Court Cites George Floyd Killing While Denying Immunity To Officers Who Shot A Black Man 22 Times As He Lay On The Ground

from the scaling-back-an-extra-right dept

The killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin has triggered a shock wave across the country. The nation has seen the full horror of law enforcement's indifference to the lives of black people, this time personified by Officer Chauvin's knee on Floyd's neck. In full view of several citizens' cameras, the officer choked Floyd to death, leaving his knee on his neck for nearly three minutes after another officer failed to detect a pulse.

Cities are responding to a fact they can no longer ignore. So are some police departments. And the courts are starting to take notice. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has denied qualified immunity to police officers involved in another killing of a black man, pointing out that this pattern of violence against black citizens has not only been seen by the courts, but will weigh against officers in future civil rights lawsuits. (h/t Matthew Segal)

The opinion [PDF] starts with a concise recounting of the events leading to this lawsuit, delivered with a dryness that does nothing to eliminate the horrific aspects of the officers' actions.

In 2013, Wayne Jones, a black man experiencing homelessness, was stopped by law enforcement in Martinsburg, West Virginia for walking alongside, rather than on, the sidewalk. By the end of this encounter, Jones would be dead. Armed only with a knife tucked into his sleeve, he was tased four times, hit in the brachial plexus, kicked, and placed in a choke hold. In his final moments, he lay on the ground between a stone wall and a wall of five police officers, who collectively fired 22 bullets.

There are more details about these officers' actions in the decision, none of which lend themselves to a favorable ruling on their treatment of Wayne Jones.

Staub wrestled Jones to the ground and put him in “a choke hold, just to kind of stop him from resisting.” A loud choking or gurgling sound, which seems to be coming from Jones, is audible on Staub’s audio recorder at this time…

[...]

One officer can be heard loudly calling Jones a “motherf**ker.” At least one officer can be seen kicking Jones as he lay on the ground. Officer Neely tased Jones for a third time, and North then applied “a drive stun without any probes.”

Jones was carrying a knife, but not one he appears to have used against the officers. It was a small knife, rolled up in the sleeve of his shirt. This didn't stop the cops from insisting Jones was trying to kill or injure them. The recordings seem to indicate Jones was legitimately confused by the officers' questions and was only attempting to get some straight answers to the officers' oblique questions. But too many cops seem to view citizens' questions as a form of resistance and that's how the officers received Jones' queries. And they addressed his words with violence.

One homeless black man, carrying a knife in his sleeve -- one he seemingly never held in his hands -- was extrajudicially killed by a semi-circle of "reasonably scared" officers.

Having learned of the knife, the officers simultaneously drew back approximately five feet. As they moved back, Jones’s left arm dropped lifelessly. Jones was motionless on the ground, laying “with his right side on the ground” and his “right elbow . . . on the ground.” All five officers drew their firearms and formed a semi-circle around the recumbent Jones, who was between the officers and the bookstore wall. The officers ordered Jones to drop the weapon. Jones remained motionless and did not verbally respond. Lehman reported that Jones “did not make any overt acts with the knife towards the officers.” On the night of the incident, Staub similarly reported that as the officers stepped back, Jones “still had the f**king knife in his hand and he wasn’t f**king doing nothing.” Seconds later, the five officers fired a total of 22 rounds at Jones, causing 23 wounds, and killing him where he lay on the sidewalk. Neely fired the first shot, but the next rounds immediately followed. Most of the bullets entered Jones’s back and buttocks. Jones died shortly before midnight.

It appears at least one cop recognized they had overreacted. But there was no effort made to save Jones' life. Instead, the officers decided to save their careers.

In the immediate aftermath on the scene, one or two of the shooting officers called for emergency medical services, but none of them rendered aid themselves. When searching Jones’s lifeless body, officers found a small fixed blade knife tucked into his right sleeve. After being told that state police were coming to investigate, officers can be heard saying that the incident would be a “cluster” and that they were going to “have to gather some f**king story."

Although the cops testified one of them was stabbed by Jones, the court says the facts don't exactly lend themselves to this testimony. And even if Jones had attacked one of them, he was still "secured" by the five officers, which means the force deployed by the officers was excessive.

Given the relatively inaccessible location of the knife, and the physical inability to wield it given his position on the ground, the number of officers on Jones, and Jones’s physical state by this time, it would be particularly reasonable to find that Jones was secured while still armed.

The obvious retort is that a suspect who stabs an officer is not secured. But even given that admission, there remains a genuine question of fact as to whether Jones was secured at any point after Staub felt the knife, and before the officers simultaneously backed away. Staub called out multiple times that Jones had a knife, and another officer yelled to get back, all before the officers retreated. To be sure, the incident moved quickly. But during all of this, Jones was still on the ground, with five officers on him. A jury could reasonably find that Jones was secured before the officers backed away, and that the officers could have disarmed Jones and handcuffed him, rather than simultaneously release him.

Nothing about the killing was justified.

[T]he fact that Jones did not move or respond corroborates that he was incapacitated, and the reasonable officer would have recognized that fact. Indeed, Lehman reported that Jones “did not make any overt acts with the knife towards the officers,” and Staub reported that Jones “wasn’t f**king doing nothing.” And yet five officers wasted no time, giving Jones mere seconds to comply before firing. The officers shouting “drop the knife” seconds before shooting him was, at best, farcical because it was impossible for an incapacitated person to drop a knife tucked into his sleeve.

The court also takes a moment to slam cop-speak -- the mangling of English that turns absolutely nothing at all into justifications for searches, seizures, and the taking of citizens' lives.

According to North, Jones’s hands were “about to go up,” and he “took that as [Jones] may try to assault him.” Unless he was clairvoyant, North could not have known that Jones’s hands were “about” to be raised.

The closing paragraph addresses the current civil unrest and its roots in cop behavior -- something that has been deterred not at all by the routine application of qualified immunity to violent cops who escalate non-threatening situations until they feel deadly force can be deployed. The court's message to the officers in this case extends to all law enforcement officers in its jurisdiction: this level of violence in response to minimal "threats" isn't acceptable.

Wayne Jones was killed just over one year before the Ferguson, Missouri shooting of Michael Brown would once again draw national scrutiny to police shootings of black people in the United States. Seven years later, we are asked to decide whether it was clearly established that five officers could not shoot a man 22 times as he lay motionless on the ground. Although we recognize that our police officers are often asked to make split-second decisions, we expect them to do so with respect for the dignity and worth of black lives. Before the ink dried on this opinion, the FBI opened an investigation into yet another death of a black man at the hands of police, this time George Floyd in Minneapolis. This has to stop. To award qualified immunity at the summary judgment stage in this case would signal absolute immunity for fear-based use of deadly force, which we cannot accept.

Hopefully this points to a shift in the court's thinking. Maybe the Fourth (and hopefully other circuits) will consider more than simply whether or not precedent has declared this particular violation of rights unconstitutional. This decision says the court is considering both prongs of the qualified immunity argument. If so, this will stop the steady creep of qualified immunity to cover nearly any action taken by cops. The other prong -- whether or not the actions were reasonable -- has been ignored too often for far too long. This decision places the officers' actions in the context of today's civil unrest and recognizes it is part of the problem.

Filed Under: 4th circuit, george floyd, qualified immunity


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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 15 Jun 2020 @ 1:21am

    Now to turn the exception into the norm

    While it's well past time for cops to stop getting away with murder by pretending that it's just part of the job any step in that direction is a welcome one, and hopefully one that more courts(all of them would be nice) follow suit on.

    If someone is so jumpy/trigger-happy that they are willing to murder someone who even might be a threat(after beating the hell out of them) then they have no business wearing a uniform where a gun is standard equipment, and the only 'uniform' they should be in is that of a prison inmate.

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      Anonymous Coward, 15 Jun 2020 @ 3:27pm

      Re: Now to turn the exception into the norm

      What the hell are you talking about man? Were you just born yesterday?

      This shit has been going on for a long time - when some stupid little fuck like you posts your snarky little comments that you (and apparently, unfortunately, the moderators of this website) think are going to make some sort of impact and give your life some purpose that your are deperately thirsting for you are actually doing more harm than good. Know why? Because anyone with half a questioning-brain can tell from what you post that you're just a selfish little American bitch who sits behind a computer and writes mediocre things and pretends to give a shit about other people, and is then rewarded by the mediocre moderators of this mediocre website that wouldn't be mediocre if it didn't attract mediocre people who don't know how to use quotation marks properly in a sentence.

      Do everyone a favor and fuck off, meat-sack.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 15 Jun 2020 @ 3:47pm

        Re: Re: Now to turn the exception into the norm

        What exactly about the comment do you object to?

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          Anonymous Coward, 15 Jun 2020 @ 4:24pm

          Re: Re: Re: Now to turn the exception into the norm

          I don't object to anything in particular about the comment, I object to the comment in its entirety and the commentor. Every time I venture into one of these comment threads, somehow this person is almost always the first person to comment and never has anything interesting, creative, or intelligent to say and is somehow rewarded by TD moderators over and over again, which pisses me off.

          Cops are not jumpy or trigger happy, for a very long time they have been trained to shoot first and ask questions later, this is routine behavior that is only just now receiving national attention after decades of civil rights abuses.

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          • icon
            JMT (profile), 15 Jun 2020 @ 4:55pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Now to turn the exception into the norm

            "...I object to the comment in its entirety and the commentor."

            "I'm a whiney, triggered bitch!"

            "... somehow this person is almost always the first person to comment and never has anything interesting, creative, or intelligent to say..."

            Commenters here clearly disagree with you.

            "...and is somehow rewarded by TD moderators over and over again..."

            You really don't understand how the comment voting system works do you.

            "Cops are not jumpy or trigger happy, for a very long time they have been trained to shoot first and ask questions later..."

            So you're telling us they are trained to be jumpy and trigger happy. Great argument skippy.

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              identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 15 Jun 2020 @ 5:35pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Now to turn the exception into the norm

              "I'm a whiney, triggered bitch!"

              Projection never got anyone anywhere, especially here.

              Commenters here clearly disagree with you.

              I hear a sucking noise coming from somewhere in your direction...

              You really don't understand how the comment voting system works do you.

              I understand that the people who comment here are naive and uneducated.

              So you're telling us they are trained to be jumpy and trigger happy. Great argument skippy.

              Yes, that is what I am telling you, if you don't agree then you should go stand in the corner and piss yourself, numbnuts.

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              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 15 Jun 2020 @ 5:44pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Now to turn the exception into the norm

                "I understand that the people who comment here are naive and uneducated."

                I read your comment and must admit that I am in fact naive, as I know very little about the world around me - but that is not what you meant.
                Again, I do not know everything so I do indeed lack education in an absolute sense. But again that is not what you are talking about in the comment you made here where everyone is naive and uneducated.

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                  Anonymous Coward, 15 Jun 2020 @ 6:12pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Now to turn the exception into the n

                  You got me on that, my bad.

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              • icon
                Toom1275 (profile), 15 Jun 2020 @ 8:15pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Now to turn the exception into the norm

                Projection never got anyone anywhere, especially here.

                And yet you have nothing else to offer.

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                • icon
                  That One Guy (profile), 15 Jun 2020 @ 8:40pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Now to turn the exception into the n

                  Not true, they've also got rampant bigotry, gross dishonesty, and homicidal arguments that would make a hood wearing klansman from the lynchin' days proud.

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              • icon
                Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 16 Jun 2020 @ 12:15am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Now to turn the exception into the norm

                "Yes, that is what I am telling you..."

                So you concur that cops are indeed jumpy and trigger-happy. And yet somehow this is not something you see as a problem when the number of police shootings in the US proportionally outpace actual criminal murder rates in several other industrialized nations.

                There's a point where the knee-jerk defense you alt-right types always bring up when people start objecting to obvious police brutality goes beyond being just the plain babble of an idiot.

                Just go ahead and say outright that you don't really see the issue when cops decide to murder people outright entirely based on the skin color of the victim. We'll at least understand WHY you're arguing like a clown in the ring pretending that he's up to serious business.

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              • icon
                Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 16 Jun 2020 @ 12:20am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Now to turn the exception into the norm

                "I understand that the people who comment here are naive and uneducated."

                Pretty rich coming from a guy who somehow argues against himself in every other comment he makes and whose every argument comes out of a supremacist echo chamber in full denial of all the observable facts.

                Because, you know, 5 cops standing around firing wildly at a prone and beaten man from a safe distance isn't good policing. In fact it goes so far beyond even the worst type of policing it's in ISIS thug territory. Which is also what the court's ruling in the OP implies.

                So, since we're apparently all uneducated, just where do you think the court there is wrong and what's your argument that it is? And no, A few ad-homs and some snark isn't really winning that argument, Baghdad Bob.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 15 Jun 2020 @ 5:26pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Now to turn the exception into the norm

            Maybe they are jumpy, trigger happy, sadistic, and trained to shoot first?

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 15 Jun 2020 @ 5:41pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Now to turn the exception into the norm

            somehow rewarded by TD moderators over and over again, which pisses me off

            Your point of contention is because someone else has more magical Internet points than you do?

            Seriously?

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              Anonymous Coward, 15 Jun 2020 @ 5:53pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Now to turn the exception into the norm

              Hahaha...good point...well it's just that I like this website, I've been coming here a very long time and sometimes I can't believe what has happened here. I understand that everything else in this society has been progressively dumbed down..but TD too...some things are just way too difficult to accept.

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              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 15 Jun 2020 @ 6:20pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Now to turn the exception into the norm

                And making a concerned post, i.e. expletive-laden rant about magical Internet recognition makes you intellectually superior... how, exactly?

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                • icon
                  That One Guy (profile), 15 Jun 2020 @ 6:22pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Now to turn the exception into the n

                  Through the power of hypocrisy of course.

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                    Anonymous Coward, 15 Jun 2020 @ 6:47pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Now to turn the exception into t

                    Careful, you wouldn't want to engage someone in an actual conversation lest you say something that could tarnish your image on TD that you have worked so hard to build! Talk about being a fucking hypocrite.

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                  identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 15 Jun 2020 @ 6:42pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Now to turn the exception into the n

                  Well it's not exactly "magical internet recognition." You and I are, in fact, on this website commenting here for some reason, although only christ knows why.

                  I've tried a more logical approach in the past and I always seem to get expletive-laden rants in response, even from MM, so I figured I'd cut the bullshit and try it that way.

                  I don't think it makes me intellectually superior, but what makes community members intellectually inferior is that they simply cannot accept that someone else who has an opposing viewpoint could be, in some sense, correct. If these people can't accept someone else's point of view and learn from it, then they are effectively primates flailing their cocks about, and that is increasingly how I feel about this community.

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                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 15 Jun 2020 @ 9:59pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Now to turn the exception into t

                    You and I are, in fact, on this website commenting here for some reason

                    Your reason, it seems, appears to be complaining how a signed-in user has a verifiable history of posts people agree with, and demanding that everyone else feel bad about it. Yeah, "only christ knows why".

                    I've tried a more logical approach in the past

                    Ah, the "long time lurker" gambit. Fortunately - or unfortunately - I happen to feel like killing time for a spell.

                    what makes community members intellectually inferior is that they simply cannot accept that someone else who has an opposing viewpoint could be, in some sense, correct

                    And? This isn't rocket science. This topic comes up frequently, particularly on matters of copyright. Mostly because dissenters' idea of an opposing viewpoint is "If you disagree with the RIAA that means you think artists don't deserve money", or some other sort of exaggeration. This even happens on news where performance rights organizations were found to be corrupt and not actually paying the musicians they represent. Or the RIAA using a photograph they haven't paid the license for.

                    Pointing out the value of copyright is "in some sense, correct". It's also completely useless when it comes to talking about rot in the system.

                    If these people can't accept someone else's point of view and learn from it

                    Let's give you the benefit of the doubt and say you're a long-time "concerned" poster, waxing poetic on the state of discourse. Which means to say you'll have seen the sort of "discourse" that dissenters have passed for "in some sense, correct" in the past:

                    "Farmer Mike, milkin' it

                    Technopolitical, multiple Ph.D holder, shows his disrespect for punctuation

                    "Did it not occur to you that if not for how you continue to cheat and steal from content creators, John Steele would not have to create offshore companies and forge signatures as you have ruthlessly alleged?"

                    "Bodey McBodeface"

                    "Manning is a tranny aspie"

                    I could go on. If you think the "dissenting" side of Techdirt is a bastion of logical process and restrained responses... you clearly haven't been visiting for a long time. And you think people who disagree with the above are the bad guys here?

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                  • identicon
                    Rocky, 15 Jun 2020 @ 11:58pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Now to turn the exception into t

                    What opposing viewpoint? You being grossly dishonest and behaving like an asshole isn't an opposing viewpoint.

                    It's interesting that you think behaving like an asshole somehow make the rest of us intellectually inferior. The only intellectually inferior here is you - because the only reason I see for you to come here and shit-post is that you somehow feel the need to "get even" which is a characteristic of someone with a fragile ego.

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                    • icon
                      PaulT (profile), 16 Jun 2020 @ 12:47am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Now to turn the exception in

                      Standard conversation:

                      Everyone else: intelligent debate
                      AC: Look at me everyone, I'm a dickhead!
                      Everyone else: Shut up dickhead
                      AC: Hive mind! Censorship!

                      I only poke at it because sometimes he'll go so far that even the average lurker can't possibly think that he has any real point to his existence.

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                      • icon
                        Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 17 Jun 2020 @ 12:29am

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Now to turn the exceptio

                        "I only poke at it because sometimes he'll go so far that even the average lurker can't possibly think that he has any real point to his existence."

                        True enough but...Baghdad Bob isn't exactly the "average" lurker. Given his prolific input around here and back in the day on Torrentfreak I'm inclined to believe he's managed to hang much of his self-perceived identity on "being the lone voice of opposition".

                        Tells you a lot about a person when that person has so very little all they're left with is their identity as an online troll. It'd be pitiable if his manifest hard-on for general bigotry and fascism and general rude behavior wasn't so bluntly obvious.

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                        • icon
                          PaulT (profile), 17 Jun 2020 @ 3:34am

                          Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Now to turn the exce

                          "Baghdad Bob isn't exactly the "average" lurker "

                          I'm not referring to that dickhead, I mean anyone reading the conversation who might be tricked into thinking he has a point if they're unfamiliar with his tactics. I've learned a lot in other forums by watching knowledgeable people tear apart uneducated trolls with facts, and hope I'm returning the favour somewhat here.

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                  • icon
                    Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 16 Jun 2020 @ 12:25am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Now to turn the exception into t

                    "I've tried a more logical approach in the past..."

                    Bullshit. You've tried to lie, cheat, set up strawmen and argue out of false assumption and false equivalence in the past. To the point where now when we see those tells of yours - flagrant and obvious dishonesty and snarky put-downs in the desperate hope of making the actual logic go away - that by now you get flagged whenever one of your easily recognizable attempts at lying your ass off to make factual reality seem different than it actually is, we simply flag your ass and move on.

                    Don't you ever wonder, Baghdad Bob, why everyone here just keeps right on recognizing who you are despite the fact that these days you always just settle for posting as an AC?

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        • identicon
          Rocky, 15 Jun 2020 @ 4:26pm

          Re: Re: Re: Now to turn the exception into the norm

          Do you really expect a rational answer after that unfocused diatribe?

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            identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 15 Jun 2020 @ 4:36pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Now to turn the exception into the norm

            Diatribe, yes, unfocused, absolutely not. And if you're telling me that is uncommon here on TD, where it is routine for community members to curse and point the finger at those who express opposing points of view, then you're not getting anywhere on that basis.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 15 Jun 2020 @ 5:49pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Now to turn the exception into the norm

              I try to not do that sort of thing regardless of the absurdity encountered, but it is not easy especially when claims are unsupported with evidence, data, or anything at all.

              I have read more than several threads where people acted in civil manner while presenting differing points of view, it does happen more than not, in my opinion anyway cause I got no data.

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                identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 15 Jun 2020 @ 6:01pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Now to turn the exception into the norm

                Ehh...I've found that even the moderators resort to petty name-calling and rhetorical, circular arguments. It's no wonder that this website isn't popular, such a pity.

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                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 16 Jun 2020 @ 5:55am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Now to turn the exception into the n

                  Ehh - so what.
                  I was speaking in general terms of the overall experience and you reply with your personal and specific experiences as though that negates something.

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                • icon
                  Toom1275 (profile), 16 Jun 2020 @ 8:50am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Now to turn the exception into the n

                  [Projects facts not in evidence]

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Jun 2020 @ 3:46am

    When did the police force become so aggressive?
    Police use to be a calming presence that was enough to defuse most situations.
    You would think " the police are here, now the situation will call down"

    Now when the police show up the first thing in your mind is "somebody is going to get killed today"

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Jun 2020 @ 4:13am

      Re:

      In your world maybe, others experience a much different reality.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 15 Jun 2020 @ 6:13am

        Re: Re:

        "others" being wealthy white people in expensive neighborhoods, yeah. Cops routinely focus on poor and non-white neighborhoods looking for some excitement. And they find it whenever they see skin in an off-white color.

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        • icon
          JoeCool (profile), 15 Jun 2020 @ 6:39am

          Re: Re: Re:

          No, he's right. Officers USED to be trained to de-escalate the situation. I knew several officers in Houston, Texas, who NEVER fired their gun once outside the firing range. One I knew only ever DREW his gun once in twenty years on the force. Now, officers are trained to kick in doors and go in guns blazing, like a commando unit. As we saw in another article here, they now have special training camps (paid for by us) that teach if you're not ready to murder an innocent civilian, you're a pussy and should quit.

          There's been a HUGE change in how the police deal with the public, and none of it's for the good of the public, no matter your skin color. I do recognize the it's especially bad for non-white people, but don't think that being white is going to automatically make you immune - it might be the last mistake you make.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 15 Jun 2020 @ 7:57am

          Re: Re: Re:

          I think your interpretation of my comment is one hundred and eighty degrees out of alignment with same, perhaps I was not clear.

          OP: "the police are here, now the situation will call down"

          ME: "In your world maybe, others experience a much different reality."

          Others being poor people who get killed. I thought it would be obvious, oh well.

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      • icon
        Oblate (profile), 15 Jun 2020 @ 3:01pm

        Re: Re:

        Is it acceptable that anyone's reality is like that?

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Jun 2020 @ 7:18am

      Re:

      Police don't, in general, defuse anything these days!!!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    PaulT (profile), 15 Jun 2020 @ 4:00am

    "In 2013, Wayne Jones, a black man experiencing homelessness, was stopped by law enforcement in Martinsburg, West Virginia for walking alongside, rather than on, the sidewalk... In his final moments, he lay on the ground between a stone wall and a wall of five police officers, who collectively fired 22 bullets."

    Words fail me here. Not only did they escalate such a minor situation into an execution, but they needed backup to do it? Not only would the cops in many other countries be well trained enough to escalate, the initial infraction may not have been illegal to begin with, or perhaps we'd even simply not have diagnosed schizophrenics fending for themselves on the streets to such a degree. Amazing, but sadly not necessarily surprising.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Jun 2020 @ 4:15am

      Re:

      That will teach them to walk on the sidewalk like they are supposed to.
      /s

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 15 Jun 2020 @ 6:39am

        Re: Re: Makes me SAD

        It has been years since the first request. We still need a "funny if it were not so God damned SAD".

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 15 Jun 2020 @ 8:22am

          Re: Re: Re: Makes me SAD

          SAD

          It's sad!?!? More like that's the cop's expectation. "Threaten to kill them until they comply, and if they still refuse, kill until those that remain do as they are told." That is the authoritarian manifesto. Escalate until either fear takes hold or you can kill the objectionist. They view everyone else as puppets and themselves as puppeteers eager to cut some strings. This isn't sad, it's criminal.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 15 Jun 2020 @ 7:46am

      Re:

      "Words fail me here. Not only did they escalate such a minor situation into an execution, but they needed backup to do it?"

      Yup. Here's what gets to me though;

      Not a single officer with partners standing around doing nothing much. Five of them, all escalating to a regular good old-fashioned lynching. In many ways this was worse by far than George Floyds murder, as brutal and premeditated as that was.

      And here's the thing. Does anyone know if the cops in question were prosecuted for the outright murder?
      Or are they still working for the police?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 15 Jun 2020 @ 11:54pm

        Re: Re:

        "In many ways this was worse by far than George Floyds murder, as brutal and premeditated as that was."

        Yeah, it's hard to say what's worse. A bunch of cops "in fear of their lives" and using excessive force disproportionately at a moment's notice, or a single cop who is able to slowly murder someone while other cops watch.

        "Does anyone know if the cops in question were prosecuted for the outright murder?
        Or are they still working for the police?"

        The case in the article is to decide whether the men are entitled to qualified immunity. As that's not been rejected I assume a prosecution will e going ahead soon. A quick Google doesn't bring up any specifics about current employment, but I would assume that while the men were assumed to have qualified immunity their jobs haven't been affected yet.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 16 Jun 2020 @ 12:35am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "A bunch of cops "in fear of their lives" and using excessive force disproportionately at a moment's notice..."

          "Excessive force" would be to keep beating him when he was down and handcuffed. Using that definition for 5 cops standing at a safe distance and unloading their handguns into a prone person unable to move is like calling cutting someones head off an "effective counterargument". This smacks of a gang execution by MS-13 or a gang of pseudomilitia thugs in some civil war-riven hellhole committing their daily dose of war crimes.

          That in the US this shit has become normalized tells me it's a place to avoid. Even if being a white middle-class adult puts me right out of the immediate danger zone.

          " A quick Google doesn't bring up any specifics about current employment..."

          Yeah, couldn't find anything either. Mind you if they're in one of the states where the police unions have achieved the same as in minnesota that might just mean the records remain sealed.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Jun 2020 @ 4:37am

    Sucks to be Hamilton.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Jeroen Hellingman (profile), 15 Jun 2020 @ 4:47am

    Good. Although it shouldn't matter, it probably helps that one of the judges shares a last name with George Floyd.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Daydream, 15 Jun 2020 @ 5:29am

    Let's forget for a moment that it's police and a black man.

    Imagine you're just walking down the street, when a man pulls up in a car and demands to know what's in your pockets.
    You tell him the truth, but he gets angry and starts shouting and making demands.
    You're frightened, you start backing away, and then this guy pulls out a taser and shoots you.

    It doesn't stop there. The guy calls some of his friends, they start taking it in turns to beat you up. They just keep shocking you and kicking you and choking you.
    Then one calls out that he thinks you have a weapon. They let you go and back away.
    You're hurt, you're just lying there, hoping that it's over and that they'll leave you alone...and then each of them pulls out a gun.

    ...

    They violently assaulted a man who did nothing other than catch their eye, then backed away and shot him to death from a distance because they were afraid he might defend himself.
    Sadistic bullies, that turned coward the instant there might have been consequences for their behavior.

    How does this happen? How does a growing child develop such a disregard for human life?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Jun 2020 @ 5:36am

      How does this happen?

      Standard police training.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 15 Jun 2020 @ 6:18am

        Re:

        And bad parenting.

        Also, human nature. Most people, when given some degree of power over their peers, exercise that power in heartless ways to their own base amusement. When that power includes the freedom to kill without consequence and training that tells them anyone who is not part of their group is an enemy we get America's police.

        And it's time to tear down that corrupt institution and replace it with a more regulated and accountable organization of the people, by the people and for the people.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Jeroen Hellingman (profile), 15 Jun 2020 @ 6:41am

          Re: Re:

          I am an optimist and assume that such heartless people are actually a minority. It is just that certain aspects of a culture in a police force will attract the wrong type of persons. Bad cops drive out good cops.

          Given that police officers have more more rights than ordinary citizens, I think they should also punished more harshly than ordinary citizens in cases of abuse. We still have a long way to go here.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Wyrm (profile), 17 Jun 2020 @ 6:18pm

            Re: Re: Re:

            I am an optimist and assume that such heartless people are actually a minority.

            I also try to be optimistic and believe in human nature.

            The problem here is that cops are actively trained to be violent, to see themselves as predators lest they be prey, to shoot first at the first sign of movement because this movement could end your life.

            Add to this the fact that good cops are actually fired when found. There was this example of a cop de-escalating a situation with a suicidal man, and he was pretty successful until his colleagues arrived and shot the man down without asking questions. The single cop was fired for endangering the colleagues who arrived late. The victim was acting crazy, waving a gun around that turned out to not even be loaded, so the "reinforcements" can be justified (they couldn't know the gun was empty), and the first cop even defended them in his report. Still got fired because he wasn't trigger-happy.
            And that's only one of many examples.

            Be optimistic by default, but don't forget to also look at reality. Cops are not bad by nature. They are trained to be bad and often retaliated when they are not bad, or at the very least willfully blind to the actions of "bad apples".

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 15 Jun 2020 @ 8:04am

          Re: Re:

          "And bad parenting"

          ... that contributes toward a school yard bully becoming a bad law enforcement officer.

          I think the military also shares a bit of the biased indoctrination responsible for a generally bigoted populace.

          Tear down which corrupt institution? Would it be better to tackle one at a time or all at once ..... because all at once seems like a coup rather than reform.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 15 Jun 2020 @ 8:58am

            Re: Re: Re:

            If a coup is what it takes...

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 15 Jun 2020 @ 10:18am

              Re: Re: Re: Re:

              No - that is what the gop types want, a civil war.
              Do not give it to them.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 16 Jun 2020 @ 10:16am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Uh, no. It's not "GOP types" that are doing everything in their power to start a race war.

                Not a civil war … that implies a disagreement over how we are to be governed. This is the left wing doing its level best to start a race war.

                Even though people like Tim Cushing very very badly want a civil war - where the left and right wing physically fight it out, the leftists miraculously win, and all wrongthinkers (White people who don't hate themselves) are then subject to Nuremberg-style kangaroo courts (probably called "Truth and Reconciliation", a la South Africa drumheads) - what he'll end up getting is a race war where he won't get to decide which side he's on: his skin color will do it for him.

                All his groveling and kowtowing will not save him from the machetes and firebombs and rape squads.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 16 Jun 2020 @ 12:38am

            Re: Re: Re:

            "I think the military also shares a bit of the biased indoctrination responsible for a generally bigoted populace."

            Yes and no. Military vetting is normally better, and boot camp tends to rip out a good chunk of the preunderstanding the average citizen has. The problem in the military is usually the culture which comes after training, where blind obedience and bad commanders make for atrocities - see Abu Ghraib for examples about how that shit goes down.

            Cop training, otoh, does very little to strip out pre-existing bigotry and, looking at current US police, tends to concentrate such people in the precincts lax enough to tolerate officers holding and acting on such views.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        JMT (profile), 15 Jun 2020 @ 5:06pm

        Re:

        "Standard police training."

        That's not enough though. The question was "How does a growing child develop such a disregard for human life?", and that's not something that can come from training alone. The training might convince you that it's now ok to indulge in such behavior, but that alone shouldn't be enough to treat the lives of others with so little regard.

        I wonder if that standard police training might actually weed out the good ones, who leave when that realise they're not happy with doing things the way they're trained to.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 15 Jun 2020 @ 6:21pm

          Re: Re:

          I wonder if that standard police training might actually weed out the good ones, who leave when that realise they're not happy with doing things the way they're trained to.

          That might actually be a lot closer than it should be, as in a clip of 'warrior training' I believe in a John Oliver episode the 'trainer' basically said that if you aren't the sort of person who can gun someone down then police work is not for you, since it takes a killer to deal with a killer.

          If that is the sort of mindset and training that police are presented with I can easily see those that don't see everyone else as walking targets deciding that yeah, police work isn't for them, leaving only those that see that sort of mindset and fail to see any problem with it.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Aaron Walkhouse (profile), 15 Jun 2020 @ 5:38am

    I have a little question:

    Is it yet time to call for a legislated end to COWARDICE-based policing? ; ]

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Jun 2020 @ 5:57am

    One ounce of truth is worth a million kilos of propaganda. You remember truth, right? Or have you forgotten. For example, let's say that every time you needed the police, they got to charge you a fee for their help. This seems like a simple solution. Leave it to the Open Market to supply protection for the public. If you're a fucking low life lazy unemployed asshole, and someone wants to rob you, name your price for protection. Nothing? That's what you get. If you're a gainfully employed father and husband and law abiding citizen, you have the money to pay. So, that's our future. And, it's NOT BAD. Eliminate the taxes for everyone (related to police), defund them, and let those who can pay for protection PAY, and let the market SUPPLY, and it will all COME INTO BALANCE. Fuck you poor assholes. Those of us with money will protect ourselves, and YOU ARE ON YOUR FUCKING OWN. GOOD LUCK. Move to Chaz.

    And by the way, this message is brought to you by the Police Union of America(PUOA), not to be confused with Police Organization Of Portland,or POOP. POOP is not PUOA and PUOA is not POOP).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Upstream (profile), 15 Jun 2020 @ 5:59am

    pattern of violence against black citizens has not only been seen by the courts

    Depending on when you start counting, it seems it has taken the courts about 160 - 244 years to detect this pattern.

    I think I detect another pattern, one of willful ignorance by statist courts. When we talk of reforming or replacing parts of a corrupt, racist system, let's not forget this part.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Jun 2020 @ 6:21am

      Re:

      Absolutely. It's not just a bunch of police officers at the root of this problem. It's the officers (all of them, including those who stand by and say/do nothing), the prosecutors, the judges, the for-profit prison system and all of the laws that create a financial conflict of interest in policing such as asset forfeiture. The entire system is corrupt, violent and racist from the top to the bottom and it's time to finally do something about it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Norahc (profile), 15 Jun 2020 @ 8:17am

    After being told that state police were coming to investigate, officers can be heard saying that the incident would be a “cluster” and that they were going to “have to gather some f**king story."

    If a normal subjects, I mean citizens, got together to "gather some f**king story" about an incident, you can damn well bet they would be charged with conspiracy and witness tampering.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    samiratou (profile), 15 Jun 2020 @ 8:45am

    Supreme Court

    Question: Given that the Supreme Court has (as late as today), declined to hear challenges to QA, do you suppose that means they will decline to hear this one, too? Which would give the precedent a chance to stand?

    (I'm assuming the ruling will be appealed.)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Peter, 15 Jun 2020 @ 10:45am

    "........would signal absolute immunity for fear-based use of deadly force......"

    Nope. It would signal absolute immunity to any cop using any force. Full stop. All they have to say is the magic get-out-of- jail-free words "I was afraid", and immunity would follow automatically.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David, 15 Jun 2020 @ 10:47am

    This you cannot fix with training

    We did not have one officer panicking and killing an incapacitated citizen with four standing by. We had a group of five acting in concord and reinforcing one another's reaction, both the killing and the coverup.

    From training to execution to social reinforcement, this is so broken that you need to start from scratch. Those officers must not remain officers. They must not even be allowed to remain in contact. Frankly, I would trust any ordinary felon more to vote sanely than those, either. The department which has allowed those officers to form a group has to be dissolved. The training centers that have scored 0 out of 5 for teaching officers how to approach a situation need to be shut down and all of their instructors need to be banned for life from ever performing any educational or training task for people who may have the ability to make life-or-death decisions.

    The proverbial bad apples in the barrel have been left in too long. This barrel is not salvageable. As a whole.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Jun 2020 @ 11:01am

    If the cops could step back to 5-feet, they could step back to 30-feet. Once they stepped back, that is when they should have reassessed the situation.

    Well, I guess they did reassess the situation didn't they.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Jun 2020 @ 4:33pm

    Let the punishment fit the crime

    One thing I haven't seen mentioned: the reason the guy was stopped by police in the first place. If his "crime" was walking on the grass beside the sidewalk, is that even really a law that justifies enforcement, or is it one of thousands of laws created for selective enforcement against "undesirables"?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 15 Jun 2020 @ 11:48pm

      Re: Let the punishment fit the crime

      I did mention it in passing, but in a lot of ways this wouldn't be a crime elsewhere. Even if it was, a police force trained to de-escalate situations would have dealt with it quite easily, and could even have had an outcome where the man left with his situation improved. I can easily imagine an outcome where the man is referred to mental health care or a decent shelter in a country where taser and guns aren't carried by the average officer.

      Instead, the coward who first decided to confront the man panicked when it was suggested the homeless man had a means to defend himself on the streets, and his roided up buddies decided to have a nice execution party when the beatings didn't result in immediate boot licking.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David, 16 Jun 2020 @ 2:12am

    He had a knife.

    Officers want to live another day. You know, this is the same standard we apply to health workers who give cyanide to people that might be carriers of serious diseases, in order to minimise their own likelihood of bodily harm. Take control of the situation.

    Though admittedly in this case the danger for the officers did not seem as tangible as for the health worker.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 16 Jun 2020 @ 2:39am

      And they had tasers and guns

      Officers want to live another day

      So do the overwhelming majority of people they interact with, so that is neither an excuse or justification for murder.

      You know, this is the same standard we apply to health workers who give cyanide to people that might be carriers of serious diseases, in order to minimise their own likelihood of bodily harm.

      I wasn't aware that health workers were allowed to kill someone with cyanide without the other person's consent, but even then no, no it really isn't. Pretty sure if a health worker tased, choked, and beat the ever loving hell out of someone even without murdering them they'd be tried, convicted, and sitting in a cell inside a month at most. Add in a recording and you could knock that down to a week.

      If you lower the bar for on the spot execution to 'someone might present a threat' then you've essentially given police permission to murder anyone at any time, because even a completely naked person without any weapons at all can still harm or kill someone.

      Though admittedly in this case the danger for the officers did not seem as tangible as for the health worker.

      The 'danger' they faced at the time they opened fire was non-existent, as the victim was lying on the ground, facing away from them and thanks to their tender mercies in no shape to attack or even draw their small knife.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 17 Jun 2020 @ 12:48am

      Re: He had a knife.

      "Officers want to live another day. You know, this is the same standard we apply to health workers who give cyanide to people that might be carriers of serious diseases, in order to minimise their own likelihood of bodily harm. Take control of the situation."

      Except that a health worker who deliberately kills their patient gets prosecuted for murder one immediately.
      The police described in the OP, however, first incapacitated the suspect (again, disproportional right from the start) then fired 22 friggin rounds of ammo in the prone and immobile citizen from a safe distance.

      According to your argument I just need a badge. Then I could break into your house (because a hunch), gun you down like a dog (because fearing for my life), *and keep firing until the clip was empty (because, again, fear). And once again according to you I'd walk free. Reasonable suspicion? Actual danger? Nah.

      Being a law enforcement officer is a "high-risk" occupation, same as a firefighter or soldier. If someone is such a coward he needs premeditated murder and proactive lynchings just to feel safe when doing his job then that person is an even worse choice for a law enforcement job than a stone-cold hitman straight out of jail who might at least be trusted with knowing when NOT to kill people.

      You either need a /s...or as I suspect, not pretend at being someone else?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 17 Jun 2020 @ 3:39am

        Re: Re: He had a knife.

        "According to your argument I just need a badge. Then I could break into your house (because a hunch), gun you down like a dog (because fearing for my life), *and keep firing until the clip was empty (because, again, fear). And once again according to you I'd walk free. Reasonable suspicion? Actual danger? Nah."

        The sad thing is that you state this as a hypothetical, but it's really not. I can think if several cases that match the description. Hell, there's one case that comes to mind where they didn't even have to enter the home first.

        https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-50032290

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        David, 17 Jun 2020 @ 8:11am

        Re: Re: He had a knife.

        You either need a /s...or as I suspect, not pretend at being someone else?

        I wonder how satirical magazines manage to survive in the U.S. I mean, apart from Foxnews.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 17 Jun 2020 @ 1:05pm

          Re: Re: Re: He had a knife.

          It's the poe problem, wherein it's hard to do sarcasm well when there are people loudly making similar arguments but who are dead serious when they so do.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Upstream (profile), 18 Jun 2020 @ 3:54am

    Add to this the fact that good cops are actually fired when found.

    This is very telling. Radley Balko and others have documented many examples of this, and there are surely many, many more that didn't make the news. Add to this the likelihood that most good people would never consider being a cop in the first place, and, if they do, they are usually filtered out during training, and you can get an idea of the full scope of this structural, cultural problem.

    Cops are not bad by nature.

    Certainly not all, but many, if not most (see above). For someone who is "bad by nature," being a cop has thus far been a prime opportunity to "legalize" their violent criminality.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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