Nel's New Day

December 29, 2015

Tamir Rice on Trial

Filed under: Police — trp2011 @ 9:29 PM
Tags: , , ,

 

Over 13 months ago, a 12-year-old boy carrying a toy gun was shot down in a Cleveland park on November 22, 2014. It took 401 days for a grand jury to exonerate the policemen, largely because of the prosecutor’s dragging his feet. Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty’s rigorous defense of the police officers was to persuade the grand jury to not indict the officers. McGinty brought in his own expert witnesses for that purpose—almost never done in a grand jury—and then grilled the experts brought by a lawyer for Tamir Rice—again an anomaly in grand jury practice. The prosecutor’s leaking of negative information about the boy and selective use of information to excuse and defend the actions of the killers was background for his blame for the 12-year-old “man” with “gun,” a fake.

McGinty’s  out-of-state experts, retired FBI agent Kimberly Crawford and Colorado-based S. Lamar Sims, have a history of sympathy toward police. Before he released his report, Sims defended the officers on television; Crawford’s memo on use of force by law enforcement was rejected by the Justice Department. Ignored were statements from experts Roger Clark and Jeffrey J. Noble that the prosecutors’ reports “contradicted one another, made unfounded assumptions and ignored principles of police training.”

McGinty characterized Timothy Loehmann as a “reasonable” officer. This is the man who resigned from a Cleveland suburban police office after he experienced an “emotional meltdown” during firearms training that made his facility with a handgun “dismal,” according to the instructor’s report. A letter in Loehmann’s file stated that he was “distracted” and “weepy” during firearms qualification training. Deputy Chief Jim Polak of the Independence police wrote:

“[Loehmann] could not follow simple directions, could not communicate clear thoughts nor recollections, and his handgun performance was dismal. I do not believe time, nor training, will be able to change or correct the deficiencies.”

McGinty depicted Tamir Rice as big and scary. The prosecutor description Rice’s size and his carrying a toy gun indicated that Rice deserved the shooting and reinforced that the belief to many white people that black boys are older and more menacing. A former senior police official who helps a city government manage claims of excessive force or other wrongdoing by police officers in another city said that Frank Garmback’s driving up close to Rice was a “poor tactical decision”:

“That was a tactical decision that required the man to make a much more rapid decision. It looks like they could have stopped 100 or 200 yards away and taken cover.”

McGinty talked about the police officer’s concern because law enforcement officials had been killed previously near the park where Loehmann killed Rice. The shootings in 2006 and 1996 occurred long before Loehmann had been hired a few months earlier. Cleveland police officers work in many areas where violence has occurred. Michael Benza, a criminal law professor at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, said that race takes place in evaluating a person with a gun. He said that white people on the streets with assault-style rifles are treated much differently than black people:

 “When [police] go into a neighborhood where there is a perception of danger and they see a big black guy that matches the description of a guy with a gun, they are going to act very differently than if they see a white guy with a gun in the suburbs.”

McGinty didn’t require the officers to testify. Instead they were allowed to submit their written the statements to the jury with no questioning. The prosecutor may have known that the story they told could not stand up to cross-examination.

The prosecutor said, “We don’t second-guess police officers.” Actually, the prosecutor’s job is to reexamine the police officers conduct and to question the appropriateness of their actions. This didn’t happen.

The caller  told the dispatcher that the “guy” was a juvenile and that the “gun” was likely a toy. The dispatcher failed to communicate that to the officers.

Loehmann told the grand jury that Tamir was reaching for his waistband, but the surveillance video doesn’t show this before Loehmann shot him. A surveillance video shows Loehmann with his gun out of his holster and shooting Rice before the car stopped. Loehmann claimed that he ordered Tamir to drop his weapon multiple times, but he had no time to say that and not time for Tamir to respond if he said anything. No witnesses heard Loehmann say anything.

After Tamir Rice was shot in the torso, the police officers realized that he was a child with a boy but failed to render any medical aid. The child wasn’t given first aid until an FBI agent in the area arrived at the scene. Loehmann said he had a sprained ankle, and his partner was busy handcuffing Rice’s 14-year-old sister and putting her in the back of their cruiser.

When Rice arrived at the ER, doctors couldn’t intubate him because the police had said that he was an adult. The tube was too large to pass Tamir’s vocal cords. Instead they took him into OR where he hemorrhaged to death by early the next morning.

Judge Ronald B. Adrine had earlier “found that sufficient cause exists to charge Loehmann with murder, involuntary manslaughter, reckless homicide, negligent homicide, and dereliction of duty.” He also found that Loehmann’s partner, Frank Garmback, could be charged with “negligent homicide and dereliction of duty.” Instead, the prosecutor defended Loehmann and Garmback.

Although the grand jury failed to indict Loehmann and Garmback, they will face a new administrative review. The investigative committee which includes civilians will begin all over, starting with the calls to 911. City Council member Jeffrey Johnson announced that he would ask the council to seek local charges of negligent homicide, the most serious charge that can be sought under city law. Conviction would mean only six months in jail, but the process would allow for another full review of the shooting. In addition to reviewing the conduct of the two officers, the Cleveland Police Department’s Critical Incident Review Committee will also determine whether the 911 call taker and dispatcher should face disciplinary charges.

McGinty has reinforced the growing belief in the United States that police are justified their killings if they perceive any threat to themselves–no matter how minor—even if their confrontation was unnecessary. Police may now take control of even situation, even ones that are not criminal, and kill people at will. Police no longer have any obligation to see a less violent situation before using lethal force.

Part of a police officer’s job is taking a risk, and it can be dangerous. More and more, however, police eschew risk through lethal means to guarantee safety for themselves at any cost to the people around them. The old mandate of “serve and protect” is now for police officers to protect themselves. Killing someone in this drive for self-protection and then exonerating them result in acceptance that this behavior is the norm, that police officers shouldn’t be held accountable.

Of the 1,125 people who were killed in the United States by police—about three each day—965 were shot to death. The number may be far greater because no official entity is keeping track of these travesties. The number of people killed by police far exceeds those who die from pneumonia and influenza, measles, and malaria and mumps. The rate of U.S. police killing in 2014 was 100 times that of England, 40 times that of Germany and 20 times the rate in Canada.

At least 90 of people killed by police were totally unarmed—no hammers, knives, or any other weapon. Forty percent of the unarmed men shot by police were black although black men make up just 6 percent of the country. Police say that they feel “under attack,” but only 34 of them have been killed in the line of duty during 2015.

Killings by police combined by exoneration of the killings have reached epidemic proportion.

May 23, 2015

U.S. Has ‘Whiteness’ Problem

Michael Brelo, Cleveland police officer, stood on his car and shot unarmed blacks 15 times after 100 officers riddled it with 137 bullets in 2012. Police chased the car because it backfired while passing the police headquarters. He said he thought he was in danger, and today a judge ruled he was not guilty of voluntary manslaughter and felonious assault. Brelo’s lawyer had described the armed police officer as the underdog in a “David vs. Goliath” fight. A review panel showing the violations in the 22-mile chase and the subsequent shooting resulted in the firing of one supervisor, the demotion of two others, and suspensions of 72 officers from one to 30 days. No other police officer faced criminal charges in the deaths of the man and woman in the bullet-riddled car.

Last year, a Cleveland officer killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice who was holding a pellet gun. Rice was killed within two seconds of the arrival of the 26-year-old officer who had left another police force after his supervisors declared he had “a dangerous loss of composure” during firearms training and was unemotionally unprepared to cope with the job. Almost six months later, the investigation into that shooting isn’t yet finished. In another investigation, 37-year-old Tanisha Anderson, identified by her family as bipolar, lost consciousness and died in police custody after pushed face down on the pavement. The medical examiner ruled her death a homicide.

Last year, a Department of Justice investigation into the Cleveland Police Department found a pattern of “unreasonable and unnecessary use of force” that resulted in dangerous and reckless behavior by officers. Abuses included excessive use of force by the police involving not just firearms, but also less-than-lethal weapons like Tasers, chemical spray, and fists, sometimes used for retaliation. The police used excessive force against mentally ill people and employed tactics that escalated potentially nonviolent encounters into dangerous confrontations. In one case the police fired at a fleeing man wearing only boxer shorts, and another man suffered a broken bone in his face while restrained on the ground with spread arms and legs after officers kicked him.

Cleveland is part of a culture across the United States in which police kill blacks while grand juries fail to indict or judges and juries fail to bring in guilty verdicts. A white police officer escaped any punishment for killing black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson (MO) with another white police officer in New York escaping indictment for the choking death of another unarmed black man, 43-year-old Eric Garner.

What all these killed people had in common is that they were black. Although killings are down in the past half century, young black men are 21 times as likely to be killed by police as young white men. Conservatives claim that anyone breaking the law risks the police killing them. Recently, nine bikers died in a Texas restaurant, another 18 were wounded, and 170 arrested. Waco Police Sergeant Patrick Swanton said that it was “the most violent crime scene” that he’d been involved in during his “34 years of law enforcement.” The police had been alerted to possible violence weeks before the event, and afterwards the restaurant floor was littered with bullet casings, knives, and a club. Yet the police didn’t kill any of the participants–almost all white–of the bloodbath.

Law enforcement used no SWAT teams, armored vehicles, tanks, snipers, Tasers, pepper spray, tear gas. There weren’t hundreds of police pointing assault weapons at the suspects, and the National Guard wasn’t called out. Mug shots show no beatings or chokings in the arrests. When the white men with supremacist tattoos and patches opened fire on the police, no one gunned them down en mass or forced them down onto the ground or beat them. Mainstream media largely gave the murders and arrests a pass with no reference about it’s being called “one of the worst gunfights in Waco history.” Almost all the white men in the mayhem belonged to organized “serious and violent criminal enterprises” going back over four decades. The aftermath of the violence looked like a Sunday gathering as they sat around smoking and checking their cell phones. Nobody was hogtied or harassed.

WacoAfter the Baltimore protests, both Texas GOP senators, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, blamed the riots on absent fathers because of the breakdown of family structures in the black community and raising children out of wedlock. Cruz went farther to accuse President Obama for “inflaming” the riots, that the president “exacerbated racial misunderstandings, racial tensions.” Neither one said anything about the cause of the biker gang killings in their home state.

The Waco event shows that blacks face a different standard than privileged whites. That was obvious a year ago when armed white terrorists took over part of Nevada and forced law enforcement to back down. A year after the standoff at the Cliven Bundy ranch, there have been no arrests, no indictments, no prosecutions.

Nothing clarifies the difference between treatment of blacks and white more than the language. Almost all the white men in the mayhem belonged to organized “serious and violent criminal enterprises” going back over four decades, yet they are described as belonging to clubs. Black protesters are almost universally referred to as “thugs.”

Incensed by the comparison that New York Times columnist Charles Blow made between Waco and the protests in Baltimore after Freddie Gray was killed in a police van, CNN  “law enforcement analyst” and ex-NYPD detective Harry Houck blamed the black community for pundits’ description of only blacks rioters and not white criminals as rioters as thugs. Houck tried to explain why thug refers to “bad guy” because of rappers.

“They started coming out with songs and calling themselves thugs, and I think that’s how this whole thing started, with the black community and the young men calling themselves thugs. Alright? And I think that’s how that all started.”

Much to Houck’s dismay, Blow disagreed with Houck’s etymology of “thug” and said that a bigger concern is that the black community is treated as the problem in a way that the white community never is. Sally Kohn agreed with Blow about a double standard, noting that no one identifies the race of white shooters or complains about a “whiteness” problem in violence.

Ferguson protesters were also labeled as “thugs” with news footage edited to demonize peaceful protesters. Yet a riot over a football game in Morgantown (WV) labeled the white people as “rowdy” and “unruly” in their “celebration.” White people rioting at a pumpkin festival “just got too drunk.”

police smileWhat would the police in the above picture do with a white victim? The United States has a “whiteness” problem.

© blogfactory

Genuine news

Civil Rights Advocacy

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. -- Margaret Mead

AGR Daily 60 Second News

Transformational News; What Works For Seven Future Generations Without Causing Harm?

JONATHAN TURLEY

Res ipsa loquitur - The thing itself speaks

Jennifer Hofmann

Inspiration for soul-divers, seekers, and activists.

Occupy Democrats

Progressive political commentary/book reviews for youth and adults

V e t P o l i t i c s

politics from a liberal veteran's perspective

Margaret and Helen

Best Friends for Sixty Years and Counting...

Rainbow round table news

Official News Outlet for the Rainbow Round Table of the American Library Association

The Extinction Protocol

Geologic and Earthchange News events

Central Oregon Coast NOW

The Central Oregon Coast Chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW)

Social Justice For All

Working towards global equity and equality

Over the Rainbow Books

A Book List from Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table of the American Library Association

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.

%d bloggers like this: