Thursday, December 31, 2015

All Kinds of Wrong

In my not abundant free time I've been trying to wade through the very poorly written and edited 74pg report by the Cuyuhoga County Prosecutor's Office  (scroll down for the report itself) that they say justifies the Grand Jury's no bill in the murder-by-cop of young Tamir Rice.

I didn't see McGinty's show-and-tell at which he apparently went through the report, but it's just as well. I would have been furious, and that's no good for my blood pressure.

The report is filled with so many typos and so much nonsense and outright falsehood that it takes your breath away. And it took more than a year for the "investigation" and the "process" to unfold, no? Why? As many observers have pointed out, there was more than enough evidence to hold both officers for trial, and it was obvious from the start.

In the case of a cop who kills, it's almost impossible to get a conviction, especially when the DA is acting as defense counsel as McGinty was in this case, but there is often no lack of evidence to charge and try the said cop in court. Of course, that almost never happens.

Yes, McGinty is acting as defense counsel for the police whose actions that awful day when Tamir Rice was shot by Timothy Loehmann at the Cudel Recreation Center were supposed to be evaluated by the Grand Jury with regard to whether or not there was sufficient evidence to charge and try them. That's all.

There was more than enough evidence to charge and try them. It doesn't mean there would necessarily be a conviction -- as I say, almost impossible to get -- but a trial in open court was certainly warranted. Instead, a kind of mock trial in which only the defense was present and only the defense was presented to the GJ by the DA was held behind closed doors. This is not justice, not even its shadow. This was farce.

The defense, yes. There was no prosecution, there was no attempt at presenting evidence for a possible prosecution of officers Loehmann and Garmback. The only evidence presented was a defense of their actions.

And then a defense of the DA's office for not presenting a case for prosecution.

How very circular. How very wrong.

There are many obvious falsehoods in this report, falsehoods upon which the DA rests his defense of the officers in the killing of Tamir Rice. The most glaring is the statement by Officer Loehmann himself, a statement which was apparently presented in whole to the Grand Jury, read by Loehmann to the jurors, a statement which he allowed to present without question or cross examination. By itself, this was a highly unusual and bordered on malfeasance. The statement itself was not new. It had been in the press before, and it had been picked apart because it is riddled with falsehood. But the DA chose to accept Loehmann's statement -- and the statements of other officers -- as true facts. They aren't. And if the goal is justice (it wasn't) the statements of police officers, especially of the killers themselves, have to be open to question. They weren't.

Instead, the DA sought evidence to corroborate, not to dispute, the officers' statements. When he believed he had sufficient evidence to do that, he advised the GJ not to indict.

Because the officers only did what they had to do -- based on the erroneous and incomplete information they had from a 911 caller and dispatch and the fear they felt due to the actions of their deceased victim. The officers had a duty and obligation to neutralize the active shooter threat that they believed Tamir Rice represented. And so they did, with lethal force, which is what they are authorized and empowered to do. The officers committed no crime, according to the DA, because in essence, they couldn't. There were many errors all along the way, he claimed, but the outcome -- a dead boy -- was not one of them. Based on the information they had and the actions of the boy, they had no choice but to kill him to save their own lives and protect the safety of others.

This is all kinds of wrong, but the DA in this case doesn't seem to recognize that.

The first thing to recognize -- which the DA doesn't -- is that there was no credible threat at any time to anyone from Tamir Rice that day. The only threat came from the police to Tamir Rice. Tamir Rice was not armed with a weapon, he had a toy gun. It's been called a BB gun or a "replica gun" (the term of choice used by the DA) but it was an Airsoft gun that could at worst cause slight injury if he had ever fired at anyone. So far as the evidence shows, Tamir never shot a plastic pellet from the gun at any time before or during the 911 call nor did he (nor could he) when the police arrived. He may never have shot a pellet at all. But even if he had, it wouldn't have been known to the officers -- because there was no report of his firing.

Nevertheless, the officers approached Tamir as if he were an active shooter and the situation was that of an active shooter causing multiple injuries and death. Nothing could have been farther from the truth. There was simply no call for treating him as an active shooter to be neutralized on sight. None.

Well, except for this: The report that was transmitted to the officers was that a black male was in the park aiming a gun at people. Bingo. That's all it takes in Ohio to justify police who kill them. It's happened repeatedly in Ohio (elsewhere too, but Ohio stands out because it is an open carry state. Well, for whites.)

All it takes to get a black male shot by police on sight is a 911 caller saying that an armed black male is waving his gun around and pointing it at people.

Bam! Or in Tamir's case, "bam-bam." Loehmann proudly says in his statement that he attempted a "tap-tap" by firing twice, but sadly only hit the boy with one bullet. No doubt he'll try to do better next time.

McGinty defends the "active shooter" approach to Tamir by saying that it was actually required of the officers by protocol, training and the law. They had no choice. Even though there were no reports AT ALL of anyone firing any weapon, because there was the potential that Tamir might become an active shooter, he had to be neutralized according to the protocols of the PD and the law in Ohio. They were not to assess; they were to act. And their act of killing Tamir was required of them due to the gravity of the situation.

This is so far from any sane policy, my head is spinning. It is practically the definition of "murder at will" -- because of fear that something might happen. This is almost the same excuse that was used to justify the killing of John Crawford III at that Walmart near Dayton. But there have been many others. All it takes is somebody calling 911 about a black man with a gun and reports of "pointing it at people." True or false, it doesn't matter. The black man will be a dead man (or boy) shortly.

True or false, it doesn't matter.

McGinty essentially says just that. The police are not to assess anything. They are to act on their split-second decision to neutralize (ie: kill) the reported threat. That is all.

Any delay or assessment of the true situation or any failure to shoot first before the victim can shoot at them is potentially deadly to them or others. Ergo, they are justified at law and by training  when they kill reported  "threats."

It doesn't matter whether the report is true or not. In the case of John Crawford III, the 911 caller made indubitably false claims about the actions of Mr. Crawford, and police acted on those false claims (of loading and aiming an automatic weapon at customers), and they were not held criminally liable.

In the case of Tamir Rice, the 911 caller repeatedly tried to clarify that the gun he saw the boy waving around was "probably fake" and the boy himself was "probably a kid." Didn't matter. That information was never passed on to the responding officers, but even if it had been, it wouldn't have made much difference, because they were psyched for an "active shooter" encounter, and because, according to McGinty's video enhancement expert, Tamir reached for the gun in his waistband.

 Talk about all kinds of wrong. The video is grainy and taken from a distance. It does not "indubitably" show Tamir reaching for the gun. McGinty says it is "indubitable" because his expert says so, but the expert is interpreting his own enhancement, not seeing with any sort of clarity what the boy is actually doing.

In my view, it's just as likely that he is taking his hands out of his pockets and attempting to "show his hands" as the police car skids to a stop. There is no sign -- whatever -- that he actually takes the gun from his waistband (as stated in Loehmann's account). McGinty makes the announcement that Loehmann's account is confirmed by this video enhancement, but that's false. That's not what it shows. But even if it did, it wouldn't constitute an actual threat to the officers or anyone else.

McGinty claims that the Airsoft gun "looks real" -- which it does -- but that's irrelevant if, as I suspect, neither officer ever saw the gun until after Tamir was shot.

And so it goes. The report is one falsehood after another, one irrelevancy after another, one wrong after another.

And cops who kill walk once again, because the DA does not prosecute cops who kill, the DA defends them.

America. 2015.

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