How mean? He once went up into the stands during a game to beat up a fan over something the man had said. And it mattered little to Cobb while administering the beating that the fan was disabled and had no legs.
I thought of Cobb the other day after reading about Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck and what he termed the “incredible tension” of his cops.
It was said during Beck’s account of his department’s mistaken shooting of newspaper carriers, 71-year old Emma Hernandez and her daughter, 47-year old Margie Carranza, last Thursday while cops across Southern California were hunting alleged cop-killing, ex-cop Christopher Jordan Dorner.
Despite the police’s not their best marksmanship efforts — the two women miraculously survived. Hernandez was shot twice in the back. Her daughter suffered minor wounds from broken glass. Surrounding vehicles, trees, garage doors and roofs were also damaged by the cacophony of errant police gunfire.
Glen T. Jonas, the attorney representing the women, said the police officers gave “no commands, no instructions and no opportunity to surrender” before opening fire. Beck explained that the two women were victims of “a tragic misinterpretation” by officers working under “incredible tension.”
The same thoughts about incompetence ran through my head when I saw them later repeated in the blog post at “Lawyers, Guns & Money,“ about marksmanship and the commonplace nature of police shootings — whether mistaken or not. Wrote the blogger, “I’m not sure what I find more disturbing: the fact that two members of the LAPD put at least forty-six bullets in the back of that truck or that the barrage only wounded the two women in the truck.”
How do you mistake two Latina women delivering papers for a 300 plus lb. black man? That’s some frigging mistake.
Understandable for the average Joe who’s more likely than not to be “the shakiest gun in the West.”
But for trained law enforcement? It’s reasonable to expect more. But like something else, mistakes happen.
I also couldn’t help but remember a more tragic incident of 14 years ago — almost to the day when the two Latinas were ducking gunfire — when NY police fired 41 shots and killed unarmed 22-year old West African Amadou Diallo.
It was February 5, 1999. Diallo had been standing in the vestibule of his Bronx, NY apartment building when 4 of New York City’s ‘Finest’ opened up on him, hitting him 19 times.
The policemen were later acquitted of the ‘mistaken shooting.’ They explained that they thought Diallo fit the description of a rape suspect and that when he pulled out his wallet to show identification — they mistook it for a gun.
To be clear, I’m offering no anti-hero sympathy here for Chris Dorner. My compassion is for those innocent victims he’s believed to have killed and for those innocents caught in mistaken police crossfire as a consequence of his alleged actions.
Last month, in blogging about ‘Digitus Impudicus,’ I noted the appalling lack of national data about U.S. police shootings. I also applauded the Las Vegas Review-Journal who in 2011 ran a comprehensive investigative report on Las Vegas police use of deadly force.
Feds look at alleged police misconduct.
Unlike the prior 10 years where the U.S. Justice Department entered into only four consent settlements over alleged police misconduct, the past two years has evidenced increased scrutiny.
The Justice Dept. is currently investigating police departments in Newark, NJ, and Miami, Fl. And last year, Justice entered into six separate negotiated settlements following investigations of a half-dozen police departments. These included consent agreements with Portland, OR, the City of New Orleans, and Seattle, WA.
Video lapel cameras.
In Albuquerque, N.M., from 2010 to 2012, police shot at 27 suspects and killed 17 of them. It was hardly a surprise, then, that last November, the Justice Dept. launched a probe into the Albuquerque police over their use of deadly force.
And to better defend themselves against public criticism over alleged excessive force, the Albuquerque cops adopted the use of video cameras on their uniform lapels. And in a bit of unintended understatement, Albuquerque Police Chief Ray Shultz said, “Officers act differently when they know they are being recorded.”
I’m not sure that’s always the case, though. There is, after all, that “incredible tension” cops experience. Some might even forget a camera’s recording.
But fortunately — for scared police, newspaper delivery people, and anxious law-abiding citizens everywhere worried as hundreds of incredibly tense “shoot first; ask questions later” cops hunted Chris Dorner — following a mountain shootout on Tuesday, it appears the hunt is over.
The suspect was believed to have been holed up in a cabin that caught fire in the San Bernardino Mountains. The charred body found after the cabin burned down may be Dorner — although a positive identification has not been made.
And while you wouldn’t have known it by looking at video of the flame-engulfed cabin, the San Bernardino County Sheriff said “We did not intend to burn down that cabin to get Mr. Dorner to come out.”
Photo Credits: “Ty Cobb, Detroit 1910” George Grantham Bain Collection (Library of Congress), at Wikipedia Commons, Bain News Service, public domain, http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/ggb2004008006/; “Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck,” by Neon Tommy at Flickr via Creative Commons-licensed content requiring attribution and share alike distribution;”Andy Griffith Don Knotts,” Wikipedia Commons, public domain rationale based on the photo has no copyright markings on it as can be seen in the links above and per United States Copyright Office page 2 “Visually Perceptible Copies The notice for visually perceptible copies should contain all three elements described below. They should appear together or in close proximity on the copies.”