09-15-10 - Problems at Seattle PD

Lots of problems in Seattle recently.

The latest one is this deaf wood carver dude John Williams who was shot under very questionable circumstances :

The Buck Stops with Nobody by Cienna Madrid - News - The Stranger, Seattle's Only Newspaper

Also this year was the lovely "Mexican Piss" beating where Seattle cops took turns randomly stomping on someone who hadn't done anything :

SeattleCrime.com News I'm going to beat the fucking Mexican piss out of you, homey! You feel me
I'm Going To Beat The Fucking Mexican Piss Out Of You! Seattle Police Brutalize Innocent Man Video

(though I should note that even if he *was* the "gang banger" that they thought he was (he wasn't) it still would be disgusting behavior; most people focus on the fact that he was innocent and it was a mistaken identity, but really any time you cuff a suspect and beat him up you should be fired)

(side note : there was a similar incident a while ago : Seattle officer punches girl in face during jaywalking stop ; and while clearly punching someone in the face for being rowdy is not very good police procedure (it's just not a good way to control someone), and he probably should have been mildly disciplined for that, overall this incident is not part of the "Seattle PD gone mad" problem; the jaywalker was clearly being too aggressive with the cop in this case (See Youtube : Seattle Cop Punches Girl in Face - Jaywalking Stop 6-15-10 ); also if a cop ever stops you for anything, make sure your friend gets video of it; though cops these days seem to not really care if they're on tape, they'll keep tasing you for doing nothing anyway, and get away with it ).

It was a bad week : Questions raised after five police killings in a week , Questions raised after 5 police killings in 1 week ; perhaps even more disturbing than the killing of John Williams was the two killings by Taser of guys who were just "creating a disturbance".

I'm absolutely terrified of Tasers. Their manufacturer has created this myth that they are safe, when in fact they are often lethal (and god knows what kind of long term damage they do even when they aren't lethal). In fact while Tasers don't kill quite so many people as police guns do, it's getting close - (see for example : 96 Taser-related Deaths in the US since January 2009 - Gordon Wagner - Open Salon ). The big problem is the rules for engagement with Tasers are not the same as with a gun. Cops are only supposed to use their gun if they deem it absolutely necessary to protect themselves or others, but Tasers can be used at will to subdue a suspect. This has led to rampant abuse of the Taser where it's used in cases where simple physical detention would have been just fine. Or even just letting the guy making a disturbance scream for a while until he settles down. Coincidentally perhaps, back in 2004 SeattlePI did a big piece on Tasers : Seattle Post-Intelligencer Tasers Under Fire ).

See also : Analysis Taser-related deaths in US accelerating Raw Story

And if you want to really feel sick, watch a man who was not resisting at all get tasered and brutally restrained (and thus killed) : Taser Death Caught On Tape - CBS News Video

It certainly seems like Seattle PD has been using lethal force more readily than they should. The obvious thought is that there's a bit of a siege mentality after all the cop assassinations last year in the two separate cases of Chris Monfort and Maurice Clemmons :

Suspected cop killer slain by police
Seattle cop shot dead in unprovoked attack - U.S. news - Crime & courts - msnbc.com
Police Seattle police officer killed in 'assassination' KING5.com Seattle Area Local News
Local News Suspect in officer's slaying shot by police Seattle Times Newspaper
Local News Man charged with killing police officer is paralyzed Seattle Times Newspaper


ryg said...

Tasers really piss me off. Being tasered is a serious assault, at least as bad as being brutally kicked into the kidneys or the groin (and probably more dangerous). And yet, it's somehow acceptable (or at least tolerated) to taser people for minor offences.

The tone of the "debate" sickens me. Arguing whether it's non-lethal or not is completely missing the point - being clubbed down with a riot baton is non-lethal too. And just as tasering, it's a completely unacceptable response for a police officer in a non-self-defense scenario.

The worst part is how it's depicted in the media. It's completely trivialized as a matter of course (hey, it's just a bit of electricity, right? Sure pinches a bit, but the guy will be fine in 30 seconds, no problem!), which is bad enough. But then at some point writers decided that tasering people is funny, so now you see it all the time on various shows, and it's played for laughs. WTF?

igs said...

I 100% agree that it's in your best interest to have any incidents with the police videotaped by your friends/bystanders. Also, videos like the one that shows the polish man being tazed to death can be very powerful tools for exposing police misconduct as well as other problems in the system.

Incredibly though, in some jurisdictions the police are actively stopping people from videotaping their actions. There are even cases of people being arrested simply for videotaping officers in public in the normal course of duty based on a perverse interpretation of two-party consent wire-tapping laws in some states See for example this story:


I find this absolutely insane.

cbloom said...

Another one :


cbloom said...

And another one :


god help you if you're a minority in Seattle.

old rants