Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Force is Lethal

The in box is full of more murders by Police officers this week. I am no longer calling them shootings as it devalues the life that was taken regardless of who it was and their circumstances that led to their death.

The homeless man in LA supposedly grabbing for a gun, the naked man shot and killed as he ran around an apartment complex, the man in Wisconsin who was killed, the man in Pasco, and the young man in Ferguson, Los Angeles and Seattle, Cleveland and any city in America. We have no records of these killings and while they share a single story - death by cop - the reality is that few if ever are Police charged with any crime for the shootings as they always share the same alibi "he went for my gun" the other is "I feared for my safety."

I want to say that once again our highly charged emotional environment when it comes to guns has a role.  So even if you were scratching your armpit or adjusting your bra just gesture alone can be thought  of as "aggressive" to one trained to see any slight as a danger.  And the ugly truth and in turn tragedy that led to the largest movement in years history "Hands Up Don't Shoot" was based on a fraud or lie still has merits when it comes to the hundreds who may not have hands up or even down but deserve to be remembered for lives now unfilled regardless of how you define that.

We need to realize that Police are trained and armed but they are also aware of an alternative that means every encounter not need to end in lethal force.  The military are trained as such, despite American Sniper's reality, that alternatives other than killing the "perpetrator" is the only option.  War is not healthy for any living thing and we have too many wars we seem to be fighting - wars on drugs, the war on women, the war on terror, the war on illegal immigration, the war on fill in the blank.  Can we have no more wars please?  And no one seems to be accountable for the damage that wars bring.

This article out of the Los Angeles Times does a great job explaining why in LA that this is so but it too can be in any city or town in America where Police have become representatives of the state and that state is not good.

No police officers prosecuted for shootings in Los Angeles County since 2001
By Mike Reicher,
Los Angeles Daily News

The last time Los Angeles County prosecutors charged a police officer for shooting someone was in 2001.

This past week’s fatal incidents on Skid Row and in Burbank are unlikely to break that streak, an analysis of five years of district attorney’s case reviews shows.

In each of the 409 shootings since January 2010, prosecutors determined on-duty officers were justified in using deadly force. Faced with a rifle, a machete, or no weapon at all, police shot in the name of defense and fatally wounded their targets about half the time.

District attorneys, who have their own set of pressures, often side with police and keep them out of court. Prosecutors rely on officers to testify in their daily cases. Also, attorneys have to overcome a high legal standard and win over courtrooms generally sympathetic to police. This means shootings that appear borderline to an average citizen might never be brought to trial.

“Juries are very reluctant to second-guess police officers in their split-second life or death decisions,” said Bowling Green State University criminologist Philip Stinson. “Policing is ugly. Policing is violent. Courts recognize that.”

While no national database tracks all “officer-involved shootings” and prosecutions, it is safe to say officers rarely face criminal charges, said David A. Klinger, associate professor of criminology at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

Police are justified in using deadly force if a reasonable officer in the same situation would have believed there was an imminent threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others, Stinson said.

LAPD Officer Ronald Orosco was the last officer to be prosecuted in L.A. Charged in 2001 with shooting an unarmed motorist in the back during a routine traffic stop, he pleaded no contest and was sentenced to five years in state prison. Orosco was arguing with Charles Beatty, 66, about a left-turn violation in South L.A. when the dispute escalated. Beatty complied with police orders and was getting ready to drive away, but another oral exchange turned physical. Beatty said he was fleeing out of fear when Orosco, 2 feet away, shot him through the driver’s side rear window.

After officers in Ferguson, Mo., and Staten Island, N.Y., were cleared in fatal incidents last year, critics argued district attorneys were too collegial with police to objectively evaluate shootings.

A specialized prosecution unit — like the Justice System Integrity Division in Los Angeles — may be insulated from some of this bias, said Stinson, but the policing subculture is “significantly ingrained” in prosecutors’ offices, he said.

The DA has charged many officers with physical assault under color of authority, spokeswoman Jane Robison said, including two pending cases — LAPD Officer Jonathan Lai and former LAPD Officer Mary O’Callaghan.

When a local district attorney declines to prosecute, the U.S. Department of Justice sometimes investigates if officers violated someone’s civil rights. A federal grand jury indicted officers for the beating of Rodney King in 1992. Last week, federal agents and prosecutors cleared Ferguson Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown.

Here are some of the shootings the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office reviewed between Jan. 1, 2010, and Dec. 31, 2014:

• Moises De La Torre was suffering from mental health, drug and alcohol problems when he threatened to kill a woman on Feb. 24, 2013. He appeared to be homeless and asking for money, she told police, but instead of begging, he walked to her car’s driver’s side window and made the threat. De La Torre, 26, pulled what appeared to be a gun out of a duffle bag, she told a police dispatcher. LAPD officers headed to the scene on Vineland Avenue in North Hollywood, where they found De La Torre standing in the middle of the street. He also threatened to kill the two officers, they said, and failed to pull his hand out of the bag, despite orders. He was walking toward them when Officer Juan Galvan shot him in the chest. Inside the bag they found a pink folding chair with black legs.

• Nestor “Husky” Torres, 37, was armed with two handguns when Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies stopped a white compact car in East Los Angeles. It was about 7:18 p.m. on Jan. 11, 2011. Ordered out of the front passenger seat, Torres tried to run, but Deputy Daniel Reyes grabbed his jacket and tackled him. The other deputy, Mohamed Ahmed, tried to fire his Taser, but couldn’t get it out of the holster. Suddenly, Torres, a gang member, shot Ahmed in the face, resulting in the loss of his left eye. Torres then pointed his .40-caliber Glock at Reyes’ chest. Reyes grabbed the gun’s muzzle and tried to push it away from his body. Torres fired two more rounds, but missed, and Reyes pushed him against a chain-linked fence. Reyes grabbed his own gun with his other hand and fatally shot Torres in the face.

• Darrick Collins was standing in a driveway on Poindexter Avenue, near the site of an armed robbery in Lennox on Sept. 14, 2009. He wasn’t involved in the robbery, but he and his friends matched the descriptions of the suspects, including their Jeep Cherokee. Two Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies stopped that night to question them when Collins ran, ignoring orders to stop and show his hands, according to the DA’s report. “With his right hand in his waistband,” the report says, Collins opened a wood gate with his left hand. Deputy Kevin Brown “observed a black object in Collins’ right hand that he believed was a gun.” The report says Brown ordered Collins to drop it, but he didn’t comply. Brown shot three times through the fence’s wood slats and killed Collins. They found a black cellphone next to his body but no gun. Deputies also allegedly found a baggie of Ecstasy pills in Collins’ pocket. The shooting led to reforms at the Sheriff’s Department and a $900,000 settlement for Collins’ family.

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