The Tyranny Of Our Peers

Oscar Gordon

A Navy Turbine Tech who learned to spin wrenches on old cars, Oscar has since been trained as an Engineer & Software Developer & now writes tools for other engineers. When not in his shop or at work, he can be found spending time with his family, gardening, hiking, kayaking, gaming, or whatever strikes his fancy & fits in the budget.

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92 Responses

  1. aaron david says:


  2. DavidTC says:

    I think I’ve mentioned this before WRT conspiracy theories, but there appear to be a rather large amount of people who seem unable to reason backwards, who seem to be unable to say ‘Wait, if this person really wanted to accomplish X, why would they be doing it this way instead of the much easier way why could have done it?’

    I mean, the original premise was that someone was reported pointing a gun out the window. (It is an interesting point that, in this case, that might be correct reporting, as he was showing off a pellet gun to guest earlier. Of course, a pellet gun that probably couldn’t even make it though the sealed window of the hotel room, but the eyewitness wouldn’t know that.)

    So let’s assume the absolute worst case scenario, in Shaver was an armed criminal with a bunch of guns that would connect him to a bunch of crimes, and he would not want to be arrested. That’s literally the worst case scenario we can invent here, the worst thing that the police can assume is happening based on the situation.

    So the police show up, knock on his door, and demand he comes out into the hall. _That_ is the point that the hardened criminal would start shooting. _That_ is the dangerous point.

    This is also the part we, weirdly, don’t even seem to have on video!

    Instead, we have Shaver and the women he is with…walk out into the hall, from around what appears to be a corner, although I assume that is the entrance to their room. (Either that, or the police let supposedly armed people wander around and possible take hostages.) They get down on their knees, get down on the floor, they repeatedly show their hands.

    Why the _hell_ would he behave like that if he had decided to shoot at the police officers? What _possible_ plan could he have, instead, of, I dunno, firing around the cover of the corner?

    Especially since the actual correct police procedure, the one mysteriously not followed here, would be to go up and cuff him once he laid down.

    The police are apparently not only allowed to assume everyone is a threat all times, they are apparently allowed to assume we’re in some sort of unrealistic action movie where people mysteriously fake-surrender in a manner that serves no purpose at all but is merely there to excite the audience when it turns out they were just faking and had some super-clever plan that could not possibly work in the real world.

    ‘I have to pretend to surrender, everyone. It will buy you guys enough time to blow through the wall exactly twenty feet down the hall, with the disruption knocking the police down, and we can all exit out the hole in the floor! I’ll pull out my gun and start shooting to signal you.’

    And, yes, I know people can behave irrationally, but irrational people do not secret guns on themselves and pretend to cooperate with the police for a minute and then pull the gun out and shoot them. Irrational people do things right away, and/or keep doing them long after they should have stopped. Irrational people underplan, not invent long and convoluted plans.Report

    • Morat20 in reply to DavidTC says:

      I haven’t watched the video (because why depress myself), but let me ask: Did it include the usual contradictory orders? You know, where they’re told to keep their hands up and also turn out their pockets, that sort of thing?Report

      • DavidTC in reply to Morat20 says:

        Oh, yes. He was told to put his hands up, and not put them down for anything, not even f he fell, he should fall on his face…and then told to _crawl_ forward.

        Yes, crawl. Which is, obviously, literally impossible without moving your hands in a downward direction, and, yes, the police do hilarious tense up when he follows their exact orders to crawl and his hands move downwards. But that’s not when they shot him.

        No, they shoot because the crawling appears to have resulted in his pants sliding downward/backward and he, like pretty much every human on the planet would do, reached back to grab them.

        Resulting in him being shot.

        This is, really, an exciting new development for the police. They have now figured out how to put people in a situation where their pants will come off, by making them crawl forward, thus resulting in _either_ naked suspects (Which they can arrest for indecent exposure) or them reaching down to grab their pants, resulting in the police being able to shoot them.

        And that’s not even considering what they can make people crawl through, or the fact that a lot of people are not particularly good at crawling.

        Exciting times to be a cop. I expect a lot more ‘crawl towards us’ in the future, a brand new development in people-humiliating _and_ people-shooting by the police, not to mention being confusing as fuck.Report

        • DavidTC in reply to DavidTC says:

          Oh, BTW, as probably it’s not clear…when I say ‘crawl’, I mean ‘belly crawl’, not the ‘on all fours crawl’ that is also called crawling.

          Yes, that’s right. He was entirely prone on the floor, pointed head first at the police. This man, who first willingly placed himself in literally the worse imaginable position to shoot multiple people who are ten feet away and standing above you, a position where you can only (mostly hypothetically) dodge a few feet by rolling back and forth and cannot aim a gun while doing so…made a motion that a police thought was pulling a gun.

          The police officer, who is not only legally an adult who knows how to bathe and prepare food for himself, but has been selected, by our society, to enforce laws, judged that to be logical sequence of events.Report

      • Oscar Gordon in reply to Morat20 says:

        The irony is, in this case, the police realized the guy was a dumpster fire and canned him, and the DA obviously felt it was worth it to at least go through the motions[1] to prosecute him, and in the end it was the jury that gave a collective shrug and let him go.

        [1] Although I have to wonder, given how infrequently DAs get convictions on cops, do DAs in general suck at jury selection, or are they just not even trying, or are they actually good at it and quietly working to help the defense?Report

        • greginak in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

          DA don’t like to lose especially high profile cases. I think it’s unlikely they charge and prosecute with a hope of losing. Not saying it can’t happen or hasn’t, just not likely and i would want to see a lot of evidence suggesting that. I think it’s more that the general pool of jurors have serious failures of moral judgment and ability to understand evidence.Report

        • InMD in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

          @oscar-gordon There’s no way a prosecutor takes these on for kicks. Sometimes its a matter of public pressure but I think mostly when they do they want to succeed. A big part of the problem as that the legal standard set primarily by Graham v. Connor is extremely deferential to police. It could effectively be called the ‘reasonably scared cop rule.’

          To get a sense of how this plays out in practice, take a look at Arizona jury instruction 4.10 (3a) (you can download them here). Not certain without finding the trial transcript, but this or something very like it is probably what the jury in the Brailsford case was told to determine. The big burden is around section 5 where its asking did the prosecution prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the officer did not reasonably believe it was necessary to defend himself.

          Think about that standard for a minute. How do you prove a negative about another person’s state of mind? Even without the myriad of ways people are biased in favor of the police, its really easy for a juror acting in good faith, even one who is disgusted with the shooting, to say the state didn’t prove that. Some version of this is what jurors are typically being told in these cases and its completely consistent with what the law is. Juries, I think, are mostly applying the law correctly, its just really bad law. Then you throw in all the cultural baggage on top of it, and well…Report

          • InMD in reply to InMD says:

            Just to add, what drives people nuts is that they tend to ask the question ‘was this shoot objectively reasonable under the circumstances’ or ‘was the person harmed actually a threat to the officer.’ That isn’t the question the law asks and its not what juries are told to determine. Once you understand that, these acquittals start to make a lot more sense.Report

          • Oscar Gordon in reply to InMD says:


            IANAL, so pardon my ignorance, but how does that case apply to use of lethal force in this kind of situation? No one was questioning the officers authority to detain Shaver?Report

            • InMD in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

              Graham (and its progeny) set the standard for how use of force by the police is analyzed under the 4th Amendment. Of critical importance, the court held that whether or not a use of force (seizure) is reasonable is judged from the perspective of a ‘reasonable officer on the scene’ without regard to the officer’s underlying intent or motivation, and not ‘with the vision of 20/20 hindsight’.

              The way courts have applied this rule ever since has effectively been to give the police a pass as long as they can articulate something (even if that something in any normal context would be absurd) that, based on their experience as a police officer, put them in fear for their lives. The go to is ‘furtive movements’ or like poor Shaver, ‘reaching for the waistband.’

              I think its helpful to look at these decisions in the context of the times they were written (mostly the 80s) when crime and violence, especially around drug trafficking, was much worse and much more of a political hot button issue. They’re built on all kinds of (in my opinion questionable) assumptions about the split second life or death decisions police supposedly have to make. I still think the decisions were wrong at the time but thats the perspective that the jurisprudence governing these incidents is coming from.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to InMD says:

                Is this something that can be fixed legislatively, or will it required a new SCOTUS decision or constitutional amendment?Report

              • InMD in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                Very complicated question. SCOTUS could re-interpret the issue in which case it’d then go down through the courts and set various other, new precedents, depending on what the new rule is. A constitutional amendment around police use of force could also change the standard in some way, and it in turn would then be interpreted by the courts.

                Legislatures aren’t powerless though. Most of these incidents involve state and local police and state governments can set their own rules around liability for public employees, regulate their police forces, and write their own criminal codes. State courts also have a lot of freedom to interpret their own state constitutions in ways that might add some more balance.

                There is a huge web of bad policy and jurisprudence that got us to where we are and, as this incident illustrates, simple solutions like cameras arent going to fix it. To me the avenue to doing something about it is similar to whats happened with marijuana legalization and to a lesser extent gay marriage. Change the paradigm enough at the state and local level and the federal precedents won’t matter as much.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                Here’s the problem as I see it: the reasonable person standard, of which the “objectively reasonable” condition identified in the SC case governing cops’ use of force is an example, is being exposed as the inherently flawed condition that it is. Ideally, the concept is supposed to bridge the gap between the formal, abstract principles of law (with all their accompanying contexts, layers and intentions) and how they apply to a messy real world contexts. Its an idealization, to be sure, but an idealization which increasingly breaks down under the strain placed upon it: how to adjudicate different conceptions of what constitutes “reasonable”?

                The psuedo-historian in me would like to say the entire concept is a relic of a past when men, almost always white men, usually wealthy, “well educated” white men – but importantly a relatively small group of men with shared interests – exercised their power as the unique arbiters of what constituted “reasonable” behavior. But I won’t say that. 🙂 Instead, I’ll just mention that what constitutes “reasonable” – let alone “objectively reasonable” – was never intended to include – let alone require – deference to *another person’s* conception of what that term means in a specific setting. It was intended to be a principle which rises above individual subjectivity, not defer to it. So if the problem is that one of the foundational principles upon which our legal is constructed is too weak to do its assigned work, the solution will take more than new legislation or a fresh SCOTUS decision. It will take the emergence of some new consensus of what “objectively reasonable” means. And that’s gonna be tough in our new post-modern reality.Report

              • InMD in reply to Stillwater says:

                I think this is exactly the wrong way to look at the situation. This happened because of many small policy decisions implemented over a long period of time. It can only be undone by unwinding/reforming lots of little parts in the system. There is no magic cog or silver bullet.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to InMD says:

                If this were an isolated case, I’d agree. But it’s systemic.Report

              • InMD in reply to Stillwater says:

                It is systemic but that means you need to address it on different fronts. You’re never going to get everyone to agree on a standard of reasonableness. However, you might be able to build a political coalition willing to pass changes around public sector liability, give teeth to citizen review boards, codify police conduct, or even appoint a judge willing to cause a conflict in precedent in a helpful way.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Stillwater says:

                When it comes to citizens using force, there is a reasonable person standard that works objectively well, because it asks the jury to essentially put themselves in the defendants shoes and decide if they acted reasonably. This is why an 85 year old could kill a 20 year old who was attacking with fists, but the reverse would be a much harder sell.

                If I am reading the SCOTUS decision correctly, the problem is that the jury is not allowed to put themselves in the cops shoes, but rather they are instructed to take the cops word that his actions were reasonable.Report

              • InMD in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                Not quite. The jury is effectively being asked ‘Did the state prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a reasonable officer placed at the scene as the defendant and under the same circumstances would not have feared for his life? If the state did not prove that you should acquit.’Report

              • Stillwater in reply to InMD says:

                Translated, that means the jury is asked to determine the “objective reasonableness” of the cop’s actions not in an objective context, but in the context of what other cops would subjectively view as reasonable in the circumstances.Report

              • InMD in reply to Stillwater says:

                Correct, sort of. In order to convict, the jury needs to be convinced that the cop did something other than what that hypothetical reasonable officer would do.

                I think criminal convictions are sort of the crown jewels of deterring and punishing police misconduct. The cases should be brought but in the current system chances of success are slim. There’s a lot more small ball that could meaningfully increase accountability at a local and state level. Those smaller victories may be a pre-requisite for consistently being able to convict officers for crimes against citizens.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                If I am reading the SCOTUS decision correctly, the problem is that the jury is not allowed to put themselves in the cops shoes, but rather they are instructed to take the cops word that his actions were reasonable.

                Right. The question is whether this problem can be corrected via legislation or SC decision. My answer was that it cannot without some new consensus emerging regarding what constitutes “objectively reasonable” which excludes the relevant actors subjectively determined judgments of their own “reasonableness”.

                Ie., if the sole criterion of evaluation is the objective reasonableness of a person’s actions (in a context, etc) and the defendant says his actions were objectively reasonable to him (given X, Y and Z*), who is the jury to disagree?

                *Especially when Z is “I legitimately feared for my life.”Report

      • Oscar Gordon in reply to Morat20 says:

        Also, the cop starts off with the Captain* attitude, then quite explicitly tells the guy, ‘if you do not follow my commands exactly, I am going to kill you’.

        Not shoot, not ‘we are going to have a problem’, straight up kill.

        Unless you are a stone cold assassin, you are going to be stupid with fear, and not following commands very well.

        *Cool Hand LukeReport

  3. greginak says:

    I like to think, very much want to think, that in the long term this kind of video will lead to significant changes in the populace. Enough teens and young people will see this without the blinders of old folks terrified of crime waves that change will come. Cause the change in juries ain’t coming now. Slager got convicted recently but his first trial ended in a mistrial because, as i remember, of one block head.Report

    • Kolohe in reply to greginak says:

      Has this story gotten much play outside those that really follow the news? I.e. most people will be able to tell you that California is on fire, the Middle East is a mess, and a surplus royal is marrying an American, but how many people have seen this video on a scale of Rodney King to Arnie Hammer?

      Eta basically, I’ve been reading Radley Balko for at least 10 years now, and I don’t know of things have gotten worse or we just know of every incident now

      (And between phone cams & body/car cams, have much more video than the one off in flagrante delicto Rodney King was)Report

      • greginak in reply to Kolohe says:

        Well i admit i’m not feeling all that charitable given the whole “another snuff cop video” thing. But i think it’s had enough attention that an org that was focused on gun issues would be all over it. In my brief googling last night i found BLM statements and stuff on sites that track police abuse about this. So it’s gotten enough attention for that.

        I gotta admit the Rodney King to Armie ( not Arnie) Hammer scale is a bit fuzzy for me.Report

  4. Kazzy says:

    Two things, right now at least, are really eating at me (besides the obvious)…

    1.) Based on how the officer with the gun was speaking to (one of?) the other officer, it seemed like there might have been some kind of training going on. He wasn’t just giving him instructions, but seemed to be walking him through things. Why is the guy with “You’re Fucked” on his rifle tasked with training others?

    2.) He says — repeatedly! — don’t make a mistake. In doing so, he recognizes the potential for the young man with a gun trained on him to accidentally do something that might seem threatening. And yet he claims, “I believed 100 percent that he was reaching for a gun.” I… don’t know how that can be true. “Don’t make a mistake. Don’t do something that doesn’t actually constitute a threat but which may appear to be a threat. Don’t misunderstand me. Don’t get confused. Don’t make a mistake. Don’t do something that could be misinterpreted. Because the only way to possibly interpret any number of actions you may not even commit consciously is that you are absolutely going to try to kill me.”

    Like… seriously?

    “Make a mistake and you die. Because there are no mistakes… you ARE trying to kill me. And newbie? Make sure you’re taking notes.”Report

  5. Oscar Gordon says:

    For those keeping score at home, here is a list of recent police killings where the victim was clearly doing nothing wrong, was never given a chance to comply, or was trying to cooperate.Report

  6. greginak says:

    FWIW. I checked the NRA site, twitter and facebook….didn’t see squat about this acquittal. Maybe i missed something though. Maybe this should be called the Philandro Castille affect.Report

    • Phil in reply to greginak says:

      “I checked the NRA site, twitter and facebook….didn’t see squat”

      How does the NRA figure into this particular tragedy?Report

      • Oscar Gordon in reply to Phil says:


        Shaver had been showing off his pellet gun to a person, in his hotel room, and was spotted doing so by someone outside the hotel. They called the police.

        AZ is an open carry state, it is perfectly legal for people to walk around with a holstered gun, and it is also legal for people to be showing off their gun inside a private space (like a hotel room). Mesa PD should not have responded to the call with a Tac Team unless there were reports of shots fired (Shaver was killed in Jan 2016, long before the Vegas shooting that would have gotten everybody nervous about gunmen in hotel rooms).

        Ergo, the NRA should be pissed that once again the police responded to a legal gun owner who was harmlessly exercising his rights (even if it is a pellet gun) with deadly force. But once again, the NRA is deciding to avoid upsetting police over civilians.Report

        • Troublesome Frog in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

          I’m very curious about the procedure for these types of reports in open carry states. Does the 911 operator just say, “OK, a guy has a gun. Is it holstered? Yes? Sorry, but that’s legal. L8r.” It sounds like that’s not how it goes. It sounds like “guy with a gun” is treated much the same way everywhere.Report

          • @troublesome-frog I’ve had friends have pretty much that exact experience with calling 911 in open-carry states where a guy had a gun. FTR.

            (They ask a couple more questions like “has he threatened anyone verbally?” from what I gather, but not many more.)Report

            • Kazzy in reply to Maribou says:

              This makes me wonder about 911 operators. I’d guess it varies by state (and maybe even by service provider?) but now I’m curious who they work for, who trains them, who they are accountable to, etc.Report

              • Maribou in reply to Kazzy says:

                @kazzy I think it varies by city. I know quite a bit about a) how those things work in NZ, b) how the underlying phone infrastructure is administered here, but pretty much nothing about what you’re actually curious about 😀 Darn gaps in my friend network….Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Maribou says:

                It strikes me that if someone uninformed of the law(s) and absent training beyond the technical pragmatics of the job is positioned to decide which calls get a police response and which don’t… that seems problematic.Report

              • Maribou in reply to Kazzy says:

                @kazzy Yeah, it would be. My overall sense is that they are heavily trained and monitored (ie more experienced people monitoring the calls is part of the job), but that’s based on having to call them (public service job) fairly often in one particular state…

                I would guess that understaffing (people who actually are trained handling too many lines/calls simultaneously) would be more of a problem than training in that particular area, but it’d just be a guess.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Maribou says:

                It’s a job we rarely hear about and often an ignored factor when discussing these matters, so it remains a bit of a black hole for me. I’m sure I can research more. OR I can speculate wildly on the internet. Same thing, right?

                Also… NZ… New Zealand…?Report

              • Maribou in reply to Kazzy says:

                @kazzy Yup, New Zealand.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Maribou says:

                Now all I can think of is… “Here’s the real number: 9-1-2.”Report

  7. LeeEsq says:

    People simply aren’t going to call the police when they become a victim of a crime or need help. The chance of ending up dead will be too great. I really have no idea what to do about this. Police across the country seem to have no willingness to change in the slightest. Indicting them is hard and getting a conviction next to impossible. A decent proportion of the citizenry seems to support the police unconditionally.Report

  8. Koz says:

    Two points:

    1. This a bankshot reason why the various gun issues play out the way they do. Gun owners in general, and the NRA in particular, are not going to entertain any idea that restricts gun ownership or meaningful rights regarding guns to cops. To a large extent, cops are horrible gun custodians.

    2. The larger point relates closer to Oscar’s OP, we have a big problem in the lack of accountability of our civilian police. Among other reasons, this happens because too many Americans want them to be unaccountable. That’s kind of a weird thing to want, but that’s the way it is.

    The present case is, for me a straight-up death penalty case (assuming Arizona is a death penalty state). There’s clear premeditation, and I don’t see anything resembling mitigating circumstances.

    Obviously this is important regarding the fate of the unfortunate Mr Shaver, but for the rest of us there’s a bigger picture. The things that led up to this incident represent a cultural failure on many levels. I can promise you that at no time leading up to Ofc Brailsford firing his weapon did he stop to think that he is going to be fighting a murder charge if he shoots this guy.

    And on top of it, this guy has the tactical awareness of a sardine.Report

  9. LeeEsq says:

    One big problem with holding cops accountable is that the legal standards when cop is on trial for killing somebody are absurdly low. Juries might be disgusted but feel that they have to acquit. Its like a reverse jury nullification, the jury wants to convict but can’t because of the legal standard.

    There can also be cultural reasons. Respect for police is drilled into people’s heads from a young age by multiple sources including movies and television shows. This type of bad policing might look close enough to what happens in some movies, which really don’t depict by the book policing because that would be boring, that most Americans think this how police should act.Report

    • Koz in reply to LeeEsq says:

      Respect for police is drilled into people’s heads from a young age by multiple sources including movies and television shows.

      I think the reasons are cultural but this is not quite it. Ie, I think it has much more to do with the cultural and political isolation that the cops have created for themselves. As a consequence, they have distorted an ordinary person’s perception of risk.

      I’m not quite sure I’m getting the right words for this, but in any event we all tend to make our way around the world wherein we assess harm to ourselves as more important than harm to other people. But, only to a point. Sociopaths aside, we understand that other people have interests and sometimes we have to take risks toward own person or interest to get by.

      Cops have internalized a world where a metric ton of risk to a civilian is worth less than a micron of risk to me. That’s the basic cause of the incident in the OP. Libertarians like Radley Balko like to complain about the surplus DoD equipment given to civilian police, and they may even have a point somewhere. But the cultural isolation and the cavalier attitude toward other persons and property is a much bigger deal.

      Therefore the rationalizations like “I was in fear for my life” or whatever the cop said to justify the shooting, are in no way exculpatory. In fact, they are an aggravating circumstance. They are evidence of mental impairment, and it was in that state of mental impairment that he chose to point his weapon at a person who posed now threat to him and lethally shoot him five times or whatever. Fry him.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Koz says:

        The switch from walking the beat to dispatch system might have played a roll in this. When your walking the beat, police officers get to encounter and socialize with people in threatening situations while on duty. With a dispatch system, police only encounter people at their worse. That has to wrap perceptions.Report

      • Oscar Gordon in reply to Koz says:

        It’s a cultural knot that I have no idea how to even begin to untangle. Cops aren’t going to stop being culturally isolated without an external incentive, and if inMD is right, the law won’t be giving juries the power to bring an incentive to bear without a major change by Congress.

        Bringing this back to the whole gun rights and resisting tyranny bit, I think a lot of the RTKBA folks who imagine resisting tyranny expect to be seeing the US military or federal law enforcement stomping through the streets, and somehow believe that the local police would never turn against the people they ‘serve and protect’. Except apparently all some of the local PD need to do is be a wee bit scared and they’ll kill people without flinching. It amazes me how soldiers in combat zones, fighting insurgents, can manage to not slaughter anyone who makes a furtive movement, because their command demands this (and the UCMJ backs up command); but police can not, and have near perfect legal cover.Report

        • InMD in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

          People on the gun rights side I don’t think always appreciate the extent to which the police have become more like the standing army feared by the founding generation. There’s also, in my anecdotal and totally unscientific experience, a misplaced cultural affinity in the loudest parts of the gun rights community with law enforcement. They speak a common language about self-defense but I dont think most non-LEO gun owners understand that from the LEO perspective the citizen gun owner is the threat.Report

        • Koz in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

          It’s a cultural knot that I have no idea how to even begin to untangle. Cops aren’t going to stop being culturally isolated without an external incentive, and if inMD is right, the law won’t be giving juries the power to bring an incentive to bear without a major change by Congress.

          It doesn’t seem quite as hard for me. (redacted – maribou) It’s the libs who created our system of bloated public employee compensation, staffing levels, and pensions. Most municipalities can’t really afford cops (or schools), and there’s always an air of alchemy regarding the finance for either one.

          As a result, the cops have to have the manic unions that they do. Without them, their jobs as they stand are untenable. Their unions, and the mentality underlying them really, create a barrier between the cops and the rest of the civilian population that ends up in incidents like this one. (redacted – maribou)Report

          • Chip Daniels in reply to Koz says:

            Your “Free Mumia” tee shirt is on order.Report

          • greginak in reply to Koz says:

            Evergreen Koz comment.Report

          • InMD in reply to Koz says:

            Dude. What world are you living in? The decision we’re talking about was written by former Chief Justice Rehnquist. The federal government and most state governments are controlled by the de facto conservative political party. This is nowhere on their agenda.Report

            • Koz in reply to InMD says:

              I dunno, it doesn’t seem that hard for me. Libs created the world of bloated public employee compensation, staffing levels, and pensions. Lib politics at the sub-federal level have for decades basically been about making them impervious to any meaningful reform.

              In fact, when you add in Social Security and Medicare at the federal level, that’s been basically the lib game plan for at least 50 years.Report

            • Chip Daniels in reply to InMD says:

              Libworld is simultaneously soft on crime and jackbooted fascists, radical BLM activists, and and police union careerists.

              Its a big tent.Report

          • Troublesome Frog in reply to Koz says:

            We’ve certainly managed to create a class of phony professionals somehow. Typically, a real professional gets paid well, has extensive leeway in decision making, and is held personally responsible for their screw ups. The cops have managed to get the first and some of the second (but only when it’s convenient–lots of leeway for bad decisions, but they can always fall back on, “I just did what I was trained to do” when their decisions are obviously brain-dead), and none of the third. Unions are clearly a big part of that.

            You can’t call yourself a professional if, every time you make a wrong decision in the line of duty, your defense sounds like you’re a McDonald’s fry cook who dropped his sunglasses in the fry oil.Report

            • Koz in reply to Troublesome Frog says:

              It should be emphasized that for whatever malevolence or incompetence cops commit in the line of duty, they are paid to do, some pretty well, others not so much. Therefore, one important leverage point we have in regulating cops’ behavior is the threat to withdraw financial support for it.

              But, as a result of lib activism over the course of decades, that isn’t really a meaningful option. If anything, our public school districts are much worse in terms of performance and financial cost. Yet, libs have fought successfully to keep them funded at exorbitant levels.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Koz says:

                Let’s be honest, police and fire unions are the few unions that conservatives utterly refuse to touch. They will go after every other union, public or private, but PD & FD are bulletproof.Report

              • Koz in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                Whatever might be said about this directly, I suspect that your frame of reference here is too narrow. Ie, the malevolence of libs isn’t just confined to things that actually happen, it also profoundly affects what is possible or plausible as well.

                This has largely passed without comment, though it has been a fact of lib activism for a long time, and over time an increasingly explicit one. For example, it was the dominant feature of the legislative process leading up to ACA. Ie, libs were not particularly enamored of ACA but they reasoned that whatever happened after ACA was passed, the fact of collectivized medicine in America would be irreversible. And so far at least, that line of reasoning has held up.

                In this case, libs have created a world where the fundamental structure of public employee compensation is, as a practical matter, irreformable. Thus, the problem of the police shooting in Mesa we’ve been talking about. Libs want to pretend that they are somehow blameless in the situation when they are clearly the ones who have created the underlying reality which caused the problem. As things stand right now, I don’t see any percentage in pretending to ignore that.Report

          • Maribou in reply to Koz says:

            @koz I redacted the two sentences you should, in my opinion, have known would be a problem.

            Hopefully this will give you more information as to what is and isn’t a problem.Report

          • Koz in reply to Koz says:

            I redacted the two sentences you should, in my opinion, have known would be a problem.

            ~*facepalm*~ Redact what you want, the cause of the problem is the same as it was before.Report

        • Koz in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

          Bringing this back to the whole gun rights and resisting tyranny bit, I think a lot of the RTKBA folks who imagine resisting tyranny expect to be seeing the US military or federal law enforcement stomping through the streets, and somehow believe that the local police would never turn against the people they ‘serve and protect’. Except apparently all some of the local PD need to do is be a wee bit scared and they’ll kill people without flinching.

          I missed this part earlier, and Oscar makes a couple of important points. I disagree with the idea that the mentality behind RTKBA is to be well-armed enough to shoot it out with the army when the time comes. That may be some last chance saloon-type Mad Max scenario, but the more immediate protection is toward the tentacles of the modern Leviathan: OSHA, EPA, BLM, Dept of Agriculture, etc. Municipal police aren’t involved as much, just due to geography. The aggressive police forces are in urban areas, RTKBA isn’t. In fact, it’s probably a fair statement to say that the immediate benefit for RTKBA is to prevent fish and game wardens from acting like the Baltimore PD.

          That said, in the bigger point Oscar is absolutely right to note how much better (and cheaper, I’d emphasize) the regular armed forces are compared to municipal police. UCMJ is part of it, but I’d say the bigger difference is the NCO’s. Instead of having libs organize municipal police into a force of their own, there has always been a need to prevent antisocial behavior from soldiers, and that’s largely what NCO’s are for.Report

          • Mike Schilling in reply to Koz says:

            the tentacles of the modern Leviathan: OSHA, EPA, BLM, Dept of Agriculture, etc.

            This brings back memories. Back in Usenet days a self-described libertarian in my SF discussion group explained to me, quite seriously, that a slaughterhouse owner was quite justified in killing a DofA meat inspector before the guy could write a report that would badly damage the business. Because it was the owner’s livelihood, and the government has no right to interfere with that.

            I had to disagree, both as a supporter of jackbooted nanny-state thugs in general and as a meat-eater.Report

      • DavidTC in reply to Koz says:

        Cops have internalized a world where a metric ton of risk to a civilian is worth less than a micron of risk to me.

        Not even that. No risk at all.

        And, yes, I know, in the technical sense, some risk always exists, but in the practical sense, the cops in that video were in more danger from being murdered by some random, unconnected person standing behind them than from Shaver, someone who had deliberately put himself in the least dangerous position possible, as directed. It was ‘below background threat level’, aka, none at all.

        People do not fake surrender to cops because part of ‘surrendering’ is ‘doing things designed to make you as harmless as possible’, things like getting down on the ground. So it is really stupid to do if your intent is to then immediately pull a gun on them.

        It’s the same with that guy, a few years ago, who was pulled over and tried to explain to the cop that he had a legal gun holstered on him and was going to take it out the holster and give it to them, and the cop got excited and killed him. It’s like…why the hell would he have told the cop that he had a gun they didn’t know about if he was about to use the gun?! He could have just shot the cop as he walked up to the window, or waited until his back was turned, and then driven off.

        The police seem to have almost no ability to think logically about situations, and apparently are not taught the actual fact that, when people try to kill the police, they almost always do so by first…attempting to kill the police. That is literally their first move. Most people who attack cops are on drugs or very drunk or something that so messes them up that they can’t plan in any manner at all, so they just start swinging or shooting.

        As for the smart calculating ones, the ‘I am going to have to shoot my way out of here because I’m not getting caught’ people…well, they might try to misdirect the police into turning their back or coming out from cover, but they will not, under any circumstances, do things that put themselves in worse combat positions. They do not, for example, get entirely down on the ground. No one does that when about to start a fight. Ever! That’s one of those things that happens in action movies all the time, and in the real world approximately never.

        Intelligent and sober people who are going to fight cops will…just shoot the cops in the head from behind cover, because cops appear to not actually have any real tactical training, just things they call tactics that seem to mostly consist of ‘searching a house’, ‘learning not to shoot each other while searching a house’ and ‘how to carry a big shield’.

        For a really obvious example: People with actual tactical training do not stand out in the hall yelling at people to surrender, as that will logically result in them being shot through the wall if someone does intend to kill them. People with actual tactical training burst in and take control of the situation. Likewise, they seemed to surrender enough of the hall to him to let him have corner cover.

        I am not saying that is what should have happened, because ‘a report of someone pointing a gun out a window’ does not require any such response, it requires someone politely knocking on the door to see what is going on. I am merely saying the police’s tactics here were complete shit and would have gotten them killed if there was an actual threat. The police somehow have the best of both worlds…behaving in an extremely careless manner that would have gotten them killed if there was actual threats, and using the premise that there are actual threats to justify shooting people…but, as there is not anywhere near the level of threats they are pretending, and the threats are mostly methheads, their idiotic tactics don’t ever fail them.

        Therefore the rationalizations like “I was in fear for my life” or whatever the cop said to justify the shooting, are in no way exculpatory. In fact, they are an aggravating circumstance. They are evidence of mental impairment, and it was in that state of mental impairment that he chose to point his weapon at a person who posed now threat to him and lethally shoot him five times or whatever.


        We, as society, need to do at least one of two things:
        1) Change the standard from the current one, and actually punish cops who violate it; and/or
        2) Realize that, apparently, a significant portion of the current police forces are complete paranoid lunatics and/or idiots who shouldn’t be trusted with a gun in civilian life, much less be a member of law enforcement. We need to take their badges, take their guns, and, hell, make it clear we’re going to have trouble believing any ‘self-defense’ claims they use in the future, because they are apparently utterly unable to judge levels of danger to themselves.

        It is entirely possible to argue the standard is reasonable when applied by reasonable people (I disagree, but whatever.), but even if so, it is increasingly clear that some percentage of police offices are completely fucking looney-toons and shouldn’t be allowed to make _any_ decisions about when to shoot someone, much less a decision that is judged relative to their own beliefs so they ‘correctly’ don’t get convicted for it for afterward.

        As I pointed out above, this not only did the police shoot someone for no reason at all, which is very bad, the police shot someone who had _fully surrendered and was helpless on the ground_, which is even worse! If that guy was an enemy soldier, that would literally be a war crime.Report

    • Chip Daniels in reply to LeeEsq says:

      Respect for police is drilled into people’s heads from a young age

      “Respect” isn’t really the proper word for it.
      Its more of an unhealthy hero worship that places cops outside the boundaries of society where the regular rules don’t apply.
      Sort of like how Catholics used to think of priests, where they were untouchable.

      Which also lead to an inability to look squarely at their behavior and hold them accountable.

      We should properly think of cops the way we do any civil servant, like a DMV clerk or mailman.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Chip Daniels says:

        “Unhealthy hero worship” doesn’t seem right either. We do have many examples of hero cops in American media but if you look at other countries media, the hero cop troop isn’t exactly unknown either. We also have lots of bungling or corrupt cops in our media.Report

  10. Pinky says:

    The officer was being overly aggressive. I don’t know why. But the suspect reached behind his back, where a lot of people keep a gun, and the officer told him to put his hands up, and told him that if he reaches behind his back again, he’ll shoot him. The suspect reached behind his back again. I’m not happy that this guy is an officer, but I’d likely have voted for acquittal.Report

    • Oscar Gordon in reply to Pinky says:

      It was obvious in the video that the guys pants were falling down. If he had a gun, it would have been clearly visible by the second time he had to pull his pants back up. Those were workout shorts, there is no hiding a gun in those, even with a holster that is intended to obscure the print of a gun.

      I have a carry permit and I’ve messed around with the various means of concealing a gun on my person. Even my little Bersa Thunder would be obvious in the situation.Report

    • Oscar Gordon in reply to Pinky says:

      Also, to riff off of what @davidtc is saying, the guy is face down. If he had a gun in the back of his waistband, he is in the worst possible position to pull it out. Either his arm has to swing out wide to bring the gun to bear, or it has to come under his shoulder/chest. There is no way to quickly bring the gun to bear, and every possible motion to do so is glaringly obvious.

      So, as @koz said, the guy has the tactical awareness of a sardine. You’d be acquitting him for killing someone because he was a dumbass. In every other facet of life, killing someone because you are a dumbass is still at least manslaughter.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

        He was a professional dumbass in a profession with unique legal protections and privileges.Report

      • DavidTC in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

        There is no way to quickly bring the gun to bear, and every possible motion to do so is glaringly obvious.


        And then, in this hypothetical universe, after he has succeeded against all odds in pulling a gun on the police via very obvious movements that take a long time to do…he would then find himself in literally the worst possible tactical position: Sprawled out on the floor, totally exposed, no cover, unable to even roll away to escape because he’s in a hallway, having to prop himself up with his other hand to shoot (He can’t even sit up, he’s facing the wrong way.), shooting people standing over him holding a bulletproof riot shield and wearing body armor.

        Good job tricking the police, hypothetical dude. You were really clever to put yourself in that completely unmanageable position and start an unwinnable gunfight. (Gunfight? Hell, the police could stop him just by rushing forward and slamming him in the head with their giant shield, or just kicking him.)

        ‘Look out, he might have a gun, and also be literally the dumbest human being who ever existed!’

        Seriously, the second he strolled out of there, unarmed, instead of opening fire around the corner, he was obviously not intending to harm anyone. This should have been obvious to all the cops also.

        It’s like it’s never connected in the police’s head that the reason we order people to get flat on the ground, face down, is that such a position is almost impossible to attack people from. The police officers here instead seem to think they’re ordering people to do that for…fun?

        …thinking about it, that seems entirely plausible.

        Police officer: Don’t move! Get down on the ground. Keep your hands up or I’ll shoot! Crawl! Stand back up! Keep your hands on the ground! I’m going to shoot you if you do something wrong! Throw your hands in the air like you just don’t care! Stop moving your hands! Do the hokey-pokey! *bam-bam-bam-bam* The hokey-pokey has the left foot first, asshole!
        Jury: Seems legit.Report

    • DavidTC in reply to Pinky says:

      But the suspect reached behind his back, where a lot of people keep a gun, and the officer told him to put his hands up, and told him that if he reaches behind his back again, he’ll shoot him.

      The cops does not, as far as I can tell, explain that his objection is the victim reaching behind his back.

      It seems obvious in _retrospect_ that it was, but assuming a slightly drunk and terrified person understood the cop’s problem was ‘Reaching behind your back’ vs. ‘Do not put your hands down’ is assuming a lot.

      If the cop didn’t want him reaching back there, he should have told him that explicitly.

      Or, and here’s a crazy idea for the officers: Have him lay down on the floor and pull up his shirt, or turn around and pull up his shirt, so you can see if there’s a gun back there, you damn morons.

      In fact, why not have him turn around and then _walk up and cuff him_, you idiots.

      And here’s an even crazier idea: Perhaps don’t assume a person who willingly walked out of a door to the cops and surrendered to them is going to enter a gunfight later while the police are pointing guns straight at them.Report

      • Pinky in reply to DavidTC says:

        Not explicit? “Hands up in the air. You do that again, we’re shooting you, do you understand?…Hands straight up in the air. Do not put your hands down for any reason….If your hands go back to the small of your back, or down, we are going to shoot you. Do you understand?”Report

        • DavidTC in reply to Pinky says:

          Gee, a lot of that seems to be telling the person that the problem is that their hands went down.

          It seems most of that becomes void when that person literally orders a person to put their hands on the floor later.

          Oh, I see how the rules work. *Parts* of instructions can still be in effect even if other parts, about the same thing, are utterly void. His hands can *now* go down, but they still can’t go to the small of his back.

          It was so nice of you to patiently explain the rules to him there in the hallway. I presume there was some sort of instruction manual to this game where it was explained to him beforehand.

          Question: If, while crawling, he had come across stairs, would he been allowed to move his hands ‘down’ to go down the stairs, or would that have been a rule violation? I.e., was the ‘do not move your hands down’ permanently rule revoked when he started crawling, or was it suspended just long enough to allow him to move his hands downward once and then the rule was back in effect?

          Wait a minute…they told him not to move his hands down for ‘any reason’, and didn’t include their later instructions as an exception. The ‘do not move hand down’ rule was still in effect! They should have shot him the second he started crawling!

          Wow, this ‘shoot people if they can’t guess how the police want them to follow stupid instructions’ game sure is fun.

          Sadly, you are actually factually incorrect about the idea the police told him to ‘put his hands behind him’.

          The police did not say not to put his hands behind him. They said not to put them to the small of his back.

          His hands did not go to the small of his back, which is, in fact, the area *above* the waist. His hand went to his *waistband*, which is normally a good three inches below the small of his back, and in this case, as his pants were slipping off, actually lower. Also, the small of the back is in the _center_, whereas his hand is to the side. The small of the back is actually a very small area, consisting of merely the place where your spine goes inward compared to the sides.

          And, no, close doesn’t count. They didn’t say ‘in the direction of the small of your back’, or ‘near the small of your back’. They literally say ‘small of the back’, not ‘behind your back’.

          And, perhaps just as relevantly, he was only informed he would be shot if, and I quote, his *hands* went there. Hands, plural. His ‘hands’ did not, in fact, go there, and one was kept on the floor at all time.

          Oh, look, now technically I won the parse-dumbass instructions game. He shall have to immediately be unshot.

          And you’re about to respond ‘It was clear what they meant’, because you are, somehow, attempting to both imply that he should have exactly followed their unclear instructions, *and* also guessed what the hell they were trying to make him do, which isn’t even clear to me watching later.

          Why are they making him move forward? He’s on on the damn ground, cuff him.

          It is, again, worth reminding everyone the police literally had no evidence any sort of crime had been committed whatsoever. They had a report of a crime. That was it.Report

          • Pinky in reply to DavidTC says:

            So, basically you’re conceding that I’m right. Noted.Report

            • DavidTC in reply to Pinky says:

              In copland you certainly are.

              Copland, where the rules are made up and the points don’t matter, because, in the end, they can shoot you for any reason they feel like and people will leap to their defense.

              Let’s all be honest here: If he hadn’t reached for the waistband of his pants, and the cops had shot him anyway, there would be people defending the cop’s actions on the grounds he was ‘moving too slow’ or ‘arguing with the police’.

              There’s always some reason it’s the fault of the victim, who I remind everyone is drunk here (And drunk in his own hotel room, where he has the perfect right to be drunk), and not the police, who keep talking about how they are about to shoot someone who appears to not only done nothing at all, but is not even behaving in a suspicious manner but has calmly surrendered to the police, who are making him do nonsensical things for, apparently, their own enjoyment instead of just cuffing him.Report

  11. Dark Matter says:


  12. RTod says:

    I listened to this episode of Radio Lab’s More Perfect last week. It suggests that the main reason police are acquitted in almost every case regardless of outrageousness is a Supreme Court decision. I highly recommend listening to it.

  13. DavidTC says:

    Oh, fun fact a lot of people missed: This guy didn’t _technically_ disobey police instructions, as far as I can tell.

    Not that people deserve to be shot because they grab at their pants because they are coming off, but he didn’t actually do something he was told not to do.

    The operative instructions at that time were ‘crawl towards me’, which he did not break. The instructions before that ‘do not put your hands down for any reason’, which people seem to assume he broke…he did not.

    Even ignoring the fact his hands were on the ground right before the movement that got him shot (and thus could not go ‘downward’) and that ‘crawl’ seems to void ‘do not put your hand down’…the movement he made was to put his hands back to his belt. ‘Back’ and ‘down’ are not the same direction.

    The police did not, at any point, tell him he was not allowed to put his hands to his pants, even if that’s what they were intending with ‘do not put your hands down’. They gave him a lot of very specific instructions, and literally none of them were ‘do not touch your belt’.

    So basically we’re at the point where the police can shoot you even if you don’t disobey them, because they sorta felt that you were anyway.Report

  14. Phil says:

    The mentality has changed with the advent of SWAT units. Even small municipalities either have or want one, and with the hardware comes the attitude.Report

  15. Damon says:

    “We live under the tyranny our peers have voted for”

    Yeah, “democracy” works don’t it?

    Frankly, there’s no incentive to “fix” this problem until a lot more white suburban soccer moms get whacked by cops and they start dropping like flies.Report

  16. Chris says:

    Well said, Oscar.Report

  17. United we land says:

    One root cause, not noted above, is that each state has laws which excuse police violence for many, poorly defined, reasons. To change the current situation and hold police accountable for excessive force, the change needs to start in the state legislatures. Unfortunately, no legislator wants to support his/her citizens on basic public safety because it would result in the “soft on crime” label.Report