Posts tagged LAPD

Public Safety (Cont’d)

There was more news released today on the police-on-police manhunt in Los Angeles, and the out-of-control police violence and jumping-the-gun overkill shootings in Torrance, California, which I mentioned previously the other day Now it turns out that they lit up not just one completely innocent pick-up driver, but two. Emphasis added.

David Perdue was on his way to sneak in some surfing before work Thursday morning when police flagged him down. They asked who he was and where he was headed, then sent him on his way.

Seconds later, Perdue’s attorney said, a Torrance police cruiser slammed into his pickup and officers opened fire; none of the bullets struck Perdue.

His pickup, police later explained, matched the description of the one belonging to Christopher Jordan Dorner — the ex-cop who has evaded authorities after allegedly killing three and wounding two more. But the pickups were different makes and colors. And Perdue looks nothing like Dorner: He’s several inches shorter and about a hundred pounds lighter. And Perdue is white; Dorner is black. . . .

The incident involving Perdue was the second time police looking for the fugitive former LAPD officer opened fire on someone else. . . . Torrance police said the officers who slammed into Perdue were responding to shots fired moments earlier in a nearby area in a nearby area where LAPD officers were standing guard outside the home of someone targeted in an online manifesto that authorities have attributed to Dorner.[1]

In the first incident, LAPD officers opened fire on another pickup they feared was being driven by Dorner. The mother and daughter inside the truck were delivering Los Angeles Times newspapers. The older woman was shot twice in the back and the other was wounded by broken glass.

In Perdue’s case, his attorney said he wasn’t struck by bullets or glass but was injured in the car wreck, suffering a concussion and an injury to his shoulder. The LAX baggage handler hasn’t been able to work since, and his car is totaled, Sheahen said. . . . According to the police department, Perdue’s car was headed directly for one of their patrol vehicles and appeared not to be yielding. When the vehicles collided, Perdue’s air bag went off, blocking the view of the driver, and one officer fired three rounds.

— Robert Faturechi and Matt Stevens, Police seeking Dorner opened fire in a second case of mistaken identity, Los Angeles Times (February 9, 2013)

Do you feel safer now?

Mostly, this is just horrible and I hope that my friends in Southern California are staying safe. Connie Rice, a civil rights attorney, was consulted by the authors of the L.A. Times article, but what they chose to print from her statement was not anything having to do with civil rights; it was They [government police] don’t know where he is, and they’re going to be edgy and jumpy . . . Don’t get in their way. They’re in a special state of consciousness right now, and they’re not used to being hunted. I don’t know how much talk about civil rights issues in this homicidal police rampage was edited down to get that pull-quote, so I don’t want to blame Connie Rice for anything if this was taken out of context by the reporters. However, I will say that while it may be sensible practical advice to tell folks to stay away from the cops right now — while they are acting like twitchy, homicidal maniacs, and shooting literally anybody who moves the wrong way — it’s not clear how this advice is supposed to help someone like David Perdue. After all he didn’t get in [the police’s] way; they rammed his truck from behind. And if the attitude you have to take towards government police right now, even when they don’t come right after you for driving down a residential street, is essentially to treat them like mad dogs and do anything you can to keep a safe distance from them, what does that tell you about policing?

Government police are immensely politically and socially privileged, and they constantly demand extraordinary legal immunities and social deference. The reason that police use to justify the special powers and immunities that they get relative to the rest of the population is, in their constant refrain, that they’re putting their own lives on the line, supposedly for our safety. Actually, what constantly happens, and what is happening right now in Southern California, is that police jump on guesses, shoot first and ask questions later, and rely on boss cops and city lawyers to make up excuses for any mistake or any aubse, and so to protect them from any legal consequences whatever for when they attack, hurt or kill unarmed, defenseless or completely innocent people. As a result, when the chips are down, what happens, over and over again, is that police put our lives on the line, in order to protect their own safety, and their political privileges and legal immunities ensure that they will never be held accountable for whatever they do to us in the process.

Government police are one of the greatest menaces to public safety in the United States.

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Also.

  1. [1] The jumbled grammar here — which, like most writing that was copied more or less directly from cop-speak, is full of passive constructions, lost subjects, rhetorical misdirection fractured causation, and seems more or less entirely calculated to erase the subjects of sentences, in order to ensure maximal obscurity about what police actually chose to do and when they did it — makes it hard to parse out this piece of information. But other reports have made clear that the shots fired moments earlier, which the cops who rammed Perdue’s truck were responding to and which got them afraid, were shots fired by other police officers, specifically the shots fired when LAPD opened up 20-30 rounds on the women in the first pickup truck. So one set of cops is hunting another cop who’s been shooting cops; the first set of cops flies off the handle and lights up the wrong pickup truck; the gunfire from their mistaken-identity overkill shooting frightens another set of cops, and so they flip out, then ram and light up the first pickup truck they see coming.

Public Safety

From the Los Angeles Times (February 8, 2013), on a recent police shooting in Torrance, California. Emphasis is mine.

It was around 5 a.m. in Torrance on Thursday and police from nearby El Segundo had seen a pickup truck exit a freeway and head in the general direction of the Redbeam Avenue residence of a high-ranking Los Angeles police official, which was being guarded by a group of LAPD officers. Police were on the lookout for Christopher Jordan Dorner, a disgruntled ex-cop suspected of hunting down members of the LAPD . . . . A few minutes later, a truck slowly rolled down the quiet residential street.

As the vehicle approached the house, officers opened fire, unloading a barrage of bullets into the back of the truck. When the shooting stopped, they quickly realized their mistake. The truck was not a Nissan Titan, but a Toyota Tacoma. The color wasn’t gray, but aqua blue. And it wasn’t Dorner inside the truck, but a woman and her mother delivering copies of the Los Angeles Times.

In an interview with The Times on Friday, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck outlined the most detailed account yet of how the shooting unfolded. Margie Carranza, 47, and her mother, Emma Hernandez, 71, were the victims of a tragic misinterpretation . . . They declined to say how many officers were involved, what kind of weapons they used, how many bullets were fired and, perhaps most important, what kind of verbal warnings — if any — were given to the women before the shooting began.

Law enforcement sources told The Times that at least seven officers opened fire. On Friday, the street was pockmarked with bullet holes in cars, trees, garage doors and roofs. Residents said they wanted to know what happened.

. . . Glen T. Jonas, the attorney representing the women, said the police officers gave no comments, no instructions and no opportunity to surrender before opening fire. He described a terrifying encounter in which the pair were in the early part of their delivery route through several South Bay communities. Hernandez was in the back seat handing papers to her daughter, who was driving. Carranza would briefly slow the truck to throw papers on driveways and front walks.

As bullets tore through the cabin, the two women covered their faces and huddled down, Jonas said. They felt like it was going on forever.

Hernandez was shot twice in her back and is expected to recover. Her daughter escaped with only minor wounds from broken glass… .

Jonas estimated that the officers fired between 20 and 30 rounds. Photographs of the back of the truck showed at least two dozen bullet holes. Neighbors, however, suggested there were more shots fired. . . .

A day after the shooting, residents in the street surveyed the damage.

Kathy Merkosky, 53, was outside her stucco home pointing out the six bullet holes in the bumper and grill of her silver Acura MD-X. She knew her truck was damaged when she spotted it on television and saw fluid flowing into the street.

Her Ford Focus was hit as well — a bullet shattered the windshield and another flattened a front tire.

. . . [Neighbor Richard] Goo said he could hear the bullets hitting the front door and feared they were coming through the house.

He said he called 911 for the police, but was notified that they were already there.

— Joel Rubin, Angel Jennings and Andrew Blankstein, Details emerge in LAPD’s mistaken shooting of newspaper carriers, Los Angeles Times (February 8, 2013)

Here’s more on the Official Reaction, from the same story:

After the investigation is completed, Beck and an oversight board will decide if officers were justified in the shooting . . . .

— Details emerge …

Fun fact: if you delete the if from this sentence it will still be a completely accurate statement about what is going to happen.

. . . or made mistakes that warrant either punishment or training.

— Details emerge …

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck isn’t sure whether or not a gang of cops lighting up completely the wrong vehicle and shooting an innocent 71-year-old woman twice in the back is making a mistake.

But if it is, it’s a mistake that warrants punishment or training.

Do you feel safer now?

Also.

In Their Own Words: Master and Commander edition

The Los Angeles Police Protective League Board of Directors, on their understanding of Officer Safety:

This time it was a Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel, essentially ruling that unless an officer is actually under physical attack, he/she cannot use a Taser to subdue a suspect. And, for good measure, these starry-eyed jurists, who probably have never been in a physical fight in their lives, opined that police officers should not fear irrational suspects defying officer commands as long as the suspect stays 15 feet from the officer.

As every street cop knows, any suspect within 15 feet who is actively resisting verbal commands is a threat to officer safety.

If a suspect complies with an officer’s commands, the use of force or a weapon is unnecessary. When a suspect fails to comply with verbal commands, it means the situation is rapidly escalating and some form of force will be required to gain compliance.

— Los Angeles Police Protective League Board of Directors, lapd.com: The Official Blog of the Los Angeles Police Protective League (2009-12-30): The Ninth Circuit’s year-end ‘gift’ to law enforcement

(Via William N. Grigg.)

See also:

Professional courtesy

(Boing Boing 2008-04-07, via Roderick Long 2008-04-08.)

It’s 1:45 p.m. on a Wednesday in February and a Toyota Camry is driving west on the 91 Express Lanes, for free, for the 470th time.

The electronic transponder on the dashboard – used to bill tollway users – is inactive. The Camry’s owners, airport traffic officer Rudolph Duplessis and his wife, Loretta, have never had a toll road account, officials say.

They’ve never received a violation notice in the mail, either. Their car is registered as part of a state program which hides their home address on Department of Motor Vehicles records. The agency that operates the tollway does not have legal access to their address.

Their Toyota is one of 996,716 vehicles registered to motorists who are affiliated with 1,800 state and local agencies and who are allowed to shield their addresses under the Confidential Records Program.

An Orange County Register investigation has found that the program, designed 30 years ago to protect police from criminals, has been expanded to cover hundreds of thousands of public employees — from police dispatchers to museum guards — who face little threat from the public. Their spouses and children can get the plates, too.

This has happened despite warnings from state officials that the safeguard is no longer needed because updated laws have made all DMV information confidential to the public.

The Register found that the confidential plate program shields these motorists in ways most of us can only dream about:

  • Vehicles with protected license plates can run through dozens of intersections controlled by red light cameras and breeze along the 91 toll lanes with impunity.

  • Parking citations issued to vehicles with protected plates are often dismissed because the process necessary to pierce the shield is too cumbersome.

  • Some patrol officers let drivers with protected plates off with a warning because the plates signal that the drivers are one of their own or related to someone who is.

Exactly how many people are taking advantage of their protected plates is impossible to calculate. Like the Orange County Transportation Authority, which operates the tollway, many agencies have automated processes and have never focused on what happens to confidential plate holders. Sometimes police take note of the plate and don’t write a ticket at all.

I would highly doubt that anybody is registering their vehicles on a confidential basis to do anything but protect themselves, Garden Grove Police Capt. Mike Handfield said. I just don’t think people are thinking they’re getting away with anything…. Is the value of having a confidential plate and protecting the law enforcement community from people who might hurt them, is that worth that risk? I believe it is.

The Register asked the DMV for a list of the number of motorists participating in the program and the agencies they claim as an employer. But the DMV refused to provide those records unless The Register paid $8,442, which officials said was the cost of extracting the list from its database.

Some police officers confess that when they pull over someone with a confidential license plate they’re more likely to let them off with a warning. In most cases, one said, if an officer realizes a motorist has a confidential plate, the car won’t be pulled over at all.

It’s an unwritten rule that we would extend professional courtesy, said Ron Smith, a retired Los Angeles Police Department officer who worked patrol for 23 years. Nine out of 10 times I would.

California Highway Patrol officer Jennifer Hink put it a little differently. It’s officer discretion … (But) just because you have confidential plates doesn’t mean you’re going to get out of a citation.

Many police departments that run red light camera programs systematically dismiss citations issued to confidential plates.

It’s a courtesy, law enforcement to law enforcement, San Francisco Police Sgt. Tom Lee said. We let it go.

— Jennifer Muir, Orange County Register (2008-04-04): Special license plates shield officials from traffic tickets

The term professional courtesy comes from the traditions of medicine: many doctors will not charge money when they treat another doctor’s immediate family. When doctors talk about professional courtesy they are talking about a very old system of mutual aid in which one doctor agrees to do a favor for another, at her own expense, for the sake of collegiality, out of concern for professional ethics (to offer doctors an alternative to having their own family as patients), and because she can count on getting similar services in return should she ever need them.

But when the Gangsters in Blue start talking about professional courtesy, they’re talking about something quite different: a favor done for a fellow gang member at no personal expense, with the bill sent to unwilling taxpayers who must pick up the tab for the roads and parking; and a favor done in order insulate the gangsters and their immediate family from any kind of ethical accountability to the unwilling victims that they sanctimoniously insist on serving and protecting. Professional courtesy in medicine means reciprocity in co-operative mutual aid in healing sick people; professional courtesy in government policing means reciprocity in a conspiracy to make sure that any cop can do just about anything she wants by way of free-riding, disruptive, dangerous or criminal treatment of innocent third parties, with complete impunity, and the rest of us will get the bill for it and a fuck you, civilian if we don’t like it.

To be sure, letting a traffic ticket slide is, in the grand scheme of things, a pretty small thing. But it’s a small thing that is intimately connected with bigger things—with a pervasive, institutionalized system with consequences that are as terrible as they are inevitable and predictable.