“It was like pheasant season in South Dakota. If it moved, you shot it.”

by matttbastard

Apologies for getting to this a bit late:

More from ProPublica’s A.C. Thompson here, here and here.

Also blogging on this:

(Special thanks to Sylvia/M for link assistance)

Related: Rep. John Conyers responds:

“I am deeply disturbed by the reported incidents in Algiers Point, Louisiana following Hurricane Katrina,” said Conyers, a Michigan Democrat, and chair of the House Judiciary Committee.

Algiers Point residents, Conyers continued, “allegedly shot randomly at African Americans who had fled to the area escaping the effects of the storm. Several injuries and deaths were reported. I am particularly concerned about accounts that local police fueled, rather than extinguished, the violence.”

Also see Color of Change, which has started a campaign asking  “Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell, and the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate” the attacks.

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This Year’s Whitewash Model: “Sudden Death Following Restraint”

by matttbastard

What? We had THREE pathologists come up with that one. THREE!

Because ‘excited delirium’ is, like, so 2007.

Jesus wept.

Related: Alison has more regarding the Criminal Justice Branch ruling on the 2007 death of Robert Dziekanski (shorter: “It was his own goddamn fault that he died!”); make sure to also check out this post at Dawg’s place, where the good Dr. is once again calling for the RCMP to be disbanded.

Hard to argue with him this time.

Update: more from Dawg.

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Obey DNC: Denver Riot Cop Viciously Assaults, Arrests Code Pink Protester

by matttbastard

To paraphrase The Strokes, “Mile High city cops/they ain’t too smaaart”:

The Rocky Mountain News:

A police officer was videotaped Tuesday shoving a CodePink protester hard to the ground without any apparent sign of provocation.

Footage of the incident prompted the city’s independent monitor to call for a review and the police department’s Internal Affairs Bureau to request a copy of the tape.

Police arrested Alicia Forrest, 24, a Los Angeles resident whom CodePink representatives identified as the woman involved in the altercation, shortly afterward as she was addressing reporters just outside Civic Center.

The arrest – in which Forrest was grabbed and hauled away from reporters – also was caught on camera, and CodePink legal liaison Sally Newman said Forrest was doing “nothing violent at all” to incur either the shove or the arrest.

“Horror, shock and total support of Alicia,” said CodePink spokeswoman Jean Stevens, describing the reaction when she and other members of the antiwar group viewed the video for the first time. “We wish we could help. We wish we could be with her.”

Three guesses what the police spin is:

Lt. Ron Saunier, a Denver police spokesman, said the 30-second clip was “kind of jumpy” on his computer and that it doesn’t provide enough context.

“Just shown in that context, you don’t get what the whole dynamics or the full situation is,” he said.

Yeah, who are you gonna believe — a sniveling PR flack, or your lyin’ eyes?

More from the RMN on Alicia Forrest:

[Forrest]…is tired from the ordeal, but “she’s optimistic for further CodePink action and progress for the week,” her organization said in a statement.

“I was standing up for my free speech rights, showing support for a fellow activist,” Forrest said in the statement. “If anything, this has showed me how powerful standing up for your beliefs can be, and how necessary it is for the truth to get out even in the face of resistance.”

Powerful and, therefore, as far as those who are empowered to demand obedience at all costs are concerned, a threat (to their authority, their ego, their apparently fragile manhood).

h/t Hysperia and bfp

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Obey: Black, Gay, and Female? Talk About a Prime Target For Protection and Service.

by matttbastard

Via Renee:

Elle nails it:

What I noticed about the video (aside from the cops jerking a young woman off a public bus and injuring her for a damned finger sign) was how police brutality has led us to be always ready to assume the defense. Her mother stated over and over that her daughter was “good” and wasn’t a “criminal.” She’d never been in any trouble. She theorized that the police officers’ actions were a manifestation of the  problem” LBPD has with young, black lesbians.

[…]

What do you say when we are still at the point where we assume the defensive, have to proclaim our status as “good” and “like everyone else,” otherwise mistreating us is okay?

Renee also has it exactly right:

If the people who are supposed to be upholding the law, daily violate the law, then we have no law.  What we have is a masquerade of justice wherein certain bodies matter, and others are only considered to the extent that can be exploited, and marginalized.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, “assaulting a police officer” is an Orwellian synonym for ‘disobedience’, as manifested in this specific instance by Ms. Patton not showing appropriate fealty towards, as Elle puts it, “the power of the uniform.”  And, these days, that’s a hollow, impotent power, devoid of any earned respect or authority to bolster the legitimacy of those who wear the uniform.  I mean, really, would a goddamn bird-flip warrant such a horrifyingly disproportionate response unless the officers who got dissed didn’t feel obligated to subsequently assert and affirm their dominance–to demand obedience–by force?

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Mike Webster Nails It at the Braidwood Inquiry

by matttbastard

I’m glad to see that someone involved in law enforcement is rightly disturbed by widespread TASER misuse:

A police psychologist blasted Taser International at the public inquiry probing the controversial use of Tasers, claiming Tuesday that Canadian police have been “brainwashed” by the manufacturer to justify “ridiculously inappropriate” use of the electronic weapon.

Mike Webster accused the company that makes Tasers of instructing police in Canada that when they encounter a person suffering from a “mythical” condition that Taser calls “excited delirium,” police have few options other than jolting the person with the controversial electrical weapon, which delivers a five-second shock that incapacitates a person.

“When you think the only tool you have is a hammer, then the whole world begins looking like a nail,” Webster told the inquiry in Vancouver.

[…]

“It may be that police and medical examiners are using the term [excited delirium] as a convenient excuse for what could be excessive use of force or inappropriate control techniques during an arrest,” Webster said.

“My own opinion on this is that Canadian law enforcement, and its American brothers and sisters, have been brainwashed by companies like Taser International and the Institute for the Prevention of In-custody Deaths,” he added.

“These organizations have created a virtual world replete with avatars that wander about with the potential to manifest a horrific condition characterized by profuse sweating, superhuman strength and a penchant for smashing glass that appeals to well-meaning but psychologically unsophisticated police personnel,” Webster said.

The chair of Taser, Tom Smith, told the inquiry Monday that Tasers save lives and reduce injuries to police and suspects.

Webster, however, said he has been shocked and embarrassed by recent “ridiculously inappropriate applications of the Taser” in low-risk situations involving people who are mentally imbalanced, likely suffering from “plain old delirium.”

Please make sure to read the entire article, which includes some examples of incidents in which Webster contends a stun gun should never have been deployed.  Transcripts of the Brainwood Inquiry are available here (note: as of today, archive only includes transcripts sessions on or before 05/09).

h/t Alison, who also provides an extensive list detailing more intances of “embarrassing” TASER misuse.

Flashback (originally posted here): The Lede has more on…‘excited delirium’, which, as noted earlier this year by an NPR report, “is not recognized by professional medical associations, and [is not] listed in the chief psychiatric reference book.” Part 2 of the report is also entirely relevant, focusing on the vested interest law enforcement officials and Taser International have in marketing the dubious disorder and includes the following abridged list of individuals who have died in police custody after being [stunned], with the cause of death listed as ‘excited delirium’:

  • June 13, 2005 – Shawn C. Pirolozzi, 30, of Canton, Ohio, dies after police tried to subdue him with a Taser. His death certificate listed excited delirium as the cause of death. The Taser was not listed as a contributing factor.
  • April 21, 2006 — Alvin Itula, 35, dies after a struggle with Salt Lake City police. Itula led officers on a foot chase, then fought with them when the officers caught up, according to police. Officers tased Itula and also used pepper spray and a baton. Itula stopped breathing soon after. The medical examiner found that Itula died of excited delirium brought on by methamphetamine and cocaine.
  • April 24, 2006 — Jose Romero, 23, dies in Dallas police custody. He was in his underwear, screaming and holding a knife on his neighbor’s porch. Police tased him multiple times. He died shortly thereafter. The Dallas County medical examiner ruled Romero died of excited delirium.
  • Sept. 5, 2006 — Larry Noles, 52, dies in Louisville, Ky., after a struggle with police. Noles, an ex-Marine, was standing naked in the middle of a street when police were called. Police said he was agitated. They tased him two or three times. He died a few minutes later. The Jefferson County medical examiner ruled Noles died because of excited delirium and not the Taser.
  • Oct. 29, 2006 — Roger Holyfield, 17, dies after police in Jerseyville, Ill., shocked him twice with a Taser. Holyfield had been walking down a street, holding a phone in one hand and a Bible in the other, yelling that he wanted Jesus. After policed shot him with the stun gun, Holyfield went into a coma; he died the following day. A medical examiner ruled the death was probably a result of excited delirium.
  • Dec. 17, 2006 — Terill Enard, 29, dies following a disturbance at a Waffle house in Lafayette, La. He was naked and yelling, with a broken leg bone piercing his skin. Police stunned Enard with a Taser; he died several hours later. Police said the forensic report from the Lafayette Parish coroner’s office found Enard died as a result of “cocaine-induced excited delirium.”

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Post-Race Era? Once Again, My Black Ass.

by matttbastard

Contra Barack Obama and Frank Rich, the reaction to the Sean Bell verdict shows that Americans still have a long way to go to “[transcend] the racial and cultural rifts that [have] divided them for centuries”, says Max Blumenthal.

Related:

[W]hile we might be outraged at the Sean Bell decision itself, it comes directly from the flawed jurisprudence that gave us the Dred Scott Decision in 1857, Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896, Bakke in 1978, Croson in 1989, Adarand in 1995, Gratz in 2003, and all of the Ward Connerly-inspired attacks on the very same affirmative action hard won by students facing water hoses and dogs, men and women facing jail, lynch mobs, and death.

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Hope Steffey Update: 5th Woman Comes Forward With Abuse Charges

by matttbastard

WKYC reports that a 5th woman has come forward with allegations that Stark County law enforcement officials forced her to strip unlawfully:

“Elizabeth” fears reprisals for speaking out so she prefers we not use her last name.

She says a Stark County Sheriff’s deputy pulled her over one night for failing to signal during a lane change. Elizabeth says she had to undergo a field sobriety test. According to the officer’s incident report, she failed some aspects of the test. She was arrested for driving under the influence and taken to the station for further testing.

She was told to blow into a breathylyzer, but she suffers from asthma. When she failed to produce enough air, she says a deputy told her, “Baby we both know you can blow harder than that. She says a second deputy laughed. The officer marked her as a “refusal” for not blowing harder.

She was told to blow into a breathylyzer, but she suffers from asthma. When she failed to produce enough air, she says a deputy told her, “Baby we both know you can blow harder than that. She says a second deputy laughed. The officer marked her as a “refusal” for not blowing harder.

[…]

When Elizabeth was told to remove all her clothes, she did so voluntarily saying she worked at a medium security prison in Ohio and knew her clothes would be forcibly removed if she failed to obey.

The incident report says Elizabeth wanted to commit suicide. But she says that’s just not true. “I’ve never been suicidal. I’m not suicidal. I was terrified,” she told the Investigator.

Related: Text of Hope Steffey’s suit against Stark County sheriff Tim Swanson (PDF, h/t john454)

Background: more on the Hope Steffy incident here, here and here.

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