Friday, May 23, 2014


There was another APD shooting last night in Albuquerque. Another man is dead from police gunfire. Two women were injured, one critically, allegedly by the man who was shot.

This has got to stop.

Of course, earlier this week, there was a wanton police killing in Salinas, CA, that looked and sounded strikingly like the many police killings in Albuquerque. It was the third police killing in Salinas this year. Needless to say, the community is up in arms about it. During a demonstration against police brutality and wanton killings in Salinas on Wednesday, a man was shot -- by whom is unknown -- and police were summoned to the scene where they faced a very hostile crowd. One of the officers attending the wounded man was hit in the head by a bottle.

It's out of control. It's got to stop.

There's a demonstration against police brutality scheduled for June 21 in Albuquerque.

I'm sure it will be a significant event, but how many more will die by police gunfire before then? This is the fundamental problem: nothing has so far seemed to stop the killing spree the police are on, in Albuquerque or anywhere else. If anything, the rate of killing increases the more the People protest.

What will stop it? Can anything stop it?

Several suggestions come to mind:

1) Don't call 911 if a loved one is having a mental health issue, is drunk and acting crazy, is elderly and acting crazy or is on drugs and acting crazy. The likelihood of your loved one getting shot and killed by police after calling 911 for help is very high.

2) Disarm. Disarm (most of) the police, and disarm the citizens as well. A big part of the ongoing shooting spree the police have been on is due to their fear that every citizen is armed and every citizen might shoot them, simply because of the massive proliferation of firearms in this country. New Mexico is an open carry state, and many citizens wear side arms. Worse, many have whole arsenals which too often turn into murder weapons of choice, particularly in domestic situations. The police are terrified of the armed citizenry, and they are trained to prioritize force-protection. If they see anything that might resemble a gun in the hands of a suspect, they will shoot to kill.

3) De-escalate. In the latest incident in Albuquerque, the police claim that they "tried to de-escalate" the situation by backing away and repeatedly ordering the suspect to drop his weapon (a knife). Instead, the police claim that the suspect "lunged" at them. Much the same claim was made by Salinas police, but video demonstrates they were not "de-escalating" the situation at all, they were threatening and aggressively trying to subdue and control the suspect. They were yelling at him, issuing contradictory commands (in English), they tried to taser him, they pointed their firearms at him, they were continually and aggressively stalking him, and finally they shot him. For his part, the suspect was continually backing away from the police. Yet the police claimed that the man attacked them when clearly he did not.

There was no effort to de-escalate the situation at all, only an aggressive attempt by the police to subdue and control the suspect. This has happened repeatedly in the forty incidents of police involved shootings in Albuquerque since 2010.

4) Restrain and Retrain. Police as a rule are terrified, and many of them are bullies and cowards. Lack of restraint when dealing with individuals and in situations which frighten them is one of their well-known characteristics. Too many seem to be roided or otherwise drugged up to such an extent that any resistance to their command, any inability or refusal to comply, is met with brutality or instant execution. Because there is almost no accountability for such routine police misconduct, the misconduct spreads, like a disease, until entire police forces are corrupted. Instead of priority focus on use of force and force protection, the priority should be on restraint in the use of force, and on courage in the face of potentially threatening situations, with the objective of preserving rather than destroying life.

This means a major alteration in the way police see themselves and their relationship to the community. It means completely revising current training standards, and it means retraining police forces from the ground up.

5) Replacement. In Albuquerque, the situation is exacerbated by a corrupt and corrupting police culture that is driven from the top. The higher ranks are a big part of the problem of police culture of violence and until they are removed and replaced, little or nothing can or will change. Placing someone in the chief's chair as a political favor -- which seems to have happened with the appointment of Gorden Eden in Albuquerque -- is not helpful. Similarly, the appointment of Tim Gonterman to command the Eastside -- promoting him from Foothills command, which position he held when James Boyd was shot in the foothills, and which position he gained after he and APD were sued for excessive force for tasering off a portion of a homeless man's ear in a illegitimate arrest, a suit which APD lost to the tune of $300,000, is simply insane.  

6) CEASEFIRE. Stop. Stop killing.

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