Sunday, March 21, 2010

Personal Safety in Eureka is an Illusion

[UPDATE Below]

The latest in the Sunday Times-Standard on the killing of a man simply trying to defend himself is offered “below the fold” and shows more police justification for their actions. One thing is for sure, there is NO counter information or argument coming from the dead guy. The headline reads: “Two officers fired weapons in fatal Eureka shooting.” Then quotes, “Chief: There was no alternative to using deadly force.”

“No alternative”? I would guess not when police policy, if not city government policy is to use overwhelming force to protect themselves at all times. Of course Chief Garr Nielsen is going to defend his personal policy within his department. The tragedy in this incident is that everyone of these individuals involved, including the Chief, HAD alternatives. History proves that whenever there is even the suspicion of some sort of weapon involved, the first proven “alternative” is “deadly force.”

This is what's really disturbing about this whole matter, the assumption that the guy supposedly with the gun was the “aggressor.” To quote: “The officers didn't initially know who was the aggressor and who was the victim in the situation.” Notice how quick they concluded who the aggressor was: “He says, (one of the officers says) 'gun, he's got a gun,' and the officers started making verbal demands for Sequoia to drop the gun.” At that point who is to say that the aggressor wasn't Kris Coon and that the gun belonged to him and that Sequoia was simply defending himself from Coon's assault? Who knew that Sequoia hadn't initially gotten the gun away from Coon? What was obvious is that both men were fighting over possession of the gun BEFORE the officers got involved. Based upon what Coon has already said and the Times-Standard has repeatedly reported, the only person actually defending himself was David Sequoia. Notice what happened to him: “'The officer took his gun, put it at the base of Sequoia's head, and fired a round into Sequoia's head,' he said, adding that the second shot ended the struggle and likely killed Sequoia instantly.” That is exactly how you execute someone.

If what Nielsen says was the truth, then no one has the right to defend themselves regardless the weapon, but especially with a gun. “On Saturday, Nielsen reiterated his belief that his officers acted appropriately in the face of a grave threat.” The question remains, Who caused the “grave threat”? Who placed these officers “in a position where they really had no alternatives other than to use deadly force in this incident”? It certainly was not the guy that got killed.

Nielsen continue, “I think the officers were placed in a position where they really had no alternatives other than to use deadly force in this incident,” he said, adding that the officers issued verbal commands and tried to physically take the weapon from Sequoia, who simply refused to comply. That left them with no other option than deadly force because they really felt like their lives were in danger, as was the life of Mr. Coon.” If the police officer's lives were really in danger it was because they put themselves there by jumping to unsubstantiated conclusions the Sequoia was the "aggressor" threatening Coon. Nielsen substantiates his bogus argument when he tells Thadeus Greenson, reporting for the Times-Standard, that Sequoia had “fired the two shots at an acquaintance from whom Sequoia had allegedly stolen more than $1,500.” So what? At the time of the incident no one knew who had fired those shots, certainly not any of those police officers. It could have been Kris Coon for all any of them knew. Nielsen says, “he believes they were en route to the shots-fired call on California Street and just happened to come across Coon and Sequoia.” By going down an alley? Yet, the shooting is justified in his mind because his officer's promptly determined that Sequoia was the “aggressor” because he had the gun, actually he and Coon “had” the gun and they both refused to let go. Coon says he had hold of the barrel with all the leverage, but Sequoia was moving the barrel around threatening everyone. More like Coon was moving the barrel around.

The reason I wrote the above commentary is because from the very first day I was forced confront a bully I became a believer in my inherent right to self-defense. I own property and a nice home in Eureka, am married and we have family that lives and works here as well. I am a retired logger that worked in the woods during the time men physically fought first and talked later. I worked out in the mountains where there wasn't a police officer within two hours. Many times I was forced to defend myself and my family. I always reserved the right to call in the police whenever there was a personal threat to me, my family or my property. They rarely ever let me or my wife down. So, I don't want anyone to get some idea I am anti-police. I am not. I support the police and their legitimate right to exist within our society when they support all the people and that includes me. Their assumed right to use “deadly force” is our same right to self-defense. Sometimes that requires using deadly force. Tragically, the only one threatened here was the poor bastard that got killed for getting too close to Kris Coon.

The real problem here, consequently, is if the Eureka Police Department and the District Attorney leave this matter with Kris Coon unanswered, just to defend what he and the police officer's did in shooting that man, they put everyone one of us, everyone that lives in Eureka, in physical jeopardy to the Kris Coon's and aggressive officers with quick trigger fingers that jump to conclusions when someone doesn't just drop dead when they tell them to.

[Picture source]

[UPDATE :: Monday, March 22, 2010]

I just spent some time reading the 129 comments on “Slain suspect acquitted of murder in 2008” on the Humboldt Herald. []

If you want to see what a sick, pathetic city we live, go there to become enlightened. To start with you don't have to go any further than Heraldo's headline: “Slain suspect.” “Slain” to be sure. More like “executed.” But what made him a “suspect” worthy of being killed? The fact that he was fighting for possession of a gun? For all any of those officers knew that gun could have been the other guy's and the poor bastard that got executed had just got it away from him and was simply trying to defend himself. So, what does the fact that he was “acquitted” of a murder charge got to do with anything?

It's easy to see, when you read most of these comments, how the newspaper coverage of Chief Garr Nielsen in particular, along with such innocent sounding headlines and other comments prejudices and vilifies unjustly. David Sequoia or Barger may have been all the things everyone seems to think he is just because he packed a gun and a jury saw fit to exonerate him of a serious accusation. None of that was prescient or relevant to the decision made to execute him.

During all the years that I logged out in the mountains, every pickup on the road had a handgun under the seat or in the glove box. Do you think that the police, game wardens and the Sheriff's deputies didn't know that? They knew they were dealing with a potential weapon every time they stopped someone. Even so, they didn't make it a matter of policy to shoot on sight for want of personal threat! Of course that was not the police policy for all those pot growing hippies. I guess it paid to be a logger – better class of people, probably. Or, at least, that's what the police officers thought.

Did I have a gun in my pickup all those years? For me, I had a twelve-gauge shotgun prominently displayed in my back window for all to see. When I stopped logging I didn't think I needed it anymore so I got rid of it, that was over 20 years ago. Probably a good thing too. The way policing is done in Eureka, I don't know why I would need or want one again either.

Much safe is a cellphone with the speed dial set to 911. Does anyone think there's the slightest possibility it would be mistaken for a weapon?


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