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[Police brutality] American injustice, yet again.


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http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/04/nyregion/grand-jury-said-to-bring-no-charges-in-staten-island-chokehold-death-of-eric-garner.html?_r=0

 

 

A Staten Island grand jury voted on Wednesday not to bring criminal charges in the death of Eric Garner, a black man who died after being placed in a chokehold by a white police officer.

The decision was reached after months of testimony, including from the officer who used the chokehold, Daniel Pantaleo.

...

 

An autopsy by the city’s medical examiner found that Mr. Garner’s death was a homicide resulting from the chokehold and the compression of his chest by police officers.

 

 

Now, I wonder how many people confused by the recent mess in Ferguson are going to be similarly stymied by the especially vague circumstances of this civilian death?

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I'm not going to try to get into an argument on this.  I'm just going to state things as I see them.  It will be kinda long.  I am a defense attorney and was a public defender for nearly a decade.  So

I'm glad we have a police viewpoint in here.  One of the scoutmasters in our troop is a long time cop, and he has the best stories.  He's also apologetic for the bad apples and "bad shoots" that we us

If what John Oliver is saying should not be listened to because he's an entertainer by profession, rather than an academically-credited authority on whatever subject he's discussing, then there's no p

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Really, they couldn't even get this to trial. The prosecutor must be like.the Ferguson one and deliberately trying to prevent this from going to trial.

 

La Rose.

 

At this point, it seems that the general police community is drawing into their shell and unwilling to concede even an inch of ground, because every victory for civil rights means they'll have to be held more and more accountable.

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Sometimes the problem isn't the officer, but the training. Why the NYPD allows choke holds from the outset is beyond me. Its too easy to misapply one with tragic results in the field, and law enforcement has known that for decades. The LAPD ultimately banned them after a series of unintended deaths while officers were trying to subdue suspects using them. Numerous departments, esp. in the western US, followed suit. The NYPD should have seen the pitfalls and potential ramifications of allowing choke-holds and followed suit.

 

But therein lies the problem -- indicting the officer isn't the solution. Proving criminal intent, or that the officer was being unreasonable when he was doing what his department trained him to do and cavalierly taught him was "less-than-lethal" isn't going to meaningfully address the problem, and isn't entirely reasonable. From where I sit, criminal charges in a grand jury were doomed to fail. A better solution -- and one that would be more effective in obtaining a change in policy -- would be a multimillion dollar lawsuit (lets call it 20+ million) against the NYPD for willfully maintaining policies proven flawed in other jurisdictions that resulted in wrongful death.

 

Name the officer. Name the commissioner. Name the senior policy makers responsible. But going after an officer who followed policy without being able to prove criminal intent? That sounds more like a lynch mob with torches and pitchforks demanding a scapegoat -- and the prosecutor fishing for a fall guy so they can ignore the real issue at hand -- than justice. In my opinion, justice in this case is the NYPD acknowledging their policy was irresponsible, changing said policy, firing the bosses responsible, and then paying out the shorts. It may not be the catharsis the media frenzy is looking for -- but it would mean no one else would die from a policy choke-hold in NYC.

 

NOTE: I posted a correction to this BELOW. The NYPD did ban choke-holds -- but there definition of "choke-holds" opens the door to a lot of problems....

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Really, they couldn't even get this to trial. The prosecutor must be like.the Ferguson one and deliberately trying to prevent this from going to trial.

 

La Rose.

 

The Ferguson case was no-billed the a grand jury. Not sure what the prosecutor would have to do with it. I'm also not convinced that was the wrong call. The officer's story adds up with the physical evidence as far as I can tell.

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This new one, I haven't read any details on. I do know that as far back as the late 80s, when I was an MP, choke holds were falling out of favor with police, especially carotid chokes.  Any choke or attack on the neck area is potentially lethal.

 

From what i've read, it technically isn't illegal with this particular department (at the least), but is highly frowned upon.

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From what i've read, it technically isn't illegal with this particular department (at the least), but is highly frowned upon.

 

They need a serious policy review, possibly prompted by a lawsuit as Vondy suggested. It's an irresponsible policy. There are plenty of less life-threatening options open, especially if it's multiple officers vs a single subject.

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These stories almost make ME want to riot, and I'm a white out of shape guy in his forties

 

What's maddening is that cigarettes, and not crystal meth or handguns (among many other more unsavory illegal goods) were apparently the initial catalyst for the confrontation.

 

Apparently, that was a good enough buy-in for the officer in question to escalate things.

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The Ferguson case was no-billed the a grand jury. Not sure what the prosecutor would have to do with it. I'm also not convinced that was the wrong call. The officer's story adds up with the physical evidence as far as I can tell.

 

Re: Ferguson

 

At the very least, the physical evidence doesn't contradict his testimony. And, several of the original witnesses against him either recanted or contradicted themselves -- which means the prosecutor wouldn't have been able to use them at trial. And the defense would have made hay with the forensics. Even if the grand-jury had decided there was probable cause (debatable, but I wasn't on the jury and didn't sit through the whole thing) and returned a true bill there wouldn't have been a conviction in the end. If the prosecutor can't prove probable cause in a grand jury there is no way he'll be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt in trial. A true bill and a trial would have been a quixotic waste of 2+ million dollars in tax-payer funds -- because that's what murder trials cost. But, hey, people would have had catharsis, right? The bottom line is: its not a catharsis system -- its a legal system with "laws and rules and standards and stuff."

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What's maddening is that cigarettes, and not crystal meth or handguns (among many other more unsavory illegal goods) were apparently the initial catalyst for the confrontation.

 

Apparently, that was a good enough buy-in for the officer in question to escalate things.

Oh, no argument from me. This was inexcusable. A man died over cigarettes begging to be allowed to breathe until he could beg no more.

 

Heads should be rolling proverbially, and if reform doesn't earnestly start in the system, history dictates that head rolling may become quite literal.

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The Ferguson case was no-billed the a grand jury. Not sure what the prosecutor would have to do with it. I'm also not convinced that was the wrong call. The officer's story adds up with the physical evidence as far as I can tell.

 

I disagree. The prosecutor clearly came across as a shady dude covering the asses of the PD.

 

Anyhow, I don't want this thread to become dominated by the Ferguson mess, so i'll abstain from mentioning it here for the remainder of the discussion.

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I love how everyone claims the Ferguson prosecuted didn't try hard enough, the people processing the  physical evidence were biased, the witnesses were scared to testify, yet they ignore the fact that most of the witnesses who made a big deal about the "execution" on TV were caught in lies or just disappeared after their few seconds of fame, yet the dozen or so witnesses that confirmed the cop's story were mostly black people from the same poor neighborhood. The reason they weren't thrown in the spotlight was twofold, one it wouldn't fit the race-baiting sound bites the media loves, and two, many of them are scared of being persecuted by their own community for simply telling the truth. So apparently everyone is lying except the people who were caught lying or gave hugely contradictory accounts.  

Yeah, sure.  That's totally plausible.  

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Re: Ferguson

 

At the very least, the physical evidence doesn't contradict his testimony.

 

Yep. When I say I'm not convinced of his guilt I certainly don't mean I'm convinced of his innocence. I simply don't have enough information for that. I don't have a huge problem with the outcome of this grand jury, though.

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Just as a point of order -- and a correction to what I said above -- the NYPD did bar choke-holds, but their definition of "choke-hold" is a hold that specifically stops breathing or the flow of blood to the brain. They did not ban holds to the neck which are not intended to stop breathing or blood-flow. The problem is, such holds can easily turn into a choke-hold during an altercation and in the heat of the moment the officer may not realize it in time -- or may be in fight-mode and not have the presence of mind to let up and adjust. Another problem is that such holds, with a struggling subject and multiple officers trying to subdue them, could easily result in serious spinal or neck injury, or a crushed trachea. Such techniques should not be used unless the officer had reason to fear for their life. In this case, not. I watched the video and the NYPD has a serious training problem. Its not just the tactics employed by the officers. They're technique was sloppy and they looked inept. One of the things officers need to be proficient at is -- drum roll please -- arresting people. 

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Just as a point of order -- and a correction to what I said above -- the NYPD did bar choke-holds, but their definition of "choke-hold" is a hold that specifically stops breathing or the flow of blood to the brain. They did not ban holds to the neck which are not intended to stop breathing or blood-flow. 

 

You got to it before I could get back to my computer to mention it. The NYPD barred choke holds. In there training they are told NOT to do them. The fact that the officer used one as a means of not holding a perp but as a way to subdue the perp is clear evidence that he was not using the murky acceptable hold. 

 

 

This officer is on camera as being belligerent and using a technique that he is barred from using in a situation that did not require it to get compliance. He went WELL beyond his authority.And in the aftermath didn't show any regard for the human life that was squelched. And for what reason? Because some guy wasn't 'respectin' his authoritah!'. He deserves his day in court but he will not get it. Why? As a bit of speculation I am going to guess the prosecutor in this case did the exact same thing the Ferguson one did: as piss poor a job as reasonable to insure that as much doubt could be caste as possible. 

 

Let's get this clear: A grand jury is not there to decide guilt. That is in no way, shape, or form their function. The grand jury is also not there to hear the defense's side of the story. They exist purely as a check on the Prosecution. It is the Prosecution's sole job to present their best possible case. As I recall, they are even allowed to bring in evidence that would normally be barred from trial in the pursuit of their job. They are NOT there to make the defense's case. So, when the Ferguson Jack-@$$ did his best to weaken the state's case against the cop, he was NOT doing his job. 

 

Why was he not doing his job? Because he is a little ***** who didn't have the testicular fortitude to dismiss the case outright which is what he wanted to do. So, what did he do instead, present as flimsy a case as humanly possible against the officer as he has done for EVERY officer, so as to acquit himself of guilt by blaming the Grand Jury. 

 

There is a wondrous little legal institution in Japan where-in a special consul can be convened to review a prosecutor's job. They are allowed to tilt the hand of the prosecutor and force them to decide / re-decide a case, present / represent a case before a grand jury, and in rare cases force the prosecutor to proceed to trial regardless of the prosecutor's wishes. A trial where he is held to an even higher level of accountability for making the state's case and if he doesn't can actually face repercussions for not doing his due diligence. This is what we need in the US. It is absolutely despicable the level of collusion between police and prosecutors. It is absolutely despicable that one man's agenda can so easily impede the justice of even going to trial! 

 

I don't know how these two prosecutors sleep at night but I hope to dear god that they still have enough of a conscious to wake up in cold sweat at night for what they have done. 

 

La Rose. 

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...a bit of speculation I am going to guess...

That's what your entire post boils down to: speculation and guess-work. At that point, however, there really isn't really anything to argue or discuss. Its an opinion. You are entitled to one. I'm relatively agnostic on both of these jury decisions, and prefer a more staid, sober, and grounded analysis than activists, the media, and politicians are willing to provide us with. It boring, I admit, but I don't have the energy or time for the Daily Outrage or to huff over the Bad-Isms of the day. Why? Because emotionalism, speculation, and guess-work tend to make things worse, in my experience. And, the media tends to stir the pot and turn complex, murky stories into simplistic and clear-cut morality plays. Stridency and being reactive serves no one. But that's just my opinion and I'm not the kind of guy who assumes you are immoral or stupid if you disagree with me. I'll still by you a proverbial beer after work. More power to you.

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While it was speculation in this case since I haven't gotten to read the news about it yet, it was not speculation in regards to Ferguson. 

All in all, I think that the system we have now is not working to either promote justice or the perception of justice: both of which are of dire importance. Things must change to ensure both. If they don't, then the resort to riot activism will become inevitable. 

 

La Rose. 

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Portland also has a police brutality problem, only here much of the problem concerns the mentally ill. No Portland police officer has ever been criminally indicted for excessive use of force, even in situations where it is clearly not only needless but counterproductive. If you want to commit suicide, one of the surest ways to do it is to confront (or look like you're confronting) the Portland Police Bureau. They have been known on occasion to shoot people who have actually called them in for help. Again, no officer has ever been indicted, and few officers are even disciplined.

 

Race is part of it, but not all of it. After all, James Chasse was white. But he was poor and mentally ill, and evidently ran into cops who saw (and smelled) his disheveled condition and found him utterly contemptible. The treatment he endured before his death was utterly horrifying, and when he finally stopped breathing the cops didn't even try to resuscitate him out of disgust.

 

And nobody is ever held accountable. The police and their union essentially give the mayor orders, not the other way round.

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What's maddening is that cigarettes, and not crystal meth or handguns (among many other more unsavory illegal goods) were apparently the initial catalyst for the confrontation.

 

Apparently, that was a good enough buy-in for the officer in question to escalate things.

 

It was NYC, cigarettes seem to be worse to the powers that be there than crystal meth.

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