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by Peter Moskos

December 15, 2010

Man killed by police was holding a water nozzle, not a gun, police say

What race do you think the victim was?

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

Counter argument for the sake of arguing: What is the racial breakdown of shootings in urban areas?

PCM said...

But this guy was white, right? I'm not 100% certain. But that's what he looks like to me.

I mention this because 1) it's very rare, but 2) it does happen (and tends not to be a big news story).

Seems we're still more focused on race than police shooting unarmed people.

As to the racial breakdown, I've written about that a few times.

See: http://www.copinthehood.com/2008/07/baltiore-homicide-by-numbers.html
&
http://www.copinthehood.com/2009/06/homicides-and-race.html

Johnny Law said...

"Seems we're still more focused on race than police shooting unarmed people."

Umm you are the one who mentioned race.

Okay lets look at this. The police were called to a complaint of an intoxicated person with a "six shooter". We all know that is a TYPE OF GUN.

Then the police observed a guy sitting on a stoop with a GUN SHAPED OBJECT in his hands. Okay.

Then the officers see the guy pointing the object at things AS IF IT WERE A GUN. Then the gun points it at the officers.

What the heck would you have done in that situation? The officers didn't set out to kill an unarmed man. Based on the information they had and the behavior they observed, a reasonable person would think that this guy probably had a gun. Then when he points it at them, they only have a split second to react.

It's a tragic thing but I am not sure what else the police should have done in this situation. Do you try to protect yourself or do you let that person take the first shot?

Cleanville Tziabatz said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
College Cop said...

Yay for monday morning QBing. It's very easy to say what should be done when it's not you life that is potentially at stake.

Now, what happens when LBPD "rolls in with lights and sirens" on a guy with a real gun, prompting the guy to run away or invade someone's home and take hostages? Well, the same people will be saying "gee, they shoulda snuck up on him!!".

The responding officers tried to wait for back up, the guys actions dictated the actions of those officers. Zerby is the one who decided to get drunk and point a gun shaped nozzle at stuff....

Jeff said...

yes, very true college cop. Us peasants just need to learn that holding a hose nozzle in our hands and pointing it at things is putting our life in jeopardy!!

In the future I plan to only water my lawn using my feet to hold the nozzle. SAFETY FIRST!

Cleanville Tziabatz said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Johnny Law said...

Cleanville,

"Really makes one question the smartness of the average policeman."

Hmm based on some of your previous comments, I am not sure you are the right person to be questioning a person's smartness.

It is easy to be critical from in front of your keyboard. It is another thing entirely when you are on dealing with a man with a gun call. You should go out on a ride along with your local PD to see how it is different when you are actually in the middle of a crisis situation. I think this might change how quick you are willing to throw out terms like "criminally reckless",.

If you do a ride out, I suggest you keep your anti-police ideas to yourself until you are done though.

Johnny Law said...

Here is a picture of this water nozzle he was carrying:

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-long-beach.jpg-20101214,0,5764816.photo

Sure looks like a gun to me. Based on the totality of the situation, I probably would have shot him too.

PCM?

PCM said...

That's an awfully-gun-looking-like water nozzle. Thanks for the link to the pic.

I don't know the totality of the circumstances so it's hard for me to say more. But if it wasn't hooked up to a hose with water coming out the end, I can see how one would think it's a gun.

Anonymous said...

The police would need to use binocular and see the suspect closely in order to figure that it is NOT a deadly weapon, in a perfect world or RoboCop's world.

After I see the "evidence" picture, the victim's family might have a chance to sue the water nozzle's manufacturer? RIP anyway.

Pat said...

Cleanville, just change your name to Captain Hindsight (My new favorite South Park character). Any cop will tell you, the number one thing is to go home at the end of the day.

If you think I'm going to get into the mindset while responding to such a call thinking, "Oh must be one of those gosh darn squirt guns again!", then you've got some TALL white picket fences in that back yard of yours blocking your view to the real world.

Cleanville Tziabatz said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

You guys have got to step this up. I'm playing the Cleanville Comments Drinking Game and I'm still sober. Cleanville, you used to be good for at least a buzz. What happened?

Sgt. T.

Johnny Law said...

Cleanville,

"Execution by sniper"? Now you are just trolling.

Look I know you like to act like you are an expert on police tactics and you like to second guess people who had to make split second decisions but cmon. Lets say the officers ran lights and sirens to this call and it was a true gun call.

Running hot would let several things happen:

1. The suspect flees the scene and the police never see him.

2. The suspect runs into a house and we now have a hostage situation.

3. The suspect sets up an ambush and waits for the police.

Do any of those things sound good to you? If they happened, what would be your response? I think it would be some variation of saying the police were reckless hotshots who should have gone slowly to assess the situation.

The officers were not negligent in this case. They fired because they feared for their life. That meets the legal criteria for using deadly force.

Cleanville Tziabatz said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
College Cop said...

"yes, very true college cop. Us peasants just need to learn that holding a hose nozzle in our hands and pointing it at things is putting our life in jeopardy!!

In the future I plan to only water my lawn using my feet to hold the nozzle. SAFETY FIRST!"

So, you didn't bother to look for pictures of the NOZZEL (unattached to a hose) before making that brilliant comment did you....

I used to think the same way. Then I went to the academy, and one of the very first practical excercises was low-light weapons identifciation. They took us out to a parking lot and set up one of the instructors trucks and one of our training squad cars in a simulated traffic stop.

The scenario was that we'd approach the truck, and a guy would jump out with an object in his hand. Our decision was "shoot/don't shoot". Sometimes the object would be a gun, other times a wallet, or cell phone, heck in one case it was the instructors badge.

We were cocky "i'll never mistake something for a gun when it's not" cadets before that excercise. After failing it miserably we ALL had a new appreciatation for the realities were were choosing to face.

This kind of thing, this difference in perception based on training, education and experiance is one of the barriers between cops and private citizens. Most private citizens education about this sort of thing comes from either TV or anecdotes like cleanville's. If private citizens were willing to concede the simple point that there are some things that they don't really grasp (because they haven't walked an inch, let alone a mile in the shoes of the cops they pay taxes to train and employ), this barrier (and the thin blue line itself) wouldn't exist at all, in my opinion.

IrishPirate said...

http://blog.washingtonpost.com/story-lab/2010/12/post_4.html

A more amusing story that's police related.

As for this I'm sorry nozzle guy is dead, but cops aren't perfect. You give people guns and training and on occasion they are going to shoot people who in hindsight should not have been shot.

Unless someone wants to argue, and some idiot will argue it, that cops have to "take fire" before shooting back then these things will happen.

Back in the 90's a black female Chicago cop killed a black female passenger in a car who she thought had a gun after a lengthy chase.

It was a cellphone.

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2000-03-18/news/0003180082_1_police-board-latanya-haggerty-deadly-force

That nozzle looks like a gun. I wish it didn't, but it does. I have a similar one that I should probably spray paint orange.

Of course spray paint is illegal in Chicago. It's likely harder to obtain than say......oh I dunno........a gun.

Anonymous said...

similar situation:

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=956_1292627716

PCM said...

How is that similar? Williams *was* holding a knife.

Anonymous said...

It is similar because in both situations the shots came far too quickly.

Anonymous said...

http://www.presstelegram.com/breakingnews/ci_22953756/breaking-jury-finds-long-beach-police-violated-civil

PCM said...

Thanks for the link/update.