Sunday, January 11, 2015
Blue on Blue
There have been two blue on blue police shootings in New Mexico in the last few months.
The first one, in Las Cruces, involved two Santa Fe County deputies who apparently got drunk on their way back from Arizona where they had deposited a prisoner. One shot the other in the back as he got on the elevator while talking on the phone with his girlfriend at the hotel where the the two officers were staying; the elevator went down to the lobby where the wounded officer was found by other hotel guests. The officer died of his wounds.
The shooter was taken into custody, but the reason for the shooting remains a mystery.
More recently, an undercover drug sting in Albuquerque went awry and two officers were apparently shot by another officer, one was critically wounded. The drug suspects were apprehended, apparently without a further incident.
This happened in the parking lot at a McDonald's around lunchtime, but as far as I can determine, none of the patrons witnessed the shooting itself, as it apparently took place behind the place, out of view of the folks inside having their McFood nuggets and such.
Nevertheless, it has caused quite a stir in the region because the whole thing seems so outrageous.
How two cops got shot by another in the course of apprehending two drug sting suspects over a $60 meth purchase is a mystery. "Under investigation...." Right. That it happened where and when it did is perhaps the more troubling for ordinary Burqueños. This location, on Central near Tramway, is a high traffic area, and a McDonald's at lunchtime is where a lot of people will be found, no matter where it is.
According to reports, the suspects were driven to the McDonald's parking lot by the undercover officer who shot the other two officers. Apparently the shooter, whose name has been inadvertently revealed, signaled the start of the apprehension to the officers waiting in the parking lot, they approached the car with their guns drawn, and she -- the shooting officer -- fired on them, lightly wounding one, critically wounding the other.
Trigger happy police are so out of control, they're now firing on anything and anyone who "approaches" -- the term of art is "lunges at" -- them in a "threatening" manner, whether or not they are armed (often they are not), and now, apparently, whether or not they're on the same team...
The oddness here -- among so many oddities and perfect lack of judgement -- is that all of the officers involved in this botched operation were long-time APD undercover detectives, and it is almost impossible to imagine that they didn't know one another and that the shooter couldn't recognize her compadres. Maybe they were masked. And further, the site of this shooting was the chosen site for the sting. Surely she knew that the other officers were there and waiting for her to arrive, and surely she would know they would approach the car with guns drawn, yelling obscenities, and all roided up.
At any rate... oops.
But it goes to the trigger-happiness police have been showing all over the place.
In Billings, MT the other day, an officer who shot and killed an unarmed suspect while he was sitting in the backseat of a car the officer had stopped was ruled "justified" -- because the suspect (apparently tweaking) was moving around and didn't follow commands to keep his hands on the back of the seat in front. The video is quite clear that the suspect -- Richard Ramirez -- is posing no threat; the officer is the threat, indeed he is a clear and present danger to everyone's life and limb as he barks his commands with gun drawn and assuming a shooting stance.
Ramirez is apparently rattled -- gee, ya think? -- and tries to comply, but cannot; instead, he's agitated and obviously frightened to death. When he fails to comply with the officer's barked commands, the officer shoots him three times at nearly point blank range, and then inexplicably the officer continues to order his compliance or he will shoot Ramirez again. Ramirez, of course, is mortally wounded and could not physically comply if he wanted to.
This shooting of an unarmed suspect was the officer's second to be ruled "justified" because... something about hands, waistbands, feared for his life, split-second decisions, that sort of thing.
Inappropriate, but -- once again -- "justified."
How the APD will sort out the most recent police involved shooting -- the blue on blue misadventure at the McDonald's -- is anyone's guess at this point. The initial report by APD made it seem that somehow the suspects were shooting. It was only hours later that the emotional police chief, standing with the distraught mayor, said it was another officer who shot and critically wounded the undercover cop. It was hours after that that the public learned that yet another officer had been wounded in the incident.
So, it's clear they are prepared to dissemble and obfuscate in "piecing together what happened."
Unfortunately, because this dissembling and obfuscation is as standard as paid administrative leave in cases of police involved shootings, we may never know fully what happened or why.
But we will never forget it was "inappropriate."