About . . . . . . Classes . . . . . . Books . . . . . . Vita . . . . . . . Links. . . . . . Blog

by Peter Moskos

February 10, 2012

Round up the Usual Outrage

An officer, who heard over his radio that a drug suspect was armed with a gun, kicks down the door of his apartment, finds the suspect hiding in the bathroom (probably trying to flush weed down the toilet), thinks the suspect is going for his gun, and shoots and kills the suspect. The problem is that the suspect, according to police, wasn't armed. (Remember this the next time you think officers carry a drop gun.)

The officer made a big bad lethal mistake. And he was very quickly thrown under the bus by the Commissioner and the department. But I don't know what I would have done in the same situation. Probably the same thing. The cop fired not because he wanted to kill an unarmed man and destroy his own life and career, but because he thought he was going to be killed. Unfortunately for everybody, he was wrong.

When this kinds of events happen, don't be be surprised or shocked or outraged. This is what happen with drug prohibition and the war on the drugs. The courts destroy the 4th Amendment. Police bust down doors. Police assume (with the courts' blessing) that drug dealers are armed. Sometimes police make mistakes, and unarmed people get shot.

I wouldn't say it happens all the time. But it sure does happen a lot. And it will continue to happen as long as we keep fighting the bad fight and refuse to seriously consider changing our laws against illegal drugs. In the meantime, let me know when we start winning.


Anonymous said...

Why would anyone not suicidal " make a furtive gesture" ( police speak for an excuse to kill unarmed citizens and get away with it)? No gun found, and I am willing to bet all I have that the dead man did not pretend to have a gun...it is unthinkable . As most stret types know, any gesture will be interpreted as having a gun and result in death for the unarmed citizen, so unless this guy was demonstrably suicidal it is ridiculous to believe that this shooting waas justified. A cop with his adrenalin out of control and his finger already on the trigger killed an unarmed man over " possibly" flushing POT down a toilet.
Sound like a good reason to slaughter a human being? Of course nothing will happen to the cop and his invented story of a furtive gesture will suffice, as always. I am usre the killer cop won't lose a winks sleep either, and will somehow end up a hero for his actions..unreal..just unreal.

These type incidents happen so often that no one can really believe that the cops is in the right...and cops never admit the truth; to do so would mean sanctions, and those are rare as hens teeth. Another human being dead for no good reason...no warrant, illegal entry, illegal shooting, and yet the cops gets away with it...these incidents make the people hate and fear the cops, and places them in more danger. Street types will think that they might as well carry or shoot as they will end up dead anyway, and at least they have a fighting chance if armed. I predict one day it will come down to all out war, and the cops will find out that the majority of the inner city residents will not be on their side.

PCM said...

You have no idea what the streets are like. You've probably never seen a kid act like he's reaching for a gun he doesn't have just to fuck with you. To make you flinch.

If you think a cop who kills an unarmed suspect sleeps well at night, you're insane. If you think this part of an upward career path... You know what, you have no idea what you're talking about.

Anonymous said...

So this guy reached for his waistband while in his bathroom just to seee the cop flinch, right? i DO know the streets, and my Dad was a cop in a major city for 30 years and I basically grew up at the station or on ride alongs..you defend a cop that shoots a guyover possible pot after violating the warrant requirement and kicking in a familys door?

How many times does a sucicidal kid pretend to have a gun so some cop can beat him silly? you are typical of most cops; you believe you can do anything you want and expect no recourse later on...that the public should give you a pass for killing unarmed people and later saying they were the cause.

There were NO exigent circumstances involved here, no emergencies and no reason to not wait for a warrant...except that no warrant could have been gotten for what happened...some kid on the street attracts attention and the standard ' we thought he had a gun" for no reason, and then bursting into a private home and killing the poor guy, who was unarmed.

The officer should be brought up on murder charges, stripped of all police powers, and made to explain why he was legally and morally justified in slaughtering a youth who was unarmed and had no drugs.

Do you cops really think pot is worth killing a human being? It is the oNLY way pot can kill: When some cop with the inability to control his rage and adrenalin charges in blasting his gun into an innocent kid, that is the only deaths ever caused by pot.

I hope this cop gets fired and charged and has to do hard time in a real pen...maybe then he will feel some remorse. As it is, the normal coverup will happen, with the cops claiming that the possible flushing of some petty amount of pot was worth taking a human life. Someday the resident of your inner cities will use the same processes on you guys and then maybe you will see what you have caused by your brutal actions.

Kids know damned well that reaching for anything is an invitation to get killed and to use that as an excuse for police murder is a sick joke..the cop burst in and shot the guy because he was pumped up and itching to fire his weapon, and he did, and now another family mourns yet another sensless police crime.

It may come down to all out warfare against police in this nation in the cities if you and your kind does not stop the killings of people over nothing...and it will all be your faults.

Thinking CAP said...

As you say Peter, this just goes to show how freaking insane the Drug War and Prohibition is.

About the only comment I can make is that I’m not too surprised at the jumpiness of either party, the cop or everyone in the apartment. It’s called adrenaline and everyone is susceptible to its influence, when it’s doing its thing people naturally become jumpy, sometimes high, sometimes scared.

One has to have a very strong will, and training/practice, to not let its fight or flight impulses take over.

Regarding the reaction of his superiors, which you comment on, I have to wonder what else is involved. Did they dislike this cop for some reason? Was there something else behind the scenes?

I wonder because it seems like every other incident where innocent and or unarmed people are killed by the police, their superiors immediately stand up for them; “only doing their job” is the mantra.

I’m sure every case is different, but it seems this is the first one I’ve heard of where …

I can’t say I’ve read all of Anonymous’ comments, but I have to believe it would be a bit more helpful to not be against Peter for the obvious reason that he hates the Drug War, which is at the root of this sorry tale. In fact Peter has gone out of his way to publicly, and privately I’m sure, work hard to convince as many people as possible.

Since you are “anonymous” I don’t really know who you are or what you do, but I would suggest channeling your rage in a productive manner, which frankly, does not include “all out warfare.” Sinking to the depths of the Prohibitionists and Drug Warriors by taking up their methods is hypocritical, isn’t it?

In fact if you want to see Thuggish cops driven out of the force and righteous ones take their place and/or rise up the ranks, I would suggest you rally around LEAP and donate them lots of money.

Gotti Rules said...

Hey Pete,
As you know, I was involved in a justified police shooting. I can assure you that being involved in a "justified" one is no easy task. It was so hard going through the process of emotions and legal actions, I can't even imagine what it would be like going through a "non-justified" one and having the department throw you under the bus. It has been over 5 years since the incident and I still have nightmares. My heart goes out to this guy.

PCM said...

You see this?


Anonymous said...

PCM, in this instance, I'd like to see your feelings on the cop's decision to follow the kid into the house. It seems like this put the cop in the situation of having to make that life or death decision.
You say "But I don't know what I would have done in the same situation. Probably the same thing. "
And this might be true for most of us. For the purpose of my question I am fine with assuming the cop acted out of genuine response to a perceived threat.
But it seems to me chasing this kid into the house created the dangerous situation to begin with.

PCM said...

I don't know the all the details, so I'm hesitant to talk specifically about what happened here and why.

But in general, if you're in pursuit of a criminal (which, unfortunately, this guy was, since marijuana is illegal), yes, you chase somebody into a house. Criminals are not allowed to close a door and have the cops walk away saying, "shucks."

The officer, based on radio transmissions, had to assume the guy had a gun. Cops are not allowed to back away from danger. That undoubtedly contributed to the shooting, but that's not why you go into a house. You go into a house to arrest a criminal. This is legally, morally, and constitutionally (based on "exigent circumstances") justified.