Thursday, October 9, 2014

Police Violence Roundup

Here are some stories I've been following. f the argument must call for strict enforcement of accountability.

This is a story about the warrior cop and the rise of SWAT - There's been no indictment in the case of a police officer who threw a flash-bang grenade into a house, where it landed on a 1 year old, disfiguring him. I'd like to say I don't understand how a jury could not find wrongdoing here, but I totally understand it. Civilians give the police wide latitude to do pretty much whatever they want unless a prosecutor leads the grand jury to an indictment.

Of course, getting an indictment is no sure thing. A manslaughter charge was dropped due to a technicality. The case involves a 7-year-old girl being shot and killed by an officer during a 2010 police raid in Detroit.

Meanwhile, an NYPD officer beat a man for holding a cigarette. “Do you wanna get fucked up?” the officer says. “Yeah, get it on film,” he tells the boy’s friends. That's the power of relative impunity from consequences.

Film has led to two police being suspended without pay for beating a man in the face, but as we've seen above, even if they file criminal charges, there's no guarantee it will lead to anything even with absolute unimpeachable evidence. In court, the men will argue that they perceived a possible threat and that the victim didn't comply, so they had no choice but to hit him. That argument often works.

Here's the big picture - if these are just bad apples, bad cops, bad lapses in judgement, bad luck - if it's not a structural problem, but bad individuals, then we have to hold these bad individuals to an absolutely rigid standard of accountability. They each must lose their jobs. Lose their badges. And go to jail. 

What happens instead is that the bad-actor argument protects police structures generally, while respect-for-cops protects the bad actors individually.

Meanwhile, in Ferguson, police shot a man. Was he holding a gun or a sandwich?

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