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Police Militarization / Use of Force

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Dormin111
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You really think Wilson pursued him with the intent to kill him?

 

No - I think when the officer realized his training wasn't working he only continued to engage because that was all he had been trained to do, and that he maintained a desperate hope that one of his shots would eventually stop the suspect without killing him.

 

However, if I accept the argument that once a gun comes into play the officer is justified to use lethal force because anything less is "suicide", then yes the logic of continuing to engage is to kill the threat.  What I'm questioning here is, given that the only gun that came into play was the officer's own, was his only option to continue to try to apprehend a suspect he was physically unable to engage without shooting, OR would waiting for backup (or having a taser, or mace) have resolved the situation without further endangering the officer's life or others?

 

All of which leads me back to questioning the training that led this officer to killing a unarmed man suspected of stealing cigarettes.

Edited by Devil's Advocate
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No - I think when the officer realized his training wasn't working he only continued to engage because that was all he had been trained to do, and that he maintained a desperate hope that one of his shots would eventually stop the suspect without killing him.

 

However, if I accept the argument that once a gun comes into play the officer is justified to use lethal force because anything less is "suicide", then yes the logic of continuing to engage is to kill the threat.  What I'm questioning here is, given that the only gun that came into play was the officer's own, was his only option to continue to try to apprehend a suspect he was physically unable to engage without shooting, OR would waiting for backup (or having a taser, or mace) have resolved the situation without further endangering the officer's life or others?

 

All of which leads me back to questioning the training that led this officer to killing a unarmed man suspected of stealing cigarettes.

I've been trying to follow along and understand your argument. Here's where I am:

The officer, being in a life-or-death situation, was justified in using deadly force to preserve himself.

However, the officer did not have to place himself in a life-or-death situation in the first place. He could have called in for backup, or taken a taser with him, or etc. Thus, the training that led him to put himself in a life-or-death situation in the first place, leading to Brown's death (which could have gone the other way, had Brown secured the officer's gun initially), is questionable.

Do I have this right?

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... ... The whole 'shoot him in the legs' idea is completely insane. Life isn't a video game.

 

It's not reasonable to ask why he wasn't trained to strike at the appendages propelling his target?

Most people get their idea of guns from the movies: the shot goes where you want it, and one shot often kills. I admit that's the impression I had as well, until I did a one-day handgun-class, out of curiosity. One soon realizes that when the adrenalin is pumping, many of your shots won't go where you intend, that a single shot may not kill, and that anything that does not stop an assailant dead can mean he ends up with your gun and shooting you.

Though cops are professionals, and probably practice at a range every now and then, it is very rare for them to pull out a gun and actually shoot someone. According to this article, in 2006 police opened fire on people 60 times, using 540 bullets and killed 13. Even when shooting dogs, police hit their target 55% of the time. Shooting a leg is easier said than done.

 

I assume cop training goes along these lines: first, don't shoot unless the threat warrants it; second, if you do decide to shoot, don't be wishy washy...go all out to kill.

 

Edited by softwareNerd
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I've been trying to follow along and understand your argument. Here's where I am:

The officer, being in a life-or-death situation, was justified in using deadly force to preserve himself.

However, the officer did not have to place himself in a life-or-death situation in the first place. He could have called in for backup, or taken a taser with him, or etc. Thus, the training that led him to put himself in a life-or-death situation in the first place, leading to Brown's death (which could have gone the other way, had Brown secured the officer's gun initially), is questionable.

Do I have this right?

 

Yes, to the degree that:

 

1) The officer wasn't equipt with anything other than a gun to respond to a threat, and

2) the resulting shots came from the officer's own gun, and

3) the officer did call in for backup*, but didn't wait for it after surviving his initial effort to apprehend the suspect.

 

I recognize that this is all second guessing a fairly unique situation where the officer could reasonably expect an unarmed suspect to follow orders or flee.  Hopefully, once all the professionals have had the oppertunity to review the evidence, his training and tactics will be borne out, or improved.  Perhaps the final analysis will be chalked up to suicide by cop.

--

*  The timeline I've seen is:

11:57am - call that a store has been robbed

12:01pm - officer encounters suspect

12:04pm - 2nd officer arrives at scene

12:05pm - supervisor arrives at scene

Edited by Devil's Advocate
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The autoposy report I see (provided by the victim's family chosen doctor) shows strikes to the head and right arm.  Have you seen something more definitive?

This is the article I came across that only one of the head shots was considered to be the fatal one. Here's the original sketch I saw back when it was released Aug. 17.

SUB-JP-BROWN-2-master495.jpg

If Officer Wilson was shooting for the torso originally, the bullet wounds in the arm attest to the aim under duress. Even as large a target as the torso provides there are still several bullets unaccounted for. With most of the shots hitting to the right side of the body - I wonder what kind of sights are on his weapon, or how he may have been holding it different. Chances are, he probably pulled the trigger when he thought the aim was centered on the torso. I'll grant you, this is speculative on my part.

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Revised timeline:

11:51am - call that a store has been robbed

12:01pm - officer encounters suspect

12:02pm - officer calls for backup

12:04pm - 2nd officer arrives at scene

12:05pm - supervisor arrives at scene

--

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/08/14/michael-brown-ferguson-missouri-timeline/14051827/

see also:

http://news.stlpublicradio.org/post/ferguson-shooting-timeline

Edited by Devil's Advocate
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No, Brown did not have a deadly weapon on him. The reason killing him was required was that he was charging Wilson. His intent likely wasn't to give Wilson a kiss on the cheek (the same one that he had just punched). What other way should Wilson have stopped him? There was no other reasonable course of action but to open fire. One could get upset that officers aren't required to carry tasers, which I think is a valid concern. But that doesn't explain the vitriol toward Wilson, or the idea that he somehow abused his authority. As far as I can tell, he did what was necessary to preserve himself.

What is "charging" here? Is it an officer being stupid with an improper assumption that being an officer gives total authority to enter any situation without regard to a proper set of procedures? That would make "charging" from Brown a matter of police competency, an inability to maintain law, realizing that there's more to enforcement than drawing a weapon. Or is "charging" a reasonable belief that Brown had a weapon, and Wilson was doing his best until that moment? Or was Brown just being aggressive yet not lethal?

 

It really doesn't add up to me that Brown was a threat that had to die. I doubt you'd say all people who are going to punch an officer should DIE. If you go on to claim you KNOW how it went down, all I see is a belief that a cop is NEVER wrong, all without a trial or testimony in court.

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What is "charging" here? Is it an officer being stupid with an improper assumption that being an officer gives total authority to enter any situation without regard to a proper set of procedures? That would make "charging" from Brown a matter of police competency, an inability to maintain law, realizing that there's more to enforcement than drawing a weapon. Or is "charging" a reasonable belief that Brown had a weapon, and Wilson was doing his best until that moment? Or was Brown just being aggressive yet not lethal?

 

It really doesn't add up to me that Brown was a threat that had to die.

That's because you never bothered informing yourself on what happened. Your description of what happened is wrong.

If you ever decide to put some effort into learning what happened, and honestly evaluate Wilson's actions instead of looking for childish excuses to keep holding on to the false narrative you bought into without so much as a shred of evidence, back in August, it might start making sense why Brown ended up dead.

Edited by Nicky
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I doubt you'd say all people who are going to punch an officer should DIE. If you go on to claim you KNOW how it went down, all I see is a belief that a cop is NEVER wrong, all without a trial or testimony in court.

As per the Fifth Amendment of the US Constitution, no American can be put on trial without a grand jury indictment.

What you are demanding, putting someone on trial without evidence of wrongdoing, would be abusive.

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Yes, to the degree that:

 

1) The officer wasn't equipt with anything other than a gun to respond to a threat, and

2) the resulting shots came from the officer's own gun, and

3) the officer did call in for backup*, but didn't wait for it after surviving his initial effort to apprehend the suspect.

 

I recognize that this is all second guessing a fairly unique situation where the officer could reasonably expect an unarmed suspect to follow orders or flee.  Hopefully, once all the professionals have had the oppertunity to review the evidence, his training and tactics will be borne out, or improved.  Perhaps the final analysis will be chalked up to suicide by cop.

--

*  The timeline I've seen is:

11:57am - call that a store has been robbed

12:01pm - officer encounters suspect

12:04pm - 2nd officer arrives at scene

12:05pm - supervisor arrives at scene

Hmm...

I don't think anyone likes the outcome, but I don't know that a poor outcome means necessarily that it was proceeded by improper procedure.

I agree with you that this was perhaps a "fairly unique situation." Maybe with a different officer on a different day, things would have resolved differently. I can't ask, however, that police restrain themselves in their use of force to protect themselves when under assault. Not when their own lives are in jeopardy. I also can't ask that people in those kinds of situations act without error, as much as that would be preferable. A police officer under attack isn't some detached, James Bond assassin with pinpoint accuracy and ice in his veins. He can't simply rely upon himself to take out the leg of an onrushing attacker, and I can't insist that he tries, given what may happen to him if he misses/fails. Attacking a cop... is just likely to end poorly.

I mean, maybe you're right. Maybe someone will review this scenario and decide to mandate tasers, or revise how to approach suspects in this manner, or etc. Maybe that will be some good to come of this. But without that kind of review (by people competent to conduct it), I can't say that this policeman did wrong. (Just as I won't say that I'm glad that this guy was killed, or that it's some banner day for justice. It would have been far better if he *had* been shot in the leg, and lived to testify on his own behalf.)

Edited by DonAthos
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DonAthos, have you ever read "the Onion Field"?  I suspect you may be familiar with the story which occurred near where I was born.  I was young at the time, but I later came to appreciate how much changed with that particular event.  Until that time killing a police officer was unusual in the sense that your average criminal went out of his way to avoid doing that. They genuinely feared the consequences.  In the same way that other nations back then feared tangling with the US military.  Sadly much has changed since, and our men and women who wear uniforms today wear targets as well.

 

No, I'm not glad this guy was killed, nor am I willing to hold this officer entirely responsible for what might have happened differently.  Brutal times yield brutal events.  But I maintain the hope, no the expectation that the methods we use to prepare our police and military are the best available, because to ask them to enter the fray with anything less is to betray them.  And that's pretty much all I have to say on this matter.

Edited by Devil's Advocate
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What you are demanding, putting someone on trial without evidence of wrongdoing, would be abusive.

No evidence? A grand jury only needs to say a case could be made, not to determine guilt. There are questions, and someone DIED. If you see it as "no wrongdoing is possible", I have no reason to take your arguments as anything but unreasonable, emotionalist, and baseless. I mean, I'm not sure how to reply to this part, all you did is make an assertion as though if you tried to tell me any facts, I wouldn't get it, so all you can say is I need to inform myself. That doesn't mean I'll agree! You need to make an argument if you care to say anything valuable.

 

I asked what "charging" meant. You quoted my post. You evaded what I asked by replying that if I informed myself, it'd make sense why Brown died. Why did I ask a question? I'm informing myself! Who says I'm holding onto a "false narrative"? I'm asking basic questions, not loaded questions.

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No evidence? A grand jury only needs to say a case could be made, not to determine guilt.

A grand jury found that no case can be made. They found that the facts prove Wilson's innocence, and that putting him on trial would be a waste of time and an abuse of his 5th Amendment rights.

 

They did this based on information that has since been made public.

 

Why did I ask a question? I'm informing myself!

I can quote you claiming to be trying to inform yourself as far back as August. All the information you would need to do that has been public for over a week now. 

 

And yet, here you are, still uninformed, still trying to inform yourself, and, amusingly, still blaming me for not informing you. As if I'm sitting at home hoarding information, keeping you from reading it.

Edited by Nicky
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A grand jury found that no case can be made. They found that the facts prove Wilson's innocence, and that putting him on trial would be a waste of time and an abuse of his 5th Amendment rights.

Yes, I'm suggesting that the fact "no case can be made" is ridiculous. Give reasons this makes sense or is reasonable, don't just say "the jury said so". They aren't supposed to determine that Wilson is innocent! Brown was killed. Wilson did it. How it all went down is not obvious. The facts may prove innocence, maybe, but that's not what a grand jury is supposed to do. Is there literally no reason to think there was probable cause?

 

http://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/grand_jury

http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2014/11/26/3597322/justice-scalia-explains-what-was-wrong-with-the-ferguson-grand-jury/

 

Nicky, please be helpful for once. I was asking a question. I do not know THIS fact, so I am asking. No, it's not your fault, but you are refusing to inform me despite saying I need to be informed. Makes no sense.

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Grand Jury Facts Sources:

 

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/11/25/us/evidence-released-in-michael-brown-case.html?_r=0

Vol 1, pg 33 - examination of Ms Whirley, Medical Legal Investigator, describes her findings at the scene

Vol 4, pg 31 - Dorian Johnson (the other guy) describes what happened at market

Vol 5, pg 200 - Officer Wilson describes events that led to the shooting

Vol 5, pgs 205-207 - Wilson describes how he was outfitted (had mace - no taser)

Vol 5, pg 207 - Wilson describes finding suspects and what ensued

 

http://www.cnsnews.com/mrctv-blog/curtis-kalin/10-key-facts-ferguson-grand-jury-discovered

Condensed timeline and events

 

Edit: there's a lot of material here, so I tried to highlight some key portions, but did not intend to represent these portions as a full description of the evidence presented to the Grand Jury.

Edited by Devil's Advocate
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DonAthos, have you ever read "the Onion Field"?  I suspect you may be familiar with the story which occurred near where I was born.

No, I'm sorry, I haven't read that. I've subsequently looked the case up on Wiki, so I'm that much familiar with it now. (I.e. not much.)

 

No, I'm not glad this guy was killed, nor am I willing to hold this officer entirely responsible for what might have happened differently.  Brutal times yield brutal events.

Yes, that's my takeaway as well. Which isn't to say that there's never a time or a place to hold officers accountable for their actions, and to question whether or not those actions amount to crimes. Personally, I think the Eric Garner situation is more compelling in terms of questionable tactics.

 

But I maintain the hope, no the expectation that the methods we use to prepare our police and military are the best available, because to ask them to enter the fray with anything less is to betray them.

Completely agreed. I'd only add that the "best available methods" must be sometimes learned over time, and through undesirable incident.

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Nicky, please be helpful for once. I was asking a question. I do not know THIS fact, so I am asking. No, it's not your fault, but you are refusing to inform me despite saying I need to be informed. Makes no sense.

I never said you need to be informed. I said you're not informed. It makes perfect sense. When someone's arguments are based in ignorance, the only valid counter-argument is: you're ignorant. 

 

What doesn't make sense is you letting another 24 hours go by, without finding out what actually happened in Ferguson that day. That's despite me making it abundantly clear that I don't plan to help you.

 

What amazes me is that you're not even disputing that you're uninformed. You're openly admitting it, continuing to make arguments from that ignorance of the facts, and placing the burden of informing you on me. As if my refusal to inform you somehow gives your arguments some kind of validity.

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Yes, I'm suggesting that the fact "no case can be made" is ridiculous.

Yeah, but  you still don't know what happened, and that makes your opinion null and void. 

Brown was killed. Wilson did it. How it all went down is not obvious.

Of course it's not. Not unless you learn the facts. Then it will be.

The facts may prove innocence, maybe, but that's not what a grand jury is supposed to do. Is there literally no reason to think there was probable cause?

The facts do prove Wilson's innocence. There is no probable cause to indict a man who has been proven to be innocent by the facts. Edited by Nicky
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"As if my refusal to inform you somehow gives your arguments some kind of validity."

 

Questions aren't arguments. I asked questions. People have made claims of what happened here with words like "charging", that's all I asked. Then you start totally evading my question and go on about how ignorant I am. Stop arguing about ignorance, which is irrelevant. I want to know facts.

 

 

"That's despite me making it abundantly clear that I don't plan to help you."

 

What are you trying to accomplish? Leave me alone if you don't want to help.

Edited by Eiuol
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"As if my refusal to inform you somehow gives your arguments some kind of validity."

 

Questions aren't arguments. I asked questions.

This for instance is not a question: "It really doesn't add up to me that Brown was a threat that had to die."

It's an argument. From ignorance.

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...

 

Completely agreed. I'd only add that the "best available methods" must be sometimes learned over time, and through undesirable incident.

 

With regard to the training and tactics in this case, I'm concerned that upon realizing these two men were likely the same ones involved in shoplifting, the officer's first actions set up a series of events that quickly led to the situation getting out of control:

 

1) The officer positions his vehicle such that the suspect immediately pins him.  The proximity of the suspect then makes his use of mace dicy at best, and similarily the officer can't easily draw any other weapon (flashlight or baton) because his left arm is already engaged and the only thing to his right is his gun...   Training?

 

2) Drawing the gun within reach of the suspect naturally leads to wrestling over possession of it.  When the officer attempts to fire his gun, only 2 of the first 5 pulls on the trigger results in firing the weapon...  Training??

 

3) Once the suspect flees and the officer is able to exit his vehicle in pursuit, his radio call in that shots have been fired isn't received because the radio is set to the wrong channel.  Bear in mind that his original call for backup is received from a 2nd radio, and officers arrive minutes later...  Training?

 

Whether the positioning of the car leading to his being immediately trapped within, followed by the lack of any other available weapon, that weapon misfiring 3 times, and having his radio set to the wrong channel, unaware that his 2nd call for help wasn't heard as he charged ahead in pursuit rather than waiting for backup, was the result of inadequate training or preparation is something experts will need to address sooner than later.

 

The current state of training and tactics  is questionable when in another case, a kid with a toy gun is seen walking in a park and called in to 911, the caller expressing that it might be a toy, and that part of the message isn't related to the officers arriving at the scene.

 

Or in the case of choke holds, by training, that lead to killing suspects in lieu of apprehending them.

 

One can argue that suspects bring the consequences on themselves by not following orders, but that jumps over a necessary part of the process of apprehending people suspected of a crime in order to get them to a trial that determines guilt, which until that point is not to be presumed regardless of whether they obey, flee or resist arrest.

 

The goal of justice isn't to deliver corpses to court, and we shouldn't be timid about questioning tactics that work to that effect.

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While the goal of justice is not to deliver copses to court and the grand jury investigation process was put in place to ascertain if the officer acted appropriately when unfortunate incidences such as these occur. What kind of teeth or backbone would law enforcement have if officers thought they would be charged with murder or negligent homicide for doing the job asked to be done? Safeguards against this are implemented via this investigation. All officers are aware that if an incident such as this occurs it will be investigated to determine if there is a misuse of executive power.

 

The court of public opinion does not have the weight of being burdened with the consciousness consequences of making the wrong decision. Much of it seems to carry the air of Monday morning quarterbacking.

 

While the safeguard of innocent until proven guilty is put in place to place the onus of proof that a crime has been committed to protect the general public from misuse of the power of the judicial branch, the grand jury process is like a recursive application of this same principle. Disagreements occur over the verdicts in both settings. Are you aware of a way to remove the element of error from human conclusion process?

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What kind of teeth or backbone would law enforcement have if officers thought they would be charged with murder or negligent homicide for doing the job asked to be done?

They'd have more reason to follow strict protocol and not make error upon error and then "have to" kill in order to survive. I find it questionable that Wilson was performing the job asked to be done. He got himself into a situation that he shouldn't be in. I'm seeing a system failing to evaluate what the job Wilson should be doing, or possibly abuse by Wilson knowing he could eventually kill Brown without worrying that he went too far or did his job properly.

I did read up some more, and I'm still not seeing how Wilson wasn't at least truly commiting negligent homicide due to incompetency. The worst thing, looking at Wilson's testimony (which shouldn't be part of a grand jury process) I can't make heads or tails of what "charging" is. Bulls charge, not humans. And anyway, grand juries don't determine guilt.

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Is it justified to disarm an agent of the government in self defense?

Is it justified to kill an agent of the government in self defense?

I submit that the answer is yes, following basic Objectivist ethics. Brown was originally approached by the officer and harassed for jay walking. He was not under investigation for shoplifting or theft.

Objectivists should be supporting the protestors.

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