In case of emergency, think twice before you dial 911

Trigger warning: Explicit video of a homeless man being executed by the cops.

I strongly recommend that you don't call the police. If you do, because for some reason you have to, get the hell out of there before they arrive. Why? Because our Post-9/11 first responder philosophy is not the first responder philosophy you grew up with. First responders have one primary directive: Protect themselves, at all costs. Your safety is the cost. For firefighters and the like this means running the other way when there is danger, because of 9/11. Recently, a New York City fire chief was quoted as saying "Good thing we didn't get here sooner" (or words to that effect) in relation to a gas explosion. In recent weeks somebody who did not get the memo called the cops for a "domestic disturbance" happening in a public park. When the cops arrive they killed a man that was trying to help. It goes on and on. The police, generally, will protect themselves before they protect you, even if it means gunning down people who are not really a threat to them.

Here is the video. Yes, the guy had knives. He was probably either a bit disturbed when the cops got there or became disoriented when they started shooting flash bangs at him. But they had him surrounded, run to ground, and it was only after he turned away from them that they gunned him down. After he was gunned down the police acted like he was a live cobra, but really, he was just some guy bleeding out on the ground where they dropped him.

I predict that this will be determined a justifiable shooting.

I'm quoting here from Daily Kos who quotes AP (the AP site is borked):

The illegal camper shot by Albuquerque police this week was turning away from officers when they fired at him, according to video released by Chief Gorden Eden on Friday.

The shots come after a confrontation in which the man, identified as 38-year-old James Boyd, tells police he’s going to walk down the mountain with them.

“Don’t change up the agreement,” Boyd says. “I’m going to try to walk with you.”

He tells officers he’s not a murderer.

Boyd picks up his belongings and appears ready to walk down toward officers. An officer fires a flash-bang device, which disorients Boyd.

Boyd appears to pull out knives in both hands as an officer with a dog approaches him. He makes a threatening motion toward the officer, then starts to turn around away from police.

That’s when shots ring out, and Boyd hits the ground. Blood can be seen on the rocks behind him.

Raising Julia, who is ow 18, I taught her to trust the cops, what cops were, when you should go to them or call them. Now, Huxley is 4. I'm teaching him differently.

More like this

"New Albuquerque Police chief Gorden Eden said Friday the video shows that the latest officer involved shooting is justified."

In case you didn't know, arresting someone in need of mental services might require lethal force. And a press conference.

"The press conference ended abruptly Friday without reporters being able to ask all of the questions they wanted. After taking questions for four minutes, an APD spokeswoman attempted to stop the press conference but Chief Eden took questions for two more minutes. After that, Chief Eden walked off, thanking reporters and saying “we’re good.”"

"One of the officers who was involved, Keith Sandy has a notable history in New Mexico law enforcement. APD hired Sandy in 2007 after he was fired by New Mexico State Police over the Wackenhut scandal. Sandy was accused of fraud for making money doing private security work while on the clock for State Police.

When Sandy was hired by APD, the department said he would be a civilian employee and he wouldn’t have a gun or a badge. However, Sandy quickly rose through the department, landing on the ROPE Team, which goes after repeat offenders or some of the city’s most dangerous criminals."

"Raising Julia, who is ow 18, I taught her to trust the cops, what cops were, when you should go to them or call them. Now, Huxley is 4. I’m teaching him differently. "

This is really irresponsible, alarmist and reactionary. I personally know a lot of cops who would gladly put their lives in danger for the citizens they protect. They will openly admit that cops are human, some make poor decisions and sometimes the work they do isn't as black and white as a 3 minute video might make it seem. Posting on science blogs I guess I expect you to know what's wrong with conflating a couple of incidences over the hundreds of 911/cop related incidences that go off everyday without a hitch. Not to mention the dozens of videos I could be posting of cops being attacked by seemingly unarmed and co-operative individuals.

Grabula, I think you should be careful characterizing my response as irresponsible, alarmist, and reactionary. I've not told you what I'm teaching Huxley. There is something in your mind you are reacting to, not something in real life.

It was relatively simple with Julia living with the illusion, mostly true, that cops would generally be better to have around under man circumstances. Those days are past.

If this was just a matter of me seeing a bunch of news stories and reacting to that, this might be reactionary and even an example of conformation bias. But that is not the whole story. The last time we called the cops here, being helpful by reporting a crime we witnessed but that did not affect us, they showed up very late but in the manner of storm troopers -- slow moving storm troopers -- and insisted that the people in my household, on my property, prove who they were. I sent them packing because I know my rights. I have numerous friends who have had similar experiences a large percentage of the time they've interacted with cops, and over recent years, and the also regard this as new behavior.

There is a general gestalt that I also find worrying. Example: the other day, there was a fender bender in front of my house. The cops closed the two main streets in the area, shutting down the neighborhood to traffic for about an hour or more, not because there was even the slightest need to do so but because they happened to park their cruisers in the middle of the streets. That was not a situation of the cops showing up and being dangerous, but it was a clear demonstration that they have no idea what their role in society is any more. It seems to be mainly to show force and occasionally use force. And no, there were no crazy arab terrorists or meth dealers at the fender bender, just an old lady who had the sun in her eyes and a guy who was driving his pickup a bit slowly ahead of her.

I personally know cops as well, some of my best friends are cops of one sort or another, and there are plenty of good cops. But if one in 100 dogs bit randomly, I'd avoid all dogs I don't know.

This is all made worse by numerous cases where cops did something most people agreed was wrong or at least highly questionable and getting cleared because their actions were determined to be proper. I'm not talking about random news reports which, as you suggest and I've already said, can be confirmation bias. I'm talking about the preponderance of events in the region where I live and pay attention, so we're looking at a pretty complete sample.

I'll throw this in as well: The origins of my cynicism about cops started back when the GOP had their convention here. Dozens of members of a community I personally overlap with were summarily harassed, rounded up, arrested, spent piles of time in jail, and were charged with the kinds of crimes that would have put them away for decades. The chief of police and the mayor of the city fully backed the cops. But these kids (mostly kids) ended up with some good lawyers. Eventually they were cleared, and they sued the police dept, and they won the law suit. They were totally innocent, and spent years under the boot because these cops all thought they were Rambo and this was a police state they ran.

No, I'm not teaching Huxley what I taught Julia. However, I don't know what I'm going to teach him yet.

The key question is whether you expect the cops to treat you as part of their community. If the answer is yes, then you trust the cops; if no, then being wary is the rational response. When Greg and I were growing up, you could generally assume that the answer was "yes", at least if you were white and middle class or higher. But I suspect most persons of color in this country have always answered "no", and the evidence that even middle-class whites should answer "no" has been mounting. Thanks to the War on Drugs, police forces in the US are becoming increasingly militarized, and the sense of "us versus them" seems to be increasing as well--in many cases the people who determine whether a cop was justified in using what others might consider excessive force are other cops. Not to mention that too many people go into police work for the wrong reasons, among them a desire to scratch the sociopathic itch to show dominance over other people just because they can. Not all cops are like that, but you have to allow for the possibility that the particular cop you are dealing with is. American gun culture doesn't help either; the cops reasonably assume that anyone they encounter is armed, because too many of us are.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 27 Mar 2014 #permalink

@Grabula, Greg's post was emotional, frank and in my opinion effectively so. But I can see how it was short on giving a productive way to deal with this new reality. On where to look for the causes and what we can do to make it better. I think it was helpful of you to make that point and push the conversation in that direction. You're touching on something important, like Eric Lund said, there's a problem with "police forces in the US [are] becoming increasingly militarized, and the sense of “us versus them” seems to be increasing." Together with the crisis of accountability and oversight, the gestalt Greg has captured here is very troubling.

Crime rates are at their lowest since Kennedy was president. What should be asked is if this police behavior is getting more aggressive or are we noticing it more due to more cameras being around.

"The origins of my cynicism about cops started back when the GOP had their convention here. Dozens of members of a community I personally overlap with were summarily harassed, rounded up, arrested, spent piles of time in jail, and were charged with the kinds of crimes that would have put them away for decade"

Well, I'm skeptical of the gross injustice you allege--indefensible if true--but consider, who does the police work for? The government. Who do you think will solve all our problems? The government. Perhaps you should consider that all power corrupts, and the power of Exxon or Microsoft is nothing compared to the Federal Government within the USA.

I too dislike coercion, but I'm more inclined to think those with armies and police forces (eg, governments) are more coercive than rich people or businesses.

By Eric Falkenstein (not verified) on 28 Mar 2014 #permalink