A Post About Cops That Does Not Criticize Cops

Today everyone and their brother is watching this video and attacking the police for firing shots when no officer was in danger and when the van was packed with children.

I'll let everyone and their brother take that ball and run with it; I've got nothing further to add.

However, I do have a different point to make:

As much as I dislike police culture, as much as I dislike 95% of the laws that they enforce, and more, I think that some criticisms of police ignore the fact that bad encounters with police sometimes – not always, but sometimes – are baked with a heaping cup of stupid citizen behavior mixed into the batter.

If you're hiding a Jew in your car and getting pulled over by the cops is a death sentence for both you and the refugee, yes, you might as well try evading, fist fighting, and resisting arrest.

…but for pretty much anything short of that, your smartest tactic is
* pull over
* speak calmly
* answer no questions
* consent to no searches

Even if you've got a pipe w pot residue in the car, there's a good chance that you won't get searched. Worst case, yes, the cops bring in a dog, manufacture "probable cause", search the car, find the pot, and arrest you. And, yes, your kids may go to foster care for a week and you may spend thousands of dollars in legal fees – thousands of dollars you don't have.

But, again, aside from the hidden-Jew scenario, there is no way that fighting, evading, and resisting is a better strategy.

I would think that this would be so obvious as to not need explaining, and yet, of the dozen or so websites I've seen covering this story, not one has said that while in bad police encounters it only takes one to tango, you're a lot more likely to get a newsworthy dance if there are two of you going through the movements.

Don't leave food near your tent in bear country.

Don't stick your hands into hollow logs in snake country.

Don't evade, fight, and resist cops.

Last 5 posts by Clark

Comments

  1. says

    True Facts about Humans: There are "runs-from-cops" people and there are "doesn't run from cops" people. The former will run from cops even in the sure knowledge of their innocence or misdemeanor status. The latter will pull over with dead hookers in their trunk and stash box made out of milkbone.

    It's just the fight or flight nature of the beast. Many people are somewhere in the middle.

    It's as human as confirmation bias and false dichotomy.

  2. Ryan says

    I sincerely hope that this incident is being investigated and charges will be laid for unreasonable use of force (though this police department being what and where it is, I find that unlikely). This is why some places drill Use of Force Models into their officers heads – that way, you don't end up with some dumbass shooting at a vehicle that poses no immediate danger to life and limb. I digress from where I'm going, though.

    Clark is correct – 99.99% of the time, any behaviour that extends beyond verbal resistance and disagreement – CALMLY, FFS – and enters the realm of physical resistance is going to make every encounter with police infinitely worse, not better. Polite, calm, non-snarky response will always result in a better interaction. As I mentioned in another comment field – good police know that if you allow someone to beak at you and give nothing back, they will run out of steam. Informed members of the public should realize the same – if a cop that screams in your face gets nothing but polite, calm (non-snarky) responses, they will also quickly run out of steam.

    It's chilly in Hell today, because I'm going to echo Clark: it does take two to tango, and no matter how bad the cops' behaviour, if you don't give them anything to run with you simply cannot make the situation worse. Arguing, refusing to cooperate with anything, and worst of all, physical resistance of any kind absolutely WILL make it worse.

    Keep in mind that, with few exceptions, police are trained far more in use of force than in verbal skills (apparently many departments expect those to just manifest, even though they aren't among hiring criteria *eyeroll*), so guess which response the majority of junior and/or general duty police are going to default to when things get stressful?

  3. Fred says

    Ofc. #1 is going to be scrutinized by thousands for Ofc. #3's stupidity. Fortunately, though, many other police officers will learn from the training videos.

  4. C. S. P. Schofield says

    Don't fight the cops unless you are sure that either;

    A) You don't have a choice (the Jews in the car dilemma)

    or

    B) you are going to win, and that includes the post beatdown reaction by the cops' establishment. I can only see this being an option if you are a squad of, say, the 832nd Airborne, about your lawful business, and the cop attacks you out of the blue ….. and you know you can get to base before the rest of the cops arrive and that your commander will back you against the local bigwigs.

    Not too likely.

  5. says

    I don't think this situation has enough velocity to escape the gravity well of "too much deadly force all the goddamn time", so I disagree with Clark a bit.

    Specifically, I think the line between "not obeying/going too far" and "cops used deadly force without provocation" is fairly subtle. Compare this situation to that of John Geer, the guy who wound up getting shot when he wouldn't come out of his house after throwing his girlfriend's stuff out on the lawn.

    He didn't have to cooperate. He was within his rights to refuse to come out without an arrest warrant or allow cops in without a search warrant. He disobeyed and he died for it.

    This lady was stupid, but how does it become a good idea for the guy to try and break into the minivan full of kids with his fucking nightstick? They're not going anywhere, backup is already there and there is no threat. Obviously, the other guy discharging his firearm at the vehicle as it pulls away is a bit much as well.

    The pattern seems to be:

    1) If suspect is not cooperating, apply excessive force.
    2) If suspect is still no cooperating, apply deadly force.

    The suspect may or may not have a sound legal basis to refuse to cooperate, which is the difference between this and Geer. But the quick escalation of violence in a situation that can be controlled is out of hand. It's a defining characteristic of the system and there is no effort to control it at all. There are no consequences.

    Some other commenter much wiser than me said that tyranny cannot abide disobedience. We're seeing that every day now.

  6. TobinL says

    Yes pull over, be calm, etc. It has been years since getting pulled over but a few summers ago I was driving with the family across country partially to avoid the TSA and partially we hadn't been through the specific states. Anyway it was a rented car and quite smooth at much higher than the posted limit and it got there without you realizing it. I told the officer yes sir, sorry sir, etc. I got off with a warning. I was speeding at 90+ mph, as they say it was a fair cop and I was resigned to paying up the fine. There was no reason to not be polite. I owned up, and was let go with a have a nice day and an little pink piece of paper say 'don't do that again'.

  7. says

    I'm not sure why that woman did panic, and really, does anyone believe the 'pipe' story?

    Factually, the woman's instinct proved to be correct, when not one, but two officers engaged in life-threatening behavior.

    Tell me, if you suspected you were dealing with out-of-control police would you remove your children, and surrender in a public, video-recorded area?

    Your 'Jew' analogy does have 2013 equivalence, DWB isn't unknown, and frankly, as a female, I would signal but only pull-over when I reached a public and recorded area. Digitally corrupted dash cams are as prevalent as the houdiniesque crack pipes

  8. ahchoo4u says

    I was making the drive from SoCal to Phoenix recently and I though about this issue (evadin, resisting, and fighting cops) the whole drive there. Here is the crux of the issue, what recourse do I have, legal otherwise, if a cop abuses his power during a stop and we are out in the middle of nowhere? What should I do if the cop approaches me in a threatening manner? What if places his hand on his gun?

    I think that if I ever felt threatened by a cop out in the middle of nowhere, I would run, the consequences be damned. I don't think I would fight him because I have certain convictions that make me a pacifist, but I wouldn't hold someone morally blameworthy who defended himself from said cop.

    The fact of the matter is, I don't trust random strangers regardless of the market of authority the bear. The Romans used to say "a beard does not make a philosopher;" in the same maner, a badge and a gun does not make a good cop.

  9. Corollax says

    I had a discussion with my S.O. recently about whether or not it's wise to refuse police officer demands. On the one hand, consenting to searches compromises your rights should you ever find yourself in a courthouse. On the other hand, being right is little consolation when you or your loved ones are left in a pool of their own blood.

    Ken, is it possible to comply with officer demands "under protest"? Can you communicate something like, "I do not consent to searches. But in order to avoid violent confrontation, I am going to unlock the door to my home."

    Would such a statement allow you to dispute any findings, later? And without witnesses or recording devices (which would probably be confiscated), how could you respond to a police dispute of such a statement?

  10. Somebody's Sister says

    Unfortunately, there are so many stories out there of folks who were cooperating and weren't fighting (some just bystanders) and still got so utterly screwed over that giving into panic when dealing with the cops is a perfectly understandable reaction. In my hometown, women were advised to only pull over in a lighted area because someone was masquerading as a cop and pulling women over to rape them. As it turns out, it wasn't a masquerade, it actually was a cop.

    If you want people to cooperate with the cops, you first need to ensure that the cops they are cooperating with are decent human beings.

    Otherwise, yes, you do end up in situations where you are essentially a Jew dealing with a Nazi. Especially if you are black or another minority.

  11. Sertorius says

    I really can't fault officer #1. She pulled away from a lawful traffic stop, and that's going to get the cuffs in any state. Following the second stop, she locks herself in the car. Breaking the window with a nightstick and unlocking the door seems OK to me. What is the alternative?

    On the other hand, Deputy Derp, officer #3, should lose his job and probably get charged for firing at a minivan full of kids whose driver has committed the heinous offenses of speeding and then evading a stop.

    But I totally agree with the post. Anything other than polite, pucker-and-smile compliance is a mistake at the roadside. Don't consent to searches and don't answer questions, and then let your lawyer fight it in court. Fighting at the scene of the traffic stop, even if only verbal sparring, is only going to make things worse.

  12. Pandora says

    Oh Clark, come on!

    I agree the woman acted insanely and deserves to be charged. That said, this video shows cops failing, abysmally, to perform their most important duties.

    1) Part Most of their job is to protect innocent parties, such as children and on-coming traffic.
    2) Part of their job is to de-escalate escalating situations.
    3) Part of their job is to assess the risk regarding their course of action vs. the potential pay off.

    They failed on all 3 counts. Well, they didn't just fail, they actually went against them.

    1) They knew there were 5 children in the car.
    2) They can see on-coming traffic like the rest of us.
    3) They had another option. They had her information, knew where to find her and so had the option of arresting her at a later point in a much safer environment.

    They chose to escalate the situation knowing they had a non-compliant suspect who clearly has no common sense when they didn't have to.

    Their actions would have made any suspect flee based on pure instinct for self preservation. What made them think this already non-compliant suspect would pull over and submit to them when they had just attacked her children (and yes, I do consider beating in glass extremely close to children while trying to get one of them out of the car to be attacking them) and were then shooting at her children?

    It doesn't matter if the cops were initially in the right, they should understand human behaviour enough to know suspects will go into fight or flight mode when panic and fear take over.

    This was a highly predictable outcome of their behaviour, so I can only imagine that they behaved the way they did out of sheer anger (which I can understand, I would have been pissed too).

    They unnecessarily and strongly endangered innocents in their own right. If this is how they protect the public, I sure as shit do not want them protecting me.

  13. Jack says

    @Sertorious
    Be careful what you are puckering in New Mexico… If you pucker the wrong hole, you may end up with a few fingers and a camera up your ass.

  14. lexxius says

    Playing a devil's advaocate here.
    The cop who was shooting seems to come late as backup right at the time when she took off. He probably didn't realize that the van was full of kids, and just from observing the scene made the wrong decision (he is obviosly not a sharpest knife in a drawyer).

  15. Speed says

    @Orv
    Some years ago, my father was talking to the chief of police of an island community near St. Petersburg, Florida. The chief said that his officers were instructed not to chase anyone driving a car or motorcycle — too dangerous. To leave the island required crossing one of two bridges and it was safer to put a car at each and wait. This is a special case, but not all that special.

    I was in a Radio Shack store one evening when the manager ran out into the parking lot, ran back into the store and called the police. A man had walked out with a few hundred dollars of electronics and driven away. The manager was agitated when the police took their time getting to the store and seemed to be more interested in filling out forms than going after the bad guys. A few minutes later, the responding officer was told, by radio, that the thieves had been caught.

    The cop told us that people who rob stores in the area inevitably jump on the freeway and head toward downtown. The local police just sit on the shoulder and wait for them.

    On the other hand, a high-speed chase is much more fun.

  16. Votre says

    An attorney once told me that sitting in a pulled over car, on a deserted road with no witnesses, is not the ideal venue to be debating constitutional issues. Especially with a person in legal possession of a government issued firearm and badge.

    Those words of wisdom kept a no-win situation from turning very bad on more than one occasion for me.

    I don't believe in rolling over every time somebody in authority is having a bad day. But by the same token it's sometimes better to lose a skirmish and regroup in order to win a larger battle.

    YMMV

  17. Jonathan says

    @ lexxius

    Playing a devil's advaocate here.
    The cop who was shooting seems to come late as backup right at the time when she took off. He probably didn't realize that the van was full of kids, and just from observing the scene made the wrong decision (he is obviosly not a sharpest knife in a drawyer).

    Even granting you that, under what procedure is he justified in shooting at a fleeing vehicle when he has just arrived at a scene and has no information about what's going on?

  18. Blah says

    From the reports I've read, it seems the 14-year-old son actually got out of the car at one point to fight an officer. It's astounding he didn't get shot right then and there.

    Obviously shooting into a minivan full of kids is an indefensibly boneheaded move and that officer should be fired IMMEDIATELY, but those kids were not exactly safe due to the actions of the driver already.

  19. hit-a-cop-you-lose-dept says

    Even with the news editing the footage, it's quite clear that the driver of the vehicle, and at least one (and maybe two) of her "kids", resisted arrest, attacked the officer, and left the scene. Everything up to that point was debatable on legal grounds. Once you attempt to run, it's game over.

    I will say that the officer who fired his sidearm (and not the taser the first officer was attempting to use) should be suspended and put through an intensive training course on when NOT to use a firearm.

  20. says

    @Pandora

    Oh Clark, come on!

    this video shows cops failing, abysmally, to perform their most important duties.

    Where did I say otherwise?

    Recall that I started this post with:

    Today everyone and their brother is watching this video and attacking the police for firing shots when no officer was in danger and when the van was packed with children.

    I'll let everyone and their brother take that ball and run with it; I've got nothing further to add.

    Whereof one cannot speak [ with additional utility ], thereof one must be silent.

  21. says

    @Blah

    From the reports I've read, it seems the 14-year-old son actually got out of the car at one point to fight an officer. It's astounding he didn't get shot right then and there.

    Twice.

    Watch the video.

  22. Orv says

    @Speed: Yup. Many jurisdictions have instituted fairly strict rules to limit high speed chases, both because of the risks involved to their own officers, and the liability problems. Not only are there bystander risks, but cops who successfully capture someone after a high-speed pursuit are on an adrenaline rush and often make bad decisions about the use of force.

    In this day and age, "break off the pursuit and arrest them later" tends to work pretty well.

  23. says

    @hit-a-cop-you-lose-dept

    Everything up to that point was debatable on legal grounds. Once you attempt to run, it's game over.

    Indeed.

    The legal process is a pipeline that looks something like

    being pulled over -> shenanigans -> arrest -> booking -> bail -> court -> appeals -> jail -> probation

    The goal is to (a) choose options that let you get out of the pipeline as early as possible, (b) choose options that preserve your position for later steps.

    "evading, fleeing, resisting" are all tactics in phase 1 that (a) guarantee that you'll be in the pipeline for the full duration, (b) hurt you at every single step of the pipeline.

    Imagine alternate timeline B:

    You get pulled over, you don't consent to a search, the cop searches anyway, finds the pipe, asks you about it, you say nothing.

    Given this, you've got all sorts of good defenses: illegal search, not your pipe, etc.

  24. hit-a-cop-you-lose-dept says

    Of course, now that I think about it, is tasing a driver behind the wheel of a vehicle a good thing? Given the lack of bodily control induced by the weapon, I suspect that tasing a driver who is putting the car in gear is a really stupid thing to do, because you KNOW the vehicle is going to get out of control.

  25. Xenocles says

    "Responsibility is not a zero-sum game."

    Corollary: Responsibility does not divide; it multiplies.

  26. Ryan says

    @Donnelly

    Smashing a window with a baton to extract a barricaded individual is perfectly reasonable use of force in this scenario. The window was smashed only after the vehicle was pulled over, fled, driver extracted, kid got out to fight with the cop, everyone got back in and locked the doors and then refused to comply. That's called resisting arrest, and you bet your ass police can damage property to arrest a suspect who is participating in the ongoing commission of a crime. There was nothing wrong with the window smash; in point of fact, you can see quite clearly that the baton is only being used to smash the window (which is a damn sight harder than you would imagine, believe me) and not to whack anyone inside. Indeed, I note only three problems with the police response to this incident (as depicted in the news footage:
    1. The initial officer's verbals suck after he pulled the woman over again. He defaulted to issuing commands – which he was probably taught to do – instead of trying to de-escalate and get her out of the vehicle.
    2. The initial officer put himself in a very bad position when he started fighting with the woman on the roadside and left himself exposed to her teenage son (who he didn't see coming the second time and ended up fighting). Better had he kept her there talking until he could get assistance to keep an eye on the other vehicle occupants.
    3. The last officer to arrive should never have even removed his gun from its holster – and that is the main problem with this interaction. Aside from that, the other police actions are legitimate (if not ideal, but hindsight and all that).

    @hit-a-cop-and-you-lose-dept

    You'll have to forgive me, but at no point do I see the cop level the Taser at the driver while she's in a position to operate the vehicle.

  27. Sam says

    @Clark

    To be fair, though, based on some earlier posts at this blog, a cop's definition of 'evade' can be a moving target.

  28. cdru says

    Ken, is it possible to comply with officer demands "under protest"? Can you communicate something like, "I do not consent to searches. But in order to avoid violent confrontation, I am going to unlock the door to my home."

    I've always seen/read/heard that you respectfully ask "Am I under arrest?", "Is this a warrentless search?" and/or "Is that a request or a order" and then say "No, I do not give consent to search [me/my car/my anal cavity/whatever]". But if they continue to or force you, you don't interfere and hopefully successfully challenge it in courts if it comes down to it. If they are going to search, they are going to search whether you agree to it or not. Don't give them permission when they don't have a right, and don't give them an excuse to make things worse due to you "resisting" or "obstructing" them from their abuse duties.

  29. says

    I can think of one exception to this rule: if you have broken an unjust law which imposes a harsh penalty of many years in jail (or death), you know that you would be convicted if it's brought to court, and you've got a good plan for escaping the police without seriously harming innocents in the process, then by all means go for it.

    For example, if you visit Uganda and the police bust you in a homosexual act, don't put your hopes in the justice system – run away, go underground, and get the fuck out of Uganda.

  30. Matt Brown says

    Add to Ken's rules:

    If you must break the law, break only one at a time. Don't transport drugs with a suspended license, don't speed while you've had too much to drink, etc.

    edit: That's pre-arrest, of course :)… too fast on the clicky.

  31. Griffin3 says

    Were people really summarily executed for driving around with a Jew hidden in their car? [or just a little kosher shake in the seat cushions?] I think they were sent to the camps, maybe for life sentences, depending on prior convictions. Maybe their children taken away from them and fostered by DCF until they were no longer young enough to be called children. The perps run through a legal-Brazil bureaucracy, with everything stacked against them, and the only real choice is if they plead to Birkenau as a trustee or a laborer.

    There's not that much difference between hiding a Jew and getting caught in a car full of drugs, these days. Especially if you are not particularly Aryan …

  32. says

    @Derrick Coetzee

    I can think of one exception to this rule: if you have broken an unjust law which imposes a harsh penalty of many years in jail (or death), you know that you would be convicted if it's brought to court, and you've got a good plan for escaping the police without seriously harming innocents in the process, then by all means go for it.

    For example, if you visit Uganda and the police bust you in a homosexual act, don't put your hopes in the justice system – run away, go underground, and get the fuck out of Uganda.

    Agreed; I'd file that under the "Jew in trunk" label.

  33. says

    Q:

    @Griffin3

    Were people really summarily executed for driving around with a Jew hidden in their car?

    A:

    en.wikipedia.org

    In an attempt to discourage Poles from helping the Jews and to destroy
    any efforts of the resistance, the Germans applied a ruthless
    retaliation policy. On November 10, 1941, the death penalty was
    introduced by Hans Frank, governor of the General Government, to apply
    to Poles who helped Jews "in any way: by taking them in for the night,
    giving them a lift in a vehicle of any kind" or "feed[ing] runaway
    Jews or sell[ing] them foodstuffs." The law was made public by posters
    distributed in all major cities.

  34. Corollax says

    @cdru
    I think we both agree that if the cops want access to your home, they're going to get it whether you consent or not. Denying consent only allows you to challenge any findings once you get to court of law. I'm more concerned with how you comply with an officer's order while making it clear that you're doing so without consent.

    In the United States, police have authorization to use lethal force and qualified immunity from any prosecution that might come from exercising it. Protecting your rights can put you and your family at serious risk of danger, even if you've done nothing wrong. Even if nobody gets hurt, you're still liable for any resultant property damage.

    If this were a rape situation, we'd be advising the victim to do what is necessary to protect his or her personal safety, then worry about the legal repercussions later. If the rapist demanded the victim do something, the victim shouldn't be worrying about whether following the orders compromises his or her ability to press charges.

    But in a police confrontation, the issue of consent may well decide whether the defendant ends up serving time. When a jury is going to take the word of the men in blue every time, how do you protect your rights without compromising your safety?

  35. JohnC says

    If it makes anyone feel better, the response from LEOs overwhelmingly has been, "What a f*up," the sort of thing that make its way into as "do not do what Donnie Don't did" examples

    Still, shooting the minivan merely for fleeing/resisting is so egregious (the possibility injuring (from bullets or a crash) innocents or nonthreatening suspects is too high) that I wonder if the (late arriving) officer who shot thought that the glass flying and sounds of the window breaking were shots fired from within the minivan. Not that's necessarily a good excuse.
    (FYI: An inability to discern gun shots from other loud bangs is a common etiology of tactical response gone bad.)

  36. cdru says

    If the police officer asks "Do I have consent to search your vehicle" you reply "No you do not have my consent to search your vehicle." If the officer proceeds to search your vehicle, you let them.

    If the police officer tells you to exit the vehicle, lock the door behind you. Leaving it open can imply consent. If the officer asks why, tell them you always lock the vehicle when you exit. If he asks for the keys to do a search, or in any other way asks for consent, again repeat "No, you do not have consent to search my vehicle." If he cuffs you, takes your keys, and does a search, let him.

    If he tells you he's going to feel you up pat you down say "I am not refusing to cooperate but I do not consent to a search." He's going to pat you down anyways, you at least have a chance to say that you didn't consent. If he finds anything but you gave him permission, it's a harder to argue it was an illegal search or they didn't have probable cause.

  37. Corollax says

    @cdru
    All of that sounds fine on paper, but what about when it's 4am and the police are pointing guns at you and demanding that you come out with your hands up? Would you feel comfortable refusing to give consent in the face of a threat like that? What if you were a racial minority, living in a poor neighborhood?

    It's one thing to lock the doors to your car and give up the keys when the police demand it, but locking your house door just results in having your door smashed in. And refusing consent might well leave your head smashed in, too.

  38. corporal lint says

    From way up top:

    I can only see this being an option if you are a squad of, say, the 82nd Airborne, about your lawful business, and the cop attacks you out of the blue ….. and you know you can get to base before the rest of the cops arrive and that your commander will back you against the local bigwigs.

    A great many years ago something like this actually happened involving my uncle, although it was the 101st Airborne rather than the 82nd. The cops won.

  39. Cliff says

    It seems the relationship between police and citizen is very different in the US. In the UK, by and large, people know the police to be approachable and deal with problems in a pretty calm and sensible way. There are exceptions of course, but it does seem less adversarial in general. Maybe the general lack of small arms helps.

  40. Griffin3 says

    @Clark — What a precise and excellent cite. #anchor and everything. I am chastened, and humbled at your accuracy.

    They don't make examples (like that) of drug users right yet.

  41. MZ says

    The problem is that the officers allowed the situation to get way way out of control, causing them to escalate force instead of peacefully resolving things. One man on the side of the highway may be able to deal with a traffic stop for speeding, but he can't handle this, and a second officer showing up and rushing into battle before he even knows what's happening is just going to make things worse. There's no rush to try to drag anybody out of the car; just block them in, get backup (real backup, not one more officer), and take your time.

    I agree with Clark that this is a two way street and all of this could have been avoided had the driver simply accepted the ticket and not fled in the first place. But at the same time, once the officers were beating at her windows with nightsticks, with glass flying around her kids' faces, and then shooting at her car, I'm not convinced her decision to flee was all that unreasonable. Fleeing danger and gunfire is a pretty instinctive reaction after all.

  42. AlphaCentauri says

    They tell all of us to get the keys when someone we know shouldn't be driving. Didn't anyone think to do that while they had her out of the car?

  43. barry says

    @Cliff, Another difference is in (time warpy) TV dramas. Typical police dialogue when the suspect has been brought to the police station:_

    Law and Order (USA): "We can't ask him any more questions, his lawyer just got here."
    The Bill (UK):"We can't ask him any questions, his lawyer isn't here yet".

    I'm sure the reality in both cases is somewhere between the two, but it might reflect a difference in public expectations.

  44. Unimaginative says

    In the United States, police have authorization to use lethal force and qualified immunity from any prosecution that might come from exercising it.

    According to Lawrence O'Donnell tonight, the supreme court decided back in the 1980's that it's unconstitutional to fire on an unarmed suspect who's fleeing.

  45. Corollax says

    @Unimaginative
    Do you think that ruling will have any bearing in this case? The Constitution doesn't mean anything without a judiciary willing to enforce it.

  46. Philosopherva says

    Only Clark could work in a reference to the Tractatus in a discussion of excessive police force. On the other hand, Wittgenstein was capable of a volatile temper and understood the expressive power of threatened violence, q.v. Wittgenstein's Poker.

  47. says

    "Worst case, yes, the cops bring in a dog, manufacture "probable cause", search the car, find the pot, and arrest you. And, yes, your kids may go to foster care for a week and you may spend thousands of dollars in legal fees – thousands of dollars you don't have."

    Apparently you haven't been following the news in New Mexico about cops down there – otherwise you would have added anal probes and thousands of dollars in medical fees for said probes.

    BTW, several people have said that you should cooperate with the police – so does that means when the cops ask you a question you should always answer it?

  48. Pandora says

    Whereof one cannot speak [ with additional utility ], thereof one must be silent.

    I think you can speak with additional utility Clark. Do you know how many morons I've heard say that it was 100% the suspect's fault as if the police had no choice? Comparing the police to snakes in a hollow log, you've basically said its what cops *do*, one can't expect otherwise.

    This view isn't just shared by people who have an overall low opinion of cops, it's shared by plenty of cops themselves and is the typical abdication of responsibility. "If the suspect didn't want to be beaten they shouldn't have pissed us off" is the typical go-to defense for abusive cops as well as abusive spouses.

    You've just made their typical self justification for them by focusing on the seemingly insane behaviour of the suspect rather than their behaviour.

    Given what the New Mexico police did to an innocent man while looking for drugs, I think there might have been some logic behind the behaviour of the suspect, but that's beside the point.

  49. Robert says

    The UK police may have a good reputation, but some of them are apparently willing to frame senior politicians.

    Last year, a cabinet minister resigned after a police officer said he used insulting language towards them – the 'plebgate' affair – but video evidence subsequently emerged inconsistent with the police account, and an e-mail supposedly from a member of the public which had confirmed their account turned out to be from a serving police officer who has since admitted he wasn't present, and his e-mail was a lie. Investigations are ongoing.

    If the police feel able to frame even government ministers, who can feel safe?

  50. says

    Like you, I can't think, off hand, of a deadly force incident involving police where the other person was obeying a lawful order to the best of their ability, except for mental illness cases.

    That being said, I would dearly love to know what, if anything, the cop thought he was trying to achieve by firing at a vehicle that was driving away from him. Never mind (as bad as it is) the question of what could have gone wrong, what if anything did he think could go right? Did he think he could shoot all the way through the car to the engine block without hitting any passengers? Did he think he could shoot out a tire under those conditions? Did he think they were going to get away if he didn't? Officer Fife needs to have his bullet taken away from him again; he's a mite too excitable.

  51. Rob says

    Sorry, putting a timeline together off video.
    at 1:38:27 "…71 in a 55"
    at 1:43:07 "Be right back. Turn off vehicle."

  52. Rob says

    Sorry, putting a timeline together off video.
    at 1:38:27 "…71 in a 55"
    at 1:43:07 "Be right back. Turn off vehicle."
    driver then drives off.
    at 1:44:55 State trooper has caught up, van is pulled over again.
    Trooper orders driver out of vehicle.
    Driver argues.
    14 yr-old gets out, decides to get back in. Trooper may have raised gun or taser to kid.
    at 1:47:17 Driver out of vehicle, trooper is telling her that she faces charges.
    at 1:50:31 Trooper tells driver to turn around and face vehicle. Driver then tries to get back into van.
    Kids jump out of van, 14 yr old starts scuffling with trooper
    at 1:51:11 , two other troopers arrive, original trooper was chasing 14 yr old, everyone back in van.
    Original trooper starts to break out window while yelling open up.
    Second trooper is standing next to him.
    Driver is starting van and preparing to drive away.
    Third trooper runs into camera view with gun drawn. Waits for other troopers to get clear, appears to be shooting downward.

    The shooting was probably not justified (but may have been), but none of the driver's actions up to that point were doing anything other than to escalate the situation. The driver deserves some jail time, the 14 year old deserves some jail time, the third trooper maybe needs some sort of reprimand, but in this case if I were on a jury, I would side with the troopers.

    Getting a speeding ticket does not justify the driver's subsequent actions.

  53. says

    We should have a well-known celebrity do a public service video on "How To Not Get Your Ass Kicked By The Police." I bet it'd go viral!

  54. says

    Tam, there's already two of them, by a well known lawyer (whose name escapes me). You should be able to find them on youtube under '10 rules for dealing with the police" and "busted!" We show 10 rules each year at Dragoncon, along with (usually) some experts. In 2011 we had Georgia's youngest ever police chief, for instance, and he talked about how a lot of cops these days have 'little dick syndrome'.

    You can get last years audio at http://eff.dragoncon.org (I've not got this years one finished yet) and there's a link to the archive there with previous years audio on the sidebar.

    Also, yes there's a difference with the UK (I'm an ex-pat brit). And yes, in the UK, under PACE (police and criminal evidence act) once someone says they want to speak to their lawyer (attorney) then the police can't question them without him present. And while there's less of the 'macho' culture in UK forces, there's still some, but without lethal weaponry, and internal investigations for incidents, escalated violence is less likely to happen (outside of certain units anyway – the notorious Met SPG of the 80s, and my hometown of Liverpool's TSG unit for instance, and more recently the SO17 branch with de Menzies and 'anti-terror policing)

    Having worked with the police for a time, and knowing some here in Georgia socially, there is just a 'culture' difference. There's almost an 'us-and-them' mentality in the US, complete with Omerta. I think the basic symbolism of the job is to blame. In the US, you get a 'shield' which is the authorisation AND the symbol of your power. In the UK, your authorisation is a Warrant [card] and your symbol is generally your county/area crest – you not only have something to symbolically hide behind for protection, but it's a symbol of 'police', not the community, perhaps subconciously indicating where ones loyalty should lie… (you know, this is damned good stuff, I should write this up!)

  55. Christoph says

    There's also a book called "Arrest-proof yourself", which goes into more detail. It's written by an ex-cop, now-defense attorney and an electronic version might be findable by googling.

  56. says

    Moral of the story: Consumer/citizens should travel in armed packs when crossing the turf of Bad Guys With Badges gangs. The latter are always armed and lately show little restraint in demonstrating that fact.

    (The NSA and their alphabet soup cohorts will probably park a satellite over my house for the above comment).

  57. Andrew says

    I remember being stopped by police for not wearing a seatbelt many years back. It was in the UK, so none of this went through my mind. If I had fled, I would have been tracked down. All of this without firearms ever being an issue. You take your choices with the system you have legislated for. Just saying. There must be some upsides though. ;-)

    Having said that, I understand that DWB in the UK can still be hazardous, and apparently cops these days are more likely to carry weapons.

  58. eddie says

    Amazing how many people seem to have missed the point of Clark's post.

    It was titled "A Post About Cops That Does Not Criticize Cops". This was, of course, a subtle joke, as the post ABSOLUTELY criticizes cops. Note Clark's final three warnings about bears, rattlesnakes, and cops. Note the post's tag: "dangerous animals".

    Clark's overt point is that in an encounter with cops your first and foremost concern should be to ensure that you and your companions survive the encounter. The cops have guns and may use them and you will die if they do. Your best chance to survive the encounter is to follow Clark's advice: pull over, speak calmly, and do not try to evade, fight, or resist. Your second concern should be to preserve the best possible chance of the best possible legal outcome from the lengthy and horrific proceedings which will eventually follow from the encounter. Here again your best option is to follow Clark's advice: answer no questions and consent to no searches.

    That's Clark's overt point, and it's entirely correct.

    His covert point is that cops are animals, lacking in human virtues such as reason, sensibility, compassion, and respect for life. That every encounter with them is akin to an encounter with a bear or rattlesnake – dangerous, and potentially lethal. That you can take steps to reduce that danger, or at the very least avoid taking steps which drastically increase that danger. That the very worst thing you can do is provoke them, because, like animals, their reactions will be both unthinking and deadly.

    Clark's covert point is also correct.

    My apologies to the handful of you who got this, and to Clark for killing the frog.

  59. says

    Gosh, eddie, thank you for removing the scales from my eyes. I will go educate myself about these exotic… "cops", did you call them? …forthwith.