We Pledge Allegiance to the Concrete of Mega Fortress One And to the (cough) Republic Which it Protects

A week or so ago I posted about fortresses.

You may have heard that earlier today a mentally-ill dental hygenist disprespected Mega Fortress One by banging into a piece of concrete with her car.

The good news is that she didn't get away with this – she was chased by twenty police cars, shot at 17 times, and killed. Her infant child was apparently hospitalized, but not killed in the fusillade of bullets.

Officials in the Capital Police and US Secret service have conducted a full investigation and only after deep thought and introspection lauded the officers for “acting heroically”.

“It seems all around the Capitol, security worked well,” Capitol Police Chief Kim Dine said.

Senate staffers distributed buttons, made last year, that read: “Thank you, Capitol Police.”

No. Thank you, senate staffers!

In 2012 the chocolate ration was 30 grams per week, but in 2013 it went up to 25 grams per week.

Last 5 posts by Clark

Comments

  1. Myk says

    The news coverage I've seen makes no mention of any mental health diagnosis. NYT does mention apparent anger management problems, but if you classify that as mentally ill then you're halfway down the slope to mass medication of a large section of the population.

    What I get from the news reports is that she had a bone to pick with someone and didn't care too much who she injured or killed – including her own child – to have her say.

  2. Laura says

    If I believe the article you have linked to, she banged into a piece of concrete *and a person* with her car.

  3. Eric Arrr says

    @Laura,

    It appears she did bump a secret service agent, who was thrown onto and off of the hood of her car. But…

    The same article reports that the fatal shots were fired after the car was immobilized, stuck on a grassy median. Not exactly a lethal threat at that point.

  4. Chris says

    @Clark:

    You may have heard that earlier today a mentally-ill dental hygenist disprespected Mega Fortress One by banging into a piece of concrete with her car.

    @Article Clark linked to:

    a Secret Service officer was thrown up on the hood and then off the car.

  5. Eric Arrr says

    @Chris,

    To have what law enforcement types call a "good shoot", you gotta be aiming at an imminent threat.

    A driver of a vehicle which has been immobilized, say, stuck on a grassy median, does not pose an imminent threat of hitting anybody.

  6. Chris says

    @Eric

    I'm not expressing an opinion on the shooting. I'm expressing an opinion about how Clark chose to describe the initial incident in his post.

  7. Zack says

    This is no worse a description of events than the hordes of news articles earlier today with headlines like "Capitol Hill Shooting" and "Shots Fired on Capitol Hill", and comparing this to the mass shooting at the Navy Yard… while the articles themselves made it clear that the only shots fired were by police.

  8. says

    During the chase, police officers opened fire twice, both times in areas busy with tourists and office workers.

    Since it wasn't NYPD, they hit the woman, not the bystanders.

  9. En Passant says

    Key points from page 2 of the article:

    The House adjourned. The Senate adjourned.

    So, for a few short minutes, the Republic was safe.

  10. Jim Salter says

    Yeah, sorry Ken, I don't think you get to crow about your awesomeness when you shoot an infant in a car with an unarmed woman.

    Unless. You know. You're the Capitol Police, in which case they wave banners for you, and everybody exclaims how great it is that the system worked "exactly the way it's designed to."

    >_<

  11. AlphaCentauri says

    This could have been one of several people I know. Someone can be batshit crazy and ready to drive her car through the Whitehouse bay window because she thinks Obama fathered their child via radio transmission one day, and then she could be perfectly lucid after being on treatment a few weeks. It's very concerning that she was killed.

    However, I'll wait for more information to pass judgment. It's easy to say it was excessive force now that we know she wasn't armed and wasn't wired with explosives. The cops at the time didn't know that yet.

  12. Erik Carlseen says

    Maybe ten or fifteen years ago I would have given the police the benefit of the doubt. Not anymore. These days it seems that anything that has the slightest effect on an officer's mood automatically "justifies" deadly force. The "shoot first, ask questions never" mentality in modern law enforcement needs to be addressed.

  13. Matthew Ostman says

    Bleh… I'm conflicted on this one. One one hand, I'm tired as hell of hearing about our overly-militarized police over reacting and shooting way too many people way too often. She was in a stopped vehicle, with an infant on board… the fact that they riddled her car with bullets is a disgrace.

    On the other hand, she did ram a barracade. And hit a person with her car. And then fled police in said car with an infant on board. Which isn't to say she deserved to be gunned down, but compared to, say, the people who are shot dead because cops can't tell the difference between a cell phone and a gun, I can't help but feel that if people are getting outraged about this, just because it involved the white house, they're kinda missing the bigger picture.

  14. Rob says

    Jim Salter • Oct 3, 2013 @9:34 pm

    Yeah, sorry Ken, I don't think you get to crow about your awesomeness when you shoot an infant in a car with an unarmed woman.

    Unless. You know. You're the Capitol Police, in which case they wave banners for you, and everybody exclaims how great it is that the system worked "exactly the way it's designed to."

    I don't think Ken was saying that the capitol police were "awesome" so much as making fun of how just how bad the NYPD is. As shitty as the capitol police are, at least they didn't injure a bunch of innocent bystanders.

    Or shoot up two completely different vehicles that look nothing like the vehicle they were looking for, for that matter (though that was of course LAPD's and Torrance PD's finest, rather than the NYPD).

  15. says

    I may be the only person commenting her who has (sort of) been attacked by an actually mentally ill-woman with a car, while I was on duty with the Marines.

    I may have some insight into why the capitol police – at least as the story has it now – shot the poor women down in hail of bullets in an immobilized car.

    It is 2013. It's been a decade and some since 9/11 prompted the Fed to turn their part of D.C into an armed camp.

    I mean that literally. I lived in D.C. in 1986 and 87. You could go _anywhere_ no questions asked. Drive by the White House. Walk around the capitol building, up and down the steps. I used to _jog_ through the grounds of the capitol at night. You could tour the White House.

    I've been back, twice, since 9/11. The difference is startling: guards everywhere. Openly carrying rifles, wearing combat gear, and snazzy uniforms. Barriers all around the capitol. Guards searching one's bag and person _everywhere_. Not very well, granted. But still: they try.

    Anyway. These guys have been standing guard for a decade, waiting for something to happen. Nothing really has.

    THEN ONE DAY the radio squawks: something-something car White House – Pennsylvania – heading to Capitol.

    Going fast it's maybe a five minute drive. This is just enough time to get wound up, and start doubting your prior planning. But not enough time to make any effective _new_ plans.

    Whoa! Everyone gets keyed up and super excited. Adrenaline pumping. Guys are yelling into their radios. Nobody understands a damn word they are saying. "Blue Five, say again your last" "GARBLE GARBLE BLACK CAR SOMETHING GARBLE"

    I am telling you: it's easy to forget that yelling into a radio doesn't do any good. You want to communicate your urgency: why doesn't he understand me?

    And then .. it's HERE. And things really get kinetic and exciting and maybe you think 'car bomb' or maybe you don't think anything you just react and .. hey why is my magazine empty?

    Or at least, that's my opinion.

  16. Justin Kittredge says

    She was probably one of those folks that goes door to door selling candy bars to raise money for events, and this was all just a big misunderstanding. You'dda thunk it might've worked better if she hadn't driven from Connecticut to DC to do it, but what do I know.

    Her enthusiasm for what was likely an attempt to find a parking garage, was misconstrued as some attempt to drive her car into two of the three branches of government. Luckily no one was endangered by her Lucille Ball style antics except government non-persons, and those "using intersections, driving, in the car with her, and people walking in the area just past the barriers."

    An embarrassed police chief said, "Sadly we think the reason she could not hear our sirens, see our flashing lights, disregarded our commands to get out of the car, and rammed into so much stuff, had to do with the fact that she was wearing rather dark sunglasses and had a Yoko Ono cd playing."

    Another police man said to our reporter, "You might hazard a guess that she was actually TRYING to hurt someone. If not that, some depressed person committing suicide by cop, but what do I know? I'm just a non-person." After commenting, the non-person went back to standing around waiting for a good opportunity to shoot someone.

    The CD playing was said to be "Fly" http://youtu.be/swG6Rry9Tss?t=40s This is the only evidence authorities are confirming at this time.

  17. says

    @Brian Dunbar

    I've been back, twice, since 9/11. The difference is startling: guards everywhere. Openly carrying rifles, wearing combat gear, and snazzy uniforms. Barriers all around the capitol. Guards searching one's bag and person _everywhere_. Not very well, granted. But still: they try.

    Anyway. These guys have been standing guard for a decade, waiting for something to happen. Nothing really has.

    And things really get kinetic and exciting and maybe you think 'car bomb' or maybe you don't think anything you just react and .. hey why is my magazine empty?

    Yes. Exactly. Build a fortress and a fortress mentality and you're going to react to everything as if it's a threat to the fortress.

  18. Bobby says

    Very accurate description of hiw things go in real life. Also exactly WHY 90%+ of law enforcement personnell is utterly incapable of being trusted to eat a fucking doughnut without making an awful mess, never mind carry loaded firearms. I worked as a close protection services person for some time and honestly most armed "cops" (of whatever denomination) are emotionally incapable of performing their duty when it counts, I.e. under stress in potentially lethal situations. Performing properly under such conditions can only come from the RIGHT type of psychological profile TO BEGIN WITH, then receiving very high levels of constant training, most of it geared at "elasticising" the emotional element so it becomes as much as possible a non-factor under duress. Most people who become LE in the first place fail at the fundamental level: I.e. Emotionally unstable/weak.

  19. MH says

    There are plenty of scenarios where the sentiment expressed in this article are justified, however I'm not sure this is one of them.

    Based on the footage, after she hit the barricade noone was shooting. They surrounded the car, and then she tried to escape, almost hitting a bunch of people. I'm not quite sure why she freaked out, but either way, if you are secret service, what is going thru your mind? It could be a car bomb that needs more time to detonate, she might try to get thru the barricade again, she has already tried to flee a situation where police are present (i.e. you shouldn't try to violently leave) etc. Not to mention, it's kind of hard to run into those barricades by accident (I live in the area).

  20. William says

    @Chris – Clark is still technically correct unless you're the kind of person who thinks cops are people.

  21. Dan Weber says

    A car is a lethal weapon. A car that looks like it's stuck could be, in fact, not actually stuck.

    If she deliberately rammed someone earlier, I consider it the same as shooting someone. The cops shouldn't consider a shooter no longer a danger just because it seems his gun is jammed, or because his arm is down at his side instead of aiming at you. (If you think you should wait until he aims his gun you don't understand human reaction times.)

    Now, if she just accidentally hit the barrier and then the cops reacted in such an extreme way that provoked her to panic, I'll be all over them for making a bad situation worse. We'll see as more of the story comes out over the next few days.

  22. says

    @Eric Arrr: "To have what law enforcement types call a "good shoot", you gotta be aiming at an imminent threat."

    Or a dog.

    Or the perp has to make a furtive movement.

  23. Ryan says

    @Ken White

    Since it wasn't NYPD, they hit the woman, not the bystanders.

    You owe me a new keyboard. Mine just got covered in the tea that I have with breakfast.

  24. En Passant says

    Dan Weber wrote Oct 4, 2013 @5:56 am:

    If she deliberately rammed someone earlier, I consider it the same as shooting someone. The cops shouldn't consider a shooter no longer a danger just because it seems his gun is jammed, or because his arm is down at his side instead of aiming at you. (If you think you should wait until he aims his gun you don't understand human reaction times.)

    Yeah, because cars are so fast these days. I've heard they can accelerate 0-700 MPH in a fraction of a second, just like a bullet.

  25. says

    "She had post-partum depression after having the baby" Idella Carey said, according to ABC. “A few months later, she got sick. She was depressed. … She was hospitalized.”

    Look, I'm not saying that I am confident that the force used was excessive. I'm only confident we shouldn't take the cops' or the media's word for it. Cops shooting people in cars on the theory that the cars are deadly weapons is a too-common phenomenon, and in many cases the investigation reveals serious questions about the proposition.

  26. Nicholas weaver says

    One thing on the video thats been released that shows the first shooting: the first time the police started shooting it looked like they had the car immobilized and boxed in. They were wrong. So "Stuck on a median" would still be considered a threat.

    Frankly speaking, it looked like something on Weazel News (Confirming Your Prejudices ™) in Grand Theft Auto.

  27. Justin Kittredge says

    @Dan Weber
    Could not agree more with your first two paragraphs, I thought I might end up writing something like that.

    But I am not on the same page with you as far as being unsure about whether she hit the barricade accidentally.
    She writes a note to her boyfriend and drives 4 hours from Connecticut to the capitol of our country and rams into things in the vicinity of the White House and along with a small detour then drives semi directly to the Capitol Building. All the while with many a cop car, sirens, flashing lights, getting boxed in at one point at least, police getting out drawing their guns and yelling something at her. Making a case that she was not completely aware of what she was doing is gonna be rather hard. Unless this note says, "Going to the store to pick up some milk xoxo." Call me a daring gambler, but I bet it don't.

    @En Passant

    Yeah, because cars are so fast these days. I've heard they can accelerate 0-700 MPH in a fraction of a second, just like a bullet.

    Whether she was stuck or not moving, had she started moving in reverse suddenly, she would have been a moving target again, harder to stop and potentially back to freely driving around Grand Theft Auto style. Enacting what looks like a "fuck you world" suicide wet-dream.

  28. mcinsand says

    How many more times does this have to happen before we start to pursue rational and reasonable car control. Yes, yes, I know; the NCA (National Car Association) will lobby to fight any restrictions, but they are representatives of a group of citizens that I disagree with, so they don't count. We need to have a ban on assault vehicles, lookalike assualt vehicles (those having a camoflage paint scheme), and start restricting gas tank sizes. Oh! And background checks!

    ***

    On a non-sarcastic note, I seriously do fear a stranger's car more than I fear a stranger's firearm. Over the course of my life, I've known hundreds of car owners and hundreds of people with firearms. Without question, the car owners have the (far) higher fraction of irresponsible users/owners.

  29. says

    Enacting what looks like a "fuck you world" suicide wet-dream.

    Or like a mother trying to get her child away from a hail of gunfire.

  30. Tom says

    The fact that Clark's drastic reinterpretation of news accounts of the start of the shooting has gone almost uncommented on in this thread is ridiculous. And with commenters like William claiming that police officers aren't people, presumably by virtue of their choice of career, also going unremarked, I'm a little disgusted.

  31. George William Herbert says

    Justin Kittridge:

    sirens, flashing lights, getting boxed in at one point at least, police getting out drawing their guns and yelling something at her. Making a case that she was not completely aware of what she was doing is gonna be rather hard.

    Sadly, any number of people innocent of serious crimes panic and flee.

    Once they start panicing, it takes a while to stop.

    There are now multiple reports of treatment (apparently mostly successful) for mild mental illness after her child was born. And some as yet undisclosed note to the boyfriend.

    The text descriptions of the initial White House incident confused me; some suggested the Secret Service agrnt involved was plainclothes not uniformed. That led me to think wrong turn paniced once confronted. However, I am witholding judgement on that until we see video. And the note.

    The first incident at the Capitol that followed, from the video officers boxed her car in up against the barricades, and I saw no shots until she had backed up and pulled away again. Can be read either way as malign or paniced. The shots didn't seem inappropriate with a car then moving erraticly towards other officers.

    No idea about the final incident, no video yet.

    I am of two minds. One, fortress mentality might have caused a tourist to panic and get killed. Two, even though these same events in LA or Manhattan probably should not have led to a shooting, in an era of carbombs, at the White House and Capitol, I am not as surprised. There is a hightened risk there.

    So far, video has not clearly shown police overreaction. That is not the whole story yet. Must restrain impulse to judge and wait for evidence.

  32. George William Herbert says

    En Passant:

    Yeah, because cars are so fast these days. I've heard they can accelerate 0-700 MPH in a fraction of a second, just like a bullet.

    A car can kill or maim someone directly in front of it from a standing start. CF recent NYC bikers / SUV incident, and anyone who has a clue about anti carjacking/kidnapping/active defensive driving can tell you.

    Much as with the danger from nearby knives, non-experts often have no clue about this. But it's very real.

  33. anne mouse says

    Some of the details are unclear. The linked article says that the guards were trying to move a "barrier" (I assume a steel rail fence) into her way, and she struck that (injuring a guard in the process). Not exactly what Clark described.

    I've witnessed a driver intentionally try to ram a pedestrian from a standing start, at a distance of a few feet. Based on that experience, a pedestrian who is very light on his feet and fully alert has a reasonable chance of escaping with minor bruises, and a good chance of ending up dead. (Unless, as in the case I witnessed, the driver has miscalculated the width of the car vs the sidewalk, and is stopped by a very large concrete planter full of potting soil.)

  34. says

    @Ken:

    Look, I'm not saying that I am confident that the force used was excessive. I'm only confident we shouldn't take the cops' or the media's word for it. Cops shooting people in cars on the theory that the cars are deadly weapons is a too-common phenomenon,

    Yes. This.

    I am prepared to conclude that shooting was justified.

    I just don't trust the default media narrative that we already know that it absolutely was.

  35. En Passant says

    George William Herbert wrote Oct 4, 2013 @10:20 am:

    A car can kill or maim someone directly in front of it from a standing start. CF recent NYC bikers / SUV incident, and anyone who has a clue about anti carjacking/kidnapping/active defensive driving can tell you.

    First clue to pursuers approaching a stopped car: Approach from the side, not from front or rear.

    Were I a bystander on the sidewalk, I'd much rather risk dodging a car across the street that is attempting to accelerate from rest and turn toward me, than try to dodge a stray bullet.

  36. Kes says

    After ramming the officer at the White House, she sped directly towards the Capitol Building (nearly 10 blocks away, which argues intent) and deliberately rammed another barrier.

    Furthermore, there was at least one opportunity for her to stop the car, exit the vehicle and surrender after the police had successfully boxed her in with their cars, caught on video (see http://dcist.com/2013/10/shots_fired_outside_capitol_buildin.php ). She chose not to surrender, but rather nearly ran over more police. This suggests the motive was suicide-by-cop rather than an overreaction of the Police State to me.

    If the driver was male and/or didn't have a child in the car, would we be so concerned that the police were acting with excessive force, after the driver attempted to drive into both the White House AND the Capitol, ran over one officer and totaled one police vehicle with a driver inside? I doubt it.

  37. Dan Weber says

    If the driver was male and/or didn't have a child in the car, would we be so concerned that the police were acting with excessive force

    Maybe on some other blogs they wouldn't, but Popehat cares a lot about police force against citizens regardless of the demographics of said citizen. (Or if the citizen is a dog.)

  38. Malc. says

    Clark,

    Your cynicism about the "Republic" is misplaced. I appreciate that it can be confusing, because we are in a transition stage, but with patience we will come through to clarity. In the meantime, it is helpful to remember:

    1. Until such time as the transition to recognize full corporate personhood is complete, it is sometimes easy to forget that the "public" in the word "republic" no longer simply refers to biological entities, but it also embraces the glory of corporate citizens.

    2. Over time, the resurrection of a modern-day "three fifths" compromise will facilitate your understanding of the value of biological citizens versus corporate ones. Naturally, we'll have to metricate the "three fifths", but no decision yet has been made as to whether "10^-3" or "10^-5" or some other figure (e.g. "10^-35"") would be most appropriate.

    Once we achieve this level of tranquility, your perfectly valid concerns about the power held by government will be allayed, because all government services will simply be subcontracted to citizens. For example, surveillance will be be subcontracted to "NSA, Inc" (and it's 10 million or so subsidiaries and contractors), ensuring that the rights of citizens are protected against government intrusion.

    With profound acknowledgement to, and appreciation of, the late Frederik Pohl

  39. Rob R. says

    I live right outside the great fortress that is DC. G. Gordan Liddy (when he had a radio show) used call the sound barriers that line the Capital Beltway the city walls. Today, I guy tried to set himself on fire on the Mall. Ken, I'm starting to take your shutdown journal seriously. Does anyone know where I can buy some ammo? Walmart is sold out!

  40. George William Herbert says

    Irk:

    It's almost as if they couldn't use those bullets to shoot, say, the tires.

    This is about as good as "Why didn't they shoot to wound?".

    Look… a gun is a lethal weapon. Imagine you're trying to shoot out the car's tire. Imagine a bullet goes a little wide, bounces off the concrete, hits a bystander or another officer.

    Legally, if I am trying to shoot someone in self defense, I have established that I have (in my mind) a reasonable cause to use lethal force. If one of my bullets goes wide or bounces and kills someone else, this is unfortunate, but I was having to use lethal force to protect myself.

    If I am shooting at a tire, I'm using lethal force against an inanimate object (or mobile inanimate object). If the lethal part goes somewhere else to someone else, I was probably by definition reckless.

    One could imagine a legal structure in which shooting to warn (warning shots), shooting to wound, or shooting tires out, did not in fact subject police or civilians using guns in self defense to MORE liability (criminal/civil) than shooting to kill. That's not what we have now, as self defense experts and lawyers will tell you.

  41. AlphaCentauri says

    Once you start with the axiom that government employees are not human and deserve to be hanged in the first place, then it's hard to justify any amount of force against any amount of threat.

    I'm just happy to live in a country so safe that people think it's ridiculous to even consider the possibility that this might have been a car bomb and maybe even part of a synchronous attack — especially so soon after a couple Americans and a British woman were involved in the mall attack in Kenya.

  42. David C says

    @ George William Herbert: I call BS on that.

    Using a less lethal means to neutralize a true threat, like shooting their tires, does not magically make you more liable than if you shoot to kill. (Of course, using a less lethal means DOES mean that there will be one additional witness who might contradict your claims.) I'd like to know what your source is for your claim.

    This is about as good as "Why didn't they shoot to wound?".

    A tire is a large enough target that you should have about as good of a chance at hitting it as a person through a car window. And you're aiming down – bullets are unlikely to travel far and hit someone you weren't aiming at.

  43. Erwin says

    …I'm not sure that I buy deadly force involving a hail of bullets on a woman in a stopped car. Yes. She had a deadly weapon and could have been dangerous. No, I'm thinking the value of her life is high enough that taking a minimal risk, like, eg, waiting and setting up barricades or somesuch might have been reasonable.

    –Erwin

  44. says

    "And you're aiming down – bullets are unlikely to travel far and hit someone you weren't aiming at."

    You don't know what you are talking about.

    One, no, you are not aiming 'down'. You are aiming 'at'.

    Two, tires are not pillows that soak up bullets they are hard, round metal things that will cause a bullet to bounce every which way possibly including at the shooter. Which is what a bozo would deserve if he did such a stupid thing. But worse they may fly off god knows where and hit someone who was bystanding.

  45. George William Herbert says

    Brian Dunbar wrote in part:

    One, no, you are not aiming 'down'. You are aiming 'at'.

    Two, tires are not pillows that soak up bullets they are hard, round metal things that will cause a bullet to bounce every which way possibly including at the shooter. Which is what a bozo would deserve if he did such a stupid thing. But worse they may fly off god knows where and hit someone who was bystanding.

    For reference, "down" means "…and bullet strikes the ground and usually bounces randomly downrange".

    And as Brian indicates, wheels and tires do strange things to bullets. They often stop inside but also often bounce in strange directions.

    Cars usually absorb a bullet, but not reliably, and bystanders catching deflected bullets is a serious tactical problem. ESPECIALLY because typically in end-of-police-chase scenarios all the bystanders are other police officers.

  46. George William Herbert says

    David C:

    I call BS on that.

    Using a less lethal means to neutralize a true threat, like shooting their tires, does not magically make you more liable than if you shoot to kill. (Of course, using a less lethal means DOES mean that there will be one additional witness who might contradict your claims.) I'd like to know what your source is for your claim.

    This varies a bit from state to state, but yes, you are more liable for "warning shots", "shots to wound", "shots to disable car".

    To the extent that for the first two, Police are usually forbidden to try those by department procedure, sometimes enforced by prosecution, and for the latter departments are very reluctant to do that (though in some situations it's unavoidable).

    These policies have been in place for some time.

    https://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=173165
    http://www.nytimes.com/1983/12/04/nyregion/county-ends-policy-of-letting-the-police-fire-warning-shots.html
    http://books.google.com/books?id=VscfvJrS_5gC&pg=PA42&lpg=PA42&dq=police+warning+shot+policy&source=bl&ots=4v8HJTJ2fl&sig=b9xpNeVnGWMDZQ5f7Rqi1j4pC2g&hl=en&sa=X&ei=61xPUqi6FuGuiQLWjIGgAQ&ved=0CHQQ6AEwCA#v=onepage&q=police%20warning%20shot%20policy&f=false
    http://www.utexas.edu/police/manual/a12.html

  47. David C says

    and bystanders catching deflected bullets is a serious tactical problem. ESPECIALLY because typically in end-of-police-chase scenarios all the bystanders are other police officers.

    Maybe it's just me, but I don't consider the police to be "bystanders". Anyway… yeah, OK, maybe shooting out the tires isn't possible to do safely (although there WAS a baby in the car – how safe, exactly, was shooting through the windshield at her, in comparison?)

  48. David C says

    @George William Herbert: From the abstract of the first link of yours I clicked:

    If an officer's option is to fire a safely placed warning shot or shoot to kill or incapacitate a suspect, the option of the warning shot is less likely to lead to a civil action against the department.

    Of course, here we are not talking about a warning shot, we're just talking about a tire shot, which may be unfeasible. But it seems to contradict your statement that it would make them more liable if they did NOT kill the person. (And IF we somehow lived in a world where police were forced to kill people when they had an option to NOT kill them, then we should run screaming to our nearest lawmaker to get them to change that law.)

    Also, from one of the police manuals you linked:

    Warning shots are prohibited.
    Officers shall not fire their weapons at or from a moving vehicle except in defense of life.
    Firearms shall not be discharged when it appears that an innocent person may be injured.

    Where deadly force is not authorized, officers should assess the incident in order to determine which less-lethal technique or weapon will best de-escalate the incident and bring it under control in a safe manner.

  49. George William Herbert says

    David, from the first sentence of that abstract:
    Many police departments have had a policy against warning shots for years.

    That article was challenging the idea – which by 1998 was long standard – that it was necessarily a good idea. But it established that no warning shots was a nationwide standard (not uniformly – some departments and states vary).

    My point wasn't "this is unquestioned throughout the nation"; it's that it's standard procedure nearly everywhere. It's good to question standards from time to time, but they are what they are.

  50. AlphaCentauri says

    If a police officer is aiming at a person, it should be a situation so extreme that he is required to immediately and totally disable that person. If a cop has the luxury of choosing to shoot to wound or to shoot to slow the car down, he shouldn't be shooting in the first place.

    I don't have experience with the risks/benefits of shooting car tires while dodging erratic speeding drivers, but it seems to me that the gas tank and the catalytic converter are down there with the tires, so it's not such a trivial thing to start shooting holes in things. I'm all for having alternative to firearms. But if you don't want to kill someone, don't shoot a gun.

  51. says

    After reading this post I'm trying to figure out if I should bother keeping this blog in my RSS.

    Frankly, is it possible for Clark to be more full of shit?

  52. Gregory Ross says

    Shouldn't the question here be "Was she afforded the due process of law, and if not, what circumstances and/or evidence allowed the officers to override her constitutional right of due process and do the circumstances and/or evidence reach that level?"
    From my viewpoint, the police had no evidence of mental illness, no evidence of terrorist activity (it was a car bomb, the driver was on a watch list, etc.), and no evidence of a weapon when they shot her. If we continue to allow police to kill citizens because of their fear of the "what if scenario" WITHOUT EVIDENCE, then we have some rough times ahead.

  53. Dan Weber says

    Good God, people are defending the "shoot out the tires" idea? It's asinine. It's from someone whose knowledge of guns comes from movies.

    If it's bad enough to fire a bullet, it's bad enough to risk killing the person you are shooting at. And if it's not bad enough to risk killing that person, it's not bad enough to shoot your gun at all.

    Maybe we can question why tire spikes weren't laid out. For all I know they never had time to do it, but it's vastly more reasonable place to criticize them. For one, road spikes are used outside of make believe.

  54. a_random_guy says

    "Officers shall not fire their weapons at or from a moving vehicle except in defense of life."

    Indeed. You know, it's not so long ago that police knew how to deal with something like this. It's called a roadblock.

    In any case, once her car was stuck on the median, the chase was over. The officers (and there were apparently several) who fired at that point in time are guilty of murder, plain and simple.

  55. AlphaCentauri says

    Road spikes are probably dangerous in a populated area, too. If her front tires blew out while driving full speed, she probably would have lost control of the car.

    We're Monday morning quarterbacks, and we can't even agree on what they should have done instead.

    Re roadblocks: The video I saw showed little time for setting up a roadblock, and little indication for where it should have been set up to cut her off. She was literally leading them in circles as she sped around.

  56. wolfefan says

    It takes time and positioning and frankly luck to successfully deploy road spikes. Based just on the videos I've seen on the news that wasn't an option at all.

  57. The Man in the Mask says

    One of the comments upthread — by Bobby — talks about the kind of personality required and the emotional readiness necessary to react appropriately to stressful situations.

    He's absolutely right — both about the necessity of these things and the near-total lack of it among law enforcement personnel.

    In my copious spare time, I'm a volunteer trainer for a particular type of incident response/rescue. It certainly involves physical skills (including strength and conditioning), and we work hard on instilling those — but it also requires mental skills. Among those are the ability to focus when one is freezing cold and soaking wet; to deal with low-visibility conditions and difficult terrain; to handle many victims simultaneously and prioritize rescue; and to stabilize, extract, and transport victims efficiently and safely.

    Our best students are generally well-educated civilians. Our worst students are law enforcement personnel (a) because they don't listen (b) because they react without thinking and (c) because they often make already-bad scenarios worse. I wish I were joking, but there's almost a complete lack of ability to remain calm in the midst of chaos. We often find ourselves faced with informing an entire class that NONE of them have successfully completed the course.

  58. says

    Have the people that comment on this blog always been this stupid (and I didn't noticed) or did Clark set up some asshole libertarian attraction light?

    I swear to the God, this as to be the absolutely dumbest thing I've ever read:

    Shouldn't the question here be "Was she afforded the due process of law, and if not, what circumstances and/or evidence allowed the officers to override her constitutional right of due process and do the circumstances and/or evidence reach that level?"
    From my viewpoint, the police had no evidence of mental illness, no evidence of terrorist activity (it was a car bomb, the driver was on a watch list, etc.), and no evidence of a weapon when they shot her. If we continue to allow police to kill citizens because of their fear of the "what if scenario" WITHOUT EVIDENCE, then we have some rough times ahead.

    Right, because they're supposed to run someone's ID and do a mental health evaluation while someone is fleeing police (and heading in the direction of the Capitol) after ramming a barricade, striking a Secret Service officer, and fleeing a lawful police stop.

    You are aware that a vehicle, especially after being used to strike a police officer and at least one police vehicle, IS A LETHAL FUCKING WEAPON?!

  59. Gregory Ross says

    @ Timothy Watson

    Right, because they're supposed to run someone's ID and do a mental health evaluation while someone is fleeing police (and heading in the direction of the Capitol) after ramming a barricade, striking a Secret Service officer, and fleeing a lawful police stop.

    Let's evaluate your logic, or lack thereof…

    Fleeing police…check. She broke this law by all indications.

    Heading towards the Capitol…check. No crime there. Hell, not even any real threat that I can see, unless you have some EVIDENCE to the contrary, other than she ran into a barricade (not rammed as you indicated or her car would have been in MUCH worse shape than the videos clearly show).

    Striking a Secret Service Officer…check. Though "striking" a Secret Service officer is far different from trying to DELIBERATELY run someone over with intent to harm.

    Fleeing a lawful police stop…check. We covered this one already.

    IANAL, but last time I checked, none of these offenses (and you only have two here) are punishable by death. When did cops become judge and jury in this country?

    If you want to argue that the officers were acting in self defense to the threat of her deadly weapon of a car or were protecting the public from her erratic driving, I might buy that argument. But here is where that argument falls apart: The officers did NOT know what she was going to do or planning to do and they had NO evidence that she was up to some dastardly deed like trying to blow up the Capitol building or run over innocent bystanders.

    They reacted out of fear of the unknown, PERIOD. And why? Because that is what they have been taught to do, PERIOD. In the United States, any person that an officer encounters is SIGNIFICANTLY more likely to have a mental disorder than to be a terrorist: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/the-numbers-count-mental-disorders-in-America/index.shtml

    If you cannot see the flaws in your logic…actually there are no flaws because you have failed to even use the basic premise of a logical approach in your thinking.

    You are aware that a vehicle, especially after being used to strike a police officer and at least one police vehicle, IS A LETHAL FUCKING WEAPON?!

    I'm confused. Was it striking the other vehicle or the police office that flicked the safety to the "OFF" position on her weapon?

    If you are a college graduate, I suggest you go down to your local community college and take two courses: Logic and Statistics. You need them.

  60. James Pollock says

    "Yeah, because cars are so fast these days. I've heard they can accelerate 0-700 MPH in a fraction of a second, just like a bullet."

    Yeah, cars aren't deadly. I bet they only kill maybe 2 or 3 people a year.

  61. AlphaCentauri says

    Trying to breach a security perimeter in a speeding car isn't a capital offense. But it's like brandishing a banana at an armed officer in a dark alley. It's just a seriously stupid thing to do, because he's got to take into consideration all the possibilities of what you might be trying to do. You could be seriously stupid/crazy — or you could be a lethal threat. There isn't much other option, and a crazy/stupid person could still be a lethal threat.

  62. says

    IANAL, but last time I checked, none of these offenses (and you only have two here) are punishable by death. When did cops become judge and jury in this country?

    Oh, great logic there, so police officers are only allowed to use deadly force if the person has already committed a capital offense? Using that logic, cops can't use deadly force in half of the states in the country, and interestingly, hypothetically, couldn't defend themselves against a gunman until the gunman killed a police officer first (killing a police officer being a capital offense in most parts that still have a death penatly).

    And how, exactly, are police supposed to deal with a mentally ill person behind a 3,500 pound car? I guess they're supposed to ask nicely?

    Or what about when a nutjob decides to take a sawed-off shotgun into an office building and start blowing people away? "Uh, sir, I need to you put that shotgun down and stop blowing people's heads off. … Sir, I really don't think that the President is using ultra low frequencies to send messages to you."

    I also like how you completely mischaracterize what started the chase:

    The pursuit began when the car sped onto a driveway leading to the White House, over a set of lowered barricades. When the driver couldn't get through a second barrier, she spun the car in the opposite direction, flipping a Secret Service officer over the hood of the car as she sped away

    Or:

    The chase began at 2:12 p.m. when Ms. Carey, who was driving a black two-door Infiniti with Connecticut plates, tried to ram through a White House checkpoint at 15th and E Streets Northwest. “The guys ran to try to stop her, and she wasn’t going to slow down, so they jumped aside,” said B. J. Campbell, a tourist from Portland, Ore., who was standing near the White House. “One of the guys grabbed one of those little metal fence sections and shoved it in front of her, across the driveway. She hit the brakes slightly and tried to get around it on the right, but the guy shoved it in front of her again, to try to keep her in.”

    Mr. Campbell said the woman “hit the gas, ran over the barricade” and hit the officer, who flipped onto the hood of the car and “rolled off into the gutter.”

    I'm not familiar with federal charges, but here in Virginia she could be charged, at the very least, with attempted capital murder for trying to run down the Secret Service officer in the initial incident. Does that give police officers the right to defend themselves?

    And, out of curiosity, why do police officers have a lesser right to self-defense than any other citizen?

    In other news, I would like to thank the libertarians on this thread for confirming my suspicions that you're just as crazy as the teabaggers in the GOP.

  63. Khaim says

    @Gregory Ross

    IANAL, but last time I checked, none of these offenses (and you only have two here) are punishable by death.

    I have difficulty comprehending the confusion of ideas that led you to such an argument. You might as well say that the state can't execute people by firing squad, therefore the police aren't allowed to shoot their guns at anyone.

    And by the way, fleeing from police into an inhabited area with a deadly weapon, while ignoring clear opportunities to surrender peacefully, is plenty of justification for use of deadly force.

  64. JR says

    @Timothy Watson
    I wouldn't say they have a lower right to self-defense. Better to say that they are subject to stricter scrutiny for their actions. We (the public) have an interest in seeing government employees that are given discretion to take our life do so only with minimum frequency and when absolutely necessary.

    Everyone has a different idea of what frequency and necessity are best. This ranges from "never" to "better safe than sorry". I would say that it is a personal decision and only related to political party in so much as like-minded people tend to dissociate from the contrary-minded.

    You appear to fall into the "better 'safe' than sorry" category. Would you support an officer that unloaded his weapon into a drunk driver? How about after the sot had clipped a pedestrian? And even after his vehicle had gotten stuck on the median? Should the presence of other pedestrians affect the decision? If so, should they mitigate for or against opening fire?

    Or were you implying that private citizens are not investigated by the police (and public if there is enough interest) nor required to prove defense of their self or another after killing someone?

  65. Justin Kittredge says

    @JR
    Your comparison is imperfect, intent of the suspect should be a factor in assessing threats and courses of action.
    When a drunk driver is endangering the lives of others, his/her intentions are to get from point A to point B illegally. When someone crashes into protected areas near the White House then makes a B-line for the Capitol Building, police are going to make certain conclusions about the suspect's intentions. You might argue that there is no way to guess the intentions of either drunk drivers or people who deliberately cause havoc and endanger lives. With the imperfect information police had at the time of the incident I would have drawn a conclusion this person was deliberate in her actions and aware of what she was doing.
    Does not this course of action seem like deliberate endangerment or an attack? http://i889.photobucket.com/albums/ac94/Ack1112/1a/1m_zps7561b45f.jpg
    Assuming the suspect is deliberately putting people in harm's way with a deadly weapon, to what degree should the police underestimate the suspect and risk their own lives?

    http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/dam/assets/131003160732-03-capitol-ca-1003-horizontal-gallery.jpg
    Looking at this photo is imperfect as something May be under the car and there May be rear car damage impairing rear wheels, however in the photo please note that the front, which houses the car's engine, does not seem to be severely damaged. Police do not know how "stuck" the suspect will remain, or whether the suspect is armed, but at this point they should have a strong belief the suspect is acting deliberately, which in my opinion counts for something in how the police should proceed.
    No one wants every suspect for any crime to be shot.

  66. AlphaCentauri says

    The difference between expectations for cops and civilians is that the cops should have training to prepare them for crisis situations, and the cops have protocols and procedures for how to handle them.

    The officers surrounding federal government buildings are trained to be prepared for the next Timothy McVeigh or al Qaeda suicide bomber. This woman was determined to drive her car past barricades and was not responding to commands to stop. It's easy to say "unarmed woman" after all the information is in. Exactly what evidence did they have that she was not driving a car bomb?

  67. JR says

    @AlphaCentauri
    I would hope their training covered the possibility of a dead man's switch being used. Or an accomplice with a remote detonator waiting to push the button if she were compromised or failed to do it herself?

  68. barry says

    I have not been following this story closely, but those bollards in the White House photo look like they were designed to stop a tank.

    This woman was determined to drive her car past barricades and was not responding to commands to stop.

    Which side of the bollards was she on? If she was on the outside, it would have taken more than determination to drive through them. Bollards have their own physical language which cars respond to even if their drivers don't. (But they don't look pony-proof)

  69. James Pollock says

    "I would hope their training covered the possibility of a dead man's switch being used. Or an accomplice with a remote detonator waiting to push the button if she were compromised or failed to do it herself?"

    In either case, the goal would be to stop her before she brought the hypothetical car bomb close enough to a target.

    EVERYONE! Please remember that just because one side is wrong, that doesn't mean that the other is right. Driving through barricades and/or Secret Service agents is wrong. So is shooting unarmed people who have ceased to be a threat. Nobody's right in this situation.

  70. says

    @Brian Dunbar is right. You could start by not allowing a police officer under 40 from carrying a gun. Even more radical, the police could be unarmed. Plenty of time to act between the place where the car was and the suspect running into the big house. More importantly, enough time to engage brain and act like a trained police officer.
    It may seem strange, but I can assure you that this works in the country that had the first revolution, where the demands of the middle classes for representation to go alongside taxation :).

  71. says

    A less radical step than disarming the cops would be to restrict their firearms to pistols and shotguns.

    They can still shoot people, but it's not nearly as _easy_ as rocking and rolling with a rifle.

    Shotguns – my semi-educated take on it – are better weapons for cops in the city: still lethal, but not as liable to penetrate walls, or for the bullet to travel hundreds of meters and hit a bystander who isn't even aware anything is going on.

    One also doesn't feel as much like a marine on patrol in Fallujah when one has 'just' a pistol and a shotgun racked in the car.

  72. Castaigne says

    Am I the only person here who thought "Christ-a-mighty, I'm glad there wasn't a suitcase nuke in the car. I could totally see the Russians setting that one up."?

    @Brian Dunbar:

    And then .. it's HERE. And things really get kinetic and exciting and maybe you think 'car bomb' or maybe you don't think anything you just react and .. hey why is my magazine empty?

    Or at least, that's my opinion.

    I think your opinion is spot-on. It tallies with what I've heard from others who have been in similar situations.

    @Tom:

    The fact that Clark's drastic reinterpretation of news accounts of the start of the shooting has gone almost uncommented on in this thread is ridiculous. And with commenters like William claiming that police officers aren't people, presumably by virtue of their choice of career, also going unremarked, I'm a little disgusted.

    Join the club. I find the similarity between Free Republic and Popehat in that respect a little alarming. The only difference is that you don't see the adulation for Sheriffs Mack and Arpaio here and you don't get so many suggestions that all LEOs be publicly hung, their wives raped, and their children buggered.

    @Timothy Watson:

    Frankly, is it possible for Clark to be more full of shit?

    Depends on how good a friend he is with Vox Day