Another Officer-Involved Shooting! And What a Sorry Excuse for an Explanation.

The police union concedes that the African American therapist who was shot by the officer did everything right…and the video shows him on his back, arms outstretched over and behind him, with his hands open.  The union claim that the officer fired at the autistic white man (whom the therapist was trying to return to a group home) who was sitting a few feet away, playing with what is now said to have been a toy vehicle, but which the officer supposedly mistook for a gun.

Here’s a slight problem with the police union’s version…after the officer fired and hit the black therapist, and missed the white patient at whom the officer supposedly was aiming, the officers proceeded to roll the wounded victim on to his stomach and handcuff him behind his back, while, rather that pinning and handcuffing the man who, according to the union’s narrative, was the officer’s intended target.

When you shoot an innocent person by accident, standard procedure is to roll them over and cuff him, right?  Just like it is standard procedure to take a risky shot at a possible perp, in order to save a potential victim whose in the line of fire.

Can’t understand why some people think that race is an issue, or that police officers try to cover for each other.  Can you?

Libertarian Party’s Statement re Recent Shootings

In the interests of full disclosure, I found this statement partially objectionable, as it passed judgment on the officers who used their firearms prior to any meaningful investigations and, at least in the case in Baton Rouge, prior to the release of the video that disproved some of the initial accusations and claims.  And, if anyone will take the time to check out the results of experiments conducted by the Force Science Institute (see earlier post), they’ll see how little time officers have in which to react, once a suspect makes a furtive move (if the suspect has a gun, by the time the officer can react, it may already be too late).

The statement makes a valid point about the blue wall of silence, though, because to the extent that officers circle the wagons to protect ANY officer involved in a shooting, the public is justified in suspecting EVERY officer involved in a shooting.  Trust is critical, and we can’t built that by pointing to statistics on the high percentage of officers who are exonerated by investigations conducted by other law enforcement officers.  On the other side of the equation, though, the perception that police officers are quicker to pull the trigger is the other person is black may be more apparent than real, based recent academic studies (linked to in previous posts).

Be all that as it made, and notwithstanding the fact that I probably will vote for Gary Johnson, here is the official statement to which I take exception.  Think of it as my attempt to be fair and balanced:

For Immediate Release

Friday, July 8, 2016

Libertarian Party Calls for an End to All Violence

ALEXANDRIA, VA – Libertarian National Committee Chair Nicholas Sarwark issued this statement today in relation to the recent shootings in Louisiana, Minnesota and Texas:

“The killing needs to stop. All of it. None of these shootings were justified – not the shootings by the police, not the shootings of the police. The Libertarian Party denounces all killing. No American should feel they’ve invited violence upon themselves because of their skin color, the uniform they wear in service to their communities, or their decision to exercise their Second Amendment rights. None of these factors should make you a target for murder in this country.”

“The frustration in the black community is palpable, and frankly, justified. When rogue cop after rogue cop gets off scot-free after using excessive force and changes are not made, and consequences are not felt, it causes this horrible tension we are feeling today. However, the vast majority of the black community have been exercising their right to protest peacefully and admirably. It is despicable that a couple of bad actors put a cloud over all that and increased tension for everyone. The shooters in Dallas will see justice, but will the blue wall of silence ever be broken? Will cops ever start to do a better job of policing themselves?”

“The Libertarian Party calls for peace and justice. Those two things go hand in hand.”




Officer-Involved Shootings- A Website That May Explain it All (or at least a lot)!

Below is a link to the “Demos” page of the Force Science Institute’s website.  While I recommend checking out the rest of their website, as well, this is the page that with a few clicks, illustrates (not argues) why a significant percentage of people shot by law enforcement officers turn out to have been unarmed.  It also explains why so many officers who are shot by suspects are dropped before they can fire a shot.  And, after you see the figures and play out some corresponding scenarios in your own mind, you may, like me, find yourself wondering why the situation isn’t even worse than has been.

Do this:

  1. Click on “Officer Motions,” and then click on some of the stances from which the officers who were tested started.  Note that none of these stances involve holstered weapons; all the average and fastest times are based on the officer having his pistol already in hand and fully expecting to fire;
  2.  Keep in mind that these starting positions represent best-case scenarios in terms of an officer’s readiness…if the pistols were holstered, the typical officer would have to disengage/navigate two to three retention/safety devices before “clearing leather,” at which point he or she would then be in roughly the same position as where some of the demos begin.  It would be reasonable to add at least half a second to the times;
  3. Take a good look at the times that were recorded, and perhaps write them down;
  4. Next, back out of “Officer Motions” and click your way into “Subject Motions.”  Check out a few, especially the one with a gun tucked between the driver’s thigh and the car’s console.  Note the times;
  5. Compare and contrast the “Subject” times to the “Officer” times, keeping in mind that the subjects were able to initiate when they were ready, and the officers were, and nearly always are, in a position of having to observe, process, react…and, at least in theory, again observe and process, before deciding whether to pull the trigger.  Spoiler alert…if an officer did all that, he or she probably would be incapacitated or dead prior to completing the process;
  6. Back out of “Subject Motions” and click into “Interactions.”  Note that in the time it takes an officer to react to a subject’s sudden movement, the subject can turn almost 180 degrees, meaning that the subject will be shot in the back, without the officer having a realistic opportunity to hold his fire; and
  7. See if you can figure out what the hell we can do to reduce the risks to both citizens and officer.

Police Personnel Files – How Confidential Are They/Can They Be?

The article I’ve linked may seem (and be) a bit esoteric, but it is almost-must reading for anyone in involved in the criminal justice system as a law enforcement officer, defense attorney, or prosecutor.  It also is recommended reading for anyone trying trying to follow the various criminal cases being brought against police officers.

If SOME Constitutional Rights are Important, Does that Mean that Some Others Aren’t?

The article I have linked to is from the Huffington Post, but, interestingly enough (well, _I_ thought it was interesting), I found it through The Volokh Conspiracy  blog which, despite the name, is a respected and influential legal and political blog, most contributors to which are law professors and academics from across the U.S.  Most, but not all, of the contributors lean libertarian or conservative, but there occasionally are links to thoughtful/insightful articles from the Left or, more often, articles in which one of the regular contributors fairly presents the arguments on two or more sides of an issue.

In this particular article, the author argues that, while the Supreme Court intensely scrutinizes government attempts to regulate/restrict certain constitutional or legal rights, it has been willing to accept almost any plausible excuse for restricting others (which, in effect, deprives the aggrieved of recourse).  A further complication (my observation, not necessarily that of the authors) is that some of the rights the Court most vigorously safeguards are rights “discovered” by the Court, and which are not actually articulated in the Constitution or Amendments, while some of the “almost anything goes” rights were written into the Bill of Rights.

Anyhow, if you have an interest in concepts, and not just in issues, it’s worth reading.

Who is Shooting Whom?

This article references the recent Harvard study of use of force against whites and blacks by police officers, but goes well beyond it.  It explores the demographics of attacks on law enforcement officers, and compares statistics for white officers and black officers interacting with white and black suspects.  I found the results surprising, and you may, as well.  Of course, studies of this nature cannot be accepted as face value, as they are based on reports are not, and never can be, precise.

The “Ferguson Effect”

This is an interesting article arising from what appears to be an interesting book.  The author makes the case that one effect of the focus on police misconduct and the narrative that police officers are much quicker to shoot black people than white people is that police officers are reluctant to initiate contacts with people whose behavior or presence they regard as suspicious…and that this reticence on the part of law enforcement officers is a major factor in the rapid increases in crime rates many of our cities have experienced since 2014, after a couple of decades or so during with crime rates had declined.  The increase in murder and robbery rates in some parts of the country have been particularly shocking, including (significantly?) in St. Louis County and Baltimore.



“Don’t Spit in the Soup, ‘Cause We’ve All Got to Eat From It!” -Lyndon Baines Johnson

I love that quote; it’s so much more colorful and down home than, “Don’t poison the well,” don’t you think?  In a somewhat similar vein, LBJ claimed that his favorite Biblical quote was from Isaiah: “Come, let us reason together.”

Johnson, despite his well known capacity for ruthlessness when he wanted or needed something, and his calculated vindictiveness when denied or crossed, realized it made sense to accommodate people, when he could afford to, and no sense to anger or demean them when it would serve no purpose…though reminding them that he was the man in charge was such a purpose.

What the hell happened?  When, why, and how did so many people decide that making enemies should be an end in itself, or that if they could lie, withhold, or mislead their way to victory today, they’d be trusted or respected tomorrow?  What happened to worthy adversaries who were too intelligent, too wise, and too honorable to be acrimonious?  If and when there is common ground, these days, how likely is it that anyone would notice, or admit to it, if they did?

Let’s not have any sloganeering or spin here.  Let’s dissect and discuss ideas, challenge assumptions…including our own, and perhaps attempt to persuade, rather than to preach to the converted and/or to shout down or insult those with opposing views.  Let’s not repeat claims we haven’t attempted to verify and/or analyze, and when confronted with half truths, let’s try to find and share the other half.  In other words, let’s do credit to ourselves and show respect for the intelligence of others.

Is that more or less doable?