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by Peter Moskos

June 12, 2015

Cops shoot and kill unarmed man

No real point here. Except it happens. And you won't hear this (except in Des Moines) because there's no racial element to the story. Does that make the shooting any better or worse? I don't think so.

Apparently there was a protest of one.


Dave- IL said...

The suspect "walked with a purpose" toward the squad and she shot through the windshield. Sounds like a drunk or an EDP. Would throwing the car into reverse and establishing some distance have been an option? I'm not saying she had to retreat, but moving to a better tactical position, getting out of the car and engaging the suspect from a standing position sounds like a better idea than popping him from the driver's seat.

This one doesn't look good.

David Woycechowsky said...

The protester looks like Professor Moskos. Is this some kind of Fight Club thing?

campbell said...

she shot through the windshield

Through the door window. You can't shoot through a windshield anymore from the inside, at least not with a handgun. It's the curvature of the windshields and the glass quality. It catches the rounds and sends them into the dash. Eventually you can get through if you send a bunch of rounds in a small enough area but if you just draw and quickly send off a two or three round response you just end up with some bullet holes down where the dash meets the windshield.

Moskos said...

Need I remind anybody about rule #1 in the Fight Club?!

Moskos said...

In this case I don't know enough to judge. But yeah, potentially, had circumstances been different, "walked with a purpose" certainly could have become a catch phrase.

I said some things about this shooting at the end of this article.


Peter Moskos, a former Baltimore cop and associate professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, couldn't say whether the officer made a justified shot without seeing all of the evidence.

"The standard isn't so much whether the person is armed, it's whether the person is a threat. Unarmed people can certainly be a lethal threat," Moskos said.

Moskos said there should be changes to use of force policies and training tactics to cut down on police shootings in general.

" 'Why do cops shoot so much?' is a fair question. Well, that's how they're trained. But that isn't to say we shouldn't change that," Moskos said.

Officers are instilled with a certain paranoia in protecting yourself that should be toned down, Moskos said. He has a deep worry that policing nationally is starting to become "hands-off" while the public believes they have some "magic way to disarm threats."

"Sometimes I worry that cops are forgetting how to fight. Sometimes you've got to go hands on and grab somebody," Moskos said.

But if an officer chose to fight instead of fire, and that video got on YouTube, the public would be asking why the officer beat someone up.

"Cops can't win," he said. "But I do think it's important to sometimes just grab people and wrestle them down."

Hotrod said...

Maybe a combined catch phrase of some sort - "he walked with a purpose and made me do my job" - Vegas meets des moines

Moskos said...

Perhaps with a German accent: "He vaulked wit a purpose and made me do my yob."

David Woycechowsky said...


Dave- IL said...

"Cops can't win," he said. "But I do think it's important to sometimes just grab people and wrestle them down."

I agree that police are forgetting (or not being trained)how to fight. They definitely need to work on verbal skills, but let's stick with physical skills for now.

I don't quite agree that the "cops can't win." I think people would respect a cop who quickly ends a violent situation (NOT just an encounter with a mouthy citizen) with a takedown--or even strikes--more than the one who whips out a Taser and points that red dot at the first sign of trouble. Hell, I don't even think carotid chokes should be totally out of bounds. A "blood choke" (unlike a Taser, gun or Maglite)will not cause trauma IF it is applied correctly. And that is a big IF. If departments don't invest enough time in training officers how to apply the choke and when to release it, people tend to die. Note, however, that people trained in grappling arts rarely kill each other with chokes.

Do you remember the scene from the movie "End of Watch" where the suspect says he will allow the LAPD Officers to take him to jail if one of them will fight him one-on-one. Well, one of the cops does fight him and wins. The suspect, true to his word, goes voluntarily.

Of course I'm not saying that police should have MMA style fights with suspects. But, I think this scene made a good point. People on the street think--justifiably--that cops are too quick to use their "toys" and are getting soft. A cop that drops someone and ends a confrontation without the use of OC, electricity or a hail of bullets may be seen to have more "heart" and skill than his toy-obsessed co-workers.

Anonymous said...

You do realize that was a movie and had nothing to do with reality right? This so called "heart" you talk about can get you killed or seriously injured. As a career LEO your goal is to make it to your pension in relatively good health. Not prove to a point with some worthless jack off in the street.
Or end up on a youtube video and fired or in prison to appease the local poverty pimp.

Dave- IL said...

Yes, I realize it was a movie. That's why I referred to "the scene from the movie." I also said, "Of course I'm not saying that police should have MMA style fights with suspects." Remember, literacy is a vital skill in today's global economy!

Ok, enough bullshit. I thought the goal of the police was "To Protect and Serve." When you accept that responsibility, you should understand that there is a high likelihood that you will get banged up from time to time. Since police are called upon to deal with aggressive people, they should also not be surprised that they make have to go "hands on" from time to time.

So, if all police need to do to resolve a problem is use a trigger finger, why do recruits have to pass pre-employment physical agility tests? Maybe they should just have to do a trigger pull exercise. I'm sure that would help police restore their credibility in places like Baltimore and Ferguson!

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

Matt, just so encapsulates exactly why I hate cops and why they plan on never changing until forced. This ain't the marines, Matt, so your Semper Fi attitude simply means that you are likely a lousy cop.

Dave- IL said...

Matt: "I could not have hoped for a better straw man."

Well you did turn me in to a straw man, so thanks for the foreshadowing.

For purposes of context: I'm from a police family. I was a criminal justice major and police intern. I considered a career in policing for sometime until I got too annoyed by the lack of progress in the field. For this reason, I remained in the private sector, mostly healthcare security so far.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, healthcare and social services organizations face more violence than any where else in the private sector. I have helped to manage crisis in the ER's and mental health units, intervened in family fights in waiting rooms, worked crowd control after shootings, confronted thieves and other criminals, etc. I have done all of this without firearms or Tasers. I have had a few on-the-job injuries, fortunately nothing major. I have never been sued and never put anyone in the trauma room or the morgue.

I mention all of this to make it clear that I am not living in a fantasy world as you so condescendingly suggest. I know very well what "real world violence" looks like. I deal with aggressive people every day. I deal with drunks, psychotics, and the criminally-inclined every day. I protect people every day and I serve people every day. And, obviously, I get paid less than my public counterparts. And if I were to die in the line of duty, there would be no parades or bagpipes. And the social media crowd would probably make assumptions and say I didn't have the proper training (god knows only those heroic government cops have the training to protect people ;) ).

I am not saying that you have to be a "ninja" to be a cop. I have never, ever said that. But a police officer--or anyone involved in protection work--should feel confident that they have a number of options aside from Tasers, guns and an overbearing attitude to end a confrontation quickly. And they should know that they will be held accountable for abuses. I know I would be terminated (probably arrested) for some of the crap I've seen from police lately. But that's life as a mere private citizen.

Sorry to have offended you. Good day, Sir!

Moskos said...

Well said, Dave. I'm now going to delete Matt's comment because he said "Fuck you" to another commenter. Not good decorum on my blog, even though I know you can take it (And thanks not for responding in kind.)

Anonymous said...

""So, if all police need to do to resolve a problem is use a trigger finger, why do recruits have to pass pre-employment physical agility tests?""

For our physical agility tests, we had to push a car, clime a fence, walk a balance beam, climb through a mock window, and drag a dummy. None of those seem to have a whole lot to do with fighting.

I'm certainly not arguing the "resolve a problem/trigger finger" thing, but the agility test seems like a poor rebuttal to it.

Anonymous said...

Dammit, "climb."

Dave- IL said...

Peter: No problem. Don't worry, I'm used to that particular greeting. But personally, I try to keep the Frank Union's in check ; )

Anonymous (June 15 @ 1555):

Sure, it isn't directly related. Back when I was involved in recruit testing I took similar job function tests. I preferred these to the arbitrary 1 1/2 mile runs and bench pressing. These PAT's involved short bursts of speed, climbing walls, stairs, dragging dummies and calling out an intersection when prompted by a "dispatcher." It was essentially a simulated foot pursuit followed by arrest or rescue activities.

These activities do test your strength, stamina and agility. So will physical confrontations. Grappling and trying to avoid strikes gets tiring...fast! But if police are just going to hop out and zap people, they don't need to possess much stamina. And they also won't get much respect from the community.

*For the record, I actually did do a trigger pull test at one PAT. It was not scored; it was just for the department's information.

David Woycechowsky said...

another one:


hotrod said...


I'm open to convincing, but at first glance, Deven Guilford's (the case you cite) and Ryan Bolinger's (the Des Moines guy) cases really don't seem all that similar.

David Woycechowsky said...

They are somewhat difference, but in Deven's case it should be noted that:

1. Tasering to get someone to put their hands behind their back is probably excessive force, and there is a well-established consitutional right to resist excessive force by the police.

2. The policeman says that Deven punched him in the face repeatedly, but there are no witnesses to that. The policeman (one Sgt. Frost) had a dashcam in his car, but it wasn't on. He claims the reason it wasn't on is that the software for the camera wasn't initialized. An obvious question that hasn't been answered is why he didn't get the software initialized before he left the station (instead of driving around blinding drivers with overly bright headlights and then hassling these drivers when they tried to let him know that his headlights violated state law). On top of this there is the claim that he suffered "significant facial trauma," but the prosecutor's report fails to include pictures of that. On top of that, it looks like Sgt. Frost was bigger than Deven, and probably stronger, too. BOTTOM LINE: If you believe Sgt. Frost then the cases are pretty dissimilar, but if you disbelieve Sgt. Frost (and there are several reasons to question Sgt. Frost's credibility here), then the cases may indeed be quite similar.

Final note: if you want to find a kindered spirit that gives the police unconditional love and support then check out the FB page of the Eaton County prosecutor. Clearly a badge-licker.

David Woycechowsky said...

since I wrote the previous comment, the prosecutor released photos of Sgt. Fost's injuries. The photo's do convince me that Deven was likely beating Sgt. Frost as he claimed.

There is still the issue of whether the pain compliance tasering was legal, or excessive force, but I do understand that this is a grey area of the law in most places (not sure about Michigan specifically).

And none of this excuses the bad behavior of Sgt. Frost when he drove around with illegal, overly bright lights, and then pulled people over for complaining about his lights (by brake checking and/or flashing beams at his vehicle).

Guy shouldn't be on the hook for manslaughter, but he should be civilly liable for unConstutional detention (pulling over vehicle for flashing brights under the special circumstances he created) and excessive force (for tasering a person not currently, actively resisting).

campbell said...

unConstutional detention

We're not even in the ballpark of an unconstitutional detention.

excessive force (for tasering a person not currently, actively resisting).

Again, not even close. The suspect physically resisted at the car, and then again after he was on the ground. It's an obviously valid arrest with a suspect resisting going into custody. A civil lawsuit is going nowhere.

campbell said...

"Sometimes I worry that cops are forgetting how to fight. Sometimes you've got to go hands on and grab somebody,"

This, absolutely. The taser I think has led to some decay in the hands on skills, especially in the jurisdictions where it's allowed to be the next level of force past verbal commands. And even in jurisdictions like mine where that's not the case there's still guys on the job who pull it out like it's some magical hammer of Thor that will drop all foes. A lot of cops have learned about the taser's abysmal failure rate the hard way, especially in the winter. But there's definitely times where it's a godsend, like a few weeks back on the 6'4 300 lb shirtless guy covered in blood and sweat who was running around the intersection ramming cars and the light rail train with his head like a bull. The taser put him right down with no injury to him or us and I have no doubt that the alternative fight would have been pretty brutal.

"Cops can't win,"

This is also true. Loads of people lose their mind when a cop hits someone even if it's justified. I once got attacked by a guy (high as hell, he'd been huffing) prior to my back getting there. In the midst of a fairly vicious fight with this guy some old leftist stops in his Prius to yell at me about excessive force. He then filed an IA complaint on me, openly admitting that he had no knowledge of the circumstances that led to that fight, but that the way I was hitting that suspect just had to be over the line. And this is after another citizen witness on scene tried to tell him that the suspect had come right at me with throwing haymakers.