fellow officers do everything in their power to get him convinced all cops are pigs. Because the blue wall of silence makes them all guilty.

I only recently came to this position. I used to think the term "pig" was wrong. I used to think that there was such a thing as a good cop. Not any more. Too many cases have come out lately, all despite the best efforts of the pigs to destroy the evidence, and the "good cops" stick with the blue wall of silence.

So, when you wrote:
“Hahaha. Yes, I'm sure the cops' motivation for demanding the girl's camera was their concern that this evidence might not otherwise be preserved.” - posted by applemeat

Hmmm. What would be a cogent response to such a counter to my position. Fuck you, jagoff?
Yeah. That works: Fuck you, jagoof.
I can only assume that you've been successfully brainwashed by your cop training. Given recent history the only rational assumption a person can make when they have evidence of police crimes and a pig wants to take that evidence away is that the pig wants to destroy the evidence. I say this because it is what happens, over and over. Because every cop out there, even the "good cops", cover up for the bad ones. They're all pigs, not one of them can be trusted with evidence of crimes committed by their fellow pigs.

Maybe back when you were a cop things were different. Maybe back then there really were "good cops" and they really did testify against the bad ones, and they really did collect evidence against the bad ones with the intent of persevering it. I doubt it, but maybe that's the way it was. It isn't that way in the modern world though Smedley.
posted by sotonohito at 6:13 AM on January 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


My entire prior comment on this thread: Hahaha. Yes, I'm sure the cops' motivation for demanding the girl's camera was their concern that this evidence might not otherwise be preserved.

Smedleyman's response to it: Hmmm. What would be a cogent response to such a counter to my position. Fuck you, jagoff? Yeah. That works: Fuck you, jagoof. Whoops. Misspelled it. Boy, I’m sure going to catch hell for that. Man, I can’t wait to see the brilliant, well thought out retort to my mispelling a word. Boy, everyone is really going to see me put in my place now. And it will be such a worthwhile use of time and energy too.

Wow! I think Smedleyman's unnecessarily defensive and unnecessarily abusive response far outweighed the stimulus. --I guess this guy really does know about police officer training!!
posted by applemeat at 6:23 AM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


(oops. Sotonohito beat me to it. Thanks man.)
posted by applemeat at 6:24 AM on January 6, 2009


I used to think that there was such a thing as a good cop. Not any more. Too many cases have come out lately

"Bad cops exist, so all cops must be bad."
posted by smackfu at 6:25 AM on January 6, 2009


The Chronicle has learned that the officer is two-year BART police veteran Johannes Mehserle, who turned 27 on Monday and whose first child was born within a day or two of the shooting - an event that may be a contributing factor to why Mehserle has not yet explained the shooting to investigators.

I have a child...wtf does that have to do with anything???
posted by mazola at 6:27 AM on January 6, 2009


smackfu wrote: "Bad cops exist, so all cops must be bad."

Not at all. My position is "bad cops exist and the 'good cops' don't do anything about it, therefore all cops must be bad". If the mythic "good cops" actually did something about the bad cops, if they testified, if they helped investigation, etc then we could rationally conclude that there really were good cops. But they don't. The "good cops" help cover up for the bad cops, even if only by staying silent.

If they won't help prosecute the bad cops, they aren't good cops; qed.
posted by sotonohito at 6:42 AM on January 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Oakland: Rally Held at Bart Headquarters to Protest Fatal Shooting.

I suspect this is the start with more public demonstration to come.
posted by ericb at 7:39 AM on January 6, 2009


Uh-huh.
"[BART spokesman Linton] Johnson said BART has two video feeds at the Fruitvale station.

He said the video feed that goes to BART's police department didn't record footage of the incident, as it normally doesn't record incidents.

But he said a video feed that goes to the transit agency's operations center did record the incident but an initial review of that video didn't show 'anything of significance.'"
Reminds me of the 2005 London Tube fatal shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes [previously - 1, 2] with the CCTV footage that "went missing."
posted by ericb at 7:46 AM on January 6, 2009 [5 favorites]


The Chronicle has learned that the officer is two-year BART police veteran Johannes Mehserle, who turned 27 on Monday and whose first child was born within a day or two of the shooting - an event that may be a contributing factor to why Mehserle has not yet explained the shooting to investigators.

I understand that, as I too am often just too busy to explain why I had to shoot someone.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:47 AM on January 6, 2009 [9 favorites]


Maybe back when you were a cop things were different. Maybe back then there really were "good cops" and they really did testify against the bad ones, and they really did collect evidence against the bad ones with the intent of persevering it.

That only happens in movies and TV series.
posted by Mr_Zero at 8:11 AM on January 6, 2009


Gah! missed this - sorry shmegegge.

really no problem. I went on for a bit there, clutching at anything that might give voice to my frustration, before I really nailed what I was trying to say. A lot of what you said was ultimately a perfectly reasonable response to what I was saying before I finally figured out what I wanted to say. As you mentioned, my passion colors my perspective, here. And when I see a case of such unbelievable wrongdoing or incompetence or whatever that was, The general pervasive anger at "things cops do" clouds finding the specific thing I'm talking about at that moment.

The fact is that when I talk about fear, I'm not really trying to say cops should be afraid to pull their guns, much as I might rant about it minutes after watching a video like that. I just get the general "the system needs to be more concerned with public safety" side of what I'm talking about all jumbled up with the "I hate those Bad Lietuenant style motherfuckers" side of what I'm feeling and a mess comes out. so there you go.

ultimately, I think you're right about training. I also think that training won't happen the way it needs to in an atmosphere where the cops protect themselves from the consequences of their actions.

and no, fear isn't what keep me from raping someone. jesus. fear of jail is, however, what keeps me from trying to cheat on my taxes.
posted by shmegegge at 8:12 AM on January 6, 2009


I understand that, as I too am often just too busy to explain why I had to shoot someone.

Well, the holidays are a very busy time of year. Things slip through the cracks.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:14 AM on January 6, 2009


just skimmed the last third of this thread here. who the fuck is Smedleyman and what is wrong with him?

Smedleyman is the bomb. Just to be clear about this so there's no confusion. Smedleyman is totally the bomb, even when I disagree with him.
posted by shmegegge at 8:26 AM on January 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


I can only assume that you've been successfully brainwashed by your cop training.

Unless he spent part of the time as an MP, Smedleyman wasn't a cop. Soldier or marine.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:45 AM on January 6, 2009


tumult : just skimmed the last third of this thread here. who the fuck is Smedleyman and what is wrong with him?

Smedleyman is a well respected member of the community who has repeatedly demonstrated a willingness to argue in good faith from a often less than popular standpoint. Even when people disagree with him, and they often do, it is acknowledged that he brings unique and interesting point of view to the discussion.

As to what the fuck is wrong with him? I've always suspected that it had something to do with a deep seated anger at things like zombies and traditional word wrap, but I'll not insult him with armchair editorializing or wild speculation.
posted by quin at 9:00 AM on January 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


“who the fuck is Smedleyman and what is wrong with him?”

I get that a lot in real space. From people with money, power, physical force or all three. Doesn’t much bother me there either.
You got a problem with my position? Have at it. I’m willing to listen to reason. If I’m shown to be wrong I’ll change my opinion. But I’m not going to recant heliocentrism just ‘cos someone uses harsh language.
So -
Police procedure isn’t to collect evidence and perhaps detain witnesses at the scene of a crime?
Cops shouldn’t have better training and more oversight?
Arresting officers don’t sometimes cause pain to get a suspect to struggle so they can stomp him?
The breakdown of law enforcement (through corruption, underfunding, brutality by police, etc) doesn’t lead to vigilantism?
We don’t need citizen involvement and organized protest to bring accountability to law enforcement?
The officer in question did act appropriately within use of force parameters, and I’m wrong that he should go to jail for a very long time whether he acted deliberately or not?

tumult - which of my claims is it you have a beef with?
(Or is the tangential - cops shouldn’t have Glocks? Paramilitary equipment budgeted for and purchased by higher ups through a grant process that games the system and funnels citizen’s tax dollars into kickbacks and other schemes is - what, equitable and proper?)

“but in this instance I think you appear to have been brainwashed by your training.”

Well, since that ‘brainwashing’ has kept me alive and proven through numerous fights in myriad locations worldwide against a variety of foes wielding a wide array of firearms, knives, booby traps, field pieces, etc. ad nauseum, I’ll trust in it, thanks.

“Worse you appear to be completely, perhaps deliberately, ignorant of the fact that the pigs routinely cover up for one another, and destroy evidence to do so.

I object to the use of the word ‘pig’ as referencing police officers in general. If you mean it to reference guys like this, no problem.
That aside, perhaps I do appear that way. I’m not. And I didn’t mean to defend such a position. That said, perhaps you haven’t fully read what I’ve written. I did in fact reference a police tactic of causing pain to a subject specifically to get them to resist as an excuse to beat on them.
Not sure where that places me vis a vis ‘the pigs’
But covering up evidence? Sure, that most certainly goes on. And for less than this.

“The blue wall of silence makes all police officers pigs.”

I see. So (offhand reference) Serpico is a pig as well? I’ve heard this “they’re all...” line of reasoning many times. I object to it on principle. If a police officer sees another commit a crime and testifies, he’s doing what he should be doing. If he covers it up, he’s complicit in it.
What’s the incentive for a cop to do the right thing if he gets castigated anyway?
Furthermore - what then are prosecutors? Public defenders? All other elements of the law enforcement and criminal justice system? Legislators make the laws, are they pigs? Federal agents? Where does it stop? Or does it?
It’s obviously arbitrary. You want to speak loosely about ‘the pigs’ ok. Fine. You’re just talking. But if you’re actually serious about doing - anything, that kind of arbitrary casting of who’s a ‘pig’ has a pretty solid prescedent at Wannasee. We start nailing guys who look like cops next? Are believed to have some predisposition to such?
Most importantly - who do we employ to mete justice? Don’t they, by definition, become law enforcement?
I get your frustration, and I hate to change gears back and forth from casual to formal, but if you’re honestly serious about doing something about it - and I’m all for that - I have to advise you that using the term ‘pig’ isn’t going to further your, or my, goal of a more transparent and accountable system.

I’m not refuting your argument that many things are very wrong, I’m saying you’re taking an otherwise rational position and extending it to an absurd conclusion.

But if this is how you actually feel, you should foment resistance. Perhaps not bombing police stations, but given your position that all police are sub-human, I don’t see why it should be off the table. I’m not advocating it, but c’mon, it’s what you seem to be implying. Perhaps not intentionally of course.


“So, when you wrote:
‘Hahaha. Yes, I'm sure the cops' motivation for demanding the girl's camera was their concern that this evidence might not otherwise be preserved.” - posted by applemeat

Hmmm. What would be a cogent response to such a counter to my position. Fuck you, jagoff?
Yeah. That works: Fuck you, jagoof.’

I can only assume that you've been successfully brainwashed by your cop training.”

You know what happens when you assume, right? Well, yes, you’re completely wrong there as well. applemeat took a slight chunk of my statement, distorted its meaning and made a cutsey retort.
Even more galling since I made an explicit allowance for exactly the case that the cop in question could well have been motivated by the desire to destroy evidence. Others read and got that. Why didn’t applemeat? Why didn’t you?
I would suggest that it’s because you’re more interested in promoting your anger and hatred agenda (even where it is, in this case, apt) than you are in reading or learning anythng useful.
The cop in question might well have been solely interested in destroying the evidence on that camera.
It also happens to have parity with police procdedure of gathering evidence from witnesses at a crime scene. They’re not mutually exclusive.
And indeed, I made clear that I personally agreed with the general consensus that the officer was probably more motivated to destroy the evidence than to collect it.
Again, others read and absorbed that. Why didn’t you?
I would argue that anger is coloring your perspective. (Another difference between us, I at least sometimes recognize it and! I apologize)
But it’s ok, you’re only mad at the ‘bad guys’ right? Doesn’t matter if ‘those’ people take it in the neck does it?

Well, I don’t deal in that kind of specious reasoning, because then it only matters who ‘they’ are, and getting back at ‘them,’not what’s right or wrong.

And isn’t that sort of the same problem with the cops?


“Wow! I think Smedleyman's unnecessarily defensive and unnecessarily abusive response far outweighed the stimulus.” - applemeat

I don’t think it outweighed the stimulus. I don’t have a high tolerance for this “oh, I’m not swearing so I’m ever so innocent” b.s.
You distorted what I wrote. I can’t speculate as to why, but your response was mocking me for a point I did not make. Indeed, over one that I explicitly agreed with.
And I apologized. Granted - implicitly. But if you want an explicit apology you have it - I’m sorry for that.
Remains to be seen whether you have the integrity to recognize your mistake or even admit the possibility of the validity of my perspective on it and tender the same.
I won’t hold my breath.

“If the mythic "good cops" actually did something about the bad cops, if they testified, if they helped investigation, etc then we could rationally conclude that there really were good cops. But they don't.”

Uh, yeah, we just had a bunch of cops busted out here for fronting for drug dealers. Who arrested them? Who’s arresting all the other cops doing wrong? Who’s putting these guys in jail? Because there are, in fact, bent cops going to prison.
You might want to take a look at this and ask yourself if you’re pissed off because people are really disagreeing with you, or if you’re pissed off because there’s objective evidence contrary to your ‘all/none’ worldview.

‘Cos I’m pretty sure I’ve laid some heavy indictments against law enforcement in the U.S. that don’t exactly run contrary to what you’re saying regarding systemic problems, the silence, all that (and hell, I’ll state explicitly again, I agree with it).
But I don’t think quibbling over the usage of a particular disparaging term is much of a disagreement (albeit one I feel it’s only fair to be upfront about and state, mostly as a matter of opposition on general principle to any “all ‘x’ are ‘y’” statements concerning almost any given group, but I’m not going to hang on it)
posted by Smedleyman at 9:02 AM on January 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


And, to be clear, no, I was not and am not a cop. I have experience with law enforcement though. And I have trained law enforcement personnel.
posted by Smedleyman at 9:07 AM on January 6, 2009


I can only assume that you've been successfully brainwashed by your cop training... They're all pigs

I'm not saying I agree with everything that Smedleyman said, but a statement that begins by assuming that someone else has been brainwashed and ends with judging the character of all members of a given occupation perhaps says more about the biases of the poster than the subject of the post.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:24 AM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


(and I appreciate the kind words. Not necessary tho. If my comment doesn’t hold water, it doesn’t hold water. Should speak for itself. Doesn’t matter if I’ve got cred or not.)
posted by Smedleyman at 9:27 AM on January 6, 2009


Smedleyman is awesome and has undoubtedly been well-trained in many things; he just missed the day when they taught paragraphs.
posted by desjardins at 9:27 AM on January 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


dude, there are totally paragraphs in those comments. there are just a lot of them.
posted by shmegegge at 9:52 AM on January 6, 2009


I don't think Glocks have hammers to cock (they are semi-double action-only striker fired semi-autos) and as such, have a pretty hard trigger pull (though I have admit that I've put less than 100 rounds through a Glock in my life).

I have only shot a glock once and that was perhaps fifty rounds, so others will be able to tell you more about it but as far as I recall you're right. no hammer and pulling the trigger was different from other handguns they gave me that day. you pulled it pretty far to the point where you'd wonder if it wasn't working and then suddenly your finger went over a hump and the thing fired. mine jammed a couple times and I didn't like it all that much but the cops on the range who showed me how to shoot it all swore by it.

That's not true. Kathryn Johnston had a good excuse as well as Corey Maye.
fine, serves me right for speaking in absolute terms. I doubt you are advocating we all should be pulling guns on cops just in case when stopped, so I'll assume my point still stands?

Reminds me of the 2005 London Tube fatal shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes [previously - 1, 2] with the CCTV footage that "went missing."
yeah, but those were TfL people who "lost it." you do have a point though, which is that the people recorded in video footage must not be the only ones with access to it. I'd like to see traffic cameras supervised by independent footage keepers as well so you could go there and get a backup tape or police station cameras being made to record in two locations, one the police station itself and the other in an independent place not run by cops.

pilots have no reasonable expectation that their conversations and actions before a crash won't see the light of day. they complain loudly about this lack of privacy and crash tapes making it onto the internet but I'm pretty sure the knowledge that they will be on the hook in this way because the NTSB doesn't cover for them ensures that they try a lot harder to avoid screwing up than they otherwise would. perhaps a similar incident response where dashboard cams are being confiscated by external investigators post incident would work for squad cars?
posted by krautland at 9:52 AM on January 6, 2009


I have a feeling that the "blue wall of silence" is typical of any "brotherhood"-type profession, be it the military, the priesthood or the UAW. You're either fer 'em or agin' em. And if you go against them the rest of your brothers will make your time on the job miserable. Thank goodness at least sometimes these abuses of power are filmed, so that maybe once in a while justice will prevail. What's mind-boggling is how some cops don't seem to care whether or not they're being filmed:

This cop was caught by his dash cam throwing a suspect to the ground, yet he told the paramedics that the perp was drunk and fell.

I see this type of scenario on COPS regularly - police pull someone over, yell for them to not move and keep their hands where they can be seen, then order them out of the car. But the driver can't move because his seatbelt is still fastened and he's been ordered to keep his hands in plain view. Their seeming lack of compliance just further infuriates the officer.

When this video first hit YouTube, the tasing victim's name and address were posted on an online message board by another Utah trooper who encouraged his "brothers" to keep an eye on the man's house and "bust his ass" for the slightest infraction. (I saw the post in question some time ago, but can't find it now.)

Being a paraplegic is no excuse for not complying with a police officer's orders, apparently.
posted by Oriole Adams at 10:13 AM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Why the hell isn't Oakland currently undergoing Greek style riots?

>As if Oaklanders only have riots and violence as a mode of communication. As if things are so shitty here that no one minds a fucking riot or two. No one has jobs or small businesses or anything like that, right? It's already a war zone, so who the hell cares if Oakland burns to the ground?


It's just Greece that only has riots and violence as a mode of communication. You probably didn't mean to imply that.
posted by ersatz at 10:53 AM on January 6, 2009


Why couldn't the cop have sat on the guy instead of shooting him?

I was pissed of by the hoodied lawyer, too, but only because the Eagles beat the Vikings in the playoffs.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:08 AM on January 6, 2009


It's just Greece that only has riots and violence as a mode of communication. You probably didn't mean to imply that.

Certainly not, and I don't think my post implies that at all, seeing as how I said nothing about Greece. The main thrust of my comment was that riots are self defeating, considering that most of the damage they inflict is on people that are not nearly as resilient to financial and physical harm as, say, BART or the City of Oakland; and that wishing them on other communities from a safe distance (or really, any distance) is pretty damn fucked up. Saying riots=awful response absolutely does not imply: greek riots=awful greek people. I'm hoping your circular reasoning is not an attempt to be inflammatory.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:13 PM on January 6, 2009


Learn to take care of your self and avoid cops at all costs.
posted by 445supermag at 3:10 PM on January 5 [+] [!]


I...really don't think vigilante justice is an improvement.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:36 PM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Just to add to my last comment- I'm well aware that there is an argument to be made in favor of mob violence in certain instances- the Stonewall Riots come to mind (I'm not elucidating a point of view, mind. Just saying that there's an argument). However, both the Fruitvale BART Station and BART HQ at the Lake Merritt Station are closely surrounded by lower income residential housing, and small businesses that are already having a hard enough time serving people in a rough part of town. Laney College, Oakland's urban community college, is also adjacent to Lake Merritt BART, and serves many students who don't have much cash or excellent high school GPAs, but are nevertheless trying to get an education beyond high school. The effect of riots on BART would mean a shutdown of a system that is used by many people that have no other option to get to work or school; and the likely raising of fares to account for any financial hardship inflicted on BART as an entity. In short, riots would visit more violence and financial hardship on communities that already shoulder more than their fair share. To wish that on other people is short sighted and unhelpful, and to be quite honest, coming from people who don't actually live anywhere near these places, is just as offensive as me saying that I wish the whole Middle East would blow itself up.
posted by oneirodynia at 1:12 PM on January 6, 2009


Oakland: Rally Held at Bart Headquarters to Protest Fatal Shooting. I suspect this is the start with more public demonstration to come.

Bart Police Protest At Fruitvale BART Tomorrow (Wednesday, 1/7, starting at 3 p.m. at the Fruitvale BART station).
posted by ericb at 1:27 PM on January 6, 2009


CBS5:
"More graphic videotapes of the shooting are surfacing."
posted by ericb at 1:32 PM on January 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


Riots are the response of people for whom there's no other option. And, frankly, I think they're sometimes a good response. If years and years of activism still can't keep cops from killing black people, maybe the pressure needs to go up a little more.
posted by paultopia at 2:20 PM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


From ericb's link "videotapes" above: Local CBS affiliate anchor Ken Bastida leads off the story with "It is the clearest picture yet of what may have happened."

Well, as long as we have a clear view of what may have happened, that should help, right? And that would explain officers trying to confiscate cell phones or cameras at the scene -- some of them may have clear images of what may not have happened, which will only confuse matters.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:46 PM on January 6, 2009


Apparently mistaking a gun for a Taser has happened before.
posted by tdismukes at 2:59 PM on January 6, 2009


ricochet biscuit -- unfortunately eponysterical, as the shot into Grant's back ricocheted off the concrete floor into his lungs, delivering the fatal blow.

I'm getting more-and-more perturbed about the fact that the officer involved has still not yet given a statement. Five days have passed, allowing him to view videotapes, to possibly (likely?) collude with others. As has been stated elsewhere, normal operating procedure is to interview an officer who has discharged his weapon the day or night of such event. WTF?
posted by ericb at 3:00 PM on January 6, 2009


I'm getting more-and-more perturbed about the fact that the officer involved has still not yet given a statement.

well, it's definitely not a good sign. on the other hand, as the attorney mentioned in one of the articles says, he has the right to plead the 5th. He may have decided that there is no statement he can make that will help him, and he's simply going to plead the 5th all the way. he may think (with good reason) that he's in a damned either way type of situation, and doesn't want to add fuel to the fire by giving anyone a clear idea of what was going through his head, by either admitting incompetence or intent. of course, he may also be colluding with his fellow officers and bureaucrats.
posted by shmegegge at 3:26 PM on January 6, 2009


earn to take care of your self and avoid cops at all costs.
posted by 445supermag at 3:10 PM on January 5 [+] [!]

I...really don't think vigilante justice is an improvement.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:36 PM on January 6 [+] [!]


Taking care of yourself does not mean seeking "justice". Sure, call the cops if you want justice, but justice rarely gets you your stuff back or undoes harm. Adding cops to a bad situation rarely makes anything better. Just ask someone who called the cops because they were afraid their mentally disabled relative would hurt themselves, only to have the cops show up and shoot them dead (google it for yourself).
posted by 445supermag at 3:50 PM on January 6, 2009


Adding cops to a bad situation rarely makes anything better.

Adding cops to an unclear situation often makes things dramatically worse.

Adding cops to a clear situation (provided you're on the right side of it) can save your skin.

Sure, if "bad" (bigoted, undertrained, etc.) cops show up, you may be screwed either way, but I still believe that's a relatively small number on the whole. Saying that adding cops always makes a situation worse is like saying adding a taxi driver always makes situations worse. Sometimes they rip you off -- even often -- but if the alternative is a 6 hour walk, you call the cabby. (and then watch him like a hawk)

Note: I now fully expect some wag to inform me that cab drivers are not authorized to carry and discharge firearms, because it has been well-established that MeFi does not do analogies.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 4:27 PM on January 6, 2009


I can't believe this hasn't become national news yet - I haven't seen a blip in the major papers in Chicago - I really hope I missed it.
posted by agregoli at 7:12 PM on January 6, 2009


All I know is that "policeman" is one of the worst thought-out job descriptions in America.

"Policeman" should be one of the most prestigious, highest paid, and most coveted jobs in the country.

It should pay at the 90th percentile, and should require at least a Bachelor's degree, and an advanced degree for anything besides patrol duty. It should have the best benefits, and paid early retirement. It should attract, literally, the best and brightest.

These are the armed peacekeepers of society. They have the power of life and death. They are often the sole arbiters of justice and order, as many things never make it to a court.

The power to arrest is one of the most profound powers in the entire United States. It should be entrusted to the elite of society.

In some cities in America the police are paid fast food wages. In practically all cities, the cops are paid less than an entry-level job a 21 year old grad can get at a bank. This is insanity.
posted by Ynoxas at 7:50 PM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


I can't believe this hasn't become national news yet...

Give it time. With growing attention and outcry the story is starting to get picked up nationally.
CNN: Video of California police shooting spurs investigation.

MSNBC: New Questions Surface Following BART Shooting.
posted by ericb at 7:55 PM on January 6, 2009


"Policeman" should be one of the most prestigious, highest paid, and most coveted jobs in the country.

Here in Boston they are very well compensated.

Boston Police Among Highest Paid in Nation.
"With high base salaries, opportunities to work lucrative construction details, and one of the nation's most generous overtime programs, Boston's rank-and-file police officers brought home $78,906 on average in 2002, and those who earned higher-education degrees made considerably more....Many detectives now receive salaries in excess of $90,000 a year."
"Average pay for Boston police patrolman, including overtime and other benefits...: $81,725 [in October 2004]"

Police Salaries in Major Cities [March 2004].*

Now what about our teachers? I think they should be considered "one of the most prestigious, highest paid, and most coveted jobs in the country." After all, who can have a more positive influence on our youth -- beyond one's parents? Should we not want to attract the "best and brightest" and to compensate them well for their role in society?
posted by ericb at 8:09 PM on January 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


Now what about our teachers?

I've often said that when I take over the world, one of the first things I'm going to do is double the salaries of firefighters and police officers. For law enforcement, this will ensure that the jobs remain desirable and coveted enough to attract some of best talent and allow the worst candidates to be trimmed away for better prospects.

I want to triple the pay of teachers for pretty much the same reasons.
posted by quin at 9:10 PM on January 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


He's receiving death threats.

(apologies if I missed this somewhere above...searched but didn't see it)
posted by batmonkey at 11:58 PM on January 6, 2009


Really, the only difference between this being an accident or on purpose is the nature of the crime. Whether he’s prosecuted for criminal negligence, manslaughter, etc. or premeditated murder. Either way he belongs in jail for a very long time.

I think that about sums it up.
posted by bwg at 4:00 AM on January 7, 2009


don't forget that if said bank suddenly has to compete with the police department in the wage category, the bank is just gonna raise their pay again and we're back to square one.

raising salaries for teachers, cops and firefighters only makes sense if you continuously raise them to or above what they could get in those other jobs they might consider and be eligible for. otherwise all you'll do is jumpstart inflation without giving them much more buying power.

I like the idea of requiring full-fledged bachelors degrees to enter police service but would like to see that being a degree in a relevant field as well, be it an undergrad law or psychology program. making exceptions for trained professionals in relevant fields, paramedics come to mind, seems to make sense as well.
posted by krautland at 4:21 AM on January 7, 2009


Certainly not, and I don't think my post implies that at all, seeing as how I said nothing about Greece.

The quoted part you responed to was Greek style riots, that's why I found it a bit funny that while defending Oakland it could be seen as dissing the place where riots took place. No disagreement about wishing riots from afar. But anyway, I should have PMed you if at all. Cheers.
posted by ersatz at 4:23 AM on January 7, 2009


Taking care of yourself does not mean seeking "justice". Sure, call the cops if you want justice, but justice rarely gets you your stuff back or undoes harm. Adding cops to a bad situation rarely makes anything better. Just ask someone who called the cops because they were afraid their mentally disabled relative would hurt themselves, only to have the cops show up and shoot them dead (google it for yourself).

I don't need to Google, because that happened in my neighborhood, actually.

But I know about another incident that happened in my neighborhood. It involved me receiving a threatening phone call from someone who first recited my full name and address, and then told me that he would come to my apartment, break in, and rape me if I did not proceed to answer all of the questions he was about to ask me. I gave him incorrect answers as I went around checking that the windows and doors were all locked and sent a text to my then-boyfriend to "Come over here right now," and then told him to fuck off, hung up, and called 911.

The two cops that the 911 dispatch sent arrived only five minutes later and took a full statement, and both were polite, courteous, and sympathetic, and to my understanding followed correct police procedure. They gave me the exact number I would need to call in the morning to follow up with a detective and gave me the complaint number. Moreover, the detective assigned to my complaint was also above-board, followed proper procedure, and was in every way a perfect advocate for my case, and I ultimately felt so comfortable and secure in his care that the last conversation he and I had was more about baseball than anything else.

The detective was persistent in doing everything he could to resolve my case, to the point that he actually wanted to pursue my harrasser more than I did (he only called once, and ultimately we found he was calling from five states away -- technically we didn't have enough grounds to cross state lines in pursuit, which I could tell distressed him, but when he heard I was okay with it, he settled for making me promise that if the guy ever called me again that I'd let him know so we could do something).

So that's two different incidents in the same neighborhood. What that tells me, and I imagine others would agree, is that....some cops are good, and some are bad. I absolutely believe that there should be a means for policing the police -- and this shooting would absolutely be an incident that calls for prosecution - but the fact that there are bad cops does not as such justify a complete dismissal of the police force as an institution.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:04 AM on January 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Huh. This wasn't the first time something like this happened with BART cops.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:14 AM on January 7, 2009


Sometimes cops break and need to be thrown away. I get it. It happens. It would happen even if there weren't widespread corruption in police forces. Fine.

But why in the fucking fucking fuck is BART coddling the guy? Chauffeuring him around to private locations. BART's inherent defense of the guy makes me deeply afraid to ride or get anywhere near a train.
posted by roll truck roll at 8:17 AM on January 7, 2009


Another controversial New Year's Eve shooting by police in Houston.
"A police officer shot a former professional baseball player's son outside of a Bellaire home early Wednesday, KPRC Local 2 reported.

Anthony Cooper said a Bellaire police officer approached him and his brother, Robert Tolan, in their driveway on Woodstock Street near Evergreen Street in Bellaire at about 2 a.m., after they returned home from a fast-food restaurant.

'We didn't know it was a police officer at all until he turned on his light, his flashlight, and had a gun,' Cooper said. 'They didn't even ask us any questions.'

Cooper, 20, said the officer told them to get down on the ground.

'We were going into the house and our parents came outside,' Cooper said. 'Our parents said, "What's going on?" They didn't say anything to us but, "Get down on the ground." They said, "Well, it's a stolen vehicle, ma'am." She's (the mother) like, "What stolen vehicle? That's his vehicle."'

'The vehicle was later determined not to be stolen,' Assistant Police Chief Byron Holloway said. 'The license plate was run, but exactly why they believe it was stolen … just don't have the information to make a comment on it.'

Cooper said the officer harassed Tolan's mother. Cooper said that when Tolan yelled at the officer, the officer shot him in the chest.

'Shot him on the ground,' said Cooper. 'Not even in the arm or anything. They shot him in his chest.'

Police said Tolan wasn't on the ground when Sgt. Jeff Cotton fired.

'Some type of altercation ensued, in which the sergeant fired two shots, possibly three shots, striking one of the persons who exited the vehicle at least once,' Holloway said 'From what I know, he got up off the ground.'

Tolan was rushed to Ben Taub Hospital with injuries to his liver and his lung. He is in fair condition...."
posted by ericb at 11:27 AM on January 7, 2009


Now what about our teachers?

ericb: I think teachers should also be much more highly compensated than they are. MUCH more. And yes, I'm willing to have my taxes raised to pay for it.

Boston cops may be well compensated, but I look at some of those salaries you linked, and $45k is not what I consider to be a particularly well-paid job, considering the risks of being a police officer in a major metropolitan area. There is no way in hell I'd be a NYC cop for $55k? Would you?

Plus, anywhere without a strong union presence is going to be much lower. Looking around a little last night I saw "small city" jobs for $22k. Few over $30k.

I saw a job posting last night for a new patrolman position in New Orleans for $35k. Are you serious? For one of the most violent cities in America? Who would take that job except someone who has few other prospects? I would imagine bartenders could make $35k in New Orleans quite easily.

Nashville TN is hardly some backwater; it has gangs, has multiple homicides per year, and is a large (very large, geographically) metropolitan area. How does $38k sound to you?

I know waitresses in Nashville that make $30k a year if you count tips.

What you have, in most parts of the country, is someone being willing to accept lower pay in return for the massive power.

What you should want is people requiring much higher pay to be entrusted with that kind of power.

With all that said, if this link is correct, that BART guy was making at least $75k a year. I would kind of hope 75k is enough to hire someone who knows you don't shoot prone, defenseless teens. Of course, I realize San Fran is one of the most expensive places to live on this hemisphere, so perhaps $75k isn't that much around there.
posted by Ynoxas at 12:24 PM on January 7, 2009


Attorney John Burris' claim [PDF] against BART (on behalf of Grant's family).
posted by ericb at 1:42 PM on January 7, 2009


“Should we not want to attract the "best and brightest" and to compensate them well for their role in society?”

So we should arm the teachers and cab drivers? That’s crazy!

...what. I skimmed.

“He's receiving death threats.”

Did I mention vigilantism? something something inevitable?
‘Thought I did.
S’why this kind of thing is such a double edged sword. Oh, I’m not saying it’s not understandable. But it’s the natural result. Sort of a social echo. It’s not just police behavior it’s the social response as well.

Plus - now, every BART cop has to watch his back, worry about taking crap from everyone and their brother. Which ups the tension level, which ups the aggression level, which heightens the chances of making another mistake or making an on purpose. Which again, further gooses up the chances someone puts a cop in a body bag.

And, really, obviously so. It’s what folks engaging in that brotherhood ‘us or them’ crap buy into when they exchange that for doing what’s right.

As I said before, on the scene, one of the other officers should have visibly reacted and arrested him. Even if he cut him a break later on and took the cuffs off once they were out of sight, the extreme nature of the situation warranted it.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:12 PM on January 7, 2009


The officer involved has just resigned.
posted by oneirodynia at 2:52 PM on January 7, 2009


thankfully, BART and the DA's office will continue their investigations.
posted by shmegegge at 3:26 PM on January 7, 2009


although, now that I think about it, aren't people usually arrested much more quickly than this? there's no question he did it, so shouldn't he be arrested? If I had shot an unarmed man in public and had been filmed by 3 cameras doing it, I imagine I'd be arrested immediately.
posted by shmegegge at 3:28 PM on January 7, 2009


The officer involved has just resigned.

Well thank god that's over with. We can all go about our daily business again.
posted by empath at 5:38 PM on January 7, 2009


What kind of bullshit poll options are these?

Also, just goes to show you that there's still a significant percentage of the people that will approve anytime a black guy gets killed.
posted by empath at 5:41 PM on January 7, 2009


I usually try and stay three days behind the front page so that I'm not tempted into commenting on current stories, not because I'm scared of getting pooped on but more because most tempests in here are solved in seventy-two hours or less and any commentary I could have would usually be wrong. I lurked for five years without getting an account just so I couldn't comment and prove the truism regarding speaking and proof of fooldom.

Unfortunately, somehow I caught up with the front page and having read the FPP, this entire comment string, watched all the videos and then conducted some research, I'm going to try and debunk several ideas already proposed, as well as posit one other possibility that has been missed throughout this thread.

First, let's see what is the most likely weaponry carried by this BART cop. According to this, standard armament for them is Sig Sauer .40-caliber semi-automatic pistols, model not specified and the Taser X26. Knowing that the Sig Sauers carried are .40 caliber does allow us to eliminate several models; looking at the gun in comparison to objects near and in-frame allows one a fairly confident guess that it is one of the several variations of the P226. This would be in line with what I've seen other departments use, when they have the money for these very pricey guns (usually at least twice the cost of your standard Glock).

After looking at this (.pdf) and this (.pdf), you can add up the weight of the Taser to be 9.6 oz. The Sig pistol weighs 34 oz, plus almost another 16 oz of weight for the 13 bullets it holds, using the police standard round, the Double Tap Hornady XTP JHP, 200 grains (yes, I know the spec says that it only holds 10/12 rounds of ammo, but virtually everyone, and most assuredly all law enforcement personal, load 12 rounds in the clip, cycle it once to put "one in the pipe", decock it using the decocking lever, and then drop the clip and add one more bullet for a total capacity of 13 rounds. And don't even question whether there's any chance that a cop is carrying a Brady-bill reduced capacity 10 round magazine, that's only for civilians, donchaknow? And maybe someone, preferably Smedleyman, can tell me why cops get to carry hollow point bullets but our soldiers are prohibited against using anything but full metal jacket ammo? Is it because we don't want to hurt our enemies worse than we hurt our own citizens?) Anyhoo, adding it all together gets us a weight in the ~50 oz range. So there's no way that this cop could have failed to notice that the object in his hand weighed five times the weight of his Taser, if he was indeed even carrying a Taser. And I don't buy the "fog of war" argument advanced here by some, if that was truly the case we would see more cases of soldiers grabbing empty mags and trying to stuff them in their M-16s, unaware of the difference in weight. And the links should be able to allow one to decide for themselves if there was any way the Taser could visually be mistaken for his Sig Sauer weapon.

I can't find a direct link to the police regulations but after reading through several California peace officer boards it would seem that it is departmental policy for forces using the Sig Sauer P226 is to carry it as described above, 12 rounds in the clip, one in the chamber, hammer down, placing the gun in double action for the first shot (DA) and then single action (SA) for all other shots fired til the mag is empty. That's also the way that the Sig Sauer trains people sent through their law enforcement course to carry the weapon. (I'll discuss the difference between this and those scary Glocks at some other time, which is to say never. Unless severely prodded. Which I shouldn't be, I'm full of chocolaty goodness.) Back on topic. So if this officer was carrying his pistol in accordance to department regs, he should have had a gun ready to fire, just needing a long and relatively heavy trigger pull. (There is no safety on those Sig Sauers. No, really. All those levers and knobs do different things, like decocking and slide locking and disassembly and magazine release. But no safety.) My point in noting this is that it's really not a twitch item, the DA trigger pull, your finger has to travel a just a hair less than an inch and you have to apply around ten pounds of pressure. If he was carrying according to reg. If he had the gun cocked in SA mode, then the finger travel is around a quarter of an inch and the pressure required is around four pounds. By the way, that (hammer cocked, single action) is a hugely unsafe way to carry that style of gun, you're just asking for something to joggle that trigger and shoot your knee off. Or a defenseless person lying facedown on a subway platform.

But that's not what I'm going to suggest happened. Smedleyman, as well as others in here conversant in shooting guns, what would be your first reaction if you were on a range and witnessed someone point a gun at a target, pause, not see or hear a shot fire and watch him quickly reach with his other hand to the gun and then hear and see a shot fire? Even at a distance, wearing shooting muffs and through those scratched-up glasses they give you to wear when you're not cool enough to have your own, what would you think happened? Exactly. You would think that either he had a misfire or that he'd forgotten to cycle his gun and did so quickly to load a round in the chamber. (And yes, that's not what you're supposed to do with a misfire and yet time after time...) If it's the first case, and he cycled that gun after the first round failed to fire, then he murdered this man, pure and simple. He would have felt that first *click* of the hammer hitting the firing pin, not feel the gun fire, and then reach with his other hand and cycle the slide, then fire again immediately, killing his target. The only thing that stops me from asserting this as fact is that I can't see the bullet that would have misfired ejecting from the gun as he cycles the weapon bouncing around on the floor. But that's because the resolution or the angle prevents that, not because it didn't happen. If it's the second case, how would he have known that he didn't have a bullet in the chamber, unless he suddenly remembered that he wasn't carrying his gun according to regulation? Would he want to get all regulation quick-like, cycle the weapon to chamber a round and then pull the trigger instead of the decocking lever that would bring the gun into regulation? Remember, right after cycling the weapon, the trigger goes to sensitive SA and then *twitch* he accidentally shoots the victim?

There's been some mention of him holding his hand to his head, apparently in shock at what he'd done. That seems more obvious in the first video but not so much in the second video, shot from the subway car. From that one it looks more like he's motioning that his ears hurt from the gunshot reverberating in the enclosed area and then he motions to left side of his pistol as though to try and explain something. But there's nothing on the left side of the pistol, save the trigger, that could possibly explain why he fired. Or had an accidental discharge. Did he think he was going to release the magazine or start to disassemble the gun in the middle of all this action?

That's all my speculation for the week, and I apologize for the length of this comment. I realise that parts of it don't jibe with what other people have put forward but to be very honest, my first thought on seeing this was that he tried to shoot that man, had a misfire or mischamber incident, cycled the weapon and then got his shot off, murdering the victim. Which makes this even more horrific than originally postulated.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 6:34 PM on January 7, 2009 [12 favorites]


The earlier protest which shut down the Fruitvale BART station has marched from Fruitvale BART to Lake Merritt station, about five blocks from me. There's about half a dozen helicopters circling overhead and sirens. Well see how this goes.
posted by oneirodynia at 6:36 PM on January 7, 2009


Riot police deployed Downtown, and tear gas fired at protesters. Things seem to be quieter on the helicopter front.
posted by oneirodynia at 7:03 PM on January 7, 2009


BART Shooting Protest Turns Violent.
posted by ericb at 7:16 PM on January 7, 2009


Police have blocked off downtown, from 12th to 16th, Clay to Webster. Protesters now smashing car windows and have set a car on fire. Restaurants and stores are having their windows broken. Helicopters are back in full force. One is hovering with his spotlight right in my garden. According to IndyBay, people are smashing windows at the McDonalds two blocks away from my house.


*sigh*
posted by oneirodynia at 8:35 PM on January 7, 2009


Riot police at either end of my block have just moved up the street. Took a walk around- a bunch of neighbors out cleaning up tipped over garbage cans and newspaper racks and sweeping up broken glass. About a dozen neighbors have busted car windows, one car on my block is burnt out. Saw some protesters jump a security guard at the apartment building down the way. My upstairs neighbor helped break up that fight. Every shop around here is closed. Several people are getting arrested. A ton of people out on the street. Going out to check on my car in a moment.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:16 PM on January 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Stay safe, oneirodynia. Sounds really awful.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:53 PM on January 7, 2009


A new wave of rioters just chased away from in front of my house by riot police in gas masks. We had actually walked out to get groceries- had to go a ways because everything nearby is shuttered. Came back to find everything had flared up again with more trash fires, more smashed car windows. Some of my neighbors are just getting home and have no idea why truckloads of cops in riot gear are zooming by.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:38 PM on January 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


"BART Shooting Protest Turns Violent."

wow. I'm so shocked. who could have possibly seen this coming. who could have known that following police procedure was so critical socially.
im just so stunned by this curious turn of events.
i cant imagine such a thing being used in police training to emphasize weapon control. because such a result is just so surprising. community in an uproar. wow. property destroyed. many people being hurt. millions of dollars spent. gee.

Fuck man. Just 'fuck'

How the hell do people not see this? Panic maybe. But hell, it's not like I've lead a goddamed charmed life here. Never happened to me.

How hard is it to know right from wrong? Act decently? Accept the consequences of your actions? F'ing apologize when you're wrong and take the hit?

Hell, I'd've had a statement of contrition out that night. I'd rather be in jail than have my conscience hounding me the rest of my life knowing I took some little girls father from her. Accident or not - my hand.

Crapping in public isn't that bad man. At least you're not putting people filthy with anger and rage (and perhaps rightfully so) out into the street and depending on the people you're supposed to call your brothers to take the hits for you.

Oh, and smash up McDonalds (but, y'know, screw them. I mean, I don't like to see anyone's place smashed up, but if it's gotta be somewhere....)

"why cops get to carry hollow point bullets but our soldiers are prohibited against using anything but full metal jacket ammo? Is it because we don't want to hurt our enemies worse than we hurt our own citizens?"

Spalling and fragmentation is good for stopping power. Pancaking is good for stopping power too. In close quarters you want either so bullets don't overpenetrate and ricochet.

In a war zone FMJ is often preferable because it will penetrate most lower level body armor. But all that's generally speaking.

The U.S. military has made some choices I disagree with on armament (don't get me started on the AUG system, common ammo, etc)

But philosophically the choice has been made to have a lighter round for main battlefield rifles (lighter than 7.62 frinstance) and make up for hitting hard and in greater volume with accuracy and firing discipline (which means more training - which I fully agree with for a number of reasons, not the least of which is not hitting civilians) and having a bullet that penetrates but tumbles.

Which is likely to cause some appalling wounds, despite being a smaller round.
Basic wound ballistics - damage is done by stress to tissue, that is force, not energy.

Fackler has some things to say on this topic.

I agree with him, but I still prefer a lighter projectile (philosophically for a battlefield rifle - if you're going to reach out and touch someone, you're going to want a heavier round).

It is, generally, better to wound an enemy to incapacitation than to kill him. ('Better' here is a term relative to tactical advantage, not, y'know, better in the sense that sitting in a hammock eating fudge sundaes with a couple of friendly women is 'better')

And that's pretty much why the U.S. has gone along with the 'ban' on hollow points too. Better to wound someone and drain the enemy's resources than kill them immediately.

I could go on and on about this but essentially - in close quarters, where you have to worry about civilians, if you're using a handgun or a submachinegun, you're going to not want to use underpowered ammo to prevent overpenetration.

So you're going to go with something that expends its force in the target. Number of ways to do that. Glaser safety slugs for instance.
But hollowpoints do that as well.

They deliver more force faster across a more broad area, ergo create a greater shock to the body, where FMJ would likely penetrate and expend its energy going through the body.

Since they do this, they (generally) have better stopping power which means they're better for self-defense (also a relative term, but take my meaning here) because they cause big wound holes, and because they're less likely (generally, again - depending on the caliber) to overpenatrate and harm someone else.

They're better for, say, hunting, in many respects. Better here is a word meant to mean more humane since it causes shock and kills more quickly than to mean the deer wouldn't rather be somewhere else at that point eating leaves or enjoying a nice salt lick.

Handguns are sort of a trade off in terms of stopping power vs. agility and portibility.
If I know I'm going into a lethal situation, I'm going to have a shotgun, rifle or a high powered smg for close quarters. Something that can cause immediate shock.

The wounding idea is great in the general sense, but after I shoot them, I don't want my target concerned at all with me if I'm inside 25 feet of them.

Also the 'no hollowpoints' in war is pretty much a non-issue. Modern rounds, the EFMJ (Expanding Full Metal Jackets) say, expand but don't overpenetrate.

And the Hague convention's prohibition was mostly designed to prevent that "wound the enemy" deal. Only ballistics technology has advanced and not all hollowpoints
are fragmenting. So technically they don't 'increase suffering' per se.

I haven't read anything on that for quite some time, but I believe it was before the turn of the last century.
Either way, it's not really a meaningful thing. No one adheres to it, and we only do for the reasons I mentioned above.

Ah, yeah, checked thegunzone.com, blah de blah - no, the old accords are out based on wound data.

And the wiki article on hollowpoints has some misinfo.


"what would be your first reaction if you were on a range and witnessed someone point a gun at a target, pause, not see or hear a shot fire and watch him quickly reach with his other hand to the gun and then hear and see a shot fire?"

Well, I agree with your reasoning. The difference is, I object to his actions from initial reaction.
So, using your metaphor, what would be my reaction if I was on a range and witnessed someone point his gun at the target, pause, not see or hear a shot fire and watch him reach
with his other hand while taking the gun off the target or downrange and swinging it towards me.

Well, I'd shoot him.
If I had a 1/4 second to think about it or notice it before he pointed it my way I'd probably disarm him and push him to the ground then gone to speak to the manager about never allowing him anywhere near the range ever again.

And that is pretty much what should have happened after this. Someone well trained trusts what they see, not what they think they see.

I'm not saying the cops here, or Joe Everycop should have grabbed the gun, tackled him, and asked him what the hell he thought he was doing pointing a gun at the back of a man in a prone position on the ground then taken him in and told their chief the guy should be off the force immediately.

But a good cop would have.

Good cops end bad situations before they happen all the time.

Typically with criminals, mentally incompetent folks (like drunks, or folks with mental problems or some immediate snafu that make them dangerous), and the just plain malicious.

Only real question is which category there this guy fit into.


Stay safe oneirodynia
posted by Smedleyman at 10:39 PM on January 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Thanks, MSTPT. I'm actually hoping it starts raining heavily Friday afternoon and continues throughout the weekend. Because I'm not certain this will end tonight.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:43 PM on January 7, 2009


Take care, Oakland folks...I wish this was not the first reaction to injustice that many have. I'm keeping my thoughts focused on your safe delivery through the violence.

I noticed this in the articles about the resignation:
""The video supports the position we are taking and eyewitnesses’ testimony that the officer deliberately went for his gun and there’s no mistake about it," Burris said. "He didn’t reach across for his Taser. He couldn’t have been thinking about that. He went directly for his gun.""
posted by batmonkey at 10:51 PM on January 7, 2009


This is getting more and more suspect. All I know is, that officer - now former officer, better not be allowed to disappear. There will be rightful hell to pay.

oneirodynia, thank you for any info you continue to provide. I don't want to see folks neighborhoods getting wrecked. I just never will understand why when these things happen (officers murdering unarmed Black folk as happens all too often), that someone in city government doesn't come out and make a heartfelt statement saying they value the life of the person that was killed and they vow to get to the bottom of it. Like they would if it was an unarmed white girl who looked like their child or friend's child.

I figured by now that would be the obvious thing to do. "We are saddened by the death of Oscar Grant. We value the lives of our citizens and we understand how our community is reacting to the preliminary information in this case. We are determined to fully investigate this incident and we will not hesitate to act on the results of our investigation. We mourn the loss of Oscar Grant and we will honor his life with a fair investigation into this matter. Here are the areas of concern our community has been discussing - besides the shooting, there is an allegation that an officer attempted to confiscate a citizen's camera - we are investigating that. The current things we are doing are a, b and c. We will have updates each day at 5pm, or sooner if we have information to share."

Not so much that they compromise what they're doing, but come out and show you're in control, that the power and watchful eye of law enforcement is going to be just as strong on this situation as it is on citizenry suspected of wrongdoing, and above all else, in fragile moments like these, acknowledge, genuinely acknowledge the dead. I'm talking somber like it was someone you knew acknowledgement.

Because man I'm telling you, a significant part of this has been a longstanding feeling that the lives of some people just don't matter as much as others in this society, simply because of how they look. Maybe they issued a statement like that and I missed it. Maybe the head of the force is Black and issued a statement like that. All I know is that when this first got posted and I read that "oh come on, it's only been days and days since this happened, we'll get to it when we get to it." statement, it just screamed "we'll bust you and shoot you any time we feel like it" in that Bill Hicks voice.
posted by cashman at 11:00 PM on January 7, 2009 [7 favorites]


Thanks for the good wishes, everyone. Things are much quieter now, though I hear there is another protest planned for the morning. I also saw heard that Mayor Dellums is going to ask Oakland police to treat the case as a homicide, but I can't find anything online to back that up. I'm going to bed now that there haven't been any helicopters for awhile.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:03 AM on January 8, 2009


Angry BART Police Poster Posted on Train.
posted by ericb at 6:02 AM on January 8, 2009


The officer involved has just resigned.

He resigned to avoid "an interview with police internal affairs investigators trying to get to the bottom of an incident that has prompted broad outrage." Surely, there must be a reason that he can be arrested, can't there? Such a move might help to quell the growing anger and any more potential violence.
posted by ericb at 6:10 AM on January 8, 2009


I hear there is another protest planned for the morning.

"Rally organizers said they will have another protest at BART headquarters at 9 a.m. Thursday when the transit agency's board of directors has a meeting." *

"Organizers noted that they intend to build a movement against police brutality and plan to hold several other demonstrations in the coming weeks." *
posted by ericb at 6:20 AM on January 8, 2009


On last night's rioting:
"Mayor Ron Dellums pleaded for calm as anger continued to build in the city’s black community...

'We’ve got to have a real investigation that people can have confidence in,' said Mr. Dellums on Wednesday night. 'And my sense of it is that part of this reaction is that people have lost confidence.'"
'Ya think?
posted by ericb at 6:24 AM on January 8, 2009


let it be noted that people in this very thread wished for greek-style riots in oakland. any surprise, regret, outrage, sadness and other reactions need to be viewed with that in mind.
posted by krautland at 6:33 AM on January 8, 2009


It appears that the discussion has moved to a new thread.
posted by ericb at 8:06 AM on January 8, 2009


Thank you ericb. I was wondering what was up.
posted by cashman at 10:20 AM on January 8, 2009


cashman, I wish I could favorite your comment 100 times. That is a feeling I've had for a long time now.
posted by agregoli at 8:02 PM on January 8, 2009




And charged with murder no less. Thanks billysumday.
posted by Big_B at 1:25 PM on January 14, 2009


thomask hawk found a forum where cops talk about this case. predictable opinions.

it's too bad that they talk among themselves and we talk among ourselves.
posted by krautland at 2:01 PM on January 14, 2009




« Older Liberal Guilt   |   i bought some crappy lights... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post