Yesterday an Essex County, NJ, grand jury indicted Newark police officer Jovanny Crespo in the murder of Gregory C. Griffin, who drove off from a traffic stop with passenger Andrew Dixon after a report from another officer that she'd spotted a handgun in Griffin's car.
Crespo's driver pulled Griffin over, Crespo ran to the driver's side of Griffin's car, and when Griffin sped away he fired three shots into the car. Crespo claimed a gun was pointed at him. A minute later Griffin's car stopped at an intersection, Crespo again exited his police vehicle, then fired three more shots into the car as it again sped away. A mile further down the road Griffin's car came to a stop, Crespo ran to the passenger door, fired two more shots into the vehicle, then opened the door and pulled Mr. Dixon out. Mr. Griffin was slumped in the driver's seat. He died in hospital the next day.
Some police officers seem to think it's the wild west out there.
The Newark Police Department remains under a federal consent decree after a federal investigation identified a number of problems.
Recent incidents documented in passing in these pages, which are primarily focused on police shootings with guns, say that police shouldn't have Tasers, either. The same poor training and judgment that argues against police having guns also argues against their having Tasers.
Maggie Thomas was parked in her car with her 4-year old daughter when she was approached by Atlanta police Sergeant James Hines who began questioning her. He discovered the car had no insurance and told her not to drive it. Returning to his vehicle he ran her name and discovered an outstanding warrant for a speeding ticket. Hines returned to Thomas's car at which point the incident escalated. Hines pulled Thomas from her car, slammed her to the ground, punched her in the face, tased her, and placed her in handcuffs, all in front of her 4-year daughter.
There's a video. It's sad that without these videos so little police misbehavior would come to light - the testimony of police officers is given much more weight than that of those wronged. For example, Hines claimed Thomas bit him, but there's no indication of this, not on the video and not on his person:
The warrant was later found to have been issued in error. Charges against Thomas have been dropped.
Hines was dismissed on May 17, 2019.
Thomas still bears the marks of Hines attack, and she and her daughter are both in counseling.
Most police do not need to carry weapons. Loud parties, wellness checks, routine patrols and so forth do not require armed officers. For reports of crimes in progress, shots fired, violent disputes and so forth, then you send specially trained officers.
Former officer Noor should not be suffering the lion's share of the punishment. The $20 million Minneapolis is paying out is small potatoes for a city that size, plus it's very likely the insurance company that is paying, so Minneapolis is getting away almost scot free.
The jury apparently didn't buy Noor's argument at the criminal trial that he was a victim of his own department's training, but I do buy it, assuming it's true. It must have received a great deal of credence in the civil suit, otherwise Minneapolis wouldn't be paying out $20 million. Reread Message 215 where Noor describes his training. He was trained to shoot first or you might die. We don't want people with this kind of training walking our streets, and it was the city of Minneapolis that provided that training.
As recounted in a Washington Post article, a 4-year old took a doll from a store, and police terrorized the parents by pulling their weapons and assaulting them, their young children looking on in confused horror. Video is available, and NBC News had a story that includes portions of it:
The full video is available in the article.
It is very fortunate no one was hurt. The parents are suing the city of Phoenix for $10 million. I'm guessing they'll settle out of court for an undisclosed amount, but that it will be in the neighborhood of $2 million.
The problem I see here is that it is too easy for police to slip into a frame of mind where lack of instant obedience is perceived as resisting, then the police go into full threat mode. Note the police accusation of feeling threatened. When police are in this frame of mind everything's a threat.
From news reports and statements by the family it seems that Hanna Williams, 17, was depressed and upset when she stole her family's rented SUV on July 5th and headed down an Anaheim freeway. Her father became concerned and called 911, but by that time Hanna was dead. She had sped past an officer taking his police dog to the vet. He attempted to pull Hanna over, but she purposefully stuck his vehicle, pulled a U-turn to point the wrong way, then came to a stop.
The officer exited his vehicle only to find Hanna in a shooting stance pointing a gun at him. He immediately pulled his gun and fired. Hanna, shot in the chest, died at the hospital a short while later.
Body cam footage shows that the officer behaved completely appropriately. I can't find the complete body cam footage online, but here's a news report that includes a short segment of the footage that I've positioned at the exact right spot. You may have to work a little to stop the video at the exact right spot, but when you do you'll see Hanna in a shooting stance with a gun pointed directly at the cop:
The police investigation isn't over yet, but to me this seems an obvious example of suicide by cop. Hanna's gun was a harmless replica. The cop, who hasn't been identified, could not know that and had no choice but to fire.
This incident is full of ambivalence. Does a canine officer need to carry a gun? If he hadn't carried a gun then Hanna would still be alive. But if Hanna's gun had been real then the officer might be dead, in fact would be dead if Hanna was a good shot because she had the jump on him. This occurred on a freeway, putting members of the public in danger. Should the officer have exited his vehicle and strode toward her once he knew that Hanna had exited hers? Should he instead have immediately taken cover and called for backup, just because of the erratic behavior and it not being known yet whether Hanna was armed?