Re: Welcome To Your Day

1

I believe this answers the discussion in the previous thread about whether people call the cops with good reason.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 1:53 PM
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Well, d'oh! The guy's not going to turn white.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 1:57 PM
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See, I'm not quite ready to let the cop off the hook that quickly. First, do they really have to go question somebody every time they get a call from a racist crank?

And second, "right, but, we do have a lot of robberies..." is not an acceptable response to a black guy pointing out only black people get stopped for, literally, walking down the street. At that point the cop should be, as you say, examining the roots of black rage, but he seems to feel like he's just doin' his job, keepin' the community safe.


Posted by: Osgood Yousbad | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 2:02 PM
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I was hoping the cop would go with, "What has it gots in its pocketses?"


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 2:22 PM
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3: Geez, man, we're grading on a curve! He didn't shoot him! He gets an A!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 2:25 PM
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Despair inducing moment for me was when the black guy forthrightly starts to express his rage and the cop's defusing move is "high five", like "validate in this moment that I'm not murdering you so can't we just move on, no need to fuss."

And then of course the robbery remark - ! So fucked up.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 2:25 PM
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7

All this terrible racism in southern states like Missouri and Michigan hast to stop!


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 2:41 PM
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Wherever two or more whites are gathered is a southern state.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 2:45 PM
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9

The random glitch that occasionally puts the previously posted video (Alice's Restaurant) in place of the actually posted one is especially great here.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 2:47 PM
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"right, but, we do have a lot of robberies..."

Not disagreeing with the sentiment of 3, but I thought the cop says "Right, but we did have an armed robbery," or something. That is, I thought he was referring to a specific incident aside from the racist phone call.

But maybe not.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 2:53 PM
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It's definitely "a lot of."


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 2:54 PM
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right, but, we do have a lot of robberies...

I heard and wanted to see for myself.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 3:08 PM
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13

"And yet you made time for me?"


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 3:09 PM
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"Anything good left?"


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 3:09 PM
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OK, not sure why I heard that.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 3:17 PM
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16

You should do a study of witness recollection.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 3:23 PM
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17

Like Uber but Trusted Traveler for black folks.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 3:45 PM
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18

First, do they really have to go question somebody every time they get a call from a racist crank?

I'm not convinced there was a call. Seems just as likely that the cop decided to stop this guy and, when challenged, blamed it on people calling in.


Posted by: Just Plain Jane | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 3:46 PM
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Ugh.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 3:50 PM
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18 That should be FOIA-able, No? Did the cop seem embarrassed? (I don't know why I'm resisting watching this one after seeing a kid get gunned down in a drive-by but I can't bring myself to watch it right now. )


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 3:57 PM
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21

Alternative take: this kind of thing does not really at all demonstrate the core of the "roots of black rage" against the police. It's a real thing that the black UMC and MC hate and deal with a lot, but is tolerable if annoying and not really at the roots of "rage".

Black rage against the cops (where it exists) is driven not by annoying micro-aggressions or by failure to accord the full portion of respect and deference due to a visibly well-off professional, but by terrible policing, full stop, in bad neighborhoods. Like, continual stop-and-frisk searches in the middle of the war on drugs, arrests for meaningless fines that are driven by revenue collection needs, not public safety (this was the real story of Ferguson), illegal arrests and detentions that do not result in a criminal charge (e.g., riding someone in a squad car without justification), police corruption, failure to respond to important calls, aggressive enforcement of valid but harassing laws, such as housing voucher fraud requirements, for purposes of segregation. And very critically, but often left out of these discussions, rage generally comes from people in bad neighborhoods who desperately want and need the cops to do their job. It is rage directed against cops who are engaging in visibly bad acts, or enforcing counter-productive drug laws, while failing to perform their basic job, which is adequately maintaining the freedom from crime or the fear of crime in public spaces sufficient for people to go about their days normally. Things like the behavior described e.g. here, a particularly bad example but a similar story to tons of other bad departments.

To be really unfair but also totally correct, things like the video are a disproportionately big deal not for black rage, but for non-black UMC liberals* because they can empathize emotionally with these kinds of interactions. Videos like this seem emotionally accessible, because they are like an encounter with the one true enemy lurking behind the consciousness of every white educated UMC liberal -- the hassling mean blockhead high school vice principal who is dumber than you are and an asshole and unfair.**

*Like here, assholes, note that there are precisely zero black commenters since Castock left, and he was a damn Canadian anyway.

**"The unfair assistant high school principal who is dumber than his students is the Jew of educated UMC liberal fascism" -- trying out that line. Not quite right, but not quite wrong, either.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 4:45 PM
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22

A better link would have been to this document.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 4:51 PM
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21 -- Petty harassment of non-criminals isn't really divorced from the inability/unwillingness to properly police minority communities. Both are symptoms of 'black people aren't really the "us" that "we" pay the police to protect.'


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 4:55 PM
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No, but it's not really the driver of "rage" either, and is weirdly misleading thing to focus energy on.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 4:59 PM
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And, also, to the extent it's indicative of a broader problem, (which Carp is right about) it's primarily a problem of failing to engage in locally-based community policing. Which generally requires more (but more better!) interaction with a high-crime community, not less.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 5:04 PM
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21.1: My black MC facebook friends have certainly been responding to this with "Can't even walk around with hands in pockets when it's 30 degrees out? I quit!" mostly, which isn't disagreeing with you but it certainly resonates with non-white liberals as well.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 5:09 PM
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True, but I also really wanted to try out my assistant principal line, which is totally correct.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 5:12 PM
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28

What this post needs is a contrary take!


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 5:18 PM
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29

Seriously, dude, you came back for this?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 5:23 PM
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30

It is good to have a singer for Judas Priest back in the fold.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 5:23 PM
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31

I started reading the link about NOPD, and I came to the thing about them misusing "compelled statements" to keep officers involved in shootings from being prosecuted. That led me to Garrity v. New Jersey - when a police officer faces the option of telling higher-ups / IA about what happened or losing their job, whatever they say is inadmissible in court.

What is up with that case? I guess there is a need to guard against coerced self-incrimination by roundabout routes, but is losing one's job as a police officer really the kind of judicial coercion of self-incrimination contemplated/banned by the Fifth Amendment? It's a position of public trust; surely explaining what happened is a core part of the job, and if you don't like that, you can use your right against self-incrimination after resigning.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 5:38 PM
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32

I'm not an enraged black person either, but I don't see how you can say that the continued 'you're less than human' message isn't, actually, the root of the rage you see. I mean, that's what people are marching up and down about. They're not marching for more police. The hashtag says it plainly: blacklivesmatter. They, we, want police that aren't killing people because they're afraid of demons.

The contrarian emphasis on what white liberals think or how bad/privileged/clueless/whatever white liberals are is the stupidest reason for taking any position ever. Beyond that it's one of the most reliable indicators of bullshit there is.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 5:55 PM
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33

I expect better trolling from vintage rockers.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 5:57 PM
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34

My high school had two vice principals, a woman and a man. When I started hs they were married to different people. About midway through my time in hs they fell éperdument in love with each other, torrid affair, two divorces and one marriage ensued. There was the usual moralizing gossip etc but the lasting message I took from it was how strong and joy inducing passion can be. They were both so immensely happier with each other. It baffled me then and still does today how people who didn't even know their ex-spouses could get so tremendously wrapped up in moral condemnation in the face of verdi-esque passion.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 6:02 PM
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35

btw - 34 has as much to do with this post/thread as halford's contributions, i.e. shit all.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 6:04 PM
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36

I sincerely do think that there's just a basic understanding of what the police do and why people are mad about the police that I've seen from people here and elsewhere that is just weird and wrong. The OP is a pretty good example. Sure, "black lives matter" is the slogan and I agree with you that it gets it right, but it gets it right in the sense that what people want is actually effective, community-accountable police that protect lives. People actually want their communities well-policed, they don't want an absence of police.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 6:04 PM
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37

Who ever said anything about absence of police? Other than anarchists and libertarians, which are actually the common enemy of mankind, not the vice principal.

(We've had 3 cases of local school administrator romance in the past 3 months -- nearly everyone has lost the job, but paid through the school year.)


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 6:10 PM
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38

The OP is clearly arguing for the abolition of all police.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 6:16 PM
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39

Next up, Ripper explains how the slum's got so much soul.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 6:20 PM
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38 -- It's not, but it is I think, especially in the context of what's been going on recently, putting the "rage" element in a place that's pretty misleading, but accessible to UMC whites.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 6:21 PM
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36: Dude, as others have said, you are tilting at a windmill that nobody is denying.

Yes, there are plenty of black people who want better (as in higher-quality) policing of their high-crime neighborhoods.

But there are also plenty of black people who don't live in high-crime neighborhoods and who may or may not have feelings about stop-and-frisk as a policing policy but certainly have feelings about the number of times per day/week they are stopped for going about their business just as anyone else would be. As, say, the guy in the OP was.

I could serial-comment for an hour with essays like this one that emphasize the drip-drip-drip of daily indignities. But I'll stop here, because I think I'm not really saying anything new.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 6:31 PM
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37.2: as I recall, they both kept their jobs. Another sad indication of general societal decline these days among suburban white people.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 6:36 PM
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41.last -- Part of what I'm saying is that I think people (of the type that comment here) like things like that essay because it's easy to put oneself into the shoes of the guy with the Vassar college ID. Not that this guy doesn't have a legit complaint, but it's a very specifically and limited black middle class one that is relatable for the white middle class. And it doesn't provide that much insight (not no insight, but not that much) into the kind of into the kinds of bigger police problems that produce rage.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 6:38 PM
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And it doesn't provide that much insight (not no insight, but not that much) into the kind of into the kinds of bigger police problems that produce rage.

I strongly disagree. In my observation there is an immediate, direct, urgent connection between small daily indignities and deeper rage. The indignities aren't the only way to get to rage, but they aren't separable.

For one thing, it's the daily indignities that remind you that you won't get the benefit of the doubt if the officer pulls his gun and shoots you.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 6:45 PM
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45

43.last: Partly because what got him winder attention in the first place was writing that sort of piece.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 6:47 PM
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46

there is an immediate, direct, urgent connection between small daily indignities and deeper rage

I absolutely agree with you on that general point. But the point I'm making is that we need to be clearer about what the specific indignities are. The kinds of harassment you see in that guy's article about college kids, or in the OP, or black middle class minorities in a predominiantly white, prosperous area, are pretty different in both scope and kind from the daily indignities that poorer people get from a truly badly-run police department in a place like Ferguson or New Orleans, which are both different and worse, and include both outrageous over- and under-policing.

Put differently, we shouldn't hold up indignities for black middle class professionals in white neighborhoods as our mental touchstone for what's wrong with bad police departments in poorer or higher-crime areas. Not totally unrelated, but different enough to be very misleading.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 6:54 PM
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7: Dude, Missouri was founded on the expansion of slavery. That's it's whole raison d'etre. Plus, sack of Lawrence. Michigan, while authentically part of the midwest, has an extremely fraught history of race relations, based on the interrelationships of capital and scientific/institutional racism. Flint & Detroit were destroyed precisely because wealthy white people acceded to Southron value systems.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 7:02 PM
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46.2: Middle class black professionals in white neighborhoods tell me how impressed they are to see me running on cold days if I tell them how impressed I am that they bike to work. White people all drive to work and run on only warm days.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 8:33 PM
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49

Put differently, we shouldn't hold up indignities for black middle class professionals in white neighborhoods as our mental touchstone for what's wrong with bad police departments in poorer or higher-crime areas.

Even if that's true, stories in which it is easy for a broad number of people to sympathize with are much more likely to attract links and page views.

My sense is that Radley Balko has been writing for years about the problems of bad policing, but it's only a sense because I don't actually read his stories. But I watched this video.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 8:44 PM
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50

Do any cops come by and ask where they got such nice bikes?


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 8:44 PM
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51

white people exercise like this but black people commute like that


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 8:44 PM
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52

I think he only has one nice bike.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 8:45 PM
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53

Is this the thread for coming out of hiatus to peddle tedious contrarianism?


Posted by: Stamford Bridgeport | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 8:48 PM
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54

I guess the other nice ones were stolen.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 8:48 PM
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"Nice" bikes are only nice contextually. Commuting on a bike that is genuinely "nice" in any sense other than being practical for the task at hand is hardly laudable.


Posted by: Sofa Twenty | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 8:59 PM
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56

What's with all the weird names?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 9:00 PM
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57

(I've been avoiding most of the Ferguson threads, so I may have missed something.)


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 9:01 PM
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58

Is this the thread for coming out of hiatus to peddle tedious contrarianism?

No, it's the thread for coming out of hiatus to tell us how much down with the gente you are than us.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 9:01 PM
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59

I'm too drunk to understand this. I blame society.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 9:08 PM
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60

Somebody fix it. I'm going to sleep.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 9:11 PM
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61

I'm on it!


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 9:13 PM
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62

I have no idea what to do, though.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 9:13 PM
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63

Stanford Bridgeview!


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 9:18 PM
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64

Am I doing this right?


Posted by: erases | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 9:20 PM
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65

I take it all back. Women aren't hot.


Posted by: dogge | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 9:22 PM
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66

People, no stick poppeting! Those are the kind of microaggressions that fill block folk with sage.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 9:30 PM
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67

Btock folk, even.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 9:41 PM
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68

Dear Josh:

I am glad that you, not I, speak for the true voice of black people.

The rest of you are funny.

Sincerely, Tim "Ripper" Owens.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 9:42 PM
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69

Despite the weird signature, that was meant sincerely. You all are pretty funny.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 9:51 PM
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70

I believe this answers the discussion in the previous thread about whether people call the cops with good reason.

Not what I said! I said that wrt agitated/angry people, they're not calling because they think the person is ok, they're calling because they think the person is either a danger to themselves or others. There's sometimes exceptions such as Thorn being required to call on an out of control kid, but even on that example it kind of met the above (they can't safely get the kid in the car). Her other example of an angry guy waving a gun around that she yet thought was not unusual or alarming (because, I guess, Kentucky?) didn't make a ton of sense to me. Why then call the police?


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 9:51 PM
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71

Further to 70, none of this denies that some people totally do the "there's a negro in the neighborhood" calls.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 9:53 PM
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72

I am glad that you, not I, speak for the true voice of black people.

I'm not claiming I do, you nitwit. I'm making fun of you for claiming that you do, and for condescending to the rest of us while you do so.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 9:55 PM
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73

But you're right, I'm not terribly funny. I'll work on that.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 10:02 PM
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74

Try using a weird name.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 10:04 PM
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75

72 -- Not meant to be condescending at all. All attacks upon, analyses of on UMC white liberalism are also stipulated as self-hatred.

I do think that one of the great things about this place is that it's right-wing-asshole-free enough and self-aware enough so that we don't need to be so smug and protective of our own proclivities that we can't call them out. Which is why this is the only place that seems reasonable to discuss these kinds of topics. One of those white UMC proclivities (in general, not singling anyone out, but I'm pretty sure I'm right about this) is to nod deeply in empathy with tales of middle class black woe that fit some presuppositions we have while not, for example, spending a lot of time on other policing issues or really engaging with these things as policy matters. Why? Who knows, just raising the issue. But I do know that the only thing truly despicable is unreflective smugness about any world view, including one that is probably basically on the side of right.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 10:10 PM
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Is this the thread for coming out of hiatus to peddle tedious contrarianism?

The tedium is the message.


Posted by: Marshall "The Prisoner" McGoohan | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 10:10 PM
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77

Aw, I think you're funny.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 10:10 PM
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78

75.last: I honestly have no fucking clue what you're talking about.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 10:18 PM
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79

My sense is that Radley Balko has been writing for years about the problems of bad policing, but it's only a sense because I don't actually read his stories. But I watched this video.

Balko wrote that widely circulated article on St. Louis area municipalities generating revenue from policing. It's definitely worth reading, even if you harbor strongly negative views towards libertarians.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 10:18 PM
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80

All attacks upon, analyses of on UMC white liberalism are also stipulated as self-hatred.

Yes, that's certainly apparent.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 10:22 PM
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81

The one time I called the cops (after I was mugged) they spent a couple minutes trying to discretely suggest that I should call the cops if I saw black people and that it's hard for the cops in Berkeley because there aren't enough racists willing to do that.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 10:29 PM
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82

81: Wow.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 10:33 PM
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83

In Albany (the one next to Berkeley, not upstate NY), someone called the cops on Halloween because they thought a group of teenagers (~13-14), all friends, were picking on a little kid because we were chasing each other around in someone's front yard and one of the kids was a lot shorter than everyone else.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 10:36 PM
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84

Also, 81 is pretty sickening.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 10:37 PM
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85

I'm sure that's not how they'd describe it differently. A more generous reading was that they wanted me to call if I saw suspiciously out-of-place people and that I shouldn't be like other Berkeley residents who let their fear of being perceived as racist overrule their instincts.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 10:44 PM
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86

81, 85: where was this?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 10:47 PM
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87

They then took me to a "suspect" they'd found to see if I could make an ID. It seemed pretty sketchy as it wasn't a lineup and the guy didn't have my bike and I think was too tall (hard to tell as I wasn't that close and there wasn't anything good for scale). I would have thought they'd need to do a lineup or something.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 10:55 PM
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88

A block uphill of the Bowl.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 10:56 PM
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89

I'm not convinced there was a call. Seems just as likely that the cop decided to stop this guy

This "just as likely" stuff expressed here and in the Ferguson threads is where a bunch of you are really and truly off in a liberal fantasy world. This insistence on "hey, 50-50 odds this cop is Bull Connor circa 1961" is fucking ridiculous.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 11:12 PM
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they wanted me to call if I saw suspiciously out-of-place people and that I shouldn't be like other Berkeley residents who let their fear of being perceived as racist overrule their instincts.

This is a real thing I've encountered in the wild (there are in fact a lot of white liberals in this town).


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 11:17 PM
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I would have thought they'd need to do a lineup or something.

It it's a reasonably short time lapse (like an hour or two, not days) then you can have a victim do an ID on a guy that's been detained. There's often a lot going on that you the victim don't know about. You think they've stopped some random black guy and instead it's someone they know is a crackhead who supports his habit with theft and they spot him in the area not too long after you say your stuff disappeared.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 11:24 PM
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Second 79.2.

To 78, maybe I'll try to be clearer. I have a long-standing quasi-academic interest in the police, and a tiny bit of practical experience, from a lawyer's perspective, in approaches to actually for real making policing better.

Here's the train of thought that led to my posts in this thread, to expose in its horror to the world. I started, a week ago, wondering why similarly-situated folk to me (the educated UMC liberal, 30-60 year old, general Unfogged commenting demographic, but not just you guys) were obsessed with, and outraged by, specific details of the Brown shooting and investigation and grand jury verdict -- particularly given the ambiguities in the evidence -- but not much interested at all in, e.g., the underlying situation (nicely described in 79.2!) that helps explain structurally why policing in Ferguson has been such a disaster and why riots are happening and possibly appropriate, regardless of the grand jury decision. Why are generally criminal-defendant-sympathetic people almost anxious to get worked up over a (at a minimum not outrageously unreasonable) grand jury decision not to find probable cause a particular, ambiguous murder case. While meanwhile the same people at the same time not particularly interested at all in discussing how one might affirmatively go about policing a city, besides making near-ritualistic denunciations of the cops (cops in general) that literally could have been identically framed at any time in the past 50 years and seem to have as much to do with a 1960s view of southern police as with reading the contemporary newspaper (not that everyone avoided structural reform issues, notably Witt, but that wasn't where the emotional energy was).

I then wondered today why it's so attractive -- dare I say entertaining -- to this same rough demographic to sit around and nod heads in empathy with the plight that is portrayed in the video in the OP. A plight that is most definitely real but also most definitely not individually suffered by anyone who comments here. Which doesn't make it wrong to empathize, of course, but does raise the issue of the intensity of the interest. Why does the "it's unfair for white cops to stereotype black guys as criminals" point (which is certainly true!) have such super-strong resonance in this crowd, to be repeated as a mantra? Why the emotionally charged interest in a particular, limited set of police failings, but limited interest in the overall topic of policing? Is it expiation of white UMC guilt for those who defend property and privilege? Some underlying unease at what might lie behind the drop in crime in the cities where most of us live in our lifetimes? Resentment at the authority figure of the cop? Ritualistic denunciation of racism for fear of shame of the taint thereof? I'm sure someone will say none of the above but I feel like there's something there.

I have no real idea, and, as I say, I don't stand outside and include myself within the UMC liberal group described above, but, there you go, that was the thought process. The only thing I truly hate is excessive smugness. And, look, this feels like one of the few places in the world that are sufficiently jackass-free to even broach these kinds of topics. We hopefully don't have to worry some dickhead coming by and saying "hands up, don't loot heh heh" and forcing everyone sane to get defensive and close ranks against the assholes.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 11:31 PM
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Nice try, gswift. We know you and all your fellow pigs spend all your time arresting random black guys for aggravated pocketwalking and matching them up with whatever crimes have been reported in the general area.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 11:32 PM
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while not, for example, spending a lot of time on other policing issues or really engaging with these things as policy matters.

God, this.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 11:35 PM
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Geez, Ripper, way to interrupt my snarky response to gswift with your serious comment.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 11:36 PM
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92: maybe people have been talking more about the grand jury because it's a single, cataclysmic event, rather than a giant pattern of behavior. And in fact the history of the Ferguson PD and the way it exists largely to profit off the citizens of the town have come up here before... It's just that there's not much to say about it at any given time beyond "shit's fucked up".


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 11:40 PM
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So, also, to go a lot less meta, there really is a problem for non-racist cops who have to deal with racist idiots who call stupid things in that they have to investigate. Even if your department is majority-minority and certified 100% racist free you still generally have to send someone to check out most calls, at least if it's quasi-plausible that the call raises a real problem (e.g., "I think I see that burglar"), even if you're 98% sure that the call comes from some racist idiot yahoo.

Like so many other bad things in current policing, it is a problem caused in large part by call-and-response policing; if you have guys just patrolling a beat, they don't need to rush over to check out Grandpa Racist's almost certainly stupid and waste of time idea, or at least they're already on the scene and can handle it more calmly, and everyone, including harassed middle class black professional guy on his way to work, is happier. But it's pretty hard to avoid at least a few of those encounters as long as you have Grandpa Racist calling in ideas and a call-and-response policing system.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 11:49 PM
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To the substance of 92: I see what you're saying, but I do still think there's a certain amount of projection and a certain amount of misunderstanding there as well. Personally, as a (maybe not quite U)MC liberal, I do have a bit of an ingrained antipathy to the police, but it's not so much from news reports from 20 years before I was born as from personal experience of being hassled by the cops a fair amount as a (white, middle-class) teenager. In retrospect, some of the shit I got from cops at that time was legitimate, some wasn't, and this was a department that in the past couple years has come under a lot of scrutiny for excessive force and other problems, so it may not be typical. And I do have friends and relatives who are cops or otherwise closely associated with the police, plus I've had various professional contacts with officers both when I was with the NPS and more recently with the Alaska State Troopers, so I do have exposure to the police perspective. But on the other hand, I also have friends who are part of the black middle class, and judging from FB they are super-pissed about all of this, so I see that perspective as well. On top of that, I personally am definitely more interested in the structural reasons for the current problems with policing than I am in the details of the specific case in Ferguson. So I guess my point, to the extent that I have one, is that there's a lot more diversity even within UMC white circles than 92 assumes.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 1-14 11:58 PM
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Part of the reason for 92 is that easy simple explanations are attractive. I think (the analogy ban made a furtive movement so I shot it in the face) that a lot of liberals like to think black people are getting shot because the cops are racist meatheads the way wingers like to say inner city schools have shitty test scores because lazy unionized teachers.

And I've probably said this before but fuck Balko and his "OMG cities are reliant on revenue from policing" with a giant flaming stick. Oh hey there Mr Cato Institute, who again has been leading the charge on "starve the govt. of tax revenue and make them run it like a business". Fucking shameless two faced prick.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 12:01 AM
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Shorter Ripper: The American public is fascinated by murder and violent demonstrations and uninterested in addressing structural racism. And this is confusing somehow.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 12:12 AM
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A contractor doing a job for me was assaulted by someone trying to prevent him from doing his job. Police couldn't be bothered (It's a different state: here, I'd have no trouble getting a decent response). The poor cops have to respond to everything is bullshit: they make a ton of judgments, and the dispatcher in the OP needs to have said to the caller 'You say he's walking down the street with his hands in his pockets? Sorry, but 911 is just for emergency calls.' And that has to be part of decent policing.

I don't think cops are any more racist meatheads than most Americans. Unfortunately, that ends up being racist and meat headed enough that stupid shit gets people hurt/killed.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 12:54 AM
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Reminds me of Constable Savage https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BO8EpfyCG2Y and that was 35 years ago. Just fucking depressing that things have changed so little.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 1:35 AM
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87. Having a lineup wouldn't necessarily have helped, because they too can be as sketchy as hell. My dad was once in a lineup because he was walking down the street (possibly with his hands in his pockets) and a cop came out of a station and asked if he could spare 10 minutes. He said it was ridiculous: there were five guys and none of them looked even slightly like each other; frex, my dad was 5' 6" and the man next to him was over 6". His comment was that he hoped it made somebody feel better.

The cop in the OP could have defused the situation by actually apologising for wasting the guy's time, but explaining that he couldn't know it was a crank call till he got there. Is that so hard/


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 2:56 AM
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70.last: Sorry, I was feverish and probably not making sense, though I may also have been misreading everyone else. I thought in the Tamir Rice thread the person who called him in was getting a lot of criticism for doing so and I was just saying that I'd had zero regrets or hesitation about calling in a white person yelling and waving a gun, and I have no idea if it was a real gun or not and don't care. It was separate from your point about whether people call about people they think could stop being dangerous without police involvement, That's also the only gun incident I've seen, so I don't think it's normal, even though it might sound like that since there's now been one in this house, etc. Community policing seems decent here, though AFAIK all the cops are white, and we have the crime you'd expect from the poverty and heroin levels, but gun use seems rare.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 5:15 AM
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This "just as likely" stuff expressed here and in the Ferguson threads is where a bunch of you are really and truly off in a liberal fantasy world. This insistence on "hey, 50-50 odds this cop is Bull Connor circa 1961" is fucking ridiculous.

There might be a good answer for this, obviously, I know nothing about policing. But in the video in the original post, even stipulating that there was a racist caller who called in "Black man with his hands in his pockets", why did the cop have to stop and question the guy? I can see an argument that you have to respond to a call, even if it's stupid. But if you drive by, and see a guy doing nothing of any interest, why hassle him, even in the low key way this cop did?

Unless I'm missing something, which I very well may be, call or no call, the cop is hassling a black man for walking down the street with his hands in his pockets. That doesn't make him Bull Connor, but it makes him an active part (yes, Ripper, not the most important part) of the problem.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 6:20 AM
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Why does the "it's unfair for white cops to stereotype black guys as criminals" point (which is certainly true!) have such super-strong resonance in this crowd, to be repeated as a mantra?

(A) 'Mantra' is just dumb, no one's doing that. But (B), in the conversation about more important police wrongdoing, like the racist NYC stop and frisk program, the fundamental defense from people who say that there's nothing wrong going on with police is that African Americans are genuinely more criminal, and the way police treat them is just how it works out if policing is genuinely evenhanded and not racist at all. And you get cases where there's some argument possible: Michael Brown was a petty thief who shoved a guy; maybe that does make Wilson's story that he was a demon/hulk who Wilson had no choice but to kill in self-defense plausible. Once you're actually in a situation where there's some crime, it's hard for amateur kibitizers (like us!) to confidently nitpick the police response in detail, even if overall you're pretty sure that it's terribly problematic.

Cases like Skip Gates, or the guy in the OP, or whatisname from Vassar, it's easy for us to be confident that something went wrong with the interaction from the police end. White Harvard professors don't end up spending afternoons in jail because someone thinks they're burgling their house; white Vassar professors don't have multiple unpleasant interactions with the police; white guys with cold hands don't get questioned about what they're doing when they walk with their hands in their pockets. So, these may not be the important offenses, but they are the ones where people in my demographic can rely on our personal intuition about how the world works to know that there's something wrong with how the police treat black people, which is then useful support for believing in the more important stories about how the police treat black people.

(And white liberals are personally contemptible and have misplaced priorities, mea culpa mea culpa mea maxima culpa, I'm rubbing dust on my head right now.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 6:40 AM
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I maintain that I'm a moderate who looks liberal because things are fucked up, politically.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 6:45 AM
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ripper, what the fuck have you been smoking? "But I do know that the only thing truly despicable is unreflective smugness about any world view, including one that is probably basically on the side of right." this is a thing you know? not a conjecture? a belief? something merely more probable than not? no, this is something you actually know to be the case: being smug and insufficiently reflective about correct moral values is objectively worse than having immoral values. this is so stupid that I feel embarrassed quoting it without assuming you were joking, yet you don't appear to have been joking.

also, you object that 'we people' have been agitated about the recent failure to indict wilson, despite not having been in a continuous identical state of agitation about problems in american policing at every moment up until now. this is a reasonable complaint? a newsworthy, terrible thing happened, that pissed everyone off. the anxieties and indignities surrounding racially-prejudiced police unfortunateness crystallized around this case in large part because of the--not merely incompetent--evil response of the ferguson police department to demonstrations by its majority-black citizenry. this may have been unfair or prejudicial to the way the grand jury's decision was perceived, but this unfairness lies entirely at the feet of the local police themselves. and I would like to challenge you to the following test: let's see how this prosecutor treats the next ten shootings that end a man's life on the streets of ferguson. at what stage in the proceedings, and for how long, will the accused testify? how much cross-examination from the state itself will witnesses face when their stories clash with that of the accused and appear to support an indictment? if, let us say, nine out of ten witnesses testify to the falsehood of some particular claim made by the accused, a claim that tends to exculpate him, will this disparity be highlighted by the d.a., or will it be glossed over in favor of instructions to the grand jury that they must almost prove a negative in order to indict? I'm quite convinced that if the case had been as weak as you say, there would have been no need for the prosecutor to take a dive. he could simply have presented what evidence there was that supported an indictment, in an ordinary way, without allowing wilson to talk for two hours about how he felt like a five-year-old holding onto hulk hogan, and without gently coaxing him at the end of his second block of testimony with the question of whether he had anything else he wanted to share with the rest of the fourth grade class, so that wilson could point out that for all he knew, the demon-brown might encounter another officer around any corner, and try to kill that man with his bare hands as well, so that really, shooting him was the only reasonable thing to do. had the evidence for indictment been so weak as you suggest, ordinary treatment of both the evidence, wilson, and the grand jury process would have sufficed.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 6:53 AM
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Black people in the United States seem to be really worked up by the grand jury decision, that seems like a good reason.


Posted by: Asteele | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 6:57 AM
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additionally: we're not proposing enough thoroughgoing police reforms for you. have you been inviting them or have you been trolling us like you woke up and drank a mcmanus-smoothie to get your game on? I think cops should wear cameras to protect both the people whom they encounter and themselves. I think there should be a nationwide database of police shootings and that failing to report any shooting--not merely fatal ones--should get your local force in trouble first with the state-level government, and then the feds. I think no-knock warrants should be issued in special circumstances only, and that 'our evidence might get flushed' should never qualify as a reason. if that's only how much evidence you're going to get, you don't deserve a no-knock warrant. I think that the policy of gearing up local po-dunk forces with tanks and humvees and helicopters and jeep mounted .50 caliber guns and other exciting military-industrial surplus should be stopped immediately, and lots of it should be repossessed. I think that no police force or greater municipality should benefit from civil forfeiture it personally undertakes. any monies seized should go to the state. I think officers should wear uniforms except on rare occasions, and not desert digital camo, either: blue ones. I think a lot of other things along the same lines, but I don't think you're genuinely interested in any of it.

and as to the case at hand: the white cop made up a racially prejudiced post hoc justification for stopping the black man. he said, "there have been a lot of robberies in the area, so..." this assumes that the robberies, culprit or culprits unknown, were committed by black men like the one filming this encounter. it also shows that the cop is either well-intentioned but so racist he doesn't even understand by this is dehumanizing and demeaning to the man he is talking to, or he is ill-intentioned and racist and is lording it over someone who has no way to fight back except--oh hey!--to record, at which point things may have gotten more polite than they were going to have been. given that this is a spur-of-the-moment racist invention, why is it so difficult to imagine that the cop decided on his own initiative to stop the man and made up the racist 911 caller too? why is that some bull connor bullshit if we can all see the 'robberies' thing happening right in front of us?

let's grant gswift the better of the argument and agree someone called 911 and said, 'there's a black man walking down the street of a city that's roughly 50/50 black/white in michigan in november, in the snow, and he has his hands in his pockets. I'm scared. hold me.' why the fuck should the cops do anything? does the officer have no latitude for discretion at all? if I called and reported a suspicious old woman in a wheelchair outside the jewish senior center would the nypd have to go frisk someone's aunt ruby? no? what's that, no? no, I didn't think so. police officers have brains and they are allowed to use them on the job. if someone tries to waste emergency resources in an area that has experienced dangerously long response times for 911 calls, either the operator or the officer or both can say, 'sorry ma'am, that's not a real thing. just like last week when you called to complain about how one tree still had leaves and you thought a latino man was responsible.'

that the cop thinks it's 'high-five' time because he managed not to shoot anybody is almost the most embarrassing part about this whole thing. except for the actual most embarrassing part, which is you explaining that this kind of thing doesn't make black people angry. because this isn't anything like 'continual stop-and-frisk searches in the middle of the war on drugs' or 'cops who are engaging in visibly bad acts' or 'illegal detention.'
?????
in conclusion
WHAT THE FUCK DUDE? YOU WERE ONLY GONE LIKE TWO WEEKS. WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO RUN OUT OF COKE?


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 7:22 AM
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See, now, al's both on point *and* funny. I could learn from her.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 7:26 AM
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except--oh hey!--to record, at which point things may have gotten more polite than they were going to have been.

Don't see this. Over here at least SOP would have been to take the guy's phone and smash it if he thought there was anything on it he didn't want to be there.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 7:38 AM
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And I've probably said this before but fuck Balko and his "OMG cities are reliant on revenue from policing" with a giant flaming stick. Oh hey there Mr Cato Institute, who again has been leading the charge on "starve the govt. of tax revenue and make them run it like a business". Fucking shameless two faced prick.

No, what the fuck, don't try to normalize this. Ferguson for 13-14 estimated $2.7m in "fines and public safety" revenue, or $321 per household. Second biggest category of revenue after sales tax. Salt Lake City fines and forfeitures? $9.8m, or $131/household. And in California, from a bigger dataset I have, only 8 cities got more than $100 in fines and forfeitures per capita in 2014; another 15 between $50 and $100; the other 445 all under $50. So yes, getting rid of fines altogether would hurt budgets, but no, what's going on in the St. Louis County area (and probably a lot of other suburbs across the country) is not a natural concomitant of governance.

Balko has a disgusting ideology which influences his investigative directions. Doesn't mean what he's reporting is wrong.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 7:39 AM
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The giant flaming stick is an indiscriminate fucking mechanism. I read gswift to be--haha irony-- focusing on the structural origins of the terrible policy, not defending the policy per se.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 7:46 AM
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I endorse Alameida's comments above. I think the policing reforms she suggests are good. I'd add a truly independent internal affairs department.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 7:46 AM
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Just to answer Ripper briefly: I share your hatred for smugness, but consider that this video is maximally absurd, while not being so upsetting that it fucks up anybody's day, and also that there's no plausible explanation for what happened other than racism, which makes it illustrative, and avoids the weeds of "is it that they're poor?" "don't they actually commit more crimes?" etc. I think the article on Ferguson fines and warrants got a front page post here, and has been linked several times in the comments. If there are good pieces on policing models that work or don't work, please link them or send them to one of the posters.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 7:52 AM
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Completely agree with 106, the power of these stories about professors getting shit from cops is that it shows that if you're black, you can be more respectable than 99.999% of the white population and at the end of the day you're still black. Same thing with Forest Whitaker. It's not just about UMC liberals being more sympathetic, it's about the whole "it's not that we're racist, maybe if you weren't an unemployed thug we wouldn't have to be so hard on you" thing.


Posted by: Disingenuous Bastard | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 7:59 AM
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minvet's right. ferguson is a unique hell-hole that milks its poor black citizens dry with fines and fees that are its sole source of revenue. and balko is a libertarian who actually gives a shit about poor people and believes that racism exists. he's literally the only one, so it seems unlikely, but...he's a good dude.

other policing reforms I support include: changing the rules about civil forfeiture so that it's more difficult to just jack people's shit up, recording all interviews with suspects/arrestees (as an extension of the general filming requirement, but also as a separate check on improper questioning and poor reporting of questioning at trial), decriminalizing all drugs, appropriating money for public defenders in cities and states where there are few and underpaid ones, changing the incentives to plead out to crimes for lesser penalties so that this is less favored, restoring convicted felons' voting rights when they have been released from jail, changing anti-prostitution laws so that sex workers aren't afraid to go to the police when being abused/pimped out while underaged--if anyone's going to jail it should be the johns rather than the prostitutes-- educating officers on how to respond to reports of rape, and also standardizing responses to reports of rape in order to create the most humane system that preserves victims' rights and abilities to press charges in the future even if they are unsure now, offering officers significant salary increases if they are willing to live in the neighborhoods (or within the city borders, at any rate) they patrol, exploring the best ways to recruit more officers from these neighborhoods to provide trust and jobs...hm...other stuff but I'm going to bed.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 8:17 AM
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hm...other stuff but I'm going to bed.

A pony. You meant to wish for a pony.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 8:20 AM
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Hott!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 8:26 AM
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Pretend that says "Kinky!"


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 8:26 AM
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Shorter Ripper: "Your going to make where you get to sit on the freaking bus a signature of the movement?"


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 8:31 AM
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Ripper has been pretty good on the your/you're distinction.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 8:32 AM
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Yep, better than me that's for sure.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 8:43 AM
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71. In my town there aren't enough "negroes" to make it interesting to call about them. Most calls are about UMC teenagers being "suspicious." Every now and then it results in a "controlled substance" bust, but mostly not.


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 8:45 AM
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the white cop made up a racially prejudiced post hoc justification for stopping the black man. he said, "there have been a lot of robberies in the area, so..." this assumes that the robberies, culprit or culprits unknown, were committed by black men like the one filming this encounter.

That was how I initially interpreted the statement as well (and I thought "what a racist jackass"), but to give him the benefit of the doubt, I think what he was trying to convey may have been more along the lines of: "there have been a lot of robberies in the area, so people are understandably a bit trigger-happy with their calls to the police. We're receiving a lot of stupid calls, but we're following up on them because we want people to feel safe. I'm very sorry you were stopped for no good reason."

I think that the policy of gearing up local po-dunk forces with tanks and humvees and helicopters and jeep mounted .50 caliber guns and other exciting military-industrial surplus should be stopped immediately, and lots of it should be repossessed.

Repossessed and then sold at auction in the town square. I want a tank. I don't need any ammunition for it--I'm not crazy--I just want to drive it around.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 8:51 AM
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118: My unpopular view is that prisoners ought to have the right to vote. The did have a constitutional right to vote in MA, until we decided to change the constitution.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 8:51 AM
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126.last: I don't think the police got the kinds of tanks that had cannons anyway.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 8:54 AM
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I don't need any ammunition for it--I'm not crazy--I just want to drive it around.

How's the archery as self/home defense project going?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 8:54 AM
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129: no successful assaults or break-ins yet, so I guess it's been a success.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 8:59 AM
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"there have been a lot of robberies in the area, so people are understandably a bit trigger-happy with their calls to the police. We're receiving a lot of stupid calls, but we're following up on them because we want people to feel safe. I'm very sorry you were stopped for no good reason."

Obviously, if this was roughly the message he intended to convey, his intention would have been much more clear if he hadn't trailed off after "so..."


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 9:04 AM
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My unpopular view is that prisoners ought to have the right to vote.

This is so obviously correct that the unpopularity of this opinion infuriates me.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 9:06 AM
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Crazy talk, next you'll be saying prisoners should be getting paid for the work they're forced to do for private companies.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 9:09 AM
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132: I don't know why you would, but do you know of any good programs in this state to push for felon re-enfranchisement? It makes me so angry. I mean, Rowan's likely to be in until he's my age and will never get to vote. Mara's dad can't vote for getting behind on his child support. WTF???


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 9:14 AM
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134: Kentuckians for the Commonwealth is doing yeoman's work in this area, although I get the sense that it's a pretty heavy lift.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 9:17 AM
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I think they should too, but maybe not in local elections where the prison is. We have a state prison with 1700 adults in a county of something like 5500 adults. Electing the sheriff in those circumstances might be interesting.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 9:19 AM
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134: WTF? I think that child support should be enforced, but not paying is a crime which can cause you to lose your vote? Ridiculous.

I think that a lot of the organizations working on re-enfranchisement are state-based. I'm on the e-mail list for a group that did CORI reform (revising the information most employers got about criminal records).


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 9:20 AM
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Thanks. They were the biggest group I knew about, but yeah, not going to get much popular support on that or anything else that discourages kicking people while they're down. I should really get more involved with them once I have free time, but that's not going to be for a few more years.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 9:20 AM
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136: Large prisons are funny. It pisses me off no end that prisoners are counted when Federal Congressional district lines are drawn, but they don't get to vote. So, (1.) your area gets a lot of Federal jobs and (2.) each voter has disproportionate representation AND an incentive to expand the prison industry.

School boards are local. What if a prisoner gets interested in his/her kid's education?


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 9:23 AM
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137: Sure, being $1500 behind, which can't be that hard when you have 7 kids, is a felony. Presumably it hasn't been updated in a long time, but that's the law. Ours is one of the stupidest in the nation, unsurprisingly.

And I should probably stop feeling guilty about not doing more politically or socially, but I do. I'm the only active parent in the school, basically, and that counts for something. I just feel like I'm not doing much, which is maybe true for most other people with a full-time job and a two-year-old.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 9:23 AM
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118. As I understand it, the thing about ex-prisoners not having the right to vote in some states is connected with the inexplicable (to me) retention of the mediaeval category of felony in US law. You could do worse than abolish it (there are successful precedents in common law jurisdictions), and then the whole argument would go away. You could check to make sure they've repealed the Waltham Black Act while you're about it.

The position of serving prisoners varies around the world, from "everybody can vote" in, as you would expect, Scandinavia to "nobody can vote" in advanced countries like Britain and Bulgaria. Most commonly it seems to depend on length of sentence (e.g. Australia) or type of offence (e.g. Portugal). I agree with you in principle that there's no reason to exclude them.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 9:27 AM
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Ripper has been pretty good on the your/you're distinction.

And yet he's not at all smug about it.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 9:32 AM
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Your write.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 9:33 AM
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I'll just also support that obviously prisoners should be able to vote, and obviously they should be paid minimum wage for prison jobs. The second of those might be easier than the first.


Posted by: Asteele | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 9:34 AM
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I endorse 132 wholeheartedly. I may have still been a conservative when I first learned of convicts losing their right to vote*, yet I was immediately outraged. I've never understood how people can consider themselves good Americans and yet try to restrict the franchise.

*this was already a thing in the early '90s, right?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 9:39 AM
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and obviously they should be paid minimum wage for prison jobs

And obviously we should then re-brand it the "prison wage", and we can then talk about employers who pay their employees the prison wage vs. those who pay a (higher) living wage.

More seriously (sort of), the official reason prisoners do not need to be paid the minimum wage, which is supposed to be a living wage (in theory), is that they don't have ordinary living expenses--their room and board are covered by the state.

Obviously, I still think they should be paid at least the minimum wage, but that official reason why they "ought" to be able to be paid less, if they voluntarily agree that they would like to work for less in a market transaction between two parties with equal bargaining power, does make some sense.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 9:43 AM
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139: Surely the solution is for prisoners to be considered (voting) residents of their home municipalities. I realize there will be gray areas with transients/ locals with no fixed residence, but the default is simply that the convict is a resident of the muni that arrested him.

For years statistics about residents of downtown Pittsburgh have been skewed by the presence of the County Jail (in a riverfront building with great, albeit restricted, views). Western Penitentiary coded and then reopened, also skewing apparent population numbers.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 9:43 AM
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On the OP, Sullivan has a comment from the cop's department:

"The store that called about the man has been robbed multiple times in the last year," McCabe said. "In addition, employees have been robbed while making deliveries. According to the caller, this man was walking back and forth in front of the store five or six times.

Interesting if true, but then why was the cop's question not about walking back and forth 5-6 times, rather than having his hands in his pockets?


Posted by: Osgood Yousbad | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 9:43 AM
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146. That is true for all sorts of dependents and we don't accept that as a reason. (for obvious depressing the general wage level reasons), and I assume you are joking for the second part, since that would allow the abrogation of all employment laws. I'm not sure who has less power when it comes to employment decisions than prisoners who cannot find employment anywhere else.


Posted by: Asteele | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 9:46 AM
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139.2 -- Almost none of the prisoners' kids live in the county where the state prison is located. The right answer is to treat them like military voters, allowing them to be/remain registered at home. Although, like some military voters, the concept of "home" isn't always perfectly clear.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 9:48 AM
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That's the men's prison. The women's prison is in the most populous county in the state, and is a small enough bloc percentagewise that you wouldn't be as concerned about the impact on local elections.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 9:50 AM
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If prisoners were paid the minimum wage, I wouldn't expect it to help them much. The prison would just deduct the cost of their keep. But it might prevent prison labor from depressing the general wage level.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 9:51 AM
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149: Asteele, we have to ask him, but it's not entirely clear to me whether urple is being serious with his libertarian argument.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 9:54 AM
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152: is that what the current law allows?


Posted by: Asteele | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 9:54 AM
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||

All about me OT, but ugh ugh ugh, the baby has pneumonia and I totally should have taken her to the doctor Friday when I had a bad feeling about her health, but would they have diagnosed it before a fever? No time machine. She's allowed to go back to school Monday, which is also their adoption day, so I get to take the rest of the week off work unpaid to care for her because Lee can hardly skip the last week of classes. Fun! Although I guess the at-home part mostly will be, and I can finally get caught up on laundry.

|>


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 9:54 AM
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Thorn, I've really enjoyed you on the blog, but reading here and there has left me puzzled, can I ask what is your current situation, I know that you have adopted (are adopting) 2, but you have a new baby? I'm confused.


Posted by: Asteele | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 10:05 AM
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154: Yes: if you have a live-in servant you can deduct the reasonable cost of housing them from their wages. (But no with profit - not based on, say, prevailing rents.) And in the case of the state, I'd hope this would not include the cost of guarding them, just housing.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 10:07 AM
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Oh, sorry, Mara was adopted I guess 3 years ago. Selah, at 2, really isn't a baby anymore, but she and Nia (8) will be adopted Monday. And then we're done and turning in our foster license, except they'll still call us if one of the girls has a sibling come into care and we'd probably say yes. I definitely would.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 10:08 AM
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147: "closed", not "coded"


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 10:08 AM
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Selah's been with us since last September, Nia for two and a half years this month. Mara's been with us four years, and three years ago we had Val and Alex with us, who went to family before going back into foster care and then repeating that cycle at least once more.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 10:09 AM
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141: fuck, Windsor Great Park used to be an active guerrilla zone. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Act


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 10:10 AM
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I do not understand what TRO is on about in this thread and others, but if the question is, why do emotional, high profile events or sympathetic, relatable individual stories get attention on blogs and social media while the hard work of organizing is neglected by the UMC left, I don't think you need to appeal to anything particular about race or cops to answer that question. It's easy to be angry. It's hard to organize.

*I'm* the newly-UMC left, and I am trying to do some organizing work on police reform in my city, and this is a moment of intense new energy in organizing against police brutality because of recent emotional, high-profile events -- you see it in new recruitment of volunteers. (I was particularly disturbed by the Eric Garner video.) I am still trying to evaluate whether I will be able to do useful work with the organization I got involved with. The answer might be no, because it's too hard, because it requires more time than I have, because these small mostly volunteer non-profits can't really get their act enough together for my work with them to be effective. Or it might be yes. But if it's no I'll go back to status quo ante. Getting angry is easy. Organizing is hard.


Posted by: Tia | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 10:26 AM
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If you ever represent a prisoner with a claim for damages against the state because of poor treatment, one of the exciting things you will learn is that even if you win (which, good luck), and get substantial money from the state for their bad/unconstitutional treatment (also, good luck) the state will then come after the prisoner's assets for the cost of incarceration, which is ludicrously expensive but which they're often entitled to recover, thus netting out your recovery to zero, unless you negotiate it specifically. The same is true for other things, including jobs, that prisoners have.

I'm glad the conversation has moved on to incarceration, which is evil on such a greater scale than the kind of police misconduct shown in the OP. Good, active, questioning policing (not what this guy did here, but still) actually really for real does reduce crime and improve quality of life for neighborhoods, mostly through deterrence and presence in neighborhoods. Policing can be done much better most places but at the end of the day policing is, like public schools, a necessary and important public service that should mostly be scaled up, not down, and better funded. On the other hand, there's basically no evidence that (except for a vanishingly tiny minority of really violent men, where just getting them out of the population until they get old does help) incarceration on anything like the scale we have it at does anything at all to prevent crime, indeed it often cuts in the other direction: in California much of our gang system is centered around doing enough criminal acts to join a street gang that will in turn eventually qualify one for the insurance policy of protection by a prison gang should you go to prison. So you have the state running what are basically gigantic, pointless slave farms, that do almost nothing to reduce crime or improve quality of life for others, where order is enforced by rape, except that unlike the profitable slave farms of the olden days the state loses a ton of money on the deal. To be sure many prisoners are kind of shitheads to begin with and get worse in prison under abusive conditions, and you do need some kind of stick for the cops to implement, in which prisons have to play a part, but the current system of long-term incarceration has almost nothing to do with that. My view is that of the three legs of the criminal justice system -- police, criminal law prosecutions, prisons -- the last two are almost infinitely more fucked up than the first, and are pretty much fucked up everywhere, not just in bad departments.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 10:33 AM
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I apologize, after you listed it out like that I thought " I could of put that together", but I was lazy. Still I'm happy things are going well enough for you.


Posted by: Asteele | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 10:37 AM
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No problem, Asteele! Most people have a lot fewer kids and keep them a lot longer and start from younger ages and all that stuff, so I could see it getting confusing. I took my blog offline until the adoption is done because I googleably released Nia's name here and don't want to get in any trouble, but will probably put most of it back online at some point.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 10:39 AM
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163: Thanks, this country is even more fucked up than i thought with white-supremacy, I shouldn't of been surprised.


Posted by: Asteele | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 10:41 AM
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155: Poor baby! Blech.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 10:43 AM
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Relevant.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 11:17 AM
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||

NMM2 Bobby Keys. Cirrhosis is a bitch.

|>


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 11:20 AM
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139 is astounding to me. I thought it was widely acknowledged that apportioning according to general population size, not potential voting population size, is indefensibly evil.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 11:50 AM
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168: Holy crap, that's just unbelievable. The recording is well worth listening to (and no, Ripper, of course this is not the real outrage, but it's pretty outrageous, and just so stupid). "I felt it important to warn your boss that his phones might be ringing off the hook because you said mean things about the police on Twitter." Well good work there protecting the good citizens of St. Louis from the menace of unexpectedly ringing phones!


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 11:51 AM
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Nope. Districts with big prisons in them are modern-day rotten boroughs. All the legislative power, and half the voters. (I don't know if any are quite that bad. But many fewer voters than their representation would suggest.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 11:52 AM
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Nope. Districts with big prisons in them are modern-day rotten boroughs. All the legislative power, and half the voters.

A certain Massachusetts town went so far as to try to include the local prison beds in the count of "affordable housing" in order to evade the commonwealth's anti-snob-zoning law, which permits developers to ignore local restrictions on multi-family housing construction if the availability of affordable housing in the town falls below a minimum threshold. Commonwealth officials weren't buying it, though.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 12:05 PM
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170. Do prisoners count as 3/5 of a person?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 12:11 PM
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"I felt it important to warn your boss that his phones might be ringing off the hook

Ironically, the call from the officer is likely the only phone call about this that the boss received.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 12:20 PM
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The mob enforcer who tried to get urple to pay protection money gave up in frustration.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 12:26 PM
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I started, a week ago, wondering why similarly-situated folk to me ... were obsessed with, and outraged by, specific details of the Brown shooting and investigation and grand jury verdict ... but not much interested at all in, e.g., the underlying situation (nicely described in 79.2!) that helps explain structurally why policing in Ferguson has been such a disaster and why riots are happening and possibly appropriate, regardless of the grand jury decision.

A couple thoughts:

First, 92 does help explain your position and what you've been after in your comments the last couple of days.

Second, one response that I had to your original comments about the grand jury, which I never mentioned, but seems relevant to the last part of the quoted sentence was, "If we all agree that the shooting of Michael Brown was unjust, in a moral sense, and TRO is correct that this is not an injustice that the law is capable of addressing, then no wonder people are protesting and rioting. That is the only avenue available."

Third, I was recently thinking, on a completely different issue, that if one is is in the position of caring about [X], and observe that most people spend much more time worrying about [Y] in such a way that it seems like it's distracting attention, it is almost never going to be helpful to start arguing that people should pay less attention to [Y] (whether [Y] is rude cops, twitter, sports, or anything else). It just isn't very productive to try to talk people out of caring about something that they've invested emotional energy. It seems much better to frame the conversation as, "how do we get people interested in [X]"

Fourth, regarding the claim that UMC white people are "obsessed with" the grand jury I will note that Kevin Drum just linked to these poll results (pdf) which show that 58% of whites approve of the grand jury's decision while only 9% of blacks do.

This suggests that, while the grand jury isn't the only (or even the most critical) problem at the moment it isn't wrong for white people who want to position themselves as allies of the black community in this case* to take a strong public stand critical of the grand jury. Given the disparity in those polling results, that seems like a useful signal to send.

* with all of the obvious caveats about the fact that most will be only fair weather allies.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 1:03 PM
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Huh, 92 is interesting. 177.riots seems about right to me.

I would guess Resentment at the authority figure of the cop? accounts for the heated responses here. For me at least, part of the angry response is not so much at Wilson (frightened incompetent) as at McCulloch.

I think that I typed something about the structural issues a while back, but I have basically checked out of this discussion.

I really like one of the neighborhoods that got trashed. The whole thing is so sad, from the initial killing to the need for violent protest to change anything at all to the lowlifes killing people haphazardly in the subsequent chaos.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 1:34 PM
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178 -- fair enough. To the last few paragraphs, I was only addressing a tiny segment of white people, though well known to me. I'm pretty sure that 99% of the 58% of white people who approve of the grand jury's decision are just racist aholes, but those aren't the people I was wondering about. Also, sure, it's not a great overall political strategy to tell people that they're focusing on the wrong things, but that's why I'm doing this here, not in some actual political organizing context. If you want to take advantage of people's anger about Mike Brown for useful and good political purposes, more power to you.

"If we all agree that the shooting of Michael Brown was unjust, in a moral sense, and TRO is correct that this is not an injustice that the law is capable of addressing, then no wonder people are protesting and rioting. That is the only avenue available."

Agree. This, I think, is precisely where radicals get it much more right than liberals do. The problem is structural and political and you're not going to address the problem through a criminal law system that's not even designed to address it. I guess my overall position on the Brown non-indictment is that the US liberal (small l, 19th century) criminal justice system did exactly what it is designed to do, which is to focus on a specific individual and a specific statutory crime, and to prevent prosecution by the State without evidence sufficient to convince a reasonable trier of fact beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime was in fact committed. That kind of small l liberal criminal law is not at all a bad thing and I think we should protect and encourage it, but it sure is limited. The smooth and basically correct functioning of the criminal law as it is intended to work did absolutely zero to help with structural injustice. This shouldn't surprise anyone at all -- the criminal law is not about remedying social injustice and it's a terrible vehicle for doing so. Our small l liberal criminal law, for whatever its advantages, sucks at remedying large-scale social problems and shouldn't be the vehicle for doing so. Rioting is a terrible, horrible, non-solution too, but at least it's a political act I think it has a much better chance of actually moving the ball forward than any criminal prosecution would or could have.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 1:42 PM
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179 was to 177. I agree with 178.3 too.


Posted by: TRO | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 1:44 PM
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179- Now I know you are just trolling. The other day you were justifying McCoullogh's actions as preventing a riot or trying to.

I don't buy the idea that everyone who supports the grand jury decision is a racist. Not everyone understands what a mockery the prosecutor made of it.


Posted by: roger the cabin boy | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 2:28 PM
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Seriously, WTF?


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 2:29 PM
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181 last -- what is your understanding, because I suspect it is likely to be wrong. At least if you are tracking most commentary on the issue.

I do think that McCullough was trying to avoid a riot, and was justified in doing so. That's his job, and legitimately so -- trying to prevent disorder by a relatively transparent process underlying a (legally justified) non-indictment. I also think a riot is an understandable response, though not a very productive one (not really to the non-indict decision itself, but to the structure underlying why this turned into a popular movement). There's nothing remotely contradictory about holding those positions at the same time, and it's really only the continuing (naive and incorrect) hope against hope by liberals that somehow this was a travesty of *legal* justice, as opposed to the law doing what it is designed to do in a situation of deeper structural injustice, that makes you think that there's a contradiction there.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 2:43 PM
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Just because it will make me happy, can we agree that McCulloch's process in interacting with the grand jury in this case was at least highly unusual?

I'm not trying to extract concessions from you about whether or not an indictment was ultimately desirable or proper, just asking about the process for getting to the non-indictment.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 2:46 PM
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I do think that McCullough was trying to avoid a riot

Either you're trolling or you're delusional. I honestly don't know which I'd prefer at this point.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 3:07 PM
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To me it sure looks like McCullough was trying to provoke a riot so that any criticism of the local establishment could be rebutted with "Look, riots."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 3:19 PM
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If McCullough was trying to prevent a riot he would have done everything possible to make people aware of the "Policemen don't usually get indicted" exception to the "People usually get indicted" rule. It's all about expectations.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 3:24 PM
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184 -- cheerfully conceded, though I do think that the degree of unusualness has been somewhat overstated. Eg, the US Attorney's Manual (though not the Supreme Court) requires presentation of known exculpatory evidence to a grand jury, and apparently it's not that unheard of for prosecutors to try out evidence in truly borderline cases (particularly self defense cases) on grand juries, on the theory that if it doesn't get past the grand jury stage it shouldn't go to trial. But definitely not your run of the mill criminal prosecution.

185 -- you think he was trying to provoke a riot? Why wouldn't a simple non-indict decision from the office have been better then?


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 3:25 PM
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188: Oh for fuck's sake, that's the tip of the iceberg on what made this grand jury "unusual" and you have to know that. Does the U.S. Attorney's Manual tell prosecutors to give the grand jurors an unconstitutional statute at the beginning of the proceedings, and then at the end tell them to just fold up that piece of paper so they don't actually rely on it? Does it tell them to make sure the jurors know they have to prove a negative in order to vote to incit? To ask witnesses if they're really, really, really sure Brown was surrendering, or if maybe he was instead looking at Wilson funny?

188.2: By the same token, if McCullough's goal was to prevent a riot, handing off the case to someone on the outside would have been the single most obvious way to do that. He may have figured riot-prevention was worth a bogus grand jury, but not worth one where he wouldn't have control of the proceedings. (Even though, you keep insisting, there was no danger of an indictment regardless.)


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 3:34 PM
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188: Cry 'Comity!' and let slip the cockapoos of mild disgruntlement.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 3:36 PM
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Because this way supporters can claim Wilson was "proven" innocent.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 3:36 PM
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189: Or maybe not.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 3:36 PM
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191: Come on, every man on the street knows you can't prove that you didn't prove a negative.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 3:38 PM
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I think an actual independent prosecutor making a case before a grand jury would have prevented riots, indictment or not.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 3:42 PM
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you think he was trying to provoke a riot?

Are you fucking high or something? If I don't think he was trying to prevent a riot, there are other options besides "trying to provoke one". I don't think McCulloch gave a shit if there was a riot or not; I think he cared about one thing and one thing only, making sure Wilson never saw a trial.

If he'd legit been trying to prevent a riot, he probably would have given a completely different speech than the one he actually gave when he announced the grand jury's decision.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 3:44 PM
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The speech is what convinced me he was trying to provoke a riot.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 3:47 PM
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Okay, it's legitimately crazy to think that McCulloch was actually trying to provoke a riot. He was trying to make sure Wilson wasn't indicted and also to give a giant middle finger to all of Brown's sympathizers. But he would have been happy for Brown's sympathizers to go home and seethe in peace.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 3:53 PM
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189 -- oh man, you are really buying into some desperately weak-sauce arguments, and honestly that good lawyers would do so is really a sign of the desperation to make this about *legal* error as opposed to something else. The prosecution's fatal pro-Wilson legal error was .. to, instead of relying on a very, very pro-cop statute that incorporated the fleeing felon rule, and upon which the state had a decent to good constitutional argument for relying upon, to tell the grand jury that they could NOT indict under that statutory language, and had to indict under a much more restrictive (restrictive in the anti-cop sense) standard imposed by the Supreme Court? Or maybe the fatal legal error was telling the jury (entirely accurately) that the state had the burden of "proving a negative" -- that is, exactly what the state had to do, which was to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Wilson did NOT use force in reasonable self defense or as a reasonable aid to a lawful arrest, and that the jury had to have probable cause to believe that Wilson dod NOT use lawful force in self defense or to effectuate an arrest. Or maybe it was the decision to not aggressively cross examine Wilson and say "do you have anything else you'd like to tell us" -- when they also did not aggressively cross examine, eg, Dorian Johnson and asked him exactly the same question. Or ask witnesses if they were "sure" that the saw Johnson surrender, when that was key issue in the case?

The idea that there was some kind of deep legal process error in not issuing an indictment here is what is preposterous. No, the system provided an (unusually) comprehensive and unusually public pre-indictment presentation of the evidence, and that evidence did not support a decision to prosecute.

On McCulloch's views about a riot, I thought that part of the point of using the grand jury process, as opposed to exercising his discretion to not prosecute without going through the grand jury process, was that the latter, while fully justified legally and preferred as an option by some here, would have exacerbated tensions and made rioting more likely. But I can't see into his mind, so maybe he did want rioting. Who knows. But, also, his intentions in that regard are kind of irrelevant to the issue of whether or not ther was legal error.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 3:59 PM
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197: Potato, potato.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 4:03 PM
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I think there was a strong element of "show you your place" going on with McCulloch, which doesn't mean he wanted a riot per se but I doubt he was unhappy about the prospect. Either people were going to back down submissively and he would feel like he'd established his/the police's/let's-be-honest-white-people's authority or they'd get mad and do something and he'd get to go around saying "You see? They're just animals that way."

Also, is there anything more smug than "you liberals disgust me with your smug willingness to object to things even though you don't [insert demand of some sort, usually in bad faith]" posing? It's like the (pretty immature) people in high school who liked to talk about how they were more mature than other people, usually because those people were having more fun than them or being less teacher-pleaser.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 4:03 PM
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I want to ban the phrase "prove a negative" from all discourse.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 4:04 PM
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...as opposed to exercising his discretion to not prosecute without going through the grand jury process...

He exercised his discretion not to prosecute while going through the grand jury process. Which is what makes it worse.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 4:08 PM
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Jesus fuck, I'm not arguing those are "fatal legal process errors", the point is that if this case was as clear (legally) as you are utterly (and wrongly) convinced it was, why resort to such bullshit?


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 4:10 PM
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If there hadn't been so much coverage, McCulloch would never have convened a grand jury. Once it was clear the issue wasn't going to go away, he just wanted at least the veneer of legitmacy. The rioting was gravy.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 4:25 PM
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There were plenty of other people who wanted a riot, of course, including the Ferguson PD. Possibly even people eager to burn down local businesses knowing on whom it would be blamed.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 4:27 PM
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203 -- what's the "bullshit". Giving the case to a grand jury at all? I think the point of that was pretty transparent, to make clear and eventually public all the evidence surrounding the indictment, and to give some body other than the prosecutor's office a chance to review both the inculpatory and exculpatory evidence and make the ultimate decision in a case that is at absolute most (and I'm being generous here) a borderline case for an indictment. That's not an illegitimate purpose at all -- it's an unusual one, to be sure, but the circumstances surrounding the prosecution decision were also unusual.

202 -- Again, the point of using a grand jury, and releasing the material, is that we now know precisely that there is an eminently reasonable legal basis for not prosecuting, and he allowed someone else besides prosecutors in his office to look at the evidence before that decision was made. The argument (which Keir made in the other thread, and which i think you are making now) that he should have just not prosecuted because then McCulloch would have more "accountability" for the decision is the *best* argument for why the grand jury might have been a mistake, but it still strikes me as deeply weird. I'm just unclear how anyone would be better off in this situation if the evidence had remained non-public and no one had looked at it save a prosecutor's office. And, even if the accountability argument were right, it still wouldn't support a belief that there was something fundamentally wrong with the outcome of the process -- at worst, you got to the legally correct outcome, based on an examination of the evidence, with a process that left McCulloch somewhat less "accountable" for the decision than he might otherwise have been. Whatever that is, it's not a travesty of justice.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 4:31 PM
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And I got so aggravated typing out another, stupidly long response on my stupid phone that I just missed my train stop, so fuck you with your "sign of desperation" etc.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 4:31 PM
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198. Various articles in the last few days (WaPo, Slate, Volokh, etc.) have dissected the way Johnson's story changed to fit the latest information leaked/released. That made him in the end an unreliable witness. Since Wilson didn't have a "story" until the GJ heard him, he could hone and perfect it until called upon to tell it.

Still, the physical evidence alone seems to be enough to at least doubt the "hands up, don't shoot" version, not to mention Brown's blood being inside the car, bullet casings being a great deal further away than if Brown had stopped and surrendered, and so on ad nauseum.

What none of this should obscure is the non-lawyerish point that there was enough doubt about all of that that taking Wilson to trial would not be at all unusual, were it not for the "police exception."

More generally, the idea that police should be able to kill anyone who resists them is pretty horrible. Essentially Brown was killed for several misdemeanors (were Wilson not a policeman).


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 4:39 PM
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Again, the point of using a grand jury, and releasing the material, is that we now know precisely that there is an eminently reasonable legal basis for not prosecuting, and he allowed someone else besides prosecutors in his office to look at the evidence before that decision was made.

You have precisely zero evidence to support this assertion. You've done a very good job of demonstrating that someone acting in good faith could have used the grand jury in exactly the manner you describe; what you have utterly failed to do is demonstrate that McCulloch was operating in good faith.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 4:40 PM
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They don't seem to have any problem releasing evidence before the grand jury. And it is impossible to view their behavior towards the various witnesses as showing an interest in upholding the integrity of the process.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 4:40 PM
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206.1: The way to do that would have been to turn the case over to someone who didn't have an obvious stake in tanking it. And you seriously don't see the stuff I mentioned (and plenty more) as pushing the gj in the direction of no indictment, just a full and neutral presentation? That's delusional.

But whatever. As before, ultimately everything you've been arguing depends on your absolute certainty about the evidence and what a reasonable jury could conclude from it, which I don't share, and I don't see any minds being changed on that.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 4:41 PM
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So many of you have a really amazingly huge investment in engaging with TRO (and gswift) that I will never share and honestly cannot fathom in the same way no one outside a decades long relationship really understands what makes it tick, all of which is perfectly fine etc but to anyone feeling discouraged or disgusted in the moment 200.2 is right and is going to make it super interest for TRO to parent an intelligent teenager.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 4:46 PM
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209 -- The evidence supporting the assertion is the evidence released that was before the grand jury, which makes absolutely clear that (at a minimum) it was very reasonable for the prosecution not to prosecute and the grand jury to find insufficient probable cause to support an indictment. I don't doubt that McCulloch is not a great human being, but the decision not to prosecute or indict was legally correct.

211 -- I don't have any "certainty" about the evidence. Nor do I claim to know what happened. But the evidence we do have makes quite clear that under te general standards governing prosecutions there should not have been a prosecution here.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 4:48 PM
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The evidence supporting the assertion is the evidence released that was before the grand jury

That doesn't get you anywhere close to making a decent argument as to McCulloch's motivations, even before you take into account his other actions. At the very most it gets you "he wasn't going to try to railroad Wilson".


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 4:51 PM
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212 -- probably shouldn't respond, but it does seem to me based on evidence from comments here that you are not a person who counts being smug as a bad thing.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 4:52 PM
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214 -- I don't claim to know McCulloch's motivations. Maybe they were bad. The process that resulted from them was pretty fair, in this case.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 4:55 PM
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213.2: that's the fundamental disagreement I'm talking about. At least I think so: you are certain that a reasonable jury couldn't convict on this evidence (and you shouldn't prosecute of you can't convict); I'm not.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 4:55 PM
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217 -- fair enough, it does sound like we disagree there. But I don't come to that view based on any "certainty" about what happened, just a look at the available evidence as a whole, to the extent I've read it.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 5:02 PM
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"See that woman over there? Sally Oldcastle. Runs the biggest crack kitchen in the Northern Hemisphere. And what's more, she's not stuck up."


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 5:05 PM
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I don't claim to know McCulloch's motivations.

Then you shouldn't make claims about them. Avoiding phrases like "the point was" would be a good start.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 5:09 PM
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220 -- I was just responding to the idea that the grand jury was procedurally illegitimate, not making a claim about McCulloch's personal motivation, which isn't really relevant to whether or not the process was fair and legitimate.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 5:19 PM
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I still have trouble reconciling TRO's 179 with the rest of his argument.

I'm with 217 If McCullough had tried for an indictment followed by a conviction he might have gotten both. Most of the witnesses said Brown had his hands up. One of the ones who didn't was an obvious plant.

The right wingers in my facebook feed think Wilson has been exonerated. I'd bet that reaction is typical of the 58%.


Posted by: roger the cabin boy | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 5:21 PM
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To point out how great a place this is because we don't have to deal with nasty trolls while simultaneously trolling you are is some high grade commenting worthy of the old ogged.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 5:44 PM
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Trolling you all, that is.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 5:44 PM
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One thing that's interesting to note is that every time Halford argues that a jury of reasonable people wouldn't convict based on the evidence we've seen he's pretty much directly saying that everyone who has looked at the evidence on hand and thought that there was very definitely excellent evidence that a crime was convicted is not a reasonable person. And that's with the openly slanted version of the evidence that we do have, presented by a prosecutor arguing in bad faith. So the claim here really is that even a more substantial (and substantially argued) case against Wilson wouldn't be enough to convince a reasonable person that something Wilson had committed, say, manslaughter. That's a pretty strong claim, and not the nicest one to people who are disagreeing with him either.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 5:48 PM
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213: The evidence presented at the grand jury was entirely what was selected by McCullough. I don't see how you can use a process which included no information not screened by him as a "independent" verification of him.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 5:53 PM
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225 -- I don't think I've seen a single person actually put together a narrative, consistent with the evidence, that would persuade anyone beyond a reasonable doubt that Wilson didn't act in either self defense or with the amount of force permissible to effectuate a lawful arrest. Those are full defenses as to all homicide claims, including manslaughter (if those defenses weren't available, of course an indictment would be appropriate). Alameida tried something in the other thread but, even there, relying on a bunch of (legally irrelevant) characterizations of subjective bad faith from Wilson and subjective intent to surrender from Brown, I didn't think there was possibly enough to convict. I'm sorry if that seems mean, but I also doubt you've read all the volumes of testimony before the grand jury or tried to apply the relevant law, either. And if you're not doing that I'm not really going to feel bad about failing to agree with your speculations.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 5:55 PM
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And you never will see a single person put together a narrative consistent with the evidence because the person who was supposed to gather that evidence was very plainly presenting the defense case.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 5:57 PM
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213. Given how DA's usually treat grand juries, McCullough as much as said "I don't buy this as enough for an indictment." He left it up to them, but usually it's ham sandwiches all the way.

222. Sure, if he had worked for an indictment instead of being "meh," and then drawn the right jury, he probably could have gotten a conviction. For example, random selections from *nf*gg*d posters.

Or to put it another way, given the deference we give the police in the law and the court decisions, he was unlikely to win on the law. He might have lucked out on the politics/attitudes of a jury, but not that likely in Missouri. And of course he didn't want to anyway.

It still obscures the point that you shouldn't be killing someone for some Bayesian probability that he was going to hit Wilson like an asteroid on dinosaurs (or "Hulk smash" in the vernacular).


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 5:59 PM
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226 -- actually, much of it came from either statements to the media or from the federal investigation.* I don't think there's been a single assertion that there was some significant piece of evidence or witness that was left out -- the opposite complaint, that there was "too much" evidence presented, seems more common.

*I do now think that if there hadn't been a federal investigation there might possibly have been an indictment. A bunch of the witnesses who said they saw a surrender when interviewed by Missouri police then changed their story and admitted they couldn't see anything and were just reporting what was told to them by others when interviewed by the FBI, and given the warning that lying to the feds is a federal crime.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 6:00 PM
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To summarize the "bullshit" argument: The transcripts show McCullough essentially cross examined witnesses negative towards Wilson and guided those favorable towards him, including Wilson. If an impartial reading of the evidence was so clearly against indictment, why act like that? Either because you're an asshole who needs to show his dominance over the community opposed to letting Wilson off, or because the evidence really did need massaging to ensure no indictment.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 6:02 PM
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the opposite complaint, that there was "too much" evidence presented, seems more common.

And that strikes me as an entirely reasonable complaint. Did you see the thing Thorn and Eggplant linked to where they guy had a diary about how he just happened to decide to have an epiphany about race relations in time to be a witnesses to the shooting? That, with no cross-examination or rebuttal is the kind of Stalinist show-trial tactic that makes it clear the prosecution was the defense.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 6:04 PM
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the person who was supposed to gather that evidence was very plainly presenting the defense case

Not really sure what you're talking about. Every available witness was interviewed and questioned about what they saw. Physical exams were done and physical evidence collected (including an analysis by the Brown family, which was also presented to the grand jury). There's been no allegation whatsoever that anything significant was left out.

Or to put it another way, given the deference we give the police in the law and the court decisions, he was unlikely to win on the law. He might have lucked out on the politics/attitudes of a jury, but not that likely in Missouri.

I think I agree. A responsible prosecutor shouldn't bring cases that are not justified under the law, but might be winnable if you get a poltiically charged jury that's willing to ignore the law and the evidence.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 6:05 PM
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231 to 233.1


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 6:08 PM
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The transcripts show McCullough essentially cross examined witnesses negative towards Wilson

No they don't. Go read the examination of Dorian Johnson. He's not cross examined at all, and allowed to tell his story. The prosecutors allow him to tell his story in full, without interruption, and ask him at the end if he has anything else to add. There are a few incidents where they ask him for clarification, but he explains and clarifies and then they move on. I've seen some incidents where both *the grand jurors themselves* and the prosecutors will ask witnesses to repeat points or about things that are inconsistent with the physical evidence. But it's simply not true that prosecution-friendly witnesses were "cross examined" where Wilson wasn't. No one was cross examined.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 6:11 PM
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235 was me, of course. And the grand jury didn't just hear examinations from the prosecutors in front of the grand jury, they heard literally all of the available witness interviews.

And, at the end of the day, the evidence under governing law either gave probable cause to indict, or it didn't. It's very clear hear that it didn't. At an absolute minimum, it was certainly fine for the grand jury to conclude on the basis of a reasonably fair process that there wasn't enough to indict. The argument that there was something *legally* wrong here really does just strike me as way off and as desperate. Doesn't mean that there's not something to riot about or that we shouldn't think that there's something more broadly wrong with the Ferguson PD.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 6:16 PM
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That's so obviously wrong the blog system wouldn't even let you sign it.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 6:16 PM
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No one was cross examined.

That's not really a functionally difference point. If anything at all could go up without rebuttal, there's no way the defense could lose.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 6:16 PM
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hear/here error was embarrassing.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 6:16 PM
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I guess I have to bow to that legal reasoning but I'd still say that a travesty of justice--if not of judiciary process--has occurred.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 6:18 PM
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I kinda don't believe in the reification of an abstract thing "the law" under which Wilson was not guilty. If you can get a jury to return a guilty verdict and the appeals fall your way, then the guy was guilty under the law. Sure you shouldn't try and lock up innocent people but at the same time the law changes and the way the law changes by prosecutions & other cases being brought where they'd normally lose and then winning (or alternately being lost where they'd normally win).

The argument that Wilson shouldn't go to jail is basically like cases should be treated alike, right? We have this precedent, we have these rules, that cops shouldn't go to jail who have killed people in these very broad cases, and it would be unfair to send him to jail, because it breaks that precedent. But that's also the argument against the hinky grand jury thing, so I'm a bit confused here.

Yrs, the only thing I really remember from jurisprudence was pragmatism.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 6:19 PM
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If anything at all could go up without rebuttal, there's no way the defense could lose.

So, we've gone from too little evidence, to too much, to too much cross-examination, to too little. But, even as stated, that point above isn't right. The grand jury was tasked (as a prosecutor's office would be, in looking at an indictment) at examining evidence, not argument. Either the evidence is sufficient to support probable cause to indict, or it isn't. Even taking all defense-friendly evidence as it was introduced and on its face, there's not enough here to sustain a conviction.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 6:20 PM
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242: No. My point is that no one was telling a prosecution story. Just tossing out evidence without constructing a narrative never convinced anyone of anything and you know it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 6:23 PM
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Half of my first degree relatives have been employed at one time or another as prosecutors. It's weird that you seem to trust them so much more than I do. Or maybe it isn't weird.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 6:24 PM
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Even taking all defense-friendly evidence as it was introduced and on its face, there's not enough here to sustain a conviction.
Slip much? You can't even keep straight if McCullough was the "defense" or "prosecution" any more.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 6:36 PM
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232 is sort of hilarious because I didn't realize anyone would guess that gender from that handwiting, but then 244 has me back thinking Moby is secretly me.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 6:39 PM
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If I am you, then you need to get some of that toe nail fungus medicine.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 6:45 PM
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212: we actually have been in a decade-long relationship with ripper and gswift, so maybe that's it.
ripper, again, I love you, but it is unfair to characterize the elicitation of testimony from the witnesses as "normal" for a grand jury. I freely grant I have not been grand-jurying up the place my whole life, but I'm pretty sure that what normally happens is that the prosecutor, who wants to convict the accused of a crime, presents all and only evidence that depicts the accused as guilty, and then the grand jury says to one another, 'does it seem as if this person might have committed the crime, such that there should be a real trial in which the evidence is examined more closely and the accused is permitted to defend himself more forcefully? yes.' witnesses whose accounts contradicted wilson's did get pushback from the prosecutor. and seriously, address the made-up witness 40, the 'I was on a personal journey to understand the negroes to rid myself of ancient prejudice when I was suddenly the witness of a not racist at all crime!' witness. if we take witness 40 out of the line-up, the numbers for 'were brown's hands up when he was shot' vs. 'were they not up when he was shot' go to like 16 to 1. are you seriously telling me that if a black man was accused of shooting someone unlawfully, and 16 witnesses testified that he was not in imminent danger when he fired, and then the accused himself, who testified for ages at the grand jury (!) and one witness said he was, the grand jury wouldn't look a little askance at that?


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 6:50 PM
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Eww, yeah, you're on your own, Mobes. Though I'M the one explaining to a two-year-old why it's okay for her new Batman figurine to wear his cape in the bath since it's attached when I made her leave hers outside so maybe I have no stones to throw.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 7:12 PM
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248 - I'm sure the distinguished gentleman from British Steel can cite chapter and verse on counterexamples in which the prosecutor before a grand jury performs a less adversarial role. The one I know about was the Jack-in-the-Box trial in 2001, in which the prosecutor presented misleading summaries of witness statements, including those from cops, seemingly in order to make it more clear to the grand jury that the shooters (also cops!) were in legitimate fear of being run over by a stationary car and thus justified in shooting. I wonder why that one comes so readily to mind in this instance.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 7:15 PM
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Just to be on record -- I'd have to evaluate what I thought if the credibility of the witnesses in person, but depending on who came across as more credible, I think there was plenty on the record to both indict and convict. Wilson's story was incredible in many details, and there were eyewitnesses whose stories were both compatible with all the physical evidence and showed Brown as not a threat to Wilson at the time Wilson killed him. (Assuming that one can conceptualize Brown as possibly having been in a state which was neither motionless unambiguous total surrender, nor an immediate threat of death or serious injury to Wilson.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 7:26 PM
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Love you too. But, if you actually skim the transcripts, that thing about "hands up when he was shot" isn't really an accurate description of the testimony, except for I think one witness. That AP report is pretty misleading. People aren't saying that he hands in the air. They're saying that had his hands at about shoulder-level, arms bent, palms facing out. This was at best an ambiguous gesture of surrender. That's really significant.

I'm pretty sure that what normally happens is that the prosecutor, who wants to convict the accused of a crime, presents all and only evidence that depicts the accused as guilty, and then presents all and only evidence that depicts the accused as guilty, and then the grand jury says to one another, 'does it seem as if this person might have committed the crime, such that there should be a real trial in which the evidence is examined more closely and the accused is permitted to defend himself more forcefully? yes.

Not really. The standard isn't "might have," it's "probable cause to believe" committed a specific crime. The courts use the phrase "fair probability." It's not believe by a preponderance of the evidence, but you have to believe it's fairly probable. And that determination is based on the totality of the circumstances and evidence available at the time the GJ's making the decision.

What makes the process here so unusual is that usually what happens is that a prosecutor believes that there is overwhelmingly more than enough not only to indict, but to get a conviction on a beyond a reasonable doubt standard. Otherwise, why are we doing this in the first place? The prosecutor then presents things to the grand jury, confident in the belief that there's no way that he won't at least overcome the probable cause standard. And, the evidence introduced is usually just the details of what happened, because you're usually just setting out the basis of the crime, and there's not the situation here where the State has the burden of "proving a negative," i.e., proving that a specific defendant did not do some specific thing or have some specific belief. Wobbly borderline cases on *probable cause* never show up at all, generally. That doesn't mean that wobbly cases are never brought or tried, but there's usually enough to more than easily overcome, based on the totality of the circumstances shown, the "fair probability" test.

There's no constitutional requirement to show exculpatory evidence to the grand jury, but there are professional mandates to do so. The DOJ's manual for US Attorneys, for example, says that " It is the policy of the Department of Justice ... that when a prosecutor conducting a grand jury inquiry is personally aware of substantial evidence that directly negates the guilt of a subject of the investigation, the prosecutor must present or otherwise disclose such evidence to the grand jury before seeking an indictment against such a person." Of course, ordinarily, this is interpreted pretty narrowly. But, sometimes, investigation targets do testify before a grand jury. And also, sometimes, but especially in self defense cases, prosecutors will use a grand jury as a way of testing out whether their cases are sufficient to move on to trial at all. It's not common, but it's not totally absolutely unheard of, either. This is especially the case where the decision not to prosecute could itself be viewed as suspect, but where the evidence supporting a prosecution is weak. That was the case here.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owen | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 7:55 PM
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had his hands at about shoulder-level, arms bent, palms facing out. This was at best an ambiguous gesture of surrender.
Give me a fucking break. You're right, it's not unambiguous surrender, from that position it's also possible he was going to reach behind his back and pull out his double ninja blades.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 8:00 PM
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They're saying that had his hands at about shoulder-level, arms bent, palms facing out.

You mean like this? Or maybe it was more like this. Or like the kids in the first picture on this page?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 8:01 PM
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Where is this "unambiguous surrender" standard you're appealing to, as if Brown was fair game if not unambiguously surrendering? The standard is whether it was reasonable to perceive him as an immediate danger to Wilson, which is distinctly different.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 8:10 PM
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252 to 248. To 251, we've had this hashed out over and over, but even Dorian Johnson makes clear that there was a for real fight at the car where Brown is at least wrestling with Wilson. And even he says that Brown turns around and steps forward on Wilson. And we know that the evidence shows that a shot was fired in the car. So, on pretty much everyone's testimony, we have the (a) 100% for sure scuffle at the car which involved Brown resisting and the gun going off in the car, and the (b) apparently 95% for sure fact that Brown was advancing on Wilson in an at best ambiguous gesture of surrender. I think you have to let Wilson go, and I think that's what a reviewing court would have done had there been a trial.* Suspect who fights at car, doesn't stop when gun presented at car, turns and advances on officer despite clear indications (shots, at least) not to do so in what is absolute best an ambiguous surrender posture is at least a reasonable objective threat to the officer.

*This is all without getting into other problems with Dorian Johnson's testimony, which really is for sure, whatever you think of Wilson, not credible, but I'm not getting into that for purposes of argument.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 8:12 PM
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The hidden ninja swords, LB! They could be an immediate threat!


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 8:12 PM
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I'm really tired of this.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 8:12 PM
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You want to argue about national park visitation statistics.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 8:15 PM
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Legally speaking, what exactly is up for dispute? Wilson unambiguously killed Brown. His defense is that he feared for his life. Because he is a police officer and because Brown was a large black person who had stolen some cigarillos early in the day, Wilson's defense doesn't have to climb over a high bar. Personally speaking I would hope that the law is not so simplistic and that the reasonableness of Wilson's fear would be in play, as would Wilson's role in creating the situation. But I'm not a lawyer: does the law care about that stuff at all? If it doesn't then the exact orientation of Brown's hands at the time he got shot doesn't really matter, right? And if the law does care, then this case is certainly not open-and-shut. So which is it?


Posted by: Disingenuous Bastard | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 8:16 PM
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He did also have hair, typical of many black people, in which you could hide something. So even if he didn't have ninja swords it's possible, with his hands at shoulder level, that he was going to reach into his hair and pull out some throwing stars.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 8:16 PM
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and there were eyewitnesses whose stories were both compatible with all the physical evidence and showed Brown as not a threat to Wilson at the time Wilson killed him

Absolutely not. 25 feet of ground covered, overtaking Wilson's position, all while being fired upon. That is not a surrender.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 8:19 PM
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I understand that you think it's impossible to advance twenty five feet without posing a clear danger of death to the person you're walking toward. With the utmost of sympathy and respect, this is not clear to me. I'm familiar with how far twenty-five feet is, and it seems to me like a distance that an injured man might cover, staggering, as several eyewitnesses testified.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 8:24 PM
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That Brown was capable of moving 25 feet towards Wilson while being fired upon is not exactly evidence that the shooting was justified, is it? I mean, I know that popular interest in the Brown case is largely driven by the thought that he was gunned down while surrendering, but that's not the legal issue the grand jury was deciding, was it?


Posted by: Disingenuous Bastard | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 8:25 PM
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263: Why on earth do you think this is what a surrender could ever plausibly look like? All the wounds are from the front. What kind of surrender is a sustained advance like that while being shot? And again, to the point that you overtake the shooter's position. I've lost count of the number of people I've arrested at gunpoint. When someone is giving up, that's not what they do.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 8:32 PM
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254, 255 -- You need the unambiguous surrender because you also have what is clearly, based on the combination of physical evidence and witness testimony, an advance on the officer and a preexisting fight with the officer that involves at a minimum not surrendering before and continuing to resist when Wilson says "I'll shoot" (this part is even present in Johnson's testimony). If someone is advancing on me with hands out like that? I have no idea if it's a surrender or not, and I don't see how anyone would. There's no claim by (almost anyone, there's one witness who claims an execution-style killing in the head, but that's *really* not supported by the evidence) of a clearly-communicated intent to surrender.

The standard is whether it was reasonable to perceive him as an immediate danger to Wilson,

Sort of, but that's a somewhat misleading way of putting it. The standard is whether there is, viewed from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, Wilson could reasonably believe that Brown posed a threat of serious physical harm to Wilson or others, giving "careful attention to the facts and circumstances of each particular case, including the severity of the crime at issue, whether the suspect poses an immediate threat to the safety of the officers or others, and whether he is actively resisting arrest." Here, you have both, at a minimum, the reasonable perception of a fight in the car and failure to surrender when Wilson draws his gun, and then the reasonable perception of an advance (this could be true even if Brown was staggering forward unintentionally), all coming from a guy Wilson reasonably believed to be a strong-arm robbery suspect. That's got to be enough to justify deadly force, and that's construing basically every bit of non-speculative testimony in favor of a prosecution.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owen | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 8:33 PM
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A conscientious prosecutor could take several of the stupid things like this that TRO/RH has said in the last two threads and show probable cause that he's not arguing in good faith. Unfortunately there's all this other confounding evidence that make it look like he is making reasoned arguments about society or the legal system, but that's something to be determined at trial when the defense presents its case.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 8:36 PM
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That Brown was capable of moving 25 feet towards Wilson while being fired upon is not exactly evidence that the shooting was justified, is it?

Yes it is. He's already been in a physical struggle with a felony suspect and there's physical evidence consistent this. If I pursue a suspect I've already fought with over my gun, he gives up or gets shot. That physical evidence is just not what you see with someone giving up.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 8:36 PM
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261 -- Of course, no police officer has ever been injured by an unarmed person.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owen | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 8:37 PM
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Here, you have both, at a minimum, the reasonable perception of a fight in the car and failure to surrender when Wilson draws his gun, and then the reasonable perception of an advance (this could be true even if Brown was staggering forward unintentionally), all coming from a guy Wilson reasonably believed to be a strong-arm robbery suspect. That's got to be enough to justify deadly force

So I see 3 things:

1) Reasonable perception of a fight in the car -- granted
2) Failure to surrender when Wilson draws his gun -- how does this justify deadly force? especially in conjunction with the following item
3) Reasonable perception of an advance -- if Brown is far enough away from Wilson to "advance" on him, then why was Wilson justified in shooting him before he advanced? Because they had a fight in the car? Because he didn't surrender when Wilson drew his gun?


Posted by: Disingenuous Bastard | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 8:38 PM
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269- You should exercise your right to remain silent, you're making the prosecution's case.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 8:39 PM
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If I pursue a suspect I've already fought with over my gun, he gives up or gets shot.

If someone has a physical altercation with a police officer, that person is then fair game to get shot as long as he hasn't surrendered? Genuine question, not being snarky.

If the answer is no, does changing "physical altercation" to "physical altercation over officer's gun" change the answer to yes? Again, serious.


Posted by: Disingenuous Bastard | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 8:43 PM
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I'm familiar with how far twenty-five feet is

I need it converted into meters, because I live in a liberal bubble where everything is like Sweden.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 8:44 PM
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270, see 268. You know that you have someone who is at least reasonably willing to fight with you and not give up, even with a gun drawn on them. (The physical evidence also pretty clearly indicates that there was in fact a struggle for the gun, but let's try to stick to the most prosecution-favorable story only). That person then, with your gun drawn on them, is advancing towards you. A reasonable conclusion from a police officer's perspective is that "I am about to be attacked by someone who is wiling to overtake me, doesn't care that I am threatening him with deadly force, and therefore is likely to use serious physical harm on me, including by taking my gun." I am just plain not seeing how you get from there to probable cause. Is it theoretically possible that the shooting was unreasonable? Sure. Enough on those facts to have PC for a murder prosecution? No way.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 8:45 PM
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Welcome To Your Day

Is the clock radio going to play "You Got Me Babe" again tomorrow?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 8:46 PM
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Failure to surrender when Wilson draws his gun -- how does this justify deadly force?

The fight in the car has a legit fear of Wilson getting knocked out. Brown is a large strong guy throwing punches and Wilson is not in a position to win by conventional means. He's not mobile at all and you can't just keep letting a guy take swings endlessly. He's too close and confined to use something like pepper spray or a baton and he can't even effectively hit back. The gun is the only realistic option.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 8:47 PM
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I need it converted into meters

Today someone told me about being pulled over speeding and showing the cop his Canadian driver's license. "Oh, you're from Ontario," the cop said, "I guess you got confused by converting miles to kilometers. I'll let you go this time."


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 8:50 PM
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If someone has a physical altercation with a police officer, that person is then fair game to get shot as long as he hasn't surrendered? Genuine question, not being snarky.

In my view, "physical altercation" can cover a huge bit of ground so, no, this is not true as written a general and absolute rule. But clearly getting into an altercation where you're reasonably perceived as going for an officer's gun, and then continuing things such that you're reasonably perceived as continuing to attack? That's pretty much always going to justify the use of deadly force.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 8:51 PM
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If someone has a physical altercation with a police officer, that person is then fair game to get shot as long as he hasn't surrendered?

It's going to depend on the totality of the circumstances. But a suspect in a felony and I was already losing the fight? And/or if he grabs at the gun? Then, yes, pretty much. He turns around and follows commands? No, I'm going to hold him at gunpoint and wait for my backup. Turns and advances on me? He gets shot.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 8:51 PM
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276 - "...according to the carefully coached story told by Darren Wilson", I believe you forgot to add.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 9:01 PM
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Don't worry about it. His story was accepted as being 100% accurate by a grand jury.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 9:05 PM
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gswift- I understand where you are coming from but the 25 foot advance depends on physical evidence gathered by and under the sole control of the Fergusson PD right? I'm not willing to trust that evidence after having seen the way they have behaved the last three months. I just can't. I wish I thought the FBI would be a real check on them but I don't have any faith in them either.


Posted by: roger the cabin boy | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 9:11 PM
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280 -- but even the Dorian Johnson story is that they were in a fight yelling at each other at the car window with Wilson inside the car, Wilson says "I'll shoot," Brown keeps resisting. That's by the most pro-Brown witness available. There are aspects of that story that are super-incredible for other reasons, but there's no doubt whatsoever that the two are in a fight in the car, with Wilson inside and Brown on the outside. And then we get the physical evidence -- the car window is shattered, there's Brown's DNA on the interior of the car, and on Wilson's gun and clothing. Brown has injuries consistent with a misfired gun being struggled over at close range. Wilson has face injuries consistent with being punched. It's not like the fight at the car is in any way controversial. Even if you absolutely discount Wilson's testimony to zero because all cops are presumptively total and complete liars and we just KNOW that Wilson's story must have been coached, there's just overwhelming evidence that Brown and Wilson were fighting at the car and that at some point in that scuffle Brown got into the car.to continue the fight.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 9:13 PM
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the 25 foot advance depends on physical evidence gathered by and under the sole control of the Fergusson PD right? I'm not willing to trust that evidence after having seen the way they have behaved the last three months.

I've said here before that sure, if the physical evidence was planted, I'll take it all back, I agree with you. But I think that's pretty unlikely, not because the Ferguson PD is necessarily super clean, but because the feds were watching this like a hawk throughout. And if there was physical evidence planted or manipulated, we're likely to know because of the federal investigation. In any event, the grand jury couldn't just assume that the physical evidence was planted.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 9:17 PM
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Further to 70, none of this denies that some people totally do the "there's a negro in the neighborhood" calls.

That one dude in SLC must hate being the target of suspicion all the time. Teehee.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 9:17 PM
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...and that at some point in that scuffle Brown got into the car.to continue the fight.

Define "got into". Because there are witnesses whose testimony is that he was grabbed by Wilson through the window, not the other way around.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 9:19 PM
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286 -- that's what Dorian Johnson says. Doesn't seem too probable (why would an officer do this when it's Cop 101 that you don't do that because it's unsafe and you're in your car. Also, why is the window broken?). But, let's assume that it's true. Wilson still knows that Brown is continuing the fight with him in the car, albeit a fight that Wilson stupidly started. Stupidly starting a fight is a bad thing to do, but once started Wilson still gets to act based on reasonable belief that he could be harmed, and there's no real question but that Brown continues the fight.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 9:26 PM
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225: us T. Ripper Halford? That would be masterful.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 9:31 PM
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I'm ambivalent on the tampered evidence, intentionally at least, it's well known they fucked up e.g. allowing Wilson to wash up. But the Feds were NOT watching in the first four hours- kick the shell casings into a pile close to the body and you've got the "he was getting dangerously close" story all set. I still haven't seen an explanation for where the fatal shot was supposed to have been taken from- the casings were either at the car, with the body, or on the side of the road where supposedly Wilson never went. Nothing between the car and body.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 9:33 PM
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287: There is a real question about Brown continuing the fight. Several witnesses have him just trying to get away.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 9:36 PM
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Now if you really want to start a riot, you don't indict the victim's killer, you indict his stepfather. I eagerly await the cross-examination of witnesses to determine if they were going to riot anyway to make sure we have a fully vetted set of evidence before charging him.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 9:37 PM
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I'm going to research land values in Qi/nhu/angd/ao in hopes that will be more entertaining and productive.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 9:39 PM
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286: I believe the story is that Brown flew into a blackrage, yelled "you're too much of a pussy to shoot me" and then leapt into the car via the window and started punching Wilson in the face. I mean, it's the story that says he did that, anyway. I mean, gswift, you're arguing that his Wilson's actions may not have been unreasonable or that out of order, but you have to straight up grant the story he's telling after the fact. If you have to defend the idea that Brown really was charging/presenting a serious threat/etc. or that the situation was serious enough to treat it that way be reference to the black-demon-hulk stuff you're justifying the implausible with the ridiculous. Also as has been pointed out every time you've said this, we do not know that all the bullet wounds were from the front. In fact, we have no reason to think that they were, given where they are on his body.

And while I'd normally be a bit reluctant to just go full conspiracy theorist and suggest (out loud) that the Ferguson police department might not have been on the up-and-up when gathering evidence, I think it's important to keep in mind that (1) one of the officers who arrived on the scene early openly lied about what he saw there (and we know this because we have photos of what he supposedly saw and they're totally different) and (2) this is the department that let Wilson drive himself back to the police department, wash blood off his hands, and put his own gun into evidence. So it's hard to take seriously any faith in their diligence and desire to see justice done here.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 9:39 PM
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gswift- I understand where you are coming from but the 25 foot advance depends on physical evidence gathered by and under the sole control of the Fergusson PD right?

No. The county did the investigation and that's the distance between significant patches of blood and the feet of the body. Having a throwdown gun or some dope to pretend to find in a guy's pocket a la the old LAPD CRASH unit is one thing. Getting someone you don't know in a different agency to collect and plant Brown's blood on a public street in broad daylight with a crowd gathered is hugely implausible. There's a trail of blood from the body and this is the blood patch that's 25 feet away.

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/newsgraphics/2014/11/24/ferguson-evidence/assets/ferguson/photos/2014-43984/photos-1/74810035.jpg


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 9:41 PM
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I believe the story is that Brown flew into a blackrage, yelled "you're too much of a pussy to shoot me" and then leapt into the car via the window and started punching Wilson in the face.

The story is that they're already fighting or in a struggle and then the gun gets pulled the the threat to shoot made. Johnson and the other witnesses who claim to have seen the altercation have the struggle preceding the first shot.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 9:45 PM
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290 -- not really. Dorian Johnson describes it as a "tug of war" and says that the two were yelling at each other. And, as for the physical evidence, you have Brown's DNA inside the squad car and two shots fired in the squad car and Brown's blood on the gun the first place Brown is shot is near the thumb in a manner consistent with the gun going off in a scuffle and there's physical evidence of an injury to Wilson on the face and.Wilson's DNA isn't on Brown's shirt (Johnson's claim was that Wilson grabbed the shirt and that's what was going on during the ongoing "tug of war" which he agrees didn't stop even when Wilson said "I'll shoot."). Whatever the pro-prosecution story, it can't be "there wasn't a serious fight between Wilson and Brown with Wilson inside the squad car.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 9:49 PM
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I'm not arguing there wasn't a serious fight. I'm arguing about whether Brown was trying to fight to get free of somebody grabbing him through a car window or not.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 9:54 PM
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Because if you're an officer grabbing at people through car windows, it might be hard to convince people that you were investigating a robbery or preventing jaywalking as opposed to just harassing black people.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 9:58 PM
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Wilson's DNA isn't on Brown's shirt (Johnson's claim was that Wilson grabbed the shirt
What? Why would the absence of DNA mean he didn't grab his shirt? I assume DNA mostly meant blood from Brown's shot finger and there's no evidence Wilson was ever bleeding. You don't leave DNA on every single thing you touch.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 10:00 PM
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That one dude in SLC must hate being the target of suspicion all the time. Teehee.

Heh, right? There's some clusters of Somali and Sudanese refugees out in Rose Park and Glendale. When I was in patrol I kept a bunch of tubes of those bracelet sized glow sticks to give to kids and they quickly started recognizing me on calls. Judging by the swarm of African schoolkids around my car on a few occasions I might hold the unofficial record for largest gathering of black people in Utah.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 10:03 PM
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299 -- doesn't necessarily, just means that we don't know one way or the other from the physical evidence.

297 -- say that he was. We know that at some point Brown was reaching into the car, that Wilson was injured in the altercation, and that two shots went off in the car. That makes Wilson a bad police officer and Brown better off (though let's recall that literally minutes earlier Brown had acted inexplicably violently in the convenience store (Johnson's testimony), but it also means that he's reasonably fearful from attack based on an ongoing fight with Brown. I don't think that there's any real question that they were engaged in a serious, ongoing fight that Wilson could reasonably perceive as a threat to him, when he was within the car.

But, the Johnson story is just incredibly implausible. There are tons of reasons why. Notably, it all hinges on a 50-pound heavier guy, who is being grabbed from the interior of a car, supporting himself with one arm on the side of the car, not being able to push off or break free from a smaller man's hand grabbing his shirt from the interior of a car, despite struggling mightily to do so. That's not impossible but my God is it unlikely.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 10:09 PM
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Wilson's story is among the most implausible things I've heard. And, unlike Johnson's, it was not subjected to rigorous checking or cross examination in court.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 10:16 PM
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I mean, Hulk Hogan, "you're too much of a pussy", the hand in the waist band while running.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 10:22 PM
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Given the conflicting descriptions by officers of the bruise on Wilson's face, the unlikely position of it, and the ease with which that evidence can be manufactured after the fact, I don't give it much weight in deciding what went on at the squad car.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 10:22 PM
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And a bullet wound on the hand from 6 to 12 inches away isn't very good evidence of a struggle for the gun.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 10:25 PM
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Plus, I'm not sure I buy that the 50-pound weight difference translates into some kind of super advantage in strength. They were the same height and Brown, to put it politely, in the available pictures it looks like very little of that extra 50 was muscle.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 10:26 PM
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Also, what SP says about the casings. There are a pair of casings in the middle of the street near the blood splotch that gswift linked to, and then another eight near the side of the road. Meanwhile Brown is face down in the middle. Coupled with the recording of the last ten shots, which come in two quick clusters of 6 and 4 separated by a couple of seconds, it's really hard to tell a story of backpedaling.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 10:30 PM
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I swear I'm this close to reading up on blood spatter analysis.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 10:34 PM
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Because if you're an officer grabbing at people through car windows

Here's where, despite my love for you all, the treatment of this account as equally or more plausible raises perhaps a shadow of impatience in my soul.

1. Grabbing someone this way is counter to police training and is not instinctual at all. It's a fight with the cop at a disadvantage and no path to realistically winning or taking someone into custody.
2. Brown is on video just prior to the encounter immediately resorting to physical force when someone attempts to detain him.
3. Aggressive suspects who resort to physical violence to effect a theft are more likely to resist and fight the police when we make contact with them.

These are the facts and I will not be debating them. If someone has other facts to make the the Dorian Johnson account equally plausible I'm certainly open to that discussion. If someone has already laid out those facts and I missed them then I apologize in advance. But to my knowledge that case has not been made.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 10:34 PM
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I think Wilson pulled up much to close, got unexpected resistance when he opened the door, some minor struggle ensued, he panicked, and drew his gun prematurely.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 10:40 PM
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I haven't had the energy or time to get into the details of the testimony in this or any previous thread, but isn't the "real" story that an interaction that starts with a cop telling people not to walk in the street should not, in a better world, lead to a series of events that end with the cop shooting someone to death, legally justified or not?


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 10:40 PM
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And, unlike Johnson's, it was not subjected to rigorous checking or cross examination in court.

People keep saying this. Johnson was not cross examined. He told his story. It doesn't seem to match up to the physical evidence we have, at all. Of course just because Johnson's not credible doesn't mean that Wilson is innocent. But there's no other prosecution narrative that we have that's not pure speculation.

To 306, you'd have to be a hell of a lot stronger to hold on with one hand to a guy 50 pounds heavier than you who can use his entire body to push away. Try to grab someone's shirt from a sitting position and give that person something to push off from, and see if you can hold on to them. Very difficult.

And a bullet wound on the hand from 6 to 12 inches away isn't very good evidence of a struggle for the gun.

Not by itself, but in conjunction with everything else, of course it is. What else is Brown doing in the car? Why do we have two shots going off, one that hits the interior of the car? Even Johnson says that the fight keeps going after Wilson says "I'll shoot" but before he actually shoots.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 10:42 PM
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Good lord, you guys are still going at this?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 10:43 PM
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I mean, Hulk Hogan, "you're too much of a pussy", the hand in the waist band while running.

Granted, that Hulk Hogan and demon nonsense is ridiculous and makes me want to punch Wilson while he sits in his cruiser. A year or two before I came on to my dept. an officer used the phrase "like a scene out of Braveheart" to describe a melee with a large local drum circle in a park. I'm now in my seventh year here and the jokes about that officer putting that in a report are still going strong.

But the belligerent challenge as to whether you're actually going to shoot them I've experienced firsthand. The having to grab your pants to keep them up while you run from the cops I've also seen. I'm not judging, it's just a consequence of certain wardrobe choices.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 10:43 PM
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Good lord, you guys are still going at this?

It's like you don't know what the internet is for. Besides porn.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 10:46 PM
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Using force against a store clerk is very different from charging an armed police officer.

And I find "he-was-reaching-into-his-waist-band-but-oops-he-was-not-carrying-a-gun" to be very implausible. Brown thought that using two hands against a man was a gun was unfair so he put one aside? His balls were that important to him? He wanted to charge more slowly for effect?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 10:47 PM
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Wait, what is this "besides porn" you mention?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 10:47 PM
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To 306, you'd have to be a hell of a lot stronger to hold on with one hand to a guy 50 pounds heavier than you who can use his entire body to push away. Try to grab someone's shirt from a sitting position and give that person something to push off from, and see if you can hold on to them. Very difficult.
No it isn't. I used to do this all the time in BJJ. It can be really hard to shake someone's grip.
Do we have evidence of two shots in the car, or just one? In any case, it doesn't take long to fire twice. Less time than it takes to realize you've just been shot at, hit, and start to run.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 10:48 PM
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On the original post, I've sometimes wondered if someone called the cops on me in NYC when I paced back and forth in front of a theatre in Manhattan waiting for a flaky aspiring actor ex-roommate* to come out of a rehearsal (audition?) and take the keys to the apartment I'd forgotten to leave the day before when I moved out. I was out there for 30-45 minutes, and at one point the NYPD came by and seemed to be observing the scene, but that could have been my self-consciousness. This was pre-smartphone era and I had nothing to do expect look increasingly annoyed as I waited. The cops didn't talk to me, though. Eventually the guy came out, I handed him the keys, and left.

*Not because of any conflict, it was a short-term sublet or else I would have stayed. Nice people (there were two roommates), but the guy couldn't keep a schedule. OTOH, I couldn't remember to leave the keys.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 10:48 PM
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316 before seeing 314.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 10:49 PM
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But there's no other prosecution narrative that we have that's not pure speculation.

Oh, right. I wonder who was supposed to make the prosecution narrative?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 10:50 PM
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321: I dunno, Coast Guard?


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 10:53 PM
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317: Here.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 10:56 PM
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For teo, this is porn.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 10:57 PM
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No it isn't. I used to do this all the time in BJJ. It can be really hard to shake someone's grip.

I'm no expert but I've rolled a few times myself and no gi with the other guy standing and a car door between us I'm pretty sure is going to be harder to pull off.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 10:58 PM
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I used to do this all the time in BJJ.

Grabbing from inside a car? Possible but I am surprised. And, if Wilson thinks Brown is even potentially dangerous (which, you know, he's pulling a gun) why is he trying to drag him into the car, aka the most dangerous possible place that Brown could be?

I wonder who was supposed to make the prosecution narrative

No one, if there isn't't evidence to support it.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 11:00 PM
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You see how that argument can seem kind of circular, don't you?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 11:02 PM
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no gi
I'm no crime scene investigator, but I'm pretty sure Brown was wearing a shirt. Have you ever played spider guard? Lying on your back you can exert a fair amount of control over your standing opponent by holding on to his sleeves.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 11:03 PM
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Anyway, I'm not sold on the narrative that Wilson was holding Brown. I just get so few opportunities to share relevant experiences here.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 11:05 PM
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I think you're forgetting that hulks rip their shirts off.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 11:06 PM
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For teo, this is porn.

Well, not this thread. Some of the others, though...


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 11:15 PM
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323: Via that link, this interview is fascinating.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 11:16 PM
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Anyway, I'm not sold on the narrative that Wilson was holding Brown.

And on the flip side, while I'm not believing that Wilson attacked Brown by grabbing his neck and trying to pull him through the window, trying to control an arm to avoid getting hit would be a totally natural thing to do and it might be very difficult for a witness to distinguish "Brown trying to get away" from "Wilson trying to control an arm and not get punched."


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 11:24 PM
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So I don't sound to full of myself, I should mention that by "spider guard" I mean "clinging desperately to whatever clothing I can grab in hopes that my opponent doesn't pass my guard".


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 11:27 PM
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334: Yeah, me too.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 11:32 PM
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So, here is the one issue that I think that you all could more reasonably rely upon for "let's find ways to at all costs justify a murder conviction." Still not remotely enough to convict on a murder charge IMO, but still. We don't really know if Wilson was firing wildly at Brown and missing while Brown ran. There's one shot to an arm that could (but only could, we don't know and it equally or more likely could not) have hit Brown in the arm from behind. A bunch of the eyewitnesses, of varying credibility, said that Wilson was firing while Brown ran. That, in turn, is maybe -- maybe! -- consistent with "Wilson shot wildly at Brown, trying to kill Brown even as he ran away and no longer posed a direct threat, Wilson shot Brown in the arm, Brown turned around, he shot more, Brown staggered forward, Wilson continues to shoot even though he was firing wildly in the first place and should have known better" And maybe that's enough to make Wilson's conduct unreasonable to the point of losing his affirmative defenses; sure, they fought in the car, but Brown then ran, Wilson shouldn't have been firing at him randomly thereafter and should have realized once he'd hit Brown that he'd neutralized whatever threat there was and that there was no attack.

Now, the moving forward thing -- 25 feet -- really does seem to to utterly destroy this narrative, but maybe it's not totally impossible that Brown did a spectacular forward stagger to his death, dying with arms raised. And this story is also inconsistent with Dorian Johnson's testimony, who says (after changing his story a few times but whatevs) that he believes that Brown was "grazed," turned around, didn't move forward except for a small stagger step, and was then shot standing. And it's also inconsistent with a bunch of other eyewitnesses. And inconsistent as well wilth Wilson, of course, not that you care. And remember that you'd be relying on this as a prosecutor at trial to try to persuade a jury of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. And, indeed, if you believe the "went for the gun" theory inside the car,there's probably enough even on this story to support a defense for Wilson, since he could have shot at Johnson from the back, maybe .... But still, that's an argument.

I point this out just to go through the kinds of hoops you'd need to jump through, basically combining speculation with selective picking of the most prosecution-supportive eyewitness testimony, just to have even a narrative consistent with the evidence that would conceivably support a conviction. It's what a criminal defense lawyer does, but in reverse -- you're coming up with a kinda sorta maybe story that fits some of the evidence to create "reasonable doubt" that Wilson wasn't acting in reasonable self-defense. But that's the defense's job, not the prosecution's. And that shouldn't be the kind of thing we base a murder conviction on. Is that really the place where you guys want to go? Where a responsible prosecutor or grand jury should go?


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 11:56 PM
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Thanks gswift good night all.


Posted by: roger the cabin boy | Link to this comment | 12- 2-14 11:57 PM
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338

and Brown, to put it politely, in the available pictures it looks like very little of that extra 50 was muscle.

I feel like it's my civic duty as govt. certified enforcer of general decency to point out that Moby fat shamed a homicide victim.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 12- 3-14 12:11 AM
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Well, at least he didn't shoot him.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 3-14 12:29 AM
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What, is this not everyone's Fri night for unfettered drinking? New topic, circumcision rules, intactivists drool. Circumcision is so obviously better that they ignored this dude's severed leg.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 12- 3-14 12:30 AM
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Every night is my night for unfettered drinking. In other news, I am of course circumcised, but I don't necessarily recommend it.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 3-14 12:34 AM
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Wait, melee with a drum circle? What?

(PS this is why you should have private prosecutions! Let someone entirely independent of the police department bring the case and see if it stacks up or not.)


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 12- 3-14 1:00 AM
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338: It's ok. I just had my annual physical. What goes around comes around.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-14 6:59 AM
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My God, I didn't expect this question to become topical, let alone in this thread:

My son is gentile where it counts, while I am not. As a result, I don't actually know how to guide him in how to better guide his stream, which is not reliably under his control. What I'm not clear on is whether he's supposed to pull back the foreskin before peeing, in order to remove any possible obstruction, or whether that's for some reason a bad idea.

Gents?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12- 3-14 7:41 AM
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It's just a matter of practice. Next snow, have him start writing his initials outside.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-14 7:48 AM
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I keep wanting to read Tim "Ripper" Owens as Harry "Snapper" Organs.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 3-14 7:49 AM
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344: Pull back the foreskin to expose the tip of the penis and go to town. There's nothing wrong with fiddling with one's foreskin. In fact you want him to fiddle with it a bit when he washes it (pulling all the way back to expose the covered skin).


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 12- 3-14 8:01 AM
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You can get an Elf on the Shelf for the bathroom and say the elf is watching him pee to make sure nothing gets on the floor. Less creepy than how most people use them.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-14 8:01 AM
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(PS this is why you should have private prosecutions! Let someone entirely independent of the police department bring the case and see if it stacks up or not.)

I'm surprised, now that I research this, that the US has largely got rid of private criminal prosecutions over the years, but the Commonwealth countries haven't as thoroughly. Wouldn't it lead to much more bias to prosecute cases with richer victims than there already is? How do you all handle it in the antipodes?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12- 3-14 8:02 AM
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340: Does anyone else think the argument for reducing HIV is a little off? I don't doubt the data, but if we didn't already have routine infant circumcision in the U.S. I really doubt we'd be rushing to start based solely on the HIV risk.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12- 3-14 8:10 AM
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Probably wouldn't be rushing to start, but the difference in risk seems both real and clinically significant.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-14 8:12 AM
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What I'm not clear on is whether he's supposed to pull back the foreskin before peeing, in order to remove any possible obstruction, or whether that's for some reason a bad idea.

You don't need to pull it back to reliably direct the stream, no. Just to wash it.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12- 3-14 8:18 AM
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350: note, in fact, the almost complete absence of people outside the US rushing to start...


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12- 3-14 8:19 AM
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When directing the steam, it's best to think of things in terms of auteur theory. It's your vision that matters.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-14 8:20 AM
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You don't need to pull it back to reliably direct the stream, no.

Some guys have a longish foreskin that fully encloses the tip of the penis, so if they pee it goes everywhere.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 12- 3-14 8:21 AM
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That has not been my experience.


Posted by: Alex Salmond | Link to this comment | 12- 3-14 8:23 AM
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353: There's been efforts in Africa to do it for HIV transmission reduction, and WHO has some big plans. I don't think that's really "rushing to start" but there's still appreciable movement on the subject.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 12- 3-14 8:24 AM
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Here, as the article suggests, the recommendation is being driven in part by insurance regulations -- if there's no medical benefit, then it won't be covered. Ours would have covered 50% of the cost, but I came down pretty hard on "I don't want to cut anything off my baby" and our pediatrician was really great at laying out all the facts, which won over shiv to my point of view.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12- 3-14 8:43 AM
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"I don't want to cut anything off my baby"

Then the placenta won't fall off until it's way too spoiled to eat.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-14 8:45 AM
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Cutting off all their toes would do wonders for prevention of foot fungus.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12- 3-14 8:58 AM
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Did I mention I saw a vanity plate for a mohel ("MOHEL1" or some such) on a car in the Home Depot parking lot? I wonder if that's where he gets his power tools.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12- 3-14 9:03 AM
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"MOHELA" is the name of the company that services my student loans.


Posted by: Stranded in Lubbock | Link to this comment | 12- 3-14 9:18 AM
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Their motto: We get 1% off the top.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-14 9:20 AM
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...every year until you're 65.


Posted by: Stranded in Lubbock | Link to this comment | 12- 3-14 9:28 AM
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There's some complication with how insurance is covering circumcision that's forcing M/dw/fe Center clients who want that service to have to go outpatient to some doctor across the street from the hospital they used to use. The (now former) CFO, who was the only male on staff, talked about the potential fees we'd gain if we offered the service in-house, and so we joked that he'd be the one to get certified to do them.

Thanks for the tips*, guys. I'll talk about it with him.

*Ha!


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12- 3-14 9:35 AM
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So now apparently no indictment in Eric Garner's killing? I sense a trend.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12- 3-14 12:45 PM
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Yes, the trend is that TRO will tell us how the guy was involved in criminal activity, could have been a threat to cops, it doesn't make any sense that the police would use a chokehold because that's specifically prohibited in the police manual and all officers follow their regulations to the letter.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12- 3-14 12:54 PM
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Ugh. That seems like a horrible way to die even for a way to die.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-14 12:56 PM
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367.last well, actually that last bit would be gswift, no?


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 12- 3-14 12:57 PM
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366: Oh, geez.

You know, what the hell, I don't know what I'm talking about, but I've been thinking it since the story broke: on the stairwell NYPD shooting -- what are the odds of an unaimed, purely accidental discharge hitting someone at a distance like that (down a flight of stairs). Shooting yourself, sure, shooting someone standing next to you, sure. But one flight down? That's really bad luck.

But I honestly don't know whether it's unbelievably bad (that is, I'm speculating that the cop had a moment of panic or something and intentionally fired an aimed shot at the victim, rather than it being a pure accidental discharge), so I shouldn't get into arguments about it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 3-14 12:59 PM
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Leaving aside the odds of a purely accidental discharge hitting somebody, the odds of a purely accidental discharge are so small that you can ignore them effectively. Not controlling your gun is negligence, not accident.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-14 1:05 PM
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That, certainly.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 3-14 1:09 PM
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367.last well, actually that last bit would be gswift, no?

That seems like the kind of claim you should be able to corroborate with a link.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 12- 3-14 1:19 PM
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I put up a post about the Garner case.

gswift has been pretty damn reasonable, I think--waiting for the evidence and making his case. I don't agree, but I see where he's coming from. Ripper seems to me to be mostly trolling, though I haven't read this thread.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 12- 3-14 1:22 PM
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373: I think the reference is to where you've said a couple of times that it's implausible to you that Wilson would have grabbed Brown through the window of his car, because it would have been contrary to training and a really bad idea. The analogy with the statements in 367 is banned, of course, but I'm pretty sure that's the thinking.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 3-14 1:25 PM
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what are the odds of an unaimed, purely accidental discharge hitting someone at a distance like that

When I lived in Ohio I heard a story about a man who was shot and killed in a shopping mall parking lot. Investigation revealed that the shooter was a hunter who fired a high powered rifle in the woods over a mile away (evidently he missed whatever he was actually shooting at).


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 12- 3-14 1:26 PM
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Sorry, no tone markers there, so that came out as pure trollery


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 12- 3-14 1:27 PM
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You can find stuff in this thread where gswift talks about officers not following regulations at all.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-14 1:28 PM
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Meant to include, on preview, what 375 said, as well as something to soften it. Sorry. I agree that gswift hasn't been very unreasonable.


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 12- 3-14 1:29 PM
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376: That happened here just this year. Except it was a baby who was at home. The baby lived, but will be blind and have other problems.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-14 1:29 PM
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379: No worries. I'm just relieved you weren't actually able to link to me saying something stupid like that while drunk.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 12- 3-14 1:32 PM
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So, I suppose not that crazy improbable. I do wonder, though, what the accidental/negligent discharge rates are under similar circumstances? Are there police bullets ricocheting around NYHA stairwells all the time, and this is just the guy who got unlucky? Or was this a real freak accident?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 3-14 1:33 PM
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Great, we've driven gswift to drink.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12- 3-14 1:33 PM
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...in Ohio...a hunter who fired a high powered rifle in the woods over a mile away (evidently he missed whatever he was actually shooting at

This is the precise reason high-powered rifles couldn't be used in the Ohio of my youth. To hunt dear you were restricted to a shotgun slug, which will not carry very far. Has this been changed, or was this guy in violation?

Have I said this before? Feels like it. I know we've talked strip clubs and I've been back less than a year.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 12- 3-14 1:44 PM
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dear s/b deer


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 12- 3-14 1:45 PM
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When I was in Ohio you had to use a shotgun slug to hunt deer. That was maybe 15 years ago.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-14 1:47 PM
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382: I don't know about NYHA stairwells, but if you want to research how often people have a negligent discharge while teaching firearms instruction, you'll want to do the research on YouTube.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-14 1:48 PM
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384,386: I don't know whether the law changed or the hunter in question was illegally using the high powered rifle. Also, I can't track down the story. You would think googling "Ohio hunting accident parking lot" would be a good bet, but no.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 12- 3-14 1:55 PM
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Falling bullet injuries; not terribly rare:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celebratory_gunfire#Falling-bullet_injuries

And I remember the pilot who shot down his own fighter with his own cannon. Some days are lucky, some are not.


Posted by: biohazard | Link to this comment | 12- 3-14 1:58 PM
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382: Probably not all the time, but how likely are we to have heard about any cases where a bullet didn't hit anyone? We're probably slightly more likely to hear about such cases in the future, given this case, but I don't see any good way for me to distinguish between "this is the first time it's ever happened and the guy was either really unlucky or lying" and "this is the 100th time it's happened in the last 5 years, but the first time that someone got hit and it made the papers."


Posted by: Dave W. | Link to this comment | 12- 3-14 5:59 PM
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Investigation revealed that the shooter was a hunter who fired a high powered rifle in the woods over a mile away (evidently he missed whatever he was actually shooting at)

I know someone who negligently killed a man under similar circumstances (fired a 30-06 toward the crest of a hill and hit someone a great distance away on the other side). With umpteen million firearms in circulation, one in a million events are going to happen all the time.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12- 3-14 6:19 PM
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the odds of a purely accidental discharge are so small that you can ignore them effectively

It's an interesting definition question. Is a gun going to go off bang when it's just sitting there with no one touching it? Maybe if it's in a burning building or vehicle and you get a cookoff. But even then the weapon would need to be loaded and made ready (with a round in the chamber) and arguably you shouldn't be leaving a weapon loaded and made ready lying around anyway, especially not in a burning building.

So there has to be some sort of human action involved. And I guess "accidental" here means "I was using or handling the weapon in a reasonable manner and according to training, and it went off without my wanting it too". This covers things like the old A1 rifle which had a habit of going off if you dropped it or banged it on something, because it was shit. Dropping a weapon is a reasonable thing to do and I don't think that would count as negligence; it would count as a shit rifle. On the other hand, if you were patrolling with rifle made ready against SOPs, and you dropped it and it went off, that would be negligent because you weren't supposed to have it made ready.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12- 4-14 3:10 AM
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I'm with ajay. In spirit. This is not liveblogging.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 12- 4-14 4:59 AM
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was this an accidental discharge of the "post" button, like you wrote something and then a carrot fell on the touchpad just so?


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 12- 4-14 6:11 AM
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