January 13, 2009

Only Police Should Have Guns - The Execution of Oscar Grant

There was a fight in a subway car in San Francisco New Year's Day. Tons of people got footage of this incident in addition to the surveillance camera footage, which has not been released yet. A bunch of men were pulled off the car by transit police and made to sit at the station. We do not know if this man was involved in the fight, but witnesses say he was telling the other men to "Do what they say, just do what they say!" and saying "Please, I have a 4 year old daughter, please don't do anything." You can obviously see the rest.

I know how deceiving things can be, considering the Rodney King debacle, where we now know what happened before the 43 seconds of video tape. This doesn't look like anything approaching that scenario; this by all appearances is a brutal execution of an unarmed man for no reason. You can bet it would be different if a citizen had tried to do this to a policeman.

I would have done anything to be at the protests, but of course I can't because they turn into riots. This is what happens when only the police have firearms. This is what happens when government authority runs riot. Unfortunately people don't understand that in order to put this man away for a long, long time you have to actually get depositions and build up an ironclad court case. I will be following this case to see what comes of it; but I sure hope to hell justice is served properly.

While we're here, it's NOT A TRUCK - IT'S A SERIES OF TUBES - massive, tangled tubes. The intertubes! Enjoy.


Doc Holliday said...

Well, I have seen this recorded from at least 4 different camera-phones, and I really can't tell all that much.

I can identify 2, sometimes 3 cops trying to keep control over several people being detained, I see more cops facing outward, apparently to keep a hostile mob of "urban" type people from advancing. (and several advance repeatedly getting in the way of the camera)

I can hear jungle music, and hear a goodly number of people heckling and berating the cops.

I didn't see why these thug-like beings were all lined up for detaining, and I doubt that the people in the train or on the platform did either.

I see a guy on the floor, NOT handcuffed, and apparently not very cooperative.

And it took me several times of watching to be able to identify the cop who shot the guy, and subsequently looked like he was surprised at what had happened.

In the old days, cops would clobber a non compliant suspect with batons, or get him into a choke hold, but PC attitudes of the public and Police Departments have led police to employing Tasers as a general cure-all to getting hands on.

Unfortunately, people die from Tasers, too.

Not an execution.
He fucked up.
He fucked up BAD.

Badge lickers will say that he should not lose his career over this.

I think that killing someone unjustifiably, or accidently like this should almost certainly result in NEVER having police responsibility anywhere again.

Even if, as is already known, Grant has a criminal history. (He WAS on probation)

I've seen enough situations covered by video, of one or two guys dressed in gangster clothes, and a mob forms to bitch about it.

Ghetto people are the most popular victims of crime, and the wost apologists for it.

Given the behavior of ghetto-dwellers, it is not surprising that police treat them like animals.

AnnieMcPhee said...

Well this is the other stuff that I really wanted to hear; for example I didn't know he was on probation. (What for?) I know after the Rodney King deal NOT to just trust video after the fact; at the same time what the hell was the policeman shooting him for? You couldn't see that much; but it seems like the guy was on the ground on his stomach so, uh, wtf? I do not trust police authority, especially with deadly force. They are often the lowest echelon of intelligence given badges and guns, and I've seen how they behave with it. It's not pretty. Naturally I don't know what happened here and I realize this; what we have seen so far isn't pretty.

Doc Holliday said...

I absolutely would not want to be trying to handcuff a resistant suspect with a mob of his "homies" shouting at me.

I have no idea what the situation was that the police were responding to, in the first place.

I remember cases in Paris where police came upon some "urban youths" who had just beaten or raped someone on the train, and did a mighty NOTHING.

We could have that, but I predict that our cities would become even more dangerous if police just quit trying because people would get mad at them.

Once that happens, the only law and order will come from vigilance committees and Lynch mobs.

Judge Lynch is always willing to run for office.

AnnieMcPhee said...

"I absolutely would not want to be trying to handcuff a resistant suspect with a mob of his "homies" shouting at me."

No neither would I; but was he really resisting? It looked like he was just laying on his stomach; and I could be wrong there since we couldn't really see him at that point. It sounded like the watching crowd was shouting, but they weren't his friends; they were strangers. They were all just kind of sitting around.

They were pulled off the train because of some altercation that took place, a fight.

Wouldn't he have been better off at that particular point with the pepper spray?

Doc Holliday said...

Honestly, even though i saw the scene from 4 different perspectives, I could not tell with any certainty WHAT the guy that got shot was doing.

However, one of the things that cops are especially practiced at it handcuffing someone, if he is laying there not squirming and such. Clickety-clack, off you go.

I think the cop thought he was deploying his Taser. (arguably excessive force)
And he screwed up bad.

I think that the DA should be presenting to a grand jury for negligent manslaughter. (if that is a legal charge)

If I were on a grand jury I might indict...

On a criminal jury, with the luxury of reviewing all the recordings over and over for months..... I'm not so sure.

AnnieMcPhee said...

My understanding (and it's been a while since I took formal courses in this kind of law) is that manslaughter means there was neglect as opposed to malice. I think it might be a redundant term, but then again that might be wrong, but yeah. I can see what you're saying.

The whole thing leaves a really really bad taste in my mouth. They seem to make this particular kind of screw-up too often, you know? It would have been kind of cool if there'd been cell phones and such when Bernie Ghoetz was in the subway wouldn't it? Though of course sometimes the video leaves you with more questions than answers.

Doc Holliday said...

I never took classes in law, but that is much as I recall.

Impulsively hit someone over the head with a 2x4 and he dies: Murder.

Run over someone on the street: Manslaughter.

Get into a brawl in a bar, push a guy, he goes down and whacks his head on a table and dies: could go either way...

I know what you mean about this happening too often...
I usually am suspicious when I see these reports of someone with no criminal history suddenly flippping out and attacking 4 cops and , oops, he's dead - case closed.

The video available in this particular case leads me in the direction of negligence rather than malice. The cop has already resigned, and he no longer is under the authority of internal affairs. I doubt that he will ever have a position as a cop again.

If I were on a jury I doubt I would convict him of a murder charge, perhaps not even manslaughter.

AnnieMcPhee said...

Well that's a very interesting take on this, and one that I haven't heard as yet. Not that I think we're going to hear it anywhere else.

Politically, though, do you really think they have the option of NOT hanging that cop out to dry? Can anyone in power really afford not to nail him down and hang his ass out for real? I don't see how they could possibly get away with that, no matter what the surveillance tapes and depositions show. Please note - I don't want anyone to get away with anything; naturally if the evidence ends up that it's execution/murder then he needs to pay for that; if it leads where you said, can they afford to let that stand?

Doc Holliday said...

While we often see cases which look "clearly" like police defending the indefensible, I've come to think that sacrificing a cop to the howling mob is common enough.

The cops who clobbered Rodney King were tried, acquitted, and then tried again because the mob demanded it.

The beating looked extreme on video, but as I recall, King was not even hospitalized, just turned over to police.

Plenty of people might disagree with my POV on whether the cops "should" have been acquitted, but when we start trying cops until we find a jury that renders the "correct" guilty verdict, it's not long before that will become the norm, for all of us.

A lynch mob is very democratic.

AnnieMcPhee said...

Well that one is a perfect example; when I read and heard the full account of the King incident, it became clear that the video was really, really badly deceptive. I don't disagree that the police should have been acquitted in that instance. And then of course double-jeopardy doesn't apply when one of the cases is about money - those are easier to win. In both the OJ civil case and the King civil case, justice was not served.

I don't know; I'm willing to wait until the investigation is complete and we REALLY see what the evidence is - I'd still be willing to protest, though, but not to be involved in bullshit rioting so I guess that's moot. So either way you do think the policeman was likely at the least criminally negligent, am I correct there? When I say I want to see "justice served", I genuinely mean "even if I'm wrong". And I don't see how he can be innocent here, though I want the correct charges to apply rather than sacrificing him, as you say, to the howling mob.

Doc Holliday said...

Well the civil case for King was a big payoff from the city. (which he squandered)

But the second trial I was referring to was when the cops were tried in FEDERAL court for the same crime... or rather than effectively being charged with attempted murder as before they were convicted of "depriving King of his civil rights".

But given the totality of the situation of him not submitting when surrounded by 8 cops, it's a real stretch to apply mens rea to them in that situation.

Anyway, back to this situation:

was it "criminally" negligent? That's why judges and lawyers stay in business. I'm glad I'm not him.... glad I'm not the dead guy too.

AnnieMcPhee said...

The officer has been arrested.

"The arrest came on the eve of a protest scheduled for 4 p.m. today outside Oakland City Hall, the latest in a series of demonstrations in which BART has been accused of mishandling the investigation."

Uh. Okay. It happened two weeks ago and they've been investigating it since then. They haven't released anything because it could poison the witness pool. I guess some people are mind-readers and just KNOW they were "mishandling" the investigation. Or someone just wanted to burn more shit down and break things.

"In the videos, Mehserle appears to be trying to put cuffs on Grant, and Grant appears to be struggling, when Mehserle suddenly pulls his service weapon from his holster and fires one shot into Grant's back."

First time I've seen acknowledgment that he was struggling while they were trying to put cuffs on him. Would the taser have been an appropriate choice there?