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Tips For Not Getting Shot By Cops

So, I read the grand jury testimony of Dorian Johnson, the buddy of Ferguson’s Michael Brown, and in the spirit of Chris Rock [1] (video NSFW), I discerned from it some lessons that might be useful to people who don’t want to risk being shot by police.

1. Don’t be a lawbreaker or hang out with lawbreakers. “Nobody should ever want to go to jail,” says former jailbird Dorian Johnson (p. 92). Who, despite this, begins his days by smoking pot like other people drink coffee. Smoking pot is illegal in Missouri. He testifies on page 24 that he starts every morning by smoking pot — and later testifies that he and Big Mike (Brown) were headed to the convenience store to buy cigarillos so they could smoke pot together. On pages 174-76, Johnson testifies about his (minor) criminal past, and how he got blamed for being with other kids who stole a package. He doesn’t seem to connect this to the fact that he remained with Big Mike after watching Big Mike steal cigarillos. Trouble follows troublemakers. Stay away from them.

2. When you go to the Kwikee Mart to buy the cigarillos with which to roll your morning blunt, don’t reach across the counter to take what you want. In the normal world of law and order, people don’t have the right to trespass in that way in a store. It is called theft. And don’t use the fact that you are 6’4″ and 300 pounds to bully the much smaller store clerk. (On pp. 84-86, Johnson admits that “Big Mike” stole the cigarillos, and pushed the clerk around, trying to be macho.) Do not be a thief, a thug, or a neighborhood bully, and you dramatically reduce your chances of having a fatal encounter with a police officer.

3. When a police officer tells you to stop walking down the middle of the road, do what he says. This is the most amazing part of Johnson’s testimony. He and Brown were both complete idiots. They were walking down the middle of a road, with traffic going by, and Officer Wilson told them to get back on the sidewalk. Johnson testified (see p. 65) that they told him they would get out of the road “in a minute.” One of the grand jurors asked Johnson why he and Brown didn’t simply obey the officer’s command, given that they were breaking the law by walking in the middle of the road. Johnson said (p. 69) that they did not take the cop seriously, and that they felt disrespected by him (“it was more like, ‘we’re not your kids…'”).

Seriously, they did this. A cop told these two dopes to get out of the road, and they figure that they will take their sweet time doing it, because they didn’t like his attitude.

Do not do this when a police officer gives you a lawful order.

Remember, Johnson was Brown’s friend, and is trying to make Brown look like a complete victim. Yet his testimony makes Mike Brown look like a very poor martyr to police brutality. In his testimony, Johnson says they told the cop that they would get out of the road “in a minute” because they were close to home, but he later says they said nothing to the cop. He says, repeatedly, that they were minding their own business and not doing anything wrong, but he concedes that a theft had just occurred down the street, and his friend Big Mike was the thief.

On pages 106-107, the grand jury is trying to nail down where Big Mike’s hand was when Wilson’s gun went off. Johnson testifies that Big Mike’s right hand (which was struck by the bullet) was out of the car. The physical evidence shows, however, that Big Mike’s arm was inside the car when he was shot in the hand. Johnson also testifies that Wilson shot Big Mike as Big Mike was running away, and hit him in the back. The autopsy showed no shots entering Big Mike from the rear. On pages 158-9, Johnson testifies that Big Mike, having been shot, was “walking towards the officer saying [that he did not have a gun] in an angry manner.”

Everything I’ve said so far is based solely on the grand jury testimony of Dorian Johnson. Ofc. Darren Wilson, in his grand jury testimony [2](p. 208), says that after Dorian Johnson declined to return to the sidewalk, saying that he and Brown were almost to their destination, he (Wilson) said, “What’s wrong with the sidewalk?” Brown replied, “F–k what you have to say.” It is not a good idea to speak to a police officer in this manner, if you wish to avoid an altercation with him. It is also not a good idea to curse the police officer a second time and slam the door on him as he’s trying to get out of his SUV, nor is it advisable to reach into the cop’s car and punch his face (p. 210). Do not grab the cop’s gun if he draws it, and do not taunt him by telling him he is too much of a pussy to shoot you (p. 214).

None of this means that Wilson was justified in using deadly force against Brown (though if Wilson’s testimony is true and accurate, it seems that way — and there’s nothing in Johnson’s testimony to counter it). And it doesn’t mean that there aren’t big problems with policing in Ferguson. I simply want to say here that the behavior of Brown and Johnson on that day is a good example of What Not To Do. Seriously, when a cop tells you to quit walking down the middle of the damn road, you do it. You don’t tell him, “In a minute,” and you certainly don’t curse him. What kind of knuckleheads think this is an appropriate way to respond to police authority? Maybe the deeper problem is a lack of respect for authority, for the law, and for the local community.

People like Dorian Johnson and Michael Brown make neighborhoods worse. Did you know that the convenience store that the Gentle Giant robbed was looted the other night by the same sort of people as Mike Brown? Here’s a clip of the owner standing in the ruins of his store:

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146 Comments (Open | Close)

146 Comments To "Tips For Not Getting Shot By Cops"

#1 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On November 29, 2014 @ 7:55 pm

Rod,

I don’t think marihuana use really belongs on your list. While it’s illegal, in Missouri, it’s a victimless crime, and I doubt it’s considered all that seriously. I’m sure you know tons of people who use mj recreationally, as do I.

The strong arm robbery is a much bigger deal though.

#2 Comment By Irene On November 29, 2014 @ 8:36 pm

Annek: “Many of you here are exhibiting the soft bigotry of low expectations with regard to Michael Brown’s behavior. Is it asking too much to expect black people to behave in a manner consistent with the way we expect people of other races to behave?”

No one is complaining that Darren Wilson stopped Michael Brown, told him to get out of the street, defended himself when Michael Brown stuck his hand in the car or even shot him in the hand. The complaint is that he shot him under circumstances that no one here claims were completely justifiable.

The sole issue in this matter is whether Darren Wilson’s fatal shooting of Michael Brown was justified. Michael Brown’s size, alleged robbery or even alleged reach for Wilson’s gun are all unrelated to the gun shot that killed him while he was unarmed and 150 feet away from Wilson.

Now, based on the long history of racism in this country and unjustified police mistreatment of blacks, most of us do not rule out the possibility that the fact that Michael Brown was black, and Darren Wilson is white, may have been a contributing factor in this particular shooting. No one has suggested that Wilson intentionally killed Brown because he was black. Instead, most of us are simply saying the following:

1. Brown’s size, robbery and location and conduct immediately prior to the fatal shot do not appear to justify his homicide.

2. Brown’s conduct was not that dissimilar from the conduct of many whites his age, and the fact that those whites are rarely killed by the police may be indicate unfavorable police treatment toward blacks.

3. The fact that police have wrongfully shot whites does not mean that Michael Brown’s race was not a factor in this shooting.

4. Irrespective of the race of the victim or the police officer, cops should not be allowed to shoot someone who is unarmed, not a lethal threat to anyone and 150 feet away from the cop no matter how much criminal activity the person may have previously committed.

Can you please explain how these things represent the soft bigotry of low expectations for blacks as opposed to the reasonable expectation that unarmed people of all races – even people who may have just committed a felony – not be killed by the police?

#3 Comment By Ryan Booth On November 29, 2014 @ 9:04 pm

Rod’s main point, as I take it, is that “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” was a LIE. The original story, the tale of the “gentle giant” minding his own business when he was mercilessly shot in the back by a racist cop, was all a big lie designed to blame whitey.

It was a lie that needed to be true. It should be true. Like the Dan Rather story about George W. Bush avoiding the draft, “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” might be “fake but accurate.” That’s why all the liberal commenters on this site are saying that the actual facts in this case aren’t important—what’s really important is the larger issue of police racism.

But lying sets back any real attempt at racial reconciliation. It sets back attempts to address real racism.

And racism is very real. I just got back from a “Thanksgiving” meal where family of mine openly used the word n*****. There are people in my own family who openly hate black people, and that is heartbreaking to me, but crying wolf about false racism only makes them feel more justified in their own racial hatred.

Lying told to make racism seem even worse than it is doesn’t help; it backfires.

#4 Comment By Falconer On November 29, 2014 @ 9:20 pm

Brown wasn’t a “kid” because he was 18 and big (6’4″ and 300 lbs)?

He is not legally allowed to buy alcahol. If you’re not allowed to buy a beer, you’re a kid.

[NFR: Oh, please. He’s old enough to carry a gun and kill other men for the US military. He’s old enough to vote. He’s not a kid. You’re grasping. — RD]

#5 Comment By Gretchen On November 29, 2014 @ 10:07 pm

[NFR: Did you read both Johnson’s testimony and Wilson’s? He didn’t have the option of sitting back and waiting. His window was down, and Big Mike wasn’t letting him get out of the SUV. — RD]
Did you? Brown was some distance from the car when he was killed. Wilson had the choice of staying in the car and driving away. He chose instead to get out of the car and keep shooting. I have seen no cogent arguments about why this was the best or only choice of action.

#6 Comment By DWS On November 29, 2014 @ 11:16 pm

I support the Grand Jury’s decision not to indict. I also believe that Wilson might have been able to do something different that could have had a better outcome. (One option he didn’t have was to roll up his window and drive away – are you kidding me!) It is tragic that the young man was killed, but he made the decisions that led to his death. Rod’s rules for not getting killed by the police are spot on, and anyone with any common sense should see that.

#7 Comment By Annek On November 29, 2014 @ 11:19 pm

panda:

“Ladies and gentlemen, the American libertarian! Freedom for me, violent repression for thee!”

Interesting interpretation. I’m against repression for all. How do you suggest handling violent riots when they erupt? Does it take long to call in the National Guard?

#8 Comment By M_Young On November 29, 2014 @ 11:25 pm

“But absent the kind of institutionalized police abuses that apparently exist in the environs of Ferguson, the community was able to “move on”.

Let’s see … didn’t New York just get a big judicial slapdown for “stop and frisk”?

I think Sailer is quite right about this … this was an opportunity to stick it to the suburban rubes in flyover country, just as the Martin case was.

The East Coast elites like heavy handed policing that is going on in NYC and DC…but they also need to feel superior and keep the local blacks focused on anything but what is happening to them.

#9 Comment By M_Young On November 29, 2014 @ 11:26 pm

“Did you? Brown was some distance from the car when he was killed. Wilson had the choice of staying in the car and driving away.”

Well, hell, why have cops in the first place. No cops, no police shootings, problem solved.

#10 Comment By DobermanBoston On November 30, 2014 @ 12:00 am

Let’s see … didn’t New York just get a big judicial slapdown for “stop and frisk”?

I think Sailer is quite right about this … this was an opportunity to stick it to the suburban rubes in flyover country, just as the Martin case was.

The East Coast elites like heavy handed policing that is going on in NYC and DC…but they also need to feel superior and keep the local blacks focused on anything but what is happening to them.

Stop and frisk, whatever the courts rule about it, is not the same thing as the kind of for-profit racketeering alleged [3]

If that’s actually going on, the police deserve no respect from the community, and an outside audit of the situation is needed.

Even if it isn’t, the way the aftermath of this whole thing was handled by local officials was a travesty. I hope many resignations are forthcoming.

Also, flyover country has nothing to do with this. This is the sort of thing that could happen anywhere, especially outside of big cities where it’s easier to enact/change laws and ordinances.

#11 Comment By panda On November 30, 2014 @ 12:09 am

“The East Coast elites like heavy handed policing that is going on in NYC and DC…but they also need to feel superior and keep the local blacks focused on anything but what is happening to them”

In fact, DeBlasio, exactly the kind of coastal limousine liberal the fine folks in this country like to hate won the last mayoral election by attacking stop and frisk.

#12 Comment By Michael Guarino On November 30, 2014 @ 12:15 am

Now, based on the long history of racism in this country and unjustified police mistreatment of blacks, most of us do not rule out the possibility that the fact that Michael Brown was black, and Darren Wilson is white, may have been a contributing factor in this particular shooting.

Just about every time this can be used, it can be translated to “based on my priors concerning the prevalence of racism and its discriminatory impact on the criminal justice system, …” There is no evidence that I have seen demonstrating that Wilson’s actions were racially motivated, nor that he was even racist, and to suggest it should be a basis for indictment is an injustice. Obviously you can argue until the cows come home on Rod’s blog because we have no authority here, but I sure hope you never put real stakes behind that line of thought.

Even the broader case that racism leads to discriminatory enforcement of the law is mostly incorrect, with the notable exception of the death penalty, which is poorly understood itself. Where there is disparate impact, it is because the law was written in such a way that it impacts minorities disparately, or more commonly the poor, when faithfully enforced.

4. Irrespective of the race of the victim or the police officer, cops should not be allowed to shoot someone who is unarmed, not a lethal threat to anyone and 150 feet away from the cop no matter how much criminal activity the person may have previously committed.

I believe the evidence shows that while Brown was 150 feet from the car, he was not 150 feet from Wilson, since Wilson had pursued him after Brown fled from the car in the initial tussle. The Washington Post has a decent timeline of the events [4]. Note that Wilson put Brown at approximately 10 feet away when he shot, and that his testimony has been consistent with physical evidence in distinction from all other witnesses. This is an elementary mistake, but one that radically undermines your case, and makes it essentially just defending the priors discussed above.

#13 Comment By Michael Guarino On November 30, 2014 @ 12:20 am

Did you? Brown was some distance from the car when he was killed. Wilson had the choice of staying in the car and driving away. He chose instead to get out of the car and keep shooting.

Brown just assaulted a police officer, but Wilson should have been a pacifist and let him go without a totally legal and justified arrest? And “he chose instead to get out of the car and keep shooting” is a terrible, tendentious account of the events or simply unaware of the evidence.

#14 Comment By JonF On November 30, 2014 @ 12:45 am

Re: He said that research shows after a traumatic even, the memory fragments, and it takes two or three days for it to come back together.

Actually, a disrupted memory never does come back together. If it’s not properly recorded when the event happens, it’s gone for good. We all know this happens in cases of physical trauma, as with an acquaintance of mine who fell five stories to the sidewalk this summer, and, mercifully, does not remember it. But emotional trauma has the same effect.*
What can happen however is that people can semi-consciously invent “memories” to fill the gap. And that is why statements should be taken immediately, and anything not remembered clearly, written off. There have been too many instances of people convicted of horrible crimes based on someone’s false memories.

* Personal example. I have a very retentive memory– but when I was 19 I was standing on a street corner waiting to cross when a car ran a red light, struck another car in the intersection, and one of the cars came out of the collision aimed right at me– then it hit the curb and was deflected. Afterward I was embarrassed and amazed that I could not recall which car had been headed which direction, or who had run the red light.

#15 Comment By Irene On November 30, 2014 @ 12:59 am

NFR: “Read what I wrote again. Honestly, it doesn’t help when you read what you want to see instead of what I actually wrote.”

I read what you wrote and my summation of it is accurate, which is why I and so many other commenters of varying ideologies have had similar reactions even if we all aren’t equally sympathetic to Brown. Summarized differently by another commenter, it is essentially, “Don’t do stupid stuff and you’ll be ok.” It’s decent enough advice, but hardly instructive in a discussion about avoiding what you concede may be an unjustified killing.

It’s on the exact same level as telling the college rape victim that if she doesn’t want to be raped, she shouldn’t dress provocatively and drink excessively while on a date with a guy. She certainly would not have been raped had she not done any of those things because she would not have been in a position to be raped. But, having put herself in that position, it’s seems cruel and entirely beside the point to suggest she is to blame when someone else does something to her that they have absolutely no right to do.

[NFR: Let me say something to you, and then I’m done talking with you about this issue: Michael Brown was not a victim, as a rape victim is. He provoked a fatal confrontation with a police officer, initially by seizing his gun, then turning to charge him. If you think that is on the same level as a rape victim provoking her own rape, then sorry, you cannot be reasoned with on this topic. A rape victim is the victim of a crime; Michael Brown was not the victim of a crime. — RD]

#16 Comment By Irene On November 30, 2014 @ 2:02 am

Michael Guarino: “There is no evidence that I have seen demonstrating that Wilson’s actions were racially motivated, nor that he was even racist, and to suggest it should be a basis for indictment is an injustice.”

Of course it’s an injustice, which is why I did not do what you claim I did. I said that the history of racism and police mistreatment suggest to many of us that we cannot rule out race as a contributing factor in this incident.

Now, you either don’t believe there’s a history of racism and police mistreatment in this country, or you believe that in spite of such history, and without having tried the facts of the case, those of us who are merely opining that the killing *may* have been unjustified can go ahead and rule out the *possibility* that race may have been a contributing factor. Both beliefs are incredibly uninformed and naive.

As for my point #4, I didn’t see anything in the link you provided that corroborates Wilson’s claim that Brown was 10 feet away from Wilson at the time of the fatal shot. But assuming Wilson is correct and I just missed that part of the link, police should not be permitted to kill anyone who does not pose a deadly threat to the cop or anyone else.

Brown was shot 7-8 times, the last – and fatal – shot was in the crown of Brown’s head while, according to Wilson, Brown was 10 feet away from him. An unarmed man who tried to flee, has already been shot 7 times and is falling to his knees is not a deadly threat to anyone, much less when he’s 10 feet away from the nearest person.

#17 Comment By Lord Karth On November 30, 2014 @ 2:45 am

Irene writes: “Brown was shot 7-8 times, the last – and fatal – shot was in the crown of Brown’s head while, according to Wilson, Brown was 10 feet away from him. An unarmed man who tried to flee, has already been shot 7 times and is falling to his knees is not a deadly threat to anyone, much less when he’s 10 feet away from the nearest person.”

Michael Brown was an instigator.

Michael Brown was a street thug who committed a strong-arm robbery and tried to
strong-arm a cop.

Michael Brown got what he deserved.

Darren Wilson was trained to handle situations like this.

Darren Wilson, when confronted with this situation, did exactly and precisely what he was supposed to do.

Darren Wilson got railroaded out of a job, and probably out of a career.

What happened to Darren Wilson was a tragedy.

What happened to Michael Brown was justice.

Your servant,

Lord Karth

#18 Comment By Irene On November 30, 2014 @ 2:55 am

RD: “None of this means that Wilson was justified in using deadly force against Brown . . . ”

and,

RD: “Michael Brown was not the victim of a crime.”

If, as you concede in your first statement, Wilson may have unjustifiably killed Brown, it is impossible to categorically claim that Brown is not the victim of a crime. Anyone who may have been killed unjustifiably is, by definition, someone who may have been the victim of a crime.

[NFR: You are driving me to drink. I’m starting to regret that I wasn’t there to take those bullets for the Gentle Giant. — RD]

#19 Comment By RIchard Parker On November 30, 2014 @ 3:16 am

Erik K. Johnson November 29, 2014 at 4:43 pm

Good Points!

#20 Comment By Sands On November 30, 2014 @ 8:49 am

“Too many cops are look for ways to descalate a confrontation with a white person, and are more likely to escalate a situation with a black person, especially with a black boy or man.”

Has it ever occurred to you that maybe, just maybe, too many black people escalate the situation with police?

#21 Comment By Sands On November 30, 2014 @ 9:05 am

“This is oddly similar to the Trevyon Martin case: there too someone went looking for trouble rather than awaiting assistance and it ended badly..”

Oh, good lord! Is really you’re argument now that the original narrative has completely fallen apart? That police officers shouldn’t chase bad guys?

#22 Comment By EliteCommInc. On November 30, 2014 @ 10:41 am

“People like Dorian Johnson and Michael Brown make neighborhoods worse. Did you know that the convenience store that the Gentle Giant robbed was looted the other night by the same sort of people as Mike Brown? Here’s a clip of the owner standing in the ruins of his store:”

If any of this ha happened at the convenience store, while committing a crime, breaking up a fist fight . . .

or vandalizing the gentleman’s store, I could lean the other direction. But as it is, it happened while to young men were walking along a street in broad daylight, apparently doing nothing.

The veracity of the officer and the department was shot demolished by their statements in the first week. We already know that the officer lied to the grand jury because it had already been established that the officer had absolutely no knowledge of what transpired at the local mart.

As for the store owner, it is very sad that his business was vandalized. The violence in response to this incident is very hurtful.

#23 Comment By Michael Guarino On November 30, 2014 @ 11:14 am

Now, you either don’t believe there’s a history of racism and police mistreatment in this country, or you believe that in spite of such history, and without having tried the facts of the case, those of us who are merely opining that the killing *may* have been unjustified can go ahead and rule out the *possibility* that race may have been a contributing factor. Both beliefs are incredibly uninformed and naive.

There is a nonzero probability that a lot of things could happen, and obviously there is a history of racism in this country, and obviously the inductive link between the past and present needs to be tested with present evidence. In this case, there is no direct evidence, at least that I have seen, besides epistemic priors to suggest Wilson’s actions were racially motivated. I am not going to make that claim unless I can back it up, because it radically alters the imputation of guilt in this case. I doubt that I am wrong on that account.

As for my point #4, I didn’t see anything in the link you provided that corroborates Wilson’s claim that Brown was 10 feet away from Wilson at the time of the fatal shot. But assuming Wilson is correct and I just missed that part of the link, police should not be permitted to kill anyone who does not pose a deadly threat to the cop or anyone else.

Maybe there were shell casings to corroborate his position, but those could have been kicked or moved. Regardless, he most certainly was not 150 ft. away from Wilson, the point of the link was to illustrate the reason why: Wilson had given chase after Brown fled. As far as I remember, the link only cited testimony, usually trying to contrast stories, so it was never really trying to corroborate more than give a timeline.

My bet is that there is physical evidence to establish the distance to some degree of accuracy but it has not surfaced in the press, and, well, I am not an investigative journalist.

#24 Comment By Gretchen On November 30, 2014 @ 12:19 pm

Michael Guarino: “Wilson should have been a pacifist and let him go without a totally legal and justified arrest? ”
Missouri law forbids using lethal force against a fleeing suspect who presents no immediate danger to anyone else. I don’t think it’s too much to expect police to follow the law. Someone 150 feet away presented no immediate danger to Wilson, but rather than waiting for backup, he chose to shoot to kill. He had other, non-lethal choices.

[NFR: Wilson (and others) testified that Brown was running back towards him. — RD]

#25 Comment By Franklin Evans On November 30, 2014 @ 12:20 pm

Irene, do you have a legal background of any sort? I don’t, but I listen to those who do, and your assertions are flat out wrong.

If the grand jury rejected to bring an indictment, Brown was not the victim of a crime. One can make that statement metaphorically only, not under an legal system that exists in the US.

Do you have forensics training? If not, any conclusion you draw from the published evidence will likely be randomly correct at best.

Have you ever held a loaded weapon in a life-or-death situation? If not, and I offer this in the gentlest tone possible given the words I’m using, you are prohibited from having an opinion about Wilson’s reactions and the number of shots he fired and from what distance. Professionals will tell you, from military to local law enforcement and everywhere between (FBI, DEA, etc.) that no one considers Rambo a real-life example. Armchair critics who blithely apply rational thinking to adrenalin-charged situations that last for a few seconds deserve all the disrespect one can heap upon them.

Yes, we expect our police to be better with all of that. Unless we also expect them to come up short of that expectation, we dehumanize them.

#26 Comment By heartright On November 30, 2014 @ 12:43 pm

Ryan Booth says:

But lying sets back any real attempt at racial reconciliation. It sets back attempts to address real racism.
I think you are deluded if you think that reconciliation is possible in the absence of some pretty massive acts of contrition.

Remember the story, told by Rod, of a former KKK man who patiently endured a great amount of abuse by his (former) enemies until one of them concluded that this guy REALLY had changed, and embraced him?
That kind of thing.

#27 Comment By JonF On November 30, 2014 @ 3:48 pm

Re: Has it ever occurred to you that maybe, just maybe, too many black people escalate the situation with police?

And the police should be competent enough not top escalate it too far. Resisting arrest need not be met with summary execution. I’ve posted a real world example in which I was tangentially involved this past summer here in Baltimore which ended with a 19 year old black teen being cuffed, booked and ultimately getting a tongue lashing from the judge for trying to fight a cop– I will repost the details if you want.

#28 Comment By JonF On November 30, 2014 @ 3:55 pm

Re: What happened to Michael Brown was justice.

That hand you kiss, Lord Karth, with eyes wide shut, is not the albaster hand of Lady Justice, but the deliquescent flesh of Hades’ Corpse Bride, alive with hungry maggots. Christians really ought not go there, as Someone paid a ransom to spare us that embrace.
To kill may be Necessary, but it is never Good.

#29 Comment By Green_Widow On November 30, 2014 @ 3:58 pm

I am reminded of the Good Old Days in England, when theft, wrong religious beliefs, homosexuality, and public disorder were, at various times, hanging offenses. The family of a suspect shot and killed by the police should not have to prove he was without sin–
only that whatever he was suspected of doing was not a capital crime.

#30 Comment By Michael Guarino On November 30, 2014 @ 4:35 pm

Missouri law forbids using lethal force against a fleeing suspect who presents no immediate danger to anyone else. I don’t think it’s too much to expect police to follow the law. Someone 150 feet away presented no immediate danger to Wilson, but rather than waiting for backup, he chose to shoot to kill. He had other, non-lethal choices.

Gretchen, the weight of the evidence says he did not use lethal force against a fleeing suspect, but one who was charging him or about to. He was not 150 feet away from Wilson, who had given chase after the initial altercation, he was 150 feet away from the car. The only evidence I have seen to establish distance says they were 10 feet away (this is Wilson’s testimony admittedly, but it has not been shown to be disreputable). I want to give you the benefit of the doubt, but you seem terribly misinformed and are spreading that misinformation.

#31 Comment By Irene On November 30, 2014 @ 5:58 pm

Franklin Evans: “If the grand jury rejected to bring an indictment, Brown was not the victim of a crime.”

Respectfully, you are categorically wrong. The grand jury’s sole purpose is to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to charge someone, in this case Wilson, with a crime. The fact that the grand jury concluded there was not sufficient evidence does not mean the killing was justified or that Brown was committing a crime at the time of the fatal shot.

Prior to the release of the grand jury testimony, practically everyone on this thread believed the killing *could* have been unjustified. If the killing had been unjustified then, by definition, Brown had a right not to be shot, and the shooting would have necessarily been a violation of his civil rights. Such a violation under the color of law is a crime, and Brown would have been its victim.

If the killing had, in fact, been unjustified, the fact that the entire incident was precipitated by Brown’s criminal conduct would not in any way negate the fact that, at the time of the fatal shot, Brown did not pose a deadly threat to anyone. The sole issue is whether, at the time of the fatal shot, it was reasonable for Wilson to believe that Brown posed a deadly threat to Wilson or someone else. For this reason, Rod’s claim that the killing *may* have been justified *and,* at the same time, there was no way that Brown was a victim is thoroughly erroneous.

It’s unclear to me what, exactly, you and Rod are getting at, but it seems that you believe that from the moment Brown reached for Wilson’s gun and continuing until either Brown’s arrest or surrender, Wilson was entitled to use deadly force against Brown. That simply is not the way the deadly force rules work. Instead, an inquiry must be made as to whether, at the time of the fatal shot, it was reasonable to believe that deadly force was needed in order to prevent Brown from posing a lethal threat to anyone.

As I stated in my comment to Michael Guarino, I do not believe that someone who has been shot at least 6 times (one of which was in the eye and, according to the testimony, would have halted Brown’s approach) and is falling to the ground poses a deadly threat to anyone. Therefore, at the time of the last – and fatal – shot, Brown did not pose a deadly threat to anyone, and Wilson was not entitled to shoot him absent a *reasonable* fear that Brown was a deadly threat.

Reasonable people can disagree whether, at the time of the fatal shot, (a) Wilson believed Brown to be a deadly threat, and (b) such fear was reasonable, but that’s altogether different from saying Brown could not have been a victim while, at the same time, saying the killing may have been unjustified.

#32 Comment By Sands On November 30, 2014 @ 7:43 pm

“I will repost the details if you want.”

No need to. I know full well that it’s possible to take a resisting person into custody without hurting them. I’ve done it many, many, times. And so do police officers every single day.

But you simply cannot accept the fact that an unarmed person can escalate a simple situation to a deadly situation. The State of Texas is set to execute a man in the next couple of months for the murder of a police officer. He wrestled the officers gun away and killed him with it. About three miles from where I’m at right now, a Constable was killed with his own gun. It was one of the first, if not the first, murders of an officer captured on video. Google Darrell Lunsford. I could go on and on.

#33 Comment By Franklin Evans On November 30, 2014 @ 11:48 pm

Irene, I won’t push my “credentials” challenge again, but that you ignored it leaves me with only one alternative…

You are second-guessing the situation, and making assertions from that.

I will clarify: I join Rod in very little here. I live in a city — Philadelphia — with a long history of oppressive treatment of minorities by police, and a short recent period (in relative terms) of improvements on it. I lived in the city during the first and second MOVE incidents. I lived here while Frank Rizzo was the commissioner of police and mayor. I know better than most whites what oppression of minorities is like from first-hand witness, and what white privilege looks like as well.

You are quite correct about what the grand jury ruling doesn’t mean. But neither you nor anyone else can take license from that to assert what it was.

I’ve yet to offer a personal opinion about Michael Brown. Here it is for what it may be worth: from the video evidence and testimony, he was an arrogant teenager. His like is ubiquitous. I have three grown children, and some of their peers were as bad or worse. Some of them are black. My wife retired from over 40 years of seeing them in public schools.

They make stupid decisions.

No, the vast majority of them don’t deserve injury or death. I’ll never make that claim, nor will I allow others to make it without protest. In the meantime, I’ll finish with a brief personal story.

I was waiting in line at a supermarket. A white man butted into the line, and I spoke up to him about it in a firm tone using neutral language (I didn’t express anger in words or tone). He sneered at me, but the telling response was from the rest of the people in the line. They looked daggers at me, and one told me I was being rude.

That is the society in which we live. I for one am quite ready to deliver harsh consequences for rudeness, but the vast majority of people are passive-aggressive cowards: they would do what that man did in a heartbeat, and expect to get away with it.

I will criticize Brown’s behavior. I will hold that position despite his death and the grief of his family. I will also repeat a quote I read from one of his family members while standing outside a Ferguson police station: “Burn it down!”

That is not civilization. That is “I get what I want when I want it, and no one survives stopping me or punishing me for my behavior.” If we cannot maintain a justice system that ignores the feelings of those involved in its pursuit of truth, we deserve as much and worse of the aftermath of Brown’s death and the announcement of the grand jury ruling.

No one wants to talk about the police officers injured or killed in the line of duty in situations where they hesitated or decided not to use deadly force. Try to consider that in your rational equations while you apparently insist on promoting Brown to the status of martyr. Make the case that those officers deserved permanent disability or death.

#34 Comment By dominic1955 On December 1, 2014 @ 1:27 am

Franklin Evans,

“I was waiting in line at a supermarket. A white man butted into the line, and I spoke up to him about it in a firm tone using neutral language (I didn’t express anger in words or tone). He sneered at me, but the telling response was from the rest of the people in the line. They looked daggers at me, and one told me I was being rude.”

Isn’t that ridiculous?!

“That is the society in which we live. I for one am quite ready to deliver harsh consequences for rudeness, but the vast majority of people are passive-aggressive cowards: they would do what that man did in a heartbeat, and expect to get away with it.”

That, and I would bet a number of them were scared sh!tless that the whole thing would escalate and they would have their hum-drum day disrupted in one way or another. They’d much rather let some man-toddler get his way, and let all the other man/woman-toddlers get their ways than risk that.

“I will criticize Brown’s behavior. I will hold that position despite his death and the grief of his family. I will also repeat a quote I read from one of his family members while standing outside a Ferguson police station: “Burn it down!”

That is not civilization. That is “I get what I want when I want it, and no one survives stopping me or punishing me for my behavior.” If we cannot maintain a justice system that ignores the feelings of those involved in its pursuit of truth, we deserve as much and worse of the aftermath of Brown’s death and the announcement of the grand jury ruling.

No one wants to talk about the police officers injured or killed in the line of duty in situations where they hesitated or decided not to use deadly force. Try to consider that in your rational equations while you apparently insist on promoting Brown to the status of martyr. Make the case that those officers deserved permanent disability or death.”

All I can say to this is, Amen.

#35 Comment By Peter M On December 1, 2014 @ 7:56 am

Rod,
I’m not a Christian myself (never have been), but I believe you are, or claim to be. What do you think of the maxims “Hate the sin, love the sinner”, and “Judge not, lest ye be judged”?
I think your post, and some of your responses to commenters, are written in a nasty, snippy tone that suggests you don’t feel your kind of Christianity includes the principles I’ve quoted.
Would Jesus have written and responded in the way you’ve done? I honestly don’t mean that question in a flippant way; I’d really like to know whether you think you’ve behaved as a Christian in this post.

#36 Comment By Franklin Evans On December 1, 2014 @ 9:48 am

Peter M.: I believe you ask a valid question. I don’t believe you’ve read enough of Rod to know his intended tone, and even someone like myself who has read Rod for years (and conversed with him in person) could mistake his intentions.

That said, I offer my opinion which Rod will confirm or contradict himself: in this emotionally-charged topic, people are routinely reading around, between or beyond his posted words and coming to flat-out wrong conclusions about his points.

Perhaps bluntly posting his reactions to that can be out of place in a topic such as this. I don’t personally believe that justifies questioning him as you have.

#37 Comment By Franklin Evans On December 1, 2014 @ 10:00 am

In the movie Across the Universe, the extended sequence juxtaposing the funerals of a white soldier killed in Vietnam and a black boy killed during riots, over a gut-wrenching (in the best ways) gospel rendition of “Let It Be”, stands up for me as the ultimate expression of the racial divides in the US then and in still-similar ways now. It also gives us that ultimate unifying ground… grief over the untimely and violent death of a young loved one.

Which is more important? Standing up to say “no more deaths, not anywhere or for any reason”, or a neverending cycle of revenge and retribution? Do we bulldoze over the past and present perpetrators of oppression, and punish their families for it into the future, or do we do the much more difficult thing and find ways to end the cycle?

I and my fellow citizens must answer that. Our answers will determine the future of our society and the safety of our children. If that’s not enough motivation, then I don’t want to know those who fail to step forward, and I won’t be bothered to respect them as citizens.

#38 Comment By dominic1955 On December 1, 2014 @ 11:27 am

Peter M,

“I’m not a Christian myself (never have been), but I believe you are, or claim to be. What do you think of the maxims “Hate the sin, love the sinner”, and “Judge not, lest ye be judged”?
I think your post, and some of your responses to commenters, are written in a nasty, snippy tone that suggests you don’t feel your kind of Christianity includes the principles I’ve quoted.
Would Jesus have written and responded in the way you’ve done? I honestly don’t mean that question in a flippant way; I’d really like to know whether you think you’ve behaved as a Christian in this post.”

Get a load of this guy, says he is not a Christian, never has been, but then promotes himself to Doctor of Theology. That’s rich…

#39 Comment By Peter M On December 1, 2014 @ 12:09 pm

Franklin,
Thanks for your response, although I must admit it’s left me a bit confused about how I’m simultaneously ‘asking a valid question’ and ‘not justified in questioning Rod as I have’.
Whatever, I wasn’t offering any conclusions about Rod’s points, rather the way in which he made them, and whether it reads as a one would expect from a Christian.
I know I’ve certainly ‘mis-worded’ a few things over the years, and not under the stress of serious family illness, either. Ijust wondered if Rod might feel he could have handled this one a bit differently.

#40 Comment By Franklin Evans On December 1, 2014 @ 2:01 pm

Peter, yeah, my response was kinda confusing. I was offering respect for your question and how you worded it, then offering my personal opinion about.

I’ve criticized Rod myself in similar fashion several times, though not phrased in the specific terms of religion that you used. I’d imagine our good dominic reacting to my criticisms just as he reacted to yours, and I will hasten to add that his response is also valid.

I’m a Pagan, and not only have never been even a nominal Christian, I have some significant biases (as you might imagine). I don’t hesitate to offer criticism, but I do pay attention to the reactions. I’ve come to trust dominic as a guide for such things.

#41 Comment By Adam On December 1, 2014 @ 6:45 pm

Situational awareness is the name of the game. What situational awareness points might we give for the police in this situation? The first one I can think of would be not to put yourself in the vulnerable position that apparently occured here(rolled right up with the window down and seated and likely seat belted in)The police should learn to expect the worst from people since that can be a part of everyday life for them. Remembering that fact in every encounter and keeping the spacing right between yourself and the person you’re engaging with, or waiting for back up, is part of the story too correct?

#42 Comment By heartright On December 2, 2014 @ 4:46 am

Adam says:

The police should learn to expect the worst from people since that can be a part of everyday life for them.
Uhm, that kinda does lead to the ‘use lethal force’-doctrine already.

. Remembering that fact in every encounter and keeping the spacing right between yourself and the person you’re engaging with
Interestingly enough, that contains one of the other lessons to be learned from policing in a wider, global context ( such as Patrol by Pairs ) – that intruding within a certain radius of a police officer should be treated as a misdemeanor already: the burden is on the other side, bystander or suspect, to stay out of reach, and failure to do so has legal consequences.

#43 Comment By Mark Perkins On December 3, 2014 @ 6:55 am

If anyone is still haunting this comment thread, I’ve written an extended response [5]

#44 Comment By Franklin Evans On December 3, 2014 @ 12:03 pm

Mark, that’s an excellent contribution to the discussion. I would ask you to consider [6]:

I’ve yet to offer a personal opinion about Michael Brown. Here it is for what it may be worth: from the video evidence and testimony, he was an arrogant teenager. His like is ubiquitous. I have three grown children, and some of their peers were as bad or worse. Some of them are black. My wife retired from over 40 years of seeing them in public schools.

They make stupid decisions.

I include a personal story, and I’ll summarize it thus: our society has made narcissism a primary value, and continues to exert ever-increasing pressure against any consequences of narcissistic behavior. Narcissism is a natural development in children, and a benchmark of maturity is its tempering by society in the form of impulse control and a basic respect for others.

Brown’s death is a tragic distraction. It is a totally invalid example for the larger issue: Rude people deserve consequences in proportion to the form and extent of their rudeness. That simple axiom of courtesy has been excised from our social conscience, and the entire notion of courtesy is nearly so.

#45 Comment By Mark Perkins On December 3, 2014 @ 2:47 pm

Thanks, Franklin.

I would agree with both of your points. Narcissism–and vain-glory are indeed ubiquitous. And, yes, your emphasis on proportionality is exactly right.

Thanks.

#46 Comment By Adam On December 4, 2014 @ 6:21 pm

@heartright

“that intruding within a certain radius of a police officer should be treated as a misdemeanor already”

Really? Are they made of china or glass? Do we have no context within which we should expect the officer to understand the consequences of their actions as well or is it all on the citizen they’re sworn to protect and serve? If they’re walking down the same side of the sidewalk do we cross the street to avoid their personal space or risk a misdemeanor? Am I reading too much into your comment?