Archive for the 'overkill' Category

By the book

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

In Escambia County, Florida, a gang of unnamed sheriff’s deputies shot an unarmed, 60-year-old black man 15 times while he was standing in his own front yard trying to get a cigarette from his aged mother’s car, sending him to the hospital with a gunshot wound in his leg. The police lit him up because they barged onto his property at a quarter till three in the morning, came up behind him, drew down on him and shouted at him out of nowhere to get his hands up. When he didn’t react the right way, quickly enough, to bellowed commands of these belligerent, heavily armed strangers, they opened fire on him.

[Roy] Middleton, 60, of the 200 block of Shadow Lawn Lane in Warrington, was shot in the leg about 2:42 a.m. Saturday while trying to retrieve a cigarette from his mother’s car in the driveway of their home.

A neighbor saw someone reaching into the car and called 911. While he was looking into the vehicle, deputies arrived in response to the burglary call.

Middleton said he was bent over in the car searching the interior for a loose cigarette when he heard a voice order him to, Get your hands where I can see them.

He said he initially thought it was a neighbor joking with him, but when he turned his head he saw deputies standing halfway down his driveway.

He said he backed out of the vehicle with his hands raised, but when he turned to face the deputies, they immediately opened fire.

It was like a firing squad, he said. Bullets were flying everywhere.

— Kevin Robinson, Deputies shoot man in his front yard
Pensacola News Journal (29 July 2013)

For shooting an unarmed man standing in his front lawn, who posed no threat to them, the unnamed police officers have been given a paid vacation from their government jobs.

Last Thursday, Florida Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan gave an interview with CNN in which he defended the shooting and the deputies responsible for it, and that it is within standard protocols to open fire because Middleton did not comply with their commands.

According to Florida Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan in a CNN interview Thursday, the police officers who fired 15 shots at 60-year-old Roy Middleton in the driveway of his and his mother’s home acted entirely within their limits in response to a 911 call for a suspected car theft… . On Thursday, Morgan defended the officers’ actions as standard procedure because Middleton “did not comply.” Asked by CNN’s Chris Cuomo how police could justify 15 shots at a 60-year-old man, Morgan said the officers saw a metallic object in Middleton’s hand as he made a “lunging movement” toward them. Middleton explained this in his account: He turned around because he thought the entire thing was a practical joke played by a neighbor.

“Right now we are comfortable from a training perspective that our officers did follow standard protocols,” Morgan said.

— Rebecca Leber, Florida Sheriff: Officers Who Shot Unarmed Black Man In His Driveway Followed ‘Standard Protocols’
ThinkProgress (August 1, 2013).

Let’s suppose that all that is true, for the moment. (There is actually no reason at all to take the police at their word on this, but let’s assume for the sake of argument.) If this overkill shooting of an unarmed man was something that leaves the police comfortable from a training perspective, then what does that tell you about the training? If this overkill shooting of an unarmed man was strictly by the book, what does that tell you about the book?

Yes, please.

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

I was going to post this the other day, but I had to wait until after Monday, because the author really is perfectly serious about it. Alex Seiz-Wald, at Salon, has recently discovered the chatter in gun-enthusiast and gun-rights circles around the fear of back-door gun-control legislation — by means of restrictions or prohibitions on ammunition sales, if new controls on guns themselves prove not to be politically viable. And so he picks up on some anecdotal Data-less Trend Stories about panic buying of ammunition in response. So, we get this story, from a putatively liberal political commentator:

[1]: http://www.salon.com/2013/03/27/cops_are_running_out_of_bullets_thank_the_nra/

> ### [With gun nuts hoarding bullets, will cops be disarmed?][1] ###
>
> *Gun owners terrified of nonexistent plans to restrict ammo are hoarding bullets. Now police are running out.*
>
> . . . And there are plenty of members of Congress making hyperbolic claims about gun control, and a right-wing media eager to heighten and repeat the warnings. Not to mention the NRA, the most powerful voice on guns in the country and the market leader on paranoid gun rhetoric for decades.
>
> But what those rushing to stockpile guns and ammo seem to miss is that *their actions have consequences on the people whose job it is to keep us safe.*
>
> —[Alex Seitz Wald, in Salon (27 March 2013)][1] (emphasis added)

Now I have no really strong convictions about what those rushing to stockpile guns and ammo think about or don’t think about. Maybe if you want to know that, rather than to speculate about the mind of the intra-cultural Other, you could *ask some people* who are doing that, instead of spending the entire article interviewing self-serving budget-hungry police chiefs. But I do know that many people would be much safer if police were unable to buy any bullets at all. Did police bullets keep [Kimani Gray][] safe? [Emma Hernandez][]? [Angel Alvarez and Luis Soto][]? [Alonzo Heyward][]? [Sean Bell][]? [Amadou Diallo][]? Who seriously believes that keep[ing] us safe is what heavily-armed police do? Who is the us that they have in mind when they think that?

In all seriousness, this is really nothing more than another [Data-less Trend Story][2] but if it were true, it would be the best thing I’d heard all year about NRA fans. I don’t even own any guns, and don’t have any plans to get into them, but if the story is true that just makes me wish I had the money to run out and buy up boxes of ammunition right now. Because I have no use for it, but the cops *do.* And that’s precisely the problem with the cops.

Disarm your local police.

[Kimani Gray]: http://www.ebony.com/news-views/why-did-kimani-gray-have-to-die-563
[Emma Hernandez]: http://radgeek.com/gt/2013/02/09/public-safety/
[Angel Alvarez and Luis Soto]: http://radgeek.com/gt/2010/08/20/your-authorization-says-shoot-your-nation/
[Alonzo Heyward]: http://radgeek.com/gt/2009/09/04/59-shots/
[Sean Bell]: http://radgeek.com/gt/2008/04/25/we_need/
[Amadou Diallo]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amadou_Diallo_shooting
[2]: http://radgeek.com/gt/2013/02/18/dataless-trend-story/

### Also. ###
* [GT 2013-03-26: Occupied Territory](http://radgeek.com/gt/2013/03/26/occupied-territory/)
* [GT 2013-03-15: Cops Are Here to Protect You (Cont’d).](http://radgeek.com/gt/2013/03/15/cops-are-here-to-protect-you-contd/)
* [GT 2013-02-10: Public Safety (Cont’d)](http://radgeek.com/gt/2013/02/10/public-safety-contd/)
* [GT 2013-02-11: Reasonable Suspicion](http://radgeek.com/gt/2013/02/11/reasonable-suspicion/)

Public Safety

Saturday, February 9th, 2013

From the Los Angeles Times (February 8, 2013), on a recent police shooting in Torrance, California. Emphasis is mine.

It was around 5 a.m. in Torrance on Thursday and police from nearby El Segundo had seen a pickup truck exit a freeway and head in the general direction of the Redbeam Avenue residence of a high-ranking Los Angeles police official, which was being guarded by a group of LAPD officers. Police were on the lookout for Christopher Jordan Dorner, a disgruntled ex-cop suspected of hunting down members of the LAPD . . . . A few minutes later, a truck slowly rolled down the quiet residential street.

As the vehicle approached the house, officers opened fire, unloading a barrage of bullets into the back of the truck. When the shooting stopped, they quickly realized their mistake. The truck was not a Nissan Titan, but a Toyota Tacoma. The color wasn’t gray, but aqua blue. And it wasn’t Dorner inside the truck, but a woman and her mother delivering copies of the Los Angeles Times.

In an interview with The Times on Friday, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck outlined the most detailed account yet of how the shooting unfolded. Margie Carranza, 47, and her mother, Emma Hernandez, 71, were the victims of a tragic misinterpretation . . . They declined to say how many officers were involved, what kind of weapons they used, how many bullets were fired and, perhaps most important, what kind of verbal warnings — if any — were given to the women before the shooting began.

Law enforcement sources told The Times that at least seven officers opened fire. On Friday, the street was pockmarked with bullet holes in cars, trees, garage doors and roofs. Residents said they wanted to know what happened.

. . . Glen T. Jonas, the attorney representing the women, said the police officers gave no comments, no instructions and no opportunity to surrender before opening fire. He described a terrifying encounter in which the pair were in the early part of their delivery route through several South Bay communities. Hernandez was in the back seat handing papers to her daughter, who was driving. Carranza would briefly slow the truck to throw papers on driveways and front walks.

As bullets tore through the cabin, the two women covered their faces and huddled down, Jonas said. They felt like it was going on forever.

Hernandez was shot twice in her back and is expected to recover. Her daughter escaped with only minor wounds from broken glass… .

Jonas estimated that the officers fired between 20 and 30 rounds. Photographs of the back of the truck showed at least two dozen bullet holes. Neighbors, however, suggested there were more shots fired. . . .

A day after the shooting, residents in the street surveyed the damage.

Kathy Merkosky, 53, was outside her stucco home pointing out the six bullet holes in the bumper and grill of her silver Acura MD-X. She knew her truck was damaged when she spotted it on television and saw fluid flowing into the street.

Her Ford Focus was hit as well — a bullet shattered the windshield and another flattened a front tire.

. . . [Neighbor Richard] Goo said he could hear the bullets hitting the front door and feared they were coming through the house.

He said he called 911 for the police, but was notified that they were already there.

— Joel Rubin, Angel Jennings and Andrew Blankstein, Details emerge in LAPD’s mistaken shooting of newspaper carriers, Los Angeles Times (February 8, 2013)

Here’s more on the Official Reaction, from the same story:

After the investigation is completed, Beck and an oversight board will decide if officers were justified in the shooting . . . .

— Details emerge …

Fun fact: if you delete the if from this sentence it will still be a completely accurate statement about what is going to happen.

. . . or made mistakes that warrant either punishment or training.

— Details emerge …

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck isn’t sure whether or not a gang of cops lighting up completely the wrong vehicle and shooting an innocent 71-year-old woman twice in the back is making a mistake.

But if it is, it’s a mistake that warrants punishment or training.

Do you feel safer now?

Also.

Your authorization says shoot your nation

Friday, August 20th, 2010

NewsOne recently published an interview with an anonymous Black cop on the NYPD, where they asked him for his thoughts on police brutality and racism in the wake of a string of high-profile stories about overkill shootings, grown-ass male cops appropriately punching 17 year old black girls in the face over suspected jaywalking, etc. The fact that the cop being interviewed happens to be Black ends up contributing basically nothing to the interview — so, hey, it turns out that Black police think and act like police, and they generally defend their colleagues and their own professional interest in being able to inflict violence with impunity. But the interview is interesting for a few things: a really amazing display of cognitive dissonance; an amazing exercise in unintended irony; and one of the few times you’ll see a cop actually come out and just say it in public.

First, the cognitive dissonance. When NewsOne asked him about race relations at the NYPD, Officer Anonymous says his gang brothers like to tell racist jokes to their colleagues, and discriminate against people based on their appearance, taking signs of urban Black culture as being (in and of themselves) evidence that somebody ought to be treated like a criminal, up to and sometimes including targeting, harassing and arresting people over how they look:

Officer: […] If anything, the only thing I could comment on is that some officers believe there is a certain ‘look’ that most perpetrators have and that tends to be those who follow the trends of urban Hip Hop culture. That would consist of cornrows, saggin jeans, earrings, fitted caps, etc.

So, if a cop fits this mold in his civilian clothes, they often joke ‘you look like a perp.’ I believe some of them try to mask it behind a few smiles, but they really believe that. Though, many do fit this ‘profile’, at least in the communities I’ve worked in, it’s still an unfair generalization.

Newsone: Have you seen officers unfairly target individuals who look like this?

Officer: As I said earlier, though its wrong and not right as law enforcement, I have seen that type of behavior and at times [it’s] led to arrests.

Then he says he’s never encountered any racism from his superiors or fellow officers:

Newsone: Have you ever encountered any racism from your superiors or fellow officers?

Officer: I have not.

Elsewhere in the interview, he’s asked about the recent 46-shot overkill police shooting in Harlem, where NYPD cops lit up Angel Alvarez at a late-night part — hitting him 21 times, killing Luis Soto (the main they were supposedly intervening to save) with 6 gunshots, and hitting 3 bystanders, and one of their fellow cops, in the process. (This is, of course, the same city government police force that lit up Sean Bell (50 shots, killing an unarmed man) and Amadou Diallo (41 shots, killing an unarmed immigrant who was holding a wallet so that he could show the cops his ID). Officer Anonymous wants us to go easy on the Gangsters in Blue, and wait until Official Sources tell us what to believe about what happened.

Newsone: What about the recent event in Harlem where a cop shot a man 21 times?

Officer: A lot of the facts haven’t come out yet. Many in the department are mad because the media is so quick to paint us as the bad guys. I suggest people wait until all the facts come out.

Newsone: But you can understand the rush to judgment in a city like New York where Louima, Diallo, and Sean Bell occurred?

Officer: I do understand that, but think about all the other incidents where people jumped the gun and were wrong about us.

Gosh, that’s tough.

It must be so hard for the police, what with how people get the situation wrong, and jump the gun.

Further down, NewsOne asks Officer Anonymous about the NYPD’s standing policy of subjecting random people of color to unreasonable searches and seizures. It’s not often that a police statist will come out and just lay certain things on the line; but here we go. Emphasis mine.

Newsone: What do you think of the NYPD’s stop and frisk policy?

Officer: The stop and frisk policy is an important tool in helping the department curb serious offenses.

Newsone: I disagree. It is a violation of our civil rights.

Officer: It is, but at the same time, crime would have never gone down in the Giuliani era to now if it weren’t for these small measures.

Officer Anonymous goes on to say Sometimes you have to do things that may not be approved by the public to make everyone safer. By which he means that police should roam the streets with unchecked power to stop and search anyone they damn well please — for no reason at all — in open contempt of the civil rights of their victims. The same racist-ass, hyperviolent, power-tripping, domineering, twitchy police who have proven themselves more than willing to beat up anyone who questions their actions, to torture those who won’t comply with their arbitrary bellowed orders, to open fire into a crowd at late-night parties, and to light up unarmed men with dozens of shots during routine stops. Does that make you feel safer on the streets of New York City?

59 shots

Friday, September 4th, 2009

Officer William Salyers, Officer Lauren Bacha, Officer Zachery Moody, Officer George Romero, Officer Deborah Dennison, and Officer Bryan Wood. Chattanooga Police Department, Chattanooga, Tennessee. A young black man named Alonzo Heyward was drunk and extremely upset after a late-night party. He grabbed a rifle and pointed at himself late at night and started talking about killing himself. His family and his girlfriend were trying to talk him down like civilized people do when someone is not in his right mind and threatening to hurt himself; unfortunately, in the meantime, some bystanders saw what was happening and they called in the Chattanooga city government’s police force — who proceeded to Take Control Of The Situation by means of escalating belligerence, by surrounding Heyward, by pointing guns at him, by hollering orders, and then — when he didn’t snap to and immediately obey their bellowed commands — by tasering him down to the ground. And then lighting him up with 59 shots after he’d already been knocked to the ground when he moved to get up.

Cops claim they felt threatened by the way he moved his rifle after he’d already been knocked to the ground by a 50,000-volt electric shock. The three non-cop witnesses on the scene (Heyward’s father, his girlfriend, and a neighbor) say they never saw Alonzo Heyward threaten to hurt anyone other than himself. They also say that Heyward was lying prone on the porch on top of the rifle when the cops first opened fire. While the cops were stopping to reload — they fired three volleys of gunfire before they decided Heyward was dead enough — the non-cop witnesses say they heard Alonzo Heyward ask the cops Why are you shooting me? Since he certainly never posed a threat to anyone other than himself before the cops showed up, and almost certainly posed no threat to the cops, either, in spite of their belligerent escalation of the situation, it’s a good question.

Meanwhile, the six cops who lit up Alonzo Heyward — Officer William Salyers, Officer Lauren Bacha, Officer Zachery Moody, Officer George Romero, Officer Deborah Dennison, and Officer Bryan Wood — were given a seven day paid vacation by the Chattanooga city government’s police force (so that they could take some time to see a shrink at taxpayer expense). They are now back on the streets. The boss cops insist that their hired muscle acted properly; Police Chief Freeman Cooper told a Chattanooga radio station that the hail of bullets used to mow down Alonzo Heyward shows that our people did what we trained them to do. No doubt. Eugene O’Donnell, a former government cop and government prosecutor who now teaches up-and-coming government cops how to be cops at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice [sic] in New York City, defended the hail of gunfire, saying that there is no magic number of shots to fire and that Unfortunately this is replicated all over the country. (Well, yeah.) When you send the police they bring deadly force with them. They come armed and they come predisposed to use force. No doubt. Which is precisely why legally unaccountable, heavily-armed twitchy government cops shouldn’t be sent into volatile situations where a person hasn’t threatened to harm anyone other than himself.

Oh, Come On

Sunday, August 31st, 2008

This is just ridiculous:

The Richland County (S.C.) Sheriff’s Department has acquired an armored personnel carrier complete with a turret-mounted .50-caliber belt-fed machine gun for its Special Response Team.

Sheriff Leon Lott told the Columbia State newspaper that he hoped the vehicle, named “The Peacemaker,” would let the bad guys know that his officers are serious.

“We don’t look at this as a killing machine,” Lott told the paper. “It’s going to keep the peace. We hope the fact that we have this is going to save lives. When something like this rolls up, it’s time to give up.”

Who wants to set an over under on the first time they use this thing to bust a pot dealer?

UPDATE: Pete Guither found a photo of the thing, and the weird origin of the name the sheriff gave it.