Showing posts with label Paramilitary police. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Paramilitary police. Show all posts

Friday, August 13, 2010

It's Official – Shooting Justified

Short notice on second page of the Friday, August 13, 2010, Times-Standard says: “Deputies going back on duty after shooting death.

Another press release statement from the Sheriff's office reveals Sheriff Gary Philp's decision: “After reviewing physical evidence, officer statements and witness statements, Sheriff Gary Philp decided to return seven-year veteran Deputy Dave Lundie and Deputy John Fomasi to regular duty, according to a Sheriff's Office press release. Philp determined that neither deputy violated Sheriff's Office policy or procedure during the incident.” [Emphasis added]

“Press release” information doesn't provide much if any opportunity to ask the Sheriff any questions. Surely, there are people in this community that would like to know what “policy or procedure” justifies using lethal force to shoot someone for “refusing to comply with officers' orders”? I know I would. Be nice if the Sheriff would produce the “metal handle of a garden rake” so everyone could see the real threat that suppposedly confronted these officers that a three-foot heavy guage steel or 3/4 inch lead pipe could.

 Again we see the Times-Standard's propensity for their play on words when reporting on police action in this community. In the above referenced article they state: "He was shot multiple times after allegedly approaching officers aggressively with the metal handle of a garden rake [...]." That statement is considerably different than the "broken" three-foot" piece of a "handle" reported earlier. By the way, my rake handle is five feet long, it's not metal, but it's not a child's toy either.  For the record, the Tuesday, August 10, 2010, newspaper article reported that Sheriff's Lt. Steve Knight said it, “looked like a three-foot metal pipe.” He also says that Robert Garth was close enough to these officers that, “at one point, had contact with one of the officers.” So, they could clearly see if that “handle” constituted an actual deadly threat. It obviously DID NOT constitute such a threat to the victim – the guy that called in the assault.

Since this action by the Sheriff establishes a baseline for the justifiable use of lethal force, i.e., the mere perception of some sort of fear induced threat or failure to immediately comply with an order, this community needs to see and know exactly what the Eureka Police Department and Sheriff's Office's policies and procedures are. If nothing else, they certainly need to be explained for everyone's protection. Be interesting to see if there's any kind of follow-up by the Times-Standard or any other local media outlet on this latest incident and the related questions that have serious implications for everyone in this community.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Lethal Force – Always the First Resort

... or:
Shoot first, ask questions later.

[UPDATE Below]

What's it take to get shot by North Coast police officers? What do we learn, if anything, from the latest reported police killing of Robert Garth on Saturday, August 7, 2010, by Humboldt County Sheriff's deputies?

First, by the time the deputies arrived at the scene of the incident, he apparently, as it was reported to the deputies, had a broken rake or garden tool handle in his hand that he'd been using to assault another man. Apparently, that man had time during the ongoing assault to call 911 and tell them about being assaulted with a rake. The report is he was treated at the hospital for head and chest wounds. The garden tool handle caused physical damage, but apparently not life threatening, since he declined medical assistance at the scene. Apparently, the assault with the "garden tool" didn't hurt him enough that when the deputies arrived that he couldn't “run away” as he is reported to have done. Was the rake handle a “deadly weapon”? Usually, such metal garden tools are made of flimsy material, as testified to by it breaking. Did it even matter? As soon as he turned on the deputies, the guns came out.

Who in their right mind, holding a flimsy piece of metal, advances on two police officers with drawn guns pointed directly at your heart? It is also reported that he was barefoot. Next, he was shot multiple times apparently by BOTH officers because he “kept advancing.” Apparently, Robert Garth was in “close” enough “proximity” so as to touch one of the officers. Are you telling me that they couldn't determine what Garth had in his hands and that two highly trained able-bodied Sheriff's deputies could not easily “stop the threat” or disarm this guy if they wanted? How much harm was he going to do after being shot a couple times? Where's the mortal threat here?

The Times-Standard's Thadeus Greenson reports that “Garth was arrested a number of times over the past handful of years, including arrests that resulted in convictions for possession of a deadly weapon and obstructing a peace officer in 2007 and for battery in 2005.” Robert Garth had a history with the local police. The question is, did these deputies know this guy?

Finally, notice “who” caused the deputies to fire their weapons: “Knight (Sheriff's Lt. Steve Knight) said the deputies repeatedly instructed Garth to drop his weapon but he did not comply and kept advancing, causing the deputies to fire on him as they retreated backward.” This is probably the most telling statement in the Police Press Release account of the incident. These deputies showed absolutely no capacity or intention to disarm Garth without using lethal force. As demonstrated, if he did not immediately do what he was told, he was dead. As far the the officer's were concerned their responsibility to this person ended right there. You either instantly submit or you die – simple as that. This man was obviously not rational and clearly posed a threat to others as well as to HIMSELF. Whatever happened to the police priority to protect and defend those that are not only a threat to others, but to themselves? [Emphasis added]

What, then, poses a “threat” to a police officer? This is important because the general public needs to know how to interact with these officers in order to protect their safety and lives. The fact that these deputies, as Knight says, “We're trained to stop the threat [...].” Begs the question, what does he say defines that “threat” in the context of their, police officer training and general attitude toward the general public? He says, “[T]hese officers were in fear for their safety, and in fear for their lives.” [Emphasis added]

Accept what he says, just for a second, that this is a valid reality. What in the hell does that say about the legitimacy and mental state of mind of the police officer's ability and capacity to safely enforce the law in this community? What triggers a “threat” to “personal safety”? They decide what or that there even is a “threat” according to their perceived “fears.” What actually puts these officers into “fear” for personal safety or life? Notice “lethal force” is activated for simple issues of “personal safety.” What are this “issues”? Non-compliance with officer “instructions,” that's all.

We've all experienced "fear" at one time or another in our lives. Fear caused by a genuine "threat" to one's "life," however is an extreme experience one usually never forgets. That is a different experience than "fear" caused by a "threat" to one's "safety." Here's the definition to fear:
1. a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.
2. a specific instance of or propensity for such a feeling: an abnormal fear of heights.
3. concern or anxiety; solicitude: a fear for someone's safety.
What do we learn in this latest incident?

What I learned is that we have police officers operating on a hair-trigger in our community and that we live here at our own risk or peril. They justify the “shoot-first, ask questions later” based upon the “value” of their own perceptions of personal safety and NOT that of the general public they are supposed to serve and protect. That means, that anytime you do not instantly do what a police officer tells you to do, regardless of what that might be, you run the risk of lethal force – dying.

Does that remind anyone of the time your father told you to do something and when you didn't instantly move you got smacked upside your head or worse? It didn't take many “smacks” to learn that you NEVER threaten you father's authority; you never made your parent's look bad. Is that the kind of authoritarian society we live in today? Or, for that matter, want to live in?

More importantly, since we need the police, this kind of policing has negative consequences for them as well. While they may all answer to their respective governments, they need the community's backing and our personal support for legitimate operation and authority. Why they can't see that, I don't know. When this relationship is reduced to “it's either us or them,” we're in serious trouble. The picture in the newspaper says it all.

[UPDATE Thursday, August 12, 2010]

Initially, I had decided to let this shooting incident pass until I read in the paper how long it was before the police removed the body. That seemed rather unreasonable and disrespectful to the family. It also demonstrated "attitude," attitude that's consistently demonstrated in the above picture. What stands out is the effort of the policing authorities to make sure they did everything they could to protect and justify the shooting. It's going to be interesting to see if the forensic evidence is consistent with the officer's stated accounts.

Here are a couple of links with more information:

  1. The Reporta:  Story:  Aftermath of the Blue Lake Shooting
  2. Redwood Curtain Cop Watch:  Story  Sheriff's Officers Opened Fire On Robert Garth: "The cops didn't even give him a chance," says witness neighbor.
Let's see if there is any followup from the Times-Standard. Or are they going to continue to publish the unquestioned press releases as fact.

Meaning of "first resort": "To have recourse."
"Shoot first, ask questions later" - Unintended consequences.
Versus: "Last Resort."
Times-Standard Articles: 1) Saturday, August 7, 2010: Deputies shoot, kill suspect near Blue Lake
2) Sunday, August 8, 2010: Deputies shoot man on SR 299
3) Tuesday, August 10, 2010: Blue Lake man shot on 299 identified

[Image: Great photo from the Times-Standard]

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Protect and Serve. WHO?

     Why, the POLICE, of course!

Catastrophes, calamities, disasters, i.e., floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, even riots all produce interesting lessons. As a resident of Eureka, CA having just experienced the January 6.5 magnitude earthquake I was extremely interested in how the local support infrastructure worked to inform, protect and serve the local community. I tried the TV, radio – both AM and FM bands and basically found nothing relevant. If there were broadcasts on some emergency channel, I couldn't find them. Finally, after securing or satisfying myself that there were no immediate threats of any kind in my immediate neighborhood, I tried the Internet. What I learned is the stark fact that the general public are all on their own. That means you'd better be ready to fend for yourself. Suffer the kind of devastation experienced in Haiti and Chile and we'd find the police and fire departments overwhelmed. At the point the police began to think they might lose control, you will see them act like the New Orleans' police right after the Katrina hurricane disaster. You already see indications of this problem in the way policing is conducted today. Look at how the whole attitude and implementation has changed since 1970. The police are almost incapable of performing their “duties” unless they are backed up by a squad of anonymous, highly trained, militarized and equipped with the latest high powered guns, armor, armored vehicles, etc. You would think they were combating or fighting some sort of insurgency movement. The simple fact is, you cannot alienate a major segment of society and walk around free and unbothered. Couple that with a measured amount of paranoia and the general public begins to present a serious threat. You can see the results starting to come out in this discussion here: “Federal Probe into Post-Katrina Shootings by Police Widens.” (Picture: New Orleans, shot seven times IN THE BACK by police using an assault rifle.)

It is a common misconception that the police work for the people. They do not! They work for the people that supervise them. In the case of the Eureka Police Department, that is the City Council. They defer to that council regardless. In the case of the Sheriff's Department, even though the Sheriff is directly elected by the people and they can ostensibly vote him or her out every four years, that “department” answers to and defers to the County Supervisors. The Highway Patrol, CDF, Fish and Game, etc. all work for the Governor and state legislature. The policing agencies enforce their supervisor's laws on the general public. They serve and protect themselves. A good example of this is posted on the Humboldt Herald here: “Push back against cop assaults.”

The Eureka City Council passed a unanimous resolution to have the DA prosecute to the fullest extent of the law anyone that resists, actually the word is “assaults” the police. Are they going to pass a similar resolution for complete criminal prosecution for a police officer that assaults someone? I hardly think so.

Why is it that the Wednesday, March 17, 2010, Time-Standard newspaper does not have anything on this latest Eureka City Council resolution? How is the general public supposed to know about these kinds of actions if the paper does not report them?

This is a serious issue that needs serious consideration and NOT the knee-jerk simple-minded kind offered by the City Council in support of their servants. We certainly do not need in Humboldt County what happened post-Katrina in New Orleans.  Neither do we need the kind of “push back” enforced in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan that justifies the legal precedent that the police assault no one. Criminal assault is a criminal assault regardless of who commits the act. When it is done by the police it is a far more heinous crime and should be dealt accordingly; with the full force of the law.

[Picture source]


Saturday, October 31, 2009

Taser Torture or Monster Bash?

More is definitely better. This is the Taser X3. "On Friday, Taser International held a demo day at the Alameda Sheriff's Office Regional Training Center in Dublin, Calif., to show off some of the latest in electronic control devices." So says ZDNet Photo Galleries.

Upgrade to semi-automatic!

The Taser X3, the newest device with multishot technology, goes beyond the single-shot capabilities of first-generation tasers and provides the ability to deploy a second and third cartridge immediately. Also, it can simultaneously zap three bad guys at once.

If you click the link above this is what you will read:

The X3 is a revolutionary new multi-shot ECD that can engage multiple targets, display Warning Arcs™ while loaded, and deliver a calibrated Neuro Muscular Incapacitation (NMI) pulse that results in improved safety characteristics. While the X3 offers enhanced firepower over existing ECDs, it also represents a quantum leap in sensor and computation power – making it by far the most intelligent hand-held force option ever developed.

Doesn't that just stop your heart? NO? Well what do you think about this long-range solution called the XREP? That means, Extended Range Electronic Projectile.  How would you like to get shot with a 12 gauge shotgun and then get electrocuted. If that doesn't stop you heart I don't what will.
Taser International says its XREP (Extended Range Electronic Projectile) is the most technologically advanced projectile ever deployed from a 12-gauge pump-action shotgun. The self-contained, wireless electronic control device fires accurately up to 100 feet and attaches itself to the target before deploying its charge.

This is nifty!
 The energy from the impact of an XREP breaks a series of fracture pins, which release the main chassis of the XREP projectile. After impact, the casing falls away and six Cholla electrodes automatically deploy to deliver Neuromuscular Incapacitation over a greater area of the body.

 How about The Taser Shockwave system that utilizes the frightening-sounding Taser X26 Neuromuscular Incapacitation technology?

Now this get our attention! According to these people "Shockwave is the first generation of a technology called Remote Area Denial (TRAD). The Shockwave unit seen here can be locked together, forming an even larger bank for stand-off capability. It's triggered via a 100-meter firing wire, so you can set it up and wait in the bushes for your target."

"Sit in the bushes"? Are they hunting deer or pigeons? How would you like to get hammered by a couple or three Taser X26 right out of the blue?

Make you think about wandering around in the bushes where they're growing pot doesn't it? Or how about what's involved joining in on some worthwhile demonstration that's protected by the US Constitution?

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Organic Food Growers Get the Marijuana Treatment

You won’t believe how far some authorities will go to stifle your right to make healthy choices for your family.

Unconscionable Police Raid on Family's Home and Organic Food Co-Op

Violating Constitutional Rights in the Name of… What?

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and Section 14, Article 1 of the Ohio Constitution, guarantees the right of peaceful citizens to be free from paramilitary police raids, searches and seizures.

The price we pay for freedom!