Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Another Brick in the Wall

Those that ought to be holding police officers accountable simply are not listening nor are those that society holds responsible for training police officers.  Decades of increasing brutality toward citizens culminated in eight dead cops over the last few weeks but the lesson hasn't sunk in.
Wynnewood Oklahoma made national and international news with the shooting of a family pet, inside the yard at the Malone family home, while the children were celebrating a five year old child's birthday.  Opie, the family dog was shot by a cop using a high power rifle to stop the dog from barking and two more shots in the presence of the children to finish off the dog.  The officer claimed that the dog attacked and he had to kick the dog off but the cop was on one side of the fence and the officer on the other side of the fence.
And the reason for the killing of the family pet?    The cop was searching for someone that had listed the address as his home over ten years before.   The ten year old warrant was for Shon McNiel who had lived in the rent house a decade earlier and the police department was aware that the Malone family had lived there for over a year. 
Another example of enormous insensitivity and blindness to the real problems was a police chief in Waterbury Connecticut telling a crowd of black community members to simply give up their 4thAmendment rights when being confronted by a police officer.
The 4th Amendment wasn't about providing an avenue to sue after your civil rights were violated by the state, it was about preventing citizens from having to go through the indignity of an illegal and unneeded search in the first place.  Suing the state after an illegal stop, search, or arrest might bring some level of justice but as it is the citizens of that locality paying the bill and not the actual out of control cop even a lawsuit does little to remove the incentive.   Here is a short video about such a lawsuit and the pitfalls involved for an average citizen.
The case above was pretty typical, a driver following the speed limit, doing nothing wrong, and being pulled over simply because the cop wanted to search the car.   The cop in this case is caught lying, first claiming the passenger was nervous, then telling the passenger that the driver was nervous, then using a K-9 dog to signal a false hit on the car to force the driver into allowing a search.   Nothing found of course, it was a fishing trip by the cop and illegal as hell.
Rodriguez vs. U.S. from the Supreme Court is one recent case that makes it very clear that cops can't conduct a dog sniff absent reasonable suspicion and they can't prolong the stop while a dog is brought to the scene.  In the Rodriguez case the dog was actually in the car with the cop but the cop waited eight minutes after writing a traffic warning, holding the driver while a second officer showed up.
Previous SCOTUS decisions have laid out the restraint on cops when using a traffic violation as a pretext for detaining and searching cars.  The cop is to use the stop to deal only with the traffic violation and any safety concerns.  Running the driver's license, checking insurance and registration, and enough time to write out a warning notice or ticket is all that is allowed.  Using a dog to search the vehicle isn't part of the mission to regulate traffic and public safety.  It is of no issue if the dog searches before or after a ticket or warning notice is written, what is important is if running the dog around the car increases the time spent on the traffic stop and that doing the dog search isn't part of a traffic violation stop.
The game that was shut down in April of 2015 was that of a cop using a traffic stop to do a fishing expedition to search for other crimes.  Absent reasonable suspicion a hunch isn't sufficient to get away with violating 4th Amendment rights yet due to the profitable civil asset forfeiture laws the cops continue to break the law and the Constitution and in doing so they like the pet dog shooting above adds to the ledger sheet of injustice that led to the murder of eight police officers.
The training of police officers has been done with a "them versus us" mentality and it has bred a coward mentality among out police officers.  The shooting of the unarmed black therapist in Miami last week is further proof of that.
It seems an autistic man had wandered out of a day care center and the unarmed black therapist had intervened after police showed up and were ready to kill the autistic man for playing with a toy truck.   The video show cops hiding behind trees and cars while aiming rifles at the autistic man who was sitting in the roadway playing with his toy truck.  The day care worker, the therapist, had came out warning the cops that the guy wasn't normal and couldn't follow the demands being made and that all he had was a toy truck in his hands.  Ordered by the cops to lay down and keep his hands in the air the black therapists was then shot in the leg after one of the cops attempted to shoot the autistic man, shooting three times with a high powered rifle, one bullet of the three striking the therapist in the leg as he lay on the roadway.  When asked why he shot the therapist the officer replied "I don't know."  Later the story changed to say that the cop was actually aiming at the autistic man and he simply missed.
Of course the victim, the therapist, was handcuffed and searched after being shot, removing any doubt that the police officer as trying to protect him from the toy truck wielding autistic man.
This is insane, police that have been so poorly trained or are so obsessed with avoiding all risk that they are incapable of using common sense in dealing with a mentally challenged man child.  The therapist was a true hero, inserting himself into a dangerous situation trying to save an innocent person from harm.   I think that the majority of citizens have enough sense to understand that a mentally incapable man-child playing with a toy truck isn't endangering anyone and add the fact that you have a day care center therapist telling the cops that the guy isn't normal and only an imbecile would escalate the situation to the point that guns are drawn and pointed.
The therapist made a significant comment, saying that if the cops would just admit they made a mistake that would go along way of defusing the situation and earning back some respect.  Instead the police force usually finds a way of blaming one of the victims and the injustice goes unpunished while an idiot cop remains on the force to use bad judgment on other situations.
There will be no short term solution to what is to come.  The pump has been primed well by massive disrespect toward citizens by the police.  Decades of bad will might mean a protracted war on police unless state and local government step up and begin setting things right.  Even the Justice department has begun warning cops that gangs have begun discussing the targeting of cops.   The police chief in Austin did the right thing when he described the brutality used against a school teacher during a traffic stop and suspended the officer involved.   When the day comes that the trainers and leaders of law enforcement officers begin calling a spade a spade then the citizen's trust in law enforcement will begin to be reset.  Good cops will always need backing and respect but the bad apples MUST be rooted out and be dealt with using the rule of law.