Sunday, October 06, 2013

Ask Questions Later

This is a question that I haven't seen a good answer to:  Why was the woman who allegedly tried to illegally pass a security checkpoint near the White House shot and killed?

I'm not saying the shooting was wrong; I'm saying I haven't seen the justification for it.  She injured people and endangered people when she fled the scene, no question. It would seem that shooting at the driver of a speeding vehicle, one which has an infant inside, also risks endangering people. The question should be: were the lives of police officers who shot her or anyone else's life immediately in danger, such that the shooting was the best (if not only) way to prevent further loss of life or injury to innocent bystanders.

If the following account is correct, it appears the threat had been eliminated before the woman was shot:
Several minutes later, officers appeared to have the woman cornered in front of the western side of the Capitol facing the National Mall. But as officers, with their weapons drawn, approached Ms. Carey’s car, she rammed it into reverse.
Officers tried to dodge out of the way, but the Infiniti struck a police car and raced up Constitution Avenue, where it crashed into a barrier.
What occurred next was not clear. Ms. Carey managed to get out of the car, and was shot by several officers. According to a law enforcement official, she was not armed, and it was not known whether she presented an immediate danger.
Was not known to whom, at what time?  By the official when he was asked by the reporter, or by the officers who shot her right before they shot her?

I can see where it might be reasonable to assume that the woman had violent intentions even after she left her disabled vehicle.  But was there a reasonable concern that she had the ability to commit violence once she outside her car?


Anonymous said...

We shoot first and ax questions later

Montag said...

From the videotape from Alhurra, they were shooting at her when she bumped into the first barrier near the White House grounds and backed into a police car there (at least four shots from the tape). Then she took off, went off toward the Capitol Building. That's where she got out of the car and was shot at again by other officers.

One would think that with the relatively high incidence of irrational behavior by the mentally ill in this country, the cops would be savvier about this sort of thing. Have tranquilizer guns on hand, etc. But, in many instances, the mentally ill just get blown away.

And it's not a new phenomenon. I recall an incident in Albuquerque over twenty years ago, in which a woman called 911, asking for police assistance because her son was off his medication, was unstable and had a kitchen knife--and specifically told the 911 dispatcher that she wasn't in danger, that he wouldn't harm her, that she just wanted him calmed down.

The last thing a disoriented schizophrenic needs is more confusion, but the sheriff's department sent six cruisers and a SWAT team, lights flashing and sirens blaring, and the poor guy is standing on his front lawn, babbling, and when one of the officers ordered him to put down the knife (which he wouldn't do, anyway, because he was delusional and feeling threatened), the guy took one step forward, stopped and brandished the knife. He couldn't have harmed any of the officers by doing so--the closest one was over twenty-five feet away--but, they opened fire, expended, IIRC, twenty-nine rounds and hit him with nine of them, killing him almost instantly.

Proclaimed a justified shooting because he made a threatening motion.

So, what's wrong with that picture? Probably the same thing that's a bit wrong with this latest use of deadly force.

gmoke said...

We are all Ibragim Todashev, the man killed by the FBI while being questioned about the Boston Marathon bombing. Any police can kill a citizen with little or no provocation and, generally, get away with it.

Even more so, now that we've militarized the police forces and many officers are suffering from PTSD after multiple tours of duty in the National Guard or Reserves abroad in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Anonymous said...

Licensed to kill...

Anonymous said...

Classic extrajudicial killing, aka murder. This happens frequently where both on-duty and off-duty law enforcement officers shoot and kill unarmed people.

After the police investigate themselves, the local prosecuting authorities decline to criminally prosecute. Usually all the shooter has to say is he felt his life was in danger.

If the victim's survivors sue in civil courts, generally the system works against them, i.e., the suit is quietly "settled" out of court for a pittance, and everyone is none the wiser. Murder, a fait accompli.

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John Finkbiner said...

Though I largely agree with Montag, "tranquilizer guns" for humans don't exist outside of fiction. For reasons that should be obvious, ethics make the development and testing of such a thing practically impossible. The Russians tried something similar with rather poor results.