The Oscar Grant Shooting

Please correct me if my impression is wrong. I have not been following the story.

As I understand what happened:

  • Oscar Grant and a pack of criminals were involved in a running fight with another pack of criminals
  • Police officers, outnumbered by the pack, detain Oscar and others.
  • Oscar Grant struggles against the officers, and is shot.
  • Local criminals proceed to riot, angered by the use of police powers against criminal packs

Am I missing something? It appears to be a scene from The Searchers come to life, with Oscar Grant and the BART playing the role of Indian raiders and the local awakening council.

A thank you to Stephen Pampinella, who mentioned the shooting in a recent blog post and attracted my attention to the Oakland Riots.

34 thoughts on “The Oscar Grant Shooting”

  1. Have you watched the videos or read any of the eyewitness testimonies? The first and third points are not substantiated by any evidence, and the fourth point is misleading – most of the demonstrators are not rioters or criminals.

  2. Adam,

    Thanks for the comment!

    I haven’t seen Do the Right Thing.. I will add it to my to-watch list.

    My reference to the Searchers was in reference to honor-violence, which presumably is the cause for a running scuffle.

    The first point is in reference to what I read was the reason the BART police showed up — reports of a fight between two groups of youth on the train. I may be wrong.

    The third point was from a description of the cell phone footage, which used those terms. I saw the cell phone footage, but really cannot make out what is happening.

    I imagine the Bay Area has a fair share of protests. What is striking (and what has made the international news) has been the riots. The most striking part of the riots, to me, was the complaint of a black store owner, that the rioters had targeted their own people. The intracommunical violence of the riots implies to me that the riots are being conducted by criminals, and not political activists with a coherent agenda.

  3. Do the Right Thing is a must-see. Think Crash only directed by Spike Lee.

    The BART officers pulled the people off the train because of reports of a fight. I’m not sure where you got “pack of criminals” or “running fight” from that.

    All the eyewitnesses are reporting that Grant was fully cooperative with the officers. Many said that he was begging with them not to taser him because he has a family.

    As far as the riots go, I think you’re spot on. The same thing has usually happened in race riots. (which is another reason I recommend you see Do the Right Thing)

  4. I see no evidence of your first and third points.

    What we do know is that there is no police rule of engagement in this country (maybe in Russia or Venezuela) for shooting a handcuffed suspect on his stomach in the back. This is in no way shape or form a “good shoot”. The reactions of this poorly trained and/or incompetent police officer’s comrades seem to capture the whole “WTF” aspect of this tragedy. If you do not believe this, please, please interview any local police officer for what the procedure is for an unruly suspect (if Grant was unruly at all) who is cuffed, with a knee in the back from another officer and on his stomach. I might go along with a taser blast but it seems in some departments this is off the limits as well given he was already adequately restrained via cuffs and physical force.

    If the officer claims he felt threatened by a weapon Grant had, he will have to answer for why he did not follow one of the most basic procedures of police officers and search the suspect prior to handcuffing him. If he claims he meant to reach for a taser and not his gun, he will have to answer for sheer ineptitude.

    Given that this guy has lawyered up, refused to interview with investigators from his own department (let alone outside investigators that would be standard in a lethal shoot) and had his lawyers spread disparaging rumors about Grant and what happened (as well as claims of receiving death threats), his actions thus far do not speak loudly for his honesty or professionalism.

    Now, as to the morons burning businesses down, assaulting citizens and doing who knows what else in the encyclopedia of rioting stupidity, ostensibly to protest the shooting but more likely just to spread some mayhem (reports about white males attacking black businesses and a Muslim community center are highly disturbing and point towards Cali’s well known white supremacist underground making an appearance on schedule at any potential point of disorder in urban California)… they should all have been jailed and security camera footage and police testimony utilized to prosecute those who are responsible for any damage or mayhem.

    Indeed, back to this guy lawyering up.. even BART can’t figure out what he’s hiding:

    “..BART spokesman Linton Johnson said Wednesday.

    “We had a meeting scheduled for him to talk, and his attorney and a union rep came in his place and dropped off a letter of resignation instead,” Johnson said. “It’s interesting, because he was supposed to be talking for the administrative part of our investigation, which is privileged information and couldn’t have been used in any criminal investigation anyway.”

    http://www.mercurynews.com/localnews/ci_11394377

    You seem to be making a valid point (the debased urban minority culture with its gangs and honor killings and the underpaid, underappreciated lawmen tasked with trying to keep the peace and protect the innocent) about the wrong case (here it seems we have an incompetent cop who killed someone by accident).

  5. Ha! Or should I say, I see no evidence for the 3rd point showing he is struggling against the officers to an extent that justifies the shooting.

  6. Given that there are also apparently conflicting reports about any and/or actual fighting (or was it just verbal jousting, or was it a homeless black man who called a Latin youth a wetback and started a loud argument?) behind the call the BART police got to report to the scene, I was also reminded of this recent case where police rush in and make a series of bad judgments. All it takes is one bad cop to ruin it for the decent majority of good cops out there.

    http://www.kwch.com/global/story.asp?s=7446220

    Hearing Impaired Man Tased by Police (While stepping out of bath tub)

  7. Thanks to Eddie and Adam for their comments!

    Eddie,

    All it takes is one bad cop to ruin it for the decent majority of good cops out there.

    It strikes me if your concern was protecting the reputation of police officers, that it would not be wise to immediately jump to such conclusions about an officer, using derogatory phrases such as “lawyering up” (instead of, say, excersizing his civil rights in the same manner we encourage all people to do), and immediately implying the point of failure was the officer (“poorly trained and/or incompetent police officer’”).

    If your concern is to smear the police force, or to pile on, or to join a hip micromovement, then smearing him is the way to go, I guess.

    Hearing Impaired Man Tased by Police (While stepping out of bath tub)

    This is an interesting point of discussion, because it lets me explain where I am coming from in this Request for Information.

    The law exists to protect the safety of the people, not hoodlums. From foreign policy to police affairs, our laws exist to the defend the peace.

    The Warren and Berger Courts, unfortunately, saw a series of decisions that turned the Bil of Rights from what it was intended to be (a document protecting public intellectuals and common people against political interference) and turned it into a document of rights of hoodlums. This creates a cascading set of negative consequences.

    Take public transportation, for example. As a society we have a choice: do we want an attractive, clean, and safe form of transportation that helps us get off oil and natural gas, or do we want a controlled anarchy on wheels where drug-users can sleep and hoodlums can engage in honor violence? Because of the Courts, we’ve opted for the second. We thus have terribly weakened public transportation infrastructure, and events like this (where “actual fighting” and/or fighting words [1]) contributed both to a death, and more importantly to future police officers worried about their job being software on “actual fighting” and/or fighting words.

    Or should I say, I see no evidence for the 3rd point showing he is struggling against the officers to an extent that justifies the shooting.

    It is hard for me to make out the video, as well.

    My point is that he is struggling with an officer. Maybe foks in Oakland consider violence against the police a fine form of recreation, or morally neutral, or whatever. If you have an honor-based culture, it may even be admired.

    (reports about white males attacking black businesses and a Muslim community center are highly disturbing and point towards Cali’s well known white supremacist underground making an appearance on schedule at any potential point of disorder in urban California)…

    The rioting was conducted by whites? The San Francisco Chronicle doesn’t give information on the racial composition of the rioters [2], but they do not appear to be.

    Adam,

    All the eyewitnesses are reporting that Grant was fully cooperative with the officers. Many said that he was begging with them not to taser him because he has a family.

    Is there any site with a good chronology? Most things on the web I can find are either accusations without references, or else relatively information-sparse. I would value something better.

    [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fighting_words#United_States
    [2] http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2009/01/08/MN2N155CN1.DTL

  8. Him resigning from the police force and not cooperating with the investigation conducted by his own department strikes even other police officers as dubious. Its not smearing him to call this from the onset a bad shoot, first impressions are difficult to shake (especially for jurors) and I doubt there will any breathtaking evidence released by him that will stop this from seeming like a bad shoot. His allies desperately smearing Grant’s past do nothing to change the issue at hand:

    A police officer, in violation of all valid rules and regulations pertaining to the situation, stood up and point-blank shot a handcuffed man in the back.

    There is simply, no validation, no excuse, for this.

    IF, IF, IF, IF, IF Grant somehow had a weapon that he was pulling (and there is no evidence of this), then this police officer is doubly incompetent for not following established protocol and searching Grant before cuffing him.

    The reputation of police officers is very important, considering that the successful completion of their duties depends on the cooperation of the majority of the community and that the pay and benefit increases they need depend upon the approval of the voting public.

    Otherwise, we can just export Greensboro’s police culture to the rest of the country, creating a poisonous relationship of non-cooperation and disdain from the wealthy taxpayer (who considers the force riddled with incompetents (repeated instances of mishandled evidence, ignored procedures and failures of tactical leadership by police) and corrupt cops) to the minority community member (who considers the white cops racist and the minority cops corrupt).

    ———————————–
    There seems to be no evidence of him struggling with the police officer to an extent warranting even being tasered. One must also wonder what kind of “struggle” he was allegedly putting up… was he arguing, was he shifting in his cuffs,…. etc, actions which while annoying, do not present a threat to the officer or the public.
    ————————————
    I am not criticizing police officers en masse, just this particular officer. Rather than accepting responsibility for his actions via established procedure (internal investigation with no criminal case connection), protect the integrity of the BART police force by cooperating with them and showing their system of correction to be fair and professional, he turns it into a mockery by hiding from investigators.
    Had he responded to the investigators immediately, an internal review could have been finished by Friday and they could have worked a deal with the District Attorney for him to be suspended with pay or assigned desk duties for a time period conducive to corrective training.
    Instead, he has created a long, drawn-out drama where he will likely get the book thrown at him by the DA (involuntary manslaughter seems to be the agreed upon charge bandied about by prospective defense attorneys and prosecutor talking heads on Tru TV, CNN, Fox and elsewhere) and go to jail.
    ————–
    There were black, Latin & white rioters. The problem of white supremacists joining the fray is that they add an element of malicious intent to what otherwise is an issue of crowd dynamics and emotions. If this is true, then it concerns me greatly over what they will do in the near future given the troubling social conditions in California. Cali’s race war in the prisons has been slowly spilling out into society and will likely only intensify as more prisoners are released early b/c of budget cutbacks and race groups ramp up their recruiting efforts among the disaffected.

  9. I originally linked to this story because I wanted to make a point about Virilio, telepresence, and legitimacy. While I think its pretty clear that Grant was shot without reason, the fact that information technology exists is why this incident has been immediately broadcast globally. Hence telepresence is created, one that frames the incident in a way to delegitimize the actions of the police and creates a perception of the necessity of action on the part of the discontented (to be clear, I’m not saying the riots are legitimate, Dan’s critique of their self-destruction is valied, only that the existence of global media forces the police to ‘wage war’ against law-breakers using methods acceptable to the public. WHen the police violate this principle, or when a military do the same by accidently causing collateral damage, protest or violence will result. Actually ‘winning’ a ‘war’ against crime or against an insurgency requires maintaining legitimacy at all times, in so doing, counterinsurgents/law-enforcement will maintain global legitimacy and hence, ‘win’.

  10. @tdaxp

    Here is an article from the Oakland Tribune that includes a chronology of all the articles since that shooting.

    http://www.insidebayarea.com/oakland-bart-shooting/ci_11410361

    This article on January 4 includes an interview that discusses Grant’s compliance with the officers and his begging not to be tazed because of his 4 year old daughter.

    http://www.insidebayarea.com/ci_11369405

    You might also go to KTVU.com which has at least three videos from differing perspectives.

    I hope these help you to obtain a clearer perspective on this heinous crime of an unjustifiable police shooting. I’ve watched the videos repeatedly and the body language of Grant is not threatening in any way. Further, at the time of the shooting Grant could not have posed any kind of a threat as he was subdued and in restraints.

  11. Stephen’s comment is extremely helpful. While I can’t comment on “legitimacy” — a word that seems to have as many definitions as it does people using it — the rest appears to be right on.

    In this case, there appears two be two controversies: a moral one and a technical one. The moral one appears to be someone incited violence, and was repaid in violence by the police. The technical one appears to be how to ‘wage war’ against crime in an effective and cost-efficient manner.

    Eddie mentions white supremacists. Certainly the technical methods we use to fight crime can incite such violence. For instance, if we react to a riot by improving the lives of the rioters (and their families), we are publicly rewarding such behavior. As long as inter- and intra- communal violence gets rewarded with increased attention, public funds, and police ‘sensitivity,’ ethnic whites would be foolish not to engage in such behavior as long as they have no moral qualms about it.

    KDP’s links are extremely valuable to me. The chronology going forward is useful, as is the discussion of why the officer resigned.

    It’s pretty clear that an officer who makes a habit of deciding this- or that- person is “not threatening in any way” is not one doing his job well.

    Grant’s request not to be tased adds nothing to my understanding, as I can’t imagine a criminal verbally requesting to be subdued.

  12. A note regarding the rioters. I agree with what Dan states regarding rioter behavior, rewards and policies. My point involving the alleged participation of white supremacist youth in this riot was a nod to the craziness of California, not an attempt to mask the participation of minority rioters as well.

    As such, like in other protest situations, if 90 protesters are legitimately and peacefully exercising their rights of protesters, and 10 other people show up with other behaviors in mind, what are the 90 to do? Do they even notice until its too late?

    If I was a community leader organizing a protest, I would ensure only members of my community group (not in a racial sense but an organizational one) were participating and restrict access to others, in order to avoid any potential shenanigans from unaffiliated individuals with other agendas. My message, my reputation. We would all wear similar clothing and stick together.

    I have been to enough protests and observed others to see where even non-violent stupidity can get out of hand and give the police every excuse to exercise force, as well as discredit the message of the groups involved.

    Of course, given the role of police informants, rival groups and undercover officers involved in staging such mayhem at other protests in the past, one has to acknowledge how easily a rent a riot is staged.

  13. A note about the officer’s motivations. It is entirely possible his actions after the shooting are part of a legal/media strategy being pursued by his legal team.

    Take the most offensive actions possible (drag out the investigation process, then stonewall investigators at the last possible moment) to antagonize more abrasive and more testy members of the community, goading them in the gamble that self-destructive actions will happen that will enhance the argument to move the trial venue.

    Somewhere he might get a chance at a jury of mostly whites who might look at this case as another racial lynching of a good cop (which happens enough in Cali to be believable, but not in this case).

    Then have elements pay to play with the local media (especially online) to play up Grant’s (alleged, I’m not sure) criminal past before jury selection.

    At least, that’s what I would do if I was his defense lawyer. Its the only way he has a chance of no jail.

  14. Yes, your impression is wrong. Like Eddie and Adam, I’ve seen no evidence of points 1 and 3. But your more serious error is that there is no provision for police to use “police powers” and shoot somebody in the back while they’re on the ground, or even if they’re struggling. “Police powers” consist of arresting somebody for a crime, not of shooting helpless people. Cops have multiple levels of violence they can use to protect themselves before they get to lethal force, including fists, pepper spray, clubs and tasers. I haven’t even seen anyone else attempt to justify this shooting, let alone characterize it as a legitimate use of police powers.

    Like Eddie says, just because a bunch of idiots find an excuse to torch things in Oakland, doesn’t mean that their anger is unjustified.

  15. Eddie,

    I think your recent post on the matter is spot-on [1].

    Somewhere he might get a chance at a jury of mostly whites who might look at this case as another racial lynching of a good cop (which happens enough in Cali to be believable, but not in this case).

    Perhaps more likely than a racial lynching of a good cop is a pro-hudlum lynching of a cop.

    Adrian,

    Thanks for your comment.

    I assume you agree that Mr. Grant was shot. I took the verb “struggle” from the San Francisco Chronicle‘s coverage [2].

    [1] http://hiddenunities.wordpress.com/2009/01/10/just-a-dumb-cop-not-murder/
    [2] http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/01/04/BA0R153LGU.DTL&tsp=1

  16. As for Oscar Grant, who really cares. He was nothing but a thug participating in inappropriate conduct. He wouldn’t be dead if he would have acted like a real human being is supposed to. He got what he deserved. Props to the cop who did it and hopefully more cops will follow his lead and start taking out these worthless people in society. This kid probably would have ended up in jail for killing and innocent person because he was a thug. Get rid of them now and we don’t have to waste our tax dollars on P.O.S thugs in jail!!!!!!!!!!

  17. It seems that Californians we spent their time keeping criminals like Mr. Grant in prison, instead of engaging in witch-hunts against cops, this might not have ever happened: [1]

    KPIX-TV reported Grant had a criminal record and served time at state prison in 2007 and 2008 and was involved in twelve cases between April 2004 and May 2008.[26] Grant, who had also been convicted of drug dealing, had been sentenced to 16 months in state prison in 2007 after he fled from a traffic stop while armed with a loaded pistol.[21] Grant was most recently released from prison September 23, corrections officials said. Any other convictions (before 2004) are not public record since Grant was a minor at that time.

    I feel bad for the family of offier Johannes Mehserle, and all the rest of the people whose lives have been negatively impacted by Mr. Grant.

    [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BART_Police_Shooting_of_Oscar_Grant#Oscar_Grant_III

  18. Can we all agree California is just all kinds of messed up? I don’t see it being the world’s 8th largest economy for much longer.

    Btw, BART is apparently hanging this guy out to dry. They have additional unreleased security footage of the shooting, which they claim has proven very helpful to their case against him.

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/01/14/BAJE15A6O2.DTL

    “In addition to those videos, Orloff said BART had obtained camera footage that has not been seen by the public and proved to be “very valuable.”

    From the evidence we have, there’s nothing that would mitigate that to something lower than a murder,” said Orloff, who was joined at a news conference by BART Police Chief Gary Gee and Oakland Police Chief Wayne Tucker.”

    Maybe he lost his cool? We used to have a recurring temper problem with some of the young kids who were master-at-arms (Navy military police) but this one is 27 years old.

  19. After all the criticism of me for my impression that Oscar Grant is a criminal.

    Now that we know he is — let’s just change the subject, apparently.

    My concern is the safety of public transportation. As someone who supports public transportation from foreign policy concerns [1], and as someone whose loved ones occasionally use public transportation — is keeping public transportation safe from hooligans.

    Now, of course in this case there is a technical issue of the appropriate levels of force that police should use, and the risks they should take, in protecting this peace. And likewise the proper procedures to use when errors are made.

    I do not get this pro-thug/pro-Grant moral indignation however.

    I get how out of COIN-like concerns it may be useful to throw a public servant under the bus in order to prevent another riot. Thugs can kill people and break things, and it may be easier just to lynch an officer who errored. Still, I don’t get the cheerleading of that process.

  20. Now that we know that Dan thinks it’s fine for people to go vigilante on any “thugs” they see on public transportation, I’ll be sure to wear a 3 piece suit if I’m ever riding the bus in Nebraska.

  21. Now that we know that Dan thinks it’s fine for people to go vigilante on any “thugs” they see on public transportation,

    What does this mean, and where did I say this?

    Sarcasm is a great way to have fun, but is not so good for increasing understanding.

  22. His criminal background does not come into play here, other than the sickening attempts by some to sanctify him in the community (disturbing, much like the Free Mumia rituals).
    The officer could not have known Grant was a felon. The time between arrival on scene and the shooting was a mere few minutes.
    However, if such a shooting had happened in the BART detention facility after they’d run his record, then I might see where irrational fear on the officer’s part of Grant as a dangerous threat came into play.
    My wife depends on public transportation for her movements across the city so I support the goal of safe transit.
    Yet, my greater pet peeve more than thugs and young hoodlums acting amok are trained officers of the law given a life and death responsibility when they are issued a lethal weapon and then failing dreadfully in that responsibility. I see it too often in the poorly trained (and poorly paid and supported) cops out there. Not to say that all cops or even many cops are like that, but there is a significant enough minority that it bugs me to no end.
    Again though, BART is hanging this guy out to dry and for good reason. He bucked the system, pushed away the blue shield and he will likely face the consequences for it. Murder seems a bit much but given this DA isn’t Nifong, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt, especially given the additional security footage they have as well as the likely damning testimony of his colleagues on the scene.

  23. Dan: unfortunately, I know a little about this. There are two questions here, first is whether Grant’s civil rights (pursuant to 42 USC s. 1983) were violated, and second, whether Mehserle violated any criminal laws of California (specifically: murder).

    The claim for violations of 1983 would be use of excessive / deadly force. I do not know what additional rights, if any, the constitution of California gives, but 1983 jurisprudence sets the floor for civil rights. No state actor can go below that floor, and some state actors (depending on the state’s constitution) may not be able to go that low.

    To prevail on a claim of excessive force (violation of 4th amend, typically) the plaintiff must show that the officer’s conduct violates the standards of objective reasonableness in the profession when viewed through the lens of Tennesse v. Garner (471 U.S. 1) and Graham v. Connor (490 U.S. 386).

    Reasonable police officers know that Garner sets forth standards for use of deadly force. I am sure we will not argue over whether pulling a loaded gun out and firing into the back of a suspect at close range is deadly force or not. Under Garner, officers are trained that, where an officer has probable cause to believe a suspect poses a threat of serious physical harm to the officer or another person (as when a suspect threatens to use a deadly weapon against an officer or another), the use of deadly force is justified.

    So first Q: was their probable cause to believe Grant posed a threat of serious physical harm to the officer or another?

    Graham is taught to officers as well, and gives them criteria for evaluating reasonableness in the use of force. These factors are: (1) severity of the crime; (2) immediate threat to safety of self and others; and (3) whether subject is actively resisting or fleeing. Additional considerations include: (a) extent of injuries sufferd, (b) need for application of force, (c) relationship between need for force and amount of force used, and (d) efforts made to temper severity of force used.

    This is the Garner / Graham prism through which we evalute claims of EF. Based strictly on the news accounts and videos, how would you evaluate the issue? We’ll get to murder charges later.

  24. Fed X,

    Welcome to the conversation!

    I’ve used the word “technical” four times in this thread. The mechanism of the law is of course a technical matter, and you present the legal, technical context for the murder charge.

    My interest here (as in my earlier posts on torture [1]) is not a technical one (the execution of the law as it relates to this case; the efficacy of torture as an information-gathering device) but a moral one (why is the moral outrage being directed to the police officer, and not the criminal, who began the confrontation?).

    Eddie,

    Yet, my greater pet peev

    Basing your analyst on avoiding your pet peeves is going to get you into trouble.

    I get the concern for the technical execution of the law enforcement function, but allowing a pet peeve to drive to focus your anger on a police officer, as opposed to the thug of the sort whose actiosn requireda police officer on the scene, seems backwards.

    Murder seems a bit much but given this DA isn’t Nifong, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt,

    Prosecturs charge up and plea down.

    I don’t know about this case, but most of the time I doubt that prosecutors take their own charges seriously.

    A prosecutor in Nebraska recently announced he would cease doing this, and only charge people with crimes he believed he could get a conviction on. The response with bewilderment and incredulity. [2]

    [1] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2007/07/21/torture-reloaded.html
    [2] http://www.beatricedailysun.com/articles/2009/01/07/news/local/doc49622745be48c146135784.txt

  25. TDAXP: Well I actually hadn’t gotten to the murder charge here, I was just talking civil rights violations. And I think, when you analyze it under the law, “technically” or however you want to put it, it is clear a civil rights violation of oscar grant occurred. The force used by Mehserle was clearly disproportionate to the facts on the ground, even in a rapidly evolving, tense situation. (Note: I base this analysis only on the Garner and Graham factors, and the facts as presented through the videos now available).

    A disproportionate response (especially one involving deadly force) is always viewed as outrageous (almost by definition). The only way one can make such a response non-outrageous is to either provide additional facts wherein the response is no longer clearly disproportionate, or to do away with the notion of proportionality as a moral precept altogether (like what a tyrant would do).

    Beyond that though, the law itself proposes a sense of morality. People should be rightly offended, and outraged, when another person’s civil rights are taken away. Even if the person’s whose rights are taken away is a “thug”. The fact that he was a “thug” goes to damages, not to liability (and culpability).

  26. Dan

    I get how out of COIN-like concerns it may be useful to throw a public servant under the bus in order to prevent another riot. Thugs can kill people and break things, and it may be easier just to lynch an officer who errored. Still, I don’t get the cheerleading of that process.

    That is a policy that also has costs.

    Although I can’t find it right now, I recall reading an article about how crime in Cinncinatti was way up and the economy was way down in the aftermath of a circus trial of a policeman who shot an unarmed black youth who was running away from him.

    The article contained a quote from an unidentified Cinncinatti policeman who said that if he did his job aggressively he would be pulling over a lot more young black men. Some of them would resist violently and they might injure or kill him. He might injure or kill the people he was trying to apprehend. If that happened, there was a good chance that he would go to trial. In a trial there was a good chance that he would have to sell his house and empty his bank account to pay a lawyer. If the trial went the wrong way he might lose his pension and he might even go to jail.

    None of those bad things would happen if he spent his shift parked behind an abandoned warehouse sleeping in his squad car.

  27. Fed X,

    And I think, when you analyze it under the law, “technically” or however you want to put it, it is clear a civil rights violation of oscar grant occurred.

    I’m not a lawyer with experience of this sort of case, so I am not clear on the matter. It may well be clear to those who practice in the area.

    That said, whether or not the officer’s actions were malum prohibitum does not concern me, as that is a technical matter.

    A disproportionate response (especially one involving deadly force) is always viewed as outrageous (almost by definition). The only way one can make such a response non-outrageous is to either provide additional facts wherein the response is no longer clearly disproportionate, or to do away with the notion of proportionality as a moral precept altogether (like what a tyrant would do)

    This whole paragraph seems to be going nowhere, but I’ll just point out that the last parenthetical thought is an example of the genetic fallacy.

    The first passage in the paragraph “almost” is tautological as well, but as I don’t understand your point in the paragraph as a whole, I don’t know what would be gained by criticizing it.

    Beyond that though, the law itself proposes a sense of morality.

    So you believe that all things that are laum prohibitum are malum in se?

    Or is it that your concern is exclusively with malum in se? Becasue if thi is true, then you are exclusively concerned with the technical matters of the case, and (as I said before) those do not interest me here.

    Mark in Texas,

    Well said.

    When we punish people for taking risks, we reduce those behaviors.

    When fighting crime is seen as risky, less officers will fight crime.

  28. Fighting crime has nothing to do with shooting a handcuffed and actively restrained (knee in the back) suspect.

    Now I will agree completely with the fiasco in Cincinnati (The Timothy Thomas shooting) where an exceptional cop’s career was destroyed by racial nonsense and rioting by criminal elements in the city.

    I would disagree with the unidentified officer for a variety of reasons. Cities with records and problems as bad, if not worse than Cincinnati, have dealt successfully with this in the past and continue to do so. They re-emphasized training, good judgment and following established procedure. Look at how skillfully NYC, Philadelphia and LA have handled similar problems. Now if that police chief in Cincinnati felt hamstrung by the race-baiters, he might as well resign his post and let new leadership come in that can handle the situation.

    The good news for police departments everywhere is that the race-baiters always overplay their hand (usually via a riot or increased crime b/c of the retardant effect they have on police) and end up losing.

  29. Dan,

    “Basing your analyst on avoiding your pet peeves is going to get you into trouble.”

    Indeed. I should have said “my larger concern”. Thugs are taken care of in almost every city to an extent, much the same way sanitation workers take out the trash. The problem is the failed society, culture and government policy platform that incubates such dreadful members of society. As if personal responsibility is no longer required.

    “Prosecturs charge up and plea down. ”

    Indeed. I would be surprised if this one did though, given the thuggish tendencies of some in the community in response and the potentially dicey political situation it would put his re-election hopes. The use of security footage and cell phone cameras add an element unusual to most cases in such plea situations, though admittedly, we live in an age where a man can be on video peeing on a teenage girl and be found not guilty of sex crime charges.

  30. Eddie,

    Thanks for the comments.

    Fighting crime has nothing to do with shooting a handcuffed and actively restrained (knee in the back) suspect.

    Of course errors in fighting crime have to do with the process of fighting crime.

    Errors, and how they are managed, are unavoidable parts of any process.

    There is the technical procedure for adjudicating the errors in this case, which will go through the law courts. This is as dry and boring, to me, as it should be: a system at work.

    There is a moral outrage here, which is the actions’ of the pack of criminals which caused this whole mess.

    I don’t get those who save their outrage for the instigator.

    The good news for police departments everywhere is that the race-baiters always overplay their hand (usually via a riot or increased crime b/c of the retardant effect they have on police) and end up losing.

    What makes you think this?

    You say “always,” so I assume you mean that without exception they have experienced continuous and severe set-backs.

    It strikes me that many of successful poliical entrepreneurs who successfullly extract “rents” from a system, often for their entire careers.

    Thugs are taken care of in almost every city to an extent, much the same way sanitation workers take out the trash.

    I assume if we had the same death-toll for poor trash collection that we did from thugs, it would be a national crisis.

    The problem is the failed society, culture and government policy platform that incubates such dreadful members of society. As if personal responsibility is no longer required.

    Truly.

    It is sad that so few public voices have taken the opportunity to publicly criticize Oscar Grant, and those like him, who live so lives so violent and criminal that they lead to problems such as this case.

    Instead, many are jumping on the bandwagon of blaming the victim, using an error in the law-enforcement process to criticize an officer as incompetent, poorly trained, etc., when to the extent this case is not dry, it is because of the criminal actions of Mr. Grant.

    I notice Adrian has not bothered to respond, by the way.

  31. Well since you called me out by name, I’ll spell it out for you. You’re calling people “pro-thug” for saying that Grant shouldn’t have been killed and that the officer should be prosecuted for murder or at the least manslaughter. This gives the impression that you favor one type of justice for people who kill people you call thugs, and one kind of justice for people that kill non-thugs. As if its OK to kill people if they slung dope 5 years ago, or it’s OK for killing someone because they squirm (who wouldn’t) when there’s 100 pounds of pressure on their lower back from the officer’s knee. Hence, if I wear a 3 piece suit, I’ll be in no danger of being labeled a thug and having someone shoot me.

    The “victim” is not Mehserle. As far as we know, Grant committed no crime.

    “As if personal responsibility is no longer required.”

    I agree with Eddie… Mehserle should be held fully responsible for his actions, just as Grant was held responsible for his (he did his time).

    “It is sad that so few public voices have taken the opportunity to publicly criticize Oscar Grant”

    Sometimes the fact that zero people agree with you can be an indication that you’re dead wrong.

  32. Adrian,

    Thanks for the reply.

    You’re calling people “pro-thug” for saying that Grant shouldn’t have been killed

    A theme I keep repeating in this thread is the difference between technical (we may call it procedural) prohibitions (the malum prohibitum) and moral ones (malum in se). As I have mentioned before, Mr. Grant’s death may well have been malum prohibitum. I have never called anyone “pro-thug” for saying that. Indeed, though I am not a lawyer, I would not be surprised by that outcome.

    However, was the shooting of an uncooperative detainee who was (as the officer reasonablly suspected) recently engaged in honor-basd pack violence malum in se? I don’t think so.

    As I said in the comment you refered to: “I do not get this pro-thug/pro-Grant moral indignation” That seems to be the pro-thug leep: to be outraged that violence was used to subude violence.(as opposed to the dry, technicale evaluation that an inappropriate level of violence was used on the part of the police for achieving their objectives).

    The rest of the paragraph strikes me as confused, both in conflating the above concepts, as well as conflating a reesponse to ongoing violence (the apaprent honor-based pack violence on the BART) with the operation of law-courts with respect to economic crimes.

    Sometimes the fact that zero people agree with you can be an indication that you’re dead wrong.

    This may be the the most specious use of argumentum ad populum I’ve encountered on this blog.

    Did you not realize it, or where you wasting my time for your emotional venting?

    Either way, cease trolling.

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