Seattle Police Shoot and Kill Maurice Clemmons

Maurice Clemmons, the suspected killer of four police officers in Seattle, was shot and killed early this morning by a police officer. The officer noticed an unoccupied car with its engine running. Clemons was outside the car.

The officer approached Clemmons outside the car and asked him to show his hands, but the suspect refused and started to run around the car, Pugil said. The police officer, who recognized Clemmons from photographs, then shot and killed him, the assistant chief said.

Was it really necessary to shoot and kill him? Had he displayed a weapon? Wouldn't a stun gun have done the trick? After killing him, police found a weapon on him that belonged to one of the slain officers. Did the police see it before shooting? More details here.

The authorities sound relieved Clemmons is dead. I'm sure a lot of people agree. But I hope the shooting is legally justified. (Update: Here's the report of the shooting on the Seattle police website.)

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    Wait a minute (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by jbindc on Tue Dec 01, 2009 at 03:02:35 PM EST
    The cop didn't just randomly walk up to him - you need this part of the story:

    Early Tuesday, a patrol officer saw an unoccupied car in south Seattle that was running and had its hood up, police said. He determined the car was stolen and was doing paperwork in his vehicle when he saw a man approach his patrol car from behind on the driver's side, the statement said.

    The officer got out of the car and ordered the man to stop and show his hands, but the man refused, the statement said.

    "As the officer was drawing his gun, the suspect reached into his waist area and moved," the police statement said. "The officer fired several times, striking the suspect at least twice." He was pronounced dead at the scene.

    Paints a little different picture - the cop was sitting in his car when this dude (who already has allegedly already talked about targeting police officers - before he shot the four).

    And frankly - do you really think anyone who kills a cop (ro four) is going to get the benefit of the doubt by another police officer?

    From local news reports (none / 0) (#9)
    by Inspector Gadget on Tue Dec 01, 2009 at 03:39:23 PM EST
    the only piece missing from your article was that the police officer did say he recognized Clemmons as he approached. He had good reason to fear, but there's one more piece to question:

    Clemmons had been shot in the abdomen by the one officer in Lakewood who managed to struggle with him before dying. Reports on the news this morning were that the injury to Clemmons had the medics wondering how in the world he had managed to survive nearly 2 days with that wound.

    My first thought when watching the live broadcasting very early this morning was, "why aren't they saying the police officer is on administrative leave pending investigation" like they always do. They did say officers were walking around patting each other on the backs saying things like "justice has been served." I found that disturbing.

    At least 4 people have been arrested for aiding him in hiding and not coming forward when they knew where he was. For all the assistance he received, I'm wondering if the people being arrested are being interrogated to make sure there isn't a ring of people out to kill police around here.

    The previous ambush here a couple weeks ago had almost the same ending. The suspect was shot in the face by police as he exited his apartment, but was not killed.  


    The account I read did say that the officer (none / 0) (#19)
    by esmense on Tue Dec 01, 2009 at 04:04:38 PM EST
    was on administrative leave.

    It's obvious the police weren't prepared to give this particular suspect much benefit of the doubt. Not totally correct, perhaps, but human. I have to think that when he decided to declare war on the police he was expressing a death wish. The whole thing is terribly tragic.


    My viewing was (none / 0) (#20)
    by Inspector Gadget on Tue Dec 01, 2009 at 04:09:24 PM EST
    between 5:00-5:30 AM and they were on the scene, it's just always the end of the sentence when there's been a death after police shoot anyone. This morning, they didn't say it.

    Whatever story emerges, (none / 0) (#35)
    by ChiTownDenny on Tue Dec 01, 2009 at 05:17:21 PM EST
    was there ever any doubt as to Clemmons' fate?

    Regardless of whether it was Clemmons (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by Anne on Tue Dec 01, 2009 at 03:41:53 PM EST
    or John Q. Public, the combination of parked-and-still-running car determined to be stolen, cop car being approached from behind, refusal to heed cop's commands, "suspect" making movement toward waist at close range, would be all I would need to be in fear of my life - and I would not be taking the chance that a stun gun would protect me, or that shooting-to-wound would stop the suspect from whatever it was he intended to do.

    And thus ends Maurice Clemmons' involvement with law enforcement.

    Honestly (5.00 / 0) (#22)
    by Steve M on Tue Dec 01, 2009 at 04:26:18 PM EST
    the part about the guy making a movement towards his waist may be true, but it sorta sounds like the kind of thing one tends to say whether it's true or not.  Not that I'm inclined to give the decedent the benefit of the doubt, really.

    If he was shot in the abdomen... (none / 0) (#25)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Tue Dec 01, 2009 at 04:48:39 PM EST
    ...it seems reasonable that he would be reaching for his "waist" as that's the area where the wound would be.  Whether from pain or applying pressure to stop the bleeding or what have you.

    The story (none / 0) (#27)
    by Steve M on Tue Dec 01, 2009 at 04:51:10 PM EST
    is that the guy reached for his midsection BEFORE he was shot.  Wouldn't make a lot of sense otherwise.

    You misunderstand. (none / 0) (#32)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Tue Dec 01, 2009 at 04:59:52 PM EST
    If you have a stomach wound, it is natural to be reaching for it.  I know he reached before he got shot.  

    It's also natural to be reaching (none / 0) (#33)
    by nycstray on Tue Dec 01, 2009 at 05:05:42 PM EST
    for the gun in your sweatshirt pocket when in an armed conflict with the police  ;) (if you're a gun toting criminal that is)

    You're right (none / 0) (#37)
    by Inspector Gadget on Tue Dec 01, 2009 at 05:40:53 PM EST
    The stomach wound was from Sunday's shooting.

    When an agitated police officer tells you to put up your hands, the only acceptable response is to throw them as high in the air as you can, and as fast a possible. You are so very right.


    Doesn't matter . . . (none / 0) (#55)
    by rea on Tue Dec 01, 2009 at 07:15:13 PM EST
     . . . from a legal point of view whether the man was really clutching at an abdominal wound--the issue instead is what it would look like to a reasonable person in the officer's position.

    My understanding is (none / 0) (#2)
    by andgarden on Tue Dec 01, 2009 at 03:10:07 PM EST
    that when cops shoot, they shoot to kill. Generally speaking, I can understand why.

    At this point, I don't have anywhere near enough information to evaluate what this particular cop did.

    Don't hold your breath... (none / 0) (#3)
    by kdog on Tue Dec 01, 2009 at 03:19:57 PM EST
    for more facts from the department...justified shooting, case closed.  All the department is gonna wanna do is buy the shooter a beer...and I can't say I blame 'em.

    I can get down with street justice...though I can't say I'm too keen on official justice adminstering it...if you wanna get on the street justice train, turn in your badge.


    Facts, as they are reported (none / 0) (#6)
    by shoephone on Tue Dec 01, 2009 at 03:32:32 PM EST
    Jonah Spangenthal-Lee's crime blog has the best reporting on this story.

    But if it suits your libertarian paranoia to make up cr@p about what happened, go right ahead. The facts of the incident are already coming out.


    If you're not paranoid... (5.00 / 0) (#13)
    by kdog on Tue Dec 01, 2009 at 03:45:09 PM EST
    you're not paying attention.

    I'm speculating of course...but it wouldn't be the first street-corner execution of a cop-killer


    Thanks for pointing us to Jonah's blog; (none / 0) (#15)
    by Anne on Tue Dec 01, 2009 at 03:55:05 PM EST
    As disturbing as the whole sordid story is, I am completely creeped out by how much help he was allegedly getting from friends and family who HAD TO KNOW what a danger Clemmons was to the community; I do not understand their making it possible for him to continue to roam the streets.

    I would agree (none / 0) (#17)
    by MKS on Tue Dec 01, 2009 at 04:00:07 PM EST
    but there are segments of society for whom the police are not friendlies....

    And, former LAPD Chief Bratton (none / 0) (#21)
    by MKS on Tue Dec 01, 2009 at 04:10:00 PM EST
    knew this better than anyone.  

    I am no big fan of the police but I have been pleasantly suprised recently by members of the LAPD--they have seemed like they were trying to be true public servants--instead of the wannabe commandos of the local Sheriff's Departments.

    Bratton brought in a lot of new police officers, many of whom were minorities....They seem much more "of" the community, than an occupuying force.


    I was disturbed by that also (none / 0) (#18)
    by nycstray on Tue Dec 01, 2009 at 04:02:23 PM EST
    He was obviously sick (none / 0) (#28)
    by hairspray on Tue Dec 01, 2009 at 04:52:06 PM EST
    Earlier it was reported he had raped a child.  The person who killed the 4 police in Oakland earlier this year, had raped a 13 year old the day before. Sounds like their lives were spiraling out of control.  The cops in the diner wouldn't have known that about their killer, but the family of the criminal surely should have.  The police officer who caught him was lucky that he wasn't killed.

    The family members (5.00 / 1) (#61)
    by Fabian on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 03:05:47 AM EST
    were also lucky that Clemmons, an armed and mentally unstable fugitive, didn't shoot them as well.  

    Come to think of it - where did an unstable, twice convicted felon get a gun anyway?  I haven't heard a peep from the concealed carry fans either.


    I'm not sure I understand. (none / 0) (#64)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 09:41:39 AM EST
    Did he legally have a gun and/or a concealed weapon permit?

    Could he have? (none / 0) (#65)
    by Fabian on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 11:07:30 AM EST
    The concealed carry crack was that he managed to shoot four armed people.   My thinking is that carrying a weapon is most effective if you literally carry it in your hand, fully loaded, ready for action.  Safety on, of course - it would be tragic to shoot someone accidentally.  

    Sigh.  Yet another mentally ill person wounding and killing multiple people.  What's the count this year?  Hasan, the Orlando shooter, Clemmons...I'm sure there are many more.  


    I was looking online about deadly force (none / 0) (#4)
    by magster on Tue Dec 01, 2009 at 03:21:02 PM EST
    and the best explanation I saw came from the Denver District Attorney's office (see pages 3-4 "Colordo Law") where the officer's use of deadly force is analyzed within the context of criminal justification defenses. I would suspect that the laws are similar state to state.

    Given that this guy just randomly took out four cops and was trying to hide behind a car after being told to raise his arms, he'd probably be considered justified.  The subsequent discovery of a gun on the suspect seems to have borne that out.

    And since he had just stolen the car (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by shoephone on Tue Dec 01, 2009 at 03:35:04 PM EST
    an hour earlier, and had parked it with the hood up, police are wondering if he might have been baiting them into another cop killing.

    The facts will all come out.


    Luckily, the officer recognized (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by Inspector Gadget on Tue Dec 01, 2009 at 03:43:27 PM EST
    Clemmons and took no chances.

    I had a brief moment of wondering (none / 0) (#14)
    by Anne on Tue Dec 01, 2009 at 03:48:56 PM EST
    about suicide-by-cop.

    People in the area must be relieved that this is over.


    I'm wondering if people around here (none / 0) (#16)
    by Inspector Gadget on Tue Dec 01, 2009 at 03:58:49 PM EST
    are so sure it is over. Too close to the other episode, and so many people willing to help Clemmons hide.

    One local police dept immediately changed their procedures and no longer allow police to work on their computers while inside their cars.


    please provide a cite: (none / 0) (#24)
    by cpinva on Tue Dec 01, 2009 at 04:44:34 PM EST
    And since he had just stolen the car

    nowhere in the report you linked to, or any other report, does it state that clemmons stole, or was suspected of stealing, the car that officer kelly first noticed.

    i am astonished that clemmons was running around, with bullet lodged in his chest. i'm wondering if part of the help he received was medical? considering the liklihood of internal bleeding, it would have to be more substantial than someone's home first-aid kit.


    Seattle Times Web Site (none / 0) (#42)
    by Manuel on Tue Dec 01, 2009 at 06:03:05 PM EST
    reports the car was stolen.  Per the registered owner, it was an unreliable car.

    Not just a gun (none / 0) (#5)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Tue Dec 01, 2009 at 03:26:28 PM EST
    but the gun of one of the killed officers.

    Note how everyone here (none / 0) (#23)
    by MKS on Tue Dec 01, 2009 at 04:31:42 PM EST
    accepts at face value the account of apparently a single police officer.

    Is it possible that the officer shot first without any prevocative action by the suspect, and that the suspect did not approach, did not reach into his waistband, and did not have the murder weapon on him....

    Could a police officer feel justified in planting evidence on an obviously guilty person?

    All probably unlikely.  But if the officer did shoot the suspect in an improper use of force, is it realistic to think he would say so, and not try to dress up the evidence?  After all, the guy was guilty....



    sure it's possible, (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by cpinva on Tue Dec 01, 2009 at 04:49:32 PM EST
    Is it possible that the officer shot first without any prevocative action by the suspect, and that the suspect did not approach, did not reach into his waistband, and did not have the murder weapon on him....

    except, the gun found on him belonged to one of the previously slain officers. unless you're suggesting the police somehow cloned a missing weapon, and distributed those cloned weapons to all the police involved in the search, your hypothetical, at least with respect to the gun, is pretty unlikely.

    not impossible mind you, merely really far fetched.


    The gun would have (none / 0) (#29)
    by MKS on Tue Dec 01, 2009 at 04:54:42 PM EST
    been hard for the officer to take and then plant....

    But the rest of his account could be fabricated to make him look better--and done quite easily....reaching into his waistband--as pointed out by Steve M, of course the cop is going to say that....

    And cops do lie and plant evidence....It is interesting that many here accepted every detail of the lone officer's account.....


    The officer wasn't alone (none / 0) (#31)
    by nycstray on Tue Dec 01, 2009 at 04:58:22 PM EST
    he called for BU and they had arrived, along with a K9 unit. The link posted on the comments to the Seattle blog has details

    Interesting (none / 0) (#34)
    by MKS on Tue Dec 01, 2009 at 05:07:57 PM EST
    Sure, he called for backup and the K-9 unit.  But when did they arrive?

    That he called for backup has little bearing on whether the suspect reached into his waistband, etc., before the backup arrived.

    Relying on this detail doesn't make much sense.  The story emphasizes that it was a lone police officer who was threatened and then shot the suspect.  If there were backup and a K-9 unit at the scene, the story would make no sense....

    Your reference to this detail (of the back-up and the K-9 unit) reminds me just how much automatic support cops have....reaching to support the officer by citing (largely) irrelevant facts.    


    From the blog you refer to (none / 0) (#36)
    by MKS on Tue Dec 01, 2009 at 05:23:31 PM EST
    one finds this interesting comment:

    As a swarm of officers arrived at the scene, Clemmons lay bleeding on the ground. Although he'd been shot, Clemmons was still moving, had his hands tucked underneath him. Police approached with extreme caution, using a tactical shield as they moved in. Police now say they found a handgun in Clemmons' pants pocket."

    In the waistband AND in a pocket. It's not making sense. Nor do the earlier reports which didn't mention the hood was up, just that the the officer saw a car that had been stolen an hour earlier. The early reports make it seen as if Clemmons walked up behind him. There was no mention of the cop sitting in his cruiser. Stay with this, I'm thinking as I go along, but from first 5am read, it was also reported the officer thought he looked like the guy, thought, not 100% sure. Still, did he run? Was it suicide by cop? Passion at it's peak?

    In the waistband and in the pocket????  


    The story (none / 0) (#38)
    by Steve M on Tue Dec 01, 2009 at 05:52:44 PM EST
    has since been updated to indicate that the gun was in the front pocket of his hooded sweatshirt.

    Unless the operative theory is that the gun was planted on the guy (seems unlikely since no one knew which of the many cops on the force might stumble across him) the fact that early reporting on a story may have contained minor factual discrepancies doesn't really trouble me.

    It's fair to be skeptical of the official story but we don't have to go all the way over to the conspiracy side either.


    I'd settle for skepticism (none / 0) (#39)
    by MKS on Tue Dec 01, 2009 at 05:59:32 PM EST
    instead of rote acceptance of the official story.

    In this case, there is probably no real dispute....but a little reluctance to blindly accept the official version would be reassuring.


    I honestly don't know (none / 0) (#58)
    by nycstray on Tue Dec 01, 2009 at 07:36:27 PM EST
    if it was a clean shoot or not. I was just saying there were other cops there when the gun was recovered and it didn't sound like it was planted by the lone officer. IOW, he called for back up before the incident was over, which does sound less fishy to me . . .

    It would seem that an unknown (none / 0) (#40)
    by MKS on Tue Dec 01, 2009 at 06:01:13 PM EST
    police officer has much more credibility here than Obama.....



    Does that surprise you? (none / 0) (#41)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Tue Dec 01, 2009 at 06:03:03 PM EST
    Not anymore (5.00 / 2) (#43)
    by MKS on Tue Dec 01, 2009 at 06:08:41 PM EST
    I fully expected the doubt of Obama here.  

    But on a blog dedicated to the politics of crime from the perspective of the Left, to see such knee-jerk support for the police and acceptanace of what they say as gospel was....very disappointing.

    The reality is that the police can arrest, jail and even kill anyone they want and generally get away with it.  Reaching into his waistband....reasonable fear of harm....doing a dangerous job.....

    The cops will always tell a story of justification....and people will almost always believe them without even reviewing the facts....


    Well (none / 0) (#45)
    by Steve M on Tue Dec 01, 2009 at 06:13:35 PM EST
    I think it makes a difference, in terms of people's initial level of credulity, that the decedent was a known bad guy.  Excuse me, the alleged decedent was an allegedly known allegedly bad guy.

    Guantanamo (5.00 / 2) (#49)
    by MKS on Tue Dec 01, 2009 at 06:38:59 PM EST
    What KSM did was infinitely more devastating and dastardly than what the deranged gunmen did in Seattle.  Yet, the Left and most here are quite concerned about process and rights, etc., for those held in Guantanamo.

    But the police kill someone on our streets and all is presumed fine here.  The issue is not whether the killer deserved what he got, but whether we are going to have concern about the state killing people on our streets.  Isn't that the standard for Guantanamo?

    It wasn't an issue of the credibility of the killer, as he offered no countervailing story, but whether we just shrug in response to a killing by the state without critically examining what actually happened.

    As I have said, the police have a license to arrest, jail and kill--without any practical restraint--and if everyone and indeed even the Left just assumes they always exercise that license correctly, we are in trouble....


    I think (none / 0) (#57)
    by Steve M on Tue Dec 01, 2009 at 07:25:56 PM EST
    that in custody and not in custody are two different scenarios, not to discount your well-stated point.

    I mean, when the military killed Zarqawi in Iraq my first thought was not "hey, is it possible that he would have gone peacefully?"  But once someone like KSM is in custody I certainly don't want them to be tortured or killed, that's barbaric.


    The same phenomenon (none / 0) (#47)
    by MKS on Tue Dec 01, 2009 at 06:18:44 PM EST
    applies in almost every case....

    The Lee Harvey Oswald treatment was so predictable.  


    Politician versus Police (none / 0) (#62)
    by Fabian on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 03:08:34 AM EST
    Which are you more likely to believe?

    Almost everyone (5.00 / 1) (#69)
    by MKS on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 12:06:41 PM EST
    automatically believes the police....

    I think it goes to people's innate need to please and accept authority.  

    The Milgram and Stanford experiments reveal almost universal human traits....Almost everyone throws the switch to shock the person being tested and most adminster what they believe are fatal levels of electric shock...Hardly anyone ever walks out.....

    Cops become cops usually because they like exercising authority.....


    I think some cops (none / 0) (#72)
    by Fabian on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 01:48:46 PM EST
    actually like helping people.  They don't get the headlines though.  No "Cop nominated for Peace Prize for mediating disputes." headlines.  

    It's like any other profession.  You get doctors who really help people and you get doctors who are egotistical jerks convinced of their own infallibility.  There are authority figures everywhere - and every place that has them, has both the good ones and the bad ones.


    But the police are unique authority figures (none / 0) (#73)
    by MKS on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 02:51:51 PM EST
    If someone wants to help people by mediating disputes, they can find many other professions better suited to that goal than being a cop.  Join the Peace Corp.  Join Big Brothers.  Join a crisis intervention center.  Become a therapist.  

    The police's main function is to investigate crime and arrest people.

    Doctors' main function is to treat people.  Sure some Doctors might like fighting crime, but if your main interest is fighting crime, you usually don't become a doctor.  

    There is a difference between authoritarian doctors and cops.  Cops can arrest and shoot you. An arrogant doctor can be easily dismissed and ignored.  I don't think someone becomes a doctor because they like exercising authority.

    Those who are drawn into being a cop know that they will exercise authority, put people into jail, and will carry arms.  They know that this will be part of their job on a daily basis.  To think that is not part of the attraction is to ignore human nature.

    Being a cop is not like any other profession.  Cops are the only ones who can arrest or kill you.  And do so at will without much in the way of adverse consequences.  The more they arrest and shoot, the more they are lionized.  


    The early reporting was done by (none / 0) (#44)
    by Inspector Gadget on Tue Dec 01, 2009 at 06:09:25 PM EST
    local news people who knew this was a national story and they were hyped with the knowledge they may be breaking the big story live...that can leave room for anxious listening.

    I saw one local reporter have to correct information she had already given out when she learned the body was still on the scene.

    Numerous reports are that he was not killed right away and was still moving when other officers arrived....I've yet to hear any reports of whether he was still alive when the aid car arrived.


    Can't Note what isn't here (none / 0) (#46)
    by Inspector Gadget on Tue Dec 01, 2009 at 06:15:09 PM EST
    I am trying to find one commenter who is accepting anything at face value...they are repeating the plethora of reports and comments and articles that continue to throw new twists into it....for the commenters to attempt to untangle the information does not in any fashion constitute "everyone here accepts at face value of apparently a single police officer."

    Well, when I posted (5.00 / 1) (#48)
    by MKS on Tue Dec 01, 2009 at 06:22:32 PM EST
    the comment you refer to, people were citing uncritically to the account of the lone police officer, not even noticing the discrepancies in the accounts....I will except Steve M....

    Pretty dismal showing, imo, for a Left-leaning blog.


    Comment #4 (5.00 / 1) (#60)
    by Inspector Gadget on Tue Dec 01, 2009 at 08:35:01 PM EST
    Considering only 3 comments were before yours, jumping the gun (no pun intended) seems the best description of your criticism for the TL commenters.

    My comment you refer to was #23 (none / 0) (#67)
    by MKS on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 11:54:27 AM EST
    And, I don't detect much skepticism of the police from you....

    Left leaning (none / 0) (#59)
    by jbindc on Tue Dec 01, 2009 at 08:32:22 PM EST
    Doesn't mean we all think all cops are bad, everything cops do is wrong, all defense attorneys are pure and just, and all criminals are just poor, misunderstood members of our society who get the shaft.

    No, too many think all cops are good, (5.00 / 1) (#66)
    by MKS on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 11:46:12 AM EST
    everything the cops do is good, all prosecutors are pure and just, and all cops are just doing a tough job and not on a power trip pushing people around....

    Sorry (none / 0) (#68)
    by jbindc on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 11:58:15 AM EST
    Someone who is competent to stand trial for the other multiple crimes he committed, then talks about killing police officers, then actually DOES target and kill police officers (he was sane enough not to shoot anyone else in or around the coffee shop), really doesn't deserve a whole lot of sympathy.

    And I guess the probelm is, the knee-kerk reaction around here is that cops are all bad and corrupt (See Henry Gates) and the big, bad prosecutors are out to kill you and eat your babies.  Newsflash - the prosecutors work for US - trying to get justice for US (the People).  I get this is a criminal defense site, but it seems to some around here that all those accused of crimes are just innocent folks who are being picked on by the state, and that's just not true.  

    Lesson is - don't do the crime if you can't do the time.


    Yes, we disagreed about Gates (5.00 / 1) (#71)
    by MKS on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 12:19:37 PM EST
    And, you apparently have little use for the constitutional rights of the accused.  It is not about sympathy but about making sure the state exercises its powers correctly.  The willingness to suspend the constitution when the suspect appears guilty is not a novel position but one that most liberals do not hold.

    The prosecutors I know tend to be very ambitious politically.  It is the way to higher political office--especially for Democrats a' la Spitzer.  Here, in SoCal it is about convicting as many people as possible.  Justice is not that high up on the list.  

    Your referece to the old saying of don't do the crime if you can't do the time assumes that everyone the cops arrest is guilty.  

    The real lesson is that there is no one in our society with more power than the cops.  They can arrest, jail and kill almost anyone without much restraint.  You just have to trust them.  And almost everyone does.  So, they can get away with anything.

    I would recommend taking a look at the history of the Milgram experiment.....


    And you assume (none / 0) (#74)
    by jbindc on Thu Dec 03, 2009 at 02:51:39 PM EST
    That most people arrested are innocent and are just being set up by the big bad police officers.

    I get the whole innocent until proven guilty.  And as someone pointed out above, cops do a dangerous job every day across this country, with little pay, and little respect, but you don't hear about it everytime they do something right.  You hear about the exceptions - just as there are sleazy cops, there are sleazy doctors, and yes, sleazy criminal defense attorneys who also don't care about people's rights, but more about getting face time in front of a camera.  But oddly, you don't ever mention those people who also hurt our justice system.


    How many people do sleazy (none / 0) (#75)
    by MKS on Thu Dec 03, 2009 at 03:24:05 PM EST
    defense lawyers kill or put in jail?

    You don't seem to grasp the concept that cops are different because of how much immediate power they have....

    No one else in our society is sanctioned to immediately arrest, jail or kill--at their discretion--without much recourse to someone who is wrongully arrested, or to the families of those wrongfully killed.  That is because people like you say the people harmed deserved it, and cops perform  a dangerous job (not as dangerous as you might think and less dangerous than roofers, farmers, ranchers and many others etc., especially when you consider that half the cops who die on duty do so because of simple auto accidents.)

    As a practical matter, cops get carte blanche to do whatever they want--as shown by the support of the cop who arrested Gates and whom you supported adamantly.  Got lip, go to jail--and many think that is just perfectly fine.  So, no, there is no real recourse for police misconduct....The few civil rights lawsuits you hear about are the exception rather than the rule, and the plaintiffs in those lawsuits are ridiculed to no end.

    Most people have your view of always assuming the police are truthful.  The problem lies in the old adage that absolute power corrupts absolutely.  Cops have close to absolute power....


    Found this in Denver's administrative (none / 0) (#7)
    by magster on Tue Dec 01, 2009 at 03:33:21 PM EST
    protocol on deadly force:

    A peace officer is justified in using deadly physical force upon another person for
    a purpose specified in subsection (1) of this section only when he reasonably
    believes that it is necessary:
    (a) To defend himself or a third person from what he reasonably believes
    to be the use or imminent use of deadly physical force; or
    (b)To effect an arrest or prevent the escape from custody, of a person
    whom he reasonably believes:
    I. Has committed or attempted to commit a felony involving the
    use or threatened use of a deadly weapon; or
    II. Is attempting to escape by the use of a deadly weapon; or
    III.Otherwise indicates, except through a motor vehicle violation,
    that he is likely to endanger human life or to inflict serious bodily
    injury to another unless apprehended without delay.

    i'm still a bit confused (none / 0) (#30)
    by cpinva on Tue Dec 01, 2009 at 04:56:42 PM EST
    as to why mr. clemmons was even out of jail, given the variety of charges hanging over him. that, and he already had been determined to have mental problems?

    it will be interesting to see how he fell through the cracks, and if missed opportunities to place him where he wouldn't be a danger to himself and others ultimately led to this tragic end.

    I haven't followed the (none / 0) (#51)
    by JamesTX on Tue Dec 01, 2009 at 06:46:53 PM EST
    MSM too much on this, but how is it that Tiger running his car into a fire hydrant has morphed into accusations that he is having two extramarital affairs?

    What is (none / 0) (#52)
    by JamesTX on Tue Dec 01, 2009 at 06:48:51 PM EST
    "the Tiger scandal"? How is running your car into a fire hydrant a "scandal"?

    Supposedly . . . (none / 0) (#54)
    by rea on Tue Dec 01, 2009 at 06:58:50 PM EST
     . . . his wife had attacked him with a golf club on learning of his extramaritial affairs, bashing in the windows of the vehicle as he was trying to drive away    :)

    Pure farce. I'd feel bad about laughing if there were any reason to suppose it actually happened that way.    


    Is the Officer lying? (none / 0) (#53)
    by rea on Tue Dec 01, 2009 at 06:49:43 PM EST
    God, I hope not.  But the reality of the situation is, there were only two people there, and one of them is dead.  Barring some unlikely contingency, if the officer is lying, there will never be any proof of it.  And, after all, the officer, like everyone else, is presumed to be innocent.

    officer lying (none / 0) (#70)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 12:18:04 PM EST
    No doubt about it.  This was obviously a white racist (sorry for the redundancy) cop out shooting random black folks and the poor innocent Mr. Clemmons was one of his victims.

    Yesterday (none / 0) (#56)
    by Watermark on Tue Dec 01, 2009 at 07:16:02 PM EST
    When I was talking to a friend about it, he was like "The cops are going to kill this guy when they find him."  If he actually was threat, he was killed, but he was going to be killed anyway, and the only witness is the cop.

    Clemmons could have surrendered (none / 0) (#63)
    by Fabian on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 03:14:40 AM EST
    Possible - if unlikely.

    A mentally unstable man, who just shot four police officers isn't likely to simply turn himself in.