from the so-anyway,-I-started-blasting dept
More often than not, police do not stop a mass shooting. In Denver over the weekend, they actually started one. According to the Denver Post, police in the Lower Downtown area opened fire to stop a man who allegedly pulled a gun. They managed to shoot five bystanders in the process.
Mic’s properly snarky report (penned by AJ Dellinger) makes the points regular journalists won’t make, starting with normal media’s over-reliance on firsthand accounts by the most unreliable narrators.
According to the police account of the incident — which is always suspect and often inaccurate — a young man involved in some sort of altercation outside a bar “lifted up his hoody as though he was armed with a handgun.” Officers approached him, and he started to walk away while reaching for his waist “in a motion consistent with pulling out a firearm.” One could probably describe this as a motion consistent with tucking in your shirt, too, but cops assumed he was pulling out a gun.
The Denver PD did at least manage to push out a few tweets about this “incident,” but they were mostly fact-free and completely self-serving. After injuring five bystanders, the PD sent out this description of the shooting.
UPDATE: PIO on scene, multiple victims located all transported to a local hospital. Investigation ongoing.
Accurate: “officer-involved shooting.” More accurate: officers shot a bunch of people. (Luckily, this also included the suspect.) Accurate: “multiple victims.” More accurate: all were victims of police gunfire.
At least the Denver Post took the time to interview some civilians, otherwise the only narrative would be the PD’s version — one in which multiple people were injured by a mysterious force, one presumably related to the lawbreaker cops decided to shoot at while pursuing them down a crowded street.
And it does point out where the cops began lying about what happened. It started with the probable cause report that attempts to justify the actions of officers (still unnamed) who opened fire. They claim the suspect reached into his waistband “in a motion consistent with pulling out a firearm.” One officer said they saw a gun. Another officer (or maybe the same one) said he “feared for life” and that the suspect pointed a gun at officers.
That’s the lead-up. Then the shooting started, something that went completely undocumented in this report.
But the probable cause statement doesn’t describe the officers firing their weapons. It reports that one officer “heard four to six gunshots and observed Waddy fall to the ground,” then notes that “after the shots were fired,” the officers began to render first aid to Waddy “and several other victims who were injured during the shooting” — the only reference to bystanders being caught in the line of police fire.
There were at least six shots. One hit Waddy and five others hit bystanders. Given the number of bullets cops generally expend before hitting their target, this number is likely to rise as more details come in and/or are forced out of the PD’s hands. A gun was reportedly found at the scene, but no details were released linking it to Waddy or indicating it had been fired.
People without uniforms at the scene gave conflicting reports (not as in “inconsistent,” but as in “contradicting official police reports”).
Cortes said he saw two men get into a fight and at least two Denver police officers approached and followed one of the men. He said he saw the officers pull out their guns and shoot the man, who he watched fall to the ground.
He said he did not see the man holding a weapon or hear the police give any warnings.
Kyla Soderman and her friends were walking out of Larimer Beer Hall when the shooting occurred. She said she saw two police officers draw their weapons and shoot a man, firing at least three rounds. She did not see anybody else with a gun or hear anybody besides the officers fire a weapon.
This is going to get worse. It’s not going to get better. There’s a conspicuous lack of concern on display here, both by the officers who decided to open fire on a crowded street as bars closed and by police officials who have attempted to display this as both a justified shooting and distance the PD from the collateral damage this careless act caused.
Cops are terrible shots. There’s safety in numbers though, and that includes the number of bullets fired. Cops swarm to scenes. And then they start blasting. This isn’t an anomaly. This is just how cop business is carried out in the US.
Late last year, we discussed an investigation of several Cleveland police officers after a high-speed pursuit involving over 60 squad cars and 100 officers culminated in officers unloading 137 bullets in the direction of the stopped vehicle — 47 of which found homes in the two suspects, who were both killed. One officer — Michael Brelo — fired 49 rounds in a little over 20 seconds.
That shooting occurred in a school parking lot. The school was empty but several bullets were found lodged in nearby homes.
Here’s another case from 2012:
Michael Allen Vincent, a man who allegedly had several traffic incidents with police in the past, had led policeman Patrick Tuter on a high speed chase before pulling over into a cul de sac. That’s when Tuter ordered Vincent out of the car, before discharging his weapon 41 times…
That’s one officer, reloading several times.
Another case, this one from 2013. Not as many bullets, but the NYPD charged the man they attempted to shoot with assault because cops managed to shoot two innocent bystanders.
That more bystanders haven’t been hospitalized or killed is simply a matter of luck, rather than the result of police officer restraint.
On Sunday, the Akron Police Department released 13 police body camera videos, which show Walker’s encounter with police officers following a traffic stop, including the moment he was fatally shot by eight police officers firing dozens of bullets at him, resulting in over 60 wounds, officials said.
An excess of bullets. A dearth of restraint. Almost nonexistent concern for the safety of anyone other than themselves. That’s how these things happen. And that’s why cops will always lead off with lying when their “fear for my safety” priorities are inadvertently put on display.