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Beware of Internet Overshares
March 11, 2009 1:21 PM   Subscribe

"Meet Officer Vaughan Ettienne, the bodybuilder who learned the hard way you shouldn't write like a thug online, or a jury might just suspect you of mistreating a suspect." Ettienne arrested Gary Waters for gun possession. At trial "the defense found things Ettienne said online and turned them against him." "Mr. Waters, on parole from a burglary conviction when he was arrested, beat the most serious charge, the felony possession of a 9 millimeter Beretta and a bagful of ammunition. He was convicted of resisting arrest, a misdemeanor."
posted by ericb (23 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
I guess MySpace can do good in the world.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 1:25 PM on March 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


Christ, what a dummy. Also, from the Gawker link:
The next day, he affected the arrest of a man who claims Ettienne broke three of his ribs and then planted a gun on him to justify the use of excessive force.
That word doesn't mean &c.
posted by Mister_A at 1:29 PM on March 11, 2009


So ... a jury bought that he broke the dude's ribs and planted evidence. Any repercussions? No? Back to business then.

Also: damn good work on the part of the defense. Who thinks, "I wonder if the arresting officer has made idiotic comments on the internet?" when preparing for trial?
posted by a robot made out of meat at 1:34 PM on March 11, 2009


Who thinks, "I wonder if the arresting officer has made idiotic comments on the internet?" when preparing for trial?

Any defense counsel worth her salt who is preparing a case which relies on establishing a pattern of violent and / or abusive behavior on the part of the arresting officer.
posted by dersins at 1:40 PM on March 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


In any case, well done by the defense.
posted by Mister_A at 1:42 PM on March 11, 2009


Actually, I think that word does mean what they think it means.
posted by brenton at 1:56 PM on March 11, 2009


Nope.
posted by Mister_A at 2:03 PM on March 11, 2009


As best I can tell from those pictures, his right arm is much more developed than his left arm.

A competition judge would mark him down on symmetry.
posted by Joe Beese at 2:07 PM on March 11, 2009


Well, odds are it is his beatin' arm.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 2:10 PM on March 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


*shows up, says the usual, leaves*

... Wait, I'm back. Aside from what I would normally say about this, I'll have to make an addition: the fact that a police officer feels comfortable putting this up on MySpace says an awful lot about our police culture.

Sure, I imagine most people, dropped in the role of police officer, probably have angry moments where they would like to give someone a sock in the jaw. Everyone has those moments, even the most of us who do not have jobs where we're in danger of being hit, shot, whatever. That's okay. It's okay if it happens more than once a day.

Wondering privately how you could get away with a hypothetical beating? Understandable. Yeah, I'm with you so far. Only saints and hypocrites would suggest that those thoughts might never occur.

Private discussions between police officers on getting away with stuff? Not quite a conspiracy, but definitely objectionable. It's creepy and sends the usual message about the blue wall of silence, and that one might whack a mouthy kid with the skateboard.

Posting tips on MySpace ? Stupid, arrogant, and objectionable.

That level of arrogance can only exist when you encourage it with a wink and a nod. Little incidents swept under the rug. Abuses "underreported" by the mainstream media. Glorification of thuggishness via film, television, and talk show hosts. Our boys in blue can do no wrong. They're under a lot of stress. The guy probably had it coming. You don't know the guy didn't have it coming.

Can we at least work on getting back police culture down to merely objectionable? Police officers have an enormous set of powers handed to them: the ability to make lives miserable, or to end. It's not quite judge, jury, and executioner, but how many cases of "well, it looked like he was going for a weapon, so we shot him twenty times" have we seen so far? Too many. If the power of physical injury is given to our police officers, I expect a whole lot of tiptoeing around about using it.

This guy? Tapdancing in jackboots.
posted by adipocere at 2:24 PM on March 11, 2009 [6 favorites]


it really terrifies me when I get moments like that into the thoughts of bad cops. I know I know, I've popped into threads before to talk shit about cops, but that's not what I'm about this time. I'm just saying that when you read a cop talking about how to get away with needlessly beating a suspect, it fills me with fear. The idea that I will encounter someone like that (as in, THAT kind of cop, as opposed to cops in general), having done nothing wrong, and not be able to do anything about it because he holds all the cards is terrifying.
posted by shmegegge at 2:57 PM on March 11, 2009


...most people...probably have angry moments where they would like to give someone a sock in the jaw...

Speaking only for myself, I call that the "Burhanistan Transfer".
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:15 PM on March 11, 2009


"the defense found things Ettienne said online and turned them against him."

*checks posting history*

Oh man. I am so totally uppercase Fucked if I ever get caught doing anything.
posted by quin at 3:28 PM on March 11, 2009


"Can we at least work on getting back police culture down to merely objectionable?"

Police culture varies from state to state, county, town, department, all that. I take your point on policing in the U.S. But I'm reminded of Lenny Bruce's trying to explain how the courts work in different locales where a lawyer from New York goes down south to argue a case and how, to them, he must have seemed like a deep south small town lawyer in front of a diverse and cosmopolitan jury ("Look here now, ahmana take you folks to school - this here ol' jew boy and a buck nigger...what? What'd I say? It's a cute story....")
So I think it maybe says something about this department, and most certainly this guy. But cultures vary.

So beyond that, if we believe the news article this particular cop has never been disciplined for brutality, so he's barking with no bite. So the upshot is, you have a convicted burglar walking on a felony possession of a firearm charge.
So yeah - usual comments setting aside all that - isn't this all the worse for not doing the job of law enforcement? You've got a guy who may well be guilty who skates. Because whether the culture is lousy or this cop just isn't caught beating on someone, the solid fact is he got off because this guy ran his mouth.
Certainly, if someone's rights are violated they should be released. But that's exactly the point. Vigilantism by officers impedes the justice system even if it's just talk.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:28 PM on March 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Shocked! Shocked am I! Here I thought only civilians had to be careful about what they say on public internet forums, and that cops could say whatever they want! Oh the injustice of it all!
posted by happyroach at 4:16 PM on March 11, 2009


This would never have happened if he didn't have a last name for a first name and a first name for a last name.
posted by dirigibleman at 7:36 PM on March 11, 2009



As best I can tell from those pictures, his right arm is much more developed than his left arm.

A competition judge would mark him down on symmetry.


Well he's a mile short on more than his arms when it comes to symmetry and proportionality, which there aren't any trophies being touted on his profile. Pretty typical of shorter guys on Dianabol; they stay away from HGH because it's more visible on people with smaller heads/faces (and the bone/organ growth is more problematic on a smaller frame). The hard-core short guys you see in magazines and such skip right to slin, but amateurs without a doctor helping them don't use slin (insulin) because most don't like needles and if you don't know what you're doing with it it's pretty easy to kill yourself (seriously, nothing gets you bigger faster, but with slin you're no-shit-literally one mistake away from coma->death). So I'm guessing d-bol. Sucks for him too, because a lot of guys starting out take the shit orally for years (especially cops) because of the stigma of needles; and the years of juicing orally is what really fucks up your liver. Lot of things about those pics (admittedly poor quality) support the "little guy on d-bol" things- obviously favoring one arm, posing wrong to show off delts, tris, etc... plus the whole thing about posting about how to beat down miscreants and then getting caught doing it kind of reinforces the small-man/Napoleon stereotype.

/bodybuilding
/steroids
posted by hamida2242 at 12:25 AM on March 12, 2009


Police culture varies from state to state, county, town, department, all that.

No, it really doesn't.
posted by hamida2242 at 12:27 AM on March 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Smedleyman makes a lot of good points. Even for the pro-police folks- and the police themselves- this kind of shit really needs to be hammered as hard as possible, and the best way to sell it to those people is "look, don't do this because it's wrong, do this because someone will 'walk' when they shouldn't."

It isn't right but if it discourages that kind of behavior from police than the ends justify the means.

After all, isn't that the rationale for militarizing cops and eroding the BofR for the rest of us, right after the "if you've got nothing to hide..." line of thinking?
posted by hamida2242 at 12:39 AM on March 12, 2009


forgot to add: not a slam against Smedleyman. Seriously.
posted by hamida2242 at 12:39 AM on March 12, 2009


No, it really doesn't.

You know, I bet someone who has, like you, clearly been to every state and locality in the United States could write a hell of a travel blog.
posted by absalom at 11:06 AM on March 12, 2009


No, it really doesn't.
---
You know, I bet someone who has, like you, clearly been to every state and locality in the United States could write a hell of a travel blog.


You know, it very well might take traveling to every state and locality in order to find the one police district that didn't encourage this thinking to some extent. Finding a single report of "fantastically friendly, helpful, non-abusive, transparent, law-abiding, self-policing police department" would absolutely taze shock the shit out of me.
posted by FatherDagon at 12:09 PM on March 12, 2009


“and the years of juicing orally is what really fucks up your liver.”
I talk to some of the bodybuilders in the gym. They go on about this kind of stuff, all kindsa details on chemicals, etc. etc. My eyes just sort of glaze over “Y’know, I just uh, like lifting weights man.” “Yeah, but symmetry blah blah your physique blah blah genetics blah blah.” “…can I uh, do my set now?”
Not my thing but lot of knowledge there.

“forgot to add: not a slam against Smedleyman. Seriously.”

No sweat. I have that coming. Being treated like a loose cannon I mean. I completely understand. Forcefulness - pretty handy in some circumstances. Not so much in discourse. I’m working on it. Last thing I want to be is some dickish troll. But no dispute as to appropriate response. I’m in earnest here, I can be overbearing sometimes even when I’m being Mr. Wonderful, so I’m working on it. As to the subject at hand, I disagree.

“Finding a single report of "fantastically friendly, helpful, non-abusive, transparent, law-abiding, self-policing police department" would absolutely taze shock the shit out of me”

They exist. Here you go. Check out the cases. Better than a bran muffin I hope.

You know, I think police criticism is necessary and I'm likely more anti-authoritarian than most folks here. But I think taking the tack that it can’t possibly be done properly is the wrong approach. If there’s no department anywhere that does a good job protecting its citizens without being abusive all that, then if I’m a cop I’m pretty much free to beat the hell out of people because hey – it’s impossible to do the job any other way right? No one can do it.
The fact that there are good departments should put the bad ones to shame, no?
Argument as to many, different story. Sometimes perception makes the reality.

Out here tho – I like to think of my local PD as the ‘polite Gestapo.’ A bit ago we had 5 or 6 black guys (relevant because it’s mostly a white neighborhood) at the train station drinking beer. It was a holiday (memorial day or some such) and hey, they’re not driving so yeah, have a few beers. Someone apparently called the police or they sensed something like radar, I dunno. I watched squad after squad pull up. They’d go by me, check my car to make sure I was from around here, then go by and crouch or whatever to spring on these guys en masse.
So about 20 officers. And – I dunno it must be SOP because I see it all the time – the shortest cop walked up to these guys.
And they didn’t see the other cops, but the air had that tense feel. So as soon as he started talking, more and more cops appeared. And he gave the opening “Good day gentlemen, how are we today” or whatever formalism. Some small talk ensued. Checked their ID – all over 21.
Then the meat. “Are you aware there is no drinking on the train today?”
They were not aware. They were just going home. They were just doing whatever you say. They were just please don’t kick our asses you cracker cops because I don’t want to wind up on the six o’clock news because I had a beer in the wrong town on my day off.
The cops are debating arresting them.
So one guy – younger guy, must be SOP because it’s the same guy in every crowd or any group of people every time – says “Well, how are we supposed to know?”
The short guy, officiously states that it’s posted right above the ticket office.
“No it isn’t.”
So the short cop and his two flankers walk to the ticket office and look. No sign. They walk down the platform. No signs anywhere. They walk all around the station – nothing to indicate anything about not drinking today on the train.
Short cop comes back. Short cop looks mad. The group of guys start moving closer together since they’ve seen this scenario on ‘Cops.’
Then the last thing they probably expected happens: “I’m sorry.” The short cops says. “You know they really ought to post this if they expect people to follow the rules. Well, consider this your notification. Please don’t take the beer on the train gentlemen. Have a nice day.”
And they all just faded.
And there’s this small group of black guys who are completely dumbfounded that they didn’t even have to pour the beer out. Outnumbered 2 or 3 to 1. No beating. No hassle. No citation. Not even a written warning. Completely surrounded, but treated politely and left to go on about their business. And drinking at that.
One guy about my age looked at me with a “WTF was that?” face.
I said “Happens all the time pal.”
And it does. My department is CALEA accredited. They have no complaints about racial profiling, use of force, etc.

I take the point that there are widespread themes throughout law enforcement culture in the U.S. But I disagree that they’re all alike and most especially that the job can’t be done properly or isn’t being done properly anywhere. If that were so seems like that’s a pretty big argument for the folks who are doing it wrong that it can’t be done right.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:56 PM on March 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


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