Holy Christ



Patrick is a mid-40 year old geek with an undergraduate degree in mathematics and a master's degree in Information Systems. Nothing he says here has anything to do with the official position of his employer or any other institution.

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153 Responses

  1. Avatar Chris says:

    As I was saying on Twitter, it’s the clearest example of a cop shooting someone for being black that I’ve seen.

    Cop: Do this.

    Victim: [Does this.]

    Cop: I didn’t say do it while black. [BLAM!]Report

    • Avatar Patrick says:

      You know, I watched that video four times and I can’t see that I saw anything other than a guy doing what the officer told him to do. There’s no aggression, nothing untoward in the guy’s body language, there’s not even any “Jesus, I’m being hassled by the cops when I don’t deserve to be” look… he looks exactly like a guy who left his wallet in his car while he was gassing up reaching into the car to get his wallet.

      I can’t even see how someone could see something else unless they’re paranoid, delusional, mentally impaired, or scared to death of either men, or black people.

      That doesn’t mean that the cop is necessarily racist, but the alternatives aren’t any better and they’re far less likely.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        He didn’t comply with him once, but twice. Cop told him to show him is ID, so he reached for it. Cop then told him to get out of the car, so he got out of the car. Then cop shot him.

        If this cop doesn’t get convicted of something, then the system is irreparably broken, and it’s time to tear it down.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        There’s no aggression, nothing untoward in the guy’s body language, there’s not even any “Jesus, I’m being hassled by the cops when I don’t deserve to be” look… he looks exactly like a guy who left his wallet in his car while he was gassing up reaching into the car to get his wallet.

        I can’t even see how someone could see something else unless they’re paranoid, delusional, mentally impaired, or scared to death of either men, or black people.

        Yeah, the guy isn’t moving fast when he reaches back into the car, as you’d expect he would be if he was really going for a weapon.

        The *kindest* explanation is that maybe the cop looked away for a second and missed part of what was happening, or like you say was so paranoid that he had already built up the encounter into a confrontation in his mind; either way, that’s unacceptable when he was apparently ready and able to unload a gun on the guy.

        Thank goodness the guy is (mostly) OK.

        The kicker? It’s a seatbelt violation he’s being pulled over for.

        That’s some fine police work there, Chief.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        Which is why making lack of seatbelt use a primary violation (much less any type of violation) is simply ludicrous.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        On the video, you can hear the cop saying, “You dove head first back into your car,” which supports your theory that he might have looked away, because motion looks different in your periphery than in your line of sight. Because on video, the guy clearly doesn’t “dive” or anything, he just turns around and reaches in like you’d expect someone to do if that was where their ID was. So combine not paying attention, being afraid of black men, and having a loaded gun, and this is what you get.

        Or it could just be that when a black man turns around, he sees it as diving because he’s already amped up out of fear/aggression.Report

      • If this cop doesn’t get convicted of something, then the system is irreparably broken, and it’s time to tear it down.

        That’s what I thought to myself about the Wal-Mart shooting.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        Yeah, I can’t figure out if “you dove” is an immediate attempt at justifying the shooting (possibly more “unconscious justification”, than “premeditated lie”) or if he looked away/got distracted somehow for just a second, then when he looked back HOLY CRAP THE GUY IS IN THE CAR HE MUST HAVE DOVE IN THERE!!!!Report

      • Avatar morat20 says:

        I believe I read this guy had previous complaints. So my guess is he was already concocting a story.

        No sense ruining his career over a teensy mistake, right? Guy he shot was probably a criminal anyways.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        The audio is muddled, but it also sounds like the cop yells “Get outa the car!” right before shooting. And the guy makes a move to get out of the car! So not once but TWICE he does exactly what he is instructed to do and still gets shot. WHAT. THE. FUCK!Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        The guy should be strung upside down by his balls.

        Capital punishment for cops would resolve alot of this. I’m on record advocating for it!Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        This might be the one instance where CP is actually a deterrent!!Report

    • Avatar notme says:


      The use of force doesn’t appear to be justified but the video in no way proves that the trooper shot the guy for being black. That part is pure conjecture/assumption on your part.Report

  2. Avatar zic says:

    I just saw this on social media; did the man shot survive? I get the sharing outrage over the shooting, but some indication of the well-being of the victim would be nice.Report

    • Avatar Dan Miller says:

      @zic He survived, according to TPMReport

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      Victim is recovering and I understand the injury is not grave, all things considered.Report

    • Avatar Chris says:

      Yes. He was struck once in the hip. His injuries were non-life threatening, to the extent that being shot is ever non-life threatening.Report

    • Avatar Patrick says:

      The incident took place on September 4th. The guy went to the hospital for a single shot to the hip (which is also scary, the police officer fired several times at a distance of about 15 feet… where all those other bullets could have gone…) and he was reported as recovering in this report.Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog says:

        Stray bullets flying about at a gas station. What could go wrong?Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain says:

        I’d actually worry more about stray rounds hitting me, or the property damage they do to my car, than that they’d start a fire. It’s surprisingly difficult to get gasoline in that situation to ignite.Report

      • Avatar Michael Weston says:

        Most people think that shooting the gas tank of a vehicle makes it explode. Unless a car’s on fire, you’ll just spill a few bucks worth of gas. An explosion requires something extra, like a few bags of acetone peroxide taped to the gas tank.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        It’s remarkably difficult for any handgun round to start a fire unless the barrel is right up against something flammable.

        Bullets are made of lead, perhaps jacketed with copper; two metals not known for sparking or causing sparks when hitting iron/steel (Hollywood special effects not withstanding).Report

    • Avatar Kolohe says:

      He was shot in the hip and apparently has suffered no permanent injuries

      I’m kinda amazed (in a good way) that the police officer was fired and has had charges pressed against him 1) all within a month 2) before the public release of the incident video.

      Maybe someone should hire the director of the South Carolina Highway Patrol as Goddell’s replacement.

      (otoh, until reading Patrick’s link in the OP, I didn’t realize that this officer already had a record containing multiple complaints against him)Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        I’m kinda amazed (in a good way) that the police officer was fired and has had charges pressed against him 1) all within a month 2) before the public release of the incident video.

        Perhaps he got fired for leaving his dashcam running when he stopped the car, and for not being able to hit his target center mass when he was only three feet away.Report

  3. Avatar Will Truman says:

    What jumps out at me about this story is the absolute necessity of video cameras. Without it, we’d almost certainly be getting an entirely different story. We’d be talking about what we just don’t know…

    (If we were talking about it, and we wouldn’t be, actually.)Report

    • Avatar KatherineMW says:

      Yes. Every case where get where video shows wrong action by police strengthens the case that police need to be videotaped pretty much constantly while on duty. Otherwise they can just kill, shoot, beat, taze, etc. people and lie about it, and when it’s a civilian’s word against a cop’s, the justice system will always go with the cop.

      Which makes laws against people videotaping cops so deeply disturbing.Report

  4. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    Maybe it’s just me (or that I read the comments here before watching the video). I’m struck by how it looks like the rest of the people at the gas station just keep on going about their business normally. A vehicle drives away as if nothing was happening nearby and no one heard three shots fired and a cop wasn’t leaning over a guy writing in pain and cussing him out.Report

  5. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    Here’s the defense, of course: the guy did turn around to get something from his car; the officer didn’t know if it was a gun or the license or something else, so he acted in pre-emptive self-defense.

    Doesn’t really ring true for me seeing the video, but is it enough for reasonable doubt? Really, defense counsel only needs one person to hold out on that theory to hang the jury.Report

    • Avatar Chris says:

      If that defense works, the implications are rather frightening.Report

    • Avatar morat20 says:

      I have been listening to a man describe, at length, how literally anything is a weapon that can be used against cops. He defended running away from cops as a dangerous action to the cops because, and I quote, “he could be leading them into an ambush” and as an explanation of why a cop my shoot a fleeing man in the back.

      He’s not a cop. Every time something like this comes up, he makes up excuses for the cops that inevitably end with “The guy shouldn’t have done X, that’s why he got shot by the cops”.

      There will be people that find some way to blame the victim here.

      And I agree, if there wasn’t a dashboard cam? This guy would have been shot for ‘lunging for his car’ or ‘going for a weapon’ or ‘trying to rush the cop’ or something.

      American policing is broken. The cops that aren’t corrupt, abusive, or flat-out dangerous seem to cover for or at least accept the ones that are. They won’t police themselves, they seem ever more prone to violence and over-use of force, and I don’t see any way out of the situation.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

      I was curious about why the guy was approached, because if he had just robbed a bank or something I can see how things might have been perceived that way by the cop. It didn’t say in the story Pat linked to, so I googled. Turns out it was a routine traffic stop. The guy was stopped for not wearing a seat belt.


    • Avatar George Turner says:

      Well frankly, this kind of thing never happens to people whose vehicles have a Ducks Unlimited sticker. Of course if this victim had had one of those prominently displayed then the cop would have thought the victim had stole some white dude’s truck and shot him anyway, so it’s really a catch-22.Report

    • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:


      Really, defense counsel only needs one person to hold out on that theory to hang the jury.

      True, but how often does a jury actually get to hear a case like this in the first place?

      I’ll say it again, cops should be held to the same standard private citizens are held to for justifiable self-defense. Furtive movements & the like won’t fly for me, it shouldn’t fly for them.Report

      • Avatar Plinko says:

        Baloney, police officers need to be held to a higher standard than the public.

        Between that dealing with these situations is an expected, required and frequent part of their job and that their function as an entity is primarily to protect the public order there’s simply no excuse that we don’t hold them to the very highest standards for the use of violence.Report

  6. Avatar George Turner says:

    The cop could be facing 20 years, and deserves every day of it. Not even armed muggers generally shoot people for reaching for their wallet when commanded to do so. They’d go broke if they did that.

    On top of that, while the guy is shot, laying on the ground, bleeding all over the place, and still being nice, all the cop can think to do is keep demanding the guy’s ID, as if an expired license might somehow justify shooting an unarmed man at a gas pump. If the cop had been completely uninvolved in the act and just stumbled across a shooting victim who was bleeding out, then prattled on about an ID instead of trying to render aid, his actions would be criminal negligence.

    I wonder if the cop will be sitting in a prison cell one day singing in a Johnny Cash voice “I shot a man in Citgo – just to watch him die.”Report

  7. Avatar Jaybird says:

    From what I understand, the guy was hit only once, despite the number of shots that went off while the policeman may or may not have been holding the gun.

    The main thing keeping us safe from the cops is that our police forces couldn’t hit the sidewalk with a can of paint.Report

    • Avatar morat20 says:

      It turns out shooting people is a lot harder than Hollywood says, and certainly a lot harder than the shooting range would indicate.

      People move, and adrenalin makes your hands shake, and most especially — cops don’t spend nearly the amount of range time soldiers do, nor are they routinely made to shoot while tired or undergoing extreme stress or under extreme time pressure in training.

      I suppose this is a good thing. Cops gun down enough people already. I’m starting to think that, at least for minorities, cops are far more of a danger to you than criminals.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        unless you’re involved in the underground economy, of course.
        Criminals need to keep a functional neighborhood, and a decent amount of goodwill.Report

  8. Avatar j r says:

    Jesus! I thought that Pryzbylewski quit the force to become a teacher.Report

  9. Avatar Citizen says:

    Seriously, it was seeing enough sh*t like this that drove me to the notion that anarchy is the more functional system.Report

  10. Avatar Bert The Turtle says:

    “There are people who are going to say that this is crazy talk, but you can’t you can’t profile everybody. You have to focus your attention and your resources on the things that happen most often. In this case, it’s Muslim males white police officers that have killed Americans, why [isn’t it] time to profile Muslim males white police officers?”

    I’m thinking that Fox News may be recommending the wrong group as a candidate for profiling.Report

  11. Avatar Doctor Jay says:

    I think it is entirely just that Groubert is off the force. But it appears that I’m not quite seeing what some of you are seeing.

    When Jones makes his move back to the car, it is very quick, he lowers his head, too. Whether that constitutes “diving” is more of a subjective judgement. He reaches for something out of sight. It’s both a completely normal, human reaction – he’s nervous and in a hurry to comply – and an unusual and somewhat alarming action. It’s enough to put me on edge. It is not enough to justify shooting him.

    I think LCpl Groubert probably built the encounter up in his head a little to much, and I think race is a factor. But there may be other factors.

    I looked over summaries of the complaints. There’s nothing there to make me think “this guy might shoot the wrong person”. Mostly, he seems like he’s a little rude some times, possibly more rude to black people – but that might include “white trash” too.

    Except for the last complaint, which was about some sort of unusual behavior in a courtroom, and it’s very recent – just a couple of weeks before the shooting. From http://www.wltx.com/story/news/2014/09/18/5-complaints-against-trooper-involved-in-shooting/15827287/

    8-21-2014: SCDPS tells News19 a complaint was filed about an incident during a court proceeding. When asked for details about the complaint, a SCDPS spokesperson emailed saying, “We cannot give you any further details on it because it is ongoing.”

    This complaint was roughly two weeks before the shooting. It seems to me that Groubert was keyed up about something or under unusual stress.

    (By the way, I completely agree that seatbelt violation should not be a primary offense.)Report

    • Avatar Patrick says:

      For the record, I’m 100% on board with police officers facing assault charges when they shoot somebody even if they honest-to-God think that they’re in danger… if there isn’t enough actual reason for them to jump to that conclusion. I’m also okay with that bar for “what’s enough reason” to be astronomically higher than it is now, apparently.

      Because I really don’t think “I carry a badge and a gun” should give you preferential treatment from the legal system when it comes to “oops, just shot that guy”.

      On account o’ “shooting somebody” is kinda a big freakin’ deal for the person who got shot. It’s a particularly big deal when the person shooting you is someone whose employed existence has, as a very important part of the job description, to keep you from getting shot by other people.Report

  12. Avatar Vikram Bath says:

    The most surprising thing to me about this (and no one seems to be mentioning it) is that the officer was dismissed. I would have expected a lecture from the chief of police about how video tape can be misleading and the officer was dealing with a lot of variables. Instead, the guy actually lost his job rather than just paid time off and a delay in his movement up the hierarchy.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko says:

      You’ve seen the video by now, @vikram-bath ; do you think this was a justified shooting?

      He lost his career — which I think is a big deal. He’s looking at losing up to 20 years of his life in prison — which I think is an even bigger deal. OTOH, he shot a man who was complying with his instructions, had not made any threatening moves or gestures, and did not appear to present any sort of a visible threat.

      And there are larger issues at play here. If we concede that the shooting was not justified, then it is subject to some sort of sanction. It strikes me as eminently reasonable for the authorities in Columbia SC to say, “We’re not going to let our town become Ferguson II,” and make a public spectacle of demonstrating that at least in their jurisdiction, the police are not above the law.

      If they want to give the guy a break and a chance to move on with his life, they need to wait until the spotlight has been diverted elsewhere before pulling the strings to make that happen.Report

      • Avatar dhex says:

        i believe mr. vikram’s point was “it’s amazing that a cop was held accountable”. i share his amazement. this guy must have sleeping with everyone’s kids or something.Report

      • Avatar Vikram Bath says:

        Burt, I actually haven’t seen the video, though I’ve read through a few descriptions. I’ve kind of lost my taste for watching such things, and I doubt I would see anything new.

        I think when looking at what is a proper response, it’s reasonable to ask where the victim would be if he had put a bullet in the hip of a cop who had been doing nothing wrong. The cop lost his career, but I think it’s important to note that that appears to be the minimum necessary to protect the public. It isn’t and shouldn’t be considered a punishment directed at him for his decision.

        It strikes me as eminently reasonable for the authorities in Columbia SC to say, “We’re not going to let our town become Ferguson II,” and make a public spectacle of demonstrating that at least in their jurisdiction, the police are not above the law.

        I agree. But can you point to similar cases in which authorities have been similarly reasonable? In my admittedly spotty recollection, first allegiance is to one’s fellow officers, and the town and its citizenry come well after.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:


        I seem to recall a recent case where a cop shot a dog for no good reason & the department fired him.

        Does that count?Report

      • Avatar Vikram Bath says:

        That would! I’d have been surprised by that too.Report

    • Avatar Citizen says:

      There was to much stupid piled up in one place not to fire him.

      1. he exited the car inside the kill zone.
      2. he walked out of the cover of his car.
      3. he placed himself in a position to not be able to see much of what was going on.
      4. he continued to walk into the area where he was most likely to get shot while drawing and firing his gun.
      5. (Thankfully) he didn’t aim well
      6. after he analysed the situation, he handcuffed someone who had been shot unjustly

      I would have fired him for any one of those.Report

  13. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    I know I’m focusing on the wrong thing here and I feel bad about that, but…

    The guys shooting over and over from like two feet away. How does he only get him once in the hip?Report

    • Avatar Patrick says:

      That’s actually the norm, not the exception. That level of accuracy, that is.Report

      • Avatar Doctor Jay says:

        I agree with Patrick. Shooting someone turns out to be very hard, because you’re so adrenalated, and because well, it’s shooting another person. I saw a simulated experiment about this as part of a documentary on the Shootout at the OK Corral. This was done to investigate certain claims about accuracy and what it meant about distance.Report

      • Avatar Citizen says:

        Shooting while trying to get to cover is much less accurate than shooting from cover. Shuffling degrades accuracy.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko says:

      I counted three shots from the audio, and I’d estimate the distance from the camera to the victim was more like six feet.

      Still, @patrick ‘s point is well-taken: people under stress don’t shoot well. Clearly, something stressed the cop out: maybe he subjectively* did fear the victim was going for a gun, maybe there was some other stress going on we can’t discern from the video. But twitchy hands, racing heart, and short barrel equals low accuracy, even at short range.

      In fact, the cop’s nervous hands may have saved the guy’s life: a shot to the hip pretty much hits a lot of bone, and yeah that’s going to be really painful, but the bone stops the bullet pretty quickly and the stuff inside the pelvic bone is, while important, less important than the stuff under the ribcage. IIRC, most self-defense training wants to put the shot in the target’s center of gravity, somewhere that will put the target down. So a well-aimed shot would have been at the chest or the head. Getting shot at all is bad, of course, but this guy’s going to live.Report

    • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

      Basically what everyone else said, shooting accurately while under stress is incredibly difficult, & police officers are woefully under trained in this regard. The camera angle is a little off, but it appears that the officer was not aiming, he was just point-shooting*. This is common and is a strong indicator that the officer does not practice regularly with his firearm, because if he did, the firearm would have been in his sight-line without even thinking about it (muscle memory & all that).

      Add in stress, and you have a guy whose hands are probably shaking, his grip on his gun is too tight, and he’s probably jerking the trigger instead of pulling it, all of which will make his shots go wild.

      The best high-stress shooters are almost never police, they are combat veterans & competition shooters.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        *Forgot to add:

        Point shooting is an actual technique where the shooter aims without using sights. It is incredibly difficult to learn how to do, requires enormous amounts of practice, and is likely of little use in high stress situations (it’s a novelty skill good for Wild West Shows & the like).Report

  14. Avatar NoPublic says:

    What I was struck by? This is what we get for dash cameras? Vertical format, crappy field of view, lousy resolution?
    The one I have in my car is lightyears better than this and I paid a whopping $100 for it. The victim is lucky the cop didn’t park pointing a couple of degrees the other way, he’d have “dove” out of frame and that’d be all she wrote.Report

  15. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    1. New Rule #1: Only specifically designated traffic cops can pull people over for traffic violatons.

    2. New Rule #2: Traffic Cops are not allowed to carry guns or any other weapon.

    3. New Rule #3: Traffic Cops are not allowed to call the cops with guns for routine traffic violations like the one that was at issue here.

    I am glad that the guy was dismissed and charged pretty quickly instead of with hem and haw.Report

    • Avatar Mal Blue says:

      How many arrest warrants a year are carried out through regular traffic stops? I think it’s a significant number, but wouldn’t be if the cops never had guns on them.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:


        I haven’t fully thought through @saul-degraw ‘s proposal, but I think you could get around your well-reasoned objection by allowing that if running the car and/or driver turns up a warrant, than the non-firearm-carrying traffic cop can call in armed backup (depending on the nature of the warrant).Report

      • Avatar Bert The Turtle says:

        @Mal Blue Several years back I had a discussion with a college friend of mine who became a cop* about a DUI checkpoint I had just gone through. He made a comment that they only nabbed about two DUIs, and that the main reason for that particular checkpoint was actually to run folks through the system looking for outstanding warrants. I didn’t object at his revelation at the time, though I think I recall being a bit uncomfortable. But at that point I think I was a bit more sympathetic to the idea that cops should get leeway in how they do their job because “it’s a very stressful job” and they’re there “to protect us from bad guys”.

        *(we’re not particularly close these days)Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        keep in mind you’re talking a criminal, who wants to escape.
        Odds of a carchase, or other danger to cops have just gone up astronomically.

        I’d rather see a system where the cops dont’ have to get out of their car.
        How hard is that to build??Report

    • Avatar notme says:

      Have you ever spent a day with a cop or know any? Clearly not or you wouldn’t say such silly things.Report

      • Avatar Bert The Turtle says:

        @notme I’ve never done a ride along, but I do know several cops. One of them that I worked with once mentioned that he had quit the force because he didn’t like being around the dregs of humanity and that it colored his view of people in too much of a negative light (I’m paraphrasing here). Another one who is still in law enforcement often makes derogatory and contemptuous statements on facebook about protesters and other folks who take a skeptical view towards authority. He has a pretty macho and aggressive personality towards discipline and I don’t have a particularly positive view of him these days.

        In other words, police are people too. Some are hard working and honest, some are lazy and stupid. Like most of us, most cops aren’t particularly self reflective and have a tendency to make excuses to justify their own actions and attitudes whether they’re legitimate or not. They’re subject to the same petty emotions and biases as the rest of us. But when I assault a person, I get investigated and have to go to court. When a cop does it, their buddies just shrug it off and ignore it.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        One of them that I worked with once mentioned that he had quit the force because he didn’t like being around the dregs of humanity

        That’s a bit harsh. Some cops are very nice people.Report

    • Avatar Vikram Bath says:

      There’s a whole mythology cops have about every encounter is a potential threat. There is no cop anywhere who doesn’t know that Ted Bundy and Randy Kraft were caught during traffic stops. To them, every one of us is a potential serial killer who wants to add a cop to their kill list.Report

      • Avatar Morat20 says:

        I looked it up. 2013 officer fatalities? 75. Across the country. 31 from traffic accidents, 23 from gunshots.

        Cop paranoia is getting people killed, and it IS paranoia. They’re rather obviously not in that much danger. They’re around criminals all day long, they pull over god knows how many tens of thousands a year and…..75 deaths.

        Whether it’s institutional paranoia from when crime rates were higher, or media-driven paranoia like the rest of the country, or just some weird institutional thing that fosters a belief that they’re practically under siege, I dunno.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        .I’m going with institutional, since the unofficial police motto seems to be “Go home safe at the end of your shift”Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko says:

      Not gonna sign off on those rules, @saul-degraw . Cops do need guns, even traffic cops.

      What they need in addition to the guns is enough training in when to use them. Enough to overcome trigger-happiness.

      This might make a good training video, a point of discussion about “how could this have been done better?”Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


        I don’t know man. I have to sign off with what Vikram and Morat said. There were 75 shooting deaths from cops last year if Morat is correct and I think Vikram is right on the whole siege mentality cops seem to be operating under, you’ve noted this yourself in the past few weeks. Meanwhile the number of unarmed people who were injured or killed by cops seems astronomically higher than 75.

        I would like to think your training would work but I am feeling cynical these days and you already proved the cop with a theoretical legal defense on “I don’t know what the guy would reach for.”Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

        It seems to me that there might be a greater good in taking away guns from traffic cops and I am willing to concede that this could be a radical position.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        This might make a good training video, a point of discussion about “how could this have been done better?”

        “Maybe he could have fired his gun seventeen times and hit more than once?”

        “Yeah, if the guy was dead, we’d never have heard about this story.”Report

      • Avatar James K says:


        I’m not at all certain they do, at least not as standard issue.Report

      • Avatar Mal Blue says:

        One of the reasons I believe the number of cops killed in duty is so low is that everybody knows that you are putting your life in danger by bringing out a gun in their presence. If you’re pulled over in a desolate area, and there is a serious warrant out for your arrest, your calculus changes markedly if you know for a fact that the officer that pulled you over isn’t armed.

        I know that this is the same fearmongering that people use to justify overaggressive police action. But it’s not always wrong.Report

      • Avatar Patrick says:

        If cops have chest cams, then cops working in pairs is two different video recordings from two different angles and no single point of failure for recordings going missing due to “technical problems” or otherwise.

        I upvote pairs.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        Yeah, chest cameras + pairs would make it really, really hard for them to both pull a stunt AND concoct a plausible cover story.

        Not so hard that some wouldn’t still do it, but it wouldn’t be easy.Report

      • Avatar Morat20 says:

        One of the reasons I believe the number of cops killed in duty is so low is that everybody knows that you are putting your life in danger by bringing out a gun in their presence.

        I’m gonna go ahead and vote down the “Cops have to be trigger-happy mad dogs who will blaze away at anything even remotely threatening, and sometimes not at all in order to make sure no one attacks them otherwise”.

        I mean, sure it’s a tactic I suppose. be crazy and ready to fire at a moment’s notice for anything and people will walk extra carefully around you, but I don’t think it’s good police practice long-term.

        I’m pretty sure that’s one of the characters in Grand Theft Auto V’s basic personality, though.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        Moral, You should then say as much to someone who disagree with you, rather than to Blue.Report

      • Avatar Morat20 says:

        Dangit, my brain skipped RIGHT over the end. Shouldn’t be playing Civ and surfing randomly. 🙂Report

      • Avatar Vikram Bath says:

        Never apologize for playing Civ.Report

    • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:


      I’m sorry but those rules are terrible. Officers get shot in traffic stops on a regular basis. For example: You happen to pull over a car with a trunkload of cocaine. Those guys would sometimes rather shoot a cop than go to prison for 20 years.Report

      • Avatar Patrick says:


        Officers do not get shot in traffic stops on a regular basis.

        Yes, a percentage of “officers getting shot” happen during traffic stops.

        But the total number of cops shot in a year is somewhere around a 100. The total number of traffic stops in a year I can’t find, but by this it is (probably much) greater than 17.7 million.

        I’d guess a whole lot higher, actually, that’s probably an order of magnitude bigger at least.

        But even if you just stick with the 17,700,000 number, and even if every cop shot was shot during a traffic stop, that’d be 0.005% of traffic stops.

        That’s not “regular basis”.

        That’s “hardly ever happens”. As in “seriously, you’ll probably go a 30 year career in law enforcement and not only not get shot during a traffic stop, but you’re unlikely to personally know another police officer who got shot in a traffic stop.”

        I think this is one of those moments that illustrates how bad humans are at risk analysis, again.Report

      • Avatar Patrick says:

        Hey, somebody already did this analysis.

        “Based on the low-end estimate of traffic encounters, the risk of homicide during a traffic stop ranged from a low of one in ten million in 1988 and 1990 to a high of one in 4.6 million in 1991.”

        “Based on the high-end estimate of traffic stops, the risk of homicide during a traffic stop ranged from a low of one in thirty million in 1988 and 1990 to a high of one homicide in 13.8 million stops in 1991.”

        Somewhere between 1 in 4.6 million and 1 in 30 million.

        Given the number of cops we have, that’s a dead cop from a traffic stop every third month or so.

        Given the number of cops we have, for any individual cop, though, your odds of getting killed during a traffic stop are pretty small.

        Like, somewhere in this range.

        Having Identical Quadruplets
        Odds: 1 in 15 million

        Dying in an Airline-Related Terrorist Attack
        Odds: 1 in 25 million

        At the lowest end of probability you’re four times more likely to die in a plane crash as a normal citizen than to be shot and killed in a traffic stop as a cop (Dying in a Plane Crash Odds: 1 in 1 million). If the high estimate is taken, you’re over 25 times as likely to die in a plane crash as a civilian than to get shot in a traffic stop as a cop.Report

      • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:


        I’ve watched this video about 20 times now and every time the guy comes out of the car it looks like he has something in his hands that is at least ‘suspicious’. So maybe the cop might have been justified in drawing his gun when he saw that. The problem is that the cop appears to fire the first round before the man actually turns around. In my mind, that’s jail time for the cop. I’m fine with them defending themselves, but they have to actually see a threat before they do so.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        How about this, then, Mike? When you pull over a car for a traffic violation, all you can do is cite the driver for that traffic violation. Don’t use a stop as a cheap-ass excuse to search the motherfucking vehicle. And legalize the goddamed drug so we don’t feel compelled to do all these fucking searches of citizens day in and motherfucking day out.

        Sorry, I’m not really meaning to swear at you personally, but at the underlying causes, which I am afraid you are assuming are appropriate and not to be questioned when we’re worrying about their consequences.Report

      • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:


        Let me rephrase my comment:

        Traffic stops account for about 20% of police deaths. When you remove ‘ambush situations’ from the mix to just look at random violence against cops, that number jumps close to around 50% with traffic stops.

        You’re correct that as a % of all traffic stops, those resulting in a death are very, very low. The question is, do cops think, “It’s very unlikely that I will be killed in this traffic stop,” or do they think, “If I get killed in the line of duty, there is a 20% chance it will be during a traffic stop.” ?Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        Perhaps the penalty for a trunkload of cocaine shouldn’t be so high that shooting someone seems like a sensible alternative.Report

      • Avatar Patrick says:

        The question is, do cops think, “It’s very unlikely that I will be killed in this traffic stop,” or do they think, “If I get killed in the line of duty, there is a 20% chance it will be during a traffic stop.” ?

        Oh, I’m absolutely certain that they think the second way. Humans are bad at risk analysis and cops are humans.

        We must absolutely train the shit out of them so that they think the first way, because the first way is how you prevent people from getting shot at traffic stops.

        We are obviously not doing that. It shows, in op-ed after op-ed since Ferguson.

        Cops think civilians are a threat. They think they are a big threat. They conflate every interaction they have with a civilian with the (least possible) worst bad thing that *could* happen to them.

        Cops that work 20 years on the force and never have an incident beyond having to put cuffs on some not-very dangerous drunks are writing op-eds about how it’s totally understandable that cops assume that you could turn out to be a psychotic terrorist when they see you doing anything even remotely weird.

        This is just messed up.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Maybe we’d save more lives if we got rid of cops. Then 0% would die during traffic stops.

        IF IT SAVES EVEN ONE LIFE!!!Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:


        Given that the victim seemed to already be out of his car, unaware of the presence of the officer, because he had stopped for gas as opposed to being pulled over, he had every right to have something in his hand, even a suspicious item. A cop shouldn’t be able to sneak up on someone and when they aren’t presenting as the perfect candidate for a passive arrest open fire. Dude was getting gas. I almost always have my phone in my hand when that’s the case. No one should be shot for that.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        The problem, Mike, is that the cops life is not any more valuable than any other, yet police in large act as if it is. I mean, sure, to them it is, but so is mine. Private citizens should not risk getting shot because cops are scared of getting shot.

        That is part & parcel to that whole courage thing police claim they all have.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        there’s practical paranoia: the cop with his hand on his gun (still holstered, ready to be drawn) during a routine traffic stop.

        Then there’s crazy people on adrenalin.Report

  16. Avatar Morat20 says:

    Fun part is listening to people explain all the things you shouldn’t do when getting pulled over by a cop. (Triply so if you’re black). Don’t make movements, show your hands, do whatever they say, don’t resist…

    It’s like cops are basically psychotics, one impulse away from pulling a gun and blazing away at the public. Anything can provoke them. Running away. Standing still. Doing what you’re told. Not doing what you’re told when you’re told contradictory things. Getting blood on a cop when he’s beating you.

    And the people listing all the things these dead people did wrong that got them shot act like trigger-happy cops are a fact of existence — like gravity. “That’s just how it is, you gotta deal with gravity. It’s a pain, but what can you do?”

    It’s not. If we don’t want to have to treat every interaction with a cop like he’s a bomb about to explode, then maybe we should stop making people like that cops. I’ve got a cousin in the military, in Afghanistan. He’s been in war zones with tighter rules of engagement than cops tooling around the US. It’s not like it’s impossible to do.

    Heck, the British do just fine. Germany does just fine. Why are we not only hiring but keeping trigger-happy nutbags as cops?Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko says:

      Self-filtering. “Trigger-happy nutbags” are attracted to police work.

      Obviously, not every cop is a “trigger-happy nutbag”, probably a low percentage. But I’ll bet a high percentage of trigger-happy nutbags seek work involving weapons: cop, soldier, prison guard, range instructor, firearms merchant, etc.Report

      • Avatar Morat20 says:

        The ones that aren’t seem to be abetting the ones that ARE.

        I doubt police precincts are any less gossipy than any other workplace, so I have no doubt that even if a bad cop lacks an official record, there’s a LOT of cops that work with him that no he’s likely to over-react. Or has in the past.

        The advent of camera phones is making it really obvious, if you hadn’t already been aware, that cops protect their own right or wrong. How many incidents aren’t we aware of? If this guy’s dash cam hadn’t been on, what are the odds this would have gone down as ANYTHING other than a legitimate shoot?

        Sure, the victim would have complained. Maybe even sued. And it’d have been cop’s word versus his word, and a parade of uniforms there to explain how the poor officer would NEVER act unless the situation was truly threatening.

        I watched a cop go tearing down a residential neighborhood at 40 miles an hour (speed limit was 20), no lights, no siresn and off duty (no uniform) and t-bone another car at a 4-way stop. (The cop, obviously, had not stopped).

        This was 20+ years ago, but there cop cars showed up and I could clearly hear them trying to figure out how to make it the other driver’s fault, despite the fact that anyone with eyes could see the damage was not consistent with accelerating from a stop. (Not unless the cop had a rocket booster on back). All this while EMT’s were checking out the other driver.

        The corruption isn’t new. We’re just finally getting proof. And you can’t tell me the ‘good cops’ didn’t know all about it. Didn’t work to hide it. They’re just as guilty.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


        There is some evidence that there is a power law dynamic going on and that a few bad apples cause maximum damage.* Isn’t there an old line about how if you were raised in certain neighborhoods, you either became a cop or a criminal? But Morat seems to have a point, we seem to have a real problem of cop behaving badly story. I think part of the problem is us because we do cheer on shows like Cops.

        *Malcolm Gladwell discussed this in an article called Million-Dollar Murray


      • Avatar Kim says:

        The good cops do cover up for the bad cops. That’s sometimes in the name of keeping a good working relationship.
        But they also have the credibility to get the bad cops to stop — and though they sometimes use it rather gently, they do use it.Report

  17. Avatar Kazzy says:

    Alright… I’m not forensic analysis, but a close watching of the video shows the victim make his initial movement towards the car at the 10-second mark and the cop appear on screen with his gun drawn and pointed at him at the 11-second mark. I’m no gun expert, but that makes me wonder whether the weapon was already drawn or at least released from his holster. I don’t know what a reasonable amount of time from initial indication of threat to firing weapon in, but 1 second (and what was probably less than that) seems AWFULLY fast. Can anyone with more knowledge of guns, holsters, human reaction time, and the like weigh in?Report

    • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:


      Depends a bit on the holster. If he had a simple holster with a retention strap, it was probably already undone & his hand was on the gun. If he had one of the fancier holsters, like a BlackHawk Serpa, he could have done the release & pull in one motion (if he was practiced).

      As I commented above, his shooting suggests he was not practiced, at least not seriously, since he was not aiming. Perhaps he just got good and the quick draw in front of the mirror, but hadn’t bothered with the rest of the practice.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        Thanks, @mad-rocket-scientist . If it was the former, Would you agree that approaching a routine traffic stop in such a manner was inappropriate?Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        Absent some event prior to the stop that would clearly indicate a threat, his hands should not have been anywhere near his gun, much less have the retention strap off.

        One LEO I know, when he approaches people, holds both his hands together in front of his chest (one hand a fist, the other covering it). Since his hands are nowhere near his gun, the person relaxes. If the person makes a furtive move, all he has to do is drop his hands & he is at his gun. If he is close enough, having his hands up lets him physically engage the person quickly, so he never needs to draw his gun.

        These are the kinds of things cops should be learning, but it is obvious they are not.Report

  18. NobAkimoto NobAkimoto says:

    The lesson seems to me that all armed cops should have body cams, not just dash cams.Report

  19. Avatar Morat20 says:

    I saw the following comment on Slate:

    “I treat cops like wild animals. They’re as afraid of me as I am of them, so I try to remain as still and white as possible”.Report

  20. Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

    Likewise the guy SWAT’d & killed in Wal-Mart over a BB-gun.

    Here is the video.

    The guy who called that in should be facing charges.Report

    • NobAkimoto NobAkimoto says:

      Given that we have so many examples of cops behaving so badly ON CAMERA, you’d think it’d put all of their testimony of cases where they have no footage at doubt, too.Report

  21. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    There were a bunch of editorials written by cops in our local paper not very long ago that talked about how stressful the job is and how a random traffic stop can be terrifying and how most people don’t know how what it’s like to make an arrest when you don’t know what to expect. Fair enough. But being arrested is just as terrifying and not enough cops have gone through that experience.

    Just a modest proposal- I think it should be part of the training. Require every rookie to go undercover and get arrested in another state and then bail them out when they get to the station. Let them see what it’s like. Not only would it likely change how they act when they’re making an arrest; it would make them less likely to shoot someone they pulled over for a traffic stop when it could turn out to be an undercover rookie cop going through a regular part of the training.Report

    • Avatar zic says:

      This is an interesting idea.

      I also wonder if it presumes a level of empathy not necessarily in place; there is some risk of reinforcing, “can’t wait till I get to do that.’

      I also need to point out, yet again, that there’s a presumption here that cops have a whole lot more training than a lot of cops actually have, most particularly rural cops for small towns.Report

    • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:


      My opinion is that a lot of this would get better if cops worked in pairs ALL THE TIME. They keep each other honest (we hope). They cover each other so they feel less fear in certain situations (we hope). I think it would help.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        @mike-dwyer – if cops worked in pairs ALL THE TIME

        I asked this same question below. Are you aware of any statistics that would back this up?Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        Respectfully, Mike, I don’t think you’ve done any kind of careful comparison of the number of shootings that occur by cops working alone vs. those working in groups of 2 or more.

        And given the whole “thin blue line” idea, I think the hope that cops will keep each other honest is somewhat naive.Report

      • Intuitively, this seems like it would help. In practice, I’m a bit suspicious – it’s hard to ignore that, amongst others, the shooting of Amadou Diallo involved four officers. My worry isn’t that they feel more secure, as Chris suggests – I think a slightly increased feeling of security should marginally decrease any one officer’s willingness to shoot. Instead, my suspicion is that, while there may be a decrease in each individual officer’s willingness to shoot, that decrease is less than the effect of adding another person with a firearm to the situation with a willingness to shoot. Worse, once one officer starts shooting, the other officer(s) will tend to instinctively start shooting as well. And instinctively is the key word there – I strongly suspect that it’s human nature, when someone you’re supposed to trust starts shooting at a presumed threat, to assume that this person saw something you didn’t and instinctively follow suit, essentially the Stonewall Jackson scenario.

        I could probably write this out formulaically.

        Let’s assume that in a given situation, an officer by himself has a 2 percent chance of feeling the need to discharge his firearm (that’s presumably far too high an assumption, but I’m just trying to use round numbers here). So that means that in the situation, there’s a 2 percent chance the suspect will be fired upon.

        If we add an officer, it seems likely to me that each individual officer is significantly less likely to shoot. But how much less likely? If it’s more than 50 percent less likely, then we’ve slightly improved the situation, though unless we get up to about 60 or 70 percent less likely, we’re talking about a very slight improvement that may be offset by the larger number of shots likely to be fired.

        But if it’s less than 50 percent less likely, then we’ve actually increased the likelihood of a firearms discharge. For ease of math, let’s just say it makes each individual officer feel 25 percent safer and thus decreases the likelihood either individual will shoot by 25 percent.

        That means that each officer has a 1.5 percent chance of shooting. I’m terrible at calculating probabilities, so someone please correct me if my formula is wrong here, but here’s what I think we’re left with in this situation:

        1.5% + ((100-1.5)*1.5%) = 2.9775%.

        If my formula is right, then that would mean that even though we’ve made the individual officers feel quite a bit safer and less likely to shoot, we’ve actually increased the likelihood of the suspect being shot at by almost 50%. And, if my assumption about instincts is correct, we’ve probably increased the average number of shots that we can expect will be fired by a lot more than that.Report

  22. Avatar Brandon Berg says:

    Without excusing the cop’s actions or suggesting that the victim is in any way to blame for having gotten shot, I’m adding a new entry to my personal list of rules for dealing with police. So far I have:

    1. Do not fight or argue with the police.
    2. Do not touch a police officer.
    3. Do not run from the police.
    4. Before doing anything in the presence of a police officer, announce your intention and wait for comfirmation before slowly doing exactly what you said you would do.
    5. Do not give the police permission to search you or your property, but for the love of god do not yell at or attempt to physically prevent them from doing so over your objections.
    6. Do not talk to the police without a lawyer.

    Anyone have any others, besides for “Be white or Asian?”Report

    • Avatar Glyph says:

      Agreed that the shooting victim shouldn’t be blamed, at all, for what happened here, but your #4 was something that was told to me many, many years ago when I started driving.

      When the cop asks for your registration, you say, “it’s in the glove box, may I get it out?”, wait for him to respond, then do it, etc. Until then you stay seated and both hands stay visible on the wheel. I was also told you don’t get out of the car, unless told to do so.

      Again, this isn’t to blame the victim, who was likely to have been A.) nervous (I’m a white guy who’s probably pretty unlikely to get shot, and I have been extremely nervous the times I have been pulled over – I once had a little trouble completing a field sobriety test correctly, dead sober, simply due to anxiety) and B.) eager to be seen as complying immediately with the instructions he was given (especially since, being black, he may perversely be at a higher risk of having his actions or any hesitation misinterpreted).

      To go back to the earlier question of seatbelt violations – if getting laws that are largely “victimless crimes” off the books would reduce the overall number of initial ‘random’ police contacts, then the law of averages would tell us there should be fewer police stops that unexpectedly go sideways; and the ones where it does go sideways, would generally be ones where the cop *should* have had a better idea going into the encounter, that there was some risk of violence, and so act/escalate appropriately.

      Putting a lot of victimless crimes on the books and/or doing random stops or stop-and-frisk type stuff introduces a lot of unnecessary randomness and chaos into the overall process in the cops’ minds (“is this stop nothing, or is it MY DEATH?”), and this ultimately is probably good for neither cops nor citizens.

      The flipside is that it would make police work be almost entirely-focused on ‘crime response’ rather than ‘crime prevention’; but frankly at this point I just want to prevent cops from unnecessarily shooting everybody.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        One of the mistakes the cop made in this case is that he didn’t pull the person over, but pulled up as the person was getting out of his car. I’m quite certain that’s not standard procedure, and would be frowned upon by his supervisors even if he hadn’t shot someone. It’s also such a completely unexpected thing for the victim that he clearly isn’t thinking in the “this is a traffic stop” schema, but is instead trying to figure out what the hell is going on and instinctively doing exactly what the cop tells him to do.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        The other thing that occurs to me is that AFAICT this cop did not have a partner with him (I don’t think Darren Wilson did either?).

        I know budgets are what budgets are and sometimes things happen, but I wonder if there are any statistics out there that show that cops *always* traveling by twos is not only safer for the cops, but for the citizens also (ideally you have one cop keeping the other honest [ha], and with a partner at their back they may not be so scared and likely to over-escalate quickly?)

        Or would that just look like more over-policing?Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        Like, I know it sounds ridiculous to say the solution is “more cops” and ideally I wouldn’t want to increase the overall number; but rather simply require the existing ones to always work in pairs.

        It just occurred to me that if part of the problem is cop paranoia, then something that helps put them at ease (another set of eyes/hands, if needed) might perversely reduce the chances of them panicking unnecessarily and things going sideways.

        But I don’t know, there’s also peer pressure and face-saving to take into account. Maybe they would be more likely to administer an ass-whipping or shooting when they have an audience/potential co-conspirator.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        I don’t know the statistics, but the two cops who shot Kajieme Powell entirely unnecessarily (seriously, they escalated that situation so unnecessarily) suggest that there might be a counter dynamic: two cops feel more secure, and are therefore more likely to unnecessarily escalate situations.

        To me, the solution is a radical revision of the way we police ourselves, as a society. But then that’s the sort of solution I usually think of for most things. Tear it down.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        Well, I’d sure like to see all the ‘victimless’ laws come off the books, for a start. I guess that’s radical to some people. Looking also at the way England and Germany are doing things, police-wise, might be worthwhile; though in England they compensate with crazy amounts of surveillance (luckily, we appear to be well on our way to getting that too, in addition to our own homegrown police violence).Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        a lot of unnecessary randomness and chaos into the overall process in the cops’ minds (“is this stop nothing, or is it MY DEATH?”)

        I think that logic certainly applies to citizens as well. According to Morat’s data, 23 cops were killed in active duty as a result of performing cop functions. But how many unarmed citizens were shot by cops in the same time frame? How many armedcitizens were killed by cops in various scenarios? Seems like a lot, no, when you sum SWAT raids and Being Black. The FBI estimates there are about 400 people killed by cops each year. Yet

        there’s no governmental effort at all to record the number of unjustifiable homicides by police.

        Innerstin, no?Report

      • Avatar Morat20 says:

        In all fairness of the 71, like 21 were gunshots, 31 were traffic accidents and the rest were ‘other; which I’m pretty sure breaks down into workplace accidents and any other method which you could do on the job (which would include being assaulted by a non-firearm).

        But even then, 70 something deaths — even counting the traffic accidents — just aren’t that many given the number of cops out there.

        I’m not going to say it’s not a dangerous job, but lots of jobs are dangerous. It’s not like this sort of risk is unique to American policing (every cop everywhere has to deal with it, and places like Britain and Germany don’t seem to have nearly as many cops shooting people). American soldiers in combat face identical, but much more intense, risks (it’s not ‘maybe’ — there are armed people wanting to kill them and actively trying to) and have superior discipline.

        There’s something toxic in American police culture.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        21 were gunshots

        But only 2 actually hit.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        This is a nice thing to read. Now if only cops, departments, & unions would start acting on it.Report

    • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:


      IMO ‘how to behave during a traffic stop’ should be a part of driver’s training. Here’s the way I do it:

      1) Keep my head upright and looking forward
      2) Pull over
      2) Roll down window
      3) Turn off engine
      4) Place keys on the dashboard
      5) Place hands at 10 and 2 on the steering wheel
      6) Wait for officer to arrive at window
      7) BE POLITE
      8) If asked to present registration, inform officer that there is a gun in the glove box and I would be happy to exit the vehicle while he retrieves the registration himself

      I adopted this process a long time ago because, having grown up in a cop family, I understand these guys are dealing with assholes most of the time and it’s not problem for me to try to make their day a little easier. I wish I could say it has gotten me out of a speeding ticket but not yet. Regardless, I’ll keep complying.Report

      • Avatar Patrick says:

        I saw The Big Fix in the early 80s with my parents and there’s a scene where Richard Dreyfuss interacts with a cop while he’s in his car that pretty much matches this, plus Brandon’s note above of “announce your intention and wait for confirmation”.

        I remember when we watched it Mom paused the movie and said, “If you ever have to deal with the police, do it that way”, and then we resumed watching it.Report

      • Avatar KatherineMW says:

        Gee, when there’s so many stories like this, is it any surprise that some people act like assholes to cops? They merit it.Report

  23. Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

    @james-hanley You’ll get no argument from me on ending the drug war but traffic stops are used with success to stop gun trafficking and all sorts of other real crimes.

    Not to mention, standard kidnapping-prevention protocol is to disable the brake lights if you are placed into a truck so the vehicle is likely to be pulled over. Under your scenario the cop would have to ignore the yelling coming from the trunk.Report

    • Avatar James Hanley says:

      Under your scenario the cop would have to ignore the yelling coming from the trunk.

      Not at all. Yelling coming from the trunk is an independently suspicious thing. The cop would not be searching the trunk just on a generalized suspicion without a basis. This is actually a well-settled issue of law, that a warrant is not necessary when a policeman has reason to believe someone’s life is in imminent danger.

      As to your comment about 20% of cop deaths occurring during traffic stops, no doubt you’re right that that is what they’re thinking. But the odds of a traffic stop leading to their death are so microscopic, that their way of thinking is in fact irrational. Look at any list of odds of dying, and you’ll realize police officers do far more risky things–as persons, not specifically as cops–on a regular basis. Just driving to work is a far greater risk. So we are fully justified in pointing out that they are being irrational, and that we don’t have to accept their irrational fears as a policy justification. (Unfortunately, much policy in general is driven by irrational fears–Well, hello there, TSA!–but this is a tendency we should fight back against, and the police shouldn’t get any special consideration for their irrational fears.)Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman says:

        “the odds of a traffic stop leading to their death are so microscopic, that their way of thinking is in fact irrational.”

        The odds of me dying due to falling off a cliff are very low when you look at cliff-falling deaths on a per-capita basis, but I’ll still ask for a parachute before I jump off of Half Dome.Report

      • Avatar Morat20 says:

        Exactly. We’re buying into and buttressing this irrational fear, even as this irrational fear is making cops more dangerous to citizens than citizens are to cops.

        We do it every time we start talking about what the victim ‘should have done’ to not get shot.

        But then again, what’s the point? This is the age of Zimmerman. Unarmed dead guy and armed live guy isn’t worth investigating until someone important makes a fuss (and legitimate shoot or not, EVERY dead body with a bullet in it should merit detailed scrutiny no matter the shooter’s story or condition), and police get so much automatic trust (and have so many similarly trusted buddies) to back them, that it takes actual footage and a slow news week to penetrate.Report

      • Avatar Patrick says:

        That’s perfect, spot-on, awesomely horrible analogy, right there.

        The whole point is that cops are thinking that every traffic stop can result in falling off half-dome, when 99.99995% of their traffic stops consist of them taking pictures of half-dome from the parking lot.

        Would you put on a parachute to take a picture of half-dome from the parking lot?Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        It’s more like never going to see Half Dome because you’re afraid of a rock falling off and hitting you while you’re standing in the parking lot taking a picture.Report

  24. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    The only think that I have to add is that many other police departments manage to do a fine job without being armed to the gills or having garrison like relationships with the citizenry they are supposed to protect. There is something about American cops that compels them to feel that everybody is really a secret criminal out to get them.Report

  25. Avatar Morat20 says:

    We should hire a bunch of Brits and have them export Peelian principles over here.

    American police need to realize they are part of a community, not an occupying or garrisoning force.Report