Thursday, September 18, 2014

Darren Wilson Goes Before the Grand Jury -- and Police in Jennings, MO, Kill Another Man


Darren Wilson spent four hours talking to the St. Louis County Grand Jury on Tuesday as reported in the St. Louis Post Dispatch yesterday. It's an interesting development for a number of reasons:

1) The prosecutor has extended the term of the GJ until January, truly an unconscionable delay if their sole focus is Michael Brown's killing by Darren Wilson. Though previously they were only meeting once a week, the investigation and presentation of evidence sufficient to indict shouldn't take so long, provided, of course, an indictment is likely. The only reason to extend a grand jury in a case like this is to defuse the potential for anger and reaction by the public -- which is often standard procedure in cases of officer involved shootings.

2) It is highly unusual for a likely defendant to appear before a grand jury for the simple reason that the witness has no legal representation in grand jury proceedings, and unless well-versed in the law (and even then...) may well self-incriminate, testimony which can then be used by the prosecutor to impeach testimony at trial. In other words, it is very risky for the potential defendant, and observers are aghast that Wilson testified.

3) While we still don't know where Wilson is staying while being protected, nor by whom he is being protected, the indications are that he is still in the St. Louis area. He is reported to have been interviewed by St. Louis County police twice so far and the Federal investigators once. Supposedly, he is "cooperating." But there has been no public statement from him, only hearsay from third parties.

Meanwhile, in Jennings, MO, the adjacent community to Ferguson, MO, where Darren Wilson first served as a police officer prior to the disbanding of the force in 2011-12, a man was shot and killed by police -- the new police force -- last night, allegedly while carrying a rifle and fleeing from officers, or while pointing a rifle at officers. As is so often the case, accounts vary.

This shooting occurred as a consequence of a 911 call. As in so many cases, calling 911 got someone killed by police. This happens most often on domestic violence calls, child endangerment calls, and armed suspect calls (such as the recent killing in Utah of a "suspicious person" with a Samurai sword.) In this case, it was apparently an "armed suspect" call, or rather calls, as the "armed suspect" was reported and police were dispatched twice to the same location last night.

Police claim that the suspect was spotted when they went to investigate on the second call.  The suspect got into a vehicle and rammed police vehicles -- a frequently alleged incident in police involved shootings -- and then fled from the scene with a weapon in hand (said to be a shotgun or perhaps a rifle).

Police allege that the suspect fired the weapon at them, but there is no corroborating evidence that he did so. Police often allege "pointing a weapon" or "firing a weapon" to justify killing someone, but there is almost as often no evidence apart from officer statements and testimony. As we know, officers don't always tell the truth.

Police fired at the suspect who was pronounced dead at the scene.

Make of it what you will.

The question I will ask in every case like this -- and they are so similar by now -- is whether the killing by police was necessary or were there reasonable alternatives to the use of deadly force available.

If there weren't, why not?

Too many killings. Too many.


  1. My daughter told me that the kid (20 years old or so) who was killed in Utah was attending a cosplay event. The dead blade (dull-edged) sword he was carrying was part of his costume. I have no idea who might have called the cops on the kid, but the city would have been full of young people "dressed funny" to attend the event. My daughter also said that the young man was shot in the back.

    Of course.

  2. WSWS has a good article on death by cop today. They are going to do a series on the subject, according to this article.

    They cover the story about the kid in Utah and confirm he was shot in the back.

    The article opens: "In August, US police killed 104 people nationwide, according to a compendium of local press reports compiled by volunteers on Wikipedia. Dozens more have been killed in the first half of September alone as the wave of police violence continued.

    "These killings are part of a general pattern of abuse carried out by an increasingly militarized police force. These notes are the first in a series on the World Socialist Web Site documenting police violence in America. [...]"

    1. Thanks for the WSWS link. I probably would have missed it, as I don't visit there as often as I used to. Nonetheless, they do some of the best analysis of the news going. And their writers are very sharp.

      Meanwhile, the police killing in Utah is looking more and more outrageous. BUT it's typical of so many police killings and woundings that follow "policies and protocols." To the police, of course, every shoot is a "good shoot" -- but in cases like this, where clearly it's out of line, they can point to "fear for their lives" and "fear for the lives of others" because the suspicious person (who happened to be black-ish by coincidence) was freaking armed with a sword@@@!!!! -- shades of ISIS, terror-terror-terror. Almost the only thing that's necessary for the justification of use of deadly force is the perception of imminent threat.

      As for the killing in Jennings, sounds like the guy was trying to get away. More often than not, giving chase or even letting them escape is preferable to killing. But policy and protocol do not allow such alternatives, especially when the suspect is armed (or said to be or perceived to be) armed and black.