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Sacramento Police Department Murders/Executes/Kills Stephon Clark

The Story

On Sunday, March 18, 2018, the Sacramento Police Department received a report that somebody had smashed out a truck’s windows. The SPD sent two officers to investigate, then summoned at least one more set of eyes in the air via helicopter. Upon arriving to investigate, the two officers saw somebody in a driveway, but at no point do they identify themselves. Although ordered to show his hands, the man fled. Police pursued, while the eyes in the helicopter advised that the individual had picked up a “toolbar” and had smashed out a window. The officers cornered Stephon Clark in his grandmother’s backyard. Both officers had their guns drawn. The officers ordered Clark to show his hands, and within seconds, one of the two officers screamed, “Gun, gun, gun!” The officers shot at Clark, ultimately firing twenty times in his direction.

Clark would die shortly after. A subsequent search of the area would reveal neither the reported “toolbar” or the “Gun, gun, gun!” that would justify the officers’ actions.

In a subsequent search, police found a cellphone nearby. Clark’s girlfriend had loaned it to him. It was in a rose-gold colored case and featured a clip for holding onto credit cards. As of this writing, California law does not declare it illegal to be in possession of a cellphone, even a borrowed one. And, even if possessing such a phone were illegal, it would almost certainly not be considered a capital offense.

The Aftermath

All of the following has happened since Clark’s murder/execution/killing:

  • The SPD released footage of Clark’s final moments. It can be seen here. It is not easy to watch. It features police officers making an almost instantaneous decision to end a man’s life based on a wildly incorrect assessment.
  • The SPD also refused to explain why officers muted their body cameras in the aftermath of Clark’s killing. One of the officers can plainly be heard telling the other to mute their worn cameras – to keep them running, in other words, but with audio no longer being recorded – without any explanation for why such an action would be necessary.
  • Sacramento’s mayor, while desperate to calm a tense situation engulfing his community, inexplicably declared that he was not in a position to even question his actions taken by SPD officers, declaring, “Based on the videos alone, I cannot second-guess the split-second decisions of our officers and I’m not going to do that.”
  • Protestors shut down the Golden 1 Center, the home arena of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings, immediately before a game against the Atlanta Hawks was set to begin. Numerous fans were turned away from the venue as a result. Vivek Ranadive subsequently addressed the few fans who made it into the arena before the protest began, and the accompanying television cameras, with comments that did not make a bad situation worse. Ranadive called the incident a “horrible, horrible tragedy” and acknowledged the power of peaceful protest.
  • Protests have been an almost daily phenomenon in California’s capital city, with residents predictably wanting to know why it is exactly that any of this happened, and with a local government doing it everything it can to quell understandable anger without also admitting any fault of any kind.

What Is Next

If one had to venture a guess about how Clark’s story is going to play itself out, the most reasonable guess is this: in the usual way. The officers who murdered/executed/killed Clark will be investigated. Local prosecutors will almost certainly declare that they cannot bring charges against the two officers, whose behavior was justifiable because one of the officers believed that Clark had a gun, even if he actually did not. A less likely outcome is that local prosecutors will charge and prosecute both officers, but local juries will end up excusing both of them, using the same, “It didn’t matter that he didn’t have a gun, because they thought that he did have a gun,” justification that local prosecutors tend to use themselves. Clark’s family will then sue the city, which will settle out of court for several million dollars.

Meanwhile, all of the following questions will never be satisfactorily answered:

  1. Why did officers pursue Clark with their guns drawn, and why did they not announce themselves?
  2. Why did officers decide to mute their cameras just as they were figuring out that Clark was unarmed?
  3. Why did officers decide that Clark’s phone was actually either a “toolbar” or a “Gun, gun, gun!” and why was Clark given no opportunity at all to account for himself?
  4. More broadly, why is it the case, in all interactions between the police and the policed, that only the police are allowed to feel, and react to, fear? Why are the policed not allowed to fear the police, and why are they expected to, in all cases, give police the benefit of the doubt (at the risk of their own lives), when they themselves receive nothing similar in return?
  5. And finally, why is it that officers can so often restrain themselves from killing some suspects – Nikolas Cruz, for example, is still alive, and was arrested without a shot being fired, despite having killed 17 people moments earlier – but not others? What is the fundamental difference between somebody like Dylann Roof, who was arrested alive with no shots fired, and Clark? Would it have helped Clark if he had been more like James Holmes, who, like Cruz and Roof, was arrested alive with no shots fired?

Media Coverage

Before police had shot Clark, before they even knew who he was, they had received a description of somebody six-feet tall, in a black hoodie. One of the more popular images circulating of Clark is this one, below:

Sacramento Police Department Murders/Executes/Kills Stephon Clark

That’s Clark, in a black hoodie. There is something off-putting about the attempt to so perfectly match Clark to the description of the suspect. It is worth noting that the SPD has not clarified if Clark was, beyond being unarmed, actually the man they were searching for. But it is also off-putting because that isn’t the entire photo. That one is cropped, and although it hopefully was not done with any sort of malicious intent, it does not pack the punch that the uncropped original does:

Sacramento Police Department Murders/Executes/Kills Stephon Clark

That is Clark with his younger sister. He happens to be wearing a black hoodie.

 


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183 thoughts on “Sacramento Police Department Murders/Executes/Kills Stephon Clark

  1. Why are the policed not allowed to fear the police, and why are they expected to, in all cases, give police the benefit of the doubt (at the risk of their own lives), when they themselves receive nothing similar in return?

    A thousand times, this.

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    • Corey Robin wrote a big book (the Reactionary Mind) proposing the theory that the primary goal of right-wing thought is *hierarchy*. Those above have the right to abuse those below them, who have in turn have the right to abuse those below themselves.

      Those below have no rights against their uppers.

      In these cases, it’s manifested by the attitude of these people that the amateur must take responsibility in dealings with professionals. The professionals bear no responsibility whatsoever.

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  2. Geez i wanna slap anyone who says we can’t second guess or Monday morning QB what cops do. That is just dumber that a bag full of hammers. Especially a mayor….crimany. I wonder if he is up for election this year. If not i hope all the other pols up for election in Cali feel the heat from this.

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    • I know that 20/20 hindsight thing doesn’t play well to military personnel.
      They have to follow all kinds of rules.
      Why not the police?

      It should be noted that, with all the focus on the police, the trajectory is actually more one of unaccountability in government.
      It’s just that the police disproportionately get the press.

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      • I went on a hike with a F 15 pilot once. He talked about how arduous the review of every mission was. They went over every detail. Not, “don’t worry about it Chet. We don’t want to second guess your timing there”. More like “this is everything you missed and everyone of those things could have gotten someone killed or lead to mission fail. Got it.”

        In fact when i worked in an inpatient psych unit where we needed to safely restrain people we reviewed every incident to learn what to do better. Reviewing actions in critical incidents is the exact way to get better. I can guarantee you that cops are trained to review incidents like this. The phrase monday morning QB is always funny to me in things like this. What does every football team to on monday? Go through game film in a painstaking manner to learn and improve

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        • Sure they are, but what is important is what the end result of the review is. If the AAR is just a bunch of high-fiving all- around for a good shoot, and the only criticism is about how people could have done a better job covering their asses…

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        • In referring to “that 20/20 hindsight thing,” I meant to understand one of the main reasons courts use to throw out this kind of case; i.e., “20/20 hindsight” is a direct quote from the courts.
          A quick search on LexisNexis shows 2503 such cases in the past twenty years.
          Typical is the language of Rodarte v. Alameda County, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 129499, which states:

          Reasonableness is viewed from the perspective of an officer on the scene, and without the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, as “police officers are often forced to make split-second judgments—in circumstances that are tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving—about the amount of force that is necessary in a particular situation.” [citing Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386 (1989)]

          In effect, this states that any degree of oversight whatever of the police is an infringement of state sovereignty.
          That whole notion of the Constitution being an agreement of the people, and not a compact between the sates, written by Joseph Story so long ago* appears to be a wash. State sovereignty is supreme.
          It was this, and not some imagined resistance to review, that I noted as “not playing well to military personnel.”
          If it had occurred to me there might be some other reading than this, I would have preemptively acted in clarification. My apologies, but it simply did not occur to me that this statement might be interpreted in its direct opposite.

          * I believe that was Hunter’s Lessee, but I would have to look that up to be sure.

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          • Thing is, the courts do not reliably extend this aversion to 20/20 hindsight to civilians acting in self-defense. If they did, we’d not have need of things like Castle Doctrine and SYG laws.

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            • The 20/20 hindsight thing typically does not extend to civilians at all. There is an inquiry, a bar to be met; whereas rulings invoking 20/20 hindsight negate all inquiry.

              Thinking about this a bit more, there are actually two separate issues here.
              It is state law which creates property. Federal law is silent on the matter. Certain things may be property in one state, but not in another.*
              Police act on authority of the state. Then, to resist the police is effectively a denial that the state is lawfully organized.**
              To shoot and kill an intruder on your property is executing a right to title,*** though this right is subservient to that of the state; similar to the relationship between a baron and a duke (i.e., title is held by the grace of the state).
              However, there appears to be a colorable argument there that to shoot and kill a person entering on to your property is actually asserting the right of the state to exist; i.e., enacting a “seizure” pursuant to a citizen’s arrest.

              Two different authorities though.
              ______________________
              * Under a Hohfeldian analysis, this is a “Right,” i.e., a claim interest, as opposed to a “Privilege,” i.e., a liberty interest. The distinction here is an important one, because, generally, a claim interest is recoverable in suit, whereas a liberty interest is typically recoverable to the extent to which a claim interest has been impaired.
              ** The maxim states: The State should observe the Law, for it is the Law which creates the State. Thus, it can be argued that, where the State has acted unlawfully, this is a direct attack on the very foundation of the State; i.e., its formation and organization. (This happens to be my personal view.) This raises concerns of the legitimacy of the State; or, more properly, that the lawful State has been assumed by unlawful enterprise.
              *** Of course, the law of trespass distinguishes between anticipated trespass and unanticipated trespass, and imposes duties on the property owner as to the former (i.e., invoking negligence, which, IIRC, must be willful). The duty not to harm an unanticipated trespasser has been strictly curtailed in recent years, and it will probably take a case of AD&D-style pits full of sharpened stakes covered with trap doors for the courts to begin to look in the other direction on that point.

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            • “Thing is, the courts do not reliably extend this aversion to 20/20 hindsight to civilians acting in self-defense. If they did, we’d not have need of things like Castle Doctrine and SYG laws.”

              And if somebody shoots a police officer executing a no knock warrant, I’ll lay good money that those precedents are flatly never allowed.

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          • I’ve known a few cops. Reviewing shootings is commonplace. Also many cops are ex military where after action reviews are standard. It’s possible smaller departments slack off and that many departments have only perfunctory reviews. But they are trained to review shootings. That is how they are supposed to learn to do things better.

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  3. Most non-political people seemed inclined to believe the police and give them the benefit of the doubt because it’s been drilled into them by society since they were young. Nearly all shows about the police depict them in a very honorable manner. They aren’t racist, they do t get things wrong and accuse the innocent out of convenience. It’s all good guys and bad guys without nuance. Few White Americans imagine themselves on the wrong side of a police encounter and act accordingly.

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  4. I don’t understand this contradiction in police culture. Police culture and police supporting culture declares that Police are heroic and take extreme risks to uphold public safety but every time the Police gun down people these same cultures declare that the public should absorb extreme risk of death to safeguard police lives. To be heroic you need to be taking risk and if you aren’t accepting the risk then you ain’t heroic.

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    • The lefty answer here would this would be how white supremacy and white privilege show themselves. Or in the case of white people being abused by cops, class privilege and suppression.

      I think this is broadly right. Most of the stories involve white police officers killing people of color. An overwhelming majority of the defenders of the police are also white. Now the thing about this supremacy is that it doesn’t have to be conscious in the persons mind.

      But I think Lee is basically right, a lot of people see the cops as defending order and protecting people from harm. They don’t want to consider anything else because it is complicated. Also concepts like freedom and civil liberty are vague and intellectual. I think a lot of people don’t see how these events can lead to their oppression. They can still walk around safe, can’t they?

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      • Most of the stories involve white police officers killing people of color.

        Since all police killings don’t become “stories”, there’s a very strong selection bias here. I can’t remember the last time a black cop killing anyone became a story, but it’s possible that happens just as often.

        If the stories’ narrative aligns with reality, then we could make the problem go away by seriously integrating the police force. However if it’s a “cop privilege” and general lack of accountability then it won’t.

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  5. but at no point do (they police) identify themselves

    Were they uniformed?

    My assumption is that they were.

    Was it too dark to see if they were uniformed? (If so, this is a lot more likely to work in the favor of the police at trial because they’ll be able to argue that it was too dark to see that the phone was not a gun.)

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  6. Another thought. In the news this morning, Sea-Tac is getting 10 more K-9 teams to help clear busy passenger lines more quickly. In a lot of these shooting cases, I wonder if having more police K-9 teams could help avoid a lot of these kinds of shootings, since a K-9 officer can close distance a lot faster, is a lot harder to hit with a bullet, and can bring a suspect down, or at least keep them busy for the few seconds needed for humans to close and effect and arrest.

    Or is the idea of police ‘releasing the hounds’ on dark skinned people just a bit too much?

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  7. Why did officers decide to mute their cameras just as they were figuring out that Clark was unarmed?

    One assumes so they can spin things or talk about how ****ed they are. On the whole having cameras was still a vast improvement over needing to rely on the police for what happened and giving them the opportunity to leave a drop piece. Removing the ability to mute (which should happen btw) just means they’ll have this conversation back in the locker room after the shift is over.

    Does anyone know if cameras have reduced how common this sort of occurrence is?

    And finally, why is it that officers can so often restrain themselves from killing some suspects… but not others?

    This question is creating an optical illusion via data selection (or we can call it luck of the draw).

    When anyone interacts with the police they’re rolling dice, or buying a lottery ticket. There are billions of encounters worth of data from which to pick. If we select for the worst possible outcome for the most innocent person of color, we find death. If we select for an encounter with a horrible criminal who isn’t doing suicide by cop, normally we don’t find death because that’s rare.

    This type of cherry picking showcases whatever the author wants and isn’t useful without supporting data. If it’s showcasing racial disparities, we should take care that it’s actually a thing AND that it’s not better explained by something else (for example the War on Drugs). Imagine the current administration “fixing” the problem by hiring vast numbers of black cops to enforce the WoD.

    More broadly, the level of competence can vary from cop to cop, and perhaps even from day to day. Sometimes you’re encountering Andy Griffin, sometimes you’re encountering Barney Fife playing Rambo.

    As far as what happens here, I agree it’s unlikely we’ll hold them criminally liable. Without that, the issue becomes whether these guys were obviously Barney before this point and whether or not they keep their jobs. It’d be an improvement if I could reasonably expect those answers to be “no” and “no”.

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  8. From the comment section of the linked Deadspin article:

    One guy with a toolbar vs two men with guns and they feared for their lives enough to fire 20 times? American police need to stop hiring cowards.

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        • That’s why they report it, but the reality is, that is how they are trained.

          The relevant question is not how many shots were fired, but rather how many hit the target. If 20 were fired and 2 hit, then 18 shots were flying through the neighborhood.

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          • That. I live in a much nicer neighborhood that Clark, but I can see my neighbor’s back porch from my family room window. It’s about 20 feet away. If someone fired 20 shots a man on that porch, I’m sure a number of those would come through the window and walls of the room where my family is usually sitting after dinner.

            Even if these cops get a pass on killing a man armed only with a cell phone, after quick firing 20 rounds in residential area they should be up on charges for reckless endangerment.

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            • Even if these cops get a pass on killing a man armed only with a cell phone, after quick firing 20 rounds in residential neighborhood they should be up on charges for reckless endangerment.

              This line of thought has become a “how many shots is appropriate” policy/training decision.

              The situation is:
              1) You’re firing at someone you think is armed and trying to kill you
              2) You’re not sure if he’s wearing a vest (thank you drug war)
              3) It’s dark and it’s happening fast so you’re not sure if you’re hitting him or where.
              4) It’s a high stress situation so accuracy is way down
              5) People have been known to remain functional after multiple hits (Ferguson’s Mike Brown for example).

              IMHO the problem isn’t “how many bullets”, I’ve far more of an issue with the first bullet than the last.

              (Assuming what we’re hearing is correct and we don’t have to retroactively change this into a good shooting in a week with new information).

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              • It’s still a case of not being sure of your target AND what is beyond it (what is your backstop should you miss or over-penetrate).

                To beat my horse some more, if I fired at someone who I thought had a gun (and who later turned out not to have a gun, nor was doing anything to suggest he had a gun), not only would I be facing criminal charges for wounding/killing the person, I’d be responsible for the damage of every stray round*. The police won’t even have to pay for the Spackle.

                *Although, if the person was a legitimate threat and the violence justified, I would not be criminally liable, and depending on state law, possibly not even civilly liable for stray rounds. But the standard for me would be that the person was armed and I had a demonstrable reason to fear for my life.

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                • But the standard for me would be that the person was armed and I had a demonstrable reason to fear for my life.

                  That. That exactly.

                  We’re going to see this spun so that this was the situation, or this was the reasonably believed situation.

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  9. Even if the prosecutor prosecuted and the jury convicted it would be tossed out on appeal. And that’s not a legislative law but constitutional. And the union will protect them from administrative punishment.

    We have lost the ability to discipline the police.

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                • This is one of those things where I’m going to point out that there are differences between “the potential to do something” and “actually having done it” and it’s not going to lead anywhere productive.

                  But, hey. Maybe if we make guns illegal, cops will finally be nicer in minority neighborhoods.

                  “Why did you think he had a gun?”, we could ask. “We made guns illegal!”, we could point out.

                  “We had an internal review and found that the officer did nothing wrong”, we could hear in response.

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                    • They are related, but in the opposite of the way Jaybird thinks. A polity that becomes more supportive of regulating guns also becomes more supportive of regulating cops, and vice versa, because of the interconnected racial narratives.

                      It might be justifiable in some circumstances to kill police in self-defense, but we’re not going to see a world where minorities (or anyone) can sustain armed resistance to police in the long term. Public reform of police is a much closer possibility than that.

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                      • A polity that becomes more supportive of regulating guns also becomes more supportive of regulating cops, and vice versa, because of the interconnected racial narratives.

                        I’m going to need more information on this because I don’t see how in the heck the racial narratives make it so that a polity that is finally willing to regulate guns is also, finally, willing to punish cops for bad behavior.

                        Are there trend lines we could point to for gun regulations and/or holding police accountable?

                        Do they correlate?

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                      • Well, OK, so we are right back where we started.
                        What evidence are you seeing that arming the victims of racism produces a better outcome?

                        Are there cases of racist cops encountering a black man armed with a gun and saying, “whoa, Bill, lets beat it- He has a gun!!

                        And why should we accept “racist and belligerent cops” as an acceptable premise?
                        Isn’t that, like, the exact problem we are trying to solve?

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                        • What evidence are you seeing that arming the victims of racism produces a better outcome?

                          Better outcome than what?

                          Than the victims of racism being forced to disarm?

                          To answer your question, I only have historical anecdotes.

                          And why should we accept “racist and belligerent cops” as an acceptable premise?

                          “should”

                          Oh, is agreeing on that point all you’re looking for?

                          Then let me say that we should not accept “racist and belligerent cops” as an acceptable premise. At all.

                          Isn’t that, like, the exact problem we are trying to solve?

                          Looking out in the wild, I’m not seeing how we’re trying to solve that problem at all.

                          Like, not even in the slightest.

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                            • Well, at the root of this discussion, there was the question of whether it’s possible to force the police to act in accordance with something approaching uncontroversial reasons that a polity would want police policing it.

                              The point was “We have lost the ability to discipline the police.”

                              This is a good point. It’s a good point that I agree with.

                              I would go on to say that the fact that the citizenry is armed is one of the things preventing cops from being *EVEN WORSE*.

                              And then someone else argued against this point by pointing out a wrongful shooting of a private citizen… a shooting that pretty much everybody here agrees was wrongful.

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                              • It seems to me, after several years (decades) of stories now, that the police are jumpy & on a hair trigger because every officer believes (and is indoctrinated with the belief) that every person they meet is potentially armed. This belief is not entirely irrational, as statistically, there is about one gun per capita in the US.

                                Thus, a citizenry that is in fact most *less* armed, where guns are as rare as say, high explosives, would reduce the perceived threat level and cause cops to calm the heck down.

                                Or maybe not. It’s still possible, and even plausible, that an actual threat reduction will not change the perceived threat, as people are kinda bad at that in general.

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                                • Thus, a citizenry that is in fact most *less* armed, where guns are as rare as say, high explosives, would reduce the perceived threat level and cause cops to calm the heck down.

                                  Getting from here to there would probably require confiscation.

                                  I am not confident that law enforcement has the required inclination to do what would need to be done, here. (I admit that I’m seeing the deputy at the school as more representative of law enforcement than the police who showed up later in the day.)

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                                • It’s the Magic Words.
                                  They learn it in their first Criminal Justice course.
                                  “Officer Safety.”

                                  All they have to do is say, “I feared for my (or another officer’s) safety,” and there is no inquiry whatever into whether the fear was legitimate or not.
                                  It could well be that they feared a pterodactyl would land and start eating people. Doesn’t matter.

                                  It’s about the Magic Words.

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                                • Thus, a citizenry that is in fact most *less* armed, where guns are as rare as say, high explosives, would reduce the perceived threat level and cause cops to calm the heck down.

                                  IMHO there is a difference between “the citizenry” (who as a class don’t shoot people even if they have guns), and “drug dealers” (who do). These would be the same dealers who as a class are already unable to legally have weapons.

                                  Disarm 80% of the law abiding citizens (which is a monster undertaking) while leaving the criminal class totally armed can’t possibly lower the “threat level” the police perceive because we will STILL have dealers murdering each other because of business disputes.

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                              • Is it impolitic to observe that other western nations don’t seem to have the same glaring difficulty with their peace officers mowing down minorities in hails of bullets and that their peace officers have the opposite presumption: that by and large their citizenry is unlikely to be armed?

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                                • Or their officers get better training at de-escalation and keeping control of a situation without violence.

                                  ETA: Police in the US understand that they can not out-draw and out-shoot someone who is intent on killing them. Police in other first world nations also understand this. The difference, IMHO, is that the police in the US operate under an extreme version of the precautionary principle.

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                                • Well, I looked up the numbers and found this:

                                  Police firearm use by country.

                                  All the countries in the comparison are European (with the exceptions of Australia and South Africa).

                                  Get rid of South Africa, it would take the rest of Europe 42 years to catch up with the amount of shootings that the US has in 1. (Keep South Africa in there, it’d take around 3.)

                                  Lotta variables in there.

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                                • I think the comparison is of very limited utility almost to the point of being a red herring. These places have never had anything resembling the crime problems America had in the late 20th century. Most of them wouldn’t tolerate the levels of inequality and poverty we do and none of them (unless we count South Africa) had a de jure racial caste system in living memory similar in scope to ours. To the extent we’re talking about Europe, you’re also dealing with small countries administered and policed in a far more centralized manner as opposed to our sprawling country with a federal system and wide variation among centers of power.

                                  We have a cultural affinity with Europe because its where the country’s founders came from and where most Americans trace our ancestors. However, there are a lot of important ways in which we are more like the countries of South and Central America. I’m pessimistic that European results around crime and police conduct are as simple as importing their laws. There’s this idea out there that other countries have solved the problem of places like Baltimore or Detroit but I don’t think they’ve ever had anything quite like it.

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                                  • To the extent we’re talking about Europe, you’re also dealing with small countries administered and policed in a far more centralized manner as opposed to our sprawling country with a federal system and wide variation among centers of power.

                                    I’m not sure I understand how this gets to the heart of the difference between European countries and the US. Cop violence here is primarily, almost exclusively, perpetrated at the local level. Town cops, city cops, state stroopers. And if that’s correct (and I think it is :), the sprawling size of our nation doesn’t seem like a relevant consideration either.

                                    It’s something else…

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                                    • the sprawling size of our nation doesn’t seem like a relevant consideration either.

                                      Let’s use a physics example. Do hot water and cold water mix? The answer is… it depends on the scale. Yes in a coffee cup, no in a lake.

                                      It’s easy to forget we’re a seriously multicultural country with a population density of a 3rd world nation. That sprawl makes central control a problem.

                                      There are big cultural and practical differences between the poor/rich city/urban/suburban immigrant/native/whatever groups. There are large issues with inequality between various groups that, because they’re complex and rooted in local situations and/or culture, make central “one size fits all” solutions seriously problematic.

                                      Easy, obvious, “common sense” solutions can look insane in different parts of the country.

                                      Some of what’s going on is we’re turning local news into national news, and reforming local police isn’t a national priority for the bulk of the country.

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                                    • It alone isn’t the cause but it’s among the exacerbating factors that make America different. When we talk about fixing the police we’re talking about fixing thousands of entities in widely varying cultural circumstances controlled by different sovereigns. gets at this more in depth above. One agency getting it right can’t compel others to and the things they do or don’t do to get it right may not translate or even be relevant in places getting it wrong.

                                      But again, I didn’t say that’s the difference. It’s just one of many that makes comparisons to Europe mostly inadequate. I do think that the de-escalation tactics they seem to use more readily might be helpful, but there are a lot of other moving parts.

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                                    • Having intently studied that period of American history from 1810 – 1870, and being familiar with the Latin American nations, both at present and through their history, I would say the comparison is a superficial one, at best.
                                      Jackson was an entirely different kind of animal.
                                      Land reform was never as big of issue in the U.S. as it was in Latin America, in part because land ownership was never as concentrated in the U.S.; part of why we never had a Bolivar in the U.S.
                                      I don’t know of any caudillos who were hailed as the champion of the common man. Jackson was Irish, and a military man. Very, very different.
                                      The trade patterns were significantly different w/r/t to former colonies and their European motherlands. The triangle of trade in the U.S. led to West Africa and the Caribbean, and the colonies had previously effected an embargo on British goods, which was simply not feasible in Latin America. Latin American trade was more expansive, both in Europe and the New World.
                                      Brazil housing the monarchy is unprecedented in the history of Latin America, as is Napoleon’s Emperor in Mexico (land reform was a big thing, even for the emperor).

                                      It is an interesting proposition, but I am very skeptical, to say the least.
                                      I think it’s probably something along the lines of comparing the Lincoln & Kennedy assassinations, drawing conclusions on which part of the evidence one chooses to see.
                                      There are rough similarities, but those are very, very rough.

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                              • the fact that the citizenry is armed is one of the things preventing cops from being *EVEN WORSE*.

                                Except this is what is demonstrably untrue.
                                No cops, anywhere, are backing down in the face of armed black men.

                                White men, oh hell yeah. They treat us with effing kid gloves even when we are lying on a freeway overpass pointing a rifle at them.

                                But a black guy holding a toy gun? Shot on sight.

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                            • If I had to take a stab at what is getting at, I’d say this…

                              When the police KNOW they are going up against someone who is armed and possibly willing to shoot officers and die in a hail of bullets, law enforcement is amazingly creative in how they arrest such people. They conduct careful recon, they use clever deceptions to put the target at ease or to get him to willingly disarm, etc. In short, when the police are facing the hard reality of being shot at, they are the model of restraint (see: Bundy standoff).

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                              • The obvious retort would be that the cops are diligent with very heavily armed groups which is true. They are reckless and violent in everyday interactions often claiming fear of people who are far less armed then the bundy’s. Then there is the whole race thing. When facing certain people who may be armed they send in bullets first. With other people they send words first.

                                Also daily cop/citizen interactions are with local cops. The bundy’s were dealing with state and fed cops who in my experience are often more professional, more well prepared and are planning how to do X well. Local cops are shooting people in their everyday work life without prep, planning or forethought. That seems like a big difference.

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                                • Even local police can be restrained when the target is a known wild card.

                                  What I am getting at, however, is the attitude of the police that they must deal with every interaction with shock and awe, and relatedly, assume every interaction can and will go pear shaped. When officers are calm, and restrained, everyone tends to live and the officers can make their arrests. It comes back to training, and the fact that departments focus too much on violence and not enough on de-escalation.

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                                  • I agree. Cops need better training and rewards for deescalation. That is also why changing cops behavior is hard, it take lots of individual/ local decisions and pressure.

                                    I’m trying, and mostly failing, to remember the story where a cop didn’t shoot a guy who seemed to have lost it but tried to deescalate him. A couple other cops rolled up and shot the guy. The first cop was fired for not shooting.

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                        • “Are there cases of racist cops encountering a black man armed with a gun and saying, “whoa, Bill, lets beat it- He has a gun!!””

                          No. Cases of racist cops encountering a black man lawfully armed with a gun and murdering him are common.

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        • If that were the case, it would have been like that all along.
          It isn’t, it wasn’t, and it hasn’t.

          There has been a sea change that occurred as something of an undertow (to continue the analogy).

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          • “If that were the case, it would have been like that all along.
            It isn’t, it wasn’t, and it hasn’t.”

            Why? You’ve never heard of the phrase ‘shiny metallic object’? Or ‘throwdown gun’?

            And that’s assuming that they even needed to offer a public justification. A decade or two ago, an old Detroit Free Press reporter described writing up a homicide article using a police report. He was in the police station, and they’d drop off a copy in his box.

            The police officers were laughing, and he realized why when he got to ‘race of victim’ (‘Negro’). He said that he realized that he’d wasted his time, since the paper generally didn’t run any articles on black victims.

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  10. I will say this again, because it bears repeating:

    From having actually parsed the data in compiling a research report, in any jurisdiction you look at, whites are slightly more likely to be killed by police than any other race, when adjusted for racial make-up of the jurisdiction. However, that increase (1.3% IIRC) is statistically insignificant.

    The group most likely to be killed by police are those described as “mentally disturbed” or “mentally ill.” These account for anywhere from 30% to 50% of deaths by police in any jurisdiction.
    If you were ever on Prozac (or any other similar medication) or Ritalin (or any other similar medication), your chances of being shot dead by the police skyrocket.
    Being shot dead by the police is a legitimate form of treatment for all sorts of mental and emotional disorders these days.

    The instances of contact with the police where blacks shoot off the charts is incidental harassment, i.e., police brutality that does not end in death. This is incredibly frequent, and often without any report or memo on the incident.

    The focus on black deaths by police ignores two really big problems to focus on a minor one.
    However, the underlying cause is unaccountability of public employees, and as long as the dialogue generated turns to this, some small progress might be made through the course of a massive misdirection.

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    • Does that data control for the specifics of the situation? Maybe that is too hard or too subjective, but I’d want to know how often the folks being shot are unarmed versus armed, demonstrate actual violence at the scene versus don’t.

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      • The data doesn’t but the reports do, and that’s where the information on race is found.
        Not many of the police shooting fatalities are armed, not many at all; something like 12%. Most of those armed had something not normally considered a weapon, such as a screwdriver or a hammer.
        Again, this is only fatalities.

        Brutality is directed against blacks way out of proportion to their ratio of the general population, but the black get getting the living tar whaled out of him is so common it isn’t even noteworthy enough to make the news.

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        • I’m not sure that really gets at my question, in part because I think it was poorly framed.

          While we’d all probably agree that the vast majority of police shootings/killings are a ‘disproportionate’ response to the situation at hand, I’m curious if they are more disproportionate for people of color versus whites.

          If black guys get shot for reaching into their car to get the license they were asked to produce and white guys get shot only after rampaging through crowded sidewalks, than it isn’t enough to just say that white guys are slightly more likely to get shot.

          But that may not be possible to determine analytically.

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          • The reports do give some indication of that.
            For example, the area I studied showed someone with a rifle at a state park who had already shot two people. Killed by the police.
            Also, a grandmother calls the police to go check on her grandson she hadn’t heard from in a week. The grandson is described as “mentally disturbed.” The grandson had a screwdriver in his hand when the police arrived. Did not respond immediately to police request to drop the screwdriver (probably wondering what was going on). Killed by the police.

            Those things are in the shooting reports, but, as you say, there is some subjective determinations to be made.
            However, the obvious should not be overlooked simply on account that it requires two and two to be added together.

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          • If black guys get shot for reaching into their car to get the license they were asked to produce and white guys get shot only after rampaging through crowded sidewalks, than it isn’t enough to just say that white guys are slightly more likely to get shot.

            Unless blacks are far less violent than whites, it is enough. If the two are equal in violence then white guys being slightly more likely to get shot can’t be true if blacks are shot with less provocation. Counter intuitively, whites are shot with less provocation (or with more incompetence).

            Big picture is the data suggests police view a police shooting as a life changing event, i.e. one with lots of negative consequences for themselves. So even a racist bully thinks it’s a bad idea and something to be avoided if there’s any other choice.

            This means any policy which attempts to convince the police that police shootings is a bad idea will fail because they already believe that. This also means police racism is a different, separate, issue from police shootings.

            This doesn’t make these various stories less outrageous, nor mean the system is working correctly, it just means the problem is broader than the press shows (meaning it extends to whites as well as blacks).

            We have issues with the police interacting with the mentally ill. We have issues with police incompetence and incorrect and/or overly aggressive training. We have issues with the war on drugs.

            And yes, we also have issues with the police being abusive short of murder, which is why BLM thinks death-by-cop is their issue rather than one for society in general.

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            • This means any policy which attempts to convince the police that police shootings is a bad idea will fail because they already believe that.

              This might be true, but the belief that it is a bad idea seems to pale when compared to the idea that a person, in the officers belief, might become violent or have the capability to be violent. So the department might understand that a shooting is bad, but enough officers appear to believe that even the slightest risk of getting hurt is way worse.

              It’s the whole, ‘better to be judged by 12, than carried by 6’ mindset. Except they very rarely are every judged by 12, and when they are, the legal standard of ‘I feared for my life’, despite any reasonable supporting evidence, tends to win the day.

              Hence policy can make a difference by actually enabling DAs to make sure every questionable case is judged by 12, by removing the ‘I feared for my life’ standard and enforcing the ‘reasonable person’ standard the rest of must face.

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      • Curious how disobeying orders is typically handled and how it will be handled here.

        The guy in charge, who was calmly issuing detailed orders on how to not kill her, was the one to pull the trigger. CNN reports “one of the officers on scene led the department’s hostage negotiation team until recently”, presumably the same guy.

        Jensen’s body camera shows him calling over another officer in the aftermath: “OK, I shot. After this is done, we’re going to have to talk here.” As a female officer approaches, Jensen explains: “Yeah, I shot her. … She had a couple knives in her hands, approached us with the knives, yelling and screaming.

        “Oh, I’m good. I mean, I don’t know what else we were going to do there,” Jensen tells another cop who asks him how he is doing. “I’m not happy. It absolutely sucks, but … I was stuck, you know?”

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    • This could turn interesting. BLM might have legs after all.

      They’re trying to wins hearts and minds by shutting down (or taking hostage) sporting events?

      That could easily backfire, “Fan” is short for “Fanatic”. I don’t see an obvious connection between pro-Basketball and police violence (or even general violence).

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      • It *COULD* easily backfire… The NFL is a great example of it backfiring.

        But the criticism of state violence is something that will usually be spun to have backfired by the bees that power.

        As someone who thought that BLM was mostly dead, I’m interested that it is still moving. I guess we’ll see what happens when the NBA players themselves are asked to display solidarity.

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      • Vivek Ranadivé , the Kings’ owner, has been very sympathetic to the protestors. Obviously, he doesn’t want his team’s games shut down, but he might be open to some compromise that avoids that.

        Also, the Kings are 24-53. I’m sure many of the fans were glad not to have to watch them.

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    • “This could turn interesting. BLM might have legs after all.”

      Remember that this is something happening for centuries. The struggle has been long, and for every step forward, 90% of the time there’s a step back.

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      • BLM is, among other things of course, a criticism of how Power conducts itself.

        It’s inconvenient to Power. It’s in Power’s interest to turn it into a black thing. Let’s make it a fight about racism! Let’s make it a fight about privilege! Let’s make it an argument about anarchy!

        When BLM shows up as being a very, very different kind of thing than the Parkland Protests?

        I imagine that we’ll see journalism stories about it morph into negative coverage. Or just be starved of oxygen this time around.

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  11. Been chewing on all this for the past couple days now, and I just finished reading all the comments, and I have some thoughts coalescing on all this. I’m a few beers deep so bear with me if I’m not at my most articulate.

    It seems to me that if you look at the history of policing in this country, especially over the last 150 years, and including stuff like the slave patrols of the antebellum South, the function of the police has never really been dealing with crime, per se, that’s more of a side effect than their actual function, which is keeping “those people” in “their” part of town. In the modern era we have the former idea of policing largely because of TV and film, but thanks to the Little Brother effect of omnipresent smartphones we’re finally being forced to confront that it’s actually the latter (I guess by we I mean white people since POCs have already known about this forever). I really hope that this actually causes change on all this but the cynical part of me thinks that the ironic effect of these videos becoming so commonplace is that we’ll become inured to it, like mass shootings and drone strikes. It’ll just get factored in by the country’s psyche, one more “cost of doing business.”

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      • Peel is wholly irrelevant to the U.S.

        Four models of policing in the United States:
        1) The political model (which the feds are still in)
        2) The professional model (see August Vollmer , Berkeley, Wickersham Commission)
        3) The community policing model
        4) The intelligence-led policing model

        To cite Bobby Peel is, effectively, to declare oneself irrelevant.
        Peel had not one thing, nor will ever have one thing, to do with the United States. Period.

        The police in the U.S. are organized differently, i.e., they act on a differing grounds of authority, rendering Peel wholly irrelevant.
        Referencing Peel = identifying oneself as a crackpot.

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        • James (who is coming at this from a non-American, not living in the US perspective) was referencing Peel as someone who has not had an influence on the US, specifically to cast doubt (in support of Zac’s thesis) that any American policing model is in any way modern.

          Calling someone on this board a crackpot, particularly with insufficient understanding of what they were saying = a good way to get in trouble with the moderator.

          Please don’t do it again.

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          • I think you mis-read that.
            I already know James K is a kiwi.
            And I wasn’t calling him a crackpot. I wouldn’t do that anyway, even if I thought he was (which I don’t). If I actually thought he was a crackpot, then saying so wouldn’t do either of us any good, and I prefer to conserve my efforts for directions other than the inanely futile.
            I was saying that bringing up Peel is a very effective way at getting marked as an unserious person when discussing police in the U.S.
            The idea that might have been read as directed at a single person never occurred to me.

            As far as I neglected to be specific enough to avoid being mis-read, I apologize.

            EDIT: and that should have been directed toward as well.

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            • I was saying that bringing up Peel is a very effective way at getting marked as an unserious person when discussing police in the U.S.

              I’ve brought up Peel in reference to US policing. Specifically in the “it’s a pity American policing diverged from the British model before Peel.

              That is, in fact, the most common context I see Peel referenced in US policing. That one problem is US policing was never influenced by Peel, and that Peelian principles were never adopted by the US. Because, you know, Peel was post-Revolutionary War.

              Perhaps you should adjust your test for “unseriousness” on this subject, as you are marking people who agree with you that Peel had no influence on American policing as “unserious” due to not actually reading why they mention Peel.

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        • Yes, that was my point – while its natural to think of the US as being any other anglosphere country, The US split off from Britain very early. This not only means the US had a lot more opportunity to diverge, it also means that its starting point for that divergence was a much less functional version of the UK than the point New Zealand, Australia or Canada diverged from.

          I feel this explains some of what is wrong with the US government.

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          • Also, as I understand, the rupture between the US and UK was much more abrupt and “complete”* than for the other three you mention.

            I’m embarrassed to admit that while what you say makes perfect sense, I hadn’t thought about it in quite that way until hearing you say it.

            *Not sure “complete” is the right word.

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          • In many ways, this is true.
            For example, it was rioting against an influx of immigrants from Ireland that brought about the establishment of what is typically considered the first modern police department in the U.S. Philadelphia was the first to hire day watchmen to supplement their night watch, but anti-Irish sentiment in Boston led to our first police department, and that was the model in the earliest of days.
            Anti-immigrant sentiment also fueled one of the major factions of abolitionists, the Free Soilers, who were fine with bringing slaves in from the Caribbean, but insisted on manumission for the American-born.
            I remember an early case where there was a contract that specified Bank of Illinois money, but when payment was made, it was clear that bank would soon fail (i.e., they were already paying state workers in scrip), and the seller insisted on Bank of St. Louis money.
            England would have enabled the colonies to better deal with both issues, immigration and slavery, as well as the early banking crises that gripped the young nation.
            The northern states had given up slavery due to either the Declaration of Independence or their new state Constitutions, and the last was New Jersey in 1804. That would have likely been delayed, but the issue of slavery in the south would have transitioned much more smoothly.
            There were a lot of early cases in courts regarding land with unclear title, and many of these would likely have been avoided.
            Negotiations with the Indian tribes would have been much different, and it is doubtful that removal would have occurred, or on such a broad scale.

            OTOH, there were advances in law that the newly-founded U.S. saw that were considerably delayed in England and the Empire.
            The U.S. did not hang people for bankruptcy, and this practice continued in England until the 1860’s.
            A wave of court reform swept the nation in the early 19th century, and divorce was no longer the exclusive province of the legislature, but could be granted by a court. Indiana soon became the divorce capital of the U.S., due to the laxity of its laws.
            I believe the issue of voting rights for the unlanded came up much earlier in the U.S.

            But I do believe the positives would outweigh the negatives.

            The issue of whether Peel should have influenced policing in the U.S. is a separate one, and I believe the answer is obvious.
            However, it will never happen here, because of the extraordinary influence of public employee unions.
            If you pick up any criminology textbook and turn to the part about organized crime, and read through to its causes, you will see something that strongly resembles current U.S. policy toward Hispanic immigrants and communities. It was calculated like that, because an increase in organized crime generates more jobs for law enforcement personnel, and that is what they lobby for.
            Unionism might have ended up in a different place were there a longer stay with the Empire.

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            • Negotiations with the Indian tribes would have been much different, and it is doubtful that removal would have occurred, or on such a broad scale.

              Oh I don’t know… there were tremendous economic and social forces at a local/state level driving this. There’s an argument it would have trumped any legal theory, treaty, or King sitting on a thrown on the other side of the sea.

              The Supreme Court, even without English influence, ruled the Indians were a seperate nation and should be dealt with that way even before the Trail of Tears. If the President of the US wasn’t strong enough to stand up to the mighty state of Georgia, then I’m not sure what would have worked or what “worked” would have looked liked.

              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Worcester_v._Georgia

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    • It seems to me that if you look at the history of policing in this country, especially over the last 150 years, and including stuff like the slave patrols of the antebellum South, the function of the police has never really been dealing with crime, per se, that’s more of a side effect than their actual function, which is keeping “those people” in “their” part of town.

      It goes way deeper than policing. In fact, I would dare to say that most of what we would categorize as domestic policy is really about keeping certain people in certain places. Housing policy. The design and construction of transportation infrastructure. Zoning ordinances. The regulation of businesses and commercial practices. Immigration laws. Financial regulations. All of these areas are to a significant extent about keeping certain people in certain places.

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      • ” All of these areas are to a significant extent about keeping certain people in certain places.”

        And a whole bunch of this stuff was set up and supports folks who can never be considered “politically right”, utterly destroying the claim that the “democrats” and the left side with the disenfranchised–they’re as racist and classest as they accuse the :”republicans” of being.

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    • ” I really hope that this actually causes change on all this but the cynical part of me thinks that the ironic effect of these videos becoming so commonplace is that we’ll become inured to it, like mass shootings and drone strikes. It’ll just get factored in by the country’s psyche, one more “cost of doing business.””

      I think that it will make a difference, but it’s clear by now that half of the white population *likes* this, *wants* this, and will support this.

      Look at the Sandy Hook massacre, for example. A bunch of white children get murdered, and the people who lie about it even happening are treated as perfectly respectable. Half of the white US population are willing to lay the lives of white middle-class children on the altar, let alone the lives of non-whites.

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  12. Interesting tweet here.

    The site isn’t letting me imbed it but here’s the text if you don’t want to click on it:
    A group of Black students from Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High called a press conference today to say they have concerns that may not mirror those of their white peers. And that the media should listen. #MSDStrong

    As Popehat says, a greater police presence isn’t equally reassuring to everybody.

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    • Here’s a vice article covering the same press conference as well:
      https://broadly.vice.com/en_us/article/59j9va/black-students-marjory-stoneman-douglas-parkland-speak-out

      And it links to a Facebook-posted 16 minute video of the young people in question speaking:
      https://www.facebook.com/BlackLivesMatterAllianceBroward/videos/1605606709555313/

      (I mention Facebook only b/c it’s still weird to my creaky old bones to be like “oh, I want a primary source… ” and then it’s something on Facebook.)

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      • “The police presence at my school is not comforting,” Koerber, 17, said. “It’s intimidating. … My once safe, beautiful school now resembles a prison. We have police towers in front, military-grade entry and exit points, and now we have invited those who are infected with the disease of prejudice to protect us.”

        I’d have included something like “we *HAD* a police presence! The coward refused to help the children being shot!” or something similar.

        Not that I’m Monday Morning Quarterbacking or anything…

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        • What gets me is that there is no precedent to ground a reasonable belief that further school shootings will occur at the same location.
          I know of not one instance of repeated mass shootings occurring at any school.

          The next one is going to happen somewhere else.

          Meanwhile, it’s good OT for a handful of cops.
          A lot safer than traffic stops, statistically.

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          • “The next one is going to happen somewhere else.”

            (warning – strong language used)

            I remember after 9/11, when TSA was searching white people Heartland Americans Real Americans, rather than just Swarthy Forunners. TSA replied that they were assuming that the next attempt would take pains to *not* look stereotypical.

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            • TSA replied that they were assuming that the next attempt would take pains to *not* look stereotypical.

              This is the equiv of pretending that everyone could be a school shooter (in the name of fairness or equality or something) as an excuse to not focus on the multiple reports saying this specific guy was going to shoot up a school.

              The AMAZING thing this time wasn’t that stopping him would have been hard, it’s that it would have been trivially easy. Minimal competence by any of a number of law enforcement would have done the job.

              For that matter, if we need to get to damage mitigation after the shooting has started, maybe the police standing outside and waiting for him to get bored with killing people wasn’t the right move.

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                  • I’d like to see a good analysis on that, which tries to figure out just how many students would fit his profile *before* the murders.

                    For example, I’ve heard that torturing animals is a common factor in the history of most mass murderers (that P(TA|MM) is high). But I have not heard anything on the predictive power (i.e., how high is P(MM|TA)?).

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                    • Profile? Sure, let’s just look at that.

                      The first warning sent to the FBI was a copy of his posting on social media, under his real name, that he planned on being a school shooter. The second warning sent to the FBI was even more specific; Someone detailed his name, love of guns, various other disturbing behavior, stated plans, and expressly warned she thought he was serious and going to be a school shooter.

                      So during the months (years?) he was planning this he occasionally bragged about what he was going to do in public and at least two people turned him in. This is in addition to the four(ish) dozen 911 calls about him over the last decade (which is probably worse than it sounds). This is also ignoring the police cowering outside the school waiting for the shooting to stop before doing anything.

                      This wasn’t an unforeseeable event or even a surprise. Everyone expected him to do this!

                      This was the third mass murder in Florida in recent history, and ALL THREE of the shooters were well known to law enforcement as problems. The failure here seems to be “law enforcement not doing their job” and the solution probably lies there. Instead what the media is focusing on is crafting a policies which assume everyone is equally likely to become a shooter and/or trying to pass laws which will fail if the shooter ignores them.

                      To answer your question, I suspect the number of self identified future school shooters is very small, especially in combo with multiple warnings about that as a problem and also in combo with dozens of 911 calls for violence and other alarming behavior.

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    • I really wish I could dig up the study, but I recall reading awhile back about pain medication and race. Specifically, that you found doctors tended to prescribe pain medications more readily to white patients than black, for people reporting the same level of pain.

      Which fits into a number of other studies that show, for some reason, there’s this embedded belief (at least in America) that black people are, at least physically, slightly superhuman. All other things being equal, the average white person will simply assume a black person is strong, tougher, faster, more durable, and more dangerous than an identical white man. (Although not, I would note, smarter. Physically superhuman…)

      It’s a pernicious little belief — a tiny thumb on the scale. And it’s not like you can call it “racism” — the unconscious, unquestioned little bit of cultural belief lodged in the back of your mind isn’t the same thing as shouting “Blacks are subhuman!” is it?

      And yet…summed up over America, it’s got quite a toll in pain, suffering, and death.

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    • I don’t think we should get upset about it when the cops do something right.
      There are systemic problems-writ-large, and there are many (most of them fairly small) jurisdictions trying to deal with them.
      While it’s easy to pick out the bad ones (and there are a lot of them) based on egregious error, the fact is that most departments are getting it right.

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      • It’s not about being upset that the cops didn’t kill that guy, it’s about disarming the notion that the police had to resort to lethal force because they thought Clark had a gun. This is similar to a link I posted upthread about police who were trying to bring a woman with a knife into custody, and the person in charge of the scene had talked to all of his officers about how to bring her in by gradually escalating force, and then when she appeared with a knife, the guy in charge shot her.

        Clearly there are tactics and strategies for dealing with armed men and women in a non-lethal fashion that police are not using.

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    • Links are always appreciated.

      Of note:

      Officer was working alone.
      Person immediately took an aggressive and belligerent attitude.
      Person repeatedly ignored officers commands.
      Person clearly had a firearm (daylight hours, easy to see that is a firearm).
      Person clearly intended to shoot (shooting stance).
      Person did actually shoot at the officer (after he’d been hit at least once).

      I mean, this is as text book a case as it gets. Plenty of warning things were gonna go sideways, and it was easy to identify the threat accurately.

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      • Yeah, the problem isn’t that officers occasionally have to shoot people. It’s how often they’re shooting people, how incredibly thin the justifications are for quite a few of the shootings, and oh yeah it turns out that they seem to habitually lie about it a lot.

        Which wouldn’t surprise a whole lot of people, but now that they’re getting caught on camera more and more — it’s surprising the oblivious suburbanites who deal with friendly cops that won’t light you up for holding a cell phone.

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    • Maybe the first guy just got lucky. That is the story we are always asked to believe. But it seems impossible to believe, given what we repeatedly see, given that the man above was given multiple opportunities to live, and Clark got no opportunities at all.

      No, Clark was the one who beat the odds, not the first guy. Comparing Clark to anyone else is like complaining other people win the lottery no matter how many tickets you buy.

      There are 1.1 million active cops in the US. 10 encounters per cop with a civilian per day suggests something like 3.7 Billion encounters per year. That’s a lot of lottery tickets.

      The police killed less than a 1000 people last year total, in all situations. Assuming all police shootings are bad seems laughable, so what do we want to say, 10%? That’s a 90 bad shootings… but it still might make Clark the worst this week, or month, and maybe one of the top 10 this year.

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      • If you think it’s worse than it seems, you haven’t been paying attention.
        Courts devoted to adjudicating the unaccountability of government was the sea change I was referring to up-thread.
        The problem is not one of the police anymore, and it hasn’t been for a long time.
        The problem is more one of being without functional courts.

        FWIW, I just gave a presentation on Coke’s jurisprudence 1610 – 1616, with an overview of the Petition of Right that came up with reference to one of our Amendments in the Bill of Rights in the Q&A session that followed.
        The need for that very same Petition of Right is ever-present with us today. Now.
        And I can tell you where that leads to: The period from 1641 – 1649.

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    • Ugh. I have my differences with Sotomayor from time to time, but I’m glad she wrote the dissent for this one.

      “The majority today exacerbates that troubling asymmetry. Its decision is not just wrong on the law; it also sends an alarming signal to law enforcement officers and the public. It tells officers that they can shoot first and think later, and it tells the public that palpably unreasonable conduct will go unpunished. Because there is nothing right or just under the law about this, I respectfully dissent. “

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