Thursday, August 28, 2014

Rare Wisdom on Law Enforcement

For the record, Conor Friedersdorf is still a twat; that said, I want to tentatively endorse an Ezra Klein point he quoted with respect to the death of Kajieme Powell:

The police arrive and instantly escalate the situation... Powell looks sick more than he looks dangerous. But the police draw their weapons as soon as they exit their car... They don't seem to know how to stop Powell, save for using deadly force. But all Powell had was a steak knife. If the police had been in their car, with the windows rolled up, he could have done little to hurt them...
...Even when he advances on police, he walks, rather than runs... He swings his arms normally, rather than entering into a fighting stance. They begin yelling at him to stop. And when they begin shooting, they shoot to kill—even continuing to shoot when Powell is motionless on the ground. There is no warning shot, even. It does not seem like it should be so easy to take a life.

“Instantly escalate”.  I can think of no better way to describe the police response in the Beavercreek, OH Wal-Mart shooting death of a 22 year old man holding an AirSoft.  This case disappeared from the national media in favor of the Ferguson, MO shooting, which is really unfortunate, considering that Michael Brown turned out to be 292 lbs. of hopped-up violent thug, while John Crawford was as good a citizen as could be expected of a man with his background.

The Crawford case is headed to a grand jury, who will get to see the Wal-Mart security video that shows the entire episode.  I am eager to see this video myself, although I can only marvel at the restraint with which Ohio public officials are commenting on the case, in admirable contrast to the hyperbolic rhetoric coming out of the MO governor.

Frankly, my primary concern here is not that either the Powell or Crawford officers are prosecuted; as near as I can tell, they all followed standard police procedure.  It is the procedures that are the problem.  It is the procedures that are getting innocent or addled people killed unnecessarily.

It bothers me that the police would even try to claim that someone’s “failure to comply” is sufficient cause to kill them.  It seems that the police should be required to have probable cause that person they are shooting has (1) broken the law; and (2) pose a credible threat to someone.  Simply holding an air rifle doesn’t cut it.


Dexter said...

A thief running around with a knife, and they want the cops to stay in the car? That's CRAZY! The cops needed to apprehend him, and to do that, they needed to get out of the car.

I'd like to see all those Monday morning quarterbacks who say "he posed no threat, they didn't have to shoot him" get within a couple of feet of a knife-wielding freak.

We can certainly change the "procedures" so that the cops never have to apprehend actual and potential criminals. No doubt fewer people will be shot if we do. But it will NOT be a better, safer, or more civilized world.

Anonymous said...

Cops get to carry weapons for their own protection and to protect others that they can see. NOT to apprehend suspects, shoot criminals or take out the trash. Our system of justice does not permit police to kill criminals without due process and court involvement first.

police use of force should in every case follow the same rules for self defense that everyone else must obey with one exception: They should be exempt from being resumed guilty just for having a gun when they respond to an emergency call. For non-police, that is calling, "going looking for trouble".

Dexter said...

Hale, you are out of your mind. The power to arrest inherently includes the power to apprehend suspects. They should not have to follow the rules for self-defense because, among other things, sometimes they need to act offensively in order to protect the public.