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no third solution

Blogging about liberty, anarchy, economics and politics

Where Are All the “Good” Cops?

June 6th, 2012

Carl D. Johnson suffered a diabetic attack when driving home from Bible study on May 27, 2010, causing him to crash his truck in to a guardrail. State Trooper Davon Parker responded to the scene, proceeded to pepper spray Johnson through the car’s open window.

At the hands of such fine public servants as Trooper Davon Parker, Carl D. Johnson was beaten, pepper-sprayed multiple times, punched in the face, thrown over a railing, and tasered at least 5 times by at least 6 police officers before losing consciousness, and ultimately dying from cardiac arrest.  But it would not be hyperbole to say that the agents of the Maryland State Police and Baltimore County Police murdered Carl D. Johnson that evening.

A common refrain among police apologists, in the wake of misconduct in the news, is that it was just a few “bad apples” and that most cops are “good cops”.  According to a complaint filed by Johnson’s widow, there were at least fourteen police officers among as many as fifty-two respondents to the accident scene.

Where were the good cops when Carl D. Johnson was being murdered? There were 14 representatives from at least two departments there, so, you do the math.

 

Note: the official version of the story has Johnson, a 48-year old architect with no criminal record, “resisting arrest“. I’ll believe it when I can see the dashcam footage that corroborates that version of the events, because “stop resisting!” is boilerplate language for “Imma beat the fuck outta you and it’ll be your word against mine” (Digby also notes, this “is obviously something  [cops] are taught to do for the dashboard camera so that it appears that they have reason to do what they’re doing”).

 

The question as it pertains to this event – as it pertains to other events where I have been critical of law enforcement – is this:

If these are allegedly the acts of “bad apples” then what about the other cops in that department? Do they know about the bad apples in their department? If not, why not? If so, why aren’t they doing anything about it? Are they afraid? Powerless? Strangled by bureaucracy? What about the good cops who occasionally witness these events and turn a blind eye to them?

 

Don’t Tase Me Bro! (Philadelphia Edition)

May 4th, 2010

My friend Peter posted a link on Facebook today out of Philadelphia. Last night at the Phillies game, a kid ran out on to the field between innings. The local law enforcement on the scene apprehended him using a taser.

A police officer used a Taser gun to apprehend a fan who ran onto the field during a Phillies game Monday night, and the team and the police are investigating whether it was an appropriate use of force. (photo credits: Matt Slocum, AP)

cop tasers kid at Phillies gameWhat the hell is there to “investigate”? Lazy cop uses a ‘substitute for lethal force’ to apprehend a prankster. He ought to lose his job, his pension, and be tarred and feathered in some public square.

Tasers used to be marketed as a non-lethal alternative to using lethal force in order to subdue a criminal suspect. Besides the obvious evidence (a trail of dead bodies, actually) which suggests tasers can be quite lethal under certain circumstances,

This story, Peter says, “Shows that when police are given the choice, a taser seems to be the first option because they don’t want to run. ‘Subdue’ implies the suspect is being violent, etc. One can hardly expect a 17-year old to not run, especially since he was ‘running’ on to the baseball field between innings…”

the aftermath...Precisely! That’s why I have a problem with tasers. They encourage sloppiness, viz., no cop anywhere would’ve drawn a firearm on the kid — much less fired a fucking bullet at him from behind. So, if lethal force was not an acceptable reaction to this scenario, then the prescribed ‘alternative’ to lethal force ought to be out of the question.

With the evidence of its lethality, and the fact that the taser seems to be the go-to weapon of choice for law enforcement officers (this incident and others like it are pretty clear and convincing evidence that tasers aren’t being used as substitute for lethal force), taser introduces a level of moral hazard that otherwise wouldn’t exist.

Fortunately, this kid lived. Others haven’t been so lucky.

no third solution

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