I'm pretty much on record that I find gun ownership the most ambiguous of all the civil rights. It's not that I dispute the meaning of the Second Amendment -- that debate, I think, is for all intents and purposes over -- but, let's be frank: Guns are instruments of violence. Period. I'm not at all certain that the Second Amendment is always and everywhere a good thing.
But I like civil rights a whole bunch, and it seems to me that if I call on folks to defend them when they don't like it, I should do the same thing. That's why I find this story in the Philadelphia Daily News so disturbing:
In the last two years, Philadelphia police have confiscated guns from at least nine men - including four security guards - who were carrying them legally, and only one of the guns has been returned, according to interviews with the men.
Eight of the men said that they were detained by police - two for 18 hours each. Two were hospitalized for diabetic issues while in custody, one of whom was handcuffed to a bed. Charges were filed against three of the men, only to be withdrawn by the District Attorney's Office.
Read further into the story, and you'll hear tales of men arrested after they offered their legal permits to carry the weapons to officers -- who either didn't know the law well enough to accept the documentation, or, because of other issues, couldn't independently verify those permits in a quick and reasonable.
In such cases, it seems to me, the call goes to the person who is exercising their rights. If police can't prove you're violating the law, they shouldn't be able to arrest you or confiscate your property. But that's not really the case in Philadelphia, at least. Enter Lt. Fran Healy, a "special adviser to the police commissioner," and this somewhat chilling statement of values:
"Officers' safety comes first, and not infringing on people's rights comes second," Healy said.
That sounds reasonable enough on the surface -- and certainly, nobody wants to see any cop dead -- but: Spend any time in a courtroom, like I have, and you'll realize that "officer safety" is the loophole to end all loopholes. As a general rule, police have to have "reasonable suspicion" -- evidence derived from their observations or witnesses -- to stop you, to frisk you, to arrest you. Under the guise of "officer safety," though, officers can frisk you to (wink) make sure you don't happen to have a weapon. And if they happen to dig criminal evidence out of your pockets -- evidence they wouldn't have had the right to collect otherwise -- well, that's just what happens in the course of things.
Sometimes, you end up with innocent men in state custody for 18 hours because the police can't or won't get their act together.
Like I said: I do want Philly cops to be safe. And guns make the city scary, at times. But I want the police to operate on the presumption that they honor the rights of the citizens they serve. Stories like today's don't offer me comfort.
Monkey Joel has two good posts over at Cup O' Joel regarding Philadelphia's screwed-up priorities vis-a-vis constitutional rights versus the "safety" of police. Read them both, won't you?
UPDATE: Looks like he cross-posted here as well. Move along. Nothing to see here.
Police in El Reno, Oklahoma decided that assaulting a bed-ridden 86-year-old woman is a good way to get your kicks.
You must obey an order -- no matter how trivial -- by a police officer, or face
electrocution a serious shock (see update, below) or other bodily harm, a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel ruled Friday. Or, as James Joyner of Outside the Beltway put it, "The 9th Circuit ruled yesterday that police can Taser pregnant women posing no risk so long as judges can concoct an implausible risk years later."
Clearly, they can give you a robe and a gavel, but they can't give you good judgment, either.
This outrageous decision stems from a 2004 traffic stop in Seattle. Malaika Brooks was driving her son to school when she was stopped by officers for doing 32 mph in a 25 mph school zone. Brooks told officers the car in front of her was speeding, so she refused to sign the ticket for fear of admitting guilt.
That's where it got interesting. The officers could have given her the ticket or let her go. Or they could have arrested her. They went with the latter. She told the police she was pregnant and refused to get out of the car. They threatened her with the Taser. She remained still.
The officers—Sgt. Steven Daman, Officer Juan Ornelas and Officer Donald Jones—then zapped her three times, in the thigh, shoulder and neck, and dragged her out of the car, placing the pregnant woman face-down in the street.
Brooks gave birth to a healthy baby a couple of months later. But the mother has scars. Brooks sued, alleging the officers violated her constitutional rights. U.S. District Judge Richard Jones allowed the case to continue. He declined to grant the officers immunity for performing their official duties and said Brooks' rights were clearly violated. Friday's decision overturned the trial court's ruling.
Here is the 9th Circuit's rationale. Read it and weep:
Judges Cynthia Holcomb Hall [Reagan appointee] and Diarmuid F. O'Scannlain [Reagan appointee] held that the officers were justified in making an arrest because Brooks was obstructing them and resisting arrest.
The use of force was also justified because of the threat Brooks posed, Hall wrote: "It seems clear that Brooks was not going to be able to harm anyone with her car at a moment's notice. Nonetheless, some threat she might retrieve the keys and drive off erratically remained, particularly given her refusal to leave the car and her state of agitation."
They also noted that the force used wasn't that serious because the Taser was in "touch" mode rather than "dart" mode, which hurts more. They reversed the lower court's opinion and held that the officers were entitled to immunity from the lawsuit.
The officers' lawyers, Ted Buck and Karen Cobb, said the officers made the right decision under the circumstances they faced.
"Police officers have to have the ability to compel people to obey their lawful orders," Buck said. That's all the court recognized today. The 9th Circuit just applied the law instead of getting caught up in the otherwise unfortunate factual circumstances."
Judge Marsha Berzon, a very liberal Bill Clinton appointee and the one dissenter, called the decision "off the wall."
"I fail utterly to comprehend how my colleagues are able to conclude that it was objectively reasonable to use any force against Brooks, let alone three activations of a Taser, in response to such a trivial offense," she wrote in her dissent.
Berzon pointed out that under Washington law, the police had no authority to take Brooks into custody: Failure to sign a traffic infraction is not punishable by arrest, as it turns out, and it isn't illegal to resist an unlawful arrest.
Berzon also noted in her dissent that to obstruct an officer, one must obstruct the officer's official duties, "and the officers' only duties in this case were to detain Brooks long enough to identify her, check for warrants, write up the citation and give it to her. Brooks' failure to sign did not interfere with those duties."
It's rare that I find myself agreeing with the liberal side of the 9th Circuit, but this is one of those cases where the default "conservative" position on the supposed side of "law-and-order" is not justified. This is an sickening decision that grants far too much deference to police, promotes the us-vs.-them mentality pervasive in far too many law enforcement agencies, and may endanger police officers and members of the public alike.
"Judges have been, for going on four decades now, loathe to second guess police officers and the principle of Terry v. Ohio, that officers have a right to briefly violate the Constitution if they are scared (I paraphrase) has been stretched beyond belief," Joyner writes. "Judges and other public officials, not unreasonably, want to give officers a wide berth because their jobs are indeed dangerous and the prospect having their instincts questioned ex post in the calm light of day might make them take excessive risks."
But, as Joyner notes, this is a clear cut case -- not of some 200-pound crackhead on a rampage, but of three big cops domineering a pregnant mom.
"Yes, her refusal to sign a ticket after being told (and it being printed on the ticket) that signing is merely acknowledgment of receipt and not an admission of guilt, is annoying," Joyner writes. "But, clearly, this was a case of officers frustrated that a citizen dared question their authoritay, not an overreaction to reasonable peril."
It's a sure bet that decisions such as this one will in no way diminish confrontations between police and civilians. People don't like to be treated as subjects.
I would reiterate a point I made in an earlier post: I hope this decision doesn’t lend credence to the effort to ban law enforcement from using Tasers altogether. I don’t dispute for a moment that police have abused Tasers. But what would these dumb cops have done to Malaika Brooks if all they had were nightsticks, pepperspray and guns?
Joel sent me this story by way of a link from Digby's Hullabaloo. She was doing great, until she threw this elbow at the end:
BTW: where are all the anti-authoritarian libertarians now? It seems as if they only care about the constitution when it comes to taxes and guns. Someone else's right not to be electrocuted for refusing to sign a traffic ticket? Not their problem.
Update: Eric at Classical Values shares the outrage about the case, while he admonishes and corrects:
What I do not agree with is (Digby's) ridiculous attempt to scold libertarians:
...where are all the anti-authoritarian libertarians now? It seems as if they only care about the constitution when it comes to taxes and guns. Someone else's right not to be electrocuted for refusing to sign a traffic ticket? Not their problem.
That is such a crock. I've lost track of the number of posts I've written complaining about police abuses, and I'm not even going to dignify his argument by supplying links.
As to the "right not be be electrocuted" he does not know what the word means. This woman was tasered. Shocked with electricity. Stunned, not killed.
The word "electrocute" is not complicated, and I think most people know that it means killed:
1. to kill as a result of an electric shock
2. (Law) US to execute in the electric chair
[from electro- + (exe)cute]
So, while I believe that people do have a "right not to be electrocuted for refusing to sign a traffic ticket," that is not what happened here.
I don't know what is more shocking: the underlying story itself or its mischaracterization and gratuitous smear of libertarians as people who "fail to care about the constitution [except] when it comes to taxes and guns."
I'm going to stick my neck out here and venture that if there is a "right not to be electrocuted for refusing to sign a traffic ticket," then it follows that libertarians also have a right not to be electrocuted for allegedly remaining silent about a police outrage they might not have known about -- mainly because it was only reported yesterday.
I'm shocked! Stunned!
But I'm about as surprised as I am electrocuted.
Good point on electrocution. I should have been more careful.
Malaika Brooks, shown here with her infant son, sued the Seattle Police Department over a 2004 traffic stop during which police stunned the then-pregnant mother three times.
I was going to throw this item to Ben for more sober coverage, but I'm not sure sobriety is the right response to uniformed thugs assaulting an older man whose son's life is in danger. No, I think outrage and disdain are probably more appropriate.
Troubling news from Fairbanks, Alaska, where tempers are flaring in the drive-thru lane.
The Associated Press reports a man who hit a Taco Bell manager in the face with a double-decker taco has been sentenced to one day in jail and one year probation.
This was no random taco assault. The assailant, Warren Strickland, claims Taco Bell miscreants spit in his food because they couldn't get his $1.49 taco right. The manager accused him of lying to get free food.
Strickland also has to pay a fine and -- constitutional lawyers, take note -- is banned from Taco Bell for a year.
Next time, Warren, just throw it on the ground.
Well, that guy has nothing on the poor bastard in Illinois that police Tasered not once, not twice, but 11 times. While he was having a seizure.
Police officers from two Chicago suburbs are being sued after one of them allegedly Tasered a man having a diabetic seizure because the diabetic involuntarily hit the officer while being taken to an ambulance.
Prospero Lassi, a 40-year-old employee of Southwest Airlines, filed the lawsuit (PDF) with a federal court in Chicago last week, following an April 9, 2009, incident in which Lassi was taken to hospital following a violent diabetic seizure -- and being Tasered 11 times while unconscious.
That day, Lassi's roommate found the man on the floor of his apartment having a seizure and foaming at the mouth, according to the statement filed with the court. The roommate called 911 for help, and police officers from the Brookfield and LaGrange Park police departments arrived to help with the situation.
As police officers were helping the paramedics move Lassi to an ambulance, Lassi -- still in the midst of the seizure and described as "unresponsive" -- involuntarily smacked one of the officers with his arm.
"Reacting to Mr. Lassi’s involuntary movement, one or more of the [officers] pushed Mr. Lassi to the ground, forcibly restraining him there," the complaint states. "[LaGrange Park Officer Darren] Pedota then withdrew his Taser, an electroshock weapon that uses electrical current to disrupt a person’s control over his muscles, and electrocuted Mr. Lassi eleven times.
As I wrote in response to Joel's post, I hope the federal court ruling doesn’t lend credence to the effort to ban law enforcement from using Tasers altogether. I don’t dispute for a moment that police have abused Tasers. But I worry that in their absence, police would be even more inclined to use their nightsticks and guns.
That said, those two cops in Illinois shouldn't just be fired and sued for what little they have. They should go to jail for assault. They give good officers a bad name.
Police went to a southwest Houston apartment to break up a disturbance but ended up finding something else, KPRC Local 2 reported Wednesday.
A woman called police on Monday and said a man was forcing his way into her apartment in the 5300 block of Elm Street.
When officers went inside, they found something that made them concerned enough to call the bomb squad.
They found an AT-4 shoulder-mounted rocket launcher. It can shoot a missile nearly 1,000 feet through buildings and tanks.
"It gives infantrymen the advantage with an ultra-light weapon that can stop vehicles, armored vehicles as well as main battle tanks and fortifications," said Oscar Saldivar of Top Brass Military and Tactical on the North Freeway.
That type of rocket launcher has been used in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The man reportedly had jihadi literature, too. Robert Spencer finds these details alarming: "Rocket launcher? Check. Jihadist writings? Check. But no worries -- the Feds found no ties to terrorism!"
Well, that's typical. And it's hardly a crime to possess jihadist propaganda. But wait... what? How is it the man won't be charged with a crime for having a battlefield weapon in his apartment?
Because it was disarmed and deactivated, of course -- a detail we learn four paragraphs from the end of the story. I really hate it when the media buries inconvenient information like that. And this is one case where I think Spencer may have gotten a bit caught up in the TV report's sensationalism.
Believe me, I know what I'm talking about when it comes to disarmed rocket launchers. I read recently that the spent LAW tube I had when I was a kid has since been outlawed. I got rid of mine years ago in a move. But what a stupid law. The only thing dangerous about it was the fiberglass lining the inside!
Update: Confederate Yankee echoes my point above. His headline is perfect: "Houston Wets Itself Over Glorified Pipe."
The alternate headline might be: "Don't bring a gun to a snowball fight."
(Warning: There's quite a bit of salty language in the video.)
When it snows, people have snowball fights. When it snows in Washington D.C., somebody is going to draw a gun in a snowball fight. Who would have thought it would be a plainclothes detective with an attitude?
Washington's ABC affiliate WJLA reports:
A lively snowball fight on D.C. streets took a dark turn Saturday when anti-war protesters dressed in anarchist garb showed up, and a D.C. police officer pulled his weapon out of his holster.
The neighborhood snowball fight at 14th and U streets was advertised online. By 3 p.m., more than 200 residents converged for the massive snowball fight.
"No one meant any harm, no one meant anything by -- just having fun, it's highly unfortunate," said Tisha West. "We're Washingtonians and we like to play in the blizzard."
But things started to turn for the worse when the crowd -- some carrying anti-war signs and dressed all in black with masks -- began to pelt passing cars. A plain clothes D.C. police detective emerged from a Hummer -- it's unclear whether it was his personal vehicle or an unmarked police vehicle -- after it was struck. The detective began yelling at the gathered crowd. At one point, he pulled back his jacket, exposing his service weapon -- it's unclear if he did this intentionally. That's when things took a darker turn.
That account is roundly disputed in the comments section of that site, and elsewhere. In particular, several eyewitnesses insist the story overplays the anti-war angle -- hard to say. Unlike a G20 summit in March, there is good reason to wear a black ski mask in the middle of a blizzard. Also, the detective didn't merely "expose" his weapon -- he definitely drew his gun. An alarmed citizen, seeing an angry man waving a pistol at revelers, called 911.
Now, is it a good idea to hurl snowballs at moving vehicles? No, probably not. Is the appropriate response to leap out of your car with a loaded pistol and use the color of authority to threaten people who are really just having a bit of harmless fun? To ask the question is to answer it.
From the Washington City Paper story:
Like so many others, Robin Bell heard about the snowball fight at 14th and U Streets NW and decided to go and check it out. He tells City Desk that prior to the incident, a cop car got stuck in the road and everybody stopped the snowball fight and helped the cop get his car out of the snow. "The crowd cheered and everybody was happy," Bell says.
Soon, though, he started hearing people shouting: "Don't bring a gun to a snowball fight!"
"Then I walked over and I saw a police officer brandishing a weapon," Bell says referring to the uniform cop. He says he didn't see the detective brandish his weapon--only the furious aftermath. He says the detective was yelling and "kind of out of control." "It was really strange to see a police officer so upset and angry over what seemed at best a misunderstanding," Bell explains. "At worst, it was some kids throwing a snowball at him."
At one point, Bell says, the detective ran into the crowd and grabbed man whom he thought might have thrown a snowball at him. Bell adds that the detective them put the individual next to his Hummer. Cops grabbed two others. All three were given warnings. "It was ridiculous because everyone was throwing snowballs," Bell says.
D.C. Police say they are investigating the whole fracas, although a couple of off-the-cuff, early statements by management seem to deny what anyone with two eyes and an Internet connection could readily see. (Update, 12/21: Jonathan Turley has an interesting post about the incident, which offers some details about the head of the D.C. P.D.'s internal affairs division.)
If there is any justice in this world, this Detective Baylor will be working the graveyard for a private security outfit at some Recovery Act-funded construction job come spring. But there is no justice...
Update: Here's the Washington Post story on the hullabaloo:
Police said initially that the detective had not flashed his weapon. On Sunday, the officer was placed on desk duty after Twitter, blogs and YouTube appeared to show otherwise.
If the final investigation shows the officer pulled his weapon after being pelted with snowballs, D.C. Assistant Chief Pete Newsham, head of the investigative services bureau, said that "would not be a situation in which a member [of the force] would be justified."
"We have to see what the entire circumstance was," Newsham said Sunday. "But just a snowball fight, not in my mind. That doesn't seem a situation where we would pull out a service weapon."
Meanwhile, Ann Althouse sides with the cop:
The quoted chant is "Don't bring a gun to a snowball fight!" and that sounds funny and fun-loving, but it got me thinking of the encounters with police that we saw in the 1960s when it took next to nothing to provoke shouts of "police brutality" and "pig." And in fact, if you watched the whole video, you heard the shout "F--- you, pig."
(Click "Read More" to see additional videos below the fold.)
Award-winning freelance photographer takes a few pictures inside a mall. Photographer inadvertently takes a few shots of a child (in a wide shot). Parents confront photographer. Photographer apologizes and delete the shots from the digital camera. Parents get the police involved anyway. Which is where things get really stupid.
(Photographer Scott) Rensberger said (Charleston police Cpl. R.C. Basford) stopped him and said, "Why are you taking pictures of kids?"
"I can't believe you are asking me that," Rensberger said to the officer. "Do you mind if I take a picture of you?"
Rensberger said he reached in his pocket and pulled out his camera and raised it to take a picture of the police officer. Basford grabbed the camera to prevent him from taking a picture, which is when Rensberger said he took his free hand and brought it up to the small camera because he was afraid it was going to drop on the ground.
According to Rensberger, Basford said, "Don't you touch me."
Rensberger said he told the officer he wasn't touching him.
"Then he grabs my left hand and takes it around my back while Santa and the kids and everyone looked on," Rensberger said. "I'm scared to death he is going to dislocate my shoulder. I'm begging him not to do that and he responded, 'If it dislocates, I'll call the paramedics.' By no means was I trying to resist arrest."
Ah, well, you know how it is. He's a photojournalist! Hit him again! Ho ho ho...
Anyway, Rensberger is facing a variety of charges, including -- get this -- battery on a police officer. Basford is facing a routine use of force investigation. Seems like something is out of sorts here -- up is down and black is white.
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger did not sign, but did not veto, AB962, the Mail Order Ammo Ban. Since California has no pocket veto, that means the bill becomes law without his signature.
This means that, as of 1 Feb 2011, all handgun ammunition sales in California will require a face-to-face transaction between buyer and seller, and sellers will have to obtain a thumbprint and other data from the buyer.
Is this what you meant in a personal email about how hard it is to get 9mm ammo, or is that a separate issue? And is this a big deal?
The Muffled Oar blog calls shenanigans on an alleged unit of the Department of Justice's Office of Public Affairs "tasked with posting anonymous comments, or comments under pseudonyms, at newspaper websites with stories critical of the Department of Justice, Holder and President Obama."
The Heritage Foundation's Hans von Spakovsky elaborates at the Corner:
I doubt that the Office of Public Affairs (OPA) has received an ethics opinion from Justice’s Professional Responsibility Advisory Office (PRAO) saying that it is acceptable for OPA employees to be harassing critics of the department through postings that deliberately hide their DOJ affiliation (a practice that is not very “open” or “transparent”). DOJ lawyers also ought to be aware of ABA Model Rule of Professional Conduct 8.4, which states that it is professional misconduct for a lawyer to engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation. If the report in The Muffled Oar is correct, tax dollars are being used directly for such dishonest, deceitful behavior.
I'd like to see some follow up about this from other bloggers and perhaps even a mainstream media outlet before weighing in further. (With respect to the Muffled Oar, I'd never heard of it before today.) I would simply remind readers that the Pentagon found itself in a boatload of trouble last year over revelations that it had paid retired generals to parrot the government line on TV. This sounds similar, if not more insidious.
Big news on the gun-rights front today. The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case (McDonald v. Chicago) challenging the Windy City's ordinance banning individuals from owning handguns. And unlike when SCOTUS took a case challenging the District of Columbia's handgun ban, which concerned only federal laws (District of Columbia v. Heller), this decision is expected to be sweeping.
In other words, SCOTUS may finally decide whether gun ownership is a personal right that no level of government may "reasonably" abridge (i.e. banning bazooka's would still be OK, but banning Glocks would not be OK). From the superbly written and detailed Chicago Tribune story:
Kindly click the "read more" button beneath the row of icons below
Here's an arresting story from the Associated Press: "Fire chief shot by cop in Ark. court over tickets"
Chief Don Payne took a bullet in his hip because the local cops are a pain in everyone's behind. The seven-man police department of Jericho, Arkansas (pop. 174) has been essentially tyrannizing residents for a decade with a ceaseless barrage of traffic tickets. Jericho police wrote so many tickets that they hardly had time to respond to other calls. One elderly resident told the AP reporter that cops cited him for going 58 mph... in his own driveway.
Well, last week, the fire chief raised such a ruckus in court over his latest traffic citation that one of the cops shot him.
Payne is recovering and Jericho no longer has a local police force. According to the story, "the police chief has disbanded his force 'until things calm down'" and "a judge has voided all outstanding police-issued citations." The county sheriff has assumed policing duties for the town, and has launched an investigation into where all of the traffic fine revenue went. Nobody seems to know. Turns out, the city can't pay its bills for police and fire equipment, and at least one police cruiser and fire truck have been repossessed within the past year.
(Hat tip: Jeremy LaRue on Twitter.)
All the light and space of the Lone Star State must have put the zap on this thug's head. From the Associated Press:
The chief of a small Central Texas town's police department has been fired and jailed for allegedly using a Taser gun on his wife.
Oly Ivy, 30, was the only full-time police officer in a town of roughly 500 people. Here's hoping he goes away for awhile.
Our friend Rick "Deregulator" Henderson points to this Los Angeles Times story as a "preview of what would happen if the government bails out newspapers."
The Los Angeles Police Protective League -- the police union -- wants the editorial board of the San Diego Union-Tribune summarily dismissed. Well, that's nice. Why would the union bosses make such a demand? On what basis could they make such a demand?
As it turns out, the San Diego Union-Tribune was purchased recently by a private-equity firm called Platinum Equity. According to the Times story, "Platinum relies on a $30-million investment from the pension fund of Los Angeles police officers and fire fighters, along with large sums from other public-employee pension systems around the state, to help fund its acquisitions of companies."
So the L.A. police union is, in a way, part owner of the San Diego Union-Tribune. And because the Union-Tribune's editorial line is critical of the rapacious behaviors of public-employee unions, the police union wants the editorial line to change.
"Since the very public employees they continually criticize are now their owners, we strongly believe that those who currently run the editorial pages should be replaced," wrote League President Paul M. Weber wrote in a March 26 letter to Platinum CEO Tom Gores.
Platinum sounds disinclined toward ousting the editorial writers, but who knows? Platinum is in the newspaper business for the money, not the honor of running San Diego's outpost of a foundering medium.
I will say this, however, about Paul M. Weber, a man whom I presume cared about public service at some point in his career: He is a thug and an enemy of the Constitution who has no business being a policeman. His role as president of a union is corrosive to the public good, and it frightens and appalls me that such a man has the authority to carry a badge and a gun.
Let me put it another way: Sgt. Paul M. Weber of the Los Angeles Police Department took an oath to protect and serve his city. Paul M. Weber, union boss, took an oath to protect and defend the interests of his union members. Clearly, however, those oaths are not always compatible and indeed may be contradictory.
Weber, in an interview with the Times, said that the union is not demanding changes in the paper’s news coverage of public-employee union issues or in its staff of reporters. (Yet.) "It’s just these people on the opinion side," he said. "There is not even an attempt to be even-handed. They’re one step away from saying, ‘these public employees are parasites."
It's fair to say the Union-Tribune doesn't believe that public employees are parasites. I don't think public employees are parasites, either.
Their thuggish union bosses, however, are another story.
Ordinarily, stories like these would be Monkey Rothbard's bailiwick. There is all kinds of good news in the story of the Dallas cop's confrontation with Houston Texans running back Ryan Moats. First, the officer didn't shoot, tase, pepper-spray or bludgeon Moats or any of his family members. Second, the officer -- 26-year-old Robert Powell -- did the right thing and tendered his resignation today.
“I made this decision in the hope that my resignation will allow the Dallas Police Department, my fellow officers and the citizens of Dallas to better reflect on this experience, learn from the mistakes made, and move forward,” Powell said in a statement issued through his attorneys (naturally).
“I still hope to speak with the Moats family to personally express my deep regret, sympathy, and to apologize for my poor judgment and unprofessional conduct,” Powell added.
I'm pleased Powell is no longer a police officer. If you watch the video, you'll see a young cop using his badge and gun to intimidate some uppity citizens. (And, unlike the recent New York Post cartoon hullaballoo, the racial aspect of this story is both unavoidable and unmistakable.) The trouble with police officers like Robert Powell is they tend to mistake citizens for subjects. For every professional public servant who does his job well, there is a Powell whose idea of the "thin blue line" is little more than "us vs. them" -- and we're all "them."
But Powell is merely a symptom of the underlying problem. As it happens, things could be much worse. In Great Britain, where you are in fact a subject, the police will hold you at bay while a family burns to death inside a house as they wait for the fire brigade to arrive. Reports the Times of London:
A pregnant woman, her husband and their three-year-old son were killed in a house fire early yesterday as police who arrived before the fire brigade prevented neighbours from trying to save them. The woman screamed: “Please save my kids” from a bedroom window and neighbours tried to help but were beaten back by flames and were told by police not to attempt a rescue.
That horrifying story provoked this perceptive comment from Mark Steyn:
Even if you understand the obligation to act in such a situation, the state will forcibly prevent you and (if recent form is anything to go by) ensure that if you disobey them you'll be prosecuted — pour encourager les autres to remain obedient sheep to the government shepherd.
It's interesting to read the words of the South Yorkshire Police spokeszombie:
The senior officer in charge is confident we handled this incident as professionally as possible. In a situation like that you could end up with more deceased bodies than you had in the first place
Well, there weren't any "deceased bodies" at the time Her Majesty's constabulary showed up. And there might not have been any had they not shown up at all. The incident has strange echoes of that fire at a school in Saudi Arabia not long after 9/11, where the fleeing schoolgirls escaped the blazing building but, because they were unveiled, were beaten back by the stick-wielding religious police to die in the flames. In both cases, the emergency responders who are supposed to save you (or at least make an attempt) instead wind up killing you — because a rote prostration before rule enforcement trumps their basic humanity.
Our Rothbard likes to say, "Cops suck." Well, sometimes they do, sometimes they don't. Better to say, per Steyn, that rote prostration before rule enforcement sucks. Although it isn't quite as punchy, it gets to the heart of the problem.
I just flew in to Denver, and while I was waiting for my ride, I witnessed a cop bringing a frazzled young lady to tears (literally) as she was trying to pick up her parents at the airport. She had barely pulled into her spot and opened the doors when the idiot thug started hassling her to close up and move along. She tried to patiently explain that her parents had just called her and were heading down the escalator. Did Herr Jackboot cut her some slack and let her wait 1-2 minutes? I think you already know the answer. She got in her car, and called her parents in a panic as she started to cry. The girl was clearly not familiar with the airport and was trying to figure out how she was going to be able to loop around and find the pickup spot again. The cop was relentless. Finally, and it really was just one or two minutes, her parents emerged from the door and the jackass backed off.
Taxpayer dollars at work. I feel much safer.
Update: Link fixed. Thanks, Brad!
After repeatedly being caught on camera abusing people, surely the LAPD has cleaned up its act. Right? Right? Unfortunately not.
Another filthy, four-letter word that begins with "C" - Cops
Follow all three of the links for maximum indignation.
The thugs and jackboots claim the life of another innocent in the stupid and profoundly ineffective drug war.
Here's hoping that cop never gets another good night's sleep again.
Thank merciful God for the Global War On Terror, or the fuzz would have never caught up with this dangerous criminal.
(Did you even have to guess where I stumbled across this link? No, I didn't think so.)
If you don't mind being angry for the rest of the day, read this transcript of some gutless scumbag Tennessee cops literally torturing a non-violent drug offender to get him to sign a consent form to search his property. Better yet, listen to the audio.