When a Cop is Just Wrong…

28Dec15

Early last Thanksgiving morning, a longtime troublemaker tore out of a bar parking lot in Paradise, California. His headlights were off and he almost hit several bar patrons as he sped away. The troublemaker was, not surprisingly, drunk. Paradise police officer Patrick Feaster was parked near the bar, saw the drunk flee the parking lot, turned on his overheads and tried to stop him. Not surprisingly, the drunk, Andrew Thomas, didn’t stop. Instead, he rolled his SUV. His wife was ejected and died. Officer Feaster pulled up to the accident seconds later.

None of this is unusual. Drunks drive stupid, run from police, and kill innocent people every day in America. But what happened next was completely out of the ordinary: the officer, for no apparent reason, shot the driver. And he wasn’t charged for it.

I’ve been a cop for two decades, have written about why the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Missouri was justified, and have spent many frustrating hours trying to explain to police critics that the real world is nothing like the TV shows they think are real. I’m extremely jaded about criticism of police tactics from people who know literally nothing about real-world lethal force encounters. When I first saw Facebook posts about the Paradise shooting, after the DA announced the officer wouldn’t be charged, I figured the posts were routine “guys who know nothing about police work making stupid comments” nonsense.

Then I watched the video.

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=5cf_1449814783

I watched as, after the accident, Officer Feaster reported the rollover to dispatch. I watched him get out of his patrol vehicle and seem to casually walk toward the wrecked SUV, which had come to rest on its driver’s side. I watched Andrew Thomas begin to climb out of the SUV’s window. Both his hands were visible, and there was no obvious indication of a weapon. I watched Officer Feaster casually draw his weapon, casually point it at Thomas, casually fire one shot, stop walking briefly as Thomas falls back into the SUV, and casually reholster. I watched him saunter to the SUV, look into the window toward Thomas, and report on the radio that “I’ve got an unresponsive female, I’ve got a male in the car refusing to get out.”

accident-shooting

Feaster shooting Andrew Thomas

I watched backup arrive. Feaster doesn’t mention he had shot the driver. I saw more backup arrive. Feaster still doesn’t say anything. As other officers check on the ejected woman and Thomas, I watched Feaster search the area he had been when he fired the shot (most likely looking for his spent shell).

NO-CHARGES-for-Paradise-police-officer-who-Accidentally-shot-a-suspected-DUI-driver-GRAPHIC

Feaster appearing to look for his spent shell

The video ended before EMS arrived, but reports I read said Feaster still didn’t say he had shot Thomas. It wasn’t until EMS pulled Thomas out and saw the gunshot wound that Feaster finally admitted he “might have” shot him. And Feaster didn’t actually say anything until his supervisor told an officer to go back to the bar and find out if Thomas had been shot there.

Eleven minutes passed between the moment Feaster shot Thomas and the moment he finally told someone about it. Eleven minutes Thomas could have bled out. And Feaster didn’t say a word, to anyone, until he basically got caught.

Feaster claimed the shooting was accidental. Thomas was paralyzed from the waist down. Feaster was immediately suspended, and the incident was referred to a grand jury. On December 10th, the District Attorney announced Feaster wouldn’t face criminal charges for the shooting.

As I watched the video, after I read that Feaster wouldn’t be charged, I had a “What the f**k?” moment. Don’t get me wrong; I understood why Officer Feaster drew his weapon, and I understand why he pointed it. Thomas was a felon who had just fled an officer, and drawing your weapon is normal during a felony stop. It’s also normal to point your weapon at a felon to force compliance. It’s not normal to put your finger on the trigger if you don’t see an immediate lethal threat, and it’s not normal to shoot an apparently unarmed man who presents no threat. From the video, I saw no reason the officer should have fired. It just didn’t make sense, and Feaster appeared to have done it intentionally.

But Feaster said it was an accident. The DA believed that, based on two very flimsy pieces of “evidence”:

  • Feaster fired in mid-stride, jerked his head sideways and “stutter-stepped” after firing, which the DA believes indicated surprise; and
  • Feaster fired only one shot, but officers are trained to fire at least twice.

The DA’s statement to the Paradise PD Chief says, “The dashcam video also shows Officer Feaster was not prepared for and was surprised by the gun’ s firing. The pistol discharges in mid stride and the officer both flinches his head to the right and does a ‘stutter step’ indicative of an officer not prepared for nor intentionally firing his pistol. Additionally officers normally train to fire a minimum of two shots when they intentionally fire their sidearms at training.”

I don’t get the DA’s reasoning, and I can refute his points:

  • In the academy, officers don’t typically train to fire while walking. But many private instructors offer advanced training, including pretty basic “shooting while walking” drills. Some officers train together on their own, and incorporate advanced training they’ve received from various instructors. At the very least, the DA should investigate whether Feaster had ever been trained to shoot while walking;
  • Feaster’s head movement and stutter-step could indicate surprise, or could have been Feaster simply assessing his shot before deciding whether to fire again (by the way, I didn’t see a stutter-step, I just saw Feaster stop walking long enough to fire); and
  • Officers were historically trained to fire two shots and assess, but we also train to fire until the threat ceases. We’ve moved away from the brainless “two shots no matter what” training that has probably gotten officers killed. I know an officer who got shot at, drew and fired twice, reholstered, and then realized the suspect was still shooting at him. To avoid training officers to make that mistake we don’t teach a two-shot minimum, and we don’t teach officers to fire after the threat has been neutralized. There have been many recent, justified police shootings where the officer fired only one shot. And if Feaster was planning on shooting twice, he carrying a .45 which has significant recoil. It’s not unreasonable to ask whether Featser didn’t shoot twice because Thomas dropped out of sight too quickly for Feaster to get back on his sights for a second shot.

On that video, I don’t see the obvious indicators of an accidental discharge that DA Ramsey sees. And according to DA Ramsey, shooting someone accidentally but not killing them isn’t illegal in California.

“In examining Officer Feaster’s criminal liability, we note first that this, thankfully, is not a homicide case and we therefore only examine those Penal Code sections dealing with the discharge of a firearm. All of those sections, be it Penal Code section 245 (Assault with a Firearm), 246 (Discharge of Firearm at an Occupied Vehicle) or 246.3 (Discharge of a Firearm in a Grossly Negligent Manner), all require proof the trigger of the firearm was pulled ‘willfully’ or under circumstances in which the display of the gun was unreasonable. As noted in Penal Code section7, the word ‘willfully’ when ‘applied to the intent with which an act is done, implies simply a purpose or willingness to commit the act (i.e. pull the trigger)’. An unintentional or accidental pulling of the trigger, as long as the firearm was originally displayed in a legal and reasonable manner – i.e. an officer in the reasonable performance of his duty of making a felony vehicle stop – does not, under the law, allow for criminal charges.”

Again, I get why Feaster drew and pointed his weapon. I’m also all for using as much force as necessary, as soon as it’s necessary. I’ve been in plenty of confusing, dangerous situations where I came close to shooting people I later found out weren’t a threat, and I’m more than willing to give a cop the benefit of the doubt. I understand that good guys can make good-faith mistakes under stress, and I don’t want any cop trying to do his best punished for it. I also understand that we cops live in a grey area, where neat lines and classroom theory get beaten senseless by ugly reality. I can defend a good guy who made a bad call. But I’m not willing to stand up for an officer who blatantly shot someone for no reason, then didn’t even bother to tell other officers or paramedics.

In this job, we need the public’s trust. We don’t necessarily need the public’s approval; as in the Mike Brown case, there will be times an officer is completely justified and the public just won’t accept it. But in cases where the shooting is obviously not justified, the officer even admits it’s not justified, the DA says it’s not justified, and someone who’s a jerk but didn’t deserve to get shot gets shot and paralyzed anyway, the officer should be charged. In Texas, if I shot someone the way Feaster did, I’d at least be charged with felony Deadly Conduct. And I’d deserve it.

I don’t like criticizing another officer, and I don’t like calling for a cop to be charged. I can maybe accept that Feaster was so ill-suited to police work, so inept, that he accidentally fired but wasn’t sure he fired, and spent eleven critical minutes trying to convince himself he hadn’t fired. Maybe Feaster didn’t intend to shoot anyone, and was just a horrible cop. I think it’s more likely he intended to shoot, and realized immediately he had screwed up.

Either way, if we cops expect the public to view us as the good guys, we should call for Feaster’s prosecution.

P.S. Andrew Thomas died after DA Ramsey’s announcement of no charges. I’m waiting to see if he charges Feaster now that his actions did in fact result in Thomas’ death.

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Chris Hernandez is a 20 year police officer, former Marine and currently serving National Guard soldier with over 25 years of military service. He is a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and also served 18 months as a United Nations police officer in Kosovo. He writes for BreachBangClear.com and Iron Mike magazine and has published two military fiction novels, Proof of Our Resolve and Line in the Valley, through Tactical16 Publishing. He can be reached at chris_hernandez_author@yahoo.com or on his Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ProofofOurResolve).

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38 Responses to “When a Cop is Just Wrong…”

  1. You’re in Texas. just as I don’t comment on when some goofy Texan shoots someone for no good reason(in CA), like property crimes after dark. You should stick to what you know. CA is not TX and our laws are different.

    I’m not defending Feaster; he should be fired and charged with involuntary manslaughter and never work in LE again. His department’s firearms program should have an outside review of training practices.

    That doesn’t mean the DA’s initial conclusion, before the DUI driver died, was wrong. DA’s have an obligation to only bring cases to trial that they believe can meet the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt the defendant committed the crime for which he is charged. The Freddie Gray matter in Baltimore shows us why prosecutors should stick to the law and avoid feelings/public sentiment.

    • I have to respectfully disagree. I don’t advocate prosecution because of public outrage, I advocate prosecution because it’s warranted. And the DA did have applicable charges *if* he determined Feaster intentionally fired. He decided those charges didn’t apply because of his conclusion, based on the flimsiest of evidence, that Feaster fired accidentally. Sorry, but a head bob and stutter step don’t “prove” an accident, nor does firing once instead of twice. I think the DA had a provable case of an intentional discharge, followed by an attempt to conceal culpable actions.

      • I’ve had this same argument with a number of folks from other states. We still don’t know what Feaster said in his interview. If he claims an “accidental” discharge, reasonable doubt exists. It may not be the explanation you, or I want, but I’m confident the DA is making an honest appraisal of CA law and his ability to obtain a conviction based on the evidence. The points you bring up, while I might agree with them, aren’t in CA law. That’s what is so frustrating: you and I both know he’s a turd, but it cannot be proved that he violated a California law.

        With the death of the suspect, I believe the odds of Feaster being charged for involuntary manslaughter are quite high.

        • 4 Jonathan Parsons

          District attorney Mike Ramsey has a history of playing judge and jury. His daughter ran someone over while drunk and didn’t serve any time. Then she shot his house up with a gun, yet she lives on his property growing Marijuana. Mike Ramsey is as crooked a DA as there ever was one. Officer feaster on the same note is known for his dui arrests because he sits outside of bars pulling over anybody that leaves. His reasoning for pulling you over is you have something obstructing your vision, or you have a license plate light out, or he thought you didn’t have your seat belt strapped on. It’s entrapment. He was called to the scene of the cantina bar for a disturbance call. He was a half block away and decided not to make an appearance. Instead he waited for the first car to leave and pull it over. Watch the video, Thomas wasn’t running from the police. He saw lights on his rear view mirror and that distracted him and he hit the center divider. Feaster didn’t know who was driving or if they were even drunk. He had a good indication they were drunk since he followed them from the bar. This cop pulled my brother over and left bruise marks on his girlfriends arm by pulling her out of the vehicle and charging her with drunk in public. Those charges were dropped. He’s a dirty/stupid cop that needs to be charged with a crime. Negligent discharge of a firearm, attempted murder, police negligence, the last goes on. But for not a single charge to be filed is an atrocity to justice. It feels like the Santa fe ring over here. The good old boys club. This was a bad shooting. They still haven’t done the autopsy. We need someone from the outside to come in and fix things before we have another Ferguson on our hands. Ramsey needs to go and feaster needs to serve a prison sentence. Plain and simple. If I pulled a gun and shot someone accidentally, I don’t care what the facts are, I’m facing a handful of charges. I demand that police be held accountable for their mistakes just like anybody else would.

          • Thanks for your post. I live in New York, so I don’t know much about Paradise, CA, that cop, or the DA. But I’m as appalled and enraged by this killing as if it happened here. That dude didn’t deserve to be killed and that cop deserves to be charged with killing him. Letting him skate is bloody evil.

            I’m not surprised at what you said. After all, this thing stinks to high heaven, and that kind of stink doesn’t come from nowhere overnight; it has an origin, usually endemic corruption. If it didn’t, a cop who deliberately shot a guy in the throat and then broke major departmental regulations by not mentioning it until he had to would have been charged and fired. That’s what decent departments and DA’s do, right?

            This thing, along with the hundreds of other videos I’ve seen over the last two years of cops savaging and killing unarmed people has given me a real fear of the police. I worry that I might fall into the clutches of some psycho cop who decides to tear me up or kill me, knowing his fellow cops, his department, the DA, the police union, and the local elected officials will all have his back.

            I’s a terrifying and deplorable state of affairs when you believe that you have to fear a cop because he might just kill you because he’s either poorly trained or just sadistic.

            Can you point to links or anything that can provide further information about this cop and that DA? I’d like to know more.

            Peace, dude. Be careful out there.

        • I’m confident that DAs are at least as crooked as the public at large, and usually more so.

          There’s a name for people like you: Copsuckers.

          • I totally disagree with Patrick Aherne: I don’t believe that most DAs, including this one, carefully consider the law when a police shooting is concerned. I believe that their first order of business is to work with the PD and the police union to protect their officers.

            I’ve simply seen too many cases over the last couple of years where that has been the case to believe otherwise.

            I suspect that Fester was charged, even as lightly as he was, because of the national firestorm this killing caused. And I fully expect that he will ultimately pay no price for coldly killing that boy. I fully expect that he will soon be on another police force, with the authority to use lethal force at his discretion.

            Those of us who are not in law enforcement, and who’ve seen all of the hundreds of videos over the last couple of years of cops mauling and killing people for no good reason, and not being charged, have come to highly distrust and even hate the police.

            This is a deplorable state of affairs, and we must, as a society, find a way to purge violent and corrupt cops from the forces, and restore public confidence in their police. The alternative is a recipe for insurrection.

            But calling Mr Aherne vile names doesn’t advance the dialogue, does it? I’m sure that he’s just as sincere in his belief as I am.

            Don’t you think that we should keep the dialogue on an honest yet respectful level?

  2. Not that it’s an excuse; more like a reason. I’ve seen people react really weirdly during high stress situations that they later have no recollection of. Remember the scene in Blackhawk Down when the guy puts the hand in his ammo pouch? As of the time of the book’s publishing, that guy has no idea why he did that, or memory of doing so.

    I’m thinking that some cases where police shootings make no sense, this is what is happening. It’s not like the guy woke up that morning hoping he’d murder some guy.

    Either way, this is an officer who doesn’t belong in the police biz.

    • I’m not going to ascribe any motives to this cop. What I am going to do is say that he calmly pointed a gun at an unarmed guy, shot him in the throat, calmly holstered his weapon and then spent the rest of the time looking for something near where he shot from, while completely ignoring the two people dying right in front of him. He sure didn’t sound traumatized on the audios recorded by the other body cams, did he?

      Either way, he killed a dude, he pays zero price for that, and now he gets to patrol the streets again with that gun and the authority to use it. That’s what’s so evil about this thing.

      Do you want that guy to have the power of life and death over you if he stops you for something?

      • Is he back on the street? My impression was that he was just about fired.

        • 11 Mary Crone

          A jury found him guilty of involuntary manslaughter with an enhancement for using a gun. He was sentenced to 18 months in the Butte County Jail and 3 years probation. Most likely, he will serve 3 months, if not less, of that jail time.

  3. 12 Fritz

    Wow….That’s seriously F’d up. I agree with all your points Chris. It is SO important for the police as an institution to own up to these kinds of incidents. THIS is what makes people immediately assume cover ups and police wrong doing in other cases.

  4. 13 T.

    I swear I see two shots but the video is a little blurry. Looks to me like upper left and then lower right. Neither here nor there though… I have no idea why this officer fired. Still, if the DA is trying to say the officer only shot once, I’d say look at the video again. Maybe the DA office has a less blurry copy though. Also, why didn’t the officer say that he’d just shot someone? The paramedics might have wanted to know what they were about to deal with, and shooting someone, yeah, might actually make them “refuse to get out”. I would also, at that point, refuse to get out. Holy crap.

    • What looked like a second shot was actually Feaster’s weapon-mounted flashlight strobing off gunsmoke.

      There are different theories as to why Feaster didn’t just say he shot someone: the more generous theory is that he was so stunned at accidentally firing he didn’t believe he had done it, the less generous theory is that he knew he had done it and just didn’t want anyone to find out.

      And yeah, I’d be a little hesitant to get out of a car after an officer shot me for no reason.

      • The DUI driver was paralyzed by Feaster’s shot; he literally could not comply with commands to get out of the car.

      • Especially when the shot rendered him paralyzed. Andrew’s death could have been avoided if Mr. Feaster had told his fellow officers what he did right away, instead of withholding that important information until it was too late. I’ve seen the video more times than I care to remember, just to see if the DA’s findings held any merit. What I saw sickened me. Mr. Feaster pulled out his fire arm and without thought or reservation, shot the “accident victim” and then re-holstered his weapon like it was nothing. This was not an accident.
        I live in Paradise and am absolutely horrified by this event. I have lived in Butte County for 23 years and can tell you that DA Mike Ramsey has never seen a police shooting that he didn’t agree with. He should also be held up on criminal charges for obstruction of justice for consistently finding police excessive use of force and police murders justified.
        We must require for there to be a citizen review panel for all of these types of police investigations every time, without exception.
        I believe that this and other recent police shootings have proven that there is also a need for law enforcement agencies to perform better psychological evaluations on officer candidates. I’ve read several articles that they instead recruit potential officers for lower IQ’s and high testosterone levels. This combination does not make for a stable peace officer, but instead seems to nurture aggression and a “power over” treatment of the people that they are paid to protect and serve. I have witnessed this type of brutalizing and intimidating behavior first hand on several occasions. Many officers seem to have this attitude like they are above the law and do not have to answer for their at times, brutal and intimidating actions. This has got to stop. Fire Feaster and charge him with voluntary manslaughter and then charge the DA for all past cover ups of police abuse and remove him from office. That is the only way justice will be served.

  5. Chris, Great article. If you have read the comments in the ChinoR-E you have read my comments. He shot with emotion and intent. If I felt that I had a negligent misfire of my Glock 21C, after my ears stopped ringing, I would eject the mag and look at the #13 slot. If it was shiny, no fire. If it was black (empty) Oops. I wouldn’t look in those places for my spent shell. I shoot at ranges and outside, no dividers, the shell would have ejected closer to the right curb, or beyond.

  6. I’m glad that an objective person who’s pro police saw this for what it was: a wholly unjustified shoot, maybe even a murder. As I write this, the TV news is covering the story that the cops who killed twelve year old Tamir Rice will pay no price for that. This almost always happens.

    I’m not a cop, but until recently, I was pro police. I always thought that a good cop is worth his weight in gold.

    But after watching so many videos over the last two years of cops mauling and even killing people under unjustifiable circumstances and then watching as DA’s let them skate, I’ve developed a real fear of and even hatred of the police.

    I live in New York City and recently watched a video of a bunch of cops choking and pressing down on a man who kept crying out in a breathless and terrified voice that he couldn’t breathe. They kept up the pressure until they killed him then didn’t do a thing to try to resuscitate him.

    The DA didn’t do a thing about it. He put it to his creature, a grand jury, who declined to indict and of course, since that’s a secret process, we don’t even get to know how that insane decision was reached.

    I don’t drive drunk and I don’t play with guns in the park. I don’t break the law, except for driving faster than the speed limit on freeways when they’re empty enough to allow me to do it safely.

    But I worry that a cop may target me for something, anything. So today, I think of cops the way I think of a shark who comes near when I’m surfing or swimming in the ocean: he may not be about to tear me to bits, but he might. They do it all the time.

    if a cop comes near me and I get the slightest idea he’s going to hurt me, I’m running away as fast as I can. I’d rather take the chance that he’s slower than me or a bad shot than stand there and get beaten or maybe killed just because some badly trained or psychopathic guy wants to.

    A lot of good people I know say the same thing. We’ve all seen all those videos and seen all those cops end up back on the streets.

    When law abiding people come to fear and hate their police, something is terribly wrong. The criminal justice system is itself becoming a threat to public order. The growing anger over these incidents is turning into a fury.

  7. 22 E. Thorn

    THIS is the case that should be getting the attention the other cases are getting. We KNOW why Tamir Rice was shot. But this looked more like a murder to me. Now, I can’t believe that this officer walked up to the car thinking he was going to kill the driver. But still, somehow I think you shouldn’t be able to aim a gun at someone and pull the trigger without there being some semblance of a threat.

    Does every police officer get one free shot where they can claim it was accidental and not face charges? Because based on the decision here that’s what it sounds like.

  8. There clearly is a lurch/halt/stutter or whatever you want to call it immediately after he fired. I tend to think it was an ND.

    That’s not negligence like the Akai Gurley case in New York, where the officer was plainly negligent with his weapon. At least Feaster had reason to brandish it. That said, it appears to be nervous negligence in a stressful situation.

    But, the empathy ends there. Like the Gurley case, Feaster denied the man medical care. Who knows if it might have saved his life. By not immediately reporting “shots fired” (also like the Gurley case), he casts suspicion on himself. When the driver said “the cop shot me” and Feaster denies it, he’s clearly hiding his actions. That raises implications for murder.

    Now that the driver has died, the case should go to trial for negligent homicide, possibly worse. There’s not enough evidence in this forum to convict to a reasonable doubt standard. But there is a preponderance which compels evaluation before a court of law.

  9. 24 Armchair Command'oh

    Chris, I have a question on police tactics (or any other cops here):

    It seems that when police are dealing with a threat, they tend to point their guns directly at the threat. Obviously, they are supposed to keep their fingers off the trigger, but that doesn’t always happen (see recent LASD report on their spike in NDs). Is there a reason why cops don’t approach/confront a threat pointing their guns slightly off target or at a somewhat low ready? While this technique would certainly add some small amount of time to how long it takes to fire, it seems that in many cases, perhaps even most cases, the added time would not pose a risk to officer safety. In the case where the threat is truly immediate (like a suspect is holding a gun), this wouldn’t apply, but in all the other circumstances, it seems that holding the gun at the ready slightly off target would provide added safety in the event of an ND and would be less confrontational, without increasing the risk to officers. Long story short, why isn’t approaching a threat at the low ready, or pointing slightly off target, standard procedure?

  10. 25 Joe in PNG

    I wonder how much of bad gun handling is part of the effect of Ferguson? How many departments have reduced ongoing firearms training for more emphasis on “you racist!” sensitivity training and other politically correct drivel- stuff which takes up more of the limited training time and budget.

    Which means we’re like to see incidents where cops, heads full of PC nonsense, are killed because they don’t want to look racist. More incidents of innocent people getting killed or injured by way of ND’s or missed shots, because the cops have never been properly trained on shooting under stress. More incidents of “fear biting”- shooting because the cop is freaked out in the situation, because they have no confidence as a result of the first two factors.

    And the like result of this is more of the same PC nonsense.

    • I’m sorry, but I’m getting real weary of the whole narrative that bringing national attention and questioning upon police officers and departments because of the huge number of videos we’ve all seen in the last few years of cops beating and killing people under conspicuously unjustifiable circumstances is a bad thing.

      I keep hearing police apologists say “there is a chill wind blowing through law enforcement.”

      There damned well should be. I and tens of millions of our fellow Americans are appalled and furious that cops are behaving this way and our elected officials aren’t doing a thing about it except to keep it under wraps or manipulate the grand jury process to ensure that no one pays any price for these terrible crimes.

      My father is a cop. I remember watching the Rodney King video with him. I can still remember the look of shame and anguish on his face when he said quietly to me “not all police departments are like that, son.”

      Today, the simple fact of the matter is that way too many of them are exactly like that and the servers at YouTube are stuffed to the rafters with the proof. So are the newspapers. And the TV. It’s irrefutable.

      If a cop is too afraid that he’ll be second guessed or he’s asked to take additional training to become a better cop who doesn’t beat or kill people because he likes to because or he hates them or he has anger issues or he doesn’t have the emotional capacity or for ANY other reason than that he absolutely has to, then he should get out of the profession.

      That’s not “PC crap.” That’s the only decent thing and every good and decent officer should demand that. Every decent cop should demand that a cop who abuses his authority and the public be fired and prosecuted.

      There are decent cops. Cops who are true heroes. But now, we can’t tell which ones are the good ones and which ones are the ones who will maul us or kill us for any reason they like.

      The fact that we can’t tell which is which has to mean we suspect all of them. It may mean the difference between living or not.

      That’s not PC crap. That’s where we are.

      • 27 Joe in PNG

        If all you get is power points about racism, and very little about proper firearms procedure, how is that supposed to help cut down on ND’s from poor firearms handling?

        If all your training time is listing to some clueless Ivory Tower, PC academic lecturing on things they don’t understand instead of time on a range, how are you going to cut down on bystanders shot because of poor marksmanship?

        If a police officer is not trained on how to look for real bad guys because it just might look like profiling, how then are they supposed to know the good from the bad?

        How many police officers use pointing their guns because they don’t know any other way to get compliance?

        How many cops only shoot the annual 50 rounds to qualify, and that’s it? Pistol skills are quite perishable, and very frequent re-training is a very good thing.

        How many people here have lived in countries where law enforcement is pretty much non-existent? I do, and trust me, it is way worse than pretty much anything you see in the USA.

        • First of all, thanks for responding. To take your points in order:

          I never suggested that police training be “power points about racism,” or that they sit and listen to “ivory tower” stuff. Indeed, I didn’t suggest any particulars about training. But serious training issues clearly exist and must be dealt with, including using the training process as a means to identify those officers who have racial, mental, attitudinal, or other issues that come to bear when dealing with this country’s many ethnic and social groups, some of which are hostile to the police.

          The real issue in this country is not that cops are accidentally shooting people, although it’s certainly a great idea for them to be as expert in the use of their weapons as they can be trained to be so that fewer bystanders are shot.

          I don’t subscribe to the idea that cops shouldn’t look at people because they shouldn’t “profile,” though that term has become almost meaningless because of what you rightly “called PC crap” on the left and the way that some on the right use it to smear the left. Since you live in the United States, you probably know that our politics have become very poisonous and that infects just about everything where public policy is concerned. The solution is to concentrate resources on that community to learn who the criminals are and deal with them while treating the larger community with respect and use that respect to make converts to the idea of not tolerating criminals.

          A certain kind and amount of profiling is only rational. We all do it. It’s human nature. The trick is to not treat an entire community as criminals because some of their members are criminals who commit a lot of crime.

          So, the real issue that has me and tens of millions of Americans alarmed and so very angry is that far too many cops are deliberately harming and even killing people who haven’t done anything to deserve either, and getting away with it.

          Part of that can probably be dealt with by better training in deescalating situations and using less lethal weapons where appropriate.

          But a big part of it has to be identifying and removing from the force cops who for whatever reason use their authority and weapons in brutal and illegal ways.

          The other issues that are going to have to be dealt with include doing something about the incestuous relationship between the police and District Attorneys. Far to often, the DA acts to protect bad cops from the consequences of criminal behavior, because the DA and the police are allies.

          I suspect that what’ going to end up happening is that investigations of questionable police shootings will be handled by an entity not tied to either the local DA or the PD. As it stands now, a lot of people have no faith that allegations of illegal police violence are or will be truly investigated. They believe that because it’s true.

          Police unions have far too much power to influence politicians to tolerate misconduct and to intimidate reform efforts. We need to take the pruning shears to all of the public sector unions, and the police unions are a great place to start. (I’d move on to the teachers unions next, but that’s another issue).

          There will also have to be something done about the culture in PD’s that works to protect bad cops. About ten times this year, we’ve discovered that cops who were on the scene where a questionable beating or killing occurred falsified reports and either destroyed or manufactured evidence to conform to the official lie about what happened. There have even been several times when the cops planted or destroyed evidence in view of their own dash cam videos. They should have been fired for stupidity and thankfully, they were. And charged. But that’s rare.

          The “blue wall” should not protect bad cops or criminal behavior, as it does now. At West Point, cadets are rigorously trained to neither engage in illegal or immoral behavior or to tolerate it in those who do. Sadly, that cannot be said in a lot of PD’s, it’s the opposite: good cops will cover up for bad cops.

          Lastly, your statement comparing this country to some countries that are completely lawless is not germane to this discussion. We don’t measure the quality of justice in the United States by that. The choices are not to put up with widespread police misconduct or have no law enforcement at all.

          The choice is whether we are going to reform a criminal justice system that a huge and rapidly growing number of Americans believe is a corrupt and unaccountable weapon aimed at them, or whether we’re going to allow this situation to continue to fester until the country slides into insurrection. We’re getting very close to that now. People are fed up and they are rapidly coming to believe that reform is not coming. If enough people give up on the civil administration of this society, they will take matters into their own hands and exact bloody revenge on those they see as their tormentors.

          I care deeply about liberty and about this Republic. I worked on a political campaign in 2012. There were young volunteers from all over the world who came here to work on the campaign, too. I asked one young woman why she’d come so far to work on our election. Her answer? “You don’t know how important we believe America is. There are three great powers in the world and two of them are tyrannies. We don’t to lose this one.”

          I don’t either. Not to brutal cops you have to fear or to mobs tearing the country apart. Urgent reformation of the political, economic, and criminal justice systems is necessary if we’re to avoid that.

          Thanks for discussing this with me. I look forward to your response. Peace, dude.

          • Joe in PNG, please forgive my sloppy grammar and punctuation in the reply to you above. I am working like mad to get a website built and I’m so tired I didn’t even see the mistakes until I’d already posted it.

            Peace.

          • When you say “blue wall”, I know you are full of malarkey. I’m not risking my future, my family’s future, and my pension for an idiot.

          • 31 Joe in PNG

            My first guess is that many of the corrupt departments are a result of corrupt governments. And that as a result of corrupt voters- Chicago for instance. In that case, no amount of honor codes or 3rd party investigations will stop that. In that case, politics already trumps truth. A righteous shoot will be smeared as bad (ala Michael Brown), and a bad shoot dropped, depending on how the city leadership wants things to play out in the public arena.

            In this case, if an officer knows they won’t get a truly fair hearing, but may be unjustly sacrificed on the altar of public opinion despite the facts of the matter, then yeah, you’re going to get the “Blue Wall of Silence”. If the Chief, Mayor, even POTUS is more than willing to twist fact and accept flat out untruths to pander to mobs, then what? If one can’t trust leadership to have your back in the lawful exercise of one’s duties, how can you trust them when dealing with crooked cops?

  11. This is why so many of our fellow Americans have come to hate and fear the police. I do. I’ve seen too many videos of cops mauling and even killing unarmed people and getting away with it.

    What I don’t get is this: if most cops are good cops, then why do cops who brutalize and kill almost always get a pass?

    If I killed a fellow in this life, I don’t think I could live with myself. But then, I’m not a killer. Obviously, those who are don’t have that moral impediment to hurting and killing.

    This cop took that which you must not take, the precious time a person gets to be alive. Andrew Thomas will never be again. Patrick Fester took that from him, and now, he’s going to spend a few days in jail paying for stealing the ultimate thing one can steal.

    That he was one sworn to protect and serve the public and the justice system gave him a pass on that is an abomination.

    That’s why so many hate and fear the police. They’ve earned it.

    How can an honorable cop not feel deep shame over this? Do any of you on this site who are cops even care?

    • Considering that I’m a cop and wrote this blog post, I’d say that’s pretty clear evidence at least some of us care.

      • You make a good point. Thanks for you reply. I’ve been following your blog since I discovered it when you first wrote about this case, and have found it to be a good resource to learn what those in law enforcement think about various issues.

        I work with a number of organizations and law firms in New York, to reform criminal justice. I must tell you that many people really have come to hate and fear the police. I’ve never been among those, but after watching so many videos of officers brutalizing and even killing people, I’ve become afraid of the police, too. I get nervous when a member of the NYPD comes near me. I really do. I’ve seen them beat and even kill people and get clean away with it, many times.

        This killing was one of the ugliest things I’ve ever seen, and learning that the killer will pay no real price for that is a wretched thing.

        It’s things like this that give all cops a bad name. Way too many people believe that most cops are Fester, and that most cops will skate too if they kill so wantonly.

        It’s hard to argue that their belief is not justified. The world that Steve Jobs ushered in with his iPhone has changed everything.

        Thanks again for your reply, and for your blog.


  1. 1 The Lisa Mearkle Police Shooting- 7 Lessons to Learn | Active Response Training
  2. 2 Philando Castile Verdict - Not a Victory for Law Enforcement | Breach Bang Clear

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