Hell bells: We are at war with the police

December 4, 2014

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Good afternoon:

NBC News is reporting this morning that Officer Timothy A. Loehmann, 26, who shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice in a park in Cleveland resigned from his former job as a police officer in Independence, a Cleveland suburb.

[Loehman] quit his $42,157-a-year job as a patrolman in training on Dec. 3, 2012 — just a day after he graduated from the Cleveland Heights Police Academy and less than five months after he was hired in July 2012.

In a November 2012 memo, Deputy Chief Jim Polak recommended that Loehmann be dismissed. He cited a report from a firearms instructor who said Loehmann showed up for training “distracted,” “weepy” and unable to “communicate clear thoughts,” as a result of which, “his handgun performance was dismal.”

“Due to this dangerous loss of composure during live range training and his inability to manage this personal stress, I do not believe Ptl. Loehmann shows the maturity needed to work in our employment,” Polak wrote on Nov. 29. “I do not believe time, nor training, will be able to change or correct the deficiencies.”

Five days later, Loehmann resigned.

He was hired by the Cleveland Police Department in May, 2014.

According to the security camera video of the shooting, Loehman fired his gun within two seconds of arriving at the scene in response to a 911 call about someone waving a gun. Rice was sitting on a bench with the pellet gun in his waistband when they pulled up and stopped. The two officers claimed that he reached for it when he stood up. Loehman shot him twice in the abdomen. He died the next day in the hospital.

Meanwhile, last night Attorney General Eric Holder announced that Loretta Lynch, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York and President Obama’s nomination to replace Mr. Holder, will be investigating the Eric Garner homicide to determine whether to prosecute NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo and other NYPD officers for violating his civil rights.

Whether anything will come of that investigation remains to be seen.

President Obama wants to outfit police officers with body cameras, which seems like a good idea until you consider that the Staten Island grand jury inexplicably decided not to indict Pantaleo despite the video showing him choking out an unresisting Eric Garner as he complains 11 times stating “I can’t breathe.” NYPD prohibited the use of choke-holds in 1992 and the medical examiner listed the cause of death as asphyxiation caused by the choke hold and chest compression caused by officers sitting on him.

Also, a trial jury acquitted officers Ramos and Cicinelli of murdering an unresisting Kelly Thomas, despite a video showing them beating him to death.

And then there are the cops who turn off their cameras before they kill someone. Consider, for example, the case of Albuquerque police officer Jeremy Dear, who shot and killed a 19-year-old woman last April, was terminated yesterday for turning his camera off.

Joseph Kolb of Reuters has the story.

The officer, Jeremy Dear, had been under scrutiny because his uniform camera was not turned on during the April 21 incident in which he shot a woman who was stopped on suspicion of vehicle theft after he said she pointed a gun at him.

Police Chief Gorden Eden said in a statement the officer was fired for “insubordination and untruthfulness” over the uniform camera issue after an internal probe, but stopped short of linking the firing to the circumstances of the shooting itself.

Dear has not been charged in the incident.

President Obama also selected Philadelphia Police Chief Charles Ramsay as one of two co-chairs of a commission to demilitarize police. The commission seems like a good idea until you consider that, according to this Reuters report, Chief Ramsay,

is known for leading repeated bloody and abusive crackdowns on protesters when he was Washington, D.C.’s chief a decade ago, according to a civil rights attorney who won millions in damages for 100s of citizens attacked by D.C. police.

“If the president’s idea of reforming policing practices includes mass false arrests, brutality, and the eviscerating of civil rights, then Ramsey’s his man. That’s Charles Ramsey’s legacy in D.C.,” said Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, Executive Director of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF), speaking of the ex-D.C. chief and current Philadelphia Police Commissioner. “Obama should immediately rescind his appointment of Commissioner Ramsey, who is a mass violator of civil rights and civil liberties.”

Picking the national leader in militarized policing does not appear to be a very good idea, especially since the president made no commitment to recover the weapons of war from the police.

Seems like we have an epidemic of police killing civilians. How big is the problem?

We do not know. The FBI reported that police killed 461 civilians last year, which is the highest number of killings ever reported. However, the Atlanta Black Star reports that actual number probably is significantly higher because police departments are not required to report civilian deaths and many do not, including some of the biggest urban police departments.

A major reason for this epidemic of killings is many police officers regard themselves as members of a military occupation force and we the people are the enemy.

Salon reports,

The ACLU has issued a 100-page document, “War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing,” that notes: “Across the country, heavily armed Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams are forcing their way into people’s homes in the middle of the night, often deploying explosive devices such as flashbang grenades to temporarily blind and deafen residents, simply to serve a search warrant on the suspicion that someone may be in possession of a small amount of drugs. Neighborhoods are not war zones, and our police officers should not be treating us like wartime enemies … American policing has become unnecessarily and dangerously militarized, in large part through federal programs that have armed state and local law enforcement agencies with the weapons and tactics of war, with almost no public discussion or oversight.”

These same data and sentiments are found in an article that ran in the New York Times: “During the Obama administration, according to Pentagon data, police departments have received tens of thousands of machine guns; nearly 200,000 ammunition magazines; thousands of pieces of camouflage and night-vision equipment; and hundreds of silencers, armored cars and aircraft. The equipment has been added to the armories of police departments that already look and act like military units. Police SWAT teams are now deployed tens of thousands of times each year, increasingly for routine jobs.”

Hells bells: We are at war with the police.

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