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Autopsy reveals Debian founder committed suicide (theregister.co.uk)
154 points by peterkshultz on July 7, 2016 | hide | past | favorite | 100 comments

I'm surprised the article didn't mention it, but check out the last page of the autopsy. They found chlordiazepoxide, diazepam, temazepam, and oxazepam in his bloodstream, which could have had some terrible interactions with alcohol. This sounds more to me like a drug overdose that caused a psychological episode than just the alcohol-fueled suicide they make it out to be. Very strange.

Not so strange, sadly. The combination of drugs and alcohol is an especially bad thing for people experiencing depression. HHS (which includes the CDC) has a lot of papers and studies on this sort of thing.

High level of benzodiazepines is enough to kill off your inhibitions and short term memory. Mixed with alcohol, if you feel that way, there is nothing stopping you from taking your life.

At 16, during an episode of depression and psychosis, I was trusted with a whole box of Lorazepam. Being in the state I was, I took the whole box. I have only fleeting images and I woke up the next day on a PICU. The not remembering is especially hard since I have quite a vivid memory - I seem to have lost those memories forever now, though I'm not sure if I want to remember.

I was prescribed some medication time ago, and it felt me the most depressed person, but I was aware that this must be the cause of it, and asked my doctor to stop it. The other medication was not that effective, as this one, but I no longer had the moods.

I was feeling as if nothing really matter, but this time literally, not in some "grand scheme of things" way. I had to push myself somehow to do things.

It could've been something else, but it coincided and stopped days after I started taking that medication.

You are lucky it was only a medicine side effect. Many depressed people feel that way their entire lives.

Benzos are nothing but bad news. I had a very similar experience in my teens. Woke up 24 hours later in the emergency room with a wrecked car and no memory of anything.

It seems everyone is a forensic medical professional now. Did anyone actually read the report?

From the medical examiner: "I received and reviewed the Toxicology Report. The findings do not change my opinion regarding the cause and manner of death."

Parent post is not saying that benzos caused the death, but that the benzo + alcohol mix made worse the mental state that caused the death.

"incoherent", "claiming to have been beaten up by police"


I wouldn't call those incoherent - I'd call them distressed and angry at having been beaten up by the police. They say he hit his head on the cage separator - which is a classic cop write-up for after they've roughed you up.

They're pretty incoherent. His retelling has a really jumbled timeline. Part of that might be missing context if he was replying to other tweets but they aren't linked. The ones that are linked don't look much better, though. His tweets to @jackstormwriter don't make much sense unless the archive somehow lost most of the ones from @jackstormwriter.

He also claimed that the police assaulted him at his own home, while reports indicate that he was not at his own home and was basically trying to break down the door, hence why the police were called. It seems likely he had a psychotic episode. This whole thing is tragic but I'm not sure it indicates abusive behavior from the police.

> while reports indicate

Call me cynical, but I've passed the point where I assume that an american police report is anything but the most convenient story.

I'm well aware that most police departments only have a few bad apples. But the problem is instead of throwing the bad apples out, they are protected and left to rot the remaining bunch.

Not just police reports. No one so far as I'm aware, aside from Murdock himself, has put forth evidence of anything that disputes the police's claims. No news reports have uncovered a scandal or evidence of wrongdoing that I've seen.

He may well (in fact, probably was) beating at his neighbour's door in the first instance - but the second, you'll have to take their word for it.

If you read the autopsy, specifically about the blunt force trauma, either he put up on hell of a fight, or they did indeed paste him.

> you'll have to take their word for it.

I'm pretty sure if you care to check, you can get the police report for the second incident and go ask the relevant neighbors.

The likelihood that the police were waiting for Murdock to show up at his home so they could randomly attack him seems vanishingly low. Excessive force I could believe. Police with nothing better to do than randomly assault an upper-class white man repeatedly? Not as much.


To be clear, I'm not saying that it would be okay for the police to assault Murdock if he were not white, or not wealthy, not male, or anything else. My point was that if someone believes that the police are systematically targeting the less privileged, then they wouldn't have targeted Murdock.

And while yes, Murdock appears to have had some kind of mental illness during all this, it's unfair to say that the police "targeted" him because of that without any evidence. It would likewise be unfair to accuse the police of targeting Murdock for being a black woman (if he were a black woman) absent some evidence to support that.

Aside from Murdock's somewhat-incoherent twitter claims, there seems to be nothing supporting the idea that the police "targeted" him in any way or otherwise abused their power. So far it's purely speculation, and given that it's been six months, I have to assume no evidence will appear and the accusations of police misconduct here will remain baseless speculation.

I understand your concern about ignoring complaints from the mentally-ill and other underprivileged groups being a bad precedent and a slippery slope to broader abuse. I agree and would not advocate for ignoring these sorts of complaints. I think each complaint should be given due consideration. In this particular case, with the information that has been made broadly available, I don't personally see evidence to support any claims that the police did anything wrong.

It is fair to say that police in USA is not targeting anyone, and it is also fair to say the majority are not being treated as the powerful.

However, the white mentally ill according to the lack of news regarding the figures tends to put mentally ill people in the majority case, a silent case.

Hence my point of view : discrimination in discrimination leads to awful results.

If you read the tweets, and then the autopsy, you'll wonder which wound was so serious it needed stitches, considering there are only three minor lacerations, and absolutely no mention of stitches anywhere. If he's telling the truth about police brutality, then why did he need to make up needing stitches?

It is also something that mentally distressed people on lots of drugs do.

I think all of the evidence points to the official story being true.

To be (more) precise: no evidence points to the official story not being true. It could easily have been the cops' fault.

To be (more) nuanced: the truth is often somewhere in the middle, where a drug/alcohol infused psych patient acts like a complete jackass, and frustrated cops get sick of dealing with him and let him have a few knocks (which they should not do) and then lie about it (which they should not do) but it doesn't really change the underlying cause. Sometimes it does change the underlying cause, sometimes they kill somebody who would not otherwise have died, but in this case we are in all likelihood talking about a drug/alcohol infused psych patient who was behaving extremely erratically and there is enough evidence for him to have been the cause of his own demise, and no particular evidence that the cops were.

We can accept the outcome of this while in our minds leaving room for the idea that psych patients can be very difficult to deal with and they frequently and sadly do provoke abuse from the people we leave to look after them.

Think of it like resolving a dispute between two children, who socked who first etc. Sadly, that's what kids do and they lie about it, their statements are unreliable. Watching Judge Judy (!) gives good perspective on this, same sadly is true for adults, frequently both sides are lying, but outcomes that are just(-icey) enough can be determined

Agreed. However he did go to some lengths to make it look like it wasn't suicide... It is difficult to judge given the (lack of) facts, but it's a sad story whichever way one looks at it.

No one takes four different benzos at once unless they've got a specific outcome in mind.

Thats simply false. Benzodiazepines are addictive, build a quick tolerance, and they destroy judgement.

You can no more predict a heavy recreational benzo users's night than you can predict what someone will do blacked out on ambien or alcohol.

I've been addicted to benzos (since recovered) and know many others who have been too, so I'm intimately aware of their addictive nature and rapid tolerance. Saying they "destroy" judgment is a bit hyperbolic though.

In any event we're all speculating. But I seriously doubt anything about this was accidental, even if the benzos were recreational. The drugs didn't kill him. The hanging did.

Can attest to this. I had a very good friend who was taking an insane amount of various pills (hydros, valium and some others) and had a breakdown. She wasn't suicidal, but the doctors told her she was lucky to be alive with as much as she was taking.

It totally impairs judgment, and people who are addicted can quickly escalate without realizing it.

This very well could have been an accidental suicide.

I had issues with stress and problems sleeping from university. I was prescribed benzo's, While they helped, before I knew it, I got addicted with a tolerance quickly. Breaking that addiction was one the worst experiences of my life. It would have been impossible without the support of my family.

From the autopsy, he did not die of an overdose, but rather of hanging - appears he looped the vacuum flex around the top bannister, then slid down the stairs until it cut off blood flow - "Cause of Death: Hanging".

That said, you're quite right that the cocktail he had in his system disinhibited him to the point of no return.

The suicide is tragic. However, no one seems to have investigated the police beatings he alleges he received the day before he died: "They beat the shit out of me twice," he says.

Just look at the autopsy report under "BLUNT FORCE INJURIES" for all the bruises:


The autopsy reports alcohol and sedative drugs, and friends and family report that he was breaking up with his girlfriend, facing eviction, and other distressing things. Does that make it likely that he'd make false accusations against the police? I don't think so.

From the article:

"Two days earlier, at 11.30pm on December 26, Murdock was arrested after drunkenly banging on a neighbor's front door with such force it was as if he were trying to break inside. He reportedly fought with cops when they showed up, and was ticketed for resisting arrest and assaulting an officer. He was taken to hospital after banging his head on the inside of the police car he was being held in.

Just a few hours later, at 2.40am on December 27, Murdock left the hospital and went back to the neighbor's home to bang on the door again."

I assumed the police beating was administered as he was drunk and resisting arrest.

or his injuries were self-inflicted from having a psychotic breakdown ?

Yeah i can't help but think he was having a bad time, went a bit deep in the bottle, and the cops, rather than picking him up and getting him home safely, curb stomped him, thus exasperating the situation.

People in such a binge/breakdown mental illness episode absolutely do misperceive interactions with others, imagining persecution when there is none. Or, blame their own self-harm on others. Or, continue raging against both people and objects in ways that endanger themself and others until nasty amounts of force are applied.

You have to trust the reactions of the friends/family who have witnessed decades of a person's behavior – if they're not concerned about injustice, it is unlikely strangers on distant discussion boards have more insight into what the deceased faced.

Resisting arrest and the other charges against him are pretty serious in the legal system in the US. I imagine the prospect of jail/probation and other consequences weighed down heavily on his mind; since he had already been in a pretty bad state with his breakup etc.

This is rather sad since it could definitely have been prevented. A network of close friends and family is absolutely necessary for people like Ian, who seemed to be of the solitary type (something I and I assume many others in this community can relate to). For such a person, problems with relationships can have deep emotional consequences...and this seems to have been a situation that spiraled out of control.

I don't know enough about it to comment on it myself, but I saw comments elsewhere that apparently bruises appearing post mortem are quite common and those people appeared to think that was the likely cause of the bruises indicated in the autopsy.

Found where I read those comments and it has also been updated: https://www.reddit.com/r/linux/comments/4rlar5/official_repo...

You don't get abrasions post-mortem, however, and if it were post-mortem bruising, you'd expect it in parts of his body that were lower than others. Having bruises and abrasions on his front, back, sides and face is not a natural thing that happens after death. It's a thing that happens when you're roughed up - if you read the autopsy report there are a variety of injuries that you'd have to try pretty hard to inflict on yourself, but are absolutely consistent with being beaten and thrown to the ground, and then having someone dead-drop knee-first into your back.

Honestly, I understand him killing himself. In the same scenario, potentially facing 15-25 years in prison for a felony (being white would likely help keep him out of jail, but being a geek with aspergers would not), I would likely do the same, as in the US there is no life after prison.

This is interesting, actually - unsurprisingly, the US is the most punitive place on earth if you assault a cop, although I can't see how you could assault a cop in the US, given that they're armed to the teeth and usually in full armour, and usually sat in an armoured and armed vehicle.


> they're armed to the teeth and usually in full armour, and usually sat in an armoured and armed vehicle

This is absurd hyperbole.

Have you ever been to the US? Your use of British spellings suggests you are not from here.

I have lived in the US for decades. I have personally seen hundreds, perhaps thousands, of police officers in socioeconomic contexts ranging from high crime inner city ghettoes to wealthy suburbs. 99%+ were walking around in an ordinary uniform, not sitting in a vehicle (much less an "armoured and armed" tank), were not wearing any kind of armor (much less "full armour"), and were not "armed to the teeth" in any sense, unless you consider carrying a handgun to be "armed to the teeth."

Are you deliberately trying to mislead foreigners who haven't ever been here into thinking that the US is some sort of militarized police state, or merely repeating secondhand reports from far-leftist news sources that are politically motivated into making foreigners think that about the US?

I lived in Chicago for ten years. I know the US, I remember what it was like in the 80's and 90's, and I see it now and shake my head.

The US is becoming a militarised police state.

> I can't see how you could assault a cop in the US, given that they're armed to the teeth and usually in full armour, and usually sat in an armoured and armed vehicle.

Fortunately the militarization of the police has not gone that far yet, at least in NYC, the extent of armor the police wear usually stops at a bulletproof vest, and for the most part they only carry handguns. Armored vehicles are rarely used.

The lacerations are solely on the front, upper portion of his head. The police report said that he had been banging his head while in the police car, which can certainly explain those lacerations.

The abrasions are predominantly on the left side of the body. If you imagine that he started the suicide sitting on top of the (left, from the view of the door) railing, facing forward, and then he fell off the railing towards his left as he fell, you can explain most of the abrasions by the railing or the balusters scraping him hard as he fell, ending up (as he was found) in a prone position, head facing upstairs. The upper right back and right front shin abrasions are the hardest to fit in geometry, though.

Without more detailed models of the house geometry and the bruises/cuts/scrapes on the body, it's hard to make a better judgement, but the evidence as it stands doesn't refute the official police report.

>This is interesting, actually - unsurprisingly, the US is the most punitive place on earth if you assault a cop, although I can't see how you could assault a cop in the US, given that they're armed to the teeth and usually in full armour, and usually sat in an armoured and armed vehicle.

Ah, I see you've watched the Ferguson riot videos.

Using the same process, I have concluded cops in the UK always carry shields and wear helmets with full faceplates, and that the UK military patrols minority neighborhoods in full battle gear including automatic weapons.

I found the fact he was visible from the front door to be interesting. Most houses in SF do have awkward staircases in front of the door so I guess it's plausible... The door doesn't appear to have the greatest visibility inside http://imgur.com/vaSsAFx

Tragic end to such an influential person.

A few months back I was researching debian and found out that the name comes from a combination of Ian and Deb, his then girlfriend. I obviously never knew him personally but his legacy will live on.

Especially with stuff like Raspbian, so many future programmers will be exposed to his work.

A neighbor told the city's investigators that Murdock had just split up with his girlfriend and was facing eviction

How is someone so well known in the software industry so hard up for money that they are facing eviction? Far lesser engineers than he have never had problems earning enough money to get by. The whole thing is very sad, and clearly money wasn't his only problem, but it's one issue that someone with his resume shouldn't have been facing.

There are other reasons to get evicted besides not paying rent. We don't know why the landlord wanted him out.

Pissing off the neighbors could have something to do with it.

I mean, what are the chances this is the first time he's acted crazy?

If you're worried that someone you know might be suicidal there's a free app (Apple and Google Play) that should be helpful.

It's for the UK, but most of the advice is transferable to other countries.

They're in the process of getting more academic review.


Does anyone know if there is a relationship between Aspergers/Autism spectrum and suicide? I know one person who I think is on the spectrum, doesn't know it, and suffers serious depression at least in part due to her lack of social success.

Yes, there's a correlation between ASD and both attempted suicide and completed suicide. That might be because of the increased risk of depression in ASD, or the increased risk of physical health problems, or it might be something about the ASD itself that makes it harder for people to get help. The numbers are surprisingly hard to find, and other diagnoses are probably higher in the list.

Here's good quality information with a focus on those people who were "known to services": http://www.bbmh.manchester.ac.uk/cmhs/research/centreforsuic...

Here's recent data for young people. http://www.bbmh.manchester.ac.uk/cmhs/research/centreforsuic...

Here's some great information about different areas of the UK (this one is for suicide, but there's a bunch of other stuff there) http://fingertips.phe.org.uk/profile-group/mental-health/pro...

Here's the Office for National Statistics data sets:


(Be careful with these. Sometimes people counting "death by suicide" use a different definition for suicide.)



We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12050733 and marked it off-topic.

> Offensive, but, given two PoC shot dead in 48 hours by police, certainly not unfounded.

> Racism is deeply embedded in (US) police, and it deserves to be called out.

Ian Murdock is white. This isn't a "PoC" issue, and the colloquial slavery expressions are out of place and offensive. Yes, racism is an issue with US police, but it is unrelated to this occurrence and to this conversation.

And secondly, Ian was violently attempting to break into a neighbor's apartment by bashing down the front door. What exactly do you think should happen in such an instance? I'll tell you what I'd do -- I'd want the police to come as quickly as possible and deal with it, using whatever force is necessary to stop the in-progress home invasion, because if an intruder breaks through my door I have no choice but to shoot them until they're stopped, and I don't want that on my conscience. I don't have the skills or training to determine between mentally deranged people and killers, nor could I effectively or safely use non-lethal methods of self-defense.

I understand the points you're trying to make, but none of them are applicable to this specific situation, in which the police actions were entirely warranted. Put yourself in the shoes of the person whose home was being broken into, think about how scared that would make you especially if the attacker was a physically stronger person than you are. We need the police to stop violent crimes in progress, and they have to use violence in response. And hell, given that they didn't seriously injure him, it sounds like they used the right proportional amount of force as was necessary. Unlike possibly the two high profile fatal shootings in the news the past two days.

You've got to pick your battles. I don't think the Ian Murdock case is a good one.

> And secondly, Ian was violently attempting to break into a neighbor's apartment by bashing down the front door. What exactly do you think should happen in such an instance? I'll tell you what I'd do -- I'd want the police to come as quickly as possible and deal with it, using whatever force is necessary to stop the in-progress home invasion, because if an intruder breaks through my door I have no choice but to shoot them until they're stopped, and I don't want that on my conscience. I don't have the skills or training to determine between mentally deranged people and killers, nor could I effectively or safely use non-lethal methods of self-defense.

Jesus fucking christ.

Here's what I did when a burglar Climbed up scaffolding on the building next door, climbed onto my roof, kicked a roof-access hatch in and gained entrance to my loft space.


No killing needed.

Maybe different from a violent angry large man battering down your door just to get at you? Offers of tea are reputedly less effective in that case.

I didn't know it was different when I offered him a cup of tea. He'd already kicked in the roof hatch and was inside the house.

I'd have done the same if he'd been kicking the door.

> Offers of tea are reputedly less effective in that case.

No, they're not less effective, and this might by why the US police kill hundreds of people each year, especially people with mental illness.

You might want to read some of the de-escalation stuff coming from the English NHS at the moment. Lots of it comes from forensic settings (where people are there with a criminal justice involvement) or settings for people with behaviour seen as challenging -- exactly the kind of behaviour Ian Murdoch is described as exhibiting.

Obviously "kill the patient" isn't an option. But people still talk about the need to reduce frequency of seclusion and length of each episode of seclusion; or about reducing the frequency of rapid tranquilisation and reducing unplanned injection into buttocks vs managed oral administration.

Positive and Proactive Care: Reducing the need for restrictive interventions:https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/positive-and-proa...

Physical Restraint in Crisis care: https://www.mind.org.uk/media/197120/physical_restraint_fina...

Violence and aggression, short term management in mental health, health, and community settings: https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng10

None of this guidance says "escalate it".

I feel that in addition to there-could-be-a-gun culture [0], a large component of the escalation in the US is due to Hollywood's constant portrayal of oversensationalized violence. We're taught to intensely identify with a helpless victim and then root for a domestic military arriving in overwhelming swarms, yelling and shooting.

This is what people expect to be the norm, and apply the same narrative to real-life stories - eg the rise of terms like "home invasion" in lieu of "breaking and entering". My heart would be pounding as well if someone were banging on my door, but how much of this is due to being primed by a culture of constant passive-aggression rather than attempted understanding?

I assume you can't escape exposure to at least some US movies. How do you perceive such media? Are they just rare enough that you effectively compartmentalize them as foreign films and not representative of your own culture?

[0] which shrug imho at this point is impossible to fix via fiat, but let's agree to disagree

Ok I don't know, I wasn't there. But on the face of it, somebody sneaking in through the roof, and somebody violent at the front door who doesn't care if he's seen or heard, seem different things entirely.

They didn't sneak. I've said twice now that they "kicked in" a roof panel. That involved literally kicking it and stamping it, with full force, to break it.

Yeah I get it. Not the same as the front door though. Which was available to the thief. And not somebody you knew, yelling your name, trying to get at you. Did I get that part wrong?

the Racism cops have isnt black or white... its blue and not blue....

only poor people run into this and rare is it you get to see them post to HN / other social media in a way they are deemed relevant

Not that I don't agree with you, but there is this little thing of US citizens carrying guns which is far from customary in Europe... So I guess the US cops do operate in different environment.

That said, I don't condone police violence and think that in this day and age ALL work of the police should be on camera. Camera doesn't work? Get out of uniform right away, you are no longer a cop.

Citizens dont carry guns in california without having a friend who is in law enforcement to help them get a concealed carry permit

German cops are not brutal? If you cause ANY type of disturbance on the street in Berlin, they simply dispatch a massively overwhelming number of riot police to come and beat the living crap out of you.

I saw numerous riot police deployed in full gear several times per month when I was in Berlin, more every single month than the grand total of all the riot police I have ever seen during several decades in the US -- and always dispatched to what seemed to me like very minor incidents, such as 20 people holding an anti-gentrification protest, peaceably holding signs and chanting. But if they don't have a formal permit (which must be obtained months in advance...) out come the billy clubs.

Maybe they use guns less often, but those clubs are not for show.

Locals told me with a mix of irritation and pride that the Berlin police are the second-roughest in Europe, after Belfast.

Berlin is a failed state.

The riot police in Berlin is abused by Interior Minister Henkel as his personal bully crew to provoke left-wing activists, in order to produce riots on the streets, which Henkel can then again use in his election campaign (you can google "Rigaer 94" for more details). I'll be in Berlin on Saturday for the big rally, I'm pretty sure it will be yet another display of police brutality. All in order to fuel a personal election campaign.

It's disgusting and a shame to German police.

(disclaimer: I'm Bavarian, and have a cop in the family)

What happens if you hold an anti-gentrification protest on the streets of Munich without having obtained a formal permit in advance?

Yes, the use of riot police is exaggerated in Berlin, but comparing it to a "failed state" seems rather absurd. Damascus or Baghdad are doing a whole lot worse.

That reminds me of how I'd see people on the subway platform shaking their heads sadly and complaining that "Berlin is such a disaster; public transportation in Berlin has fallen to third world levels" when a train was (rarely) 1 minute late.

It's not just the police.

- the disaster called BER

- failure of basic public services (there are even talks about canceling the upcoming election because the citizens cannot register, due to a combination of gross mismanagement and ancient hardware)

- schools are literally falling apart and even urgent repairs cannot be done because of authority issues (who is supposed to pay for what); alone the schools would need 5B € to fix, not to mention the other public buildings

- corruption scandals

- gentrification

- complete disregard for human rights in regard to refugees

> the disaster called BER

BER is basically ready and only held up by zealous scrutiny, while there's no hurry to close Schoenefeld.

> failure of basic public services (there are even talks about canceling the upcoming election because the citizens cannot register, due to a combination of gross mismanagement and ancient hardware)

Is that because of the increased burden of immigration?

> schools are literally falling apart and even urgent repairs cannot be done because of authority issues (who is supposed to pay for what); alone the schools would need 5B € to fix, not to mention the other public buildings

It's like, the internet was never invented and teachers in a crowded room are the only source of knowledge. It's also like pupils actually wanted more intensive classes and that fails because ... the buildings are old? However, I guess it's highly unlikely that buildings are going to collapse like the factories in Bangladesh. Sure, there's mold and leakage in older buildings, to the point that whole schools are transfered. There are more schools torn down than are built every year, at least in my end, the east. Berlin is big and growing fast. Berlin is big, it's an infrastructural problem that rivals any other European city. Anyway, the children, some, are just as violent as the police or they'd want to be, at least. The unemployment rate for young people is unusually high, so the problem goes deeper. University funding OTOH is increasing in a downward economy. I'd call observer bias because, same as with BER, the story is milked by the media.

- corruption scandals

Sure, there is clear evidence for police brutality for example, but on the other hand, the laws are overall lax compared to New York or Bavaria.

- gentrification

Seems like the fix for lacking school funds, ironically.

- complete disregard for human rights in regard to refugees

"complete" is completely unfair. OTOH, Me and you dwelling here doesn't directly help starving people in Zimbabwe, either, AFAICS.

Your argument of association doesn't solve the question of undue violence in Murdock's case.

I'm not sure about Berlin but I heard that Bavaria is frequently called Polizei Staat with a lot of policemen in civil clothing on Munich streets, care to comment on how it compares to Berlin?

tl;dr: Berlin cops hate left-wing activists with a passion, but ignore "casual law breaking", Munich cops are not very violent but very pedantic otherwise.

Berlin is anarchy, police brutality and power abuse at its finest - I'm interested what the result of the Rigaer 94 rally in 20h will be.

Munich cops don't engage in open violence, esp. not plain-clothes officers, but they do fuck you over for smoking weed, crossing a red light as pedestrian or riding a bicycle on Marienplatz with no mercy. That is what is meant with "Polizeistaat".

> Berlin is anarchy

Perhaps you could gain some perspective by traveling in Somalia for a few weeks. Berlin is nowhere close to "anarchy"; this is absurd hyperbole that simply weakens your overall argument.


We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12050667 and marked it off-topic.

For the people downvoting the parent comment:

After an officer pushed me flat down from a sitting position (at an impromptu, peaceful sit-in), another pushed his knee in my back, and started punching me in the ribs multiple times (eventually bruising one) and crying "he's resisting arrest!" until I summoned enough strength to push up a bit, release my right arm from under my body, and put it behind my own back, at which point the officer stopped punching and crying. I was not resisting arrest, but the fact that my arm was pinned under my own body was enough to make the claim. Oh yeah, they smashed my glasses too.

If you read the autopsy it's absolutely consistent with pretty much exactly this - big bruise in the small of his back where someone dropped knee-first onto him, lots of smaller bruises on his shoulders, sides, and big bruises on his arms, where someone gripped him like a vice.

I'm surprised more people don't go tit for tat on cops that do that. It's shocking that cops's reputations are not ruined permanently, and to the extent they cannot continue in their jobs and living in their communities when they use extralegal punishment.

Going 'tit for tat' on people that carry weapons and are totally within their rights of using them on you when you go 'tit for tat' seems like a career limiting move to me.

There is a lot of space between doing nothing, or filing a complaint that gets thrown in a wastebasket, and having a lynching. Why, for example, don't we have in-depth media coverage of the cops who did these killings? What are their backgrounds? Do they have a history of extralegal violence? What are their community connections, and do those have anything to do with them not having been arrested for, at least, manslaughter? Should the community allow the PD to shield them from publicity and protest?

Some officer-involved homicides do attract increased scrutiny of the officers:

Darren Wilson (Michael Brown): http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/08/10/the-cop

Daniel Pantaleo (Eric Garner): http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/daniel-pantaleo-fatal-ch...

Timothy Loehmann (Tamir Rice): http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2015/01/timothy_loe...

Peter Liang (Akai Gurley): http://nypost.com/2016/02/04/partner-reveals-why-he-didnt-tr...

That's a good start. Until we have first-world performance levels the reputational hit from beating, much less killing, people should be enough to to prevent that cop from continuing to work as a cop, and to force the PD to institute the training and reform needed to prevent that happening with other cops.

Erm, internal sanctions don't seem to work - that's the state of affairs we currently have.

For actual justice, cops need to be subject to the exact same law as everyone else. The mens rea of premeditation usually increases the severity of a crime, but presently for cops it's seen as excusing it.

I think you're lost, here http://www.infowars.com is where you probably meant to go. You're welcome.

That's a pitiful sentiment, that intense press coverage of thuggish police should be considered "conspiracy theory" of some sort. It's consumerism, in the way the first world people expect their food not to be contaminated, or our cars not to catch fire.

Based on his state, it seems plausible that he did assault officers, and that they did have a right to use force against him to end that assault and take him into custody. Your offensive inaccurate slavery imagery notwithstanding.

Based on his state, it seems plausible that he did assault officers, and that they did have a right to use force against him to end that assault and take him into custody

Assault, or self-defense? How do we know they didn't initiate the assault?

The police were on the scene because a citizen had called in an attempted live home invasion of someone breaking down their front door. Ian is the one who started the violence. It's very plausible to me that someone in that deranged of a state will continue being violent once people show up.

I don't understand how so many people are willing to overlook the circumstances of what happened. Put yourself in the shoes of the terrified people who was woken up in the middle of the night by someone trying to break into your house. Imagine what making that panicked 911 call would sound like. The police were protecting the community from Ian. Home invasion is not OK.

Ian is the one who started the violence.

Let's not jump to conclusions. People say things that aren't true, and things get distorted as they move through layers of reporting and blah. We don't know if he was actually trying to break down the door or not, and we don't know what happened in between the time the police call was made and the time the police arrived. And we don't know if the police used only the minimally necessary amount of force when dealing with Ian.

Look, I'm not saying that they did use unnecessary force, but I've learned that one should not trust what the police say as simply being true and accurate on its face. Question everything.

It seems equally plausible, also based on his state, and on the oh-so-glorious track record of US police, that police officers did assault him, and used excessive force on a man who appears to have needed help rather than an impressive array of injuries and $25k bail.

Your offensive presumption of innocence of law enforcement notwithstanding.

He was in the process of attempted breaking and entering on someone's house. Everyone is glossing right over that fact. This is not some innocent man who was randomly beat up by the police. He was committing a violent crime and it sounds like reasonable force was used to stop it and protect the other citizens who were endangered. Read the other responses I've left for more.

I'm actually quite critical of the police in most situations, but this is one in which I side more with the people whose house was getting broken into than the one perpetrating that crime.

No, he wasn't. He was banging on their front door, admittedly hard, but that doesn't constitute breaking and entering anywhere, as he neither broke nor entered, nor was attempting to do so. If you want to break and enter, you use a window, not the frigging front door.

Also, if it were breaking and entering, they would have charged him with that. Instead, it's "Suspicion of intoxication", "Resisting Arrest" and "Assaulting a police officer", the latter two being the default charges for when you don't actually have anything worthwhile to charge someone with. 10 cops for Suspicion of Intoxication? Shit, we'll get it in the neck from the super for this one - better make it look good.

Please do show me where he was charged with breaking and entering, if I, and the coroner, have missed something.

From the neighbour's account in the autopsy report, it sounds more like they were concerned for him than scared. Hell, I've had drunken idiots pounding on my front door before, and I wouldn't consider beating them to a pulp for it, nor would I approve of, if I had called the police, them beating the poor sod to a pulp.

Also, if beating a door is considered a violent crime that warrants beating a human being in retaliation and placing a $25k price on their head, then that's a pretty damn sad place we've ended up.

> He was banging on their front door, admittedly hard, but that doesn't constitute breaking and entering anywhere,

Well, breaking and entering isn't actually a defined crime in Califorinia. Burglary is, and while Murdock certainly couldn't have been guilty of that based on the reports, he could potentially have been guilty of attempted burglary (which is also a crime, though iffy in this case), or trespass, or probably a number of other crimes.

> Also, if it were breaking and entering, they would have charged him with that.

Police don't really "charge" anyone of anything. That's the prosecutor's job.

> From the neighbour's account in the autopsy report, it sounds more like they were concerned for him than scared.

You are misreading the report. The incident reported to the coroner's office was not the banging that got Murdock arrested. The neighbor reported that Murdock came by to apologize on the day he hung himself. He was arrested on Dec 26 and Dec 27. The knock the neighbor reported was Dec 28. (I have no idea if this was the same neighbor or not.)

maybe the neighbour or an attorney or whoever could didn't press charges.

Everyone is glossing right over that fact.

No one is glossing over that fact. Some of us are saying that there might be more to the story, and/or that the facts might not be as reported. On the other hand, they might be. But a certain measured degree of skepticism seems prudent.


We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12051299 and marked it off-topic.

This is moronic. Even if you believe that all police are bad actors, it doesn't make any sense that they would be randomly attacking Murdock as he described. Is it impossible? No. Is it far, far less likely than Murdock having a psychotic break and lapsing into paranoia and confusion? Yes.

> This is moronic.

Please don't break the HN guidelines with name-calling like this, no matter how wrong another comment may be.

Your comment would be much stronger and more convincing without that first bit.

Fair enough. I clearly violated the guidelines since the "don't do this" example is exactly what I did. I can't say that's my mistake, but it is my fault.


Attitudes like yours are unhelpful. If all police are fundamentally evil, then there can be no conversation about how to fix the problems with police abuses. If all police are not fundamentally evil, then people like you poison the well and make it more difficult to discuss and maybe fix some of the problems. If all police are fundamentally evil, then people like you are wasting everyone's time anyway. Either way, you're not helpful.


Attitudes like yours are poisonous in general, not just on HN.

And yes, your paranoid belief that all police are evildoers just waiting around every corner to assault strangers is moronic. Your paranoia is stopping you from engaging in rational thought about the police.

its not paranoia... its experience

When you believe that police waiting outside a random person's house with the goal of pointlessly attacking them is more likely than a psychotic break, that's paranoia. When you think all police are fundamentally bad people, that's paranoia.

Autopsy?? The article clearly states the police found him with a cable around his neck.

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