LAPD open fires on newspaper delivery drivers

Dozens of bullets fired, without warning, at the wrong target.

In the latest bit of idiotic police fail, the LAPD, while hunting for a rogue cop that is suspected of shooting several other officers, unloaded a barrage of bullets at two women who were delivering newspapers.  Never mind that their target was a large black man, not two Hispanic women aged in their 40s and 70s, these cops decided is was best to shoot first and ID the corpses later.  While gratefully no one was killed, it still highlights a massive problem on the part of officers’ willingness to kill without even seeing if they have the correct person.

According to the police account, they were on a stakeout in a neighborhood where they suspected their target might come.  They heard a report that a truck resembling that of the suspect was coming their way.  As the truck cruised through the neighborhood, they opened fire.

There are so many problems with this I don’t even know where to begin.  Obviously no one bothered to actually look in the vehicle, or the presence of two older Hispanic women would have made the mistake apparent.  They did not run the license plates or this too would have cleared up the problem.  They also failed to notice that the truck they were firing at was not only the wrong model, but the wrong color as well.  And, of course, they made no attempt to apprehend the supposed criminal, instead opting for a middle-of-the-street execution.

In addition to hitting one of the women and injuring the other with a hail of broken glass, officer riddled the neighborhood with bullets. Cars, houses, garages and pretty much everything else ended up as targets to the hail of gunfire.  Luckily, no one who lay in their bed sleeping caught a stray bullet.

Of course, the LAPD is defending the action of their officers instead of standing up and being honest about this incredibly gross negligence.  They state that the officers were under a lot of stress and that an accident like this was not completely outside the range of possibility.  So they let their people run around firing guns randomly without doing even the most basic of police work?  Who are these cops that they can’t remember the training they receive in the first week of academy?

As a result of their ineptitude, the LAPD will be getting sued.  Personally, I think that all the officers involved should be fired on the spot but, like in most cases, a quick pay-off to the victims is easier than taking responsibility.  There is no need to have trigger-happy cops on the beat.  Anyone who runs about firing like a madman should not have a gun legally in their hand.  These officers showed their incompetence and their higher-ups are showing theirs by trying to defend them.

“She’s so raped”

Drunken teen’s jokes about rape victim highlight the goodness and light of our rape culture.

If you haven’t heard about the drunken teenagers from Steubenville High School joking about the rape of a classmate, consider yourself fortunate. I’m not going to link to these disturbing comments—but I will tell you the name of the main commentor, Michael Nodianos, who pretty much deserves any vitriolic commentary you can throw back at him.

I really hope that every college this a**hole applies to sees this blog, sees any blog mentioning what he said about a rape victim from his school. The laughing teen laughed that the girl was “so raped,” commenting further on her private parts, and compared her to being as dead as OJ Simpson’s wife, Caylee Anthony, JFK, and Trayvon Martin. He laughs further, joking about her having a dead baby and saying that it wasn’t really rape because we don’t know if she wanted it or not.

This, folks, is rape culture—a culture in which rape is so commonplace, so joked about and accepted as normal behavior, that it’s a freaking joke to people who should be horrified by it. These are the kinds of people we are producing out of a culture that prosecutes fewer than four percent of rapists, that blames victims as young as 11 for their own rapes, and sympathizes with rapists when victims “ruin their lives” by having the guts to name them.

Although I was heartened to hear two classmates call Nodianos out on his comments, telling him it wasn’t cool, and how would he feel if it were his daughter, I fear that Nodianos’s statements are the norm in this country, and why wouldn’t they be when rapists get off on their crimes every day and women are instructed to dress modestly, travel in groups, and watch their drinks to avoid being raped? How many teen boys are instructed to simply not rape women?

Look, old white lawmaking men, you can hand a whistle to every woman and make it illegal to wear skirts and tell girls that their virginity is their most prized position (and shame them once its lost, while “boys will be boys”), but rape is still going to happen until you address the cause of rape, which is rapists. Imagine that! That’s like saying car thieves, um, cause car theft and arsonists cause, ah, arson, and… yeah.

Thanks to Anonymous, who identified this asinine boy and leaked his video on Twitter. I doubt his apologies are very sincere, but I do hope that he understands the severity of rape soon—that any boy with such disregard for women (and anyone, as it sounds here) will, someday.

Eyewitness reliability

If this is what we depend on for convictions, we are totally screwed.

My eyes play tricks on me all of the time. I am nearsighted, but I have very good glasses that provide me with nearly 20/20 vision in both eyes (one does have astigmatism). My daughter has the same issues, same eyes, with a similar prescription.

“Mom, why does it look like I have two hands when I wave my hand really fast in front of my face?” she asked me at dinner the other night. I tried my best to explain how her fast hand was too fast for her eyes to see, how our eyes really process images upside-down, and that she was seeing both where her hand was as well as where it is now every time she waved, but I think I did a pretty poor job of it. Even so, she seemed to get it, and remarked how our eyes sure play tricks on us sometimes.

They sure do. And if that motion alone makes us see something that’s not really quite there, can you imagine how so many other variable also make our own sight untrustworthy? Think of the times you’ve woken up to think someone was there when really it was nothing, or the times you saw something underwater, or blearily upon waking, or even just when really, really tired. Would you be an expert eyewitness—or could your eyes really be that trustworthy?

Now think if you were under severe stress—say, you had a gun to your head, or you were driving erratically, or you were drunk. Could your eyes work at full capacity then as well?

I’m not saying to discount eyewitness statements at all. They can be helpful, and they should especially be taken seriously when they come from victims. That said, our eyes are just as human and fallible as the rest of us, and this simple conversation with my seven-year-old made me think of just how often we rely on “I saw it with my own two eyes!” as the only piece of evidence we ever really need.

We base entire religions or alien encounter reports or government reports on it. We have convicted people on this simple eyewitness testimony and nothing else statement. We have even put people to death, sometimes not even allowing DNA tests to be run that could prove otherwise, relying instead wholly on a lineup.

It’s kind of chilling, when you think about it.

Phoenix Police shoot man in front of his son

Was using bullets the last resort, or simply the quickest?

Yet another case of potential abuse of power by the police has come to light, this time in Phoenix, Arizona.  According to news sources, a man tried to flee from the police, leading them on a merry chase all the way back to his home.  Finally, he ended up running into a fence and when he tried to take off again it happened to be in the direction of some police officers.  The officers, fearing for their lives, shot at the car and killed the man.  What’s really been making this story a headline, however, is the fact that the man’s five-year-old son happened to be in the car with him.

After the initial crash, the man tried to back up, heading in the direction of one officer.  He fired a shot but didn’t hit the driver.  When the car changed direction it was toward more officers, who then let loose with a volley of bullets.  The law states that a car can be considered a deadly weapon and that officers have the right to fire should they feel their lives are in danger.

Though I have to wonder… If the guy ran into a fence and the officers had enough time to park their cars, get out and then almost get run over, why didn’t they run up to the car and drag the guy out forcibly?  Or why not position their cars so that he couldn’t get away without trying to go through them?  Perhaps they could have shot the tires of the car, or is that just a Hollywood gimmick?  Whatever the options available, there had to be something more than just filling the car full of bullets.  Hell, even continuing the chase until the guy ran out of gas seems the better option than taking his life.

The main reason this one has been making the rounds on the news is because of the five-year-old in the passenger’s seat.  If the officers had fired a few more bullets or their aim been a bit off, the boy’s death could have ended up as a highlight of the news as well.  As it stands, he’ll certainly be scarred for life having had to watch his father get shot to death a few feet away from him.

Some would say that the officers were in fear for their lives, but I think this a flimsy excuse.  Being an officer of the law means risking your life, even to the point of possibly being hit by a car in an effort to not kill someone.  When bullets become an easy fix to a situation, the integrity of the police force is failing.  Putting rounds into a drunk driver because he runs is far from responsible police behavior.  Hopefully, the Phoenix Police Department will take this seriously and try to correct this problem to save lives in the future.

Police Power Abuse Supported by Taxpayer Dollars

When an officer goes over the line, we get to foot the bill

 

Problems with police abusing their authority are nothing new, though they frequently go unknown to the public.  Those within the force often band together in order to cover their crimes, seeing a little abuse as par for the course.  Sometimes they get overlooked due to lack of evidence, though this is becoming less of a problem as video cameras are attached to police cars and carried by virtually every citizen within their cell phones.  But when these crimes are found out, they often lead to lawsuits.  And these lawsuits, when successful, come out of the taxpayers’ pockets.

One person did a study of a single police force, that of the city of Chicago, and ended up with some very interesting results.  As it turns out, this one police force alone paid out more than $45 million in misconduct lawsuits over the course of the last three years.  But what makes it even more interesting, and sad as well, is that around one percent of officers account for one-quarter of all this money.

Repeat offenders are the key to this discovered mathematical equation, as that one percent encompasses only those who are known to have stepped over the line on multiple occasions.  So why are these cops allowed to continue after they’ve proven that they are not worthy of the public’s trust?  It’s a double whammy when those with little self-control can abuse citizens and then effectively charge them for that “privilege”.

This atrocity is further put into perspective when you realize that the majority of police misconduct cases never make it to trial.  What would happen if the justice system were more efficient in regards to punishing rogue officers?  What would the bill be then?

If we’re not willing to sack these repeat offenders, then this problem is never going to end.  They will continue to do exactly what they want and leave accountability up to taxpayers.  Without more oversight, our police departments may very well find themselves broke before too long.

Police Shoot Naked, Unarmed 18-Year Old Student

Poor training makes bad cops and ends in the deaths of innocent people

 

After writing my post the other week about the shooting death of a one-armed, one-legged amputee, I thought that police couldn’t sink any lower in their blatant disregard for human life.  As it turns out, I was wrong.  This last week, a campus policeman at the University of South Alabama opened fire on a naked and unarmed 18-year old student, killing him in cold blood.

The report is that the naked teen was on LSD, charging the officer and threatening him.  The incident was caught on a surveillance camera as well, showing that the officer in question came out of the campus police station with his gun already drawn.  Unfortunately, the most crucial part of the conflict occurred off-camera, so the truth may never be fully known.

Of course, how much threat could a naked man be?  Aren’t the police supposed to be trained in hand-to-hand combat, as well as having a variety of non-lethal weapons on their person to deal with such emergencies?  Does the first defense an officer resorts to need to be the one that’s fatal?  Does this speak poorly of the training procedures or of the people they recruit into the police force?

Many people are asking those same questions and there is a protest being planned by other students to take place in front of the university police department - the same place where the student was shot.  In addition, an investigation is being made into exactly what happened, two investigations in fact.  One is being conducted by the police department and the other by a lawyer working for the family of the deceased.

Whatever the end result of the investigation, it is still an atrocity that police feel they have the right to discharge their weapon in anything other than a life-threatening situation.  If they don’t have the ability to figure out what “life-threatening” means, then they really should be looking for other work - work where innocents are not put in danger because of their faulty judgment.

Police shoots and kills amputee

If a police officer sees his gun as the answer to even small threats, we need to rethink our system of law enforcement.

I recently read a news article about a Houston officer that shot a man in the head because he was threatening his partner with a pen.  It’s a little more complicated than that, but it still raises many questions about the way officers choose to deal with certain situations, even potentially threatening ones.  The man in question was confined to a wheelchair and missing one arm and a leg.  The officer in question shot him in the head to stop him.

The events surrounding the event are as follows.  At 2 a.m., the man started screaming and making a fuss, so the caretaker at the home he was staying in called the police.  They arrived and one of the two officers ended up being cornered by the man.  He was threatening to kill the officers and waving a “shiny object” about.  In response, the cornered officer’s partner shot the man.  The object turned out to be a pen, but the officer said he thought it could have been a knife.

Given that the person was in a wheelchair and missing some limbs, guns were probably unnecessary.  Police are trained to physically overpower people who are perfectly healthy and it doesn’t seem that this particular individual would have been too difficult to get under control if force was deemed an appropriate response.  The police are supposed to be willing to take risks, even if that means taking a knife wound as opposed to killing someone outright.  If a person is willing to shoot someone in the head whenever they feel threatened, they should not have a job in law enforcement.

The department involved is saying that people need to wait until the results of an investigation come back before condemning the officer, but it seems obvious to me.  If someone can’t handle the stress of their job, they shouldn’t be doing it, especially when that job involves decisions that can end the lives of innocent people.  Just because you have a gun doesn’t mean you should use it.  Police need to exercise better judgment when making that decision to take a human life.

U.S. Sending Marines to Fight Drug Trafficking in Guatemala

A question of legitimacy and true motivations

It looks like the United States is again looking to become involved in the affairs of Guatemala.  Our past involvement was a disaster of nearly epic proportions, with the CIA backing an insurgency against a democratically elected official that lead to 36 years of war and the loss of more than 200,000 lives.  This time around we’re not supporting the revolution, but looking to put 200 Marines in the field to help fight against drug traffickers.

These troops will be patrolling the western coast of the country, looking for drug shipments.  They will not, however, be actively engaging drug traffickers, instead reporting them to the Guatemalan navy so that they can move in and catch them.  But despite this obviously different goal from the previous coup, America is catching some flak from critics who question their motives in the region.

Many believe that due to our past involvement in the horrors of the decades-long war, we simply don’t belong there.  Others are saying that the corruption of Guatemala’s government and their poor record of human rights issues should prompt us to separate ourselves from the country’s government.  Still others are claiming that this movement of troops was done without going through the proper channels, making it an illegal act.  There are also rumors that Guatemala was in the process of making the move to legalize drugs but U.S. pressure prevented them.

It’s fairly obvious that our involvement is in the self-interest of our own anti-drug policies.  But is it right to become involved with a country that violates human rights, even if it does further our own agenda?  How much worse is this when we have no plans to do anything about the numerous other problems, only looking to what is immediately useful to us?  It seems that we are doing little other than continuing our program of ignoring the plight of other people in favor or our own needs.

New Report on Occupy Protests Highlights Police Aggression

"Despite the slowing down of the Occupy protests, incidents still continue to filter in."

 

Most people saw at least a few of the videos that came out during the various Occupy movements, videos that showed police officers taking serious physical action against sometimes passively protesting citizens of the United States.  They nailed men, women and children with pepper-spray, shot them with rubber bullets and assaulted them with fist and club - all in the name of freedom and democracy.  Now, some human rights lawyers have put together a big fat report of all the abuses that went down in an effort to bring about either change or legal repercussions for the abusive officers.

The report was compiled from several sources, including twitter reports, videos, media accounts and eyewitness accounts.  All the evidence amounted to nearly 200 pages of report that contains around 130 separate rights violations.  And that’s just covering what happened in New York City.

Some of the violations listed in the report consist of the following:

  • Unprovoked pepper-spraying
  • Preventing the press from reporting on certain incidents
  • Use of excessive force
  • Arrests of journalists
  • Obstruction of legal monitoring from independent sources
  • Violation of laws regarding right to assembly

Despite the slowing down of the Occupy protests, incidents still continue to filter in.  The most recent addressed in the report comes from early June, when a protestor was kicked in the face by an officer who then fled the scene without revealing his identity.

The report highlighted the difference in the way protestors were viewed in contrast to the actions of the police and expressed the general opinion that police brutality is more tolerated than protesting.  What’s even worse is that the report also talks about how the international community changed their perception of the United States because of the poor legal handling of the situation.  Many are using the actions take by the US to justify the suppression of their own people, holding us up as an example of what is acceptable given the situation.  We are also being seen as hypocritical in that we voice protests over human rights violations but do not take the same concern with our own country.

The report only deals with the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York City, but more reports are planned to highlight further abuses in other major cities such as Boston, San Francisco, Oakland an Charlotte.

If you want to read the full report, you can download it here.

Good cop vs. bad cop

Blowing the whistle on police brutality means retribution.

The issue of police brutality is a serious one, and one that I have spoken on in previous posts.  I have expressed my opinion that the abuse of authoritive power (in any form) is one of the worst abuses possible.  When placed in a position of trust, a person should be required and expected to perform their duty with extreme merit and dedication to truth.  Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.  People get the power that a position such as being a police officer brings and take advantage of it to either take things they couldn’t normally have, unleash their anger against people in normally condemned ways, or both.  Sometimes, a police officer witnesses their fellows abusing the system and steps up to stop them.  And sometimes the one who is on the side of right is the person who gets punished.

There’s an unspoken system in place that is sometimes referred to as the “blue line” whereby police are expected to keep their mouths shut when they see other officers committing crimes.  The justification behind this seems to be that they’re all in one ‘club’ and that they should support each other regardless of right or wrong.  Thus, when a police officer decides another has gone too far and tries to intervene, they become the bad guy.

I came across a news report of one particular person, a New Jersey officer by the name of Regina Tasca, who tried to stop another officer from beating up a young man because he tried to walk away from them.  The person in question did not threaten the officer in any way.  They simply turned their back and made to leave.  But this was enough to provoke another officer with a short fuse, who tackled the young man and began pummeling him in the head.  Tasca jumped in a stopped the fight and was rewarded for her valor with curses and an eventual suspension.  Yes, the officer who tried to uphold the law was suspended.  How does this system work again?

Oddly enough, it is the ever-present big-brotheresque video camera that manages to protect people from officers and reveal their crimes.  These devices are meant to obtain evidence and records and they do just that, though perhaps not in the way that many officers would prefer.  You can now log in to YouTube and watch any number of police officers beating the crap out of innocent civilians in countries all across the world.  Perhaps incidents such as these may bring a little clarity to the eyes of citizens in this country and some steps can be taken to battle against abuses of power such as these.  And hopefully police will be allowed to take action against their own in order to get this corrupted system cleaned up once-and-for-all.

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