Trump World Grab-Bag--A Collection

Friday, April 17, 2015

Tulsa PD and the Deputy's Interview

You know, I've been following officer-involved shootings a bit in the past year, and it's hard not to form opinions about things when you start to feel familiar with a dynamic, but that being said, this episode in Tulsa where a 73-year old reserve deputy shot and killed a suspect, Eric Harris, has layers that are just really bizarre to me. After witnessing video of a man dying on the street in NYC who said he could not breathe--to hear an officer answer another man's dying words with "Fuck your breath!" is just jarring; like a recapitulation for anyone who needed it that there was an element of dehumanization in some police confrontations.

What I can't wrap my mind around is the idea that a person can become a reserve deputy with, it seems, a limited amount of training and work a case where this potential of danger exists. I just don't know if a person working law enforcement part-time and trained late in life is going to have the right reflexes. So while I understand what Robert Bates and his attorney are trying to say in this Today show interview about how this kind of confusion in the heat of the moment can and has occurred before, I just don't see where doing this kind of interview helps him any. I don't know if it makes sense that his taser and his firearm, being in entirely different positions on his body, were confused. I don't know if saying this was the "second worst thing" that happened to him is understood as being the first worst in terms of things he regrets. (I'm not a lawyer, but maybe I wouldn't have given the go-ahead for such an interview if I were? In any event, I'd want to save it for a jury instead of risking sounding disingenuous before a handful of millions of people.)

But in any event, it's the Tulsa PD that I think have the real problem here, because the culpability for who they assign what is on them, and frankly, I find the callousness of the officers who abused the dying suspect instead of calling in medical aid a real issue. Eric Harris was certainly no angel, but he was a man in their custody and had the presumption of innocence under the law, and the benefit of his humanity to enjoin them to humane treatment. While deadly force can be used on a fleeing suspect where a threat to the public is determined, once he was in that condition, he was not a threat to anyone.


mikey said...

Can't disagree with any of that. But as a trained and certified combat firearms instructor, let me add this bit.

It's bullshit. Even if, in the heat of the moment, you drew your service weapon instead of your Taser, the moment you looked over the sights you would realize that it was NOT actually a Taser. Different color, different weight, different sights, different point of aim, different grip and different trigger. Everything would be sending screaming sirens red alerts into your brain that you can't, you JUST CAN NOT squeeze that trigger.

A more likely scenario is he, an old southern white man with all the built in prejudices and biases that come with his cultural identity, drew his gun to cover - read intimidate - the suspect and because he was poorly trained and unprepared for the pace and violence of a felony arrest he squeezed the trigger. I accept that he didn't intend to shoot the suspect when he drew his gun, but I also submit that he didn't have the training or discipline to keep his finger off the trigger once he drew his service weapon.

The vile hatred and bile that came after the shooting is just Tulsa, it's white men and Ni**ers, and that is just America...

Vixen Strangely said...

I'm going to defer to your expertise, because my firearms experience is limited and has been pretty underwhelming (my vision is limited and my hand-eye coordination is way better as close range). When he maintains that the laser sighting is the same on both weapons, he has to mean the light is the same, not the positioning, because the shapes of the tools differ, I would think? Also, the relative difference in the weight/feel of a gun vs a taser.

I just wonder if there's something that overrides the doubt regarding the tactical feel of the device in hand because of the emotional aspect of the confrontation. But I would still say if that was any factor at all, that would have to come down to training and familiarity with the feel of both devices and restraint to recognize the situation first, then shoot.

So if he didn't even have that much consciousness, and shot anyway? What did Tulsa PD have him out there for? Hoping he'd pot somebody? And donate more from the satisfaction of it?
That's an ugly thought, and I hope it isn't true and don't know but that I had reason to think it.

mikey said...

And now we know even more damning evidence. He wasn't carrying the standard issue Smith .40. He was carrying HIS OWN personal weapon, not authorized for carry by the department, a .357 magnum revolver.

Now, I am a serious .357 partisan. It is my preferred sidearm, and has been since the late sixties. But the ergonomics of a revolver, particularly one that is your personal weapon, compared to the blocky, intentionally kludgey Taser, is night and day. It just becomes more and more likely that he drew the deadliest handgun in the world (by Even Marshalls stopping power study) and shot a man being restrained on the ground from six feet away.

Because that's what white sheriffs do in the south. And THAT'S the problem...