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by Peter Moskos

March 31, 2014

ABQ Police Protests

"Check it out, esse.... shit's going dowwwn." (That's an Albuqueque accent, just FYI, as dictated to me by my Albuquerquean wife).

There are some anti-police protests in the Duke City.

A police-involved shooting of James Boyd, caught on police video, sparked the protests.

If you're right wing, watch this version:

If you're left wing, watch this version (if you're in the middle, watch the right-wing version because it provides more dialogue.):

It's also good to watch both versions and see the political convergence of right and left come together in the face of what is a pretty morally indefensible police-involved killing.

Perhaps how this is how police are now trained, but I hope not. I do not like what I see.

These are not effective tactics (though it worries me that the officers seem well trained). This shooting also demonstrates why we should not provide police with military weapons willy nilly. The police use almost every toy at their disposal. What's the point of having less-lethal weaponry if you never get to use it? The desire to use less-lethal weaponry -- flash grenade, dog, "bean bag"  -- contributes to a bad death. When police shoot a guy with a knife (or two), I'm generally pretty sympathetic to police. But not in this case. I know the 15-foot rule, but this guy wasn't about to go billy-goat ninja on the side of a mountain.

First of all, and I know we didn't see the first few hours, but this guy was complying. At least until police fired a less-lethal round near here. But regardless, one the guy is down, you can go up to the guy with a night stick and wack him if he moves. You don't need to fire three less-lethal rounds at his ass and sick the dog on him. Sure, he might be playing possum, but I think you can assume he won't be fighting at 100%, if you know what I mean. You've already shot him and you've got lethal cover.

There's something particularly morbid about shooting a dying guy with a bean bag and letting a dog bite him because he failed to comply... after you done shot him.

I've written about this "hands-off" movement in police training, and I do not like it. When did cops become such wimps?

I'm also not at all clear why police fired a flash grenade at a complying individual. In all seriousness, could somebody please explain to me what is the S.O.P. now in training and the use of flash grenades? Is compliance no longer enough to prevent use of force?

Since 2010, ABQ police officers have been involved in 37 shootings, 23 of them fatal. By comparison, the NYPD has been involved in perhaps about 70 shootings since 2010. But, just to remind you, New York City has far more than 10 times the population of fair Albuquerque. In terms of police-involved shootings, Albuquerque is roughly on par with Baltimore, but Baltimore has much more crime.

I think this was a bad shooting.

But what really worries me is that perhaps the officers performed exactly as trained. If so, we need to change police training (and not make scapegoats of the officers).


campbell said...

This shooting also demonstrates why we should not provide police with military weapons willy nilly.

It's a bad shoot, but this misses the point. These were straight up bad tactics. What the hell is the dog doing out there, and why on earth close the distance with the guy if he hasn't gone down? Hell's sakes, if there's anywhere where time's on your side, it's out in the boonies where there's no bystanders or immediate threat. I've also never seen a flashbang deployed this way out in the open on a hobo. Also, holy shit helmet cam guy, shooting over your buddy's shoulder with that rifle is a bad idea. If they really thought this guy needs to be taken into custody and you have that kind of manpower, get a standoff tool like a ladder and go in and tase the guy with other guys designated to go hands one, provided lethal cover, etc.

campbell said...

"hands on", bah. Anyways, I watched this with a couple coworkers yesterday (400+ officer dept in a neighboring western state) and the reaction was unanimously "uh oh, ABQ is going to be getting their checkbooks out on this one and they'll be lucky if the consequences are limited to the financial."

PCM said...

But is this how police in ABQ (and elsewhere) are now trained? It all seemed so by the book. That is what really worries me.

PCM said...

Anyway, I'm glad to get a little cover for my views.

Because when when I first watched the video my instinct was to see it / justify it from a police perspective. And I couldn't do so.

I'm always afraid I've been gone (off the streets) too long.

campbell said...

But is this how police in ABQ (and elsewhere) are now trained?

That video was certainly way off from SOP in the jurisdictions around here. We wouldn't use a dog on a visibly armed subject and we use flashbangs on entries in buildings with possibly armed subjects, not a guy out in the open. We'd approach with several guys in a group with a standoff tool, non lethal, and lethal cover. If we have a lot of guys we might have a secondary lethal cover in an L formation with the main group or have another taser guy try and sneak up on the guy while he was talking with the main group. I've been part of such groups many times.