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The Eric Garner case is interesting: people have forgotten that it was the outrage over the Eric Garner case that sparked the riots over the Michael Brown case. Garner happened first, but his grand jury case took longer to execute. It's highly unlikely that had Eric Garner's video not gone viral that the media would have made a big deal over the Mike Brown incident, and the amount of protests going on wouldn't be as high as it is now.

 

Ultimately, the problem with this whole case, is that we know had the cop who grabbed Eric Garner from the back of the neck been a civilian he would've been charged with manslaughter, regardless of the circumstance; people have gotten charged with manslaughter for far less. The issue at hand, is that there's really no objective law on what degree cops are allowed to use force in comparison to citizens, especially when that act of force initiates a death.

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Grand jury decision is in. No indictment, obviously. As the overwhelming evidence confirming the cop's innocence was being released (including testimony from the people who originally talked to the

So the biggest tragedy, as far as you're concerned, is that some of the rioters got bruises from rubber bullets? Not the dozens of looted and burnt stores or injured cops? You're grateful that the pe

Sorry, you're probably getting a biased version where you live. Lots of Americans support most of what the police did here. It is possible that the cop was unreasonable when he shot the kid, but it is

The Eric Garner case is interesting: people have forgotten that it was the outrage over the Eric Garner case that sparked the riots over the Michael Brown case. Garner happened first, but his grand jury case took longer to execute. It's highly unlikely that had Eric Garner's video not gone viral that the media would have made a big deal over the Mike Brown incident, and the amount of protests going on wouldn't be as high as it is now.

 

Ultimately, the problem with this whole case, is that we know had the cop who grabbed Eric Garner from the back of the neck been a civilian he would've been charged with manslaughter, regardless of the circumstance;

A civilian would've been charged with attempted kidnapping. That's a felony, and the felony murder rule would've very likely been applied, yes. It of course doesn't apply in this case, because the cop wasn't committing a crime when restraining Eric Garner, he was doing his job.

Is that really the problem with this whole case? That cops have the authority to enforce the law by arresting those who violate it, and civilians don't?

 

The issue at hand, is that there's really no objective law on what degree cops are allowed to use force in comparison to citizens, especially when that act of force initiates a death.

Yes, there is. Cops are allowed to arrest people who break the law. They are allowed to use the necessary non-deadly force to restrain suspects who resist arrest. And they are allowed to use deadly force when their lives or the lives of civilians are under immediate threat.

In this case, after hearing the officer's testimony and looking at the evidence (including the coroner's report and the video of the incident), the grand jury concluded that there is no evidence that the officer used deadly force against Garner (meaning that there's no evidence that he was choked to death, but rather that his death was due to complications to his asthma and high blood pressure), and that their use of non-deadly force was justified (because Garner was in violation of the law, and resisting arrest).

I think there is only one problem with this case: the law the officer was enforcing. And that law was not passed by the officer, it was passed by the politicians the people of NY clamored to elect. The chief instigator in this case (the mayor) is yet to try and abolish that law, and the protesters are yet to call for it to be abolished with the same vigor they've been calling for dead cops.

Everything else in this case is exactly as it should be. Cops cannot be held responsible for hearth attacks criminals suffer whenever there is a scuffle caused by them resisting arrest, and their heart rate spikes or their asthma flairs up.

Edited by Nicky
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A civilian would've been charged with attempted kidnapping. That's a felony, and the felony murder rule would've very likely been applied, yes. It of course doesn't apply in this case, because the cop wasn't committing a crime when restraining Eric Garner, he was doing his job.

"The issue at hand, is that there's really no objective law on what degree cops are allowed to use force in comparison to citizens, especially when that act of force initiates a death."

 

If doing your job is minimal regard for responsibility for the results of one's actions in the name of "The Law" or "Doing what I'm told because it's my job", then sure, this cop did fantastic. It's rather disrespectful to cops to suggest that "doing one's job" is a measure of blameworthiness of one's actions - unless we want to admire those who apparently are unable to make distinctions about what degree of force is proper, specifically. The most you quoted was specific in stating that the problem is a lack of an objective law on what is proper force in comparison to citizens. Otherwise, "it was his job" as part of an answer is a cop out regarding -why- this type of response in this context is proper.

 

Your example "They are allowed to use the necessary non-deadly force" is not objective, since "necessary" is left to whatever the cop feels is necessary, totally subjective. Immediate threat helps, but that doesn't address the Garner case since there was no immediate threat. The non-deadly force part is still subjective. And this sorta thing happens enough that existing laws aren't defined well enough.

Edited by Eiuol
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"my understanding that the police are allowed to get aggressive when people show resistance like that."

 

Like what? Lifting his arms as a reflex to being touched and getting upset at being arrested? Perhaps it is allowed. It shouldn't be. It's wrong for being over the top. Of course people will resist a little, doesn't mean that people of questionable health need chokeholds to apprehend. Garner was in no way a threat. 

This topic is frustrating because it requires us to employ more than one context as we evaluate different aspects of the encounter. Let's leave aside the question of moral versus civil law for a moment and assume, for the rest of this paragraph, that the legal is the moral. A citizen's responsibility when confronted with a legal arrest is to submit to detention. A reflex is an involuntary response of the nervous system; Garner's response was clearly not reflexive. The man was actively resisting. An officer's job requires non-lethal force when resistance is offered. I don't know what "over the top" means, so I have to assume it is a fair approximation of "lethal force" in this context. To assume that a prematurely released chokehold amounts to lethal force because chokeholds are not sanctioned by the department is to assume too much. Please consider that the technique was taught to the officer in training and must, therefore, be employed with some regularity throughout the country. 

Now it's time to shift context a little bit and talk about the threats police face when they decide nonlethal force is necessary. Clearly, Garner didn't represent a threat; he wasn't violating anyone's rights. But an arrest necessarily becomes a forcible affair when resistance is offered. At that point officers must asses the danger to themselves if force escalates past non-lethal. I'll call it a "threat-response calculation" (I have no idea what an officer would call it).  I assume that the longer an encounter lasts the greater the chance of the suspect escalating force. I don't fault police for assuming a sense of urgency and using more aggressive nonlethal tactics when subduing stronger people. Of course, whether or not such aggression was "nonlethal" in the Garner case is a separate issue. But simply from a threat-response context, I am baffled by your insistence that Garner didn't represent a greater threat than your average person. I really can't wrap my head round it.

Nicky's response included a mention of the grand jury process. They are privy to much more information than we. They concluded that there was not enough evidence of lethal force to warrant a trial. They, apparently, thought that the stress of a typical arrest was enough to have triggered Garner's health condition, and that the temporary choke hold did not deviate enough from the typical arrest to change the nature of the encounter. This is a form of justice. Having said that, I am suspicious of the grand jury process because it allows prosecutors too much control over what is presented to the jury. The incestuous relationship between police and prosecutors is legendary. When the grand jury testimony is hidden, as it was in this case, I suspect a biased presentation. But suspicion is not proof, and I haven't seen enough evidence to conclude that this was, legally speaking, a malicious or negligent homicide. If you would be kind enough to point me to new grand jury testimony or evidence of grand jury manipulation, I'd be happy to review it. Until then I'll tentatively conclude that nothing improper happened during the arrest. Again, I didn't see anything that I'd object to, other than the enforcement of a non-crime.

 

 

That's a fine clarification, though it's also worth keeping in mind that it doesn't apply as either "defensive" or "retaliatory" when we're discussing the present case.

 

Maybe it's a slightly separate issue? But unless the country somehow transforms into something that it's not -- and I don't anticipate this happening soon -- every power that we grant to the police and pronounce "moral," is going to be employed for the purposes of the initiation of force against innocents. Not as an accidental byproduct, either, but as a matter of intention and a matter of routine.

 

I agree that this wasn't a defensive or retaliatory encounter. But we must take care to confine the different aspects of this discussion to their separate contexts. Two contexts relevant to your point come to mind. The first is the enforcement of a non-crime (which makes the arrest an initiation of force). The second is the use of force progression in a legal arrest and the threshold of negligence/malice when prohibited tactics are used. You and I are both aware that cops enforce both moral and immoral laws. We are also aware that policy decisions regarding arrests will affect the enforcement of both types of laws. I am comfortable with the force progression that I believe was used in the Garner case. I am deeply disturbed that it was used on Eric Garner. That's why I prefer to focus on the laws police enforce. I'm not willing to completely give up police, but I could be convinced to have them give up enforcing a slew of crimes, even real/moral crimes. I fully understand such a change could only come at the expense of normal people taking more responsibility for protecting themselves, and probably effecting arrests themselves. This would lead to a shift from scrutiny of police arrest tactics to scrutiny of citizen's arrest tactics. That seems to me like it could be a good thing, considering how biased I believe the prosecutors are in favor of police. It would also help to support the idea that the arresting agent is no different before the law than the suspect. But for now I'm inclined to just focus on the laws, not the people who enforce them.

 

And this officer, in this case, breached policy -- he did so in such a way that, per the medical examiner's report (allowing for your misgivings that there's more information, to which we're not yet privy, that might clarify the situation and/or change my opinion) killed a man. That's the very thing for which he should be held responsible.

 

The relationship is exactly what you're already pointed to: we must hold people accountable for "breaches of policy," which here means the police using tactics that they have no right to use and killing people in the process.

 

I've addressed some of this in my response to Eiuol above. The grand jury process is a form of justice, and from what I've seen I agree with their conclusion - as it pertains to the second context (force progression, negligence and malice). Please keep in mind that a non-indictment does not imply a total lack of accountability. This officer may be disciplined by his department.

 

Ultimately, the problem with this whole case, is that we know had the cop who grabbed Eric Garner from the back of the neck been a civilian he would've been charged with manslaughter, regardless of the circumstance; people have gotten charged with manslaughter for far less. The issue at hand, is that there's really no objective law on what degree cops are allowed to use force in comparison to citizens, especially when that act of force initiates a death.

Actually, I don't know that to be the ultimate problem. Consider the second context I mentioned in my response to Don Athos, above. Police use of non-lethal force was sanctioned during the Garner arrest. For us to include a citizen in a comparable situation, we must construct a context where that citizen's use of non-lethal force was justified. Now, I understand that police are treated differently. Police are less likely to be indicted for any transgression, but it isn't a given that a citizen would be indicted simply for grabbing the neck for a few seconds (again, assuming their use of non-lethal force was justified). I disagree that this disparity is due to a lack of objective law; I believe it is due to a lack of consistent enforcement, through a sort of "regulatory capture" corruption of the grand jury process. In any case, I don't believe the Garner case is an example of this - from a force-progression perspective. But again, from a moral law and felony murder rule perspective, Garner was murdered.

Edited by FeatherFall
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Your example "They are allowed to use the necessary non-deadly force" is not objective, since "necessary" is left to whatever the cop feels is necessary, totally subjective. Immediate threat helps, but that doesn't address the Garner case since there was no immediate threat. The non-deadly force part is still subjective. And this sorta thing happens enough that existing laws aren't defined well enough.

It appears to me as if a grand Jury had something to say about what was necessary in the Garner case. If not what was necessary, at least what was permissible.

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A civilian would've been charged with attempted kidnapping. That's a felony, and the felony murder rule would've very likely been applied, yes.

It's a slightly different topic, perhaps, but for those interested in arguing that the police officer's methods were reasonable, I don't see why a "civilian" should be treated any differently. Under "Citizen's arrest in the United States," under "Use of force," Wiki has this to say:

 

In general, a private person is justified in using non-deadly force upon another if he reasonably believes that: (1) such other person is committing a felony, or a misdemeanor amounting to a breach of the peace; and (2) the force used is necessary to prevent further commission of the offense and to apprehend the offender. The force must be reasonable under the circumstances to restrain the individual arrested. This includes the nature of the offense and the amount of force required to overcome resistance.

This seems to agree with the arguments being laid out on behalf of this officer, and after all, being "police" isn't magic. The badge isn't a talisman. If they have any right to use force in this sort of situation, then it must stem from an individual right that we all possess.

 

It of course doesn't apply in this case, because the cop wasn't committing a crime when restraining Eric Garner, he was doing his job.

I don't agree that he was doing his job. The police officer's job was to make this arrest according to the rules laid out for him.

 

This topic is frustrating because it requires us to employ more than one context as we evaluate different aspects of the encounter.

Yes, agreed.

 

Let's leave aside the question of moral versus civil law for a moment and assume, for the rest of this paragraph, that the legal is the moral.

Okay, for the purpose of discussion. But I'll add that I don't think that the greater complexity (frustrating though I agree it is) should be dismissed when a person tries to assess this situation on the whole. That the police officer was initiating force is, I believe, a salient matter. I think it is a necessary context for interpreting Garner's resistance correctly.

 

A citizen's responsibility when confronted with a legal arrest is to submit to detention. A reflex is an involuntary response of the nervous system; Garner's response was clearly not reflexive. The man was actively resisting. An officer's job requires non-lethal force when resistance is offered.

Agreed.

 

Now it's time to shift context a little bit and talk about the threats police face when they decide nonlethal force is necessary. Clearly, Garner didn't represent a threat; he wasn't violating anyone's rights. But an arrest necessarily becomes a forcible affair when resistance is offered. At that point officers must asses the danger to themselves if force escalates past non-lethal. I'll call it a "threat-response calculation" (I have no idea what an officer would call it).  I assume that the longer an encounter lasts the greater the chance of the suspect escalating force. I don't fault police for assuming a sense of urgency and using more aggressive nonlethal tactics when subduing stronger people.

While I can't speak to the specific decision-making/force escalation in this case (which appears at least questionable to me, but I'm no expert), I at least agree with you in principle.

 

Nicky's response included a mention of the grand jury process. They are privy to much more information than we. They concluded that there was not enough evidence of lethal force to warrant a trial. They, apparently, thought that the stress of a typical arrest was enough to have triggered Garner's health condition, and that the temporary choke hold did not deviate enough from the typical arrest to change the nature of the encounter. This is a form of justice.

While I agree that the grand jury is privy to more information, I am not comfortable with drawing specific conclusions about their reasoning in this case. I don't know their minds or why they decided as they did. (Though perhaps there is more information available about this specific jury, and why they decided as they did, and I'm simply unaware of it. Please advise if you know this to be the case.)

As to the nature of the choke, and its relationship to Garner's death, I can again only point to the information that I do have at present, which is the report that the medical examiner did connect the death to the choke. Now, maybe the grand jury did have access to evidence on that matter which indicated that this wasn't accurate... but also, maybe, they were predisposed to side with a police officer, even if justice (in the full sense) would demand otherwise. I don't know and am disinclined to speculate further on this score.

 

You and I are both aware that cops enforce both moral and immoral laws. We are also aware that policy decisions regarding arrests will affect the enforcement of both types of laws. I am comfortable with the force progression that I believe was used in the Garner case. I am deeply disturbed that it was used on Eric Garner.

I am disturbed on both levels.

Can we agree that the outcome in this case -- i.e. Garner's death -- is something that we should seek to avoid, even in those cases where the person being arrested is suspected of an actual crime? If so, do you truly think it's unreasonable to draw a connection between the tactics employed and this kind of outcome, when 1) those tactics are prohibited to avoid situations just such as these; and 2) the medical examiner determines that there is a connection in this specific instance?

(On a discussion of tactics alone, all else being resolved, I would go further. I would say that when you have a suspect complaining that he cannot breathe in this sort of situation, you take some reasonable action to address it. But I anticipate all sorts of further argument on that score, and I'd rather move one step at a time.)

 

I've addressed some of this in my response to Eiuol above. The grand jury process is a form of justice, and from what I've seen I agree with their conclusion - as it pertains to the second context (force progression, negligence and malice). Please keep in mind that a non-indictment does not imply a total lack of accountability. This officer may be disciplined by his department.

[...]

 

But again, from a moral law and felony murder rule perspective, Garner was murdered.

I understand your meaning with "first and second" contexts, and I hope I've kept to it for this reply, to facilitate discussion... but I hope you'll allow me a moment for trying to take this all together again. If "Garner was murdered," then you'd presumably allow that there is a "murderer"? And if the murderer in this case is this officer, you'd hold that his accountability for this murder can be found in departmental discipline? :) I suspect that if you consider the grand jury process possibly biased, that departmental discipline is likely to be... oh... somewhat comparable to the Catholic Church's re: pedophilia.

This may all constitute "a form of justice" when we delimit our understanding to certain contexts which keep us from considering all of the information that we otherwise know, but one of the lessons I believe I've learned from Ayn Rand is that a man does not normally profit from operating outside of "full context." Or, as this quote from "The Objectivist Ethics" has it:

"One must never make any decisions, form any convictions or seek any values out of context, i.e., apart from or against the total, integrated sum of one’s knowledge."

In the fullest context of which I'm currently capable, this in no way looks like justice to me.

Edited by DonAthos
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The medical examiner seemed to lay blame in equal parts to the choke hold and to the act of pinning Garner to the ground. Presumably you don't think the second act should be prohibited. Until I see evidence that the medical examiner drew further distinction between those two actions, I can only conclude that they are of similar severity; that is, reasonable arrest measures that unpredictably triggered a prior health condition. I am not aware of any further info on the matter, which is regrettable. But it is my understanding based on available information that Garner, while handcuffed, was still breathing and that an ambulance was called for him. Without combing through the details I don't have access to, that seems like a reasonable response to his pleas. So much for the second context.

Regarding the total context, you're right; this isn't justice. Aside from being incredibly stupid, I haven't judged Garner's resistance negatively. He didn't take any violent actions and just wanted to be left alone. In cases where officers enforce immoral laws, there can be no justice within the legal system. The only thing the legal system allows us to address is the proper action within the second context. Any justice you want to effect will have to come from outside of the legal system. What do you propose?

 

Edited by FeatherFall
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...

Regarding the total context, you're right; this isn't justice. Aside from being incredibly stupid, I haven't judged Garner's resistance negatively. He didn't take any violent actions and just wanted to be left alone. In cases where officers enforce immoral laws, there can be no justice within the legal system. The only thing the legal system allows us to address is the proper action within the second context. Any justice you want to effect will have to come from outside of the legal system. What do you propose?

 

"When policemen break the law, then there isn't any law — just a fight for survival." ~ Billy Jack

 

Couldn't resist going to one of my favorite quotes.

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The medical examiner seemed to lay blame in equal parts to the choke hold and to the act of pinning Garner to the ground. Presumably you don't think the second act should be prohibited.

I believe that the second act is at least worth examination. To the extent that pinning him down in that manner contributed to Garner's death, and to the extent that difficulty breathing in a man of such size can be anticipated, when being treated in that manner, then maybe there's room for tactical improvement/modification, though I do not have the requisite expertise to comment too much more on that.

I do draw a distinction, however, between using tactics which are permitted (and perhaps subsequently learning that these tactics need to be modified) and tactics which are proscribed. Do you think I'm right to draw such a distinction?

 

Until I see evidence that the medical examiner drew further distinction between those two actions, I can only conclude that they are of similar severity; that is, reasonable arrest measures that unpredictably triggered a prior health condition.

If we're looking at two distinct measures, one being allowed and one prohibited, I cannot on the whole conclude that they are "reasonable arrest measures." The prohibited choke hold, being of severity sufficient that the medical examiner concluded that it contributed to Garner's death, makes me assess the arrest on the whole as being "unreasonable." Even if we allow that the arrest should have taken place, it should not have proceeded in this manner.

And while I agree that Garner's condition certainly contributed to his death, and that this might not be "predictable" in the sense of knowing which specific individual has asthma or sleep apnea or etc., I'd say that the fact that these kinds of health complications exist in the population (and especially among the obese, which is not a numerically insignificant demographic) means that these kinds of complications are generally "predictable," when assessing proper tactics/training/procedures.

 

I am not aware of any further info on the matter, which is regrettable. But it is my understanding based on available information that Garner, while handcuffed, was still breathing and that an ambulance was called for him. Without combing through the details I don't have access to, that seems like a reasonable response to his pleas.

Yeah, I don't know either -- I don't know how quickly an ambulance was called for, or whether those pressing him down relented at all when he called for help, or otherwise assisted him to breathe, or whether his pleas were dismissed until a problem manifested such that it could not be ignored any longer. I don't know whether any different action, undertaken more quickly, could have prevented the final outcome.

 

Any justice you want to effect will have to come from outside of the legal system. What do you propose?

Altering the legal system, primarily, and also assessing these police tactics which, as you've said, we know will be employed against innocent men and women as a matter of daily routine. (I think we do nobody any good to discuss such tactics only in the "second context" sense, where that context ignores the other information we have; the wider context.)

But even within the legal system as it presently stands, I believe that there is room for individual people to make choices based on philosophical premises either proper or flawed. As I've said before, I do not know the minds of the grand jury in this case, but I believe I have seen elsewhere a veneration of the police, and the "rule of law," such that if the jurors (or prosecutors, or etc.) subscribed to these kinds of ideas, it might have swayed their final judgements contra the facts of the case. I propose to argue against such a veneration. Also to reaffirm, as you have, principles such as "jury nullification," and also the individual moral choice that a man can make to commit himself only to using force in retaliation/self-defense, and never against those who have not initiated its use. Not even if they are being paid to do so.

Garner is dead. There is a sense in which justice for him is impossible. As for the officer(s) involved, I don't know whether there is any further resort other than making them aware of the nature of their actions, to the extent that they're able, and leaving the rest to their consciences. But as another application of justice, I believe that we can do better in the future -- for people who might otherwise suffer similarly -- so long as we recognize that there were mistakes made here, strive to understand them, and resolve to do differently next time.

If we do not... if we simply lament the fact of immoral law without recognizing that there are other contributing factors leading to these kinds of results, then I believe we are supporting a situation which will result in more people being killed (importantly including the innocent) who perhaps could be arrested without dying, and more police officers feeling free to use even specifically disallowed tactics, courting their potentially disastrous consequences, with impunity.

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Prohibition by law is different from prohibition by policy. The choke hold appears to be prohibited by policy but not by law. This implies that any citizen may legally use such a choke hold under certain circumstances. Earlier I wrote, "appears," because it isn't clear if the duration is a factor, if this officer will face departmental repercussions or if he is protected by the kind of undue veneration you mentioned. I have some more thoughts, but it's getting very late. 

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Prohibition by law is different from prohibition by policy. The choke hold appears to be prohibited by policy but not by law.

I suspect that we're approaching a very special area of discussion, potentially as contentious as the original topic. It might represent the limit of what we can reasonably discuss with respect to this topic, and it might require its own thread. But let me share my initial thoughts (which might not be very ordered, because I've never had to organize/express this particular line of thought, and for that I apologize) and you can let me know what you think.

When we say "prohibited by policy," what does that mean in this context?

The government is charged with the responsibility of responding to force via force -- yes? It is for the purpose of eliminating force from society, so that men may live as traders, and according to their best use of reason.

The character of government is a delegation of an individual's right of self-defense. But what is the nature of this delegation? Is it a broad and unlimited grant of power? Or is it specific and limited?

For instance, does the President have unlimited authority to use force as he sees fit? Should he? Or is it proper that there are "checks and balances" which govern his use of power?

Is it proper that government -- and the use of retaliatory/self-defense force -- is regulated?

I believe so. I think that the nature of a formal government, and the concept of objective law, holds that such retaliatory force must be regulated, and that to operate outside of these regulations is itself the initiation of the use of force.

For instance, you and I are agreed that the Garner case represents a murder (in the widest context; as a matter of moral law; as a matter of reality). Why then can we not change the laws (if the laws are truly deficient in this regard, and not merely this specific grand jury) and bring the officer(s) responsible up on freshly minted charges? If you say "ex post facto" I'd agree. But that is a matter of regulation, and not simple justice which holds that murderers must be punished. Or rather, it is a recognition that justice itself must be regulated; that justice -- to be justice -- must follow certain policies, regarding the deployment of the use of force, which have to do both with the creation of laws and with their execution.

Or as Ayn Rand put it in "The Nature of Government" (emphases added):

 

The retaliatory use of force requires objective rules of evidence to establish that a crime has been committed and to prove who committed it, as well as objective rules to define punishments and enforcement procedures. Men who attempt to prosecute crimes, without such rules, are a lynch mob.

The prohibition against a chokehold was meant to define just such an enforcement procedure.

It is the character of government that when the government administers force outside of the rules laid out for them to regulate that use of force -- when they break "policy" -- they are operating outside of the bounds of the grant of power that individuals delegate to the government initially. They are doing something that they have no right to do.

A policy that defines the parameters of governmental action therefore itself has the character of law, and when the government administers force outside of the bounds set for them, that is the initiation of force. A police officer who breaks into a home outside of the policies which govern those times when he legally may enter without consent is committing a crime. An officer who attacks someone he has no right to attack is guilty of assault. And an officer who arrests someone in a manner that he may not use is likewise guilty.

(But as I say, I'm stumbling through this a bit; this is a fresh line of reasoning for me, and I sincerely invite your correction. Perhaps if I'm committing some error in my thinking, it can be found here.)

Edited by DonAthos
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I still don't know how you'd square this with the notion that, as it seems to me, your average Joe can use a temporary chokehold without it being considered deadly force. It seems to me that you're trying to find a loophole to hang this cop for something that isn't a crime. Ex post facto, indeed. Cops may be held to different standards than your average person. But I submit there are more just punishments for failing those standards to which other people are not held; jettisoning them from the police force, or docking pay, or demotion. I object to double standards for police, but let's not react by imposing an inverse standard. Let's just hold everyone to the same standard.

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I still don't know how you'd square this with the notion that, as it seems to me, your average Joe can use a temporary chokehold without it being considered deadly force.

[...]

Let's just hold everyone to the same standard.

I think that if an average Joe put someone in a chokehold in an attempt to subdue him (i.e. in a "citizen's arrest"), or during horseplay, or an argument, and that man died as a result (meaning that the medical examiner determined the chokehold to have played a part in his death), that Joe should be held criminally responsible.

Do you disagree?

 

It seems to me that you're trying to find a loophole to hang this cop for something that isn't a crime.

I'm deeply disappointed that this is your response.

Edited by DonAthos
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Yes, I disagree in part. For one, I'm not immediately sure where to being parsing out the morality of the horseplay example. The other examples conflate a legal and possibly ethical use of force with a use of force that is neither legal nor remotely ethical. Remember that an apples-to-apples comparison to the Garner case involves a situation where your average Joe is legally justified in using force. There is also some relevant context dropped from your example, such as the lack of an attempt to choke the victim to unconsciousness, unforeseen health concerns, etc. We've gone over that stuff to exhaustion, so I understand not wanting or needing to rehash it again. But considering how fraught with confusion this topic is I feel the need to point that out. 

Are you disappointed because I think headlocks aren't as big a deal as you do, or that I said you're trying to hang a man who committed no crime? If it's the latter, remember that I'm speaking of legal crimes. It's probably a good time to share that one of my first reactions to this situation was that any kind of conviction would be right, even if we had to get creative with the law. So I'd find the position understandable, even if it's not right.

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  • 1 month later...

http://news.yahoo.com/u-preparing-sue-ferguson-police-over-charges-racial-022544637.html
According to CNN, the Holden Justice Department wants to sue Ferguson Police for racial discrimination. Two paragraphs in particular made me laugh:
 

CNN said the potential Justice Department lawsuit could include allegations that police targeted minorities in issuing minor traffic infractions and then jailed them if they could not pay the fines.

It reported the agency would seek court supervision of changes taken by Ferguson police to improve its dealings with minorities.

Ferguson is 70% black. So, if they stick with this language in the lawsuit, they're gonna have to prove that Ferguson PD has been discriminating against whites, hispanics, and that one Indian family that runs the 7/11.

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Relevant -    http://slatestarcodex.com/2014/11/25/race-and-justice-much-more-than-you-wanted-to-know/

 

This is an extensive meta-analysis of data on racial discrimination in the US judicial system. The author's conclusions:

 

 

"There seems to be a strong racial bias in capital punishment and a moderate racial bias in sentence length and decision to jail.

There is ambiguity over the level of racial bias, depending on whose studies you want to believe and how strictly you define “racial bias”, in police stops, police shootings in certain jurisdictions, and arrests for minor drug offenses.

There seems to be little or no racial bias in arrests for serious violent crime, police shootings in most jurisdictions, prosecutions, or convictions.

Overall I disagree with the City Journal claim that there is no evidence of racial bias in the justice system.

But I also disagree with the people who say things like “Every part of America’s criminal justice is systemically racist by design” or “White people can get away with murder but black people are constantly persecuted for any minor infraction,” or “Every black person has to live in fear of the police all the time in a way no white person can possibly understand”. The actual level of bias is limited and detectable only through statistical aggregation of hundreds or thousands of cases, is only unambiguously present in sentencing, and there only at a level of 10-20%, and that only if you believe the most damning studies."

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There seems to be a strong racial bias in capital punishment

34% of the 1,402 people executed in the past 40 years in the US have been black. In a roughly similar time period (1980-2008), 52% of homicides have been committed by black offenders.

So there's no systematic racial bias against blacks. Possibly the opposite (though there would have to be a finer breakdown on the kind of homicides we're talking about before we go down that road, and, frankly, no one cares enough about white murderers to go around researching whether they're being treated more harshly).

That doesn't prove that there are no isolated cases of racial bias, of course. But that's about all it leaves room for.

Edited by Nicky
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