When The Same Explanation Justifies Execution And Exoneration


Sam Wilkinson

According to a faithful reader, I'm Ordinary Times's "least thoughtful writer." So I've got that going for me, which is nice.

Related Post Roulette

291 Responses

  1. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    Our police will never learn.

    There is also a self-selection problem in who becomes police officers most of the time. They seem to have authoritarian personalities. Too many people in our culture and through media are taught to see the police as an unalloyed good.

    I am not sure what the solution is here because as it stands it seems like fire all the police officers and start again would be the only thing that works.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq says:

      You have the same problem with prosecutors. Prosecution seems to attract people with authoritarian personalities. Many of them want to convict the entire world like an Inquisitor-General. Media still lionizes them and people still see them as sexy hero do-gooders because Law & Order: SVU.Report

    • Avatar Roland Dodds says:

      It is true that certain jobs attract certain types of people (as a teacher, I see very similar liberal “do-gooder” types float in and out of the profession for example), but I think a lot can be done in training to minimize bad behavior. It may not be relevant in the case Sam brought up, but I would like to see fewer officers recruited from the 22-27 age range. These young men/women rarely have enough interpersonal and community experience to do their jobs like we need them to, but end up being a majority of those picked up by local departments.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

        Policing can be a very physical job at times so I see why they recruit among the young. We could also adapt the Peelite code and drive home to officers that they are “civilians in uniform.”Report

    • Avatar TrexPushups says:

      We also train our officers to act this way.

      We train them to see everyone as a threat and to prioritize “going home at the end of the shift.”

      There is no thought given to training them to take even minor risks so that we can go home at the end of the day too.Report

  2. Avatar Damon says:

    “there remains the fact that Sanchez was 15 feet from both officers when they opened fire, too far to have posed any sort of threat at all.”

    Not taking anything away from the fact that this guy shouldn’t have been killed and, in general, I’m very concerned about the trend with cops shooting first, and the lack of real, significant oversight and prosecution, but this comment, is frankly I think, bullshit. He had the potential to be a threat. He’s inside the 21 foot range. That warrants a lot of concern to the cops. Again, that doesn’t mean he should be dropped.

    Semi relevant as to weapon:
    “the AVERAGE suspect with an edged weapon raised in the traditional “ice-pick” position can go from a dead stop to level, unobstructed surface offering good traction in 1.5-1.7 seconds.”

    “For the average officer to draw and fire an unsighted round from a snapped Level III holster, which is becoming increasingly popular in LE because of its extra security features, takes 1.7 seconds.”

    Now a pipe isn’t a knife or edged weapon, but I think it’s close enough.


    • @damon If the police cannot tell the difference between an edged weapon and a metal pipe – from 15 feet away – they do not need to be police officers. And the notion that everybody standing anywhere “has the potential to be a threat” is precisely the sort of braindead policing that is getting scores of innocent people killed.Report

      • Avatar Damon says:

        You missed the point. It’s not necessarily the weapon, it’s the distance. Depending upon the length of the pipe, it has similar characteristics of an edged weapon as it relates to speed of attack and potential threat.

        Did you read the link? Note, I’m disagreeing with a tiny part of your post and agreeing with you on the majority of it. From the link I posted. Note the bold part which I added.

        “A suspect with a knife within 21 feet of an officer is POTENTIALLY a deadly threat. He does warrant getting your gun out and ready. But he cannot be considered an actual threat justifying deadly force until he takes the first overt action in furtherance of intention–like starting to rush or lunge toward the officer with intent to do harm. Even then there may be factors besides distance that influence a force decision. “Report

        • @damon You’re right, I did not meaningfully read a link designed to excuse the killings of innocent civilians by hostile police. If you’re asking me to believe that Magdiel Sanchez was actually Stick from the Daredevil universe (albeit deaf, rather than blind), I politely refuse, and I would suggest that officers who see every citizen within 15 feet as a potentially deadly threat are in absolutely the wrong line of work if they truly want to serve and protect.Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

          But he cannot be considered an actual threat justifying deadly force until he takes the first overt action in furtherance of intention

          This is key, and it is, quite honestly, where the problems with police violence ultimately rest, because it is a highly subjective standard that police hide behind, and the courts are happy to reinforce.

          So yes, the guy walking toward you with a stick, and not complying (even a little bit), with instructions is a valid reason to draw a taser, but it has not risen yet to the level of lethal force because no OVERT action has been taken.

          Overt would be breaking into a run, or raising the stick, or something that clearly expresses intent. Also, the issue with the Tueller drill is that it assumes there is one, and only one, possible action to take as the suspect closes the distance – draw and fire. Except unless you are in an alleyway with limited lateral movement, that is NOT your only option. Officers are supposed to be trained in hand to hand, which means knowing how to sidestep, and block. If you have a single person approaching two officers and not obeying commands, then you separate and force the suspect to divide his attention. If he goes after one of then officers, the other can act.

          Etc. etc.

          Monday morning quarterbacking this, there were numerous ways this could have happened that would have resulted in everyone leaving alive, but only one option was chosen. The police will claim that we shouldn’t second guess the officers decisions, and that they made the best decision they could in the heat of the moment, and that right there is when we need to call BS on the police.

          Because if that is the best decision they could make in the heat of the moment, then that speaks 100% to training. Because when the stress takes hold, people fall back on their training. So if these guys were really under so much stress that they could not hear the neighbors, that they had tunnel vision, then that tells us that they were doing WHAT THEY HAVE BEEN TRAINED TO DO.

          Which is shoot the guy and let the department and the union deal with the fallout.Report

        • Avatar Chris says:

          The 21 feet thing is police training bullshit that has cost several lives and has no empirical backing.Report

    • Avatar dragonfrog says:

      That would maybe be valid except that the cops didn’t have to worry about draw time because they had already drawn and aimed their weapons. And Sanchez wasn’t making any kind of advance on the cops and didn’t have the pipe raised. Which makes sense because the “metal pipe” in question was his walking stick, which are only useful when the tip is on the ground.

      He was just a middle aged man holding a cane. When every middle aged man holding a cane is enough of a “potential threat” to justify drawing and aiming weapons, we need different cops.Report

    • Avatar trizzlor says:

      Not trying to make excuses for the cops, but let’s talk about some alternative scenarios where their behavior was justified.

      What if the pipe was in ice-pick position? What if the officers didn’t have weapons drawn? What if the victim was charging them? What if he was flying above the ground? What if he was warming up lasers out of his eyes? What if it was time-traveling Hitler?Report

      • Avatar Maribou says:

        This is a good example of how to be actually pretty harsh about another person’s comment, without crossing any civility lines.

        Which I wouldn’t normally bother commending, but since this seems to be a big challenge in these comments, uh, congrats to you, @trizzlor.Report

    • Avatar Morat20 says:

      Ah yes. I forgot that “existing within 21 feet of a cop” was, of course, an automatic death sentence. If the cop feels like lighting you up.

      You’d think, as a non-cop who can be shot for whatever reason a cop makes up, you’d probably be a bit more skeptical about it…Report

      • Avatar Maribou says:

        @morat20 That’s not what Damon said. He agrees the shooting was unjustified. This is a topic where it’s hard to see any response other than “Agreed 100 percent!” as acceptable. But reacting that way shuts down the conversation.Report

        • Avatar Morat20 says:

          I see the “21 foot rule” brought up all the time, and it needs heavy pushback, because it accepting it as valid means being within twenty feet of a cop — that is, interacting at ALL with a police officer in person — is a potential death sentence.Report

          • Avatar Maribou says:

            @morat20 The article in question isn’t saying that it’s a valid excuse, it fact it’s decrying it as a valid excuse. I can see an argument that it’s dangerously wrong in where it goes from there, and that any use of the 21 foot rule ends up turning into that excuse, but just jumping to the assumption that someone citing that particular article thinks it’s a valid excuse and “an automatic death sentence” isn’t really treating them like a reasonable conversational partner.Report

            • Avatar Morat20 says:

              He had the potential to be a threat. He’s inside the 21 foot range. That warrants a lot of concern to the cops. Again, that doesn’t mean he should be dropped.

              That was Damon’s comment I was responding to.

              Sure, he doesn’t think it applies in this case — but he’s still accepting the validity of the 21-foot rule. That being within interaction distance of the police makes you a potentially lethal threat.Report

              • Avatar Maribou says:

                @morat20 So you can do that without “automatic death sentence” right? since he’s not saying “automatic” anything? Since he doesn’t think it applies automatically, but is rather a marker of concern?

                I”m not irritated, to be a bit clearer myself, that people are disagreeing with Damon and doing so strenuously. I’m irritated that it seems so difficult to do it without misrepresenting the other person’s argument.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                He’s not, but the way the “rule” is structured means anyone within 21 feet of a cop can be claimed to be a threat, and their mere proximity alone is sufficient to justify a lethal response.

                You can disagree with how often it’s applied or that people don’t use it stringently enough, but it doesn’t matter because how it’s used is — if you’re within 21 feet of a cop and he wants to shoot you, you’ll get shot and he won’t face more than administrative leave.

                As noted here — cops can brag on camera how they’re gonna shoot you, plant a gun — on camera! on your corpse — and walk free.

                So screw the 21 foot rule. It’s just another in an endless list of justifications cops use for shooting people. In a society with sane policing, maybe we could discuss the parameters of when someone is a true threat — but in America, in 2017? The 21 foot rule means “if you’re close enough to talk to a cop, he’s got enough cover to shoot you dead and keep his job”.Report

              • Avatar Maribou says:

                @morat20 Thank you. This is a way better comment.

                I get that you might not see the difference, but one is accusing @damon of something by implication and the other is explaining it to him.

                (And fwiw I agree with you, about the rule.)Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                I didn’t mean to accuse him of anything — at most, that citing the 21 foot rule is more than pointless here — it’s unfortunately just enabling killer cops. Perhaps better phrased would be:

                “American cops can’t handle the 21 foot rule. It’s just a tool for abuse here. If this was another country, it might be a useful fact.”Report

              • Avatar DavidTC says:

                “American cops can’t handle the 21 foot rule. It’s just a tool for abuse here. If this was another country, it might be a useful fact.”

                I feel this way about 80% of police powers in this country.Report

        • Avatar pillsy says:

          In six months to a year, we’ll be hearing all of these excuses over again, but this time they will be offered by the judicial system to explain why Officers Barnes must not face any consequences for shooting a man who posed no threat to him.

          That makes them much harder to take.Report

          • Avatar Maribou says:

            @pillsy Damon’s not excusing them.He was disagreeing with one piece of Sam’s post and explaining why. It’s certainly possible to disagree with his disagreement, and to do so strongly (given that I do myself) but it’s *not his fault* that the system is totally busted, and acting as though he supports that system because he happens to show up with a point of disagreement *while clearly stating it’s not a big deal compared to the overall importance of the situation*, isn’t civil behavior.Report

            • Avatar pillsy says:

              The way the law is structured, with a “reasonable” cop standard that will ratify the most absurd theories of danger as long as a cop suggests they were influencing them, that argument will surely be offered as an excuse on the basis that, as @damon says, his being within 15 feet with something in his hands “warrants a lot of concern”.

              It’s not Damon’s fault that the system is totally broken, but neither is it everybody else’s, and we aren’t wrong to view something as an excuse when we have very good reason to believe that, when all is said and done, it will be offered by the legal system as a rationale to exonerate Officer Barnes for killing a man for no reason.Report

              • Avatar Maribou says:

                @pillsy I’m sorry if I muddied the waters with how I responded, it’s actually pretty hard to keep up with you guys when you are on a tear.

                You aren’t wrong to view it as a problem, and as something the system will use as an excuse. FWIW the 21 foot rule makes me angry too. But responding to Damon in anger, when he basically agreed with the OP, instead of by explaining the problem / cognitive dissonance with what he was asserting, is still uncivil. And explaining that excuses are “harder to take” in response to me telling people to lay off Damon, will result in my explaining that my problem is with how people are treating Damon.

                That was my point. With just a tiny bit more care, this entire interchange could have been productive and quite possibly would’ve educated Damon (or perhaps not). Instead all the comments refuting what he said were framed in an attacking manner, as if he was defending the shooter, even after I started stepping in to point out that was happening. I get that you all don’t *see* that it was an attacking manner, but it was.

                Please hold yourself (yourselves, really, it’s not just pillsy I’m addressing here) to a higher standard. If not because the moderator is telling you to, then because you might actually change some minds that way. If not because you might actually change some minds that way, then because the moderator is telling you to.Report

            • Avatar Damon says:

              That was EXACTLY my point Maribou. As I said in my OP, Sam wrote “Sanchez was 15 feet from both officers when they opened fire, too far to have posed any sort of threat at all“. I called BS on it because he’s within the threat window and POTENTIALLY a threat and I demonstrated why.

              NOTHING the guy did, as I read it, justified the cops shooting and killing him. And, as I said, frickin again, to Sam, I’m disagreeing with a tiny part of the OP (the part I stated above) AND AGREEING WITH THE REST OF HIS POST.

              I’m seriously wondering if people actually read my post. I’d write some choice words directed to a few people but you’d mod it, and (really man, I don’t think this was on purpose, but talk about insensitive – Maribou). Jeebus fricking H Christ.

              Peace out (redacted by Maribou – and Damon, I get why you were frustrated which is why I was telling people to stop, but don’t aim cuss words at people.)Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:


                For the record, I wasn’t arguing against you, but rather why the Tueller drill should not be taken as a standard except in a very limited case (lateral movement is severely restricted).Report

              • Avatar Sam Wilkinson says:

                @damon He wasn’t a threat. He wasn’t potentially a threat. If police officers think that Sanchez was a threat, that speaks only to their inability to conclude anything else about people within 15 feet of them, not to the general situation. So pushing back on the claim that he was POTENTIALLY a threat is absolutely necessary, because he absolutely wasn’t.Report

              • Avatar Maribou says:

                @sam-wilkinson Pushing back is necessary. “If you’re asking me to believe that Magdiel Sanchez was actually Stick from the Daredevil universe (albeit deaf, rather than blind)” is not necessary and appending that you “politely” refuse doesn’t make it more necessary or less inflammatory as a response to someone that already agreed with you he shouldn’t have been shot.

                And the latter seriously interferes with the effectiveness of the former.

                Not least by clogging up the comments section with my boring attempts to call attention to this problem. Which is far less important than the problem you wrote about in the OP! But which will continue until people stop doing it!Report

              • Avatar Sam Wilkinson says:

                @maribou I remain dubious that everybody within 15 feet of a police officer is potentially a threat, and I would suggest that believing this leads to more civilian death. However, if my illustration of my disdain for this opinion was too dismissive or too much, I certainly apologize.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:


                I’m going to push back a bit here, even though I largely agree with you.

                Because Mr. Sanchez was not obeying commands, and he was carrying a stick/pipe/bludgeon/shillelagh/whatever, he was potentially a threat. Police officers have an expectation (and rightfully so) that a person will obey their commands[1]. A person who is not obeying simple commands like ‘stop’ and ‘drop the weapon’ is going to get their guard up.

                That is not the problem.

                The problem is, as with so many of these cases, that the officers lost their heads simply because their guard went up[2]. The moment their adrenaline spiked, they became fatally stupid. They lost situational awareness (the neighbors yelling critical information to them), they had no plan regarding what to do if things went pear shaped and lost coordination of action (as I said before, they should have separated and forced him to divide his attention[3]), and they defaulted to the one thing they knew.

                As I said above, this speaks to training, in that our police are NOT training their officers to handle interactions with the public, but rather, the police are desperately trying to train the public to handle their interactions with the police.

                [1] Assuming the commands are consistent and not contradictory, and that they can be reasonably heard and understood – examples of officers failing at this are legion. The problem here isn’t so much that officers should expect to be obeyed, it’s that they get irrationally angry/afraid when they are not obeyed, and rather than investigating why that might be, they just resort to violence.

                [2] Before anyone comments that I shouldn’t be critical of police losing their heads when under stress, I’m going to tell you that this is utter BS. The whole purpose of training is not to simply transmit information (that is education), it is to develop reflexes that do not require significant mental resources. Case in point, US Marines in war zones where insurgents are operating are capable of manning checkpoints and interacting with locals without shooting every person who fails to obey commands, or gets too close, etc. These are usually kids, some of them not old enough to drink , who seems to be able to not only keep their heads in stressful situations, but if they do start taking fire, have a pretty good record of only shooting people pointing guns at them. Part of this is training, and lots of it. Part of it is the UCMJ, which will come crashing down on any of them who fails to keep their training (as well as on their chain of command, for not properly training those under their command – don’t believe me, go ask the Navy how many folks are in hot water or out of a job because a couple of ships played bumper boats).

                [3] If Sanchez was not intending to be violent, once the officers split up, he would probably stop, being unsure which officer he should approach. Splitting up has the added effect of allowing the officers to maintain visual contact with each other and enable communication and coordination. Again, the benefit of maneuvering in an uncertain situation is something that has to be taught, and once again this speaks to the lack of training.Report

              • Avatar Sam Wilkinson says:

                @oscar-gordon Then we generally agree on almost everything.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                Teachers (at least those in NYS) are required to get certain medical/emergency trainings every 2-3 years. Included in this is performing the Heimlich maneuver. For my first several rounds of training, I always remember thinking, “If the shit hits the fan, all this will fly out the window and I’ll panic.”

                And then in two consecutive years, I had a child begin choking directly in front of me. Without thinking, the training kicked in, I used the maneuver to clear the object, and the child was fine. Then I went into the hallway and laid down on the ground until the pressing need to cry and vomit subsided. Why did those feelings arise in the hallway instead of in the moment? Because I was well trained. The training did exactly what it was supposed to do.

                If a regular guy like me can be trained to not freak out at the prospects of a child about to die right in front of him, surely the cops can be trained not to freak out at a guy standing around with a pipe in his hands.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                If 18 year old kids in war zones can be trained not to kill every person who looks at them crosswise, and wait until actual bullets or bombs come flying at them…Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                I think there’s pretty clear agreement: It’s not that the cops can’t do their jobs without lighting people up for no reason. It’s that they don’t want to.

                And society doesn’t care to push them to, so long as they keep their random shootings “to the proper sort of people”.

                And as I’ve said before — we spent generations teaching cops that an unspoken, but very important, part of their job was making sure the ‘wrong sort” knew their place. Cops were used, officially and unofficially with a wink and a nod, to basically put the boot in and make sure the wrong sort didn’t get ideas.

                You don’t break that mold without serious effort.Report

  3. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Fewer laws.
    Fewer cops.
    Stronger 2nd Amendment protections.
    Better jury instructions.Report

    • Avatar pillsy says:

      I really think only the last is genuinely going to solve the problem. Well, maybe the second may help somewhat in that it will at least lessen the likelihood of encountering a police officer, which in turn lessens the likelihood of said officer shooting you for no good reason.

      As long as juries (and not just juries, judges as well) decide that there should be no consequences when a cop shoots someone no matter what, the incentives are going to be profoundly flawed.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        There was a reason that the recent high-profile trial went in front of a judge and not a jury. (Or was it the one before that one. You know the one I’m talking about. That one.)

        The problem is that the people who most benefit from there being a problem are the ones in charge of fixing it.

        So we need to put fixing the problem in the hands of people who are not those people.Report

        • Avatar Pinky says:

          What is the reason, in your view? I’d assume it was that the officer didn’t think he could get a fair jury trial.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            My assumption was that he thought he’d get a fair one.Report

            • Avatar Pinky says:

              A fair judge would rule the same as a fair jury. A fair judge would rule more favorably than an unfair jury.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I agree with your statements wholeheartedly.

                I believe that the police officer in question would agree as well.

                Indeed, my assumption is that that is why he chose the judge.Report

              • Avatar PD Shaw says:

                Right, guilty until proven innocent by a jury.Report

              • Avatar pillsy says:

                That’s a better deal than Mr Sanchez got.Report

              • Avatar PD Shaw says:

                See that’s why you ask for a jury; a judge understands that the defendant is on trial. You and most jurors can be manipulated into thinking Mr. Sanchez is on trial.Report

              • Avatar pillsy says:

                The judge in Jason Stockley’s trial didn’t understand that at all, saying as he did that the victim was probably armed on account of being a heroin dealer, so there was no reason to believe Stockley planted the gun.Report

              • Avatar PD Shaw says:

                I’ve read the judge’s decision and that’s not what he wrote: he found that the State had failed to present credible evidence that Stockley planted a gun. There has to be evidence presented, not theory.Report

              • Avatar pillsy says:

                That’s simply false. This is one thing the judge wrote when justifying his rejection of the state’s theory:

                Finally, the Court observes, based on its nearly thirty years on the bench, that an urban heroin dealer not in possession of a firearm would be an anomaly.


              • Avatar PD Shaw says:

                That is the last point made after he went through the State’s evidence; the State had no credible evidence that a gun was planted and was left attempting to insinuate that there is no way a gun could be in that car, but for the police put it there.Report

              • Avatar pillsy says:

                The state didn’t have a single piece of conclusive evidence,[1] but you and I both know people have been convicted of very serious crimes with much less credible evidence, with those convictions being upheld on appeal.

                [1] The only way the judge’s conclusions make sense to me is if you view all the probabilities involved as uncorrelated, which frankly seems kind of nuts.Report

              • Avatar Maribou says:

                @pd-shaw @pillsy Here’s a relatively fact-based account of the trial that includes exactly what the judge wrote. To my mind, @oscar-gordon is right in saying that a standard for circumstantial evidence about 1,000,000 times stricter was applied to this shooting than to similar shootings. The officer literally said he was going to kill someone, and then killed him very shortly thereafter. The judge’s explanation that people say stressful things they don’t mean in the heat of a chase makes no sense. People also do stressful things they don’t mean in the heat of a chase (like shoot people), it shouldn’t mean they aren’t held accountable for them.

                How this gets an acquittal baffles me.Report

              • Avatar pillsy says:

                I think you omitted a link….Report

              • Avatar Maribou says:

                @pillsy Good catch, I completely did:


                Also, I shouldn’t say it baffles me, I have plenty of theories as to how. How anyone could read the facts of the case and think the acquittal was justified baffles me, I should’ve said.Report

              • Avatar Sam Wilkinson says:

                @pd-shaw If you’re not convinced by the presence of the Shockley’s DNA, but not his victim’s, nothing is going to convince you. And obviously, nothing was going to convince the judge that Shockley was anything but a saint, even despite him having been recorded saying that was going to “kill the motherfucker, don’t you know.” Everything can be explained away so long as everything was wearing a badge.Report

              • Avatar PD Shaw says:

                The State’s DNA analysts agreed that the absence of DNA does not prove that the victim had not touched the gun. This is not controversial. That phrase “not his victim’s” is irrelevant.Report

              • Avatar dragonfrog says:

                Yep, most heroin dealers go around with guns, and are rigorously systematic in handling those guns only with latex gloves, so they never get their own DNA on their guns. Sounds credible to me. I could be a judge!Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                A fair judge would rule the same as a fair jury. A fair judge would rule more favorably than an unfair jury.

                You left out a third option: that an unfair judge would rule more favorably than a fair jury.Report

              • Avatar Pinky says:

                But that assumes you’d be able to pick an unfair judge.

                I think my formulation lines up more with reality. Typically, defendants opt for a bench trial when they think the facts of the case are more favorable than public sentiment would be.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                I think my formulation lines up more with reality.

                Reality is that the cop chose a bench trial because he believed he’d get a more favorable decision from a judge than a jury of his peers. Your conception of reality is that a jury of his peers would be “unfair”.Report

    • Avatar Nevermoor says:

      Which laws would you like to remove, and why would that matter?
      Why would fewer cops matter? Weren’t they called to (a different) issue?
      Why would more guns help this situation?
      What jury instructions do you think currently misstate the law?Report

      • Avatar Nevermoor says:

        Yeah… didn’t think there would be any response to this.Report

        • Avatar Maribou says:

          @nevermoor If you’re actually interested, I would ask him again in a couple days. He’s been working night-shift 14s on the other side of the globe and at the moment he’s on an airplane. His attention to detail in our spousely emails has suffered a bit, let alone his attention to detail in these parts…Report

          • Avatar Nevermoor says:

            Happy to have a response if he can make one. They’re all… let’s say… novel complaints about a situation where the general consensus is either “all good, but let’s be less critical of cops” or “the outrage is that everything is legal”Report

            • Avatar Maribou says:

              @nevermoor I’ll try to remember to nudge him after he’s slept then. (Right now he’s still on a plane. Doha is *far away* – sigh.)Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Hey! I’m back!

        Anyway. One at a time:

        Which laws would you like to remove, and why would that matter?

        Well, off the top of my head, there’s the whole “War On Drugs” in the first place that has resulted in a non-zero amount of police shootings but, on top of that, there seem to be a lot of needless police interactions for such things as “busted tail lights”.

        Remember Philando Castile? Yeah, him.
        Remember Alton Sterling? Him too.
        Remember Walter Scott? https://youtu.be/jEI3N9kIyP4?t=7s

        Why would it matter? Well, without getting into a whole explanation of comparing The War on Drugs to The 18th Amendment and the underground economies created by bad laws (which would really digress, I’m sure), I’ll just say that interactions over busted taillights have resulted in at least three deaths at the hands of police officers in recent, like really recent, memory.

        We have a problem with law enforcement when it comes to minor laws like “busted tail lights”.

        I’m not sure that having laws about busted tail lights are the proper response to busted tail lights. So those laws, at least, will be my first example.

        If you need more, I will go to the whole War on Drugs thing. (For one, I think that the War on Drugs is responsible for the existence of heroin dealers but I said that I wouldn’t get into that sort of thing.)

        Why would fewer cops matter? Weren’t they called to (a different) issue?

        If there were fewer cops, there would be fewer cops to shoot such people as Magdiel Sanchez.

        Indeed they were. And yet they shot Magdiel Sanchez anyway.

        So do we know what happened with regards to the hit and run? What are the details? Was a pedestrian hit? Was there a fender bender where somebody got dinged and insurance details weren’t exchanged? Was the car that was originally matching the description of the car involved in the hit and run actually the car that was in the hit and run?

        I can’t find any details.

        Why would more guns help this situation?

        Well, more guns wouldn’t have helped in *THIS* situation. I was more thinking about how “more guns” would help in a society that is filled with people who know that they can’t rely on the police.

        But, yes. Magdiel Sanchez wouldn’t have been helped in this particular situation by there being more guns.

        I’d have “more guns” as part and parcel with the first two things. Not a standalone thing.

        What jury instructions do you think currently misstate the law?

        Well, this is another thing that would need to be read in the context of the other three things.

        It wasn’t intended to be read as a list where “any one of these four things would resolve this problem before it happened!” but “shit like cops shooting innocent people in circumstances like this won’t change without a major revamp… here’s my major revamp”.

        I suppose, technically, my idea for a revamp is an engineering solution without a political solution and, as such, is about as useless a suggestion as “we need to train police better”.

        But, to answer your question directly, I think that juries are trained to see officers of the law as significantly different than they are trained to see Joe/Jane Blow. And juries should not be trained to see officers of the law as significantly different than they are trained to see Joe/Jane Blow.

        How’s that?Report

        • Avatar pillsy says:

          I think laws over busted taillights aren’t really the issue, in that you hardly need to have the police interact with the driver of the car to enforce them. Take a picture of the busted light and license number, and mail the car’s owner a ticket.

          Easy. They do it for a variety of traffic offenses already.

          The problem is that cops like using traffic enforcement as a pretext for interact with people that are “suspicious”, where “suspicious” often boils down to, “wouldn’t pass a paper bag test”, whether the cop in question realizes it or not. Well, that and a lot of jurisdictions use traffic enforcement as a means of revenue generation, which can create all sorts of horrible dysfunction.Report

          • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

            If autonomous cars become reality, it will be very interesting watching the police & communities come to terms with the fact that favorite tactics of enforcement and revenue generation will be largely useless or irrelevant.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            Part of the problem is that “we need to improve police training” is not possible.

            I mean, sure, it’s possible if we mean “we need to increase police training budgets”. It’s not possible if we mean “we need to make cops stop liking using traffic enforcement as a pretext for interacting with the ‘suspicious'”.Report

            • Avatar pillsy says:

              That’s true, but we could probably improve things a lot by changing laws and regulations around making stops with traffic enforcement as a pretext. The problem seems to be exacerbated a lot by the general erosion of Fourth Amendment protections due, primarily, to the War on Drugs.Report

            • Avatar greginak says:

              Ugh…No it is very possible to increase police training. In what way isn’t it possible since cops get all sorts of training. Cops will be dealing with mentally ill or drunk/high people or domestic disturbances or , you know, possible real crimes even without the WOD. We need them to handle all those situations well or else there will still be avoidable deaths.

              FWIW i had a mentally ill client who the cops up here, state troopers mostly, dealt with very well because they had training. She had been pointing a gun at her family and making threats. The cops were called but didn’t barge into the house since the family was safe. They let her stew and calm even though she kept the gun on her. They waited her out and got her to the hospital the next day even though she kept making threats. They didn’t overreact, stayed cool and dealt with sick woman who needed help but who would have been hurt if they meant in to hard. Good for them.

              Complex problems usually don’t have simple solutionsReport

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I’ll restate what I said:

                I mean, sure, it’s possible if we mean “we need to increase police training budgets”. It’s not possible if we mean “we need to make cops stop liking using traffic enforcement as a pretext for interacting with the ‘suspicious’”.Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                Or we need better trained cops AND not use traffic stops as a way to hassle people. The first part, while not exactly easy to get, is a lot simpler than fixing problematic racial attitudes of cops and the admin. But this is not an either or situation.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                The best part is that the first part is even measurable!

                Training budget goes from X to (X +10%) and that’s all it takes to get better trained cops.Report

              • Avatar pillsy says:

                The problem with the particular issue @jaybird is referring to has more to do with bad incentives for individual officers and police departments. Improving training can only help so much if the incentives stay the same.Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                Nevertheless there is all sorts of training that some cops recieve and can improve behavior. If we want better cops then at leat part of that is teaching them how to handle certain situations better.

                Of course incentives are an issue. To many people will support the cops no matter what they do. Sure some cops will be enlightened but in lots of areas they either would be seen as a negative or not matter.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                If we want better cops then at leat part of that is teaching them how to handle certain situations better.

                All things equal, better trained cops are better than worse trained cops.

                All things equal, (scare quotes) “better trained” cops won’t change a damn thing about current cop culture or practices.

                Plus, it’s sorta insulting to both cops and non-cops to say that problems with excessive force, profiling, and harassment result from a lack of proper training, seems to me.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Plus, it’s sorta insulting to both cops and non-cops to say that problems with excessive force, profiling, and harassment result from a lack of proper training, seems to me.

                Eg., in response to this challenge what are cops supposed to say? “Hey, it’s not my fault! I was never trained to respect the civil rights of black people. I need better training!”?Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                Let’s be honest, additional training will be welcomed by officers who want to do better, but it will do nothing for those who don’t care unless there is an associated penalty for not following the training, and for not getting trained.

                I mean, how often do we hear of police leadership neglecting basic training requirements because there is no penalty for them doing so? And if the courts are willing to excuse officers who are inadequately trained in something, then the police have an incentive to neglect said training, since it’s a pass for screwing up.Report

              • Avatar Nevermoor says:

                Right. If the cops who did all the violence that we hear about actually went to jail, this stuff would clean itself up pretty quick.Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                Insulting? No. There are things cops need to deal with, like dealing with people with mentally ill or developmentally delayed people, that they will do better with training. Hell even some crappy cops will do it better if they have been given a clue. I’m certainly not saying better training is the entire solution but this is a complex problem and will require a set of solutions. Less WOD, better training, better incentives, less automatic trust in cops, greater local community oversight are all good things.

                And of course there is that racism thing. On the whole it will be easier to start training cops better then eliminate racism or authoritarian attitudes in cops. I mean i’m all for that so lets get going but i’m not exactly seeing the easy cure for that. One way to change the expectations and incentives for cops is to tell them “this is the way to handle this.”Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                This horrible story is currently on the front page of /r/all.

                The current top comment?
                Is it that hard to be accountable and not do (messed) up things

                (Edit mine)

                In the police officers’ defense, they agree that the sex in question did take place, just that it was consensual.

                Does anyone know if the police receive training on this sort of thing?

                Because, if they don’t, we need to make sure that they start getting training on this sort of thing.Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                Oh ffs Jay. In what sporking way am i even suggesting training is the entire solution and how would it have anything to do with this. I told a story above about a client of mine where good training sure as hell did help. And i guess i’ll say it again, this is complex problem that will need a basket of solutions. More training is one of them. It’s amazing that is such a sore nerve. There are a lot of problems with cops and the justice system. One fix will not fix it all. Maybe arguing with the chronic defenders of seemingly every single shooting by a cop might be more on point. It’s not like i’m a frequent defender of cops or i’m even defending them here.Report

              • Avatar Maribou says:

                @jaybird Honey, please take a step back here. It’s hard for me to tell @greginak to not yell at you when I see you using the exact pattern to poke at him that you use on me.

                @greginak I think if you don’t want people to assume you are limiting yourself to addressing the same problems they are addressing, starting your comments with something other than “Ugh… No” would probably help. You could possibly try “I can see why you don’t feel like training will do much to alleviate the corruption and toxicity, but on the other hand it does have meaningful good to contribute.”Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                @maribou As to your first paragraph all i can do is quote Crow T Robot: “We’re gettin in a whole weird area here.”

                Fair enough. I thought i’d sort of done that but maybe i just thought those parts and forgot to write it. Wouldn’t be the first time.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Well, then, to step back and be less trolly, there seems to be a rot in law enforcement. A bad rot. From stuff where the police unions defend “duty booty” as a practice to training that is so insufficient that we find ourselves discussing training issues in a thread dedicated to police officers who shot a deaf person when they were investigating a hit and run (the deaf person was unrelated to the hit and run, for the record). This rot is showing up at the same time that the justice department as a whole is showing itself incapable of addressing such things as “corrupt cops” (did you read about the heroin dealer guy? pretty messed up story!).

                The main question that *I* have deals with stuff like the “how many cops know about the bad cops and don’t do anything?” and, since I think that the answer to that question is “damn near all of them”, I think that talking about “training” in these circumstances is similar to discussing what kind of bandages will need to be applied to the stump of a gangrenous leg after the amputation takes place.

                It’s an important conversation and one that needs having. I’ll grant that.

                But I don’t see it as being anywhere *NEAR* our most pressing issue. The leg is. The operation is. Figuring out where the best place to start cutting is.

                Because we’ve got ourselves one hell of a gangrenous leg.

                After that? Yes. The new cops will need to be trained and trained right this time. I am 100% down with that.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter says:

                Sunlight is the best disinfectant. From that point of view, all these video cameras walking around in combo with YouTube can/will/are amazing.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I dislike how there seem to be two distinct responses to bodycams.

                1. “We cannot release the footage as the footage shows the person of interest and we do not yet have that person’s permission to show the film nor do we have permission to show the people inadvertently filmed by the officer.”


                I am always a big fan of getting the #2 footage, of course. It’s good to know what happened from the perspective of the officer in such situations.

                But it makes you wonder about the #1s, doesn’t it?Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                Then you have #3, like what appears to have been done in the Michael Bennet situation:

                “The body camera of the officer who initially detained Bennett was not turned on. Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo said Friday that police sorted through 861 videos, including from body cameras from other officers and hotel security cameras, and found that 193 were pertinent to the investigation. From there, they said they pieced together a timeline of the incident and played video for the media at a news conference.”

                If you watch the video (not at that link), it cuts from officers running after Bennett (quotes include, “There’s one running!” and “Does he have a gun?” with no answer given) to Bennett handcuffed on the ground. So of the 861 videos and 193 relevant ones, the most important moments are apparently no where on film.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Situational Transparency.Report

              • Avatar Nevermoor says:

                At the risk of infringing BIll Maher’s IP:

                New rule. If you have a body camera on, and are accused of doing something horrible, but you “didn’t turn the camera on” give the accuser a rebuttable presumption that you did what they say.Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                Oh yeah a hellva lot of cops are authoritarian thugs. No doubt about. That ain’t new to me. All my hockey coaches in college were NYPD cops and i work in a court so i’ve talked with some state troopers. Are all cops terrible, no although certainly some could speak out more. Heck plenty of cops have spoken out, or took a knee recently, but they don’t seem to get listened to much.

                If we are in how do we fix this mode than we need to face that there is no “fire all of them and hire different people” option. Changing institutions is super hard. It was a liberal thought that just hiring more POC’s would change the cops. That hasn’t’ worked out as planned. It is a good idea but the cops often changed the POC’s or they had to little support to truly change things. But as someone who very much wants to change institutions is important to clearly understand that it is hard and to figure out how to do it.

                To throw out another anecdote which i’ll keep very very short. I went with a very disturbed client to a SART interview since she had reported being raped and had no one else to even ask. She hated cops but thought they were very respectful to her and treated her well. That didn’t happen by accident, those cops were, you guessed it, well trained. They were also less likely to be the worst thuggish cops but they knew their skills well. When i’ve talked to cops about cops i’ve always highly praised the very professional actions of cops. The good cops appreciate it and the less good need to hear it.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                You’d seem to rather focus on the individual agents rather than the systemic problem.

                Which is all well and good, I suppose, but I will go back to the issue of “how many cops know about the bad cops and don’t do anything?”

                This isn’t asking a question about the, to use your words, “authoritarian thugs”.

                It’s asking a question about the “not bad” cops. Perhaps even asking a question about the “good” ones.

                Because if the answer is “damn near all of them”, we’re not in “some could speak out more” territory.

                Wanna read a funny anecdote? I can find all kinds of stories about cops who do stuff and then get put on paid administrative leave for a while. Here’s a story about a cop who got out-and-out fired. You’ll never guess what he did!

                Or, maybe, you *WILL* be able to guess what he’d have to do in order to get fired. You know enough cops, after all.

                Before clicking, were you able to guess?Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                Doesn’t surprise me though Russia Today ain’t exactly the most trust worthy source. Still likely true and like i said it wouldn’t be a surprise.

                Of course it’s a systems problem. For one thing if you want better behavior it’s good to reinforce and praise it. So i’m all for praising the kind of behavior we want in cops. Incentives.

                Changing complex, change resistant systems is hard. I’m fine with ranting about how bad lots of cops and departments are. Do you want to hear my anecdotes about cops calling black people Nword or how some think Contempt of Cop is a real crime? But there is no one simple fix. If we were to find the big fix it will start with lessening the support in the public for the worst cops and departments. That is the hardest root to rip out. That root is the heart of the problem to turn a phrase.

                If we could find a way to fire the 30 or 40 or 50% of cops who are better off handling direct customer relations in the fast food industry that would be great. I just don’t know how to do that.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                If you don’t like the Russian Times, here’s the Miami New Times covering the same story.

                And here’s the original Fusion story they lifted it from.

                Both have an earlier dateline than the Russian Times story.

                For one thing if you want better behavior it’s good to reinforce and praise it. So i’m all for praising the kind of behavior we want in cops.

                You’ve heard Chris Rock’s bit that focuses on whether the speaker would like a cookie?

                *NOT* causing a “never event” should not be seen as “praiseworthy” but, instead, as “the bare freaking minimum”.

                Do you want to hear my anecdotes about cops calling black people Nword or how some think Contempt of Cop is a real crime?

                To be perfectly honest, I’d prefer to hear your answer to this question: how many cops know about the bad cops and don’t do anything?Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                How many? I can’t even begin to invent a number. It sure isn’t a trivial percentage though. Lot’s do, maybe even most. Is that an answer enough.

                RT? I said the story doesn’t surprise me at all. I don’t’ doubt it. And i also know that Russia Today is Kremlin owned and not exactly fair and balanced.

                It feels like you are fishing for an argument in general here Jay. Like haven’t i said enough criticisms of cops here. Just because i’m willing to praise good behaviors seems to be sticking in your craw. Do i seem in anyway on the pro-cop side? Am i one of the people reflexively defending every frickin shooting by cops or even remotely giving cops the benefit of the doubt. Cause i haven’t been doing any of that.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                So if we start from “most cops know about the bad cops and don’t do anything”, how much emphasis do you think “we need better training” truly deserves?

                Do you think better training would solve the “most cops know about the bad cops and don’t do anything” problem?

                I don’t.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC says:

                Do you think better training would solve the “most cops know about the bad cops and don’t do anything” problem?

                The only thing that is going to get good cops doing anything about bad cops is the system deciding it is important, and the only way for the system to decide that is important is if the actions of bad cops have some sort of negative repercussions.

                I.e., the way to fix cops is the way to fix any institution: Implement some sort of repercussions(1) for the results the institution generates, and then stand back and…

                …well, watch the institution attempt to manipulate the measurements of the results, probably. But don’t let them do that, tweak the rules a bit, and eventually the institution will say ‘Okay, we’re going to have to have cops stop killing people randomly.’ and everyone will be completely surprise at exactly how fast that stops happening.

                There are only two problems here: Not only is there absolutely no interest in holding the police accountable for their results, literally the only people who can do that seem very uninterested in doing so. And also policing is at the local level so this either requires each individual community to change, or it requires some sort of national law that would be extremely hard to do.

                1) Note these repercussions do not, in any sense, have to be ‘fair’. For example, we could make local police departments pay the US government $500,000 for every person who dies at the hands of their officers, regardless of any legal culpability or actions of the dead person. Even if it’s a 100% clean shot of someone who literally was holding people hostage, the police department has to pay that. Call it a ‘kill tax’. Oh, and no insurance is permissible for this.

                We would all be amazed at how suddenly a lot less people end up dead, due merely to budget concerns.

                Granted, this particular example would end up accidentally bankrupting some police departments through no fault of their own, so it’s not a good plan, but my point is that it sure as hell would result in police departments dealing with their now extremely expensive bad cops. They’d probably preemptively find themselves out on the street.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter says:

                We would all be amazed at how suddenly a lot less people end up dead, due merely to budget concerns.

                I have conflicting feelings about this.

                First, intuitively I like it a lot. It seems to line up economic motivation soundly with good policy.

                Secondly, I wonder if there’d be side effects. The rich neighborhood’s police decide to legally separate from the poor, similar to what we saw with schools. If the scale of damage-by-police is multiple orders of magnitude less than the WoD, then we could see remarkably bad results. Bad policing is bad, no policing would be a lot worse.

                Thirdly my impression is most of the damage bad cops do falls well short of leaving corpses on the ground. That even for bad cops, out right killing someone is reserved for screw ups, revenge, and self defense. If true then there won’t be much effect.

                So I’ve said it’s really-good, bad, and does nothing, covering all bases. 😉 People are complex, I don’t trust my intuition on this one. I’d like to see some State try this to see RW results before it’s rolled out at a federal level.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC says:

                The rich neighborhood’s police decide to legally separate from the poor, similar to what we saw with schools.

                Weirdly, this might be a good thing.

                A lot of the problems with policing in this country are a police department that is basically in the hands of one group of people, and harass some other group of people.

                Now, the obvious example of this that we’re all aware of is speed traps, where the police manage to get enforcement powers over a thoroughfare and ticket out of town people, sometimes to the point of actively ignoring locals who are speeding.

                The blatant racism of some police departments also springs to mind. (Note to I said ‘controlled by’, not ‘are’. Just having POCs on the force does not remove racism if the government that controls them is fine with racism.)

                But what we are talking about is also governments that are, for lack of a better term, split in two. There is a not-poor side of town and poor side of town, and the police…constantly bother the poor side. This is often a racial divide…but sometimes not.

                There are a lot of towns that have ‘problem areas’, that the police are given free reign to basically harass and fine anyone they want. And those areas can’t do anything about the behavior of the police because they are outvoted, and even if they aren’t technically outnumbered by the other side, they have no real political power at all, as they are poor.

                Now, a common excuse that the police pay extreme attention to those areas because they are where the crime is, but this becomes somewhat less justifiable when the police department, and some of the government, is funded from the behavior of the police department, i.e., by them fining the poor people. (I.e., if we care enough to notice that the poor areas are high crime and should be heavily policed, we should probably, uh, not set up a system of funding that operates off crime, because we just finished noticing that the high crime area does not have any money, and thus it is stupid to tax it.)

                Policing is a bunch of individual interactions with people, so in addition to us having trouble telling if it’s racially neutral, it’s often not geographically neutral…and probably shouldn’t be entirely geographically neutral, anyway. But there’s a difference between ‘the police adding patrols because this is high crime area’ and ‘the police shaking down the residents in this area for trivial parking violations and nonsense crimes like walking in the street(1), to make money’.

                There’s no obvious point that it becomes abusive and not what the community wants (2), but it does happen, all the time, in high wealth disparity areas.

                Now, I am not sure what I proposed, in anyway, solves that problem! What I proposed has a lot of problems anyway, and I am not serious about it.

                I’m just pointing out that rich areas suddenly deciding they don’t want to police poor areas is not automatically a negative thing. It’s not quite like schools, and in fact, it’s often the poor area that is paying more than the rich area for those police.

                There are also, of course, police departments that operate entirely in poor areas, and also shake down the residents for money. But those, in theory, can be changed by the residents via voting.

                1) We can argue if ‘qualify of life’ crimes like ‘people walking in street’ and ‘loitering’ and ‘public drinking’ are good or bad laws, but that’s not really my point. My point is there are a lot of jurisdictions where they are blatantly selectively enforced(3), where the rich white area can throw a block party and have people milling around in the street with alcohol, and people in the poor areas get handed tickets because they walked around crowded sidewalks…both from the same police force. In much the way that, again, police in speed trap towns used to just give tickets to people without of-out-town plates.

                2) Let’s note that is basically being imposed by another group of people who have also decided (not ‘officially’ but via policies and not doing anything about), that they also don’t want anywhere near that level of policing for themselves, so it’s not just ‘60% of people deciding how everything works, which is how it works in a democracy’, it’s ‘60% of people are voting to allow the police to harass the other 40% of people but not themselves’, even if that vote isn’t officially on the ballot.

                3) I said somewhere recently, might be in discussion I am too lazy to check, that I feel that about 80% of police powers are good in theory, but the police in America have proven they will abuse them. These ‘quality of life’ laws are one of those…they are intended to exist as a way to arrest people who are actually causing real problems and will not stop. The police can use ‘standing the street laws’ to threaten to arrest the guy who is standing in the street screwing up traffic if he doesn’t stop immediately. They can use public drinking laws to make the blatantly drunk guy go home or they’ll arrest him. They can use loitering laws to run off the actually suspicious character that they’re pretty sure is stalking someone.

                Those laws are supposed to be selected enforced…against people actually causing problems. At this point in time, they appear mostly to be selected enforced against poor people and minorities, and people the police just do not like. Not as threats, but as justification to immediately arrest or at least fine someone.

                So ‘selective enforcement of the laws’ is, now, a power I do not trust the police with.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                It’s often worth noting that, in those situations, the rich people love their cops and have nothing but praise — after all, the cops aren’t harassing them.

                So when things go bad, you have a rich, influential community ready to rally around their police, because….clearly the friendly, helpful officers they’re used to couldn’t have done such a thing.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter says:

                I agree with most or all of what you said, but I’m not convinced the “rich keeping the poor man down” effect is the dominant problem. I worry about replacing one set of problems with another, larger, set of problems.

                In terms of cities which tried the “rich people opt out” solution, Detroit is the only one that comes to mind. The good news was they fixed the issue with the police being tools of the rich and racist. The bad news was the overall crime/economic situations got worse.

                And one of the (imho greatly understated and understudied) issues is the “entrepreneur” affect. Investment in a community doesn’t just magically happen, entrepreneurs have to take risks… and that’s just not going to happen in crime ridden areas. If I can’t promise my employees safety, then I have to create jobs somewhere else.Report

              • Avatar gregiank says:

                It seems like you are talking about something other than what i am regarding training. I’ve given example of the kind of thing i’m talking about none of which relate to the problem you keep pointing to. I’ve said i agree the problem you keep pointing at is a problem but this something else i’m talking about.Report

        • Avatar Nevermoor says:

          Thank you for these answers.

          On the laws, I guess I was envisioning something different. I doubt we really want to live in a world where cars aren’t required to have tail lights (though I share your desire to live in one where the penalty falls short of death 100% of the time). I also don’t know what “end the drug war” means here, unless its a call for explicit legalization of all drugs. Which would be an interesting proposal but also a radical one.

          On the cops, it seems like a sad solution to bad policing to just stop trying. (a theme Gotham, of all shows, is currently exploring). My vote is for better, less legally-immune policing (i.e. impose restrictions more like those imposed on soldiers), but then it’s academic because neither stands any chance of happening.

          On more guns, I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree. My view is that adding a gun to any situation increases the odds that someone dies. And that someone is quite likely to be someone who shouldn’t die.

          On jury instructions, I was hoping you had something specific in mind. The job of such things is to tell jurors what the law is, and they are almost always quite accurate.Report

    • Avatar El Muneco says:

      No internal investigation. All incidents where an on-duty officer discharges their weapon – regardless of the result – opens an independent Federal investigation.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Now all we need is confidence in the Federal system.Report

        • Avatar El Muneco says:

          And a way to give their oversight some teeth.

          A la Alton Brown, I said it was necessary. I never said it was possible.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            My lack of confidence doesn’t stem from my belief that they don’t (or wouldn’t) have teeth.Report

            • Avatar El Muneco says:

              I know. Just pointing out that there are more flaws in my cunning plan than the one you found.

              Still, putting it in the hands of someone who doesn’t by definition have a vested interest in sweeping everything under the rug can’t be worse. No matter how little you trust the Feds, even a particle is more than the 0% we have in the current oversight system.Report

  4. Avatar Pinky says:

    Why didn’t he put the pipe down? I can’t find any pictures of the pipe, but it was apparently two feet long, and it was enough of a weapon to use against dogs. Two officers approached him with a gun and a taser drawn. Put down the pipe.Report

    • Avatar pillsy says:

      Yes clearly that’s a mistake for which a man deserves to be killed. The only people who are allowed to make any sort of suboptimal decision when frightened or confused are cops who shoot people who pose no actual threat to them.Report

      • Avatar Pinky says:

        I didn’t say that he deserved to be killed. (See that? You just attacked and killed a straw man that wasn’t threatening you.)Report

        • Avatar pillsy says:

          Oh, I’m sorry, you just said it’s all his fault for being killed, instead of the faults of the guy who pulled the trigger on him, despite the fact that he posed no actual threat.

          How hard is it not to defend murderers just because they wear blue?Report

          • Avatar Pinky says:

            Show me where I said it’s all his fault or apologize.Report

            • Avatar pillsy says:

              Oh, I’m so very, very sorry.

              It’s just partially his fault for being shot. After all, if he hadn’t been confused and scared he might have been able to telepathically figure out what the cop was telling him to do, and then he might not have been shot. Then again, he might have, and the cop would still get off, just like the one who shot Philando Castile did.Report

              • Avatar Pinky says:

                I’m not looking to assign fault. As Maribou (but not Sam) points out, Sanchez had a learning disability. I’m not going to say that it was his fault for responding improperly. I’m not going to say that it was the officers’ fault for perceiving a threat, absent footage that sheds a new light on it. This seems like just a bad thing that happened.

                And I disagree with Maribou. Implying “not 100% A” is not the same thing as saying “0% A”. Granted this is the internet, and people make assumptions, but is it ever reasonable to assume that the other person is defending murderers just because they wear blue?Report

              • Avatar pillsy says:

                It’s not just a “bad thing that happened”. Mr Sanchez wasn’t struck by lightning. He was struck by a bullet after a cop pointed a gun at him and pulled the trigger.Report

              • Avatar Maribou says:

                @pinky He had a developmental disability, not a learning disability. They’re generally quite different things.

                Please don’t misquote me.

                And if I tell you that your post had an implication, and you should be clearer, that doesn’t mean you should explain how I’m wrong. Or complain again about your interlocutor being unreasonable when I already told them to stop.

                It means start over and quit arguing motives. Or just take a break for a while.Report

              • Avatar Pinky says:

                Sorry. It wasn’t my intention to misquote you. I’m not sure the nature or the extent of Sanchez’s handicap, nor do I know the proper terminology for it.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                Thing is, “bad things that just happen” do happen to private citizens, all the time. People are injured or killed by someone who had no intention of causing injury, and wasn’t even necessarily doing anything wrong. They just made an honest mistake.

                They are still held responsible, and stand trial, and called to account. If the crane operator at a construction site accidentally hits the hoist release and drops a half ton of steel on a co-worker, there isn’t a collective shrug, an insurance payout to the family, and life goes on. The crane operator is going to get put through the ringer. They could be criminally liable, will most certainly be held civilly liable, could face the loss of livelihood (operators license), etc.

                Now I don’t imagine that a shooting like this, where the officer was not clearly under threat (being charged, or a gun pointed at him, etc) is going to be a fun time for the officer, but let’s be honest, the investigation, and any kind of discipline, will NOT be transparent to the public, and that really is a problem. PDs are notoriously tight lipped about such investigations, and lobby hard for laws protecting them from FOIA requests, and whatever discipline the officer receives, even if the public hears about it, we usually lack any context for it (is it a serious punishment the officer will remember and take to heart, or is it a slap on the wrist with a wink and a nudge?).Report

            • Avatar Maribou says:

              @pinky Commenting on a post about someone being killed by a cop by advising the dead guy to put down the pipe, without other commentary, is pretty darn close to saying it’s all his fault. You could have been much clearer.

              @pillsy If someone says “I didn’t say that he deserved to be killed,” don’t double down sarcastically on saying that is what the person said. Give them some space to explain themselves.

              Nobody needs to apologize at this time but you both need to take a deep breath.

              Commenters who are frustrated at Pinky for defending cops in this case, I feel you, but do you actually want to discuss this / school people about it, or do you just want to vent your anger? Because if the former, being civil would be more effective; if the latter, there are better ways to do it than continuing to raise the temperature of the comment sectionReport

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      Why didn’t he put the pipe down?

      Something about him being deaf and thus something about him not listening to the cops.Report

      • Avatar Pinky says:

        As I noted, two police were approaching him with weapons drawn. If he were blind, he wouldn’t have noticed. Him being deaf doesn’t affect his ability to see that they were considering him a threat. If you’re holding a metal rod and two officers consider you a threat, put down the rod.Report

        • Area Commenter Desperate To Blame Deaf Man For His Own MurderReport

        • Avatar Toad says:

          You’re assuming that he thought of his pipe as a weapon. TSA has taught me that there are many things that I would never think of as a weapon, but yet, they see as weapons. Like I can’t imagine that nail clippers, the tiny foil cutting knife on the side of a corkscrew, would be weapons that could be used to take over a plane. I was holding a pair of loppers when police responded erroneously to a call on my property and that freaked them out. I’m not disagreeing with their assessment — just trying to point out that a thing you use every day, you just might not think of as a weapon that others would find threatening.Report

        • Avatar Kazzy says:

          Maybe he thought the threat was behind him.Report

    • @pinky Because he could not hear that he was being ordered to put the pipe down.Report

    • Avatar Maribou says:

      @pinky Sanchez was also developmentally disabled. Not that I believe “deaf” wasn’t sufficient, but if you’re claiming that he should have had the smarts to figure out the situation, that’s probably enough reason why not right there.Report

      • Avatar Pinky says:

        That’s a different position than Sam takes. Sam never mentioned the learning disability IIRC, and he centered his argument on the deafness of Sanchez compared with the apparent deafness of the officers. It’d be tougher to make the argument that Sam makes in light of the learning disability, which I assume is why he failed to introduce the fact.Report

        • Avatar Maribou says:

          @pinky stop speculating on the supposedly dishonest motives of our writers.Report

          • Avatar Maribou says:

            @pinky And if someone offers you additional information about something the correct response is to consider the information, not to immediately jump to explaining how the information tarnishes someone else.

            Is the point of your comments to discuss the case or to try to make Sam look like a bad actor? If the former, act like it, if the latter, stop.Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

          How would it be tougher to make Sam’s argument if Sanchez was developmentally disabled?Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

      Because he was deaf and developmentally disabled, which is what the neighbors were trying to tell the officers.Report

    • Avatar dragonfrog says:

      Why didn’t he spontaneously put down the walking stick with which he had walked out onto the porch, when he couldn’t hear the instruction to do so?

      Could it be that he had never in his life experienced someone being afraid of his walking stick – children, adults, and frail elderly people, all had a hitherto perfect record of correctly seeing a middle aged man who walks with a stick as unarmed – and so he failed to intuit that these two fit armed young men theoretically trained in accurately recognizing threats, would be the first people incapable of figuring that out?Report

      • Avatar Pinky says:

        The pipe was described as being two feet long, which hardly makes it a walking stick or a cane.Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

          This is factually correct, but @dragonfrog’s point is still valid. The neighbors all tell that Mr. Sanchez walked around with the stick at night to fend of aggressive stray dogs, and it was very common to interact with him while he was carrying the stick.

          Ergo, no one in the neighborhood saw the stick as a threat, it stands to reason that Mr. Sanchez failed to understand that someone not from the neighborhood would see it as a threat (because cognitive disability).

          Which takes us back to the fact the police officers lost situational awareness and failed to understand the critical information the neighbors were trying to give them. If a man calmly walking toward you with a stick can so command your attention that you can’t keep situational awareness, then you need to not be a cop.Report

          • Avatar Pinky says:

            I do agree that the most likely explanation of Sanchez’s reaction is that he didn’t understand that he could be being perceived as a threat. I don’t know the extent of Sanchez’s disability, and we haven’t seen any video of the shooting, so I can’t judge whether I’d feel threatened if I were in the officers’ shoes. It seems worthy of note not only that a two-foot metal pipe can be used as a weapon, but also that Sanchez did use it as a weapon or a threat against wild dogs. Dragonfrog’s point was that the officers should have recognized that a man with a two-foot pipe wasn’t a threat, which doesn’t seem like a valid argument at all.Report

            • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

              I’m not arguing that the officers were unjustified in perceiving him as a threat based upon the stick alone. I’m pushing back against 2 narratives:

              1) That he should have understood why the police saw him as a threat and dropped the stick.

              2) That the police had no possible reason to not view Mr. Sanchez as a threat.Report

              • Avatar Sam Wilkinson says:

                @pinky Just out of curiosity, and given the murderous nature of at least one of the two officers, is there any possibility that Sanchez should have also felt threatened? Or is this sort of fear limited, and only allowed, to police officers? Because you’re bending over backwards to be kind toward at least one cold-blooded murderer, a man who never afforded Sanchez any humanity at all, and you’re doing so on the basis of the possible threat that Sanchez might have posed if he had been somebody else. Why does this police officer deserve so much more what he was willing to give to Sanchez?Report

              • Avatar Pinky says:

                You’re assuming that this was a murder, and that the officer never afforded Sanchez any humanity at all. Neither of those assumptions seems to be grounded. You’re further saying that I’m bending over backwards, when I believe I’m simply refusing to jump to unwarranted conclusions. And I have no idea what you’re doing when you refer to “the possible threat that Sanchez might have posed if he had been somebody else”, because the statement doesn’t make sense to me.Report

              • Avatar Sam Wilkinson says:

                @pinky I’m not assuming it was a murder; it was a murder. I’m also not assuming that the officer afforded Sanchez any humanity; the officer didn’t afford Sanchez any humanity. Meanwhile, if you’re so deeply troubled by assumptions, why are you more troubled by my assumptions (which are, ultimately, harmless) than by this officer’s (which lead, quite literally, to the death of an entirely innocent man)? As for the part that you are confused about: if Sanchez had been somebody else (which is what the defense of the police actions here is based upon) then, yes, he might have been a threat, but he wasn’t somebody else, so what does it matter what sort of fantastical assumptions we can make about the man in an attempt to justify what the police officer did?Report

              • Avatar Pinky says:

                Murder has a specific meaning. There is no evidence that this was a murder, at least not yet. There is no evidence that the officer did not afford Sanchez any humanity, at least not yet. You’re still not making a clear point about Sanchez being someone else.Report

              • Avatar Pinky says:

                I don’t believe that your assumptions are harmless; I think they’re very dangerous, which is why I’m being strong in opposing them. My assumption is that a person should be held innocent until proven guilty.Report

              • @pinky Nobody has ever believed in anything less than you believe in that, given what you’re currently defending.Report

              • Avatar Pinky says:

                Don’t tell me what I think. I’m trying to walk a very careful line here out of respect for Maribou, and I’d appreciate it if you’d do the same.Report

              • @pinky You’re defending the execution of an innocent man. You’re then asking us to believe that innocence until proven guilt is very important to you. You have to pick because it absolutely cannot be both.Report

              • Avatar Maribou says:

                @sam-wilkinson Look, I don’t agree with @pinky that we have to sit around and wait until trial to pass judgment on this – at all! – but I also don’t agree that Pinky’s beliefs aren’t internally consistent.

                Manslaughter is a thing. Honest accidents are a thing. I can come up with plenty of scenarios in which this could have been either. People die because someone fucked up without any intention to kill them all the freaking time.

                I won’t bother coming up with those scenarios, because I don’t believe them. I have trouble envisioning anyone believing them.

                But if you don’t believe that people could honestly disagree with you, why are we leaving comments open on your posts? (This is an honest question, not a leading one – we could close them if that would be easier… though I would rather not because people do say interesting stuff.)

                And if you don’t believe that Pinky could honestly disagree with you at this point in time, hold the beliefs he holds, etc. (which would be a fair thing given how the conversation started, although I really do believe he’s trying here) – why bother to engage with him at all?Report

              • @maribou Here is what @pinky wrote:

                My assumption is that a person should be held innocent until proven guilty.

                If that is what Pinky genuine believes, trying to figure out ways to explain away Sanchez’s death certainly goes to great lengths to undermine that belief. Or, to put that another way, why is “innocent until proven guilty” more important in the case of Chris Barnes than it was in the case of Magdiel Sanchez?

                As for the idea that this was manslaughter or an honest accident, but in reverse order. Barnes shot Sanchez more than once, so there is no way that his finger accidentally slipped onto the trigger repeatedly. As for manslaughter, Oklahoma law describes it as killing without malice. We know from elsewhere in this thread that officers are taught specifically to shoot to kill, not to maim, because maiming is a much more difficult shot. Barnes intended to cause death or serious bodily harm, which is the standard for malice, because that is what he was trained to do. This was murder. The presence of a badge doesn’t change that, or at least, it shouldn’t change that, given that Sanchez hadn’t done anything – literally, anything – to deserve being killed.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                Sanchez more than once, so there is no way that his finger accidentally slipped onto the trigger repeatedly.

                I would be cautious reading intent into the number of times a trigger is pulled absent other context. Unless Barnes was shooting a double action revolver, it is very easy to rapidly fire multiple rounds from a firearm even when you don’t intend to. I’ve done it on the range when taking careful shots, sending two rounds down range when I only wanted to send one. Under stress, a person could very easily send 4 or 5 rounds down range before their brain has finished processing that they pulled the trigger once.

                Again, speaks to inadequate training.

                Manslaughter is an easy place to reach, murder… even I won’t go that far absent something else (like saying out loud, “I’m gonna kill this guy”, or taking a few shots, waiting a few beats, then taking one or two more, for good measure)Report

              • @oscar-gordon If it was anybody other than a police officer, would we debate the murder charge? Would we assume accident rather than intent? Would we assume innocence instead of hostility? Would anybody else be given so much rope?Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:


                Would they? No.

                Should they? Yes.

                As I said above, we grant police an appalling double standard. I’m not convinced, however, that the right answer is to collapse the standard down, rather than raising it up. However, given our national attitudes, collapsing it down is probably more achievable.Report

              • Avatar pillsy says:

                I am always hesitant to appeal to the Golden Mean, but it really does seem the right balance is somewhere between the standards applied to police and the standards applied to regular shmoes.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:


                Truth, but if I’m forced to chooses between the endpoints, I’d rather aim high.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                Try the standards applied to 18 year old soldiers in war zones.

                Can we at least aspire to raise cops standards to those?Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                Can we subject them to the UCMJ and NJP as well? I mean, if they are going to play soldier…Report

              • Avatar dragonfrog says:


                I’m walking down a street in your neighbourhood, looking for a car that hit mine and then drove away (what I understand the cops to have been doing – looking for a vehicle involved in a hit and run).

                Your neighbour happens to step out on his porch as I pass, holding a stick or a pipe wrench or something. There’s no smashed-up car anywhere in sight, nothing that would connect this man with my current mission. Just a dude stepping out on his own porch.

                Instead of just walking by, I draw a gun, aim it at him, and shout at him to drop the thing he has in his hand. He makes no move – not to drop the thing, not to charge me. He just stands there on his porch, stunned and frightened that some random madman has pulled a gun on him.

                You shout repeatedly to me that your neighbour can’t hear what I’m telling him, because he’s deaf.

                I shoot your neighbour to death.

                Is there any possible way that isn’t murder?Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:


                Is that seriously in reply to me, or is this mis-threaded?Report

              • Avatar dragonfrog says:

                It appears to be correctly threaded.

                I’m referring to this sequence:

                @sam-wilkinson :

                If it was anybody other than a police officer, would we debate the murder charge? Would we assume accident rather than intent? Would we assume innocence instead of hostility? Would anybody else be given so much rope?

                @oscar-gordon :

                Would they? No.

                Should they? Yes.

                As I said above, we grant police an appalling double standard. I’m not convinced, however, that the right answer is to collapse the standard down, rather than raising it up. However, given our national attitudes, collapsing it down is probably more achievable.

                Maybe I’m misreading you there, but I understood you to be saying that, in the situation I describe – i.e. a civilian doing exactly what the cops did in the closest possible analogous situation – there should be serious question as to whether the situation merits murder charges.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:


                Allow me to direct you to this comment.

                As to the rest of you previous comment, the police get some latitude here. They are conducting an investigation, they do have a right to traverse a public approach (walking up to a front door), and a person walking toward them, carrying a weapon, and not responding to commands is certainly something that should put them on their guard.

                That does not, necessarily, make the killing justified, only that up to the point weapons were drawn, the police were not outside of reason. What happened after that, however…Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                I’m gonna just jump in midstream here…

                I’m not convinced, however, that the right answer is to collapse the standard down, rather than raising it up.

                That would be an improvement, but why not reverse the standard by holding cops to a higher threshold of justification than the average citizen?Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                Well hell, if we are just tossing reality out the window, why not!


              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                A consensus of two! All we have to do now is build on our momentum.Report

              • Avatar PD Shaw says:

                I’ll step in here and try to destroy the consensus because it is the spirit of the times. The basic reason that police are not being convicted is the high burden of proof (beyond a reasonable doubt) of a crime that is premised on the cop’s state of mind (reasonable belief). There must be no doubt or room for the possibility of self-defense. The State is essentially required to prove a negative.

                Judges are being selected in these cases because lawyers know judges will understand the legal aspects just described, jurors don’t. The reality is that the underlying rules are derived from the Constitution, so one can amend it, or one can look to do things outside the criminal system. What mostly is happening is the Jacksonian response — the system is corrupted by institutional actors, who need to be delegitimized, removed and replaced with descent people.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:


                That was something I noticed in the Stockley decision. The judge seems to have assessed each piece of evidence on it’s own, rather than as part of the greater context. Which I suppose is valid, but it is not how juries do it (probably because prosecutors intentionally weave the evidence into a story, and if the story is good, the story sticks in their heads). A judge would have the experience to ignore the story and focus on the pieces.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter says:

                Now wait a moment. With Stockley “state of mind” didn’t enter into it. The key was the gun.

                If the cop planted the gun then he was covering up murder. If the gun was the dealer’s then the dealer was still violently resisting arrest.

                The gun was large, the encounter was on video, the cop doesn’t have a good place to hide a gun from the video, and there are no witnesses who saw him plant it even though there should have been….and we also need to assume the heroin dealer (with a criminal record of firearm possession) was unarmed.

                We’re looking at the Prosecution bringing charges they can’t prove because of public outcry. It ended up in front of a judge because the narrative is so compelling… even if it didn’t happen.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                1) The guy was only violently resisting arrest if he had the gun in his hand or was reaching for it. I’m not sure the video is clear on that, so it’s the cops word, which was colored by his previous statement.

                2) The gun in question is a snub nose .38, aka a Saturday Night Special. It is the antithesis of a large gun, especially since it was once reviled by police precisely because it was so readily concealable.

                And again, if it was the victim on trial, rather than the officer, this degree of critical analysis of the circumstantial evidence would not exist. That is a circle that police defenders need to square one way or another.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter says:

                …I’m not sure the video is clear on that…

                Dash cam, so I’m sure it’s not clear. Also if we had pictures of the dealer with a gun in hand I doubt they’d have tried the cop.

                …colored by his previous statement…

                Depends on whether it was a statement of his own intent or a belief the dealer wasn’t going to surrender.

                … snub nose .38, aka a Saturday Night Special. It is the antithesis of a large gun…

                Interesting. This is the first I’ve heard the type of gun, other sources just called it large. Which means they had more of a case than I’d thought.

                …if it was the victim on trial, rather than the officer, this degree of critical analysis of the circumstantial evidence would not exist…

                Assume he’s guilty. Everything lines up. The statement becomes one of his own intent, the video is inconclusive, he had access to plant the gun. Forensics was also inconclusive.

                Now assume he’s innocent. Everything still lines up. It’s hardly out of character for a dealer to be armed, or violently resist arrest, this specific one had a history of both. The video doesn’t show an extra gun because because there was none.

                In terms of mental reaches to ignore holes, we don’t have to do anything in either case. That makes it a poor choice for a poster child of police abuse or even corruption of the system.

                If the actual reality is the dealer stayed true to form, then the justice system worked. And yes, if the actual reality is the cop killed him because he was pissed and then covered for himself, the system badly misfired… but it’s a logical fallacy to assume what we’re supposed to prove.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:


                Remember when we were talking about Jim Crow lite? This is one way it manifests, by the system (in this case, the criminal justice system) giving every scrap of reasonable doubt to one set of people, and being very stingy with the same against another.

                In this case, the judges decision demonstrates it quite clearly, by making every favorable assumption about the officer, and every unfavorable one about the dead guy. He even goes so far as to mis-characterize a key piece of evidence in a way that is easily demonstrated.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter says:

                …He even goes so far as to mis-characterize a key piece of evidence…

                ? Your link went over what the judge said, not what he said wrong.

                Remember when we were talking about Jim Crow lite? This is one way it manifests, by the system (in this case, the criminal justice system) giving every scrap of reasonable doubt to one set of people, and being very stingy with the same against another.

                Agreed… although imho it’s a graduated system. Police benefit both from being insiders, and also from having lawyers who are also insiders.

                It might not be police reform we need so much as legal reform. An expensive lawyer is a silly huge advantage, it’s lack is a silly huge disadvantage. OJ was the ultimate showcase for this.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                Your link went over what the judge said, not what he said wrong.

                We just talked about this?! The judge claimed it was a large revolver. The image at the link shows that it clearly a small revolver. The judge is a former prosecutor and has been part of the CJ system for decades, he should certainly have an accurate context for what constitutes a large revolver.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter says:

                The evidence did not support prosecutors’ claim that Stockley planted the .38-caliber Taurus revolver in Smith’s car. “The gun was a full-size revolver and not a small gun, such as a derringer, that can fit in the palm of one’s hand or in the side pocket of a pair of pants without being obvious.” The gun was too large to fit entirely in any of the pants he was wearing and would have been visible if tucked into Stockley’s belt. No officers standing by testified to seeing Stockley plant a gun in the Buick.

                Hmm… looking at the picture of the gun (thank you)… I’m big and I wouldn’t want to try to palm that in front of a camera. Pants pocket…

                The picture has the serial number, from that I got the model and manufacturer specs here: http://www.taurususa.com/product-details.cfm?id=295&category=Revolver

                Heidth is 4.28 inches,
                Width: 1.346
                Length looks to be 6 inches…

                I’ve got two calculators here very roughly that size and they fit in my front pocket but I think they’d be obvious, especially if they weren’t square. I’m not saying it can’t be done, I’ve no clue what he was wearing, but he’s going to be smaller than me and the gun is larger than my (extremely unscientific) test case.Report

              • Avatar Maribou says:

                @dark-matter So I made something of a hobby of seeing what I could get past people as a younger person, and I was never once “caught”. (Air quotes because I never actually stole anything, I always put it back, that was part of the game, take it out and then put it back, without being noticed.) I’m 5’7″ and I have relatively small hands (but a wide reach). I guarantee you that back in my more dextrous days, given the cover provided by the giant police radio shown holstered in another picture and by often carrying an AK-47 style pistol (a larger gun, also pictured at that link) and being known among my peers to do so, it would have been *child’s play* for me to plant that 6″ revolver, carry it concealed on my person in order to plant it, etc. Especially if the camera was as low res and avoidable as a dash cam. It’s actually pretty amazing how easy it is to conceal things from people, and that’s assuming the cop witnesses weren’t covering anything up.

                I realize this is not especially convincing evidence compared to your own estimate – why believe my perspective over yours – but just take it as a datapoint that even someone short, given some experience with concealment, can look at that weapon and see something they could very easily smuggle anywhere there wasn’t a metal detector.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter says:

                Interesting. It’s a Rorschach Test. No mental backflips for either case. Explains how it got that far, and why the cop went with the judge, and why the judge found the verdict so hard.

                I can not believe this dealer didn’t carry a gun, but I can believe that he tossed it during the chase.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                Except he did do a couple mental backflips. The judge claimed a small gun known by police for it’s ease of conceal was a large handgun that was hard to conceal.

                He also discounted the DNA evidence, which was found under a screw in the handle of the gun. Stockley’s hands (nor any other part of him) were not injured during the incident, so that is a hell of a backflip.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter says:

                The judge claimed a small gun known by police for it’s ease of conceal was a large handgun that was hard to conceal.

                My read on that was it was relative, “too large” is large enough.

                He also discounted the DNA evidence, which was found under a screw in the handle of the gun. Stockley’s hands (nor any other part of him) were not injured during the incident, so that is a hell of a backflip.

                Now that is a TPK claim. If you can source that then it’s OJ’s-blood-at-the-scene.Report

              • Avatar Maribou says:

                Did you want a source that the DNA evidence was under the screw? It’s in the verdict, as seen here: http://fox2now.com/2017/09/15/read-the-judges-entire-ruling-in-the-stockley-murder-case/

                The judge’s lack of interest in the DNA being under the screw is also seen there…

                I also found this statement by the Ethical Society of Police, here:
                which details their concerns with the case.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter says:

                Oh thank you.

                RE: Ethical Society of Police
                I think you meant: http://fox2now.com/2017/09/12/ethical-society-of-police-calls-for-a-stockley-murder-conviction/

                Very much on a side note, Page 12 (Judge): “…in 2011 it was rare to find DNA on a gun…”. So not finding DNA is “CSI isn’t real” but let’s move on.

                From PSoP:

                …The only DNA on the handgun belonged to Officer Jason Stockley. Stockley’s DNA was located underneath a screw…

                And there’s a ton of other details in there regarding behavioral anomalies I also find convincing (and a few I don’t but whatever).

                So my conclusion has to be it was Stockley’s gun, and he planted that gun, and from his and the others’ behavior, he understood that the dealer wasn’t armed when he pulled the trigger.

                So ouch.

                As long as I’m switching sides, let me make another observation, as a class Judges aren’t stupid. One assumes the Judge can make all these observations himself, and understood what he was looking at.Report

              • Avatar Maribou says:

                @dark-matter Yes, that was the link – sorry for the mispaste, I’m glad you figured it out.

                FWIW, my understanding was “you never really find DNA on things (at least back then) so finding Stockley’s was REALLY telling, under the screw even more telling, and the judge was actively avoiding how telling it was.” rather than the lack of DNA being such a big deal.

                In any case, research ftw.

                Beyond this particular case, I think part of why some of us are so quick to jump to a conclusion in so many of these cases is that we get sick of all the cases where it is true, and tired of investigating, and tired of arguing, and we just want it to *stop*, you know? Like, I still think 1 is too many when it comes to cops unjustly shooting people and/or covering it up.

                I’d be happy to end the WoD not only b/c of the WoD, but also just because I think it would help a lot in de-overpowering the cops…Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:


                Thank you.

                As to why the judge did some backflips:

                1) Former prosecutor, so he’ll be inclined to give the police the benefit of the doubt no matter what.

                2) He’s almost 70 and due to retire (mandatory in MO) soon, so I’m inclined to believe that he refused to allow one of his last acts as a judge to be the conviction of a cop for killing a street level dealer. This is an explanation, not an excuse, and if I’m right, it shows how deeply the problems with police accountability run.Report

              • @dark-matter The only DNA on the gun belonged to the officer. The only DNA on the gun belonged to the officer. The only DNA gun on the gun belonged to the officer. How can you possibly need anything further?Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter says:

                The only DNA gun on the gun belonged to the officer.

                How important is this? Both the judge and cop (if you assume he fixed up the crime scene) clearly thought a lack of DNA was fine.

                I have no clue how reasonable no-DNA is in the context of a metal gun last handled by someone else and real-world resource constraints for DNA gathering (as opposed to CSI).

                Is this lack an OJ’s-blood-at-the-crime-scene clue or is it CSI-isn’t-RL?


              • @oscar-gordon Except that Sanchez wasn’t carrying a weapon. That it keeps being referred to as a weapon is part of the justification for police officers, who insist that everything is weapon, and even if it isn’t a weapon, their belief that it might have been a weapon should be more important than the reality of the situation.

                (And, here again, we have police officers being held to a much lower behavioral standard than the people they’re threatening.)Report

              • Avatar Pinky says:

                A two-foot metal pipe that Sanchez used as a weapon against wild dogs is a weapon.Report

              • @pinky A two-foot metal pipe that Sanchez carried with him everywhere, and which he used to communicate with people, is not a weapon.

                Or perhaps there is another way to do this. Do you carry your keys with you?Report

              • @pinky Good to know. Keys can be a weapon. As such, if police encounter you, and you’re within 15 feet of them, the threat is real, and who could possibly blame them for shooting you multiple times because of the threat you posed?Report

              • Avatar Pinky says:

                Keys are great for opening doors and entertaining toddlers. They can be used as a weapon. Many solid things can be used as weapons. Certainly, a two-foot length of pipe can be used as a weapon. This particular pipe was used as a weapon against dogs. Yet you have said it’s not a weapon. Would you rethink that, and grant that a metal pipe is more likely to be a weapon than a set of keys?Report

              • @pinky So when you’re involved in the story, there are plenty of reasons not to shoot you, and plenty of reasons why your keys weren’t a weapon. Maybe Sanchez should have changed his name to Pinky.Report

              • Avatar Pinky says:

                Actually, you’re the one who framed this as Pinky with keys compared to Sanchez with a two-foot metal pipe, not me. I’ll say that anyone with a two-foot metal pipe is more likely to be seen as a threat than that same person with keys. Would you agree?Report

              • Avatar Pinky says:

                And note again that I’m not interested in assigning blame. You’re the one who has framed the story in that way.

                ETA: To clarify, I hope that the legal system assigns blame properly once all evidence is in. The internet shouldn’t be the place for assigning blame.Report

              • Avatar Joe Sal says:

                This is the thing I can’t figure out. It sounds like you are just questioning Sams priors and are taking a lot of heat for that.

                Let me ask you this, if the 2nd allows a person to bear arms, and a two foot pipe is a weapon, then can a person legally have a two foot pipe near police?

                Did he really have to drop it?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Why didn’t he put the pipe down? I can’t find any pictures of the pipe, but it was apparently two feet long, and it was enough of a weapon to use against dogs. Two officers approached him with a gun and a taser drawn. Put down the pipe.

                The above is, I believe, your first comment on this thread. Does that comment not ascribe blame to the person who was shot because he didn’t drop the stick?Report

              • Avatar Pinky says:

                Not in any legal sense. It was more of a common-sense observation. And this was before Maribou pointed out that Sanchez suffered from a developmental disability, which provided a possible explanation.Report

              • @pinky You’re right about not being interested in assigning blame. You’re interested in excusing murder.Report

              • Avatar Maribou says:


                I realize this comment was left this morning and you may hae moved on mentally, but given that you responded to a comment made yesterday evening, today, I will say something here anyway. For next time.

                @pinky has not demonstrated that he’s interested in excusing murder. He’s demonstrated a number of other things, some IMO not great, but some pretty decent, including a willingness to take a deep breath and argue on fairer terms than he started the conversation.

                Either engage with commenters in good faith (or at least the show of good faith that civility requires) or don’t engage with them.


              • @maribou I can only engage with what is being written. He has repeatedly insisted that until all the facts are in – what facts, exactly, excuse killing a deaf man for not listening? – no judgment can be passed. Has he, at any point in any of this, suggested that Sanchez was owed the same dispensation of fact gathering? The same innocence until proven guilty? The same decency? If I’ve missed it, I apologize, but he certainly seems to be much more concerned with making sure a living man is treated fairly than he is with that living man’s victim. And I think we both know that everything @pinky is advocating for is done knowing that the justice system routinely excuses murderous police.Report

              • Avatar Maribou says:


                All of what you just said is fine. Accusing someone of excusing murder is another step past all of what you just said.

                I struggle to believe you can’t see the difference between those things, and why I would say that one is fine and the other, if it’s what you have to say, should be left unsaid in favor of ignoring the person you think deserves to have it said to them.

                I have exactly zero problems with calling the cop in question a murderer. I *agree* that he is 99 percent likely to be a murderer (more percent than that actually) and that it’s not my job to sit back and wait for some theoretical unbiased justice system to weigh some theoretical evidence before I form and express an opinion about it. I don’t believe in hell, but if I did, the guy who shot Sanchez would surely deserve a spot there.

                But there are reasonable reasons to *disagree with you*, man. And if you see someone’s disagreement as so offensive that they’re excusing murder (which, again, is NOT what he’s doing IMO), either don’t talk to them or find ways to engage with them (like this comment right here that I’m responding to) that doesn’t just flatly accuse of them of excusing murder.

                Because there is literally no way to have anything even vaguely resembling a civil conversation on those terms.

                And I need you to be willing to have civil conversations or no conversations with people in the comment sections of your post.
                On a personal note, you’re really frustrating me on this particular point partly because I have literally known someone very very well (my abuser) who literally excused literal attempted murder that they literally committed, leaving someone on death’s door for months. Actually I’ve known two people like that, although one much less well than the other.

                Both of those people had a wide, deep vein of evil running through them, and they were exceptionally, seriously, dangerous. @pinky isn’t presenting as that kind of person at all. He doesn’t even come close.

                So for you to harp on this “excusing murder” thing is pretty personally irksome. @pinky is, for example, participating in the systematic injustice that leads to these murders being regularly excused. (Sorry @pinky, but you are.) But that is *NOT* the same thing.

                And for those of us who have *personally* been subject to a lot of violence, and surrounded by people who excuse it or look the other way, it gets pretty frustrating to see people have a freaking (relative) hair trigger about being willing to accuse other people of the same thing.

                Now I realize some of those accusing people have their own tragic pasts, and I apologize if you are one of them, I get we all have our own rules and limits for surviving in the world after going through stuff like that.

                But this is the comment section, not the Sam-accuses-people-of-being-terrible section, and I really really want you to distinguish more clearly between those two things.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                I once had a…let’s call him “Ardent defender of police” who insisted that anything could be a weapon. Including not having a weapon.

                And when pointed out that that means being within that 21 foot distance of police meant they had carte blanche to shoot anyone, he agreed. Because, of course, he felt that no police officer would ever feel threatened by him.

                He was, to use his phrase, “not threatening looking” and “well behaved”. You know. White.Report

              • Avatar gregiank says:

                I have it on good authority that even the hands of a skinny slapstick comedian can be deadly weapons. I mean…come on…..the stick is right there in the name.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:


                Yes, he was carrying a weapon. A 2 foot piece of pipe with a wrist lanyard is a weapon. It’s a homemade truncheon or Billy Club. It may have also served other, peaceful purposes for Mr. Sanchez, but that context was not something the police could possibly have had when they first saw him.

                What the officers had was a man, with a weapon in his hand, approaching them, and not responding to commands. These facts alone, all by themselves, are sufficient for the officers to draw weapons. This does not necessarily justify their later actions, it only says that this combination of factors is sufficient to justify the drawing of arms.Report

              • Avatar dragonfrog says:

                I mostly agree with you in the comment you link to there. I think that linked comment is largely orthogonal to your comment to which I originally replied, and where it’s not orthogonal it’s directly contrary.

                Maybe not to what you were trying to get across in that comment, but certainly to my attempt at a plain English reading of the words.

                Sam: Would a civilian get the kind of latitude the cops did with respect to killing someone instead of backing down?

                Oscar: Probably not, but they should. (1)

                Dragonfrog: Whut?

                Oscar: Cops get significantly more latitude than civilians and this is largely defensible. Let me refer you to this comment where I say cops often get too much latitude.

                Which makes it seem like your “Would they? No. Should they? Yes.” didn’t mean what I thought it meant?Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                Probably because there are two competing stories at play. We have the story in the OP, and the story of Officer Stockley.

                To try and collapse my points here…

                Police are given a wider latitude with regard to the use of force because we expect them to be able to initiate force to gain compliance. So the fact that police use force is not really a point of contention, it’s how they use force and under what justifications that matter. This is our first double standard (police can use force in ways citizens can not), but it is one that is largely accepted under the idea that the state has a monopoly on the use of force. This is the focus of Officer Barnes & Mr. Sanchez.

                If an officer is deemed to have exceeded the limits of justifiable use of force such that an indictment is sought, a second, unofficial and much less acceptable double standard comes into play, that of judges and juries being willing to grant officers considerable skeptical analysis of the evidence and the benefit of the doubt far in excess of what they would grant any common defendant. This is the focus of Officer Stockley, and what I was essentially replying to in the comment you took exception with – that if we are to collapse the double standard of how evidence is treated at trial by judges and juries, I’d rather it collapse up, rather than down, because I think a lot of innocent people, or people who may be guilty, but who haven’t caused any real harm to anyone, suffer because of such a low standard.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter says:

                Yeah, but in terms of holding the police responsible, it’s better if they find him guilty of manslaughter than nothing. Actually that sounds like a fine compromise.Report

              • Avatar Maribou says:

                @sam Good comment, thank you for restating.Report

              • Avatar Pinky says:

                I haven’t accused Sanchez of a crime. You have explicitly accused the officer of a crime. You have implicitly (at least) accused the officer and the judge in St. Louis of crimes.

                I am not defending an execution. That word has a specific legal meaning. There was no execution.

                More than anything, I’m attempting to stand up against the internet instinct to take sides before all the facts are in. That’s dangerous. That’s what I mean when I say that I don’t believe that your assumptions are harmless.Report

              • @pinky Of course you haven’t accused Sanchez of a crime. He didn’t commit one. Nobody anywhere suggests otherwise. Barnes, on the other hand, murdered Sanchez. He aimed his gun at Sanchez’s chest, and shot him multiple times, intending to kill him.

                Again, if you’re so troubled by “the internet instinct to take sides before all the facts are in” why are you absolutely unconcerned by an officer killing a man without all the facts being in. And, again, if you’re so worried about assumptions that might cause harm, why are you so unconcerned about bullets that did cause harm? Why is this officer owed so more than Sanchez?Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter says:

                Why is this officer owed so more than Sanchez?

                1st, because I control my own actions. Person X abusing person Y is no reason for me to abuse anyone. Police misconduct is a problem. The internet rushing to judgement is also a problem. Me enabling the second problem does nothing to deal with the first.

                2nd, because the officer was there and involved, we are not. He had to deal with the situation, we do not. We’re armchair quarterbacking for a game none of us saw, and perhaps none of us have spoken to anyone who did see.

                What we know makes it something between a screw up and murder, neither of those would be acceptable. However our information is… 3rd hand? At best? How good is your armchair QB-ing when you’re talking to the wife of the guy who saw the game?

                At this point the media traditionally is reporting rumors as facts, 5th hand information by people who weren’t there and have an ax to grind as though it was eye witness information.

                There are still people who believe that Mike Brown was shot in the back after surrendering, rather than he attacked a cop and forced said cop to shoot him. The second is a reasonable belief backed by evidence (and what the cop actually had to deal with), the first is what the media reported in the first couple of days.

                The situation might be better than initially reported, it might be worse, it will certainly be different.Report

              • @dark-matter It’s remarkable that you’re imagining, out of whole cloth, an explanation for executing a deaf man for not listening.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter says:

                @dark-matter It’s remarkable that you’re imagining, out of whole cloth, an explanation for executing a deaf man for not listening.

                When I first heard how Mike Brown was shot in the back while surrendering, I thought there was no possible explanation for that.

                I was wrong. The explanation was it was a lie, or group think, or rumor. The press bought into it because they wanted to believe it and/or they simply print the most outrageous thing possible. Far as I can tell, they still do that sort of thing.

                I’m not following this story very closely at the moment, I’ll wait a month or whatever and read about it on wiki. At the moment the walking stick has morphed into a 2 foot leather wrapped metal club and the deaf guy has grown a mental disorder(?) or something.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:


                If we are being technical, Barnes did commit homicide. He did commit manslaughter or murder.

                That is not what is up for debate. What is under consideration is whether or not that homicide was justifiable given the circumstances. This is the sticking point. Because police are routinely permitted greater latitude in claiming justification for violence. Part of that latitude is defensible – the police can’t do their job if the public refuses to comply with lawful orders, and they are permitted to use violence to force compliance.

                But there is a line where that increased latitude goes too far, and IMHO, police like to take great, striding leaps over that line in defense of themselves.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                I’m attempting to stand up against the internet instinct to take sides before all the facts are in.

                What would be a mitigating or exonerating fact? I’m reminded of arguments about whether the cop who choked Eric Garner should be charged with murder. Lotsa folks invoked patience before making a judgment, waiting for all the facts to come in. But what more information did we need to know than that the cop choked him to death for selling loosies?

                With that said, let’s go hypothetical then. Suppose, totally contrary to fact, that an officer of the law shot a citizen under the circumstances Sam describes. Not some other circumstances, but the ones Sam lays out. Would that suffice for a murder charge being brought against the officer? Should that suffice for a conviction of that officer?Report

              • Avatar Pinky says:

                I’m not a lawyer. If I were on a jury, I’d want to know a lot more facts about exactly what happened when. Wouldn’t you?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Actually, you answered the question. If you were on a jury and the only evidence presented by either side was the description of events Sam describes, you would vote “not guilty”.

                Is that correct?

                So this discussion isn’t so much that you object to Sam’s presentation of the “facts” but more that you reject the conclusions he draws from them, yes? Is that fair to say?Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                Curious if this standard gets applied uniformly…Report

              • Avatar Pinky says:

                Er, I can safely say that if I were on a jury and the prosecution were trying an officer for murder and the whole case was Sam’s thousandish-word article, I would vote “not guilty”. I’d rather not address your second question.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                For what reason? Self defense?

                You need an affirmative defense given the facts provided.Report

              • Avatar Pinky says:

                Maybe I was accidentally coy in my last comment. I only answered Stillwater’s exact question, that if the entire case was what Sam has said, I wouldn’t vote guilty. Any comment beyond that would be hnnNNAAAAAA not a shock collar! I never said Maribou put a shock collar on me! I’m only saying that I’m trying to be very restrained here! I wouldn’t find the text of this article, without considerable supporting evidence and a legal description of the charges, to be sufficient for a conviction.Report

              • Avatar Maribou says:

                “hnnNNAAAAAA not a shock collar! I never said Maribou put a shock collar on me! I’m only saying that I’m trying to be very restrained here! “

                @pinky FWIW I appreciate your restraint, and I thought that was funny.

                @stillwater Pinky really wasn’t all that able to answer your second question honestly given that I’ve told him in strict terms to stop objecting about the presentation of the facts, given the way he was doing it.Report

              • Avatar Pinky says:

                Glad to hear it; I was worried that my joke might not go over well.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                For what reason? Self defense?

                I guarantee you dollars to chocolate glazed donuts that the cop’s defense will include this exact phrase: “when I saw him swing that truncheon at me I legitimately feared for my life.”Report

              • Avatar Pinky says:

                You guys are so well-versed on this case that you already know what the defense is going to say! That’s something, all right.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                You forget, Pinky, that it’s not a case. I asked you to make a judgment on a thought experiment derived from Sam’s wildly inventive imagination.

                Here’s another one: suppose, if you will, that a black guy is selling loosies on a busy street in a big city and gets choked to death by a police officer…

                “Did he resist? I bet he resisted.”
                “Let’s stipulate that the cops said he resisted, yes…”Report

              • Avatar Pinky says:

                I was replying to your 5:40pm comment which referred to a cop’s defense. Was that not in reference to a case?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Yes, it was. I lost track of the threading. Sorry bout that.Report

              • Avatar Pinky says:

                The indentation on this site drives me nuts (although this thread would be hard to keep track of in any system).Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter says:

                “when I saw him swing that truncheon at me I legitimately feared for my life.”

                “Then we both reached for the gun” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SBM82Ju2kJUReport

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                I would vote “not guilty”.

                Yes, I agree that you would. But the point of the exercise is to demonstrate that your vote of “not guilty” doesn’t depend on more facts coming in. That you’re not reserving judgment till more evidence is presented. You just don’t believe those cops committed a criminal offense when they shot the deaf guy for not putting down his stick. And nothing Sam, or anyone else for that matter, might say – be it evidence or other argument – could change your view of that.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter says:

                Suppose, totally contrary to fact, that an officer of the law shot a citizen under the circumstances Sam describes. Not some other circumstances, but the ones Sam lays out.

                If we’re going to go with Sam’s narrative as a full description of reality; Then yes, convict him. Similarly, also convict the one who planted the gun. You can add to that list Brown’s killer if we have him shoot Mike in the back while surrendering.

                But what more information did we need to know than that the cop choked him to death for selling loosies?

                Garner’s heart attack, heart disease, asthma, and obesity all seem really important, as does the lack of damage to his windpipe and neckbones. I didn’t even know a really obese person could die because of “prone positioning”.

                His 30+ arrests might have relevance, some of them were violent. Ditto his history of resisting arrest. At the time of the incident, he was out on bail for selling untaxed cigarettes, driving without a license, marijuana possession, and false impersonation, so being arrested this time was a pretty big deal. (wiki)

                Garner was a ticking time bomb. A 350 lb violence prone criminal with multiple health conditions who was going to die if even slightly mishandled, a history of resisting arrest, and strong motivation to do so. The squad of officers were there because he hadn’t come quietly.

                That’s the rest of the overall situation, and it’s why we have to listen to both narratives.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Garner was a ticking time bomb.

                Good thing the cop put him down with an illegal choke hold!Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter says:

                Good thing the cop put him down with an illegal choke hold!

                It’s challenging to come up with a way that the cops don’t kill Garner given the situation. Anything they do which makes him lay down on the ground will cause a heart attack and he’s not going to come quietly.

                The amount of violence needed to bring him in was greater than the amount of violence needed to kill him.

                It’s fair to insist the cops don’t use a choke hold, but changing that to a taser, or physically wrestling him to the ground, or just beating him to the ground doesn’t change the outcome.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                It’s challenging to come up with a way that the cops don’t kill Garner given the situation.

                I hear ya about his health problems and rap sheet. I guess my complaint really reduces to this: they killed a guy for selling loosies. And the implied reasoning is that Garner’s life was worth less than enforcing a law against selling black market cigarettes. That strikes me as a reductio ad absurdum on our criminal justice system, to be honest. So I suppose I’m not arguing this point to get you to agree with me as much as arguing that the whole scenario is so absurd that defending the cops actions given the outcome is, well, also absurd.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter says:

                Yes… I agree with a lot of this, I just blame society’s judgement call rather than the police.

                Arguing against the choke hold is, imho, basically arguing they should have killed him some other way as opposed to arguing they shouldn’t have killed him. The ME saying there was no damage to the windpipe or neckbones is close to saying the cop did the choke hold correctly and it was everything afterwards that was the problem.

                We have too many laws, that gives the police (and rest of the system) too much power. The laws against selling loosies were presumably created to reduce economic competition.

                …defending the cops actions given the outcome is, well, also absurd…

                IMHO you can only judge people by what they knew at the time, and what they knew at the time was “350 lb belligerent career criminal refuses to be arrested”.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                “Anything they do which makes him lay down on the ground will cause a heart attack and he’s not going to come quietly.”

                I reckon there might have been things he’d have come quietly for.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter says:

                I reckon there might have been things he’d have come quietly for.

                Given that he’s looking at real jail time if he does?

                I’m all ears.Report

              • @dark-matter There’s no challenge here. They could have not arrested him. And if they had to arrest him, they could have been kind about it. But they weren’t and he died because of decisions they made.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter says:

                They could have not arrested him.

                Society becomes very different if we don’t arrest people because they don’t want to be arrested and/or they threaten violence.

                And if they had to arrest him, they could have been kind about it.

                Any solution which relies on Garner cooperating and/or not physically resisting is nonsensical. The issue isn’t a lack of “kindness” nor a lack of understanding on anyone’s part. Garner understands exactly what’s going on and what risks he’s running. He’s an experienced professional with 30+ arrests. He’s also the only one who knows about his medical conditions.

                He knows if he goes in with them, between his medical conditions and his legal situation, he’ll spend the rest of his life in prison. Some kind words aren’t going to convince him this is a good idea. However if he can escalate things so the cops have to back down because they don’t have the resources to take him in, then he avoids that fate. Ditto if he just delays everything until they have a real emergency and have to leave. So he’s escalated the situation to where there are eight plus officers there.

                The police can only control their own actions, controlling Garner’s actions will require force which will kill him, but they don’t know that. From their point of view Garner is a belligerent 350 pound career criminal throwing his weight around, not a very sick guy who will die if they lay him down on the ground in the wrong position.Report

        • Avatar dragonfrog says:

          OK, early news reports said it was a cane.Report

  5. Avatar Pinky says:

    “…and who then planted a gun on the suspect to justify claiming that the suspect had been reaching for a weapon” – says you. The judge concluded that he didn’t do that. The least you could do is provide some explanation of both sides of the case. Your failure to do so calls into question your whole presentation.Report

    • @pinky The dead man’s DNA was not found on the gun. The officer’s was, and in fact, his was the only DNA found on the gun. After he had gone into his own trunk, and then gone into the suspect’s vehicle. Absolutely nobody would question what had happened if the officer who had planted the gun had been literally anybody else.Report

      • Avatar Pinky says:

        There you go again, not considering the other side of the argument. There’s no video evidence that he carried a gun to the car, and no witnesses reported it. The officer admitted to touching the gun.

        And the judge didn’t find him innocent. That’s another distortion. I get that you want to have a cut-and-dried example of police getting away with murder, but you don’t. I have to assume that you realized that your Sanchez argument wouldn’t hold up to scrutiny, so you had to back it up with a distorted passing reference to another case. But you’d do a lot better to state each case clearly without dropping points that undermine your story.Report

        • Avatar Sam Wilkinson says:

          @pinky There is no “other side” of the argument. The officer planted the gun on the suspect to justify having murdered him, and the judge, because this is what judges tend to do, sided with the police officer, because god forbid there be consequences for monstrous behavior if that monstrous behavior is carried out while wearing a badge.

          And as for the ludicrous idea that the “Sanchez argument wouldn’t hold up to scrutiny,” you are simply deluding yourself if you think people look at a deaf man being executed by a police officer and think that the deaf man deserved it. You, obviously, do think that, which is why you are so aggressively going to bat for his execution, but do not confuse your own enthusiastic fandom of police killing innocent people with its universal celebration.Report

          • Avatar Pinky says:

            “There is no “other side” of the argument.”

            There was another side to the case, the defendant’s side. You should have presented it, or at least hinted that it exists, or at least not denied that it exists.Report

            • Avatar Maribou says:

              @pinky Our bloggers don’t have an obligation to present news reports. You can dissent to what Sam is saying and I will lay into anyone who attacks you for it (as I did for Damon above), but I need you to stop arguing that he’s failed, his post has failed, he should have written the post differently, etc. Basically anything about his motives being bad. Stop.Report

              • Avatar Pinky says:

                I think it’s fair to reply to the statement “There is no “other side” of the argument.” by pointing out that there is another side of the argument. If you think I shouldn’t have said he should have mentioned it, ok, I guess, but it can’t be off-limits to point out that he shouldn’t have denied its existence.Report

              • Avatar Maribou says:

                @pinky It’s off-limits to grade/critique our writers as if they are supposed to be presenting objective facts without interpretation, or as if they have an obligation to present things in a certain way. Once they’ve engaged in the comments, it’s not off-limits to point out other sides to the story, but it is off-limits to keep imputing their motives for doing so. This “There you go again,” stuff doesn’t help anyone have a civil conversation.

                And what Sam said came after you’d been needling him on the topic of how you thought he should say things for some time.

                Stop needling. Stop arguing the finer points of your needling. If you want to have a civil conversation about points of disagreement, *do that*. But that’s not what you’re doing here. And if I were you I wouldn’t expect civil responses from Sam at this point. He’d have to be a saint.

                (I realize I just told him he should dial down the incivility or stop talking to you, but that’s not the same thing.)Report

              • Avatar Pinky says:

                I believe that I’ve complied with each of your requests. I haven’t questioned Sam’s motives since you told me not to do so.Report

              • Avatar Maribou says:

                @pinky But you’re questioning my response to you without acknowledging the context in which it was made. If you hadn’t done that I wouldn’t have had anything more to say on the matter. Since you did, I reminded you of the context.Report

            • Avatar Sam Wilkinson says:

              @pinky The defendant’s case is that everything he said and did simply shouldn’t be held against him in the same way that it would have been held against anybody else in any other situation. You’ll excuse me for not finding that claim particularly persuasive.Report

              • Avatar Pinky says:

                The defendant’s case relied on eyewitnesses and video, which failed to support the prosecutor’s case.Report

              • Avatar Sam Wilkinson says:

                @pinky The defendant’s case relied on a judge who was willing to excuse criminal behavior so long as it was a police officer engaged in it. Or would you really like us to believe that this is the same decision the judge would have made if it had been literally anybody else BUT Shockley involved?Report

          • Avatar Maribou says:

            @sam-wilkinson There’s really no reason to talk about “your own enthusiastic fandom of police killing innocent people” with anybody who is commenting here. If you think they’re attacking you to the point where they deserve that kind of comment, email me. Just continuing the fight on personal terms is not, actually, a good move for anybody.Report

        • Avatar Maribou says:

          @pinky ” I have to assume that you realized that your Sanchez argument wouldn’t hold up to scrutiny, so you had to back it up with a distorted passing reference to another case. ”

          @sam-wilkinson “Area Commenter Desperate To Blame Deaf Man For His Own Murder”

          Please speak more civilly to each other.Report

          • Avatar Sam Wilkinson says:

            @maribou What else am I meant to conclude about what @pinky is doing here?Report

            • Avatar Maribou says:

              @sam-wilkinson You’re not meant to conclude about what he’s doing, I mean, I don’t care if you do or not, but commenting on it in faux-headline style doesn’t get the conversation anywhere.

              I have no idea what he’s trying to do here, but his very first comment to you was uncivil. (“calls into question your entire presentation” based on a logical interpretation of what happened, as if you’re a news reporter. rude.)

              I just don’t want you to respond to that in like fashion. i was trying to save typing time and experiment with explaining less, so I didn’t go all the way up the thread.

              obviously that didn’t work as I meant it to.Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

          It’s called circumstantial evidence, and the police and DAs secure convictions with it all the time. There is video of Stockley going to his trunk, and video of him going into the car. A gun is not that hard to hide, so demanding that you have conclusive video evidence is too much.

          He had motive, the method was described, and he had opportunity. DAs get convictions on normal people with a hell of a lot less.Report

          • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:


            Honestly, when I look over the judges decision in the case, what strikes me isn’t so much that he was too skeptical of the evidence the state presented, but rather that judges, juries, and DAs are not that skeptical as a matter of course.

            Stockley received a level of critical analysis of the evidence against him that the rest of the population routinely doesn’t. Which, speaks to a disturbing reality that our justice system has a very significant double standard at play.Report

            • Avatar pillsy says:


              The same justice system that accepts the argument that a cop can be so scared by smelling marijuana that it’s OK if he shoots a guy who’s complying with is directives will also accept the argument that it’s OK if a guy is sentenced to death on the basis of testimony bought by the prosecution, even if the prosecution concealed the fact that it was bought from the jury.

              Both decisions cannot possibly conform to the same standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt”.Report

    • Avatar pillsy says:

      You mean the part where the judge said that obviously every heroin dealer must be carrying a gun?Report

  6. Avatar Kazzy says:

    They’re just trolling us now, aren’t they? How else do you explain this absurdity?Report

    • Avatar Sam Wilkinson says:

      @kazzy It is simply that police can never be wrong, and even if they are so obviously wrong that it beggars belief to conclude anything else, there still must be a reason that makes whatever the police did okay.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        It’s quite literally the worst reason the police could have offered.

        “Why’d you shoot him?”
        “He didn’t listen.”
        “He couldn’t heard you.”
        “That’s no excuse.”
        “People told you he couldn’t hear you.”
        “We couldn’t hear them.”
        “That’s no…”

  7. Avatar Mark van H says:

    What I find baffling is the choice to kill. I don’t have experience handling firearms, but if you feel threatened, surely there are more ways to disable a person than to outright kill them? Shoot the guy in his legs and he ceases to be threat without losing his life.Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

      Legs and arms are extremely difficult to hit with a firearm at almost any range, especially if they are moving. Police, soldiers, anyone who carries a firearm regularly is trained to shoot center of mass because it is an easy target to focus on and it provides the best chance for a bullet to cause enough damage to stop the threat.

      In this one regard, the police training was obviously adequate.

      The better question is why one officer felt the need to pull a firearm over a taser (both officers were from the same department and should have been kitted out the same).Report

      • Avatar Maribou says:

        @oscar-gordon I can’t find the link now but apparently (I read in an otherwise boring news article) department policy is to have an officer pull his gun as backup for any officer attempting to tase, in case the taser doesn’t work.

        So if someone screws up the taser (in this case only one prong hit), it becomes a “might need to shoot” situation.

        Which is really really not a good threat assessment protocol.

        Not excusing the officer here, but not excusing the departmental policy either.Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:


          That makes sense, but it takes us right back to, “The officers are poorly trained and screwed up”. If the taser and the gun are fired at the same time, you really can’t assess whether or not the taser worked, which is a direct result of the officers losing coordination and communication which each other.

          I mean, this problem has popped up quite a few other times in recent memory, where officers not coordinating with each other results in bad outcomes.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            Here’s a wikipedia link to medical care-related “Never Events“.

            I think that law enforcement would benefit from having a list of “never events”.

            Or we, as a society, would benefit from seeing an official say that law enforcement doesn’t need such a list.

            It’s all good.Report

          • Avatar Maribou says:

            @oscar-gordon Agreed. And even if the taser didn’t work before the gun was fired, which was the claim (not sure I believe it), I don’t think “so then you shoot the guy for not complying” is a good place to go next. Or to set up as the most likely option for what happens next.Report

            • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

              From CNN:

              As Sanchez approached the officers, Mathews said, both discharged their weapons — Barnes, his gun, and Lindsey, his taser — at the same time. Sanchez was still about 15 feet away, Mathews said.

              Hard to assess the effectiveness of a taser like that.

              And yeah, force escalation likely went way too fast.

              I keep harping on the training issue because it is obviously a training issue, and everyone knows this. The problem is that it isn’t getting better. The PD will issue a statement saying that they are investigating, and that they will review and update their policies and training, but that is what every department says, yet these kinds of things keep happening.

              So either they are lying about updating anything, or what they are doing is demonstrably ineffective (at least, until a federal judge or the DOJ demands it, and forces the issue, then it usually starts getting somewhat better; see Seattle). Police need to be better about having their training standards reviewed by an outside body and then taking those recommendations seriously. They also need to get better about not approving of officers who take seminars from people like Dave Grossman.Report

            • Avatar Morat20 says:

              FWIW, taser abuse is it’s own separate problem. (To wit: Police have decided “pain compliance” is a great new tool, and the taser is the best way to use that new tool).Report

  8. Avatar Nevermoor says:

    This is not directly on point, but of-the-moment.

    Here’s a summary from the Institute for Justice:

    • To resolve lawsuit filed by the DOJ, Seattle police department adopts policy requiring officers to attempt de-escalation (when possible) and use reasonable force to resolve tense situations. (A federal compliance monitor reports that officers’ use of force has since declined significantly without increased crime or injuries to officers.) Police officers: The policy violates our Second Amendment right to self-defense. Ninth Circuit: Novel but no.

    The policy (at least in part) so horrible that police sued to overturn it: “Officers shall only use objectively reasonable force, proportional to the threat or urgency of the situation, when necessary, to achieve a law-enforcement objective.”

    I mean, sure, let’s give police officers the benefit of every doubt while they chafe under that. (Good on the 9th Circuit for preserving the policy, though.)Report

    • Avatar Morat20 says:

      We must never question the police, for they are risking their lives out there every day. Especially over policies that make sure they never risk their lives. Or else their lives will be at risk….

      Blah. 18 year old’s in actual war zones have stricter ROE’s, better training, and far more accountability than cops. Believing otherwise, these days, is nothing more than pure denialism.

      Or maybe some weird Stockholm Syndrome, where you believe if you support the police mindlessly enough, should you find yourself within 20 feet of an officer, he won’t shoot you dead and plant a gun on you….Report

  9. Avatar Dark Matter says:

    …a St. Louis judge declared innocent a police officer who explicitly said that he was going to “kill this motherfucker, don’t you know” and who then approached the suspect and shot him five times at close range and who then planted a gun on the suspect to justify claiming that the suspect had been reaching for a weapon…

    Your case for police reform gets a lot weaker when you present incidents where the shooting was probably justified and claim it’s the same as one where it’s not.

    In St. Louis, the Prosecution couldn’t convince the judge that weapon was planted. A violent heroin dealer is normally armed, this one had a criminal history of being armed, forensics suggested he was shot while reaching for something, and the gun would have been challenging to hide in the video which showed the cop walking to the car. Even the police statement could have been one of expectation rather than intent. They were dealing with a dealer who’d already twice attacked them (on video), it’s not unreasonable to think he’ll choose to die rather than be arrested.

    The evidence isn’t perfect, but it is strongly suggestive.

    The deaf guy getting shot looks like a case of bad police work. The drug dealer getting shot looks like a case of the expected results of the WOD.Report

  10. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Remember the story where the cops roughed up a nurse who refused to draw blood from a guy who was hit during a police chase?

    Of course you do.

    I just found out that the guy whose blood was refused to be drawn died in the hospital a few days later.

    The Police Union is also kinda upset that the process was not followed in the releasing of the police body camera footage showing the nurse up-roughing.

    Transparency is, apparently, making the job of policefolk more difficult.Report

  11. @pinky If shooting and killing an innocent deaf man in cold blood isn’t enough for you to think that anything has been committed, what is? What would have to happen for you to think that a police officer should go to jail?Report

    • Avatar Pinky says:

      I think we should wait for the evidence.Report

      • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

        In general, I agree with you, waiting for the evidence is the right course.

        but do you also see the problem? The conflict of interest in a PD investigating it’s own, handling and gathering the evidence (or not), and presenting it to a DA? How all that evidence tends to be under lock and key for a very long time, where the public never sees it during, and sometimes never sees it afterwards?

        You are asking for an awful lot of trust in a system that has been doing a very good job of undermining it’s own credibility.Report

        • Avatar Don Zeko says:

          This, this, this. As a general rule it’s good to not judge these things from afar and assume that the finders of fact know more than us jerkoffs on the internet do. The problem is that when it comes to police shootings, the allegation is that the finders of fact are failing at their job.Report

  12. Avatar Nevermoor says:

    Continuing on this topic, the Ninth Circuit has now held that ” the law was clearly established such that an officer on October 22, 2013, would have known that the use
    of deadly force was unreasonable “where the suspect appears to be carrying an AK-47, but where [the] officers have received no reports of the suspect using the weapon or expressing an intention to use the weapon, where the suspect does not point the weapon at the officers or otherwise threaten them with it, where the suspect does not ‘come at’ the officers or make any sudden movements towards the
    officers, and where there are no reports of erratic, aggressive, or threatening behavior.”

    In other words, there are actually some rules of engagement outside of which qualified immunity goes out the window (at least in the 9th Circuit’s territory).

    (Context is that an officer shot a 13 year old in the back who was holding a toy gun, was asked to drop it, and started to turn around without raising the toy).Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

      Well good, some kind of reasonable standard.Report

      • Avatar Morat20 says:

        Well, given that open carry and concealed carry are an actual legal thing — trying to claim mere possession of a firearm justifies a lethal response seems to be…problematic.Report

        • Avatar Zac Black says:

          Well, let’s be blunt here, it’s only considered to be justified if the person carrying the weapon is non-white.Report

          • Avatar Maribou says:

            @zac-black The point of the ruling is that that won’t fly any more, though. At least not according to the 9th circuit. (The victim in question wasn’t white.) Too little too late, but better than nothing.Report

            • Avatar Zac Black says:

              Well, frankly, the 9th can rule all they want but unless we see actual, successful prosecutions of murderous cops, I don’t exactly have a ton of faith in the actual practical effect of the ruling.Report

              • Avatar Nevermoor says:

                This isn’t that (it’s a civil case brought by the estate of the victim seeking money). But the easier those get, the closer we get to the “kill tax” discussed above.

                And, oh by the way, civil rights cases come with potentially seven-figure recoveries PLUS attorneys’ fees. So finding a decent-to-good lawyer is pretty easy. And gets easier the more the law evolves this way.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                Pay those judgements out of the police pension fund and the problem will self correct.Report

          • Avatar Pinky says:

            Supporting stats, please?Report