Thursday, May 16, 2013

Sometimes the Good Guys Win

A moving account by a young lawyer who succeeded in getting his client acquitted of a bunch of charges that could have put him in in jail for the rest of his life. The client's offense was shooting two police officers in the legs--when the police smashed down his door in the middle of the night in a SWAT raid. The police fired 37 rounds, mostly from a rifle, into a house containing a bunch of people, including six children—by good fortune none of them were hit. The client fired four shots, all aimed low through the door they were breaking through, and stopped firing as soon as it became clear the attackers were police.

The grounds for the raid? A police informant had told them that someone else in the house had sold crack cocaine. The police found cocaine concealed in a room used by both the client and the person they had been told sold it—and tried to convict the client of having it.

As far as I can tell, none of the policemen were charged with reckless endangerment or anything else, and they are presumably still out there, armed and dangerous.

This summary is based on the lawyer's account, but given other such stories I have seen I see no reason to doubt it.

19 Comments:

At 2:21 PM, May 16, 2013, Blogger Noah Siegel said...

This would be a good candidate for Radley Balko's "Raid of the Day" series.

 
At 2:31 PM, May 16, 2013, Blogger Noah Siegel said...

"And you certainly don’t have to call 911 when you think your life could be over in a matter of seconds."

True in the context of IL law and connon sense, but that is exactly what many gun-control advocates expect.

 
At 3:53 PM, May 16, 2013, Blogger Tibor Mach said...

"As far as I can tell, none of the policemen were charged with reckless endangerment or anything else, and they are presumably still out there, armed and dangerous."

And so the title seems a bit too optimistic to me. "Sometimes good guys don't lose completely" might be more appropriate.

I really feel sorry for that guy. A bunch of armed idiots who think they are above other people might want to have their revenge on him...

A similar, although less dramatic thing happened in Prague a year or so ago. Two policemen (if you can call them that) started beating a homeless man in the street with batons for no apparent reason (except that they thought "he was not supposed to be there"). Some guy stood up for the homeless man, tried to stop them (without any physical action at first) and they hit him a couple of times with the batons and then arrested him and charged him for "an attempt to foil a police act" or something like that. His case went to the media quickly as someone made a video of the whole thing, he was let out free of charge, but I am not sure whether the "policemen" even lost their jobs. I am sure they did not face any prosecution for attacking 2 people...

Well, some animals are more equal than others, as it seems.

It is quite scary if you realize there are people with so much power that they can use against you and it is very very difficult to stop them as there is no competition that would protect you against them. And quite a few of those that patrol the streets are even younger than me. Meeting such a 20 year old drunk with his newly acquired power to abuse people around is not quite the most pleasant experience.

The worst thing is that a policeman can simply arrest you and only then you can make a complaint. Even if he is eventually found to be at fault, if you simply resisted the arrest in the first place, pulled a gun at him or ran away (as you would do with anyone else who is trying to force you to go somewhere with him against your will), he would have grounds to actually lock you up (or fine you) anyway. At least I think so, I don't know the laws all that precisely.

 
At 5:20 PM, May 16, 2013, Anonymous Gadgets said...

they are called pigs for a reason

 
At 9:40 PM, May 17, 2013, Blogger Jonathan said...

The style of policing you have over there in the USA is really alarming.

 
At 4:40 AM, May 18, 2013, Blogger Tibor Mach said...

Jonathan:

I haven't heard of a case this much brutal in our country, but there were a couple incidents with policemen beating homeless people and some indefensible raids as well (I think, but I am not sure, that they were also drug motivated), although none were as dramatic as this Chicago case.

Are there no such cases in the UK?

 
At 4:44 AM, May 18, 2013, Blogger Tibor Mach said...

Jonathan:

Oh, and in Pilsen (the city I live in) there was this one policeman some 5 years ago who started shooting at a person who tried to cross the street on a red light. But that is of course a bit different story, the guy was clearly mad (and it would be almost amusing, were there not people's lives threatened), he had to quit the force...I am not entirely sure if there was any prosecution, but I think so.

 
At 2:19 PM, May 18, 2013, Blogger Jonathan said...

Tibor, I haven't lived in Britain since 1986, but I think it's still true that British policemen don't normally carry guns (and most of them don't want to).

 
At 4:03 PM, May 18, 2013, Anonymous Anonymous said...

British police recently fired a taser at a man doused in petrol threatening suicide. I'm pretty sure I'd rather have been shot dead than how he died from the injuries later. That happened in April in Bristol.

 
At 12:58 AM, May 19, 2013, Blogger Jonathan said...

British police are sometimes armed with guns, and sometimes with tasers, and there are sometimes unfortunate incidents as a result.

Anonymous, perhaps your argument is that they should never be armed either with guns or with tasers.

In some exceptional situations, the use of armed force by someone is probably desirable; though not in cases of attempted suicide. I take the view that each person owns his own life and should be entitled to end it without interference.

 
At 1:33 AM, May 19, 2013, Blogger Jonathan said...

A significant difference between a taser and a gun is that the gun is designed to kill and injure, and the taser is designed not to do so.

Of course, no human design is perfect, and people may be accidentally killed or injured by tasers, just as they may be accidentally killed or injured by almost anything. In some situations, a person could be killed or injured by having a peach or a bar of soap thrown at him.

Motor vehicles kill vast numbers of people accidentally, but we don't stop using them.

 
At 10:36 AM, May 19, 2013, Blogger David Friedman said...

I found a description of the Bristol case here:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2315486/Andrew-Pimlott-burned-death-police-taser-horror-Officers-fired-50-000-volts-man-doused-petrol.html

I don't think firing a weapon which has specific warnings that it should not be used near inflammable materials at someone you know has poured gasoline over himself goes in the same category as an auto accident. I'm sure it was an accident in the sense of not being intentional murder, but it does look like irresponsibly careless behavior by the officer in question.

 
At 9:22 PM, May 19, 2013, Blogger Jonathan said...

"... it does look like irresponsibly careless behavior by the officer in question."

Oh, I agree. I was talking about the use of tasers in general. In that particular case, obviously it shouldn't have been used. And it would have been even more stupid to have used a gun...

 
At 12:13 AM, May 20, 2013, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You say it would have been worse to use gun but I don't think so; those policeman in OP's story didn't die did they? Neither of them.

As I said, I'd rather have been shot dead.

 
At 3:13 AM, May 20, 2013, Anonymous Jim Hodge said...

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At 5:43 AM, May 20, 2013, Blogger Jonathan said...

Anonymous: I didn't say it would have been worse to use a gun, I said it would have been even more stupid.

If you want to save someone's life, firing a gun at him seems counterproductive.

If the guy in question had wanted to be shot dead, I suppose he could have done it himself.

 
At 3:29 AM, May 21, 2013, Blogger Jonathan said...

"... I suppose he could have done it himself."

I correct myself: as this happened in Britain, if the guy had wanted to shoot himself dead, he might have had some difficulty in finding a gun to do it with.

The incident is clearly the result of a policeman who was either badly trained or malfunctioned in a crisis.

 
At 12:23 AM, May 22, 2013, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The US incident is arguably the same; proper training and they wouldn't have done it.

 
At 3:17 PM, May 22, 2013, Blogger Jonathan said...

I think the significant difference between the US and the UK incidents is that the UK policeman reacted (badly) to a crisis not of his own making; whereas the US policemen caused a crisis by their own deliberate actions.

 

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