$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.
I briefly mentioned the Justine Damond police shooting at the end of Message 191. Damond was shot and killed when she reported a rape, then walked up to the window of the police car when it arrived and was immediately shot.
quote:His attorneys have said he feared an ambush, and Noor testified about "counter-ambush" training that included scenarios such as two officers in a squad car, doing routine tasks, and an instructor yelling "Threat!" The officers had to make a quick decision about whether to shoot, Noor said.
"Action is better than reaction," Noor said. "If you're reacting, that means it's too late ... to protect yourself. ... You die."
Noor described another training exercise where he was sent to a location, heard gunshots and instead of assessing the threat, he ran toward it. An instructor shot him with a paintball gun, he said.
"So the point is if you don't do your job correctly, you'll get killed," Plunkett said.
"Yes sir," Noor answered.
Noor was a victim of his own department's training, putting him in a state of extreme paranoia and telling them to shoot first and ask questions later, otherwise they'd end up dead.
Police without guns don't drive themselves into ambush situations for which they've been trained to shoot themselves out of trouble. No guns means police would be forced to adopt (and receive training for) a more careful and circumspect approach.
Obviously the police are deathly afraid of guns. That's why there are so many cases of the police firing 10 or 20 shots at unarmed people.
quote:MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A Minneapolis police officer was convicted of murder Tuesday in the fatal shooting of an unarmed woman who approached his squad car minutes after calling 911 to report a possible rape behind her home.
Mohamed Noor was convicted of third-degree murder as well as manslaughter in the July 2017 death of Justine Ruszczyk Damond , a 40-year-old dual citizen of the U.S. and Australia. He wasn’t convicted of the most serious charge of intentional second-degree murder.
Jurors deliberated about five hours Monday and six on Tuesday before reaching a decision.
Re: Minneapolis Police Officer Convicted Of Murder In 911 Caller Death
I'm sort of both happy and sad. Happy because it *was* murder, and sad because I'm not convinced Noor should be the only one held accountable. Unless his characterization of police training procedures is false, his department should be held accountable, too.
Noor could be sentenced to prison for up to 12.5 years (I think - the article says he was convicted of both 2nd degree manslaughter and 3rd degree murder, so if he can be sentenced for both and the sentences do not run concurrently then it could be as much as 16.5 years). Sentencing will be June 7th at 9 AM. I assume he'll file an appeal.
Damond's family is suing "his partner Harrity, former Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau, current Chief Medaria Arradondo and the city of Minneapolis. The family is seeking millions of dollars in damages over what it considers a violation of Ruszczyk's civil rights." (Noor guilty in Damond's killing: Here's what happens next). Even though police officers are almost never found guilty of manslaughter or murder while on duty, it's still extremely expensive and time consuming for their bosses and employers, though probably only the insurance companies pay.
quote:A few days after officer Mohamed Noor was convicted of murdering Justine Ruszczyk Damond, the city of Minneapolis agreed to a record $20 million settlement.
The city of Minneapolis will pay the family of Justine Ruszczyk Damond a record $20 million to settle a lawsuit over her July 15, 2017, shooting death by a Minneapolis police officer.
Mayor Jacob Frey announced the agreement solemnly at a news conference Friday, flanked by City Council members, the city attorney and the police chief. The deal stipulates that the family will donate $2 million of its settlement to the Minneapolis Foundation's Fund for Safe Communities, a program set up to fight gun violence in the city, Frey said.
This past March in Oklahoma City eighth-grader Lorenzo Clerkley and his friends wanted to play basketball, but it was raining so they gathered a few air-soft and BB guns and went to an abandoned house to play. A neighbor called in a report of breaking and entering with guns to police, also saying they weren't sure if the guns were real. The police arrived as Lorenzo was jumping out a window (the back door was locked). Police Sergeant Kyle Holcomb ordered "Show me your hands, drop it!" Six tenths of a second later, according to body cam footage, Holcomb fired four shots, hitting Lorenzo twice, once in the hip and once in the leg, neither life threatening.
Lorenzo's family has no health insurance and does not know how they will pay his medical bills. Lorenzo missed three weeks of school. Officer Holcomb was cleared of all blame and has already returned to work. The family has filed a civil suit.
Some might remember that in 2017 Oklahoma City officers investigating a hit-and-run saw Magdiel Sanchez standing on his porch with a two-foot long metal pipe. They ordered him to drop the pipe. Neighbors yelled, "He's deaf, he can't hear you." Never aware of the police or their shouted orders, Magdiel descended the porch steps. Police opened fire, killing Magdiel. The officers were completely cleared.
In another incident the same year Oklahoma City Sergeant Keith Sweeney and two other officers were dispatched to investigate a man threatening to kill himself. Upon arriving at the scene Sweeney found Dustin Pigeon armed with a Bic lighter and a can of lighter fluid. Dustin was ordered by the two other officers to put them down, and he complied. But Sweeney escalated the situation by approaching Dustin and threatening to shoot him. One officer fired a bean-bag round at Dustin, presumably because Sweeney had approached Dustin closely enough to be vulnerable to attack, then Sweeney fired four shots. Dustin Pigeon died at the scene. Sweeney was charged with murder and is still awaiting trial.
None of these situations, not eighth-grader Lorenzo's, not deaf Magdiel's, not despondent Dustin's, required police to be armed with guns. If police did not have guns Lorenzo would not have been shot, and Magdiel and Dustin would not be dead.
These situations also show that not only are police deathly afraid of guns, but also of pipes and lighter fluid.
So I stumbled across a story today from Detroit, which gives a slightly different angle on Percy's trigger-happy cops stories - police shooting dogs
9 year old Elijah was out walking his two dogs, but they got free and ran down the street. He summoned a passing police car to help. The police stopped, apparently decided one of the dogs was dangerous, and shot it in the face.
As context, the story on Reason magazine discusses the department's history of shooting dogs (54 in 2017), and some of the law suits the city has been forced to settle as a result. This includes $225,000 paid out to the owners of three dogs shot in their own backyard. The police wanted to be enter the yard in order to sieze marijuana plants growing there, so they killed all the dogs. Drugs raids apparently account for about a third of the doggy death toll at the hands of Detroit PD.
Reports are sketchy thus far, but I would venture to guess that Pamela Shantay Turner was not an upstanding law abiding citizen. She was wanted on several outstanding warrants for assault and criminal mischief. And yes, my use of the past tense means she is dead.
A Baytown, Texas, police officer attempted to arrest Turner last night. A struggle ensued, he tased her, she fell to the ground, he moved to stand over her to cuff her, she grabbed the officer's Taser and fired at him, grazed him, the officer backed away, then drew his gun and fired five shots. Turner died at the scene. A video taken by a bystander has gone viral:
Now imagine the officer had no handgun, no Taser. He sees Turner, tells her she's under arrest, a struggle ensues and Turner breaks away. While the officer has no handgun or Taser he does have a handheld walkie-talkie and calls for assistance as he remains within visual contact of Turner. Another officer or two eventually arrive and together they take her into custody.
I like to guess the payouts on these police shootings, and in this case I'll guess that Baytown, Texas, will pay out about $2 million. The officer will be found to have conducted himself properly and no charges will be filed, even though he failed to secure his Taser before attempting to cuff Turner.
This one’s almost too out there to believe, but apparently two Anaheim police officers fired 76 shots from their moving vehicle, many through their own windshield, while pursuing a suspect through a dense residential neighborhood. The suspect was thought to be armed but was found to be packing only an air gun. The suspect eventually brought his vehicle to a stop and despite the efforts of paramedics died at the scene.
Incredibly, neither officer will face charges, but one was fired and the other placed on paid administrative leave. These guys really shouldn’t have guns.