Akai Gurley
November 21, 2014 1:54 PM   Subscribe

Last night, a 28 year old man named Akai Gurley was shot to death in a stairwell by an NYPD officer who was patrolling the Pink Houses in East New York. Gurley and his girlfriend had decided to take the stairs because the elevator was taking too long. Police Commissioner Bratton said today that the victim was “a total innocent” and called the shooting "an unfortunate accident." posted by roomthreeseventeen (120 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
 
“We leave that decision as to when to take a firearm out to the discretion of the officers based on what they are encountering or believe they may encounter,” Mr. Bratton said. “There’s not a specific prohibition against taking a firearm out.”

One thing that I took away from the police response to the protests in Ferguson is how incredibly lax police departments seem to be about basic firearms safety. If you don't plan on shooting anything, keep your gun in your holster. This is basic, and if your officers don't have enough sense to do it, it should be policy.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:58 PM on November 21, 2014 [66 favorites]


So not only did Peter Liang draw his pistol, but he had his finger on the trigger before he was even sure Gurley was a legitimate threat? WTF?
posted by starbreaker at 2:01 PM on November 21, 2014 [5 favorites]


The mayor "told reporters Friday, according to Capital New York, that the shooting of Gurley "does appear to have been an accident" and that people shouldn't "connect all the dots" between Gurley, [Michael] Brown and [Eric] Garner."

UGH
posted by showbiz_liz at 2:01 PM on November 21, 2014 [3 favorites]


"He was an innocent man. They didn't give no explanation. They didn't identify themselves. They just started shooting."

That's not an accident.
posted by jammy at 2:02 PM on November 21, 2014 [72 favorites]


Fuck everything forever.
posted by MissySedai at 2:03 PM on November 21, 2014 [16 favorites]


Meanwhile, in Alaska, Officer's Death Raises Safety Concerns For Alaska's Unarmed Law Enforcement - village public safety officers (VPSOs) work alone, without guns, and instead must rely on their words to talk people into coming with them, or calming down in tense situations. If things get rough, they have pepper spray and a Taser, but no gun.

Mind you, this is in rural communities, where everyone knows everyone else, but I keep thinking about this - a police force without guns, and only after an officer is killed do any of them think about getting guns. They didn't have guns in the first place because the rural communities, including native Alaskan communities, were concerned about arming lawmen to begin.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:06 PM on November 21, 2014 [9 favorites]


They didn't have guns in the first place because the rural communities, including native Alaskan communities, were concerned about arming lawmen to begin.

Those are some smart communities.
posted by jammy at 2:08 PM on November 21, 2014 [40 favorites]


One thing that I took away from the police response to the protests in Ferguson is how incredibly lax police departments seem to be about basic firearms safety.

At the shooting range I used to visit, every serious safety incident (including the guy who shot himself in the leg while unloading his weapon) for the past 15 years was a police officer. Thankfully, the average cop has few occasions to do anything with his weapon other than put it on.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 2:08 PM on November 21, 2014 [6 favorites]


That's not what "accident" means. An accident is falling down and skinning your knee. Shooting an innocent man to death without warning because he was walking up the stairs is murder.
posted by 1adam12 at 2:10 PM on November 21, 2014 [89 favorites]


“There’s not a specific prohibition against taking a firearm out.”

Why the hell not?

Taking your weapon out should require a good reason and a buttload of paperwork to explain why you had to unholster your weapon.
posted by Talez at 2:13 PM on November 21, 2014 [27 favorites]


Oh god. How many times are we going to do this?? How many deaths do their have to be before something finally gives?
posted by evidenceofabsence at 2:14 PM on November 21, 2014 [7 favorites]


Accident: "an unfortunate incident that happens unexpectedly and unintentionally, typically resulting in damage or injury."

Pulling your gun out, taking the safety off, pointing it at someone and then pulling the trigger is the absolute opposite of an accident. It might have been poor judgement, a 'mistake', but it's not an accident. An accident would be shooting the wrong person (bad aim, whatever).

Sadly, this incident is probably an improvement over what would have happened ten years ago (or less). There is no manufactured story, no imminent threat (that is a lie), no fabrication to cover up this crime.

Oh, wait, it's not a crime because a cop did it.

Maybe in the future when a cop kills 'an innocent' for no discernible reason, it will be called a crime.

One can only hope.
posted by el io at 2:16 PM on November 21, 2014 [30 favorites]


Shooting an innocent man to death without warning because he was walking up the stairs is murder.

Or, you know, institutionalized idiocy and posturing raised to a monstrous level. What's next? Completely random shooting by the police?
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:16 PM on November 21, 2014 [3 favorites]


At the very least it's manslaughter. If this had been a normal civilian for some reason going through a dark stairwell with a drawn gun shooting at whatever spooked him, he'd be in prison awaiting trial by now.
posted by unknownmosquito at 2:18 PM on November 21, 2014 [5 favorites]


I feel like the police in the US could learn from the military in the use of Rules of Engagement. I had assumed it was part of their training but each news report makes me doubt it more and more.

As an example, every soldier on a mission has a simple sheet in his pocket that explains what are considered the conditions to engage, and they are expected to memorize it and follow it to the letter. Follow it to the letter and you don't break the geneva convention or go to jail. Follow it to the letter and things only escalate gradually with plenty of opportunity to for people to diffuse the situation.

Rules of Engagement vary upon context but as an example, you might have something along the lines of: 1. challenge someone (e.g. Stop! Hands Up! Identify Yourself!") 2. Draw weapon, repeat challenge. 3. Cock weapon. 4. Shout "on the ground or I will use force." 5. Use of force is now permitted. At each step the suspect has an opportunity to diffuse the situation, but I feel like US cops never provide any opportunity to diffuse the situation.
posted by furtive at 2:18 PM on November 21, 2014 [24 favorites]


The only difference between this and complete randomness is the racism.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 2:19 PM on November 21, 2014 [17 favorites]


Former Councilman Bratton has it:

This is madness. It must stop. There are problems all over the country with law enforcement and the people we pay to protect us in the black community. Our lives are just as valuable as anyone else’s. This young man should still be alive. I want to hear the justification for this one.
posted by bearwife at 2:21 PM on November 21, 2014 [3 favorites]


It's that age old argument - - those with nothing to hide take the elevator, only those who furtively take the stairs need fear the police.
posted by fairmettle at 2:21 PM on November 21, 2014 [10 favorites]


.
posted by tonycpsu at 2:23 PM on November 21, 2014 [4 favorites]


"...but I feel like US cops never provide any opportunity to diffuse the situation."

I think the common model for police these days (and not just in the US) is to always be in control of the situation. The police officer has to unequivocally be in charge. It's ironic that this seems to be more aggressive in practice than the rules of war used by soldiers who are straight-up invading somebody else's country.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:31 PM on November 21, 2014 [18 favorites]


Police Commissioner Bratton said today that the victim was “a total innocent”

To give him his due, that's a lot more than most police departments are prepared to admit these days. Which isn't to mitigate any of the other serious issues about law enforcement that are in no way new here. But at least we don't have to spend our energies on the strawman of whether the officer was justified.
posted by dry white toast at 2:31 PM on November 21, 2014 [15 favorites]


What's next? Completely random shooting by the police?

How does that not describe this?

My thought: go ahead and train the rookies in the "Impact Zones, but paired with veterans, and the rookies don't get their sidearm until they've proven they can reliably and consistently assess actual threats versus the civilians they're trying to protect.

Entering a dark stairwell with your gun raised, safety off, and finger on the trigger is something you learn from watching movies. If that wasn't trained out of Officer Liang by then, he should not have been holding a firearm, period.

(And I'm totally in favor of the unarmed lawman idea as well, I just find it unlikely, sadly.)
posted by Navelgazer at 2:35 PM on November 21, 2014 [11 favorites]


This type of accident is commonly refered to as "a murder".

Fuck all will happen though.
posted by Artw at 2:35 PM on November 21, 2014 [8 favorites]


At the very least it's manslaughter. If this had been a normal civilian for some reason going through a dark stairwell with a drawn gun shooting at whatever spooked him, he'd be in prison awaiting trial by now.

Well, there was Zimmerman.
posted by Artw at 2:39 PM on November 21, 2014 [5 favorites]


FYI: If the gun was a SIG Sauer P226, which is one of three choices for NYPD service pistol, I don't believe there is a safety on the gun. I'm not sure on the other two choices--a Glock 19 or Smith and Wesson 5946--but it could be true of those as well. Not that it excuses any of this, but just to point it out to those who mention it. If anything, it's a little easier to shoot without a safety. Not a gun expert, I just remember this about the SIG.
posted by sleepy pete at 2:47 PM on November 21, 2014 [2 favorites]


"...but I feel like US cops never provide any opportunity to diffuse the situation."

Here in Milwaukee an officer was recently fired (though it was appealed so I'm not sure of the current status) due to circumstances surrounding a shooting. The firing, as I understand it, came not because of the shooting, but because the officer did not follow procedure and was considered responsible for the situation escalating to the point of him needing a firearm.


From the article in my first link:
The officer, Christopher Manney, did not use excessive force when he shot Hamilton 14 times, [Milwaukee Police Chief] Flynn said; rather, the officer did not follow department rules in the moments leading up to the shooting.

...

"This intentional action, in violation of training and policy, instigated a physical confrontation that resulted in a deadly use of force," Flynn said.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 2:47 PM on November 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


When will police be held to even the most minuscule standard of behavior? Why should we need more protection from the police than we need from each other?
posted by rustcrumb at 2:49 PM on November 21, 2014 [5 favorites]


I must admit I did not expect to reach the point where the police are literally lurking in state wells waiting for people to kill.

Oh, also extremely suprised there's no story about a struggle for the gun - I guess they fucked up so hard that wouldn't be plausible?
posted by Artw at 2:50 PM on November 21, 2014 [8 favorites]


FYI: If the gun was a SIG Sauer P226, which is one of three choices for NYPD service pistol, I don't believe there is a safety on the gun. I'm not sure on the other two choices--a Glock 19 or Smith and Wesson 5946--but it could be true of those as well. Not that it excuses any of this, but just to point it out to those who mention it. If anything, it's a little easier to shoot without a safety. Not a gun expert, I just remember this about the SIG.

The Glock has no external safety, but the S&W does (unless the NYPD uses a different variant, I suppose).

It sounds like the problem in this case was very basic (pointing and firing a weapon when he should not have done so), rather than a more technical problem of misusing an external safety. I expect the officer will face charges since this was so obviously egregious, but I agree with the comment above about how inappropriate and sloppy a lot of police firearms handling is and how easily that can lead to tragedy.
posted by Dip Flash at 2:52 PM on November 21, 2014


Oh, also extremely suprised there's no story about a struggle for the gun

Ditto. This surprised feeling made me sick to my stomach.
posted by rtha at 2:53 PM on November 21, 2014 [3 favorites]


Police firearm training probably consists of going out back and someone yelling "that trashcab could have a knife! Light it up", followed by a post shooting briefing on all the means you might use to incriminate the trashcan.
posted by Artw at 2:54 PM on November 21, 2014 [3 favorites]


I agree with the comment above about how inappropriate and sloppy a lot of police firearms handling is and how easily inevitably that can will most certainly lead to tragedy.

Had to fix that bud.
posted by Pudhoho at 2:56 PM on November 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


go ahead and train the rookies in the "Impact Zones, but paired with veterans, and the rookies don't get their sidearm until they've proven they can reliably and consistently assess actual threats versus the civilians they're trying to protect

This presupposes the veterans have this ability.

Oh, also extremely suprised there's no story about a struggle for the gun

There is the inconvenient aspect of a witness.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 2:57 PM on November 21, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'm somewhat surprised this doesn't happen more often. Rookie officers patrolling dark places in high-crime vertical projects?

A life time of movies with bad guys jumping out of similar places...and video games with much of the same...then real life and someone suddenly appears in a dark scary place and you have a gun in your hand...? Not sure any "training" (which is often more scary training films like the famous "Edged Weapons," etc.) can overcome that....

Not justification; attempting to understand.

Sorry to all involved.
posted by CrowGoat at 2:59 PM on November 21, 2014 [3 favorites]


There's this deep cultural fear in police officers. They're so afraid of everyone they encounter. Maybe if we addressed that. It's obvious why they're afraid, they deal with bad guys and dangerous people, but they can't have a free license to act out violently and aggressively whenever they're scared. That's not providing value for anyone. The culture of police has to accept this and figure out a solution.
posted by bleep at 3:01 PM on November 21, 2014 [14 favorites]


They're so afraid of everyone they encounter.

I think the problem is less to do with how afraid they are of the people they meet, and more to do with how unafraid they are of shooting those people to death.

The major part of the solution is simple enough. Prosecute police officers who kill through malice, recklessness or negligence. In other words, do not treat them as being above the law. The police might figure out a solution if they had any incentive to, unlike now.
posted by howfar at 3:08 PM on November 21, 2014 [6 favorites]


The mayor "told reporters Friday, according to Capital New York, that the shooting of Gurley "does appear to have been an accident"

Its hard to imagine an officer getting killed by a black man getting written off as an accident under any circumstances.
posted by mhoye at 3:14 PM on November 21, 2014 [18 favorites]


I agree part of the problem is that they have no consequences, but I don't think any of the cases of innocent people being shot by cops we've heard about lately were just because they were killers who liked killing and knew they could get away with it. They were scared and thought they were defending themselves. That's the deeper problem I think.
posted by bleep at 3:15 PM on November 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


someone suddenly appears in a dark scary place and you have a gun in your hand...? Not sure any "training"...can overcome that

How about training them not to skulk around in dark stairwells while brandishing their guns?
posted by Atom Eyes at 3:17 PM on November 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


...What's next? Completely random shooting by the police?
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:16 PM on November 21


Don't be silly. The cops will always be sure to aim for the non-white people.
posted by magstheaxe at 3:17 PM on November 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


Its hard to imagine an officer getting killed by a black man getting written off as an accident under any circumstances.

Marvin Louis Guy was incorrectly targeted by a no knock raid, killed a police officer and injured three more as they broke in through the window to Guy's home.

He was promptly charged with capital murder and three more counts of attempted capital murder and now faces the death penalty.

USA! USA! USA!
posted by Talez at 3:19 PM on November 21, 2014 [34 favorites]


Oh and a white guy in the same circumstances except for the fact that he was ACTUALLY GROWING POT AT HIS HOUSE was not indicted by the grand jury who came to the conclusion of self defense.

Or you could just open carry while being intoxicated and beligerant as a white guy while a black guy politely minding his own business who picked up a BB gun gets gunned down.

Fuck this country.
posted by Talez at 3:23 PM on November 21, 2014 [29 favorites]


Cops are criminals we are forced to tolerate. Nothing more destructive than the bullshit 'Brothers in blue' concept. I rhink penalties should be worse for authority figures we aren't allowed to defend ourselves against. Throw them all in jail. Fuck the police.
posted by umberto at 3:27 PM on November 21, 2014 [7 favorites]


I think the problem is less to do with how afraid they are of the people they meet, and more to do with how unafraid they are of shooting those people to death.

The real problem is that these things are not simple. It's a two pronged sliding scale, where on one end is "No innocent shootings, high risk of being murdered yourself." and the other end is "You will probably not get killed, but high risk of accidentally shooting someone who was not intended to kill you."

The correct answer lies somewhere in the middle, but there's no way to have both.
posted by corb at 3:31 PM on November 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


I know a lot of cops, at least slightly, and like them, yet find it impossible to reconcile the ones I know with this kind of behavior, over and over again. Or the cops who, at least in New York, act like thugs whenever someone is on trial for an action against a cop--lining the hallways, blocking the suspect's family from entering the courtroom, cheering on other officers, and filling the courtroom so no one else can get in. Happens ALL the time here.
posted by etaoin at 3:35 PM on November 21, 2014 [2 favorites]


The real problem is that these things are not simple. It's a two pronged sliding scale, where on one end is "No innocent shootings, high risk of being murdered yourself." and the other end is "You will probably not get killed, but high risk of accidentally shooting someone who was not intended to kill you."

This claim seems eminently susceptible to empirical testing. Is there much evidence for it? I'd be interested to know.
posted by howfar at 3:36 PM on November 21, 2014 [5 favorites]


The correct answer lies somewhere in the middle, but there's no way to have both.

Germany must be some sort of imaginary place since the police have killed a grand total of 8 people over the past two years. Either that or their police must be dropping like flies.
posted by Talez at 3:37 PM on November 21, 2014 [16 favorites]


The girlfriend tried to administer first aid, in a darkened stairwell, after unidentified assailants had shot Gurly in the chest. She didn't flee.

There's nothing heroic about the officers involved here. But this woman? Impressive.
posted by Mr. Excellent at 3:39 PM on November 21, 2014 [78 favorites]


The police officers need guns to protect themselves from people who have easy access to guns and might shoot them. The civilians need guns to protect themselves from oppressive government agents. All the unarmed people will just have to accept that they might be collateral damage I guess.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:41 PM on November 21, 2014 [11 favorites]


One thing that I took away from the police response to the protests in Ferguson is how incredibly lax police departments seem to be about basic firearms safety.

Standard police training requires more driving training than firearms training. Note that car accidents are the #2 cause of police deaths.
posted by rhizome at 3:42 PM on November 21, 2014


Rhizome, I'm honestly surprised it's not #1 by a country mile given the way the cops drive around here.
posted by wintermind at 4:22 PM on November 21, 2014


The real problem is that these things are not simple. It's a two pronged sliding scale, where on one end is "No innocent shootings, high risk of being murdered yourself." and the other end is "You will probably not get killed, but high risk of accidentally shooting someone who was not intended to kill you."

This claim seems eminently susceptible to empirical testing. Is there much evidence for it? I'd be interested to know.


It's probably quite difficult to make a call on, because for some strange reason, the US doesn't collect national level statistics on police shootings. Maybe it's just that they just can't high enough.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:24 PM on November 21, 2014 [7 favorites]


"...but I feel like US cops never provide any opportunity to diffuse the situation."

Oh the situation was diffused alright.
posted by spitbull at 4:26 PM on November 21, 2014


and that people shouldn't "connect all the dots" between Gurley, [Michael] Brown and [Eric] Garner.

What if it's an entire constellation at this point?
posted by naju at 4:29 PM on November 21, 2014 [2 favorites]


I know a lot of cops, at least slightly, and like them, yet find it impossible to reconcile the ones I know with this kind of behavior, over and over again.

Do the officers you know go to the press (or at least their supervisor) and publicly demand the arrest (or at least the firing) of the cops that shoot or harass unarmed civilians? Because otherwise, the message they're sending is "we're all good with this, let's keep on shooting people".

That's how you can reconcile the existence nice-seeming cops with the existence persistent, continual cop crime.

I just say this because when I read these stories, I never see quotes from officers condemning these crimes, only quotes from politicians and civilians.
posted by middlethird at 4:31 PM on November 21, 2014 [10 favorites]


I don't think any of the cases of innocent people being shot by cops we've heard about lately were just because they were killers who liked killing and knew they could get away with it. They were scared and thought they were defending themselves.

If you're a cop who kills an unarmed citizen who gave you no reason to believe that he/she was armed, your feelings shouldn't count for shit. If you're so frightened as a cop that you think you need to shoot at unknown people, you might as well be a killer who likes killing and knows he can get away with it. The end result is the same: more dead citizens.
posted by 23skidoo at 4:33 PM on November 21, 2014 [11 favorites]


Meanwhile, the National Guard waits for violence from protestors who have been demonstrating in MO for 105 days. Tanks, tear gas, and sniper rifles to protect... what? The right to shoot and kill somebody without consequence?

The militarization of police has led them to be an occupying force and I'm not sure there's any incentive for them to stop it.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 4:34 PM on November 21, 2014 [4 favorites]


I remember the good old days of about 5 or 6 years ago when everyone was (rightly) upset with cops' overuse of tasers. Seems like the cops have decided to go right past tasers back to their trusty handguns.
posted by zardoz at 4:36 PM on November 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


If you're a cop who kills an unarmed citizen who gave you no reason to believe that he/she was armed, your feelings shouldn't count for shit.

Please read and quote my entire comment. The part you left out was, "that's the deeper problem, I think". The thing that's causing a big problem does count. We need to acknowledge it so we can fix it.
posted by bleep at 4:38 PM on November 21, 2014


Please read and quote my entire comment. The part you left out was, "that's the deeper problem, I think". The thing that's causing a big problem does count. We need to acknowledge it so we can fix it.

I'd already read your entire comment. I was disagreeing that scared cops are the deeper problem. We don't need to hold the hands of shitty cops who kill unarmed people and try to understand why they're scared. We need to treat them at the bare minimum as people who should no longer be cops. Start treating these "unfortunate accidents" as murders, and suddenly we don't have to acknowledge that sometimes, people who have no business being cops are scared on the job.
posted by 23skidoo at 4:45 PM on November 21, 2014 [3 favorites]


Seems like the cops have decided to go right past tasers back to their trusty handguns.

That's because Tasers aren't used instead of guns. They're used instead of billy clubs.
posted by rhizome at 4:54 PM on November 21, 2014 [7 favorites]


It's not necessarily that they are individually afraid. It's that they are institutionally trained to be so. At least this was the case 7 years ago at the police academy I attended. Officer Safety is the be all, end all in training.
posted by ericales at 5:16 PM on November 21, 2014 [4 favorites]


Citizen safety should be the be all, end all of police training. The whole job is supposed to be protecting and serving the public.
posted by saulgoodman at 5:31 PM on November 21, 2014 [6 favorites]




starbreaker: So not only did Peter Liang draw his pistol, but he had his finger on the trigger before he was even sure Gurley was a legitimate threat? WTF?

Well duh, he's black, he's obviously a threat the instant they see him.

you just gotta think more like a cop.
posted by emptythought at 6:08 PM on November 21, 2014


That's not what "accident" means. An accident is falling down and skinning your knee. Shooting an innocent man to death without warning because he was walking up the stairs is murder.
The claim is that he was following standard procedure by carrying his weapon drawn when in the stairwells of housing projects, tried to open a door with the hand that he was carrying the gun in, and the gun went off. The bullet then hit somebody who he didn't even know was there.

I'm firmly on the side of "That's a totally asinine standard procedure and should be eliminated immediately", as well as the side of "I'm no lawyer but that sure as hell sounds like manslaugher or negligent homicide or some such thing to me", and even the side of "Based on cops in general I don't fully trust that it's an accurate description of what happened", but it really seems like a lot of people here haven't read the article.
posted by Flunkie at 6:19 PM on November 21, 2014 [7 favorites]


Tasers are at this point pretty much a torture device.
posted by Artw at 7:00 PM on November 21, 2014 [7 favorites]


Tasers are at this point pretty much a torture device.

Remember when they were supposed to be an alternative to lethal force?

And then some harmless kid said "Don' tase me, bro" and everybody laughed and laughed

good times
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 7:47 PM on November 21, 2014 [6 favorites]


It's a two pronged sliding scale, where on one end is "No innocent shootings, high risk of being murdered yourself."

This is one of those things that sounds true to you, so you have accepted that it is true in the total absence of any evidence, isn't it.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 8:14 PM on November 21, 2014 [5 favorites]


When I mentioned my "unarmed rookies paired with armed veterans in 'impact zones'" idea way up above, my concept was that, giving a little sympathetic benefit of the doubt, being a rookie cop in the U.S. carries with it at least two or three almost inevitable problems.

1.) You're gonna be scared. Naturally, you're in a job with potential dangers. Those dangers both totally exist, and are far less constant than a rookie cop would probably expect going into the job. But a rookie cop doesn't have the experience yet to tell danger from not, and sociology tells us that when starting a job, people of all stripes tend to "act out" what they imagine the job to be before inhabiting it as themselves, a person with knowledge and experience.

2.) You're going to see your sidearm as your job's primary tool. This is, if not uniquely an American thing, still a very American thing. "Badge and gun" is basically the standard synecdoche for cops in the U.S. And in that very American way, the gun symbolizes the power, and the badge the right to use that power. This is a transparently awful way to frame a police officer's duty to the public, but it is informed by decades of popular culture and that sort of thing is particularly dangerous among the rookies.*

3.) Racism And I mean this in the most sympathetic way possible with regard to that term. I've talked about it elsewhere on this site, but I mean the fear that arises out of simple unfamiliarity with a group, coupled with fear, in this case probably brought upon Liang by the same pop culture that taught him to have his gun out in a stairwell where there was nothing to be afraid of. Even if they both spent their whole lives in NYC, an Asian-American New York rookie cop is likely to be unfamiliar with what to expect from an African-American in the projects.

None of this is, of course, supposed to excuse what Liang did, and the tragedy is all Gurley's. This is absolutely a random shooting by police against somebody so innocent that there wasn't even a suspicion of anything. This is a human life destroyed, and other lives close to him shattered, with no reason or excuse. But we can clearly see the million little points that make it seem so possible for this to have happened.

I do not think that veteran cops are anything close to infallible. I do, however, strongly doubt that any of them would have acted as Liang did here. Placing Rookie cops, unarmed, with veterans in these "impact zones" makes the veterans responsible for the rookies, so they don't do this sort of godawful act, doubles the police presence which is supposed to, on paper, make the communities safer, and hopefully teaches the rookies that even in the "worst" areas, most of the time there's absolutely nothing to be scared of, that they are in a neighborhood, not a war zone, that they have tools at their disposal that don't put holes in people, and that maybe, just maybe, most of the time their mere presence is enough to do the job, and that being a cowboy does more harm than good.

*As a side note, I love how this is handled in the movie Seven, where the protagonists at one point discuss their history with guns on duty. Somerset, the veteran, says that he'd only drawn his gun twice with the intention of possibly firing it, and never did, while Mills had drawn and fired, with bad consequences. By the end, of course, Mills firing his weapon is what dooms him, even in the most understandable of circumstances.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:10 PM on November 21, 2014 [6 favorites]


The real problem is that these things are not simple.

Seems simple enough to me. why are so many POC vs white folks dead due to death by cop?

It's a two pronged sliding scale, where on one end is "No innocent shootings, high risk of being murdered yourself."


High risk? Says who? These situations often seem to happen when there is no risk to the cop. It seems that just wearing the uniform is enough to justify killing someone.

and the other end is "You will probably not get killed, but high risk of accidentally shooting someone who was not intended to kill you."


Jesus.

The correct answer lies somewhere in the middle, but there's no way to have both.
posted by corb


*head desk.jpg*
posted by futz at 9:36 PM on November 21, 2014 [8 favorites]


I know these cases are a bit of a hobby horse for some subsets of the mefi populace, but the kneejerk reactions here aren't helping anything. I think we can all agree this was a tragic case, but I don't think it reasonable to call it murder. There's a lot of difference in circumstance between this case and the Ferguson case, or the Trayvon Martin one. Painting them all with the same brush does nobody any favors. That said, the response from law enforcement is pretty sad.
posted by axiom at 10:31 PM on November 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


As somebody specifically trying to NOT be kneejerk here, it still appears that the primary difference between this case and the cases of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown is simply in the fact that Bratton and DeBlasio aren't attempting to defend it as anything more than the mindless killing of a black young man.

That, in this awful realm, is progress, but it says nothing about the tragedy at hand, only about the spin going forward, and that doesn't mean a whole hell of a lot, really, in comparison.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:37 PM on November 21, 2014 [4 favorites]


Our military troops VOLUNTEER to give their lives for our country. I wonder why our police officers lack the bravery to have that level of commitment to our nation's service.
posted by mikelieman at 10:51 PM on November 21, 2014


My parents were survivalist "yippie" types in the 80's and 90's, though paradoxically both had military careers and largely survived on a combination of active and reservist duty while putting themselves through college. After having me they moved to Colorado and bought a super cheap tiny 2BR house in a "progressing towards rough neighborhood" with a huge back yard with a huge vegetable garden, a rabbit shed, a green house, a toolshed, and a gigantic tree.

As a child of the 90's whose parents didn't speak a lot about politics and were mildly overtly racist in that hipster-y "ironic" way, saying "jiggaboo" (but not the n-word, almost never, except when getting mad about the euphemism "n-word") or more "politely" referring to "bruthas" and such in polite (white) company but also were fans of Eddie Murphy and Richard Pryor, but more importantly fans of In Living Color who really enjoyed Damon and Keenan Ivory Wayans more than Jim Carey, so yeah I just now realize they were 80's proto-ironic-racist hipsters. Everything bought at the thrift shop, hand patched, hemmed, or made from scraps. Ass-tons of Bell jars, with so much shit it overflowed from one year to the next. Homemade sauerkraut by the 5 gallon bucket. Fuckin' hipsters.

I kid my parents as they were a leap in overall progress from their parents. Instead of hating "faggots," my dad didn't mind the existence of what he called "boody-boys" so long as they didn't try to get married or have sex in front of him or be all gay in front of him or whatever.

My point is, they weren't progressive anti-racist progressive radicals or anything, I didn't have internet access until say, 1993 (Lynx and Gopher whoo!) and I watched America's Most Wanted and COPS and whatever but came away with a huge cultural impression that the NYPD and LAPD were like the Satan and Beelzebub of law enforcement and were racist terrorists essentially reminding "people" that the Civil Rights movement was nowhere close to the Promised Land, and all of those reel-to-reel tapes I saw in public school of "negroes" getting sprayed with firehoses and such were still playing out, in smaller numbers, but with much more violent and tragic results. Like the up-front-racist fire-hosing and clubbing-to-unconsciousness by police and the tendency of racist mobs to lynch people morphed into police gunning people down from time to time, justifying it by the terror they feel for serving as a community agitator in a "rough neighborhood." You gotta ask why they want to be there and if they're trying to leave it in better shape than when they showed up, or if they're moonlighting on the side with their level of "access" to corruption and black markets.

I guess I can thank my middle school for teaching us a lot about civil rights, as well as John Singleton, Spike Lee, KRS-One, and other active entertainers of the time. Of course I grew up in the era of gangsta rap exploding, and didn't much like it at the time -- it's super fucking problematic but I heard so much of it and have seen this shit perpetuate for so many more years that I totally understand the militant anti-police mentality. I want the Black Panthers back, patrolling communities that would welcome them with open-carry. I realize it would be "provacative" and "counter-productive" and "aggressive" to a lot of people, and yet what the fuck. Police are essentially blaming their own culturally-ingrained fear of black people while choosing to "protect them" for what ultimately become acts of terrorism and borderline warfare. I think the "protect yourself at all costs" mentality comes from a fear of showing weakness after a few bad incidents in the 90's of wild police shootouts looking like The Keystone Kops. Better to just "diffuse" or "defuse" the situation right away and they're being taught that the worst that can happen if you decide to just up and kill a black man is losing your job or suspension without pay, and that level of fear of death from the people you are trying to protect is no excuse unless you've been conscripted into service.
posted by aydeejones at 12:32 AM on November 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


I think we can all agree this was a tragic case, but I don't think it reasonable to call it murder.

A rule of thumb I like to use is this: what would we be calling this incident if the shooter wasn't a cop. Going further, what would we be calling this if the victim was a cop. So yeah, you might not want to call it murder, but no other word springs to my mind that seems appropriate.
posted by el io at 12:49 AM on November 22, 2014 [8 favorites]


I feel like the police in the US could learn from the military in the use of Rules of Engagement.

But that's not as fun as getting to play with tanks.

When it comes to the militarization of police, they just want the toys, not the rules.
posted by and miles to go before I sleep at 12:58 AM on November 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


Negligent homicide?
posted by yeti at 2:42 AM on November 22, 2014


Public Housing Patrols Can Mean Safety or Danger

"For a police officer, the stairwells of New York City’s public housing complexes can be menacing places of drug deals, domestic disputes, thievery and gang violence, where nerves can cause missteps that, in an instant, can end in tragedy. . .

"At the time, Officer Liang and a partner were conducting a so-called vertical patrol of the building. Following standard procedure, they took the elevator up to the eighth floor and began to work their way down. Peering into the stairwell, though, they encountered near pitch darkness, the authorities said. . .Officer Liang turned on a flashlight, then pulled out his gun. . .

"A lack of lighting in buildings can be a sign that criminal activity is afoot, and officers are taught to be extra vigilant in such circumstances, said John C. Cerar, a retired New York deputy inspector who was the commander of the department’s firearms training. Pulling out a gun, he said, is well within protocol. . .

"Defending the practice of vertical patrols, Mr. Bratton said that in the past month, there had been two robberies and four assaults at the Louis H. Pink Houses. There were also two homicides there in the last year, and last Saturday, there was a shooting in the lobby of a neighboring building, Mr. Bratton said."
posted by mlis at 5:44 AM on November 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


"Defending the practice of vertical patrols, Mr. Bratton said that in the past month, there had been two robberies and four assaults at the Louis H. Pink Houses. There were also two homicides there in the last year, and last Saturday, there was a shooting in the lobby of a neighboring building, Mr. Bratton said."

None of which were prevented by vertical patrols. Is there evidence that more people wandering about with guns makes people safer? And does having a gun ready actually make going into a darkened stairwell safer?

It should surely be a given, when something like this happens, that something has gone wrong. But, time and again, here in the UK as well as in the US, we see that the first and last responses of the police are to obscure and excuse, rather than learn from, any mistakes.
posted by howfar at 6:23 AM on November 22, 2014


Is there an kind of national movement or organization that is devoted to disarming the police?

Seriously, I'd like to know.

I don't mean: send the cops out naked and defenseless. But perhaps we could learn from the British system, where most cops don't carry guns - they may have tasers and pepper spray and batons and so forth - but gun-carrying officers are only called in under special circumstances.

I really do think it's time.
posted by doctor tough love at 7:01 AM on November 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


Our military troops VOLUNTEER to give their lives for our country. I wonder why our police officers lack the bravery to have that level of commitment to our nation's service.

The last time I checked, police forces were not made up of conscripts, and our military personnel are paid.

What are you trying to say, here?
posted by MissySedai at 7:52 AM on November 22, 2014


The details of this particular shooting seem like they might be worth calling out. From the NYTimes article in the post:

Both officers took out their flashlights, and one, Peter Liang, 27, a probationary officer with less than 18 months on the job, drew his sidearm, a 9-millimeter semiautomatic.

Officer Liang is left-handed, and he tried to turn the knob of the door that opens to the stairwell with that hand while also holding the gun, according to a high-ranking police official who was familiar with the investigation and who emphasized that the account could change.

It appears that in turning the knob and pushing the door open, Officer Liang rotated the barrel of the gun down and accidentally fired, the official said. He and the other officer both jumped back into the hallway, and Officer Liang shouted something to the effect that he had accidentally fired his weapon, the official said.


If this report is accurate, it sounds a lot like an accident to me insofar as there was no intent. However, turning a doorknob with a gun in your hand and your finger on the trigger also sounds like he was criminally negligent and ought to go to jail.
posted by HiddenInput at 8:04 AM on November 22, 2014 [8 favorites]


Which is legally worse between "negligent" and "reckless?" Whichever one it is, it should be that one. I mean seriously, how many "stairwell shootouts" have there been since they started doing these patrols? Gotta factor that into any analysis of reasonablility.
posted by rhizome at 8:46 AM on November 22, 2014


If I could be allowed to make my point more elegantly, we can debate whether it's reasonable to have your gun out during these stairwell sweeps, but it seems entirely unreasonable to use your gun hand to open a door while you've got your finger on the trigger.
posted by HiddenInput at 9:06 AM on November 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


If this report is accurate, it sounds a lot like an accident to me insofar as there was no intent.

Yeah, well, if I set up a bear trap on a public jogging path, is it an accident if a jogger gets their leg chopped off, when I was just trying to catch a bear? Or is it exactly what you would expect to happen in that situation?
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:38 AM on November 22, 2014 [8 favorites]


Which is legally worse between "negligent" and "reckless?"

Reckless, and he absolutely was.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:02 AM on November 22, 2014


Which is legally worse between "negligent" and "reckless?"

Negligence is the failure to exercise the standard of care expected of a reasonable person in your position. This is essentially an objective test, because you can be negligent without even realising that you are falling below the required standard of care.

Recklessness is the decision to run a known risk of harm; i.e. being aware that certain conduct may have certain consequences, and making the decision to act that way in light of that knowledge. Hence it is subjective, because it necessary to try to ascertain what the person actually knew and intended.

It depends on the jurisdiction, and I am not familiar with New York law at all (and have only a passing knowledge of US law generally) but I think it might be quite hard to argue recklessness in this case. It seems hard to argue, and harder to prove, that Liang did foresee the risk of shooting someone. However, it seems very clear to me that he should have foreseen it. My view is therefore that there is a good argument that he is grossly negligent.
posted by howfar at 10:06 AM on November 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


The timing of this thread is killing me. We've just now today got an ongoing standoff between police and some people who initially reported a house fire a couple of streets over from our neighborhood. There have been fatalities among the officers on scene. It's shaping up to be another violent tragedy. A couple of our friends can't even get back to their house. What the hell, people--this was supposed to be a new renaissance, not a collapse!
posted by saulgoodman at 10:39 AM on November 22, 2014


Never attribute to stupidity what is adequately explained by malice.
posted by basicchannel at 11:00 AM on November 22, 2014


Rookie cop strikes again.

Cleveland police officer shoots 12-year-old boy carrying BB gun

"When an officer gives a command, we expect it to be followed," Tomba said. "The way it looks like right now, it wasn't followed, but we're going to continue our investigation."
posted by Drinky Die at 10:09 PM on November 22, 2014


We need to start giving tweens lessons on "Respecting Their Authoritah!" because in the US they may encounter situations when faced with an officer where a split second decision determines if they live or die.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:10 PM on November 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


Police said they were responding to a call of a "male with a gun threatening people" at the park. The caller said twice that "the gun was probably fake" and that the guy was "probably a juvenile."
posted by Drinky Die at 10:59 PM on November 22, 2014


We need to start giving tweens lessons on "Respecting Their Authoritah!" because in the US they may encounter situations when faced with an officer where a split second decision determines if they live or die.

From this sentence alone, I know you're a white person who grew up in a white neighborhood in what was likely a predominantly white city. This lesson you say "we need to start giving tweens" is one that black parents have had to give their kids forever.

For white parents "the talk" is about sex and maybe drugs. For black kids, it's about how you have to act around cops so they don't murder you.
posted by mhoye at 7:04 AM on November 23, 2014 [5 favorites]




Yeah, unarmed people in stairwells, fire away. Actual murderers at VA Tech or Columbine? 'Let's just wait outside til the killing is done and they shoot themselves. Then demand people call us heroes!' I know some almost decent policemen. But they aren't, because they will defend their brutal, cowardly brethren unto their dying day. So they're not really decent after all. I agree with the sentiment above: every shooting should be reversed. If the shooter was a civilian killing a cop and would be charged, and the actual -not fictional- protecting of innocent people isn't involved, same charges should apply. The police are one of the main disgraces of our 'civilized' society.
posted by umberto at 8:02 AM on November 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


This news story has the Cleveland 911 call.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:14 AM on November 23, 2014


From this sentence alone, I know you're a white person who grew up in a white neighborhood in what was likely a predominantly white city. This lesson you say "we need to start giving tweens" is one that black parents have had to give their kids forever.

No I mean like formal classes in school for all kids. This kid obviously didn't get the lesson.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:13 PM on November 23, 2014


Officer Liang is left-handed, and he tried to turn the knob of the door that opens to the stairwell with that hand while also holding the gun, according to a high-ranking police official who was familiar with the investigation and who emphasized that the account could change.

It appears that in turning the knob and pushing the door open, Officer Liang rotated the barrel of the gun down and accidentally fired, the official said. He and the other officer both jumped back into the hallway, and Officer Liang shouted something to the effect that he had accidentally fired his weapon, the official said.


pardon me if i just don't fucking believe this. it seems like a carefully rehearsed sympathetic story. it's a perfect mix of "aww, the rookie did something dumb" and something that sounds like an honestly mistake.

i just, don't buy it.

Butler says police said nothing before shooting Gurley. "He was just standing there and they shot him,"

Basically, the part of the story i don't buy is that he was shot before the door was open, or in some accidental action while the door was being opened.

What i do buy is more what his girlfriend said there. They opened the door, some exchange occurred between them(maybe even just "FREEZE NYPD" "what?" BLAM), maybe even just the cop being startled by him being right on the other side of the door facing him close up, and blam.

The door handle gun story is so stupid to me, it's like unbelievably stupid. I'm not saying i don't believe cops can do stuff that dumb, but more that it sounds like some story a 5 year old would make up of how it totally wasn't their fault the tv got knocked over and broke, it was an innocent accident.

I believe he was shot for no reason, but i don't believe that the cops hadn't even seen him and were just opening the door when it happened. Not for a second, sorry.
posted by emptythought at 12:33 PM on November 23, 2014 [6 favorites]


This is a tragic accident, but the kneejerk reactions here are unfounded.

This doesn't seem to be a case of Well duh, he's black, he's obviously a threat the instant they see him. Or The only difference between this and complete randomness is the racism. This shooting happened in a pitch-black stairwell. The officer didn't see that Gurley was black and shoot him because of his race. The officer accidentally shot a person because of incompetence and/or inexperience, and the person happened to be a black man.

Yes, there's a problem with black men getting shot disproportionately. But this incident has more in common with other instances of NYPD incompetence with firearms rather than Michael Brown.

The questions I have revolve around standard procedure. This was a tragedy that could have been prevented with better training. Which would be a more constructive/effective area to focus on instead of kneejerk "the police are all racist assholes who shoot every black man they see" reactions. Which, yes, is a problem. But it's not the main problem here.
-Why are they sending 2 rookies to do patrols together in the first place? It's a very tough neighborhood. Shouldn't they pair rookies with veterans?
-Is this their normal partnership? From what I understand, in the NYPD, your partner is your partner. You always work together. Has he always been paired with another rookie? Has he received any training from a senior officer?
-What is the procedure for doing a vertical patrol? Was the officer supposed to have his gun drawn?
-WTF kind of firearm training does the NYPD get? Does it include teaching them to keep their fingers off the trigger?

*********
Ironically, I grew up in East New York and I have more sympathy for the officer than any of you do. Maybe because I understand the very real risks for police officers working there. I think people are assuming that, I don't know, this is a perfectly safe housing project in the middle of a cheerful Brooklyn neighborhood filled with hipsters, microbreweries, and organic stroller moms. Some housing projects aren't bad. This isn't one of them.

I grew up in East New York in the '80s/'90s. I lived there for 20 years and my family still lives there. It legitimately is a dangerous neighborhood. ENY is one of the poorest (median income around $30,000), most crime-ridden neighborhoods in Brooklyn. It has improved drastically since the '80s (only 16 murders and 695 robberies for ~183,000 residents so far this year, compared to 109 and 3,452 back in 1990--I can't find stats earlier than that) but the area still has the highest violent crime rates in Brooklyn. It's a tough, depressing place. And police officers still do occasionally get shot and/or killed there.

But stats don't paint an evocative picture of what a neighborhood is actually like. I found this post while looking for crime stats. It's not a PC picture of the neighborhood but it's the reality of everyday life for a not-insignificant portion of the population.

ENY is a neighborhood that people live in only if it's the only place they can afford. Yes, there are decent hardworking folks there. There are people who succeed in getting out. There are good people who keep getting sucked back down into the muck. There are people who aren't bad people, but who keep bouncing in and out of prison because that's the environment they're in. And there are also some very bad criminals. The police perform patrols because of the criminals. The criminals are real.

The officer fucked up here. Absolutely. He was negligent and now someone is dead. But I'm not going to minimize the risks of his job either. And I do believe that part of the blame lies with the NYPD at large for failing to train him properly. They should not pair rookies together, especially if they're assigned to one of the worst housing projects in one of the worst neighborhoods in NYC.
posted by meatpuppet at 7:31 PM on November 23, 2014


Actual murderers at VA Tech or Columbine? 'Let's just wait outside til the killing is done and they shoot themselves.

That's no longer the way things are done, because of those exact situations. Current practice is for the first officers on the scene to go in with what they have on hand (and, increasingly, for the paramedics to enter before things are declared safe) rather than sit outside and wait for the SWAT trucks.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:20 PM on November 23, 2014


I didn't remember this, but my husband reminds me that NYPD has a specially modified 12 pound trigger pull. It contributes to innocent bystanders being shot by jerking the weapon, but it's supposed to stop accidental discharges.
posted by corb at 12:54 AM on November 24, 2014


This shooting happened in a pitch-black stairwell.

To be fair, is there any independent confirmation on this? was the area they opened the door from the stairway to also pitch black?

I'd be willing to concede the racism angle, potentially, but i'm not all that willing to concede that the pulling the trigger while opening the door story stinks to high heaven.

I don't really see anyone here making the assumptions you're knocking down, and a lot of it reeks of strawmen to me.

Your questions are good questions, but i don't see anyone assuming this is hipster-coffeeshop-ville and that there was some unreasonable assumption of danger.

I believe in the fear, and i also think the real story which we'll probably never get to hear is something like he got scared and fired basically out of fear.

The trigger pull force thing, as just mentioned, adds another dimension to the reasons why i think the entire narrative thusfar doesn't add up. I'm willing to believe this wasn't a racism thing i guess, and i have no qualms accepting it's a dangerous fucked up neighborhood(although that thread you linked almost seemed like some stormfront fan fiction wow), but that doesn't change the central fact that as described it stinks.
posted by emptythought at 1:34 AM on November 24, 2014


Officer Liang is left-handed, and he tried to turn the knob of the door that opens to the stairwell with that hand while also holding the gun

Well the obvious problem here is the right-handed door knob.
posted by LizBoBiz at 7:48 AM on November 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


I can see how it seems like a strawman argument. I actually wrote that part because I was incredibly annoyed by futz's comment. High risk? Says who? and ending with a *head desk.jpg*. The *head desk.jpg* seemed dismissive in an inappropriately cute and trivializing way.

To be fair, is there any independent confirmation on this? was the area they opened the door from the stairway to also pitch black?
Honestly, I didn't question that at all. I can definitely believe that the lights would be burnt out and not replaced. The housing projects are not well-maintained.

This article says it was out for 3 weeks--Actually, it sounds like very few of the lights worked at all. “The lights are always out, for the past three years,” said Angela Moore, who shakes her keys in the hallway so people can hear her coming. “It’s like a dark tube."

I don't really believe the doorknob story either. I agree, he probably fired out of fear and inexperience.

Basically, my main points are that:
1) I don't think there's a racist angle to this.
2) Since I don't think there's a racist angle here, I see it as a procedural (maybe not the right term?) accident. I can sort of understand what led up to this. Guy goes through 6 months at the Police Academy, graduates, gets assigned to the most dangerous neighborhood in Brooklyn, gets partnered with another rookie. Rookies with questionable training end up in a dark stairwell in a potentially dangerous area.
3) Yes, he was still negligent.
4) This was preventable. It would be constructive to examine how things went wrong and improve training/come up with less asinine procedures so that it doesn't happen again. But for this to happen, you have to buy in to my belief that it was a procedural accident rather than a racially motivated shooting.
posted by meatpuppet at 9:06 AM on November 24, 2014


Erin Alberty: Killings by Utah police outpacing gang, drug, child-abuse homicides (emphasis mine for head-exploding WTFery)
Through October, 45 people had been killed by law enforcement officers in Utah since 2010, accounting for 15 percent of all homicides during that period.

A Salt Lake Tribune review of nearly 300 homicides, using media reports, state crime statistics, medical-examiner records and court records, shows that use of force by police is the second-most common circumstance under which Utahns kill each other, surpassed only by intimate partner violence.

Saturday’s shooting, which occurred after an officer responded to a trespassing call, remains under investigation.

Nearly all of the fatal shootings by police have been deemed by county prosecutors to be justified. Only one — the 2012 shooting of Danielle Willard by West Valley City police — was deemed unjustified, and the subsequent criminal charge was thrown out last month by a judge.

Does that mean such deaths should be treated as the inevitable cost of keeping police and the public safe?

"Police are trained and expected to react to deadly threats. As many deadly threats emerge is the exact amount of times police will respond," wrote Ian Adams, a West Jordan police officer and spokesman for the Utah Fraternal Order of Police. "The onus is on the person being arrested to stop trying to assault and kill police officers and the innocent public. … Why do some in society continue to insist the problem lies with police officers?"
posted by zombieflanders at 9:29 AM on November 24, 2014 [5 favorites]


Racially motivated and procedural aren't separable from each other, though. The way in which the NYPD patrols housing projects: using rookie police officers to flood neighborhoods, not having a policy against treating public spaces like stairwells as if they were so dangerous that they required guns to be drawn, it's all informed by racism. Those are policy decisions, but it's like they exist in a vacuum from the history of racism in America.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:01 AM on November 24, 2014 [10 favorites]


Racially motivated and procedural aren't separable from each other, though.

Indeed. I am reminded of the Macpherson Report's indictment of the London Metropolitan Police as institutionally racist in 1999. I'm not aware of any similarly far-reaching enquiry into this issue in US policing, but the parallels are strikingly clear.
posted by howfar at 11:14 AM on November 24, 2014


Why is no one talking about American-on-American crime?

Can we just elect Ta-Nehisi Coates King? I think he would use his power responsibly.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:52 AM on November 24, 2014 [5 favorites]




Btw, new Ferguson post : From Emmett Till to Trayvon Martin -- and now Mike Brown
posted by jeffburdges at 4:19 AM on November 25, 2014


Since I don't think there's a racist angle here, I see it as a procedural (maybe not the right term?) accident. I can sort of understand what led up to this. Guy goes through 6 months at the Police Academy, graduates, gets assigned to the most dangerous neighborhood in Brooklyn, gets partnered with another rookie. Rookies with questionable training end up in a dark stairwell in a potentially dangerous area.

I do not understand how you do not see this whole situation as having a "racist angle" - given the profound role that race has played in the history of the United States, not to mention the colonial expansion of Western Europe as a whole.
posted by jammy at 3:08 PM on November 25, 2014


The Truth About Guns: Passively Constructed Negligent Discharge Quote of the Day: Rookie NYPD Cop Edition - "Regular readers know that TTAG abhors the term “accidental discharge.” There is no such thing. It is a negligent discharge. So when we hear NYPD Commissioner William Bratton say an officer’s gun “accidentally discharged,” we call bullshit.""

Don’t Call the Akai Gurley Shooting an Accident
posted by the man of twists and turns at 1:57 PM on November 26, 2014 [4 favorites]


In New York Public Housing, Policing Broken Lights
One of the issues raised by Mr. Gurley’s death isn’t necessarily that “broken windows” has gone too far, the common refrain, but rather that in certain instances its most literal message has been fatally misunderstood or ignored.

We have come to think of “broken windows” in terms of the need to make arrests for minor offenses, the imperative to get rid of squeegee men and other avatars of nuisance. But at the heart of the philosophy is the notion that ruined things — broken windows, cracked sidewalks, littered pathways and so on — must get fixed. If glass is left shattered, for instance, rather than quickly replaced, vandals will break more of it. Broadly speaking, physical decay begets the moral kind; appearances must be maintained for civility to cohere.

Ironically, over the past two decades, civic leaders most in thrall to the theory have been those least eager to prioritize the problem of deterioration in the urban public housing system. In the five-year period through 2013, as New York City’s crime rate further declined or remained stable, the crime rate in public housing rose 22.5 percent. That period coincided with a long reign of neglect of the buildings of the New York City Housing Authority. In January of last year, as the end of his term approached, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg vowed to expedite repairs, and he did, but a backlog of 420,000 had accrued.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 6:27 PM on December 2, 2014 [4 favorites]


Man, you've been on fire with links lately, the man of twists and turns. That's a really interesting point and one that is definitely on display with broad swaths of NYC.
posted by corb at 8:02 PM on December 2, 2014






The NYPD has been training in Israel for years.
posted by rhizome at 10:32 AM on December 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


Israel, the < sarcasm > bastion of Due Process and Equal Protection of the Laws?< /sarcasm > NYPD can learn a lot, actually.
posted by mikelieman at 2:59 PM on December 17, 2014




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