Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Do U.S. Police Have a License to Murder?


Protesters opposed to murder by cop (source; click to enlarge)

by Gaius Publius

The real answer to the headline question requires a look at literally hundreds of cases of unjustified, unpunished police shootings, just a few of which have been in our faces and on our TV screens lately. All of the deaths have been violent, and all have been followed by calls for non-violence ... until the next violent police shooting. Interestingly asymmetrical.

But the case of Tulsa resident Terence Crutcher is the clearest yet, as you'll see below. Do cops in the U.S. have a license to murder, so long as the victim fits the right demographic "type"? 

A Tulsa, Oklahoma police officer shot a black man point-blank as he lay on the ground, tasered. It was caught on camera. The police lied about what had occurred, in an obvious attempt to justify their actions. The camera showed they lied. This is as clear as it gets.

The question — In the U.S., can an on-duty cop be tried for straight-up murder if the victim is black?

We're about to find out. Shaun King, writing in the NY Daily News (emphasis mine):
Arrest the Tulsa officer who killed Terence Crutcher

Tulsa Police Officer Betty Shelby should be arrested today for killing Terence Crutcher. She should've been arrested immediately. On this past Friday evening, she shot and killed a good man. Having just left night classes at Tulsa Community College, Terence Crutcher's SUV broke down in the middle of the road. That's normal. That happens. It's a nuisance, but we've all experienced it at one time or another.

Except for Terence Crutcher, car trouble got him killed. This epitomizes the black experience in America. Something that should have been routine and safe, turned out to be fatal. As it turns out, Officers Betty Shelby and Tyler Turnbough were actually being dispatched for another call when they came across Crutcher's broken down SUV. Thankfully, several cameras filmed the entire incident and eyewitnesses have come forward as well.

The officers say Crutcher approached them — and failed to obey the cops' commands.

As Crutcher reached into his SUV, Turnbough fired his Taser, and shortly after, Shelby shot and killed the man, authorities say.
The last two paragraphs above present the police story — "officers say" and "authorities say." It's almost never true in cases like these — questionable police shootings — that "officers" or "authorities" tell the truth. (One common lie is about how dangerous it is to be a cop, thus the need for the shootings, just in case. Truck drivers, taxi drivers and chauffeurs have more dangerous jobs. Should they get to murder people too?)

Here's what was caught on camera:
But one eyewitness who spoke to Fox 23 in Tulsa communicated that everything about what the police have said happened is inaccurate. She said that Crutcher had his hands in the air and was walking very slowly and carefully, fully aware that being in the presence of police was dangerous, when he was shot and killed. Crutcher's relatives say he was unarmed.

This is never enough, though. For police to be held accountable, the evidence must be outrageously overwhelming. It appears it is in this case.

At 1:30 p.m. Monday, the Tulsa Police Department is going to release audio and video footage from the shooting. Fully aware of just how bad it is, they showed the footage on Sunday to Crutcher's family, their pastor, their attorney, and several local leaders. What they saw infuriated each and every one of them.

"His hands were in the air from all views," Pastor Rodney Goss told the Tulsa World.
And they didn't even act like it mattered:
What disturbed Goss the most, though, is something that we've seen many, many times in shootings like this. After they shot Terence Crutcher, Goss said the police acted like they could care less. They provided no first aid or comfort. According to Goss, several minutes went by before they even really took a look to check on him.
Read King for the final straw, the "one bad dude" comment. You'll also hear that comment coming from the helicopter cops in the second video below. Note how they also assume, from 500 feet, that he was "on something" as he stands by the car ... because, you know, black people. (Yes, I'm saying those cops are racists, straight-up.)

Damning Video, Two Views

And now two views of the murder. For the first, notice the police time stamp at the top right. At 19:44:13 he's tasered to the ground. Six seconds later they shoot him.

The helicopter view has a slightly different time stamp. You can see him tasered at 19:44:45, see that he's essentially motionless on the ground, then shot where he lay.

Straight-up murder if you ask me. If private-citizen-you had shot him, prone and helpless on the ground, and this video was available, you'd be in jail today, even if your name was George Zimmerman.

Do Cops Have a License to Murder in the U.S.?

This is a real question. Are we so authoritarian — and so frightened — that we want our police to kill at will, so long as the victim is from the approved target pool?

If so, let's just say so. If on-duty cops can shoot anyone they feel like, let's admit it and then let's take the consequences, which will not be pretty, by the way. (What do cops do to people who start killing them?)

Cops who shoot unarmed, unthreatening people are murderers. People who enable these murders are complicit. Watch to see what happens. If straight-up police murder isn't a crime, the criminals are everyone who doesn't force a change. Force a change. At least as I see it.


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At 12:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

FYI, Shaun King writes for the NY Daily News, not the NY Post.

At 1:04 PM, Blogger Gaius Publius said...

Thanks for the correction. Done.


At 4:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If Trump gets in, this type of behavior (murder of innocent citizens from ethnic groups) will be tolerated far more. Perhaps even encouraged and rewarded! It is very scary where we are heading. How can this country elect Obama and then someone like Trump? I fervently hope he loses. Hillary is our only hope at this stage, like her or not. Forget third party voting - it will only help Trump.

At 7:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like we need a 'second amendment solution' to our 'blue thug problem'.

At 9:53 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

In the second video, you hear someone say "He looks like a bad dude." Based on what? He's tall, large-framed, and black? Is that now a capital offence warranting summary execution? "He looks like a bad dude." Horrifying. Just horrifying. Bring the goddamn meteor already. We're done.

At 6:46 AM, Blogger jvb2718 said...

If someone wonders how we could elect obamanation (twice) and then a drumpf, I would ask what about obamanation was so effing good? He normalized bank fraud, torture and other war crimes by refusing to do any goddamn thing about any of them. It has been during his lamentable admins that these police executions have bubbled to the top of social conscience (not like they didn't happen before... except for the ubiquity of cell phone cameras) and he has done not one goddamn thing about them either.

I get the worry about the pathological xenophobe drumpf. But what about $hillbillary gives you any reasonable indication that she'd be any better than obamanation? Words ferchrissakes?!?!?!

$he won't make anything better as more FTAs and more focus on serving the billionaires will mean the socioeconomic plight for most minorities and working people will continue to degrade... and that doesn't line up with any sort of improvement in this particular symptom of the much larger problem -- the vast and expanding economic divide between the top .01% and the rest.

We'll see whether there is a de-facto RIGHT to kill. It's possible that this lady cop with the itchy trigger finger could be convicted, but it certainly isn't a given. Put that trial in front of a jury with even one white person and you'll have a hung jury, which is probably what the police union wants.

But, except for cases that might be very well documented on cell phone cameras, they police certainly have a privilege to shoot any "scary" person they encounter. And we all know that darker-complected ambulatory males are, by their nature, quite terrifying.


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