Sunday, July 24, 2005

A question for Captain Ed

Captain's Quarters posts an apology of sorts for the unfortunate cop who pumped five bullets into a man on the ground and I'll leave aside his expanding that to include justifying torture because he asks a good question. What if your family was in the subway car the guy ran into? Would you want the cop to kill him?

Well, I think my answer would be no because I think my kids would be pretty damn traumatized by watching an unarmed man get his brains blown out. And I would pose a counterquestion. The unmentioned detail here is that ordinary London cops don't carry guns. The cop that killed this innocent civilian was not in uniform. What if it was your son who panicked and ran because five men in plain clothes pulled guns and started chasing him. Would you still excuse his death so easily?

Avedon Carol, who lives in London, says it better than I can.
I don't know about you but this whole thing is making my stomach hurt. If we're going to be terrorized by police, what the hell is the point?
None that I can see.
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12 Comments:

Blogger Michael said...

What if it was your son who panicked and ran because five men in plain clothes pulled guns and started chasing him.

That would be five men repeatedly yelling "police stop" - not just five men pulling their guns and chasing him. It is a tragedy, but I think its a long bow to suggest it might be normal to run in that situation.

3:08:00 AM  
Blogger Cybrludite said...

And how traumatized would your kids be had the mistake been reversed? (IE: Not shooting an actual bomber.) 5 kilos of Acetone Peroxide makes quite a mess if it's fresh.

5:26:00 AM  
Blogger Avedon said...

Everyone runs from cops.

In London, everyone whose memory goes back before last Tuesday takes at least a jacket and an umbrella with them if they expect to be out for more than an hour, no matter how hot it is. And for the rest of us, a cloudy, grey day that happens to reach 75 degrees sometime during the morning is not a "hot" day, it's a day that might have been much cooler when you left the house and might be cold and wet by the time you come home from work.

If you happen to be from a warmer part of the world, 75 doesn't qualify as hot at all. It certainly doesn't seem hot to me, and I'm not from Brazil. I went out to my local high street Friday afternoon with a jacket on and thought the weather was cool, even wondered if I should have worn something warmer. I wouldn't have counted on the weather not to get colder if I was planning to be out longer.

The guy hadn't done anything particularly unusual, but he had dark skin. He was a foreign national, and he might have had reason to know that the police are the most dangerous people on the streets.

I haven't yet learned whether the alleged "wires coming out of his coat" that someone said they saw were attached to ear-pieces and a CD-player, but it's also possible he didn't hear the strange men shouting, "Police!"

So I'd want to know exactly what those cops were basing their assumptions on that caused them to kill an innocent man before I started making excuses for it.

7:02:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

...just to clear up an oft stated misnomer. You said London police are unarmed ( which for years in fact was true ) I don't no the last time you have been to London but today law enforcement personnel are carrying 9mm Glocks and Barrettas and are ready for anything. Unless you are a traffic cop, London police are carrying sidearms with plenty of clips on their belts . It seems that violent crime has exploded as immigration shifts and anti gun laws have gone into effect.

7:47:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Anonymous" is entirely wrong when he states that "unless you are a traffic cop, London police are carrying sidearms with plenty of clips on their belts".

British police carry neither sidearms nor rifles/machine guns. There are a number of specifically designated firearms units within the Met that can be deployed on the command of a senior firearms officer, if the situation warrants. Your regular "beat" Bobby" carries a big belt with his notebooks, an extendable baton and a CS gas discharger. And the last time I was in London was... errrrm...now.

"Anonymous" has remained that way for a reason. He/she is clearly ignorant of pretty much everything. Brits entirely support gun control. No Brits believe that making gun acquisition easier reduces violent crime. We don't have to try and argue around an oblique written constitution to know that.

"Anonymous" should stop typing swill about London and its problems until he/she understands them.

And just so we're clear, I believe that it's possible to be "anti-terrorist" and "anti-killing Brazilians on the Tube" at the same time.

8:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please, this man was running from police. That's just stupid, period. You can make all tired excuses you want, but the police did the right thing. I would hope they would do it again.

8:07:00 AM  
Anonymous The Impolitic said...

I don't think it's such a stretch to imagine the kid just panicked. Remembering the many incidents of unprovoked violence in the US against Middle Easterners after 9/11, even if he did hear them say stop - police, it's possible he thought they were really vigilantes that meant to do him harm. Anyone can say they're a cop.

Fight or flight is a basic human instinct and frankly if five guys were waving guns at me, I'd just as likely run, as stop to ask for IDs. Let's remember the kid had to make a split second decision on whether he was in danger from these men as well.

9:05:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

He wasn't a "kid", he was 27 years old. And generally, vigilante attacks don't happen in broad daylight on a packed street

10:05:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I beleive the problem is applying a law enforcement perspective to a War time scenerio. England is in a War zone right now. This is definately changing police tactics. The police have only a few seconds to make decisions that the people on this blog can argue about for days to come to their conclusions. These are the "Facts" (I use italics since they are only the "facts" as I have seen them reported, and may not actually be what happened. But my argument will be generated from them)

1. Man with Heavy bulky coat in 75 degree weather
2. Man refuses to stop for police after multiple attempts
3. Man runs into the Tube which over the past few weeks has been bombed and attempted bombed.
4. Man boards an actual carriage with people on it.

You have 5 seconds to figure out what to do. Do you risk nothing, do you arrest a possible SUICIDE bomber who is willing to die anyways? Or do you put 5 bullets in him and hope to save a couple dozen lives?

Lets be honest here, the responsibilty for this outrage is on the people who have caused the police to be forced to act quickly and with deadly force. They cannot AFFORD to make errors. Because the errors they make are going to get a lot of people killed.

12:53:00 PM  
Blogger BULLSEYE said...

I know one thing for sure, He'll never do that again.

1:11:00 PM  
Blogger Yours Truly...Conman said...

Ever wondered what really the cop was trying to do?
Was he trying to kill innocent people? Was he trying to terrorise them?
No he wasn't.
How many times has such an incident taken place (in England)... once, maybe twice sometime if he trawl into History.
The man in the uniform was human. He made a mistake. Yes, his mistake took one life.
But please try and focus on the intention - it was to kill a terrorist.
He thought it was a terrorist in front of him, he had a shot, he took it.
If he did that everyday, you could slam him.
Over and Out.

1:40:00 PM  
Blogger Bob Merkin said...

A nation -- the UK specifically -- whose government knowingly trades the fear of Terrorists for being terrorized by the government's Anti-Terrorism Police and Ministries ..........

...... happens to be EXACTLY the plot of the movie "Brazil," directed by former "Monty Python" animator Terry Gilliam, and written by Gilliam, Tom Stoppard, and Charles McKeown.

Prophesy doesn't at all have to be a Magic Thing. When brilliant and inspired artists carefully learn about the Past and scrupulously observe the Present ... you get yourself a remarkable Prophesy of the Future.

"Brazil" was released in 1985 -- 16 years before 9/11, 20 years before this month's London terror attacks and the police killing of the electrician from Brazil. (The whole plot of "Brazil" centers around a bureaucratic screwup which results in the Anti-Terrorism police killing a perfectly innocent man.)

I can't begin highly enough to urge anyone who hasn't seen "Brazil" to rent it tonight. Need any more inducements? A brilliant performance by Robert DeNiro, and a startling cast consisting of Jonathan Pryce, Kim Greist, Michael Palin, Katherine Helmond, Bob Hoskins and Ian Holm.

And a movie made for Thoughtful, Well-Educated Adults who don't mind being truly surprised, truly, shocked, truly challenged to think about truly Important Things.

PLEASE make sure you get Gilliam's Authorized Director's Edition. Otherwise you could get screwed -- and end up seeing a terribly flawed Studio version, which is a monstrous disappointment.

But "Brazil" or no, that's the best deal our political leaders know how to make -- instead of Terrorists threatening the people, they have unleashed Armed Police with limitless powers, no legal restraints, and Shoot-to-Kill rules of engagement.

The Brazilian electrician made two mistakes.

1. He left home from an address close to one the Anti-Terrorist Police were watching.

2. He jumped a subway turnstile -- but I don't know if he was a fare cheat, or if he was already terrified that he was being followed by a flock of menacing-looking plainclothes men.

If it was the former, I don't think being shot to death is an appropriate punishment for fare cheating. What's an average ride on the London Underground cost?

We've all seen too many TV police shows and Hollywood cop movies, all starring very smart and totally competent and dedicated police officers, and every one of them -- Good defeats Evil in the last 5 minutes.

That's TV and the Movies. Real cops in the USA and the UK -- they're not too bright, they solve most crimes largely by accident (or because the killer justs sits down over his mom's or wife's corpse and waits for the cops, or calls them), and they wait for the civil authorities to "code" them their priorities -- which are usually to use force to intimidate ethnic minorities and keep them in their place. That's what the voters signal they want, that's what their elected leaders re-signal to the cops, that's what the cops have focused on for the last half-century or longer.

Now, for the first time in our lifetimes, we expect these same cops to actually Do Something Competently, and actually Prevent a kind of Violent Crime before it happens.

They have no training to do any such thing. And the kind of police we've already hired and trained couldn't possibly be re-trained to do the New Terrorism jobs.

4:25:00 PM  

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