CNN: Man shot by cops while lying down with hands up, lawyer says [+Video]

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Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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255 Responses

  1. Avatar Kazzy says:

    Headline seems misleading. The video shows exactly that. It isn’t a lawyerms claim; it’s a demonstrable fact.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Kazzy says:

      It’s weird when news outlets do that.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Will Truman says:

        It’s like they’re reluctant to take responsibility to report facts.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Kazzy says:

          They get a lot of news for slow news days from the police blotter.

          To create an adversarial relationship between the press and the police would be against the interest of the newspaper. The newspaper has a longer time horizon than merely “let’s get the next big scoop!”

          They want a news story for the next time that not much is going on and wandering down to the police station and being able to write a story based on the funny and sad and fascinating stories of who got arrested yesterday is almost always good enough for 400 words. (And again the next day, and again the next day, and again the next day…)Report

        • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Kazzy says:

          This is a constant complaint on LGM. The media likes to keep things at a X said, Y said and not point out lies or the facts when they feel it would hurt the bottom line.

          There are still lots of people who reflexively think the police must be right and the media does not want to lose their money.Report

  2. Avatar Jaybird says:

    I certainly hope that the union investigates how the police officer in question was trained.Report

  3. Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

    “Why did you shoot me?”

    “I don’t know.”

    Sigh… Take the gun & badge, he doesn’t get to be a cop anymore.Report

  4. Avatar North says:

    It’s insane.Report

  5. Avatar Kazzy says:

    It almost feels like trolling.

    “If you listen to cops, you won’t be shot.”
    “He told me to get my license and I did!”
    “You moved too quickly. Listen to cops and remain calm and totally nonthreatening.”
    “I laid on the ground with my hands extended up in the air and calmly explained the situation.”
    “Ummm…”

    Like, literally, what are people supposed to do?Report

  6. I presume the police have binoculars, so they could see what’s going on. Why is there a standoff at all, if one guy has his hands in the air and the other one is playing with a toy that looks nothing like a gun?Report

  7. Avatar notme says:

    What’s the big deal? This should be investigated and if appropriate, the cop prosecuted. End of story.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to notme says:

      Even more so the police shootings in Dallas. There the shooter’s dead, so there’s nothing even to investigate.Report

      • Avatar PD Shaw in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

        The problem is that the LA police chief has said that more than half of the people he’s terminated have been reversed by the disciplinary board, and now he is being sued by the union for civil rights violations arising from him pressuring the board to uphold his discipline. I wish articles like that would provide more context on the collective bargaining agreements in place, so we could better evaluate why police misconduct seems to usually just result in training and counseling.

        My impression from a lawyer who prosecuted police misconduct for my state is that “first time” offense is pretty much going to result in nothing of consequence.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to PD Shaw says:

          This is infuriating.

          Why do we have the current climate? This. This is why we have the current climate.Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to PD Shaw says:

          Oh, I know that a lot of the lack of accountability is driven by union agreements as much as it is an unwillingness for local DAs & judges to file charges or impose penalties. And yeah, if every such firing results in an expensive union fight that you have a good chance of losing, then pretty soon you won’t bother trying to fire them unless you’ve got them on felony charges.

          But the fact is, no matter the cause, the pattern of unaccountable behavior is there, and it’s become the result of such “never events” so often that people routinely expect it.Report

          • Avatar PD Shaw in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

            IMHO, over 99% of police shootings are not felonious or cannot be proven to be felonious, given burdens of proof, Constitutional protections, and law enforcement’s justification to use force. No reasonable prosecutor would prosecute them.

            If I am right, then the first step forward is to scrutinize what can be done without involving felony charges. And even more difficult, it might even mean immunizing most (not all) officers from criminal prosecution in order to fully utilize alternative procedures that might be impeded by the Fifth Amendment.Report

          • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

            Patterns make the Feds step in. The feds will take over your police department if necessary.Report

            • Avatar El Muneco in reply to Kimmi says:

              Speaking of the Feds, something that I’ve always maintained would be a big help: mandate by law that every discharge of an officer’s weapon while on duty be reported to a Federal department (such that not reporting correct numbers would be a Federal crime on the department’s part).

              Bam. We have a clearinghouse of correct data, some of which might even be made available to the public at some point, but at least someone somewhere has it, unlike today. The Feds can then act on the information at their own discretion, i.e. choose when to conduct their own investigations into individual situations, and as you say, deal appropriately with emergent patterns.Report

        • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to PD Shaw says:

          Remember that guy at UC Davis who blasted students in the face with a bear-gun pepper sprayer? The unions fought like hell to keep him from getting fired, and he ended up getting more from a workers-comp settlement than any of the students he sprayed received.Report

    • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to notme says:

      What’s the big deal about Hillary Clinton’s private email server? The matter should be investigated and if appropriate, the secretary of state prosecuted. End of story.

      And yet you keep bringing it up.Report

    • Avatar Francis in reply to notme says:

      Prosecuted by whom? The local prosecutor will find his career come to a quick and unpleasant end if he actually were to make a serious effort.

      And under what standard? Current standards for police shootings are incredibly deferential, and something not available to anyone else.

      But it’s neat to see you join up with the core message of Black Lives Matter — that police shootings should be competently investigated and prosecuted by an independent office. Who knows? Next you might come out in favor of states redrawing city boundaries so that towns like Ferguson don’t need to prey on their own citizens for tax revenue.Report

  8. Avatar Dark Matter says:

    A million cops. Probably 10 million encounters with the police per day.

    So this was the worst one in the nation for this day.

    That doesn’t make it right, or not grim, but I expect this isn’t “typical”.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Dark Matter says:

      There are things that hospitals call “never events”.

      Stuff like “amputating the wrong limb” and “leaving a clamp inside the guy” and that sort of thing. They’re not seen as “how many patients got operated on yesterday and you’re focusing on this?” events but “never events”.

      Do cops have “never events”?
      Should they?
      If the answer to one or the other of those is “yes”, how in the flying heck this not one of them?Report

      • Avatar Don Zeko in reply to Jaybird says:

        I really like this comparison.Report

      • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

        “Most of the time, our planes don’t crash”.Report

      • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Jaybird says:

        Jaybird: Do cops have “never events”? Should they? If the answer to one or the other of those is “yes”, how in the flying heck this not one of them?

        That’s a wonderful comparison, and yes, I fully agree this sort of thing should never happen.

        So then let’s follow the logic. How often do “never events” actually happen in a hospital where the surgeons have total control, lots of time to plan, and a team of helpers?

        50 million surgeries a year (Google).

        5000 (link below) of which leave stuff (normally sponges) inside the patient (leaving a sponge in is mind-numbingly bad btw).

        At those rates, the police should be seeing “never events” a thousand times a day.

        http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/03/08/surgery-sponges-lost-supplies-patients-fatal-risk/1969603/

        Further, as far as I can tell, the result of a never event isn’t “fire everyone involved”. Now maybe surgeons are harder to replace than police so that’s not what we want to do, but it should be thought provoking.Report

        • Avatar Don Zeko in reply to Dark Matter says:

          Of course doctors don’t get to hide behind qualified immunity.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Dark Matter says:

          Maybe not “fire everyone involved” but “fire at least one of the people, jeez louise” or, I suppose, avoid the “give the doctor who did the amputation a freaking medal”.Report

          • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Jaybird says:

            Jaybird: Maybe not “fire everyone involved” but “fire at least one of the people, jeez louise” or, I suppose, avoid the “give the doctor who did the amputation a freaking medal”.

            Punishment is the current police model, and what (predictably) happens is everyone points to the dead guy and says it was his fault.Report

        • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Dark Matter says:

          This is why I can’t get behind the calls for blood. We all make mistakes. Most of us are lucky enough to have jobs where the consequences of our mistakes are fairly limited. There are very few even remotely plausible scenarios under which anything I do at work, no matter how badly I screw it up, will result in loss of life. Police and doctors are different.

          Most of these shootings, where they’re not justified, are mistakes that I could see a reasonable, well-meaning person like me make. Not on a daily basis, but maybe once in a thirty-year career. And—there’s no way to say this without sounding like a jerk, but it’s true and relevant—I’m a lot smarter than the average police officer. So how can I hold them to a higher standard than I think I can live up to myself?

          The official story here is that the police were called in to deal with a man who was suicidal and armed with a gun. The officer gets there, and sees the man with the “gun” pointing it at another man who’s lying on the ground with his hands up and yelling something the officer doesn’t understand. The officer tries to shoot the man with the “gun,” misses, and hits the man on the ground. Maybe that’s all BS, but it’s the most plausible explanation for what actually happened. Certainly more plausible than that he just felt like shooting a black guy in the leg.

          This seems like a mistake a reasonable person could have made. But I’m not a police officer, so I don’t know. Maybe there are certain procedures he was supposed to follow that would have prevented this, and his deviation from them was so grossly negligent that he should never be allowed to work as a police officer again, or even that he should be charged with a crime. But I don’t feel qualified to pass judgment here, and I don’t think that most of the people calling for the officer’s head are any more qualified than I am.

          I realize that this is a problem—there are bad cops who do bad things, and it can be hard to distinguish them from good cops who make an honest mistake, and sometimes even from good cops who do the right thing—but I’m not really sure what to do about it. I don’t even know the ratio. How much of the variance in these outcomes is explained by good/bad/incompetent cops, how much by circumstances, and how much by shit happening, as it is wont to do?Report

          • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Brandon Berg says:

            Practically anything I do at work could kill someone. Not directly, but still.
            We have procedures set up so that any mistakes I make don’t get anywhere near production. If a mistake does hit production, we do an afteraction review to doublecheck our procedures (and probably add a few more layers).

            This isn’t even milspec coding (“we have to find at least three bugs, sir — can you please add three so that we can go home already?”).Report

          • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Brandon Berg says:

            Very well said, and agreed.Report

          • If this was a mistake a reasonable person could have made let’s hear an explanation for it that isn’t obvious bullshit. Say, after having shot someone whom you claim you’re trying to protect, why do you handcuff him and leave him lying face down on the ground bleeding?Report

          • @brandon-berg Part of the problem here, I think, is that there are bigger forces in play that you’re ignoring.

            As I noted to Richard above, for example, there’s already an attempt by some to leverage circumstances to their political or financial gain by demonizing and attempting to publicly punish the caretaker. Just as there were similar attempts by the same people to demonize and/or punish every other unarmed person of color who’s been in the news because they were shot or killed by police.

            So really, there is more than one layer here needing to be dealt with. You are correct that there is the layer of a good cop making a bad mistake — or, perhaps a bad (in terms of quality, not morality) cop making a more predictable bad mistake. But these is also the layer of the political movement that does not just come to the defense of all of these police officers, but creates and passes on the narrative that the unarmed man (or child with a toy) somehow had it coming — that the mistake that you speak of never really occurred, because what really happened was some kind of worldly or divine “justice.”

            This mindset, of course, feeds into an already existent distrust between people that desperately need one another’s trust. See, for example, the case in Austin this week where after roughing up a woman stopped for a traffic violation, local police’s own recorders captured the cops telling the woman they were arresting — for reasons that still look terrible — that white people are justified in treating blacks like that, because blacks are inherently violent and not to be trusted.

            If both sides of the political divide came down on the same side when these ‘mistakes’ occurred, I don’t believe BLM would exist today. BLM both exists and is growing today, I believe, because whenever a ‘mistake’ like this happens it isn’t treated as a mistake by a good portion of the country — including a lot of politicians claiming to be pro-law and order.Report

          • Avatar Don Zeko in reply to Brandon Berg says:

            Perhaps when we give somebody a firearm and a badge and task them with using deadly force to maintain law and order, we ought to demand a higher standard of decision-making than merely what a reasonable person might do. After all, we ask more of doctors and airline pilots and soldiers. Instead, we seem to inhabit a world where it is far easier for an ordinary citizen to be punished for attacking or killing another person than a cop would be for behaving in the exact same way.Report

          • Avatar nevermoor in reply to Brandon Berg says:

            @brandon-berg I’m sorry, but I don’t buy this. At all.

            It doesn’t matter that you (or I) might be smarter than the average cop. Their job is to serve and protect while carrying deadly weapons, and they should be trained to do so appropriately. And here’s the dirty little secret: we know how to conduct that training. The military is REALLY GOOD at avoiding this kind of crap, and I’m sick and tired of having conversations with my friend (who retired after tours to both Iraq and Afghanistan) where he tells me he would have been severely disciplined for so much as RAISING HIS RIFLE in the kind of situations that are resulting in bad shootings. And, of course, that was in a war zone not the streets of our own country.

            Cops, who should be held to higher gun safety standards than you or I, certainly appear to be trigger happy and far too quick to kill black people. And the fact that every police officer and conservative in the country (with, perhaps a handful of exceptions) seems eager to justify every bad shooting gives me no comfort that this is some shockingly unusual fact. Instead, it suggests that the shockingly unusual part is that we are looking past the lies in after action reports and watching video.Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Dark Matter says:

      No one thinks the event is typical.

      What I suspect will be typical is the department (under the influence of the police union) doing everything it can to keep that cop on the job and out of trouble. It’ll be called an accident, no charges filed, he’ll get counseling & training, and we’ll all ignore the fact that if a civilian had done this, he’d be facing charges.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

        Not to mention the municipality his police department services will get sued, settle for some big bucks and then have financial problems.Report

      • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

        Oscar Gordon: What I suspect will be typical is the department (under the influence of the police union) doing everything it can to keep that cop on the job and out of trouble. It’ll be called an accident, no charges filed, he’ll get counseling & training, and we’ll all ignore the fact that if a civilian had done this, he’d be facing charges.

        We don’t insist that civilians point guns at people as part of their job.

        I don’t know the details of this incident, but the moment you’re pointing a gun at someone, the stakes are raised seriously high, and accidents are going to happen and people are going to die.

        The issue then becomes what happens next. Do we ask the question, ‘is this officer salvable?’ Should we?

        There are lines which society needs to draw for police behavior, but we’re not going to insist they can’t point guns at people and we shouldn’t insist on perfection.

        I think it’s fair to insist on basic competence, and maybe this steps over that line, but the press has screwed up so many of these that I think we need to wait.Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Dark Matter says:

          We don’t insist that civilians point guns at people as part of their job.

          Last time I checked, we don’t insist police do this either. We insist they enforce the law and we provide them firearms for self-defense and to allow them to project sufficient force to gain compliance. An officer should strive to never need to draw their weapon, it should be the very last thing they do absent a clear and present danger. As a matter of fact, the very act of a police officer drawing his/her weapon should be something that generates some manner of inquiry* with regard to why the officer felt it necessary to draw, coupled with some manner of after action review to determine if the situation could have been resolved without drawing a weapon or seriously compromising officer safety (I believe doctors do something like this whenever a patient dies from not natural causes; I’d be interested if some police departments did this, or do they just focus on legality/justification).

          Further to that point, officers should not be allowed to carry a firearm until they are indexing it as naturally as breathing, and finally a gun in the holster can not be accidentally discharged. This speaks to department training standards and enforcing those standards among the rank and file.

          As to salvaging an officer, once someone is hurt or killed, even if it is justifiable, they should get benched for a long time (at least 6 months) and put through counseling and training – a lot of it.

          *One of the problems we have with law enforcement accountability is transparency & data. PDs are not required to record and report officer interaction data to the FBI. They are encouraged to do so, and some do, but not all of them, and not in any standard format. An interesting bit of data would be to correlate how often officers draw a firearm with how often they shoot them.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

            If we had more pro-gun people, we could have more comments about “trigger discipline”.Report

            • Avatar notme in reply to Jaybird says:

              We had a discussion on trigger discipline when we talked about the Lin case.Report

            • Avatar Aaron David in reply to Jaybird says:

              There is this thing (speaking of trigger discipline) called “Glock leg syndrome.” It consists of someone shooting themselves in the leg while reholstering a pistol, supposedly due to the light trigger, but in reality due to the person keeping their finger on the trigger and encountering resistance. There is a way to deal with this mechanically (switching to DA/SA), but that might not solve the problem (a big part of the problem is between the seat and the keyboard.)

              Kinda the same problem with loose shots and a Single Action pistol.Report

          • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

            @oscar-gordon

            Another technical question… could you design the gun and/or holster such that it registers each firearm draw? Self-reporting seems really problematic.

            No system will ever be 100% accurate, obviously, but I assume we could get something pretty darn close using magnets or pressure sensors or a sophisticated system of pulleys*…?

            Also, indexing? Does that mean drawing and readying to fire? That is actually one of my questions… what is a reasonable time we can train most cops to draw, ready (is that the correct term?), and fire their weapon? And how much of that time is drawing? Readying?

            Maybe this is counter-intuitive but if we can make cops faster “on the draw” (is that a real term?) than perhaps they will wait that much longer before actually withdrawing or firing their weapon. Maybe they keep the gun in their holster and let the guy reach into the glove box because they know they’ll have their gun out and firing before he does and this will give them enough time to see if he’s reaching for something shiny and metal or something matte and leather? But, again, maybe I’m way off base here.

            * A college roommate and I posited that many of lives problems could be solved with sophisticated systems of pulleys and/or mirrors.Report

            • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Kazzy says:

              @kazzy

              You could probably have a small magnetic sensor on a holster that detects when the metal of the gun leaves the holster and records that (as well as when it returns, and note the time). It’s probably something that could be piggybacked onto the body cam system.

              Indexing is laying your trigger finger along the length of the firearm frame instead of placing it inside the trigger guard. Since holsters cover the trigger, it’s not possible to put your finger in the guard before the weapon is drawn, and it’s very easy to just index the firearm while it’s in the holster, and just keep the finger in that position as the weapon clears. This takes practice to make it muscle memory, which means an officer has to practice drawing his weapon many many times until it’s second nature. Also, it takes a fraction of a second to move an indexed finger to the trigger.

              The main reason to index is because an accidental discharge while under stress rarely results in a single shot, because it’s a surprise, so the officer jerks, and pulls the trigger again…Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                @oscar-gordon

                Thanks (here and in general for your patient and thorough explanations). To the best of your knowledge, is indexing standard training for most police?Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Kazzy says:

                Thanks for listening.

                One of the 4 rules is “keep your booger hook off the bang switch”, so if officers aren’t being taught that, and the department isn’t serious about it, that’s an issue.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                Oddly, that is a rule in most PreKs… right down to that very language!Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Kazzy says:

                Lately I feel like half of the words I speak to the boy are, “get your finger out of your nose!”Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                Ha! I get the question aimed at me… “Why you finger in you nose?”

                “Uhh… um… here’s some candy… dick.”Report

              • Avatar nevermoor in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                The problem with something like that is that the timing probably wouldn’t stay accurate. We had a police shooting case recently where the 911 time stamps, tazer discharge time stamps, and officer radio time stamps were all completely different, so you couldn’t figure out relative sequencing between events.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 in reply to nevermoor says:

                Last time I build website (an internal tool that pulled data from a variety of sources, let users comment on it and keep records and reports, all with strict FOIA requirements), we had that exact issue come up when discussing design with the customers.

                We used GMT from the DB server for everything. We could thus order events, determine the time difference between them, etc. We all (our server and our data sources servers, including their event logging) all synced to the same sources anyways (actually, the algorithms for syncing clocks are pretty fun. Because if you have four computers trying to agree on the time, with variable lag between them…..getting a precise sync is not super easy).

                Biggest problem was getting the customer to understand that just because we logged it in GMT, didn’t mean we couldn’t display it in local time. And that no, daylight savings time didn’t bother us because again — stored in GMT.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Morat20 says:

                I’m not sure how important an accurate time stamp is for such a thing. I mean, if there is a body camera, then the camera is actually keeping time, the draw sensor would just transmit what amounts to a boolean, and the camera system would time stamp it when it got it.

                The data of interest is how often it’s drawn and for how long. About when is also good to know as well, so if an officer comes in with a record of a gun drawn for 10 minutes at 2320, and there isn’t some kind of report reflecting the where & why, the department can investigate.

                The trend of interest is how often are guns drawn correlated to frequency of shootings that are questionable, i.e. is a department having a lot of shootings because officers are relying on the threat of a drawn gun and have poor trigger discipline or risk assessment.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                Time stamps are useful for ordering events, and in a police system you don’t need super well synced time, just “within a few seconds” time between systems.

                That is, you want to be able to place the 911 call in a timeline with the officer’s radio response with the car rolling to a stop with the officer flicking on his cam to the officer drawing his gun.

                Honestly, you don’t need clocks that are in perfect (well, as far as that goes) sync for that. People just don’t move that fast, and once the bodycam is on (or on scene) you can just defer to that.

                But if you’re trying to sort out, say, 3 9-11 calls, two officer radio responses, and when you heard gun-shots over one of the 9-11 calls, you really want the systems (9-11, dispatch, etc) to be close enough to figure out who did what when and where they were.Report

        • Avatar j r in reply to Dark Matter says:

          We don’t insist that civilians point guns at people as part of their job.

          As others have pointed out, this is a BS comment.

          I was an infantryman. I deployed to an actual war zone. We questioned people. We pointed guns at people. We searched people’s home without asking for permission. We drove around like assholes who thought we owned the road. I’m not proud of any of this, but I bring it up to make the point that we someone how managed to never shoot anyone who wasn’t trying to shoot at us (at least not my unit).

          Why? Because we had rules of engagement. We had training on trigger and barrel discipline. We had leadership who stressed that once you send a round downrange, you own that round. It doesn’t matter what you thought you were shooting at. You own the bullet wherever it lands.

          In complete honesty, all this training was mostly about preventing friendly fire incidents, but that just shows that when you care about who might get hit, it’s possible to put in place rules and a culture that doesn’t just accept these kinds of mistakes.Report

          • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to j r says:

            Hell, I got that training, and I was a Navy mechanic (albeit one who rode on Marine landing craft, but still).Report

            • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

              Zazzy was in the Navy Nurse Corps through NROTC. I think the weapons training she received was initially pretty minimal (from what she explained, she could have opted into more training but decided against it because of a general discomfort with firearms). When she got deployed to Camp Arifjan in Kuwait, she was expected to carry a sidearm when traveling around base and went through pretty thorough training. She was exceedingly unlikely to ever need to use it but because it was required she carry it, it was required she knew how to handle it properly.Report

          • Avatar Morat20 in reply to j r says:

            I’ve pointed out before that we give kids barely out of high school stricter ROE’s in much more dangerous environments, and subject them to much higher levels of accountability and oversight than we do cops.

            Which says the problem isn’t human nature. It’s the way we train and police cops.Report

          • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to j r says:

            I’m not proud of any of this, but I bring it up to make the point that we someone how managed to never shoot anyone who wasn’t trying to shoot at us (at least not my unit).

            How big was your unit the unit to which you were assigned?

            Edit: Phrasing.Report

          • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to j r says:

            As others have pointed out, this is a BS comment.

            I was an infantryman. I deployed to an actual war zone. We questioned people. We pointed guns at people. We searched people’s home without asking for permission. We drove around like assholes who thought we owned the road. I’m not proud of any of this, but I bring it up to make the point that we someone how managed to never shoot anyone who wasn’t trying to shoot at us (at least not my unit).

            You don’t judge how easy it is to win the lottery by looking at the winner. We’re looking at extreme, and extremely rare, events in large groups, i.e. “never events”.

            My expectation is if you’d done your thing for enough time to get a decent statistical average (say, 10,000 years) we’d see numbers which said that your unit was a lot more dangerous than the the police.

            For that matter we could get larger data if we looked at every unit over the course of the entire war (I’m reasonably sure there were friendly fire incidents and civilians accidentally killed).Report

            • Avatar j r in reply to Dark Matter says:

              @dark-matter

              The frequency is not the point of the comment. The point is that, in the Army, everything we do from doctrine development to the training you get before you every put your hands on the weapon to how a range functions to how you do live fire exercises is centered on only sending rounds where you absolutely want to send rounds.

              I want police departments to put the same level of effort into restricting their use of deadly force to situations where it is absolutely necessary to protect lives. That is, restrict it to situations where it is clear that not shooting someone would have resulted in the police or someone else getting hurt and not use it in situations where well, we didn’t really know what was going on, he could have had a weapon, he could have done anything.Report

            • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Dark Matter says:

              10000 years?! Seriously?

              Still, I think you’re wrong because A) the military gets better training, & B) soldiers know damn well that if they screw up through gross carelessness, etc, they will be facing non-judicial punishment at the very least, and a Court Martial at the worst. And there is no Soldiers Benevolent Association to run PR & other legal tasks for them. So they have a powerful incentive to get it right.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                10000 years?! Seriously?

                Actually, yeah. We should be using more than *one* day for the police (who at a handwave are getting 10 million encounters a day).

                I can’t tell how many people were in your unit nor how long you were there (if you’ve posted that somewhere else I’m sorry I haven’t caught that yet).

                But assume you have 10 encounters per person per day and there are 10 people in your unit. That’s 36,500 encounters a year so every 30 years of your time is 1 day of the police.

                I’d like a years worth of data for the police, so you’d need 10,000 years to balance that.

                Yes, I know, much hand waving and massive assumptions (for starters I don’t think the police, or the military for that matter, do a good job of reporting ‘never’ events).Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Dark Matter says:

                I was Navy, not Army. That is @j-r .

                Also, I think your numbers are underestimating military engagements in a combat zone, and overestimating how often police are in contact. I get the point you are trying to make, but I think your numbers are off by a lot.

                Finally, this:

                There are lines which society needs to draw for police behavior, but we’re not going to insist they can’t point guns at people and we shouldn’t insist on perfection.

                I think it’s fair to insist on basic competence, and maybe this steps over that line, but the press has screwed up so many of these that I think we need to wait.

                Is important. Let’s think about truckers. They drive very large, very heavy vehicles on the highways and through the streets every day. Every once in a while, a trucker gets into an accident and kills someone. When that happens, the police investigate. They look at the scene, take witness statements, examine the truck, the car, the drivers, the victims, etc. If it is found that the victim did something worthy of a Darwin Award, then usually the truck driver is cleared. But if the driver wasn’t paying attention, or was driving aggressively or recklessly, or was in an altered state, or (and I’d need @road-scholar to confirm this) if their truck was in poor repair, then they will be facing vehicle manslaughter charges.

                We don’t say, “Well, we insist that truckers drive heavy death machines on the highway everyday, sometimes people are going to die, and we shouldn’t destroy an hard working trucker for an honest mistake.”, because we do destroy people for honest mistakes, all the time, if they seriously injure or kill a person. We demand an accounting, even if the person is the nicest family wo/man in the world, if they make a mistake, no matter how small, and it kills someone, they get brought up on charges, and even if they get acquitted, no one blinks twice if they are banned from the profession.

                Now hearkening back to medical professionals, they get more slack because surgery is risky, and there can be unforeseen conditions or complications, and sometimes people die. They still get investigated, usually by their colleagues, but sometimes by the police, sometimes by insurance companies, and sometimes by lawyers, and when those other parties demand an investigation, IIRC they can’t hold things back from the investigators.

                Police, on the other hand, investigate themselves*. Scalia was a fool for thinking the professionalism of the police was an adequate check against misconduct. I know there is supposed to be IAB and OPC and what not, but I don’t think those departments are quite as adversarial as TV likes to pretend (or else stuff like this would not be possible). Sometimes a department will request an outside agency to conduct the investigation, but by then the department has already had plenty of time to screw things up such that even if there was misconduct, they’d never get a conviction, and that is assuming the outside agency doesn’t whitewash it for their fellow officers (I do know that outside agencies do actually find the officer at fault, which would make for an interesting analysis), but to be honest, every officer involved shooting should be investigated, from the moment the bullets stop flying, by an agency whose only job is to investigate police misconduct (think IAB/OPC, but a state or federal level office staffed by civilians experienced with such investigations, with the power to indict officers for any misconduct, and the ability to demand an officer be dismissed, union agreements be damned).

                ETA* And they can lock down the information they produce like nobody else can.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                Oscar Gordon:
                I get the point you are trying to make, but I think your numbers are off by a lot.

                I’d be shocked if they weren’t.

                Oscar Gordon:
                Is important.Let’s think about truckers…

                Very, very thought provoking analogy.

                And the rest of your post was very well written and the points are well taken.Report

              • Avatar Road Scholar in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                Oscar Gordon,

                You’re pretty spot on. One of my responsibilities as a professional driver is a daily pre-trip inspection. I’m not a certified mechanic but I’m expected to be competent to at least catch the obvious stuff like worn tires, broken suspension, bad brakes, etc. And it’s backed up legally (or at least was; the rules with electronic logs are a bit different) since the inspection report is a part of the daily Hours-of-Service log and that’s a document that is signed under penalty of perjury.

                Legalities aside, trucking companies get sued for practically any accident we’re involved in. So now I have a dash cam that looks both outside and in at me. If the accelerometer detects an event twenty seconds of video both before and after, inside and out, gets saved and uploaded. I can’t disable the system at all, but I can manually trigger it if I wish. Surprise, surprise, it turns out that about 80% of the lawsuits just magically disappear when the lawyers see the video.

                I don’t have a lot of sympathy for the cops that don’t want the body cams.Report

            • My expectation is if you’d done your thing for enough time to get a decent statistical average (say, 10,000 years) we’d see numbers which said that your unit was a lot more dangerous than the the police.

              For one think, your eyesight wouldn’t be much good anymore.Report

    • Avatar Hoosegow Flask in reply to Dark Matter says:

      The problem is not that cops sometimes make tragic mistakes. The problem is the growing perception that they are seemingly rarely held accountable for those mistakes. I haven’t seen anybody on a state or local level (or federal, for that matter) actually taking action to try and rebuild confidence in the police and their procedures.Report

      • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Hoosegow Flask says:

        I recall reading the FBI was launching an investigation (entirely on their own) into one of their agents involved when Finicum was shot after the Oregon standoff.

        Why? Because someone in the FBI fired a shot and didn’t report it on their after-action reports. (I don’t recall how they knew — found a bullet, a magazine was light, whatever). But apparently the FBI dislikes it when agents discharge a weapon and don’t document it.Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to Hoosegow Flask says:

        Not to mention, that there appears to be some statistical skew in cutaneous melanin density between the victims of those tragic mistakes, and the nation as a whole.Report

        • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to dragonfrog says:

          dragonfrog:
          Not to mention, that there appears to be some statistical skew in cutaneous melanin density between the victims of those tragic mistakes, and the nation as a whole.

          We just had a statistical analysis done by some left leaning black Harvard economist find the opposite.

          One assumes he adjusted his stats for either encounters with the police or crime in general. I tried reading the raw report but it was going to take too long to get my head into. The racial breakdown of the shootings is a reflection of society, not a creation of the police.

          http://www.breitbart.com/tech/2016/07/13/black-harvard-economist-finds-no-bias-against-blacks-in-police-shootings/Report

          • Avatar Will H. in reply to Dark Matter says:

            I had a class a few semesters back where everyone in the class did a report on police shootings within a certain region.
            Not one person had a racial disparity to report.
            Instead, every single student reported a sizeable number of police shooting victims described as “mentally ill” or “mentally disturbed.”
            In my region, it was 1/3 of all police shootings. Another student showed 50% of police shootings in the region he researched.

            People on Prozac, Ritalin, and the like just don’t have the political clout of shouting *BIGOT* and being taken seriously.Report

          • Avatar Snarky McSnarkSnark in reply to Dark Matter says:

            That’s not exactly what the study said. What it did say was that there were dramatic racial disparities in number of incidents where there was a use-of-force by the police: and that blacks were substantially more likely (by about 50%) to be targeted. However, that lethal use-of-force against non-aggressive civilians was somewhat more likely to be exercised against whites.Report

          • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to Dark Matter says:

            I wonder if an analysis of that paper, and possibly other material that covers statistics related to but outside the scope of the paper (I haven’t read it yet, so don’t know where it draws its scope boundaries), would make for a worthwhile OT article…Report

            • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to dragonfrog says:

              @dark-matter you are indeed mistaken. And, in support of my suggestion above: between the ease with which a well-intentioned person can accidentally misunderstand a study like this one, and the number of media outlets (cough-Breitbart-cough) that would very much like their readers to misunderstand the study, I think a careful analysis of what we can and cannot learn from the study may be in order.

              Black people are in fact vastly overrepresented among victims of police shooting, as compared to their percentage of the general population. That is known, and remains unchallenged by this study.

              The study you reference is not across

              What the study adds to our knowledge, is that black people are not overrerpresented among victims of police shooting as compared to their percentage of arrestees.

              Which, put together, suggests that the biggest racial disparity is not in police tendency to violence once they have crossed the threshold of arresting someone – it’s in their choice of whom to stop or arrest in the first place (there were other racial differences, some of them perhaps well into the range of statistical significance, but that one point outweighs them all considerably).Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to dragonfrog says:

                Hey black folks!
                Who you gonna believe, your own lived experience, or this nifty collection of charts and graphs, in a slick professional plastic binder?Report

              • This sounds like the arguments last night with regard to Trump’s comments about crime rate trajectory.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Will Truman says:

                Except those arguments are not, based on everything I’ve seen and read, rooted in lived experience. This difference strikes me as significant.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to dragonfrog says:

                Ah, so it’s adjusted for percentage of arrestees, thank you.

                Which, put together, suggests that the biggest racial disparity is not in police tendency to violence once they have crossed the threshold of arresting someone – it’s in their choice of whom to stop or arrest in the first place

                Interesting… I’m not sure what to make of this. Given the wide racial disparity in all the other crime stats, this might be expected.

                Intuitively I still think ending the war on drugs would be the most effective in terms of dealing with racial disparities in violence/crime, but I don’t think this study has the granularity to support that.Report

              • Avatar Mo in reply to dragonfrog says:

                My understanding is that it’s not adjusted for level per arrestee, but to certain escalation points beyond the arrest. It was escalation where lethal force was “warranted” according to, and this is key, police reports. This gives us a Supreme Court Rules, Supreme Court Rules situation. Those police reports are very self-serving and frequently have no connection to fact. According to the police report as originally written, the Walter Scott situation warranted lethal force. And even in the cases where police officers have been acquitted, the video evidence contradicts the written police report significantly.Report

            • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to dragonfrog says:

              Another way of viewing essentially the same data: http://www.cjcj.org/news/8113Report

              • Avatar trizzlor in reply to dragonfrog says:

                Thanks for the explanation dude, very informative. One of the more striking results from the DOJ report was that blacks were much more likely to be arrested + searched but actually *less* likely to have contraband.Report

    • Avatar trizzlor in reply to Dark Matter says:

      Moreover, atypical events can provide clarity on how the overall system functions. Are there a lot of prominent police spokespeople getting out in front and criticizing the actions of the officers here? Can you find even one? If not, does this highly atypical event tell us something about police accountability?Report

      • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to trizzlor says:

        trizzlor:
        Moreover, atypical events can provide clarity on how the overall system functions. Are there a lot of prominent police spokespeople getting out in front and criticizing the actions of the officers here? Can you find even one? If not, does this highly atypical event tell us something about police accountability?

        Why should they “criticize his actions” right now? For that matter, why should we?

        Let’s replay Ferguson:

        There’s a police shooting. 20 witnesses say it was unjustified. The dead guy’s friend says he was there and it was in the back after he surrendered. The dead guy’s family says he was going to college and wouldn’t hurt a fly.

        Except after lots of investigations, including by Eric Holder’s FBI, the almost 300 lb, high on drugs criminal who had *just* pulled a robbery attacked the cop and made him kill him. None of the 20 witnesses don’t agree with each other or with the physical evidence. The 8 witnesses who support the cop’s story do agree with each other and with the physical evidence. The dead guy’s friend was his partner in crime and has a criminal history of lying.

        Or how about the Orlando shootings? The FBI thinks the shooter wasn’t gay, or confused about his sexuality, or even homophobic. It’s still an ongoing investigation, so there’s time to change, but as far as they can tell he never used gay dating apps, and they’ve got his computer so it either has gay porn on it or it doesn’t.

        We don’t know anything yet. The press is going to talk to whoever will talk and what we think we know is probably wrong.Report

        • Avatar trizzlor in reply to Dark Matter says:

          >>Why should they “criticize his actions” right now? For that matter, why should we?

          Because that’s the only way a highly entrenched organization ever holds itself accountable. It does not take amazing nuance and intellect to say – “based on the video, eyewitness accounts, and statements from the police this violates the fundamental principles of policing we strive to bla bla bla … none of which should be interpreted as a guilty verdict”. This is such a basic level of accountability it’s shocking that I have to explain it here. Seriously, go read up on the “never events” that Jaybird highlighted, the response protocol is (1) apologize for event; (2) report the event; (3) perform a root cause analysis; (4) waive costs / assess damages. Do you see how apologize for event is the VERY FIRST THING on that list? If the root cause analysis finds the victim to be complicit in the event, then … you’ll have the apparently incomprehensible task of taking back an apology … because you said right in the statement that it was based on first impressions. Seriously, why is this even under debate? This is how every single accountable organization functions! The persistent cover-your-ass / never-admit-fault attitude from state agents who discharge weapons at unarmed citizens is absolutely pathetic.Report

          • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to trizzlor says:

            trizzlor: “based on the video, eyewitness accounts, and statements from the police this violates the fundamental principles of policing we strive to bla bla bla … none of which should be interpreted as a guilty verdict”.

            So we’re not going to rush to judgement but here is our rush to judgement? At this point in Ferguson we’d be saying that Mike Brown should never have been shot in the back while surrendering and there’s no excuse for that.

            trizzlor:
            the response protocol is (1) apologize for event; (2) report the event; (3) perform a root cause analysis; (4) waive costs / assess damages. Do you see how apologize for event is the VERY FIRST THING on that list? If the root cause analysis finds the victim to be complicit in the event, then … you’ll have the apparently incomprehensible task of taking back an apology … because you said right in the statement that it was based on first impressions. Seriously, why is this even under debate?

            First, IMHO there’s a LOT to be said for treating this by the medical paradigm. Assess what went wrong, have special investigations which try less to assess blame and more to prevent future problems.

            However we don’t do that. We mostly want to treat this as a criminal matter, so putting the police in prison is on the table. Ergo we have the adversarial setup right from the start, and everyone behaves that way.

            I don’t think the police can apologize and admit guilt without admitting guilt (although I’m not a lawyer).Report

            • Avatar notme in reply to Dark Matter says:

              You are right, at this point in the Brown case there were posts here about how ashamed some folks were about the murder. It was silly.Report

            • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Dark Matter says:

              There is an important difference between the medical community and the police. Doctors have a Hippocratic Oath. Police should be held to the Peelian Principles, but very few departments or officers hold to them or use them to inform policy.

              So with doctors, we accept that even though they made a mistake, they were trying to make someone better, and most times, the patient either is aware of the risks, or it’s an emergency. It aligns with a good Samaritan way of thinking.

              If an officer draws their gun, they are usually not trying to save a life, but gain compliance. Sometimes, the person they want compliance from refuses to listen, or is dangerous, and the officer has to act. No one takes issue with such situations. But there is a dynamic at play that officers often dismiss, and that is that they are coming to every situation with violence openly on their hip, and thus (IMHO) they have an obligation to prevent violence from erupting. This is why people are pressing for body cams, because there is a belief that officers are escalating conflict (I’ll bet most times they are doing it unconsciously) until things go pear shaped. The body cams can not only help identify such situations, but also serve as training aids, as well as identify clear misconduct.

              Finally, another thing officers (& their boosters) forget is that THEY are (extensively, supposedly) trained to interact with citizens, and subdue them if need be. Citizens are NOT trained to interact with police, especially should police attempt to physically restrain them. Ergo, they have an obligation to understand how people will react in any physical confrontation, especially if the person is hurt, or had their bell rung. Again, this speaks to training standards and enforcing those standards.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                Bodycams protect both police and the citizens they encounter. Police from false accusations, citizens from police misconduct.

                And while the results are pretty preliminary, it appears that both sides seem to be more polite and less confrontational when they know they’re on camera.

                Of course implementation has issues that will have to be resolved (such as the almost certain “My camera must have malfunctioned” defense) and how to deal with stuff like “taking a leak” — but a lot of that is protocol, procedure, and effective oversight.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Morat20 says:

                Imagine if tomorrow, a sizable segment of the population decided that they were going to file a claim after every interaction they had with a cop. What if all Black people insisted the cop used the n-word? Or all women insisted the cop propositioned them for sex? Or even a non-demographically-identifiable group just decided they’d file a claim of one kind or another?

                Now, almost all of these claims would be BS and unsubstantiated. But at the same time, if Officer Joe Smith kept returning to the precinct with the phone ringing off the hook with citizen after citizen filing a complaint against him, his higher ups would have to act, no? Even if they knew that it was an organized campaign?

                If folks were to do this, cops might become the bigger supporters of body cams.

                Now, I’m certainly not suggesting that anyone file a false claim of harassment against a police officer. But… I do wonder just what a mass effort like that might accomplish…Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                “If an officer draws their gun, they are usually not trying to save a life, but gain compliance.”

                There is also the important question of when/what/where/why compliance should be expected of citizens. Increasingly the response from cops and their blind supports seems to be whenever/whatever/where ever/because they said so.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Kazzy says:

                Kazzy,
                All frankness, but that’s not really true.
                Cops could crack down on drugs, could crack down on hookers, could crack down on a lot of things.
                They leave themselves margin for real crackdowns.
                Because if you turn everything to ten, then… you don’t have margin to make things worse.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                “Citizens are NOT trained to interact with police, especially should police attempt to physically restrain them. ”

                Our local naacp has booklets on how to interact with the police. I’ve read ’em.Report

        • Avatar KenB in reply to Dark Matter says:

          Has there been a thread or post here that revisits Ferguson? I don’t read every comment but FWIW I don’t remember seeing anyone here who had been 100% sure that the cop was in the wrong even mention the case again. Would be nice to see some sign that people re-calibrate their confidence in their own opinions after seeing a case where their beliefs were not borne out by the evidence.Report

          • Avatar Kazzy in reply to KenB says:

            @kenb

            Yes, I recalibrated my opinion to have less trust in local investigations/prosecution after that sham. That’s what you meant, right?Report

            • Avatar KenB in reply to Kazzy says:

              Actually I meant the fact that the DOJ report regarding the shooting itself largely supported Wilson’s story. Obviously it also found many issues with the Ferguson PD, but it can simultaneously be true that the FPD is f’ed up and that this particular case wasn’t actually a good example of it.Report

              • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to KenB says:

                Absolutely. In particular, that the general reaction in Ferguson to the shooting was that this was *almost certainly* yet another example of the general racist awfulness of the entire justice system in Ferguson – even though it turns out it may not have been – still provides evidence of just how awful it is there.Report

              • Avatar KenB in reply to dragonfrog says:

                Hmmm… so you’re saying it doesn’t matter what actually happened in this case, the reaction itself indicts the system. Is that a general rule or is it specific to this one issue?Report

              • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to KenB says:

                I’m saying reactions like that don’t come from nowhere. They can of course be mistaken in individual cases, just like zebras do at times make hoofbeats in the distance.

                So – pretty much, what you said, I guess – the reaction itself can tend to indict the system, being a product of the accumulated decades of experiences of those reacting.

                If anything, the reaction in a case like this one may say more about the history and system in which context the individual case took place, than it does about the case specifically.Report

        • Avatar trizzlor in reply to Dark Matter says:

          Except after lots of investigations, including by Eric Holder’s FBI, the almost 300 lb, high on drugs criminal who had *just* pulled a robbery attacked the cop and made him kill him. None of the 20 witnesses don’t agree with each other or with the physical evidence. The 8 witnesses who support the cop’s story do agree with each other and with the physical evidence. The dead guy’s friend was his partner in crime and has a criminal history of lying.

          Let’s come back to this. The DOJ report had no eyewitness accounts of how the conflict escalated from (a) two kids walking in the street to (b) struggle in the car and gun goes off – the most important component of the case; they have conflicting accounts of whether Brown was surrendering, bowing, or advancing and no forensic evidence to support either; they have an overwhelming amount of evidence that Ferguson police were broadly targeting minorities for petty offenses; and they have specific evidence that Wilson did all sorts of things that were against protocol, including (a) leaving his SUV after explicitly being told not to; (b) asking to leave the scene of the crime entirely; (c) driving *himself* alone to the police station; (d) scrubbing himself of all evidence, which he only later realized he should not have done. So we’re back to he-said/she-said between Wilson and Brown’s friend about how the situation escalated, both of whom have an obvious stake in the outcome. I won’t argue with the decision not to prosecute, but the dude’s as “vindicated” as Hillary Clinton’s email server.

          So we’re not going to rush to judgement but here is our rush to judgement?

          Yes, exactly. If the purpose of policing is to establish a relationship with the community, that means treating witness/victim accusations seriously. Especially if they are supported by video evidence. This is how every sensible organization operates. McDonald’s PR doesn’t tell it’s customer “Our cooks don’t put fingers in the chili, we believe the customer placed the finger there”, they apologize and then investigate; hospitals don’t tell the patient “Our surgeons don’t operate on the wrong side, we believe the patient mislead them about his ailment”, they apologize and then investigate.

          Even in Ferguson this would have done a tremendous amount of good: First and foremost, Wilson would have been treated as a suspect, which means his account would have been much more believable and he wouldn’t have done stupid suspicious things like destroy evidence on his person. Being treated like a suspect would have been the best thing for his case! On top of that, the community would be reassured that they are respected, which would have mitigated some of the anger, and encouraged eyewitnesses to work *together* with the police. There’s literally no harm to the police-community relationship in being aggressively apologetic in the wake of these shootings. The only potential harm is to police *morale*, in that they are treated like any other citizen for once (though, again, this would have actually been in Wilson’s favor), which is apparently the only important metric they actually give a shit about.Report

          • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to trizzlor says:

            Let’s come back to this. The DOJ report had no eyewitness accounts of how the conflict escalated from (a) two kids walking in the street to (b) struggle in the car and gun goes off – the most important component of the case; they have conflicting accounts of whether Brown was surrendering, bowing, or advancing and no forensic evidence to support either;

            1)kids? Two high-on-drugs criminals who had just pulled a robbery and then engaged in behavior which drew the attention of the police. Brown was 290lbs.
            2) The forensic evidence says Brown was advancing, as do the witnesses who agree with each other. The ones who dispute that all disagree with both the physical evidence and each other.

            When you break down the witness testimony into details it gets very one sided. Disputing witnesses admit they weren’t there, disputing witnesses change their story several times, give conflicting stories, etc. The ones who support what the cop said also agree with each other. The wiki shows some of them, I’ve seen others.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shooting_of_Michael_Brown#Shooting_scene_evidence
            http://i.imgur.com/eNdviOl.png

            If our system started with a presumption of guilt and required proof of innocence, the cop would have easily proved himself innocent.

            Having said that, yes, absolutely, the police were functioning as a revenue generating service by giving out tickets; this was a much bigger problem for the poor than the rich for multiple reasons. And there’s a strong argument that that led to the community simply not believing that it’d been a good shooting.Report

            • Avatar trizzlor in reply to Dark Matter says:

              >>kids?

              Being stoned or fat doesn’t change their age. I don’t remember any pique when people called the Stanford rapist a kid, and he’s 2yrs older than Brown. So let’s be consistent.

              >>The forensic evidence says Brown was advancing

              I appreciate your due diligence on reading through the case and the charts. Here are the relevant statements from the DOJ report:

              Although no eyewitnesses directly corroborate Wilson’s account of Brown’s attempt to
              gain control of the gun, there is no credible evidence to disprove Wilson’s account of what
              occurred inside the SUV.

              The autopsy results alone do not indicate the direction Brown was
              facing when he received two wounds to his right arm, given the mobility of the arm

              So we don’t know what happened in the car to escalate the situation, and we have no forensic evidence indicating that Brown was advancing or precisely what position he was in. Half the credible witnesses say he was charging and half say he was walking towards Wilson. The person who survives gets to frame the narrative – so Brown was both charing at Wilson and reaching into his waistband for a gun according to Wilson’s narrative – which means there’s not enough evidence to indict. But it’s absurd to argue that Wilson has been conclusively vindicated with so many unknowns. And Wilson’s erratic behavior, coupled with the culture at FPD, means we have no a priori reason to trust his story.

              Again, much of this mess could have been avoided if the FPD simply treated their officers like civilians, never mind *servants* that they claim to be.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to trizzlor says:

                Being stoned or fat doesn’t change their age. I don’t remember any pique when people called the Stanford rapist a kid, and he’s 2yrs older than Brown. So let’s be consistent.

                I don’t remember anyone calling Stanford a kid, I certainly never have (and yes, the judge went way to easy on him). And it’s disingenuous to call them kids. The cop wasn’t involved with them because they were kids, or in spite of them being kids.

                “Criminals” is FAR more accurate, descriptive, and on point. One was 22 years old and had an active warrant out for his arrest, the other was 290 lbs and had an 8-minute old 911 call out about his crime.

                Although no eyewitnesses directly corroborate Wilson’s account of Brown’s attempt to gain control of the gun, there is no credible evidence to disprove Wilson’s account of what occurred inside the SUV.

                And what evidence we do have, including the indirect eyewitnesses, supports it.

                Half the credible witnesses say he was charging and half say he was walking towards Wilson.

                Let’s just review the link again. http://i.imgur.com/eNdviOl.png

                We have 8 witnesses who say “charging”, one is the cop, 3 others should get tossed for partially conflicting with physical evidence.

                We have 7 witnesses who say “walked”, 6 of whom should get tossed for partially or totally conflicting with the physical evidence (or with their own testimony). Further, the one that’s left has notes in the margin saying “extremely inconsistent account, still guessing about Brown being shot while fleeing…“.

                So what we have is 5 to 1, and that 1 is a mess. If we exclude the cop and the mess it’s 4-0.

                And Wilson’s erratic behavior, coupled with the culture at FPD, means we have no a priori reason to trust his story. Again, much of this mess could have been avoided if the FPD simply treated their officers like civilians, never mind *servants* that they claim to be.

                Those cops hit the radar as a group of clueless ticket-writing incompetents. That explains the riots, and the cops over reaction to the protests, etc.

                Which doesn’t change that we have a ton of evidence, serious people have looked at it, and it’s really one sided favoring the cop.

                Now reading between the lines, IMHO Dorian Johnson seems likely to have been far more involved than the reports mention. He’s the one with the history of involvement in drugs, he’s the one with the history of theft, he’s the one with the history of lying, he’s the one with the warrant. My unsupported assumption is that the drugs those two smoked were his, as was the idea of robbing the store, and all those lies he told people were to cover that he got his ‘friend’ killed.Report

            • Avatar j r in reply to Dark Matter says:

              Two high-on-drugs criminals…

              That but right there tells me most everyone that I need to know about @dark-matter’s credibility on these issues.Report

    • Avatar Troublesome Frog in reply to Dark Matter says:

      Almost nothing that’s really bad is typical. AIDS hardly kills anybody. Most people will never die in a car accident. If I had no media access or friends and family in the military, I woldn’t know that war was ever even a thing.

      That doesn’t mean those things are not cause for concern.Report

    • Avatar Troublesome Frog in reply to Dark Matter says:

      So this was the worst one in the nation for this day.

      Another important piece of the puzzle is that this is the worst one in the nation that also happened to be recorded on video that day. We don’t know what else happened. Based on some of the other cases, I doubt we would have gotten the same story if it was just the officer’s story against the shooting victim’s. Our statistics on police violence generally come from police reports. Now that we have a different sampling method (albeit one biased in another direction), it might be time to question our assumptions about how rare certain things are.

      We may be dealing with a large scale case of, “History will be kind to me for I intend to write it myself.”Report

      • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Troublesome Frog says:

        As I said somewhere else, part of the problem is the individual departments are not required to keep or share their data with the feds. The number of times I read about researchers trying to work out police misconduct trends and having to rely solely upon media reporting is almost 100%.

        The police work for us, and one of the things government is very, very good at is acquiring large demographic data sets. We should have some extremely granular data on police behavior, but thanks to police lobbying, we don’t.Report

        • Avatar Troublesome Frog in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

          I’m not even talking about lack of records or lack of access to those records. I’m thinking more about the fact that two people go into an interaction with no witnesses and one of them writes the official record of the incident.

          When you’re alone with a police officer the fact of the matter is he could probably kill you and make up a reason why he did it and odds are good that the story would stick. Even if it was him shooting you so he could steal the cash out of your wallet, the official record would be of a crazed maniac assaulting a police officer.

          Aside from ubiquitous body cameras, there really isn’t a lot we can do about that problem, and even with cameras, it’s not going to fix the problem of aggregate record gathering. People auditing the numbers on thousands of police interactions aren’t going to be able to review the video in each one. They’ll still have to rely on the conclusions in the report, which may or may not be checked against video.Report

      • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Troublesome Frog says:

        It is difficult to hide a corpse. The total number of people killed by the police in 2015 was 1186. http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2015/12/28/3735190/killed-by-police-2015/

        The number of police who died on the job in 2015 was 42 (google, npr).
        The number of blacks in the US is 39 million.
        The number of hispanics is 38 million.
        The number of cops is roughly 1 million.

        We have the mentally ill and the drug war inflating the dead-by-police numbers.
        Roughly half the kill-by-police are mentally ill
        http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/half-people-killed-police-suffer-mental-disability-report-n538371

        These numbers don’t scream that “death by racism” is a serious problem.

        We’re probably going to reform the police this election cycle. They’ll have body cams, perhaps we’ll get real reform and they won’t be used as revenue collectors. These are good things, but I seriously doubt police reform will change the number of corpses on the streets.Report

        • Avatar Don Zeko in reply to Dark Matter says:

          This is missing the point in the way that saying you’re more likely to be struck by lightning than killed in a terrorist attack is missing the point. Some things do more harm to the underlying social order than their pure body count would indicate, and wrongful use of force by armed agents of the law that is essentially never punished certainly qualifies.Report

          • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Don Zeko says:

            Some things do more harm to the underlying social order than their pure body count would indicate, and wrongful use of force by armed agents of the law that is essentially never punished certainly qualifies.

            I think the numbers suggest the “perception” of wrongful use of force by gov’s armed agents is greater than the reality.

            Yes, there are problems, and we should deal with them… but the mismatch between perception and reality is a problem in itself.Report

            • Avatar Don Zeko in reply to Dark Matter says:

              I might buy that if we were just talking about homicides, but that’s part of a larger pattern and perception that black folks have of being unfairly hassled, roughed up, etc by the cops. Besides, how many unjustified and unpunished shootings of innocent civilians by cops is too many? As with wrongful criminal convictions, even a quite small number stil ought to be a cause for serious concern.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Don Zeko says:

                I might buy that if we were just talking about homicides, but that’s part of a larger pattern and perception that black folks have of being unfairly hassled, roughed up, etc by the cops.

                The police functioning to raise money for city hall is a serious problem. This is an example of the police ‘creating’ problems.

                But a lot of that perception is simply the result of other problems. I’m not sure what, short of ending the war on drugs, we should do. The carnage that is Black on Black crime suggests a much higher level of police involvement just as a matter of course.

                We could certainly reduce police involvement in Black areas… say, impose quotes for who they can arrest, but that would quickly become something like investigating a black’s murder only if we’ve recently investigated a white’s murder (and yes, imho this is just as insane as it sounds).

                Besides, how many unjustified and unpunished shootings of innocent civilians by cops is too many? As with wrongful criminal convictions, even a quite small number still ought to be a cause for serious concern.

                If you want to get it down to zero, then we probably need to get rid of the police and live with it being “Lord of the Flies”.

                There are other models we could try, perhaps even on a ‘one city’ level. Say moving to the medical ‘review what happened without punishment’ idea.Report

              • Avatar trizzlor in reply to Dark Matter says:

                So we’re all on the same page, here’s a sample BLM agenda:

                http://www.joincampaignzero.org/solutions/

                which of these points do you think will make community-police relationships worse? Getting rid of police and living like Lord of the Flies is not one of the proposed solutions, btw.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to trizzlor says:

                trizzlor:
                So we’re all on the same page, here’s a sample BLM agenda:

                which of these points do you think will make community-police relationships worse?

                That list is a lot saner and more defined than I was expecting, Thank you.

                IMHO some of those are clearly good on the face of them, body cams, training, end profit.

                Demilitarization is going to be good in most situations (the problem with having a really cool swat team is they need things to do).

                “Fair Contract” is itself a laundry list of subitems, some of which I think are fine, a few of which aren’t (releasing faces/names seems like a call for the lynch mob).

                I get nervous that some of these are going to have unintended consequences. Something to keep in mind is that, if we assume ALL police created deaths was un-needed, then it was about 10% of the total (roughly 14.5k murders, the police killed roughly 1.1k). If we assume that 90% of police created deaths were needed, then the police are roughly 1% of the total.

                When we reform the police, we should be deeply concerned that we’re reducing the 1% at the expense of increasing the 99%. The police have to obey rules, criminals don’t, how some of this plays out in practice may not follow the desired script.Report

              • Avatar Don Zeko in reply to Dark Matter says:

                Again, this isn’t just about saving the lives of x people per year. if that was all we cared about, we’d lower speed limits and increase alcohol taxes. It’s about giving people who do not trust the cops a reason to trust that the cops are governed by the law and acting in their interests.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Don Zeko says:

                Don Zeko: Again, this isn’t just about saving the lives of x people per year. if that was all we cared about, we’d lower speed limits…

                A very good example. We are willing to tolerate a certain number of dead people per year because the cure is worse than the disease.

                Any policy we choose is going to have certain costs and benefits. It is very possible to make things worse in the name of making things better, especially when dealing with complex social issues and the gov.

                That’s not a reason to do *nothing*, but it is something to keep in mind as we go forward.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Dark Matter says:

                Do you think law enforcement is going to be more effective in a community where people are afraid to call the cops because they think, if they do, they’re likely to be shot, or beaten, or just hauled off to jail for no good reason?Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to pillsy says:

                Do you think law enforcement is going to be more effective in a community where people are afraid to call the cops because they think, if they do, they’re likely to be shot, or beaten, or just hauled off to jail for no good reason?

                How about if the people in that community know for a fact (correctly) that the criminal class *will* *kill* *them* if they trust the police? That the police simply can not protect them?Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Dark Matter says:

                Yes, clearly we only need to worry about the unintended consequences of preventing cops from needlessly inflicting violence on black people; surely there are no possible unintended consequences of continuing with the status quo. Well, beyond the direct effects of the needless violence.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to pillsy says:

                Yes, clearly we only need to worry about the unintended consequences of preventing cops from needlessly inflicting violence on black people; surely there are no possible unintended consequences of continuing with the status quo. Well, beyond the direct effects of the needless violence.

                Where is the bulk of that “needless violence” coming from? Oh, yes, the drug war. The one we fired up to ‘help’ people, based on good intentions.

                Pity about the unintended consequences, but hey, good intentions excuse all sorts of bad outcomes because things can’t possibly get any worse.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Dark Matter says:

                Pity about the unintended consequences, but hey, good intentions excuse all sorts of bad outcomes because things can’t possibly get any worse.

                Except this is precisely the argument you’re making: the good intentions behind police violence (that justify dismissing some or all of Ground Zero’s recommendations) mean there can’t possibly be bad outcomes due to reduced community trust in the police. Also, it’s hardly like all of the violence is due to the drug war. Indeed, it’s unclear how any of the recent high profile, gratuitous shootings have anything to do with it.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to pillsy says:

                pillsy: …mean there can’t possibly be bad outcomes due to reduced community trust in the police.

                We are going to have “bad outcomes” no matter what we do. All we can do is trade one set of problems/risks for a different set, which is where trying to get a cost-benefit analysis is a good thing… which ideally means trying reforms in individual cities to see what works.

                pillsy: Also, it’s hardly like all of the violence is due to the drug war. Indeed, it’s unclear how any of the recent high profile, gratuitous shootings have anything to do with it.

                That’s actually my point. These high profile exceptions are something like 0.1% of the drug war’s shootings.

                So if “reform” makes the drug war worse, then we could easily end up hurting the people we’re trying to help. If it makes the drug war much worse then later generations won’t be thinking well of us and our ‘reform’.

                That doesn’t mean I’m against reform, but we need to keep in mind the bigger picture. And yes, we absolutely need to worry about unintended consequences and keep in mind that good intentions don’t buy a cup of coffee.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Dark Matter says:

                Where is the bulk of that “needless violence” coming from? Oh, yes, the drug war. The one we fired up to ‘help’ people, based on good intentions.

                I find this odd, coming from you Dark. The publicly stated purpose for instituting the War on Drugs was to eliminate the scourge of drugs from our (US-American) communities. But the political context at the time suggest an intention perhaps less than good. And away we went. It seems to me that someone with such a reflexively cynical view of gummint wouldn’t permit themselves to believe that a law was passed on the basis of “good intentions”. It seems too convenient, actually.

                Pity about the unintended consequences, but hey, good intentions excuse all sorts of bad outcomes because things can’t possibly get any worse.

                So, as Pillsy said, you’re effectively discounting the “unintended consequences” of persisting in a policy that is effectively causing people to riot in the streets.

                Can your cynicism about government account for why you think allowing those riots to potentially continue is a better outcome?Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Stillwater says:

                Stillwater: It seems to me that someone with such a reflexively cynical view of gummint wouldn’t permit themselves to believe that a law was passed on the basis of “good intentions”. It seems too convenient, actually.

                If memory serves, President Clinton expanded the war on drugs with the support and approval of the black sections of Congress and the black community in general. The “racist” parts of the war and it’s expansion have mostly been (as far as I can tell) that the blacks are being hurt worse by drugs and so need more “help”, which means harsher laws to “save” them.

                Taking race totally out of the picture and looking at “helping” pregnant women and children (which narrows the scope so we’re entirely looking at good intentions)… over the decades three of my female relatives have each decided to not get married to the father of their unborn child, so they could get more aid from the government. Each was open to the family as to what they were doing and why, eventually two of them did get married (mostly because of social pressure).

                Good intentions can easily lead to bad outcomes when dealing with social issues and complex interactions.

                Can your cynicism about government account for why you think allowing those riots to potentially continue is a better outcome?

                My cynicism says giving out blank checks in the name of “reform” is a bad idea. That is NOT the same as saying “no reform”. However I expect some reforms are good, some necessary, some won’t work but will be harmless…

                …some can make bad social issues (which hurt lots more people and are actually bigger problems), worse.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Dark Matter says:

                Being the comrade in good standing that I am, I have to ponder-

                Would there be less criminality on Wall Street if the FBI were to gun down a few bankers in their offices?

                Drastic yes, but any policy we choose is going to have certain costs and benefits. Omelettes, eggs, and all that.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Would there be less criminality on Wall Street if the FBI were to gun down a few bankers in their offices?

                Whatever method Wall Street uses to train wreck the economy is normally *legal* at the time.

                The solution isn’t more complex laws or an all powerful regulator, the solution is to make them eat their losses.

                Bailing out banks is less damaging to the economy than not bailing them out, so fine, bail them out, but fire the top two or three layers of management with no golden parachutes and claw back their last X years of bonuses.Report

              • Would there be less criminality on Wall Street if the FBI were to gun down a few bankers in their offices?

                If what bankers almost did to the world in 2008 and are quite capable of doing again gives you a reasonable fear of imminent peril, it’s entirely legal for you to shoot them. At least while they’re vacationing in Florida.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                I happened to be watching a tv show called Major Crimes, one of those cop shows where the police are always stalwart heroes, if occasionally misunderstood.

                There was a scene where they roll up to a modest house looking for a suspect. A black woman answers the door and says she knows nothing; one of the cops says “I smell gas” and they break down the door and search the place without a warrant.

                A few scenes later the same cops roll up to a mansion owned by a white movie star, still looking for a suspect.
                The star’s lawyer walks out and smirks at them, asking for their warrant, and telling them to pound sand when they can’t produce one.
                The cops timidly turn tail and run.

                A blistering indictment of the current state of American policing and class, offered by a show that purportedly shows those cops as heroes.

                Was it a sly commentary by some pinko writer?
                Or were they so genuinely un-self aware as to not see their own storyline?Report

              • Avatar Troublesome Frog in reply to Dark Matter says:

                The problem with that calculation is that it assumes that all we’re shooting for is a reduction in the death toll. IMO, the death toll from police is the least of our problems with the current system. It just happens to be the most dramatic illustration of those problems and the only one getting serious attention.

                A general lack of accountability brings a whole litany of problems with it. In addition to unnecessary shootings, you have orders of magnitude more instances of unnecessary physical violence in general. You have abusive arrests for contempt of cop. Underlying and enabling all of that, you have the ability and tendency for police reports to be not entirely truthful, and for officers to back each other’s stories up even when they’re patent nonsense.

                Even if we left the death toll the same, the vast majority of the social cost comes from those other problems, and the only way to get at those problems is increased accountability and a more general willingness to question the story the cops tell about any event they’re involved in.

                Clearly, a constant stream of low-grade offenses against people we don’t particularly care about isn’t enough to spur that kind of change, but it seems that these outrageous “never events” that are finally being recorded are at least enough to get people thinking about it. My worry is that they’ll do the analysis you’re doing and simply account for those deaths as a random, low probability boolean event rather than as an indicator of a much broader underlying problem.

                It’s like treating instances of acute alcohol poisoning as the only consequence of alcohol abuse when in reality, it’s an almost negligible piece of the total problem.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Troublesome Frog says:

                Thank you, that was probably the best post I’ve read in terms of overcoming the numbers in making the case for reform. It’s very convincing.

                Things to point out:
                1) After reform, within the margin of error, the number of killed-by-police probably won’t go down (mental illness and the drug war are the big movers there).

                2) If reform is a stand in for “my life sucks, fix it”, that’s probably not going to work.

                3) Police work intrinsically deals with ugly, sometimes unusual, situations. If reform tries to pretend it doesn’t and it’s poorly handled, we could make other situations worse. What “poorly handled” means may not be clear until after the fact.

                4) We’re still going to have incidents like Ferguson’s “Mike Brown” where minorities die, the press presents it as racism, his family presents him as a saint, and in the real world he got himself killed. Worse, I fully expect the number of these to *increase*, just because the number of cameras out there is increasing.

                None of this should be read as disagreeing with the case for reform, but expectations should be realistic and I’m not sure they are.Report

              • Avatar Fortytwo in reply to Dark Matter says:

                Have you seen the street Brown was shot in? He was pulled for walking in the street, but there are no sidewalks, the shoulder is overgrown, and there’s nowhere to walk. Everybody keeps focusing on this encounter or that encounter, while minutely scrutinizing the tree and ignoring the forest.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Dark Matter says:

                I like how the problem of white people in positions of power and authority treating black people with disrespect and brutality seems to always be presented as some sort of mystifying puzzle, some sort of intractable riddle for the ages.

                It is as simple as….white people need to behave better and stop treating black folks like second class citizens.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                I like how the problem of white people in positions of power and authority treating black people with disrespect and brutality seems to always be presented as some sort of mystifying puzzle, some sort of intractable riddle for the ages.

                It is as simple as….white people need to behave better and stop treating black folks like second class citizens.

                IMHO changing the skin color of the police wouldn’t change much (witness Baltimore).Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Dark Matter says:

                What if we also changed the skin color of the victims?Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                I suspect a white Mike Brown would still have been shot. Does anyone have any stats on Class vs. Race for these things?Report

        • Avatar Troublesome Frog in reply to Dark Matter says:

          It is difficult to hide a corpse.

          But it’s very easy to tell a story that a corpse won’t contradict. That’s the point of my post. It should not be surprising to us that every time there’s a dead person and only the shooter as a witness, the story is that the shooting is fully justified or even downright heroic. Now that we’re starting to see videos that contradict officer testimony, there are two possible responses that people seem to have:

          1) Wonder if it’s possible that some of the 1186 deaths last year that we don’t have video of might not have been entirely justified, even if the report says they were.

          2) Assume that those videos account for 100% of the instances of cops lying or spinning details of the stories justifying their use of force. Years ago, cops never lied. Now that there’s video a tiny percentage of the time, cops lie a tiny percentage of the time.

          The choice seems to be either:

          1) Officers make mistakes and lie a certain constant percentage of the time and we’re sampling it with increased frequency.

          2) Officers screwing up and lying is somehow positively correlated with the presence of cameras.

          I tend to come down pretty squarely in group 1. What we saw on camera may or may not have been the worst thing that happened that day. It’s just the worst thing with witnesses and video. And more importantly, there’s probably a whole continuum of bad things ranging from that horror show all the way down to “cop is unnecessarily rude to somebody” that aren’t making national news, and those things will continue as long as we only investigate outlier cases and then minimize their importance because they’re rare relative to other bad things.

          You appear to be arguing against the notion that police violence is worse than cancer and heart disease and war. I’m totally with you on the idea that it’s not. Consider that point fully conceded.Report

          • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Troublesome Frog says:

            1) Wonder if it’s possible that some of the 1186 deaths last year that we don’t have video of might not have been entirely justified, even if the report says they were.

            I expect this is true.

            1) Officers make mistakes and lie a certain constant percentage of the time and we’re sampling it with increased frequency.

            I expect this is also true.

            What we saw on camera may or may not have been the worst thing that happened that day. It’s just the worst thing with witnesses and video.

            Agreed, although but we may be looking at the worst (on camera) for a week or month considering how many news cycles I expect it to stick.

            You appear to be arguing against the notion that police violence is worse than cancer and heart disease and war. I’m totally with you on the idea that it’s not. Consider that point fully conceded.

            Let’s go back in time to the 1950’s: The number one reason blacks couldn’t advance was racism.

            Because of mass media, society got a good look at what ‘typical’ meant and exposed those brutal facts to everyone, everywhere. The weight of society was brought to bear. Racism, while not totally eliminated, was vastly reduced to the point where Obama’s race was probably a net positive for his advancement.

            These are all good things.

            So then, what is keeping blacks back now? I’d argue the top three are crime, education, and culture. We could and probably should break those into sub categories (the war on drugs imho should be #1, single parent households would be in the top 5, etc) but whatever. Police Brutality/Racism would be… where? Number 10? Further down the list? The media attention driving this is the same thing which fuels lottery ticket sales, by making the rare look typical.

            Right now, arguably the #1 problem is crime, and the gov agency which is most devoted to making black lives matter is the police. There are strong arguments that the police should do a better job, there are various suggestions for doing so, some hit the radar as pretty good, some less so.

            The rarest resource in the universe is the attention of upper management. These reforms may be what we do for the black community for the next 30 years. And we’re going to spend that energy on their number #10 problem. Further, if we handle their #10 problem poorly, we might be making #1 worse.

            Imagine if the 1960’s had dealt with cigarettes and had ignored racism.

            Imagine if today, instead of police reform, we just ended the war on drugs.

            Forgive me for not being all that enthusiastic about all this but imho we could do so much better and at best we’re not going to do much.Report

            • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Dark Matter says:

              Is single-family households a crime issue or a culture issue? Or a policing issue? War on drugs? If policing and WoD, isn’t that racism?Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Kazzy says:

                I don’t understand what point you’re trying to make.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Dark Matter says:

                Let’s assume that single-parent households are the biggest issue facing the Black community. How do we fix that? Do we tell them to stop doing that? I.E., it is a cultural issue? Or are the single-parent homes the result of mass incarceration via the WoD, in which case we are really looking at a policing/WoD issue which is rooted in racism at which point we need to look at our legislature and policing practices?

                @dark-matterReport

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Kazzy says:

                I’d call it a cultural response to our dysfunctional gov policy, and yes, I fully agree it’s rooted in WoD.

                But “getting rid of racism” from policing simply isn’t going to end mass incarceration as long as our policy is WoD.

                The core policy is dysfunctional, trying to pretend we can make it “fair” is, imho, simply not going to work. Drug dealers are killing each other over street corners. What is the “non-racist” thing to do about that? Let them? Stop them? Something else?Report

            • Avatar Troublesome Frog in reply to Dark Matter says:

              The government does a lot of different things every year, so I’m pretty unconvinced that upper management is incapable of handling both police oversight and trying to stop crime. At least, they can handle both to the extent that upper management has any policies at all to reduce crime. I think it’s very unlikely that they have a secret weapon of some sort that they’ve been holding back for generations and would be releasing right now except for the fact that they’re so darned busy dealing with this police brutality thing. If all it took was “not dealing with police brutality” to get crime under control, crime would have been under control a long time ago.

              In any case, changing the behavior of the people you send paychecks to is a lot easier than changing the behavior of the public in general. Even if a bureaucracy is terrible at doing what it was built for, the one thing it is actually able to do is control its operations. The police can’t necessarily fix crime or eliminate drug use, but the police do have some control over how the police behave. They’re just choosing not to exert it. And that’s scary. Abuse of police authority is how you turn a functioning state into a failed state. Not watching the watchers is how you end up with a country where bribery is the norm and the cops are a branch of organized crime instead of a public service.

              To turn your example around, some people might have argued that winning the Cold War was more important than alleviating the suffering of a minority in the US, so it would have been a more efficient use of managerial resources to ignore the plight of black Americans and make sure we beat the USSR. We’d have gotten around to starting work on civil rights somewhere in the late 80s. Fortunately, there was enough parallelism in the government to deal with both.

              “But what about [distraction X]” is always the last thing people bring up when there really isn’t a convincing reason not to address a problem.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Troublesome Frog says:

                If all it took was “not dealing with police brutality” to get crime under control, crime would have been under control a long time ago.

                The big, massive discussion about control over the police consumes all the oxygen we have to talk about social policies. Ergo we’re NOT talking about what’s fueling crime. Get rid of the war on drugs and the violence associated with it goes away, the economic damage associated with it goes away, the militarization of the police goes away, etc.

                So we’re going to reform the police and live with the war for another 30 years. Do you think this is a fair trade?Report

              • Avatar j r in reply to Dark Matter says:

                @dark-matter

                That’s not really how it works. The War on Drugs is not a unitary thing; it’s a collection of things. A collection of things like stop and frisk, indicted corners, the use of sentencing enhancements, over-charging to force plea deals, mandatory minimum sentencing, federal grants to support local police in buying new toys, plus all the assorted political economy aspects of dealing with police laws and regulations.

                You can’t just end the War on Drugs without tackling all of those competent parts.Report

              • Avatar Don Zeko in reply to Dark Matter says:

                Are you sure that’s true? Progress on drug legalization, sentencing reform, etc., is slow, but where’s the evidence that BLM is slowing it down?Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Don Zeko says:

                Are you sure that’s true? Progress on drug legalization, sentencing reform, etc., is slow, but where’s the evidence that BLM is slowing it down?

                Go to Google and type in “Hillary Clinton on the issues”. The closest we get to “drug” is “crime” and we have the following:

                Everyone in America should respect the law and be respected by the law. We need to end mass incarceration, use strategies like police body cameras to improve accountability, increase substance abuse treatment, and aim resources at criminals who pose the greatest threat. And we need to invest in education and job training—the foundations of success.

                Do you see anything in there that can be interpreted as “ending the war on drugs”? BLM is, as far as I can tell, dealing with this as though it is entirely a “racist” thing. They’re the voice of the black community saying “enough is enough”… but getting racism out of the war on drugs isn’t, imho, going to actually do much. What is the non-racist thing we should do about drug dealers killing drug dealers?Report

              • Avatar Don Zeko in reply to Dark Matter says:

                This assumes that, in the absence of BLM, she would have had language calling for legalizing pot or some such. I don’t think that’s likely, although this is necessarily bringing us to counterfactuals that are inherently unknowable. The needle is moving in the right direction on the War on Drugs. Could it move faster if BLM didn’t exist? Maybe, but I really don’t see any persuasive evidence that that’s the case.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Don Zeko says:

                It may not be HRC, but it was moderately big news that the Democratic Platform now has language about decriminalizing pot. Report

            • Avatar j r in reply to Dark Matter says:

              @dark-matter

              You should stop using numbers as if they represent any sort of objective measurement or ordering as opposed to your random thoughts about what black folks need. I miss the days when blowhards were just content to be blowhards, without all of this phony empiricism.Report

            • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Dark Matter says:

              I’d argue the top three are crime, education, and culture.

              Well, yeah, from your perspective, outside of the black community, and having very little understanding of what their lives are like, I’m sure that seems to be the case.

              But thats the problem, not the solution.
              What we have here is a bunch of white guys talking amongst themselves trying to figure out Whats Wrong with Black Folks.

              And surprisingly enough, it turns out that black folks are whats wrong with black folks.

              White folks, apparently, are passive bystanders, like we live in China or something.

              The anger and suspicion and mistrust that black people feel towards white police are some mysterious byproduct of a pathology created by black people themselves, and in no way have anything to do with actions and policies put into place by white people.

              I think if we actually listened to the testimony of black people themselves about their lives, they would have a different list of priorities about their biggest problems.Report

    • Avatar El Muneco in reply to Dark Matter says:

      The worst one in the nation on this day…
      … where a witness survived …
      … and was caught on video.

      We honestly have no idea if this was the worst or tenth worst. Maybe even fiftieth. And we never will.Report

  9. Avatar pillsy says:

    So I’ve noticed the following pattern in police apologism following an outrageous shooting. If there’s a shadow of a doubt that the person shot might have done something to provoke it, it obviously completely discredits any criticism of the police.

    If there isn’t a shadow of a doubt, it’s obviously atypical and there’s nothing to see here.Report

    • Avatar Morat20 in reply to pillsy says:

      I knew a guy who routinely defended every questionable shooting by explaining how the deceased was a threat to the officer. This included people armed only with a large rock 40 feet away, people armed only with a knife some distance away, armed with nothing at all some distance away, and even cases where police knew the subject was both unarmed and not even terribly close.

      His justification was simple: The cop was always, legitimately, in serious danger because one human being can kill another human being with practically anything if they’re really serious about it. He didn’t seem to grasp that this logic meant that police could drive down the street, randomly shooting pedestrians.

      It was baked into his worldview that police couldn’t overreact. If you got shot, you were a threat, because a cop wouldn’t shoot you if you weren’t a threat. No matter how convoluted he had to get to explain the threat, clearly that was the most pressing thing on the officer’s mind.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to pillsy says:

      It’s like papal infallibility. If the Pope isn’t wrong, then we must invent whatever facts or twisted justifications are necessary for what the Pope said to be true, and we must accept whatever bizarre outcome results from it.

      The difference being that papal infallability has been explicitly declared only twice in the history of the Catholic Church, and those two times were to declare that the Immaculate Conception occurred and that Jesus’s mother went to Heaven. The Pope does not go around declaring infallibility every couple of days.

      Actually, wait–calling out saints is also considered papal infallibility. And as with police shootings, it’s called “cannonization”.Report

  10. If Kinney has ever gotten as much as a traffic ticket, I expect that to become the right-wing noise machine explanation of this,Report

  11. Avatar Autolukos says:

    Looks like terrible aim is the official story:

    Police union chief says north MIA cop who shot mental health pro Thot he was in danger, aimed for autistic man, and missed.— Chuck Rabin (@ChuckRabin) July 21, 2016

    Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Autolukos says:

      Ah, yes, the brave officer was being a hero protecting the therapist from the dangerous autistic man, but alas, he has poor aim. He’ll need some more range time.Report

      • Avatar Autolukos in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

        Probably a medal to reward his quick action, tooReport

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

        “Did that guy say he was The Rapist? And he’s attacking an artist?”
        “No. He’s a therapist. He’s being attacked by an autistic dude.
        “Eh… Shoot both.”Report

      • Avatar trizzlor in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

        Somewhat apropos: do y’all remember that poor Indian immigrant who was tackled to the ground by a police officer which resulted in a spinal injury that may leave him paralyzed? Well the cop was let off with the judge ruling that (a) the cop had reason to believe the Indian man was faking not understanding english because he sporadically responded to “STOP” commands; and (b) the cop had reason to believe that the Indian man was armed because he was walking with hands in his pockets. Tackling someone who is armed and refusing to cooperate is acceptable policy – even if it results in permanent injury and he’s not actually armed or uncooperative – so he’s innocent on all charges!Report

    • Avatar greginak in reply to Autolukos says:

      Egads…the official explanation actually makes it worse.Report

    • Avatar Troublesome Frog in reply to Autolukos says:

      So they’re going with the tried and true, “I’m not guilty of intentionally shooting that innocent man because I was actually trying to shoot another innocent man,” defense?Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Autolukos says:

      “Of course we thought he was in danger! He was lying on the ground with his hands in the air! Who *DOES* that?!?”Report

    • Several of the reports indicate the officer was using a rifle and fired three shots. If that turns out to be the case… three rounds, all missed the target, one hit a bystander. That’s beyond bad aim.Report

  12. Avatar Kazzy says:

    If God wanted autistic people to play with trucks, he would have made them more cooperative.

    Ugh!!!!!!!!

    Literally EVERYONE involved in this situation exhibited better self-control than that one cop. Even his fellow officers didn’t fire upon hearing the shots*. But that guy gets a free gun from the government.

    * In some of these shootings, multiple officers often fire after hearing another cop fire becausw they don’t know whether the pops were friendly or “foe”. Is there a technical means to make a cop’s gun sound noticeably different? Maybe @oscar-gordon can answer?Report

  13. Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

    Sorry, the whole “blame the unions” thing is a dodge to absolve society as if to say, “society doesn’t actually approve of this, it’s all the fault of those evil unions so if we get rid of them, it’ll be back to Mayberry days!”

    Everybody deserves collective bargaining. All removing unions will do is make the lives of good police officers worse and make it harder to solve the issues that are at hand. You can happily disagree with the unions political positions, but be honest with yourselves – the reason there aren’t easy ways to fire cops who shoot people (especially non-white people) isn’t because of strong unions, it’s because politicians know in their hearts, that’s what many (white) people want.

    The only thing that would happen if there were no unions is that pensions of all cops would get destroyed, it’d be easier to force cops to work longer hours for less pay, and it’d still be open season on non-white people in this country.

    http://theweek.com/articles/635690/defense-police-unionsReport

    • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

      For instance, here’s something I found somewhere else on the Internet –

      “But I just pulled the Baton Rouge police union contract here and the article revolving around discipline simply refers to the civil service laws. The articles around grievances give the police chief the final say. This means that Baton Rouge could fire those cops involved tomorrow and all the police union could do is file an appeal with the civil service commision (which a non-union cop could do anyway) and send an angry letter to the police chief. Collective Bargaining, at least in many states in the south is just simply not getting in the way of cracking down on abusive police. The fact is that there is just simply not enough political power to get local government officials to take action and that is the problem whether or not police have collective bargaining rights.”Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

        From here:

        The problem is that the LA police chief has said that more than half of the people he’s terminated have been reversed by the disciplinary board, and now he is being sued by the union for civil rights violations arising from him pressuring the board to uphold his discipline. I wish articles like that would provide more context on the collective bargaining agreements in place, so we could better evaluate why police misconduct seems to usually just result in training and counseling.

        I think it’s not *QUITE* as pat as you seem to think it is.Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

      Right, unions are not to blame. There are some unfortunate interactions between the employment protection aspects of unions and issues of the legality of police actions, which you generally don’t find in other employment sectors, but unions are not at base to blame. It would be very simple (logically, not politically) to simply change the laws so that cops are not protected from consequences when they use excessive force, and there would be little unions could do, but instead we have a system in which it is incredibly difficult to hold them legally responsible, so we’re left with an employment issue, which is what unions are for.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to Chris says:

        … but unions are not at base to blame. It would be very simple (logically, not politically) to simply change the laws so that cops are not protected from consequences when they use excessive force…

        That would be the case except that police unions themselves have a pretty heavy hand in trying to stop those changes to the law from happening.

        Case in point: http://www.qchron.com/editions/queenswide/council-officers-spar-on-use-of-force-bills/article_b868c108-3f8f-51b7-9494-3eefbb26d71b.html

        “The City Council last week passed three bills that members say will offer the public a better understanding of how and when officers on the NYPD employ force in the course of their duties…

        But the union for 22,000 rank and file officers said the bills will only reinforce the beliefs of some that all use of force is excessive, and will endanger public safety…

        The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association… opposed all three measures during public hearings.

        The PBA provided the Chronicle with a transcript of testimony from PBA President Patrick Lynch before Council hearings on July 12.

        “The PBA believes that this regime will result in police officers hesitating to use appropriate force to safeguard themselves and the public, which will endanger the safety [emphasis in the original] of the public and police officers alike,” Lynch said.”Report

        • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to j r says:

          Right, but if the union didn’t exist, there’d still be a 22,000 strong Policemen’s Benevolent Association or something along those lines being the voice of the cops saying how this would be terrible for cops, it just wouldn’t be able to bargain for better overtime pay.

          Politicians don’t vote against police reform because they’re scared of the big bad union only, they’re scared of being painted by anti-cop by the media and their political opponents.Report

      • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Chris says:

        I have no issue with Unions doing their job to protect officers from bad management, or to negotiate fair compensation (aside from acknowledging the structural issues with public sector unions). I take issue when the union gets involved with investigations and information regarding officer interaction with the public.

        Unions should not be allowed to directly* provide for the legal defense of officers, they should not be allowed to have a say with regard to officer training, or any investigation where a citizen brings a complaint against an officer. It’s one thing if we are talking about paperwork or pensions or overtime policies, but something else if an officer is fired because they are very bad at interacting with citizens and the union fights to overturn that.

        *I’m sure there would be an officers legal defense fund, but it should be illegal to fund it out of union dues. I mean, how many other unions directly offer legal defense for their members accused of a crime?Report

      • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Chris says:

        From Alternet (a publication that is normally pro-union).

        The list of bad cops who have been fired for violent behavior but won their jobs back—with back pay as if nothing happened—after binding arbitration is striking. Nationally, arbitration modifies or reverses about two-thirds of disciplinary decisions, labor lawyers say. In some cases, police were fired for nonviolent offenses and returned to work. But there are many examples of violent cops who are back at work because police unions fought for them, and an arbitrator ruled in their favor.

        Recent examples include a Washington state officer who was fired for excessive Taser use and filing false reports; a Philadelphia lieutenant fired for punching a woman in the face at a parade and arresting her after mistakenly believing she threw beer on him; a Rhode Island officer who followed two women home in uniform and exposed himself; a Miami officer who shot and killed an unarmed man sitting in a car; an Oakland officer who threw a stun grenade into a crowd that was trying to help a protester who had been shot by police; and more. In some of these cases, such as Philadelphia and Oakland, the cops’ actions were videotaped, and the tapes are very disturbing.

        Last month in Cleveland, a policeman who got into a bar fight and lost his gun and badge, won his job back. A local judge denied the city’s appeal after an arbitrator ruled in his favor. Cleveland.com reported the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association had argued during that arbitration proceeding that other Cleveland police officers had done much worse and kept their jobs to justify reversing his firing.

        Just to make that last paragraph clear, the implication is that the department failed to fire other bad cops (most likely because the union successfully worked to keep other bad cops on the job), this bad cop should also keep his job.Report

  14. Avatar Kazzy says:

    Wait… If they were trying to protect the therapist, why’d they cuff him while he laid bleeding in the street? For 20 minutes?Report

    • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Kazzy says:

      Well, they’d shot him. That tends to make most people unhappy and prone to poorly thought out acts (such as panicking, passing out, bleeding on cops — which is assault, and sometimes crying or shouting), so obviously he was even more of a threat once they shot him.Report

  15. Avatar j r says:

    On social media, I’ve noticed some responses, similar to what @notme and @dark-matter are saying above, coming from folks who normally toe the “blue lives matter” line.

    I am going to be optimistic and say that it signals a step forward to the bargaining stage after starting at denial and moving to anger.Report

  16. Avatar Plinko says:

    Dark Matter: We don’t insist that civilians point guns at people as part of their job.

    I understand the point you’re trying to make, and it’s sorta accurate, but the idea that police aren’t civilians is both wrong and a symptom of what’s gone so wrong with matters of police use of force and accountability.Report

  17. Avatar trizzlor says:

    I wonder if it’s standard procedure to handcuff an innocent bystander that has been shot.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Aaron David says:

      Good for them. (As an aside, I still can’t understand why more blacks didn’t support Sanders…) Until recently I’ve been pretty agnostic on public unions, but not any more. I’m at the point where I wanna see this debate take place at the national level with cops placed under the microscope to defend the utility and practicality of their own union.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

        If all the police union did was negotiate stuff like “instead of 80 hours (two weeks’ vacation) in a year, we want 96! And we want to be able to bank up to 120 hours of vacation, not just 80! And we want 40 hours of sick leave, not just 32! And better dental plans!”

        I’m pretty sure that only the most libertarian of libertarians would probably feel justified in arguing against the police union on principle and, even still, they’d come across as petty cranks who hate the idea of people getting their teeth cleaned despite all of the fluoridation in the water.Report

        • Avatar Damon in reply to Jaybird says:

          I am NOT a crank. :pReport

        • And “We can’t be fired without a hearing!”

          No, that’s crazy talk.Report

          • Looks like you only needed the first four words, there.Report

            • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

              That’s just it. I’m certainly not up to speed on labor law, but if I’m fired from a non-union job without what I view as just-cause I have a limited set of statutes and judicial decisions to appeal to for redress. What I don’t have is a union-funded lawyer appealing to the fine print (or bold, actually) protecting me from dismissal (since I’m a member of the union paying that dude or chicks fees, after all).

              Now, maybe the argument goes the other way than I’m implying: that EVERYONE should have the protection of a union lawyer and lots of teenytiny fine print to protect them from being fired. I’ll leave that as an unexplained reductio for folks inclined to the view to ponder.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:

                Well, what I said is “just it” from one pov. Another is that the institution entrusted with the power to prosecute cops is the same institution that wants (as a matter of contingent logical necessity – heh) to appear tough on crime (political interest) and maximize convictions (political-economic interest) and so is effectively in bed with cops. What to do about that?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:

                Actually, if we had Vetinari we might be able to away with Total Unionization…Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Stillwater says:

                EVERYONE should have the protection of a union lawyer and lots of teenytiny fine print to protect them from being fired.

                When I see a dysfunctional local gov institution (which in this conversation is the police) there’s often an overly strong union which has put it’s interests above that of the consumers. In the free market, very long term (say 50-70 years), that results in the bankruptcy of the host company.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Dark Matter says:

                Dark, you said this upthread about the topic (cop behavior) under discussion:

                We are willing to tolerate a certain number of dead people per year because the cure is worse than the disease.

                Any policy we choose is going to have certain costs and benefits.

                Now, with people of your ideological bent, it’s hard to tell if a criticism of an institutional structure can be equated with a desire to revise it, but it sure appears you’re saying dismantling the cop union would be a net positive (unintended consequences included in the calculus, obvs).Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Stillwater says:

                Now, with people of your ideological bent, it’s hard to tell if a criticism of an institutional structure can be equated with a desire to revise it, but it sure appears you’re saying dismantling the cop union would be a net positive (unintended consequences included in the calculus, obvs).

                Oh, I wouldn’t stop there. I’m seriously not a fan of gov unions across the board. (Thanks for asking directly though).

                I think we’ve had them long enough to see the problems…
                1) Tax increases and increasing gov power are always in their interest, gov reform is not.
                2) They have the ability to negotiate with themselves by electing their boss, and then hand any bills to the taxpayers.
                And I could go on but this thread isn’t about that.

                So, yes, I’m in favor of dismantling the police union. What’s more, if we want any reforms to stick, we probably should.Report

        • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

          In one sense we’ve answered an age old question: Who guards the guardians? The union does.

          The problem, seems to me, is leverage. Cops have it.Report

          • I think it’s a very similar dynamic to pensions. Trading some money now for more money later helps this year’s budget, as does trading money for extra protection in case of alleged wrongdoing. (OK, it might hurt indirectly in increased liability insurance costs, but that comes out of a different pocket.)Report

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