$30 Million Dollar Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed in Nashville
As first mentioned in Message 195, this past July Officer Andrew Delke of the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department shot and killed Daniel Hambrick while he was running away. The murder was captured on video:
Delke has already been indicted for murder by a grand jury (hey, Hryo, finally an example for you of how grand juries actually fit into the legal process), but now Hambrick's family has filed a lawsuit asking $30 million in punitive damages.
And just look at where Delke fired his weapon: in a residential neighborhood where anyone who was checking their mailbox or picking up their newspaper or walking their dog or children playing in the front yard would have been exposed to any of his shots. How far does a bullet travel after missing it's target? Would a mile be a reasonable guess? Officer Delke was firing bullets that could probably travel a mile or more before striking an object - or a person. He supposedly fired four bullets, and Hambrick was struck only three times. Do you think they ever found that fourth bullet? Since there were no other bodies on the ground besides Hambrick's we know it didn't strike a person, but it struck something. What did it hit, and how close did it come to hitting someone?
Delke's likely just an average guy with average judgement and average emotions and average skills (actually, given that he hit a running Hambrick three times from a fair distance, I'd say he has above average marksman skills), yet he fired shots in a residential neighborhood full of families and children. He shouldn't be carrying a deadly weapon.
That's no shame on him - very few possess the necessary qualities to carry a deadly weapon around in public. Poor schmucks like Delke are not to blame. Statistically in a large country like the US where we issue deadly weapons to all our police, incidents like this are going to happen to some police officer somewhere every day, and this particular day it was Delke's turn. It is our local governments and our society in general that allows our public spaces to be peppered with individuals carrying deadly weapons. Until it stops the police condoned murders (usually, though not this time) will continue.
Back in February six police officers in Vellejo, California, shot and killed 20-year old rapper Willie McCoy as he awoke after sleeping in his car. The police report laid all the responsibility for McCoy's death on him. I said we wouldn't really know what happened unless there was body cam footage. Well guess what - there was, six of them to be exact (be warned that it is disturbing):
The police were faced with a man sleeping in a car with a gun in his lap. As he groggily awakens he moves in a way that police interpret as reaching for his gun and they fire 25 shots. McCoy dies at the scene.
These police were obviously unprepared for handling an armed waking man. I'm no police expert, but one idea is to have a sharpshooter train his gun on the sleeping man, then from a distance throw rocks at the car window until the man wakes up, for as long as it takes. When he wakes up you give him instructions with the understanding that a waking man, particularly one who might have been on drugs, will be groggy and disoriented. But if he is seen with a gun in his hand then the sharpshooter fires.
The police also showed wanton disregard for public safety. The Taco Bell where this happened is within 200 feet of Route 80, and right on major artery Admiral Callaghan Lane. Within 1000 feet are a mattress company, McDonalds, Target, a jewelers, a nail salon, a clothing store, Panda Express, Bank of America, a diner, a Mexican restaurant, Applebees, Home Depot, Olive Garden, Black Angus Steakhouse, T-Mobile, PetCo, Bed Bath and Beyond, Michaels and more.
As I said earlier, though it won't make up for the loss of their son, the McCoy family can expect a serious payout from the city of Vallejo.
AbE: Rhetorical question: How is a sleeping man with a gun in his lap a significantly different danger than a man in an open-carry state with a gun on his hip?
Also, why is it that open-carry requires more legislation and permits than concealed carry? People have a right to know who is armed on their streets. Firearms should be carried out in the open where they can be seen. The concealed carry people should have to wear a red warning sticker on their forehead.
Just adding a little detail to the police murder of Willie McCoy. In my previous post I said Vallejo police were obviously improperly trained to handle an armed waking man and suggested that they should have followed a much less lethal approach, such as having a sharp shooter aimed and ready while they threw pebbles at the window of McCoy's car until he woke up, for as long as it took.
quote:Many police departments require officers to prioritize the preservation of human life, and not create dangerous situations that lead to an unnecessary killing. For example, the Seattle Police Dept.’s policies instruct officers to “take reasonable care that their actions do not precipitate an unnecessary, unreasonable, or disproportionate use of force, by placing themselves or others in jeopardy, or by not following policy or training.” These kinds of policies are in line with best practices recommended by the Police Executive Research Forum, which directs law enforcement agencies to train officers on using distance, cover, and time to manage potentially dangerous situations without the use of lethal force.
But it isn't possible or reasonable to expect all one million police officers in the US to have and maintain the necessary degree of proper training, not to mention the presence of mind to adhere to that training in stressful situations.
Eric Courtney Harris and Oscar Grant were not so lucky:
quote:Robert Bates, a reserve deputy with the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office in Oklahoma, said he meant to use his Taser stun gun, not his revolver, on suspect Eric Courtney Harris, who had been tackled by other deputies and was being held on the ground on April 2, 2015.
In a 2009 case, a Bay Area Rapid Transit police officer fired his gun instead of his Taser, killing 22-year-old Oscar Grant in Oakland, California.
The former officer, Johannes Mehserle, testified that he had meant to use his Taser but drew his gun instead. Mehserle was sentenced to two years in prison for involuntary manslaughter but was released early due to good conduct.
Police firing their handguns when they meant to fire their Tasers: who woulda thought. Well, actually, this is what everyone should have expected. When you issue a million handguns to normal people there are going to be accidents, and innocent people (of capital crimes, at least) are going to die.