25 users responded in this post

Subscribe to this post comment rss or trackback url
mygif

I don’t trust the police. And it’s not just because of the bad ones, the ones who blatantly break the law, but it’s also the supposed good ones who maintain that code of silence and protect the bad ones.

ReplyReply
mygif
Sean C. said on July 8th, 2016 at 6:34 pm

The police murdered one of the suspects in Dallas. They had him cornered, they were out of the line of fire, and they delivered a bomb to him by remote control and set it off in his face. They decided that the courts didn’t need to be involved in this man’s trial and punishment, not when they had a little wheeled robot and a spare bomb.

No, they decided that they had cornered a heavily armed serial murderer who refused entreaties to surrender and would rather not risk more lives to stop him.

Like, there are huge, huge issues with American policing, but that is not one of them.

ReplyReply
mygif
supergp said on July 8th, 2016 at 7:28 pm

Sean: You don’t think “Police remote murdering suspects by robot” at least demonstrates a potential problem? What if they blow up the wrong person? If they also blow up innocent bystanders? What if the suspect is innocent?

This is supposed to be why we have a judicial system.

ReplyReply
mygif

They knew where he was; it’s easy to assess whether there are potential bystanders, as the police do whenever they conduct operations. Any bystanders would also have been in jeopardy via storming his position, or what have you.

As to his potential innocence, even setting aside that he was shooting at them beforehand, he was given the opportunity to surrender at length. He declined to do so.

Obviously going around blowing up people on the spur of the moment is problematic. That wasn’t what happened. And it’s rather alarmist to suggest that this necessarily leads to that.

ReplyReply
mygif

It’s defiantly a potential problem, which is why any time any law enforcement agency would do something this extreme it should be the subject of debate and scrutiny. That said I don’t think it should be taken completely off the table in rare situations where it could save lives.

ReplyReply
mygif
AlexanderHammil said on July 9th, 2016 at 12:29 am

If they could detonate a lethal explosive next to him, they could have detonated a tear gas grenade. This feels like, at best, vengeance — which is understandable, but also unacceptable behavior from the police. We give the police tremendous powers and great deference; we should demand an almost impossible standard of conduct, too.

ReplyReply
mygif

They don’t have drones specifically designed with gas grenades waiting around handy to be used. They have drones specifically designed with bombs waiting around handy to be used. Bomb squads use them for controlled detonations.

ReplyReply
mygif

Someone that I used to have some respect for posted on Facebook after the Dallas incident that it was the inevitable result of cops being portrayed as ‘bad guys’ and that everyone who shouted about police brutality is seeing what happens when they do. They went to further state that things in Dallas make the police more likely to kill people in response, because they will feel threatened. So in essence we should just stop making a big deal out of police incidents, and stop demonizing police who do it, because that puts police at risk and makes them justifiably kill more black people.

What’s ironic about that argument is that it also suggests why people do the kind of thing that happened in Dallas. As you said John, there are people who fear that police are waging war against African Americans, and that there can be no justice for them. To those people, and many others in my FB feed, there is no difference between a bad cop and a good cop. They’re all potential threats that won’t be punished if they kill us.

For me, as an African American from a law enforcement family (my brother was a street cop in NY, and is now a deputy chief elsewhere, my mother worked for the FBI and DEA), I have a foot in both worlds. I used to think that there was a solution, some level of discussion or training that would make officers less likely to treat African American’s as dangerous mutants. Some level of understanding that would make them go for their tazer, or their words, before they go for their gun.

I believe to my core that cops, as a group, are some of the most heroic people that you’ll meet. I know dozens of cops and not a single one of them would be involved in a LA or MN situation.

But as I’ve grown older… I don’t know that I think there is a solution anymore. You can’t change how people see other people at an instinctive level. Once the person has made the conscious decision that this person is enough of a threat that they need to draw their gun… there is no defense against the off chance that a slight surge of fear / adrenaline will result in a trigger pull and another body.

There’s a quote that I can’t quite remember right now from ‘The Great Debaters’. Something about how we have the right to assert our person-hood with words or violence, and people should feel lucky we choose words. That belief, that words have a power to conjure with, and that by standing with only your words as a shield against violence you could change the world was at the heart of MLK’s message and movement.

I’m not sure that’s a valid belief anymore… but I’m also certain that abandoning that belief isn’t a solution to the problem either.

So it seems as if our only solution, as a people, is to watch and wait. To accept that the price we play for well policed streets and relatively safe cities, is that sometimes our protectors are going to kill our children while they play, kill our young men when they’ve had an accident and need help, slam our women to the ground for the temerity to be black, aware of their rights, and unwilling to see them trampled on.

We also have to accept that there will be, in accompaniment to the tears of the family, a raging chorus of the old standards: ‘Why didn’t {X} just cooperate?’ ‘Why was {Y} exercising the same right anyone else can exercise.’ ‘Why didn’t {Z} just take it, and get over it?’ ‘Why are you acting like this is such a big deal?’ ‘Won’t you think of those poor cops?’

The alternative is… what exactly? Despite my understanding of their mindset, what happened in Dallas was a travesty, unconscionable, and simply cannot be allowed to happen. All it does is increase the body count… and it doesn’t make anyone listen to us.

Video evidence of murders doesn’t make a difference.

It’s fascinating to me, because whenever someone says #alllivesmatter, I’m forced to wonder if they do, if they really do, then why the fuck aren’t you out there protesting about this innocent person being killed?

Maybe we’ll just have to wait for some cute little black girl to get killed and that will make a difference. Oh wait, no.. that’s already happened: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Aiyana_Jones, and the officer that killed her was found guilty of absolutely nothing at all.

ReplyReply
mygif
Lupus753 said on July 11th, 2016 at 1:53 am

I’m actually kind of disturbed that a writer here would try to justify the deaths of innocent people (police officers, in this case).

It’s like reading someone write, “I certainly don’t support police shooting black suspects, but if you had to deal with black criminals all the time, wouldn’t you be a bit hasty in firing your gun?” It’s despicable.

ReplyReply
mygif
Sisyphus said on July 11th, 2016 at 11:31 am

I know cops. My dad is a retired cop. He never felt the need for anything like this, but he retired not too long after 9/11. Post 9/11, there’s been a trend in policing to regard police as being like soldiers. Once we start to do that, we start to open the door to all sorts of problems. Police aren’t soldiers. They have two fundamentally different mandates. Once is meant to protect the peace, the other is meant to win a war. Soldiers have to dehumanize their enemies in order to win wars. Police ought to be trained to empathize with everyone they interact with.

This isn’t trivial. Studies show that when police are dressed in more military style uniforms, with digital urban camouflage for example, they act more aggressive. When we outfit them with armored troop transport vehicles, we’re implicitly saying “You’re like a soldier.” However, they aren’t trained like soldiers. They aren’t trained enough, really, and firearms training is a very small part of the (insufficient) 500-600 hours of training in most academy programs. Community policing was showing lots of progress in the late 90’s, but when we militarized police, we killed that progress.

So, now you have police walking the streets, being told, implicitly, that they’re soldiers. Soldiers deal with enemies. Police deal with people who need help. Police are told that there’s a war against them by all sorts of different sources, like news programs and pundits who stupidly make the mistake of treating police like soldiers in their reporting. People even say things like “police need to be careful around civilians,” without understanding that police are civilians. Idiots who say #AllLivesMatter and #BlueLivesMatter who fail to understand that there is no implicit “Only” in front of #BlackLivesMatter, tell police that they should feel as though there’s an adversarial relationship between themselves and the communities they are meant to serve. And that dynamic feeds into the feeling that police have that they need to circle the wagons and protect people who are fundamentally awful and deserve to be punished.

And now, there are people who are saying things like “I can understand why some people would respond by killing police.” Well, sure. But the problem is that actions like that only serve to create this us vs. them mentality that is really causing this. Police should be demilitarized. Police should have more training. They should be accountable. Using a drone to “incapacitate” a suspect shouldn’t be a tactic that is used lightly, if ever, and if they weren’t using something like a flashbang, meant to be less lethal, then they ought to be tried for murder. And there absolutely should be a trial (not a Grand Jury), and ideally, it should be someone other than the local DA who handles the indictment and trial of police, as the DA and the police have to work hand in hand too often for them to be effective prosecutors. But the idea that killing people, on either side, is something understandable isn’t something we should entertain. It’s not cops vs. citizens. It’s violence and stupidity against us all.

ReplyReply
mygif
FeepingCreature said on July 11th, 2016 at 12:12 pm

I think the word “understandable” is in a sense being hijacked or misinterpreted as a more sneaky form of “permissible”.

This makes me very uncomfortable. I don’t know how the solution to this problem of police violence and gang violence and the general breakdown of justice will look, but I’m pretty sure it’s gonna require a whole lot of understanding what is happening for both sides.

Let’s not demonize people for trying to understand. I can’t believe I need to say this, but understanding is good. Understanding doesn’t necessarily give us a solution, but whatever the solution is, we’re not gonna find it by crawling around in the dark, scared of being called sympathizers and traitors to the cause for just trying to understand.

ReplyReply
mygif

@Lupus753: I think you may be mistaking “I understand” for “I sympathize” or “I support”. One of the things that’s very important when discussing a topic like this is making sure that you understand why something is happening; you can’t fix a problem you don’t understand.

And yes, I do understand why white police officers murder African-Americans. No matter how much we try to institute a formal schooling system for police, most of their training is on-the-job and done through one-on-one mentorship. As a result, new officers absorb the culture of the department they work in, meaning that institutional prejudice is passed on through the establishment of close personal relationships. When the person who you’re told is smarter, more experienced, and more aware of the realities of day-to-day policing than the people you’ve learned from says, “Ignore what they say about not profiling, that’ll get you killed out there…”

…well, you’re going to pick up those prejudices. Does that mean I sympathize with or support institutional racism? No. But you can’t deal with it if you don’t understand how it starts and how it grows. (For example, once a department becomes institutionally racist, it’s probably going to start self-selecting for racism as people who refuse to conform transfer out or quit while those already predisposed to prejudice find others willing to validate their beliefs.)

It never helps to reduce a problem to “motiveless monsters filled with irrational hatred”. No matter how bad it is.

ReplyReply
mygif

I suspect the comment about understanding was referring more to your comment about ‘understanding’ why it would seem a reasonable thing for the attacker to decide to kill police. Which… take a step back and read what you wrote, and it really does come across as awfully sympathetic towards what is (in my mind) an inexcusable and terrible deed.

It doesn’t help that you offer more condemnation of the police response (remotely killing the terrorist) than of the initial attack itself. Let’s be clear – charging the fortified position of a heavily armed and trained gunman is a scenario likely to end with even more deaths. Cops who had tried to directly confront and stop him, during the initial attack, had already ended up dead. He showed no interest in negotiation or standing down. What scenario do you propose that would have ensured he could not take any further lives while being apprehended in a non-lethal manner?

ReplyReply
mygif

Send a “peace offering” of drugged food by robot, wait until he got hungry. :)

And in all seriousness, yes, I kind of hold our nation’s duly established peace officers to a higher standard than violent criminals. I think it sets a dangerous precedent to allow officers on the scene to make a determination that it’s safer to murder someone by remote control than to apprehend them, because once you concede that the decision can be made in the absence of immediate threat, there’s really no point at which an officer can’t claim self-defense. Allowing that feels like something we will come to regret.

ReplyReply
mygif
Devichan said on July 12th, 2016 at 9:20 pm

Salon has its issues (boy, does it have its issues!) but this actually sums it up quite well:

http://www.salon.com/2016/07/11/a_frightening_precedent_can_we_talk_about_the_dallas_police_using_a_bomb_robot_to_kill_a_man/

ReplyReply
mygif

All the best terrorist negotiation strategies are one sentence long and include an emoji.

Somehow, I don’t think the military trained serial murderer who refused to negotiate and certainly knew these actions would likely result in their death would fall for the drugged food trick.

Based on the ‘in all seriousness’ I’m guessing you’re implying that you don’t know how the police should have resolved the situation, only that it would have been nice if it didn’t lead to any deaths. Well, sure, but easier said than done.

And, “…there’s really no point at which an officer can’t claim self-defense?” I think it’s pretty easy to draw a one somewhere between “unarmed suspect” and “heavily armed person who just killed multiple officers.”

ReplyReply
mygif

Well, Timothy Loehmann claimed “self-defense” when dealing with a 12-year-old boy with a toy gun. He was not prosecuted.

Darren Wilson claimed “self-defense” when shooting an unarmed man who was, by all accounts, not attempting to flee and was some distance away from the armed officer. He was not prosecuted.

Daniel Pantaleo claimed that his use of an illegal chokehold to restrain Eric Garner (which resulted in his death) was because he was violent and resisting arrest. He was not prosecuted.

Sharlton Wampler and Antonio Villegas shot and killed Ezell Ford, an unarmed man, claiming “self-defense”. Their accounts are contradicted by eyewitnesses. Neither of them were prosecuted.

Richard S Neri, Jr, claimed “self-defense” when shooting and killing unarmed man Timothy Stansbury, who apparently happened to be in the same building as a criminal they were pursuing. Again, no charges were filed.

So I think that in fact, it is pretty safe to say that no, it’s not that easy to draw a line between “unarmed suspect” and “heavily armed person who just killed multiple officers”. Or, at the very least, the judicial system gives great leeway to police officers who are astonishingly bad at drawing that line. Given that fact, I think that giving them yet another excuse to get away with literal murder is not the best precedent to set.

Think of the end of the ‘Winter Soldier’ movie. There’s Robert Redford, quintessential all-American man, ready to murder 300,000 innocent people. What’s his defense? He turns it into a moral dilemma. He asks, “Where do you draw that line? How many innocent people are you willing to risk? How many terrorist acts might this prevent?” Because he knows that once you find that worst-case scenario, once you get someone to admit that yes, in this one instance the atrocity is justified, you’ve got your foot in the door. It becomes easier to justify the next atrocity. And the next, and the next, until what was once unthinkable becomes routine.

This should never become routine. This should not be an option for the police, because once it is an option, they will take it. And the people taking it are not always going to be using sound judgment, and they are not always going to be using it in a worst-case scenario, and they are going to be allowed to use it without repercussions even when they exercise poor judgment because that is the system we have built. Until that changes, yeah, I’m going to stand by my assertion that you do whatever it takes to end the standoff without sending a murderbot in to kill someone who is not an immediate danger to flee or to harm a member of the public. Because people already use the first two as an excuse to kill, why give them more excuses?

ReplyReply
mygif

I’m not defending any of those deaths. My point is that in the Dallas case, the shooter actually was an immediate threat, and that other strategies likely would have resulted in more deaths.
I think it’s interesting that you endorse doing whatever it takes to end the standoff (without murderbots), but still haven’t provided a way to do that (unless you’re sticking with drugged food).

ReplyReply
mygif
bad internet decisions said on July 13th, 2016 at 3:34 pm

i think “if you can’t draw better you shouldn’t say a piece of art is bad” is a pretty weak argument and so also “if you can’t provide a better solution then hmmm well what does that say” is too, but hey. i’ll do my best.

here’s one: to reiterate what someone said earlier, if you can use a pound of C4 on the robot, you can use a tear gas grenade, or a flashbang, or any less-than-lethal option you like. it has been done before, in TN, in 2011, so there’s actually precedent of it happening.

“that caused a fire”, you might say, but this was not a concern to the dallas police chief, who only gave instructions about the amount of explosives to use in the form of “don’t bring the building down” — explosions causing fires? not really unheard of either. “that might kill the suspect too”, you could say, but hey: it also has a pretty high chance of actually putting them on trial, in the justice system. you know. like how the system is intended to work.

there is nothing that would prevent the model of robot used from being able to deploy LTL options just as effectively as a pound of C4. at which point you have four different SWAT teams servicing the area who have all been trained to deal with these kinds of threats. would they still be exposed to some level of danger? sure. that’s kind of their job, to risk danger to apprehend dangerous suspects. literally the entire purpose of a SWAT team is that, that’s the whole reason they get all that military-grade equipment with that high price-tag.

or give the robot a snickers bar with rohypnol instead of caramel, i guess. not sure i’m ready to throw out the drugged food suggestion just yet.

ReplyReply
mygif

First, was drugged food actually tried? I mean, killing a man because you’re pretty sure that your plan to apprehend him wouldn’t have worked is not a strategy I’d like to see adopted.

Second, was there a pressing and urgent need to end the standoff? Yes, the man in question was saying he wasn’t going to surrender and that he wanted to kill more cops. But as far as I can tell from descriptions of the incident, he was also wounded and bleeding and bottled up. He also had a limited supply of ammo. It’s entirely possible that, like many police standoffs, this could have been resolved simply by waiting him out.

The quote from the officer who made the decision to bomb him by remote said, “We had negotiated with him for about two hours, and he just basically lied to us, playing games, laughing at us, singing, asking how many did he get and that he wanted to kill some more.”

That does not sound like the words of a man discussing a dangerous situation that needed to be ended quickly to protect the lives of officers in harm’s way. That sounds like the words of a man who was fed up with dealing with a psychotic asshole and wanted the whole thing over with.

And I’ll be honest, I can understand that too. I can understand spending two hours listening to a psychotic asshole laughing about killing five people who were executing their duty to protect and serve, people you may have known personally who deserved none of what happened to them, and deciding that it just needed to be over. There’s no question that this man was guilty, and there’s no question that the judicial system in Texas would have ultimately consigned him to the same basic outcome.

But we do not have a vengeance system. We have a justice system. While I understand perfectly that this man did not get any punishments that he did not merit and arguably none that he did not deserve (depending on your views on the death penalty in our nation’s courts), the fact is that the police are only allowed to use lethal force in certain specific situations. Expanding the scope of lethal force authorization should not be done on a case-by-case basis and it should not be done in the heat of the moment and it should not be done after the fact. Because once you decide that an officer can make a judgment call on how long to negotiate with a suspect before just sending in a robot to blow them up, you are accepting that innocent people are going to die at the hands of police officers because they’re sick of talking.

ReplyReply
mygif
@JayDzed said on July 13th, 2016 at 7:36 pm

Multiple people have stated the shooter was still an imminent and deadly threat at the time he was killed by the police robot.

I haven’t been following this one closely, because a) not in North America, b) far too much news close to home that I need to pay more attention to, and c) I just can’t bear to closely follow news about yet another massacre, though I agree this one stands out because the victims are police officers.

Nothing in this thread backs up the statement that the perpetrator was actually an imminent and deadly threat at the time of his death, and there have been numerous statements that he was not, none of which seem to be disputed in detail.

Does anyone have actual evidence that the shooter was an actual imminent and deadly threat, at or immediately before (within minutes or seconds prior) the explosion?

Because if he was, the choice to use an explosive delivered by robot is a slightly disturbing precedent.

If he was not an immediate and deadly threat, then the choice to take him out via explosive-laden robot is deeply worrisome, especially given the apparently increasing number of deaths of people of colour at the hands of the police.

ReplyReply
mygif
Darin Robinson said on July 18th, 2016 at 1:28 pm

Do you mind if I share this post on Facebook?

ReplyReply
mygif

It’s a public blog, anything I write here is for public consumption. Feel free.

ReplyReply
mygif

The United States has already drone bombed hospitals and weddings the fact the drone was used in an actual combat situation is a step in the righ direction

ReplyReply
mygif
Darin Robinson said on July 29th, 2016 at 8:54 pm

@John Seavey Thanks. I’ll include a link as well.

ReplyReply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please Note: Comment moderation may be active so there is no need to resubmit your comments