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Posts Tagged ‘police’

Jeff Knox on the Philando Castile shooting verdict

Posted by Richard on June 24, 2017

Jeff Knox, director of The Firearms Coalition and son of its founder Neal Knox, has written the best opinion piece I’ve seen about the acquittal of Officer Jeronimo Yanez in the shooting death of Philando Castile. You’ll recall that Castile was stopped because of a broken tail light. He informed Officer Yanez that he had a concealed carry license and a handgun. Here’s the dashcam video of what transpired:

I find it hard to believe that any reasonable, objective person who viewed the first five minutes of that video wouldn’t conclude that Officer Yanez couldn’t control his own fears, panicked, and acted irrationally and irresponsibly. He’s exactly the type of person who should never have a badge and a gun.  Here’s Jeff Knox’s take (emphasis in original):

Yanez demonstrated extremely poor judgment, failed to control a controllable situation, and let that situation take him out of control of himself. It’s always easy to play Monday morning quarterback and point out all of the things someone did wrong, and all of the things they should have done differently, but this is basic training stuff, and Yanez missed it.

Going over the transcript of the dash-cam video, the one word that might have changed everything, and was conspicuously absent, was the simple word “Stop.”

Of course, the dashcam video doesn’t resolve the key bone of contention in the case. Yanez claimed that Castile was pulling his gun out even as Castile insisted he wasn’t. Castile’s girlfriend claimed that he never touched his gun and was pulling out his wallet to present his driver’s license as instructed. Here’s Knox again (bold emphasis added):

… She also claims that when Yanez yelled “Don’t pull it out,” Castile stopped what he was doing and began moving his empty hands back toward the steering wheel, but Yanez began firing anyway.

Prosecutors pointed out that Yanez could have, and should have said something like “Freeze,” or “Put up your hands,” and critics have pointed out that Castile should have known to keep his hands on the wheel until he received specific instructions from Yanez. Both are right, and either of those actions by either of the men would probably have averted the tragedy. But Castile was apparently attempting to obey Yanez’s instructions, and it’s Yanez’s job to be in control of the situation. Seven shots fired at Castile, with a little girl sitting in the back seat, is not control. And though Yanez was only inches away from Castile, two of the seven shots missed him completely.

So Yanez is not only guilty of poor judgment, but of incredibly poor marksmanship as well. Missing completely from no more than a foot away? He must have closed his eyes when he started shooting!

Yanez’ defense attorney argued that Yanez was justified because he feared for his safety and that he was following police protocol. Knox notes that this reveals a larger problem (emphasis in original):

This points up a problem with police training focused on worst-case scenarios, and an irrational fear of anyone else being armed.

The former Chicago police commissioner, actually said that having concealed carry legal in the city would result in permit holders being shot by his officers, because he was training them that, when a gun is present, they should basically shoot first and ask questions later.

Knox goes on to explain one other simple thing Yanez should have done (besides remain calm and control his emotions) to avert the tragedy (emphasis in original):

Something else that was claimed by the defense attorney, was that Yanez couldn’t retreat, and that his only option was to shoot. Experienced officers will tell you that this is just not true. Taking a step toward the rear of the car would have not only taken Officer Yanez out of Castile’s direct line of sight, requiring him to awkwardly try to shoot over his left shoulder – if that was his intention – it would also have positioned him so that firing at Castile would not jeopardize the little girl in the back seat, or the woman in the passenger seat, and it would have created the extra moment needed to determine Castile’s intentions.

Finally, Knox explains, but doesn’t excuse, the NRA’s failure to get involved in the case and refutes the scurrilous charge that the organization’s silence is due to racism:

The NRA has a long record of staying away from violent criminal cases, and especially police shootings. The case of Erik Scott, who was shot down by police as he and his girlfriend exited a Costco in Las Vegas, is a prime example. Scott was white, a West Point graduate and decorated veteran, and licensed to carry concealed, but the NRA didn’t touch that case. Neither did they decry the killing of Jose Guerena, who was shot some 60 times in his own home during an unfounded, and terribly executed police raid in Tucson.

While many of us wish the NRA would get more involved in these cases, they feel they can do more good by helping to train officers better in dealing with armed citizens, and that taking a public stand in controversial police shooting cases, would only harm those efforts.

The NRA is responsible for training many, if not most, police firearms instructors and holds countless law enforcement training classes every year all across the country. They don’t want to jeopardize that relationship. Their thinking is analogous to the reluctance of many prosecutors to bring charges against police officers or use their best efforts in pursuing such charges: an adversarial relationship with the cops would hinder their ability to do their jobs. I understand such thinking, but it’s still wrong.

An honorable man does what he knows to be right even when it’s not in his best interests.

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Denial is a mayor in Philly

Posted by Richard on January 8, 2016

Another instance of sudden jihad syndrome: A Philadelphia police officer, Jessie Hartnett, is lucky to be alive after being shot at 13 times as he sat in his patrol car at an intersection. The assailant, Edward Archer, is in custody and has confessed. Archer said he did it in the name of Islam and has pledged loyalty to ISIS. Archer’s brother told a local reporter that Archer had made the hajj.

 Philadelphia’s mayor, however, wanted to make something clear:

After police confirmed that the suspect who attempted to “execute” a Philadelphia police officer on Thursday night claimed to have done so in the name of Islam, Mayor Jim Kenney told reporters on Friday that the attack is not connected to Islam in any way.

“In no way, shape or form does anyone in this room believe that Islam or the teachings of Islam have anything to do with what you’ve seen on that screen,” Kenney said. “That is abhorrent. It’s just terrible, and it does not represent the religion in any way, shape or form or any of its teachings.”

“This is a criminal with a stolen gun who tried to kill one of our officers,” he added. “[It] has nothing to do with being a Muslim or following the Islamic faith.”

Mayor Kenney claimed instead that it has something to do with “too many guns on the street.” Turns out the gun was a police officer’s, stolen from his home two years earlier. Not from a gun show or the internet. Oops.

Archer fired 13 shots at Officer Hartnett at point-blank range and only hit him three times. I guess Hartnett is lucky that Archer spent a lot more time reading the Koran than practicing his marksmanship.

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In Florida, shear regulatory madness

Posted by Richard on September 19, 2014

Since the militarization of police forces began, there have been many instances of outrageous police overreach, and Mark Steyn has documented a number of them. His latest example may have you tearing your hair out.

I often joke with my hairdresser Amanda about the number of state permits she requires for the privilege of cutting my hair. As I point out on page 49 of After America (personally autographed copies of which are exclusively available, etc):

In the Fifties, one in twenty members of the workforce needed government permission in order to do his job. Today, it’s one in three.

That’s tyrannous – which is bad enough, albeit not unique to America: The entire developed world has massively expanded the hyper-regulatory state. But only in America does the Department of Paperwork command lethal force:

Go and read the whole unbelievable story.

Angry crowds should have descended upon the offices of Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation with protest signs. Or tar and feathers. What will it take for a significant portion of the population to rise up and shout, “Enough! This is tyranny!”?

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A sobering look at racial profiling

Posted by Richard on April 7, 2014

While I have police profiling on my mind, let me commend to you a thoughtful and sobering article by Christopher E. Smith in The Atlantic. Smith is a professor of criminal justice, and his son is a young black Harvard student. He recounts his son’s experiences with racial profiling, and it’s disturbing. Excerpts can’t do it justice; please read the whole thing.

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Driving while Coloradan

Posted by Richard on April 7, 2014

A week ago, I posted about the 70-year-old Colorado man whose car was stopped and searched in Idaho because it had Colorado license plates. But it’s not just Idaho cops who think that a Colorado license plate is sufficient probable cause to stop and search a car.

Apparently, driving while Coloradan can get you stopped and searched in Nevada, Illinois, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and Tennessee… and those are just the easily found cases that made the news somewhere. Most are anecdotal, but the Des Moines Register analyzed some state data on highway patrol traffic stops in Iowa:

By far, drivers with license plates hailing from California, Colorado and Illinois received the most warnings and violations over the past five years — more than 30 percent. Almost 12 percent of the warnings and violations were given to motorists with California plates; 11 percent to Colorado plates; and almost 10 percent to Illinois plates.

Drivers with Iowa plates, meanwhile, accounted for about 14 percent of the warnings and citations.

What percentage of cars on the road in Iowa do you suppose have Colorado plates? I’m going to guess that Coloradans are at least ten times as likely (and maybe much more) to be stopped in Iowa as Iowans.

Lawsuits such as the one filed against Idaho are one way to deal with this geographic profiling. But I think some grass-roots action would also be a good idea. Someone (not me) ought to organize a letter-writing campaign targeting state tourism agencies and newspapers in the offending states, encouraging Coloradans to send them letters along these lines:

We’ve been considering a road trip [to/through] [name of state] to visit [cite one or more tourist destinations, including in that state]. But we’re having second thoughts because of reports that police in [name of state] stop and search cars from Colorado. Is anything being done to put a stop to this kind of illegal profiling? The idea of spending two hours on the side of the road while our car is searched just because we’re from Colorado makes a visit to [name of state] very unappealing.

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Don’t visit a hydroponics store in Kansas or Missouri

Posted by Richard on March 30, 2014

For that matter, it’s probably best if you don’t visit a hydroponics store anywhere. And if you brew tea from loose leaves, you may want to switch to those little pouches with tags attached. Otherwise, you could find yourself undergoing the same ordeal as the Harte family of Johnson County, Kansas.

On April 20, 2012, Bob Harte answered an early-morning knock and found an armed SWAT team outside:

It was 7:30 a.m. when he’d heard a knock at the door and pulled himself out of bed to answer it while his wife and two kids slept.  A SWAT team surrounded his home, and a deputy had a battering ram ready to charge through the door had Bob had not opened it.

The deputies pushed Bob to the floor of the entry way of his home and stood over him with rifles screaming, “Where are the children in the home?” Bob told them they were in their rooms and the deputies ran to find them.

The commotion woke his wife Addie Harte who came downstairs to find out what was going on.

“We just kept saying ‘You’re in the wrong house!’ said Addie.

Deputies searched the sofa and then allowed the family of four to sit on it, in front of their picture window, as armed deputies searched the home. For two hours, the family sat on that sofa, afraid and puzzled as to why deputies were in their home.

The Hartes weren’t shown a search warrant until the search was concluded — that’s the law in Kansas. The cops were looking for “narcotics,” but didn’t find anything. The Hartes wanted to know why their house was raided, but no one would tell them.

Kansas has terrible public records laws. It took a year, an attorney, and $25,000 for the Hartes to learn why they were targeted, and the answer is mind-boggling and chilling. Months earlier, Bob Harte and his son went to a hydroponics store in Kansas City, MO, to get some supplies for his son’s science project. Unbeknownst to him, the Missouri Highway Patrol apparently has nothing better to do than monitor hydroponics stores (because they sell equipment often used by pot growers) and record the license numbers and vehicle descriptions of their customers.

Eventually, the information about Harte’s vehicle was conveyed to the Johnson County, KS, sheriff’s office. Deputies were subsequently sent to the Harte home on multiple occasions to rifle through their garbage. That’s where they found Addie Harte’s discarded tea leaves. A field test (notoriously unreliable) identified the tea leaves as marijuana. That led to the raid. The tea leaves were only sent to the crime lab for verification after the raid. Their more accurate test was, of course, negative for marijuana.

The Hartes have filed a federal lawsuit and testified in front of the state legislature trying to get the laws regarding release of police records changed.

“This not what justice in the United States is supposed to be. You shouldn’t have to have $25,000, even $5,000. You shouldn’t have to have that kind of money to find out why people came raiding your house like some sort of police state,” Addie Harte said.

You shouldn’t have your house raided for such bogus reasons like some sort of police state.

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It’s no longer safe for Coloradans to drive to other states

Posted by Richard on March 30, 2014

From CBS Seattle:

An Idaho state trooper arrested and fully searched a 70-year-old Washington man’s vehicle solely because he had a Colorado license plate – a state where marijuana is legal – a federal “license plate profiling” lawsuit alleges.

Read the whole outrageous story. And if you’re a Coloradan, keep this in mind when planning your next vacation.

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Denver Police problem: “accidental shootings”

Posted by Richard on March 21, 2014

Gun safety isn’t really difficult. There are only four simple rules, first articulated by Col. Jeff Cooper, that must be followed. But you must adhere to these rules absolutely, consistently, 100% of the time. Rule #3 is:


Here is a picture illustrating adherence to rule #3:


The trigger finger is outside the trigger guard, extended alongside the frame of the pistol. As Col. Cooper explained:

… Since the hand normally prefers to work as a unit – as in grasping – separating the function of the trigger-finger from the rest of the hand takes effort. The five-finger grasp is a deeply programmed reflex. Under sufficient stress, and with the finger already placed on the trigger, an unexpected movement, misstep or surprise could result in a negligent discharge. Speed cannot be gained from such a premature placement of the trigger-finger. Bringing the sights to bear on the target, whether from the holster or the Guard Position, takes more time than that required for moving the trigger finger an inch or so to the trigger.

It appears that at least some Denver police officers aren’t adhering to rule #3. But most of the blame is being put on their weapon-mounted flashlights:

Denver’s police chief said Thursday he has ordered extra training and a review of department policies after the second accidental shooting by an officer this month and the fifth in a little over a year.

Police are still investigating the latest shooting Sunday night, but at least two of the accidental shootings have been blamed on gun-mounted tactical flashlights. Such lights have also been cited in other accidental police shootings across the country, including one that killed a man in Texas.

Two of last year’s unintentional shootings were connected to officers’ use of the flashlights, according to the city’s independent police monitor’s annual report. White responded by banning a specific design of flashlight with an on/off switch located on the gun’s grip just below the trigger guard. He cited three specific brands, but said his ban was not limited to those products.

Nonsense. Look at the picture above again. The flashlight switch is located on the front strap of the pistol grip, under the middle finger. The middle finger presses the switch to turn the flashlight on or off. If your trigger finger (forefinger) is properly located outside the trigger guard and extended alongside the frame, there is no way that you will “accidentally” press the trigger when attempting to turn on the flashlight.

When it comes to gun handling, as Col. Cooper said, “there are no accidents, only negligent acts.” There are far too many cops in this country who’ve received inadequate training and seem to have adopted the gun-handling practices they see on TV crime dramas made by people who know little or nothing about guns.

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Leftist death threats continue

Posted by Richard on April 2, 2011

The liberal talking heads continue to prattle on about the "extremism" of Tea Party members and their lack of "civility," while ignoring union thuggery and a plethora of leftist threats and intimidation.

In Wisconsin, the  teacher who threatened to kill 16 state senators and their families has finally been charged (but still not arrested):

Charges have been filed in an investigation of e-mailed death threats to Republican state Senators last month during the budget-repair debate — but oddly, no arrest has taken place. Prosecutors filed two felony counts and two misdemeanor counts against 26-year-old Katherine Windels of Cross Plains, Wisconsin, but only after the Wisconsin Department of Justice sent the district attorney a sharply-worded memo of its own, wondering why prosecutors hadn’t done anything with the referral. …

Windels claimed to have already constructed bombs. Yet the police investigators (undoubtedly members of a public employee union) to whom she confessed to making the threats a month ago did nothing. 

Gateway Pundit has more about Windels and links to yet more. 

In neighboring Michigan, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy had the temerity to send Freedom of Information Act requests to the labor studies departments of three universities for specific emails related to the collective bargaining issue in Wisconsin and Gov. Scott Walker. After various leftist "news" sources like Talking Points Memo, Rachel Maddow, and the New York Times publicized/criticized the requests, the center received "a deluge of hate mail and calls," including five messages containing death threats or bomb threats.

The center has contacted law enforcement. Good luck with that. I'm sure that, just as in the Wisconsin case, police officers who are members of public employee unions will investigate, discover that the alleged perps are on their side, and do nothing for as long as they can get away with it.

We have a serious problem, folks. The fiscal chickens are coming home to roost all across the country, and the generous pay, pensions, and benefits of public employees have become unsustainable. So we're going to see increasingly angry and confrontational battles in state after state pitting the public employee unions against the private citizens. The problem is that law enforcement, in most places, is in the hands of the public employee unions.

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Breaking into your own home

Posted by Richard on July 24, 2009

BigFurHat* broke into his own home once and was nabbed by the cops. He was hauled off a bus, handcuffed, and put in the back of a patrol car. But there was no loud confrontation, no crowd of neighbors, and the President didn't render judgment on the incident:

What followed was an Abbott and Costello routine. The police said a neighbor saw me break into the house and run for the bus. They described me as running with a large blue flat box (my portfolio.)

I explained that I lived there. When the police asked for identification I realized that, you guessed it, it was in the tray. We went back to the house to have the neighbor ID me. But the neighbor was afraid to come out. I showed the cops that I had the keys to the house! A HA! That would prove I lived there. But then they asked me why I was crawling through the window if I had the keys. Hmmm. They were good.

I told them to go inside and look at pictures of ME on the wall. They said that the owner of the house would have to give them permission to go inside, I said, “That’s ME!” They said, “prove it.” And round and round this went.

I was desperately trying to identify myself, not like Gates, who was offended when asked for ID. Had I belligerently said “you don’t know who you’re messing with” my story would have ended differently. I finally realized that I could have the cops go into the neighbors house and tell them that I know the names of her grandkids, as proof that I wasn’t a burglar who was going to come back to “get her” for having me arrested. She finally, nervously, came out and said, “oh, that’s the owner, nevermind.”

The story ends with me getting a police ride to the subway so I wouldn’t be late for my appointment downtown. It wasn’t a completely friendly ride, I got a long lecture about being too old to be walking around without ID.

Obama has it completely wrong (oh, what a surprise.) It was Gates who acted stupidly. If he wasn’t such an azzhole, one who is constantly looking for a way to paint himself as a victim of racism, he would see that the police were DOING THEIR JOB! And they were doing it well. When dealing with the police there are ways to get it to go badly. Gates fulfilled those ways. Gates displayed that rare quality – a narcissistic belief of extreme entitlement (”you don’t know who you’re messing with”) coupled with a paranoid belief that whitey, or the police in general, are out to get him. That’s a recipe for disaster. Newsflash: the police do not enjoy that volatile personality trait when they were simply trying to protect your home.

I don't deny that there are cops who are racists (overtly or subconsciously), and who let your skin color influence how they handle such a situation. But I submit that they're far, far outnumbered by the cops who just expect you to be civil and show a modicum of respect for the badge, and who let that influence how they handle such a situation. Yes, there are places where blacks are disproportionately arrested. But belligerent, abusive loudmouths with a chip on their shoulder are disproportionately arrested absolutely everywhere, regardless of their race.

The incident reports of the first two officers on the scene are here (PDF). If the police reports are even remotely accurate, there are only two reasonable explanations for Gates' behavior: either he (not the Cambridge police), was being remarkably stupid or he was deliberately provoking an incident.

Gates' version is quite different, but unlike the officers' reports, his doesn't provide quotes or characterize how things were said and the parties acted. It sounds like a sterile narrative created by his lawyer and, in my opinion, lacks the ring of truth.

So, not having been there, how can we — or the President — decide whether the arresting officer was "racially profiling" Gates or reacting reasonably to the circumstances and to Gates' behavior? Well, we might want to consider this about the man before rushing to condemn him:

Cambridge Sgt. James Crowley has taught a class on racial profiling for five years at the Lowell Police Academy after being hand picked by for the job by former police Commissioner Ronny Watson, who is black, said Academy Director Thomas Fleming.

"I have nothing but the highest respect for him as a police officer. He is very professional and he is a good role model for the young recruits in the police academy," Fleming told The Associated Press on Thursday.

The course, called "Racial Profiling," teaches about different cultures that officers could encounter in their community "and how you don't want to single people out because of their ethnic background or the culture they come from," Fleming said. The academy trains cadets for cities across the region.

I think the Prez may owe Sgt. Crowley an apology. His taking of sides was at least premature.

* While you're visiting, be sure to check out The Obamas. I especially liked #47. A friend sent me #44 the other day — I love that duck!

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