Law Enforcement-Above The Law
This week has been exhausting. Thankfully, I subscribe to other blogs that give me a sigh of relief with gorgeous photos and quotes of wisdom. However, it’s not long before I return to thinking about seeing law enforcement on the streets of America with equipment that was manufactured and intended for use by military troops.
Some of you might remember when I wrote “Upsetting the Apple Cart.” It is about my first experience hearing about cops killing and a cover-up. Entire cities lose trust in law enforcement. In the 1960’s and until about the mid 1970’s, it was common to hear cops referred to as “pigs.” Knowing some cops personally, I never wanted to include them in the pot with stupid, cowardly cops. Still, I can look back in history and consider now that in some cities, such as Chicago, vigilante justice runs rampant because citizens do not trust cops.
Since the 1970’s, cops have acquired more tools for protection, and more tools to force the submission of “suspects.” The problem however, as we saw with Sean Bell, is that when there is no resistance, cops still want to use their tools to control, as tools to punish and torture. The cop who killed Sean Bell said he thought he was pulling his taser, but Sean Bell was not resisting where a taser was necessary.
Also, as we saw with Kelly Thomas, when a “suspect” has a mental disease, there are cops who take pleasure in experimenting to see just how much pain they can inflict, even pain that results in death.
Resisting is now defined as moving any part of your body; asking any question; being deaf; having physical conditions where you can’t move fast.
Now, most cops wear bullet-proof vests. When a person with a bullet-proof vest has to pull a gun before getting a better look at what they suspect is a weapon; before they use tasers; something is wrong in their understanding of “to serve and protect.” No, I’m not saying that a cop who is shot at should contemplate a response other than returning fire. The same is true for having someone point a gun at them. They should not have to wait until the trigger is pulled.
What I am saying is that there are too many unarmed citizens who are killed by members of law enforcement and there are no consequences or the punishment does not meet the crime. Because self-defense also applies to law enforcement, that is the general default story used by law enforcement to justify all killings, even when the evidence proves that deadly force was unnecessary.
Members of law enforcement are human, and humans make mistakes. Having a badge however, should never place those humans above the law. Deadly force is not always necessary. Whenever a “suspect” is unarmed, and law enforcement mistakes a cell phone, a drill, or other object for a gun and kills the “suspect,” they should be charged the same as if an undeputized citizen pulls the trigger.
Some of the names of unarmed individuals killed by law enforcement are fresh in our minds. Some are not. The below is not an exhaustive list; just some of those who readers may not have heard about.
A special Wood County (West Virginia) grand jury decided against indicting Detective P.M. Edelen. Edelen killed 24-year-old Steven Lewis Pfalzgraf of Parkersburg. Edelen said that Pfalzgraf drove a car towards him. The 16 jurors determined that Detective Edelen acted in self defense.
Kimani Gray, 16 years old in Brooklyn, was shot 7 times in his shoulders, arms, and legs, with wounds to the front and back of his body. The two officers in East Flatbush, Brooklyn, were not charged.
Jose Guerena was a U.S. Marine veteran who served in the Iraq War. On May 5, 2011, he was killed in his Tucson, Arizona home by officers of the Pima County SWAT team. The five-person team fired at least 71 rounds at Guerena in less than seven seconds. Guerena was hit 22 times. Guerena’s wife called 911 to request medical assistance for her husband shortly after the shooting. Paramedics, however, were instructed to hold back. Guerena was denied attention, for about one hour, until the team declared the “area secured”. Ambulance crews were then notified they were no longer needed, one hour and fourteen minutes after Guerena’s wife’s call to 911
68-year old Kenneth Chamberlain, Sr., a retired Marine and 20-year veteran of the Westchester County Department of Corrections, was killed on November 19, 2011 in White Plains, New York. Kenneth wore a Life Aid medical alert necklace that was inadvertently triggered. The police came to his home and demanded that he open his front door. Kenneth was intoxicated, told the cops he did not need help and to go away. The police broke down the door, tased Kenneth, and then shot him dead. An audio recording was made by the Life Alert device in his home. Officer Steven Hart swore at Kenneth and called him a “nigger.” Officer Anthony Carelli (whose name was withheld for over four months)] shot Kenneth twice in the chest. A grand jury reviewed the case and decided that no criminal charge would be made against the police officers.
Cpl. Allan DeVillena, who went by “AJ,” was fatally shot by officers Mike Heron and Chad Nordman. DeVillena was the with the 1st Marine Logistics Group based in Camp Pendleton, but stationed at Twentynine Palms. Prosecutors have yet to decide if the officers broke any laws.
38-year old James Boyd was homeless. He was allegedly illegally camping in the Albuquerque foothills when fatally shot by police. Helmet camera video released by the Albuquerque Police Department shows when James Boyd turned his back to officers and is then shot dead. Despite overwhelming criticism to the shooting, the department says its officers were justified.
Duane Brown, of New York called police for assistance in stopping a robbery. The police killed Duane instead.
36-year old Otto Zehm was a mentally disabled man from Spokane, Washington, Spokane Police Officer Karl Thompson killed Otto and was sentenced to 51 months in federal prison for excessive use of force and lying to investigators about the confrontation.
Four officers were involved in the killing of Michael E. Bell of Kenosha, WI. Officer Erich Strausbaugh yelled out to other officers that Bell had his gun. Bell did not. Strausgbaugh caught his holster on the side-view window of his car. No charges were brought against them. Officer Erich Strausbaugh killed himself in October 2010.
Herman Jackson of Sylvester, GA was killed when a police officer placed him in choke-hold, breaking Jackson’s larynx.
Ethan Saylor, a Down Syndrome man, was killed in Maryland when off-duty deputies moonlighting as security guards broke Ethan’s larynx. In spite of the medical report, a grand jury did not indict the officers on the basis that no one saw the choke hold.
Amadou Diallo of New York. Shot 19 times by plains clothes officers. All 4 officers were acquitted.
Christopher Arnold of York, PA., a man who was handicapped, was beaten to death by police in his own front yard.
Mark Anthony Barmore, Rockford, IL, was shot 3 times in the back in the daycare center of a church in front of the children and staff. He was unarmed. Officers Oda Poole and Stan North were not charged. Poole has tried getting back his job on the force, alleging that the Chief of Police had no right to terminate him. North went on disability due to the trauma of the event.
Michael Sago, Jr., Rockford, IL, shot in the back by off-duty sheriff deputy Frank Pobjecky. Pobjecky was not charged and tried benefiting from being a “hero” by running in the Republican primary for Sheriff. He lost.
Antoine Cantrell, College Park, GA
Anthony Smashum, Savannah, GA
Tyisha Miller, Riverside, CA
Daniell Johnson, Lakewood, WA
Now, we add the names of, Eric Gardner, Michael Brown, John Crawford, Ezell Ford.
Local officials are too biased and cannot justly decide when officers of the law should or should not be charged. Even when those cases go before grand juries, those juries only hear the testimony of and see the evidence provided by the local officials who are more inclined to protect their own. Something has to be done to assure citizens that when deadly force is used, the matter is not investigated by local officials but by impartial committees that include forensic experts, and medical examiners. There should be one rule and one rule only when a person is shot in the back – 1st degree murder charges.
Posted on 08/15/2014, in Cops Gone Wild, Michael Brown - Ferguson and tagged deadly force, Eric Gardner, Ethan Saylor, investigations, James Boyd, Michael Brown-Ferguson, MO, police brutality, Sean Bell. Bookmark the permalink. 116 Comments.