To me, the (standard) overreaction by the police makes arguments minimizing what the gamer did here even harder. Unless you live under a rock, you're aware of the controversy about armed police response in the US. Surely this gamer knew that, and called a fake report in anyways --- one involving an active shooter and a hostage.
I'm with Ken "Popehat" White: what the gamer did here is homicide. We can argue about the degree.
† really, in almost all cases in the US, "assault officers", and we should separate the two concepts, stop hiring new assault officers, and start hiring a new class of less-armed police officers
It turns out there's already a concept in US law that captures this:
I don't see police accepting this, and it is hard to not feel kinda hopeless about the situation, since it is linked pretty tightly with the 2nd amendment.
An incredibly difficult - but more possible - response is to raise accountability for police officers and their actions. As it stands now, it is virtually impossible for a police officer to face serious repercussions for shooting someone, no matter how bad it was.
Seven years ago, in Detroit, a SWAT officer threw a flash grenade into the wrong apartment and hit a sleeping seven-year old girl with it, then shot and killed her. He was cleared of any wrongdoing and is still a police officer. In the case of Michael Slager murdering Walter Scott, there was video evidence of him shooting an unarmed man who was running away, then planting evidence on him - jurors refused to convict him, and it wasn't until he pled guilty to other charges that he actually had to serve time.
It feels like these things happen on a weekly basis, and judges and juries are perfectly happy to side with police no matter how egregious the shootings are. We, as a society, have basically said the police can do no wrong when it comes to shooting someone, and the consequence is that a lot of innocent people are getting killed. Until that changes, I don't see how the police will change their practices at all.
Disarm most police:
Even in countries where the police doesn’t carry guns, the equivalent of the Swat will always do.
But Swat teams must be aware that Swatting is a thing, and should have no expectation when they break into a house to find fully rational people. It’s not a crime to be drunk at home, or to have taken sleeping pills and to not respond quickly to a bunch of guys shouting orders at you in the middle of the night.
Policing is also becoming a lot safer, despite the rhetoric that things are getting worse and police are increasingly “under attack.”
Having to prove racial discrimination in jury selection is an absurdly high bar, and usually impossible.
As the thread below noted, it's not fair to have historical conditions that produced winners (white men, countries with colonies, etc) and then make things more equal by saying "That's all over" and failing to recognize the results of previous injustice that are still embedded in our lives.
I could have offered other suggestions. I specifically said 'juries that roughly reflect their communities in racial and sexual senses'. I don't feel that's an unreasonably burdensome ask in pursuit of Justice.
Edit: Or just downvote and move on, that says something too.
At this time, this comment has positive karma. At any rate, complaining about down voting distracts from your very good point.
A more fruitful approach might be to try to make the pools more balanced. Getting more community participation in the justice system seems like a very good thing at multiple levels.
I'm all for throwing people in jail if they don't want to serve on a jury.
1) Do you think this is politically feasible? Being seen as "tough on crime" is almost never a bad thing in any kind of election, and what you are proposing feels decidedly the opposite of that. Further, even if you aren't disarming existing officers, they have unions and a fair amount of political clout.
2) Do you think you could find enough people willing to do this job unarmed?
3) I definitely see how this would lead to less escalation in a lot of situations (escalation seems to be the default behavior of police now), and it could prevent some of the high-profile police shootings that have been in the news lately. But it also seems like a high percentage of them (the one in this SWATting situation, Michael Brown, the 6 year old in Bexar County last week, Aiyana Jones) would be handled by armed officers anyway, so that only solves part of the problem, right?
Having said that:
1. Yes, I think it's feasible. Not in DFW or Maricopa County, but test cases in places like Madison and Columbus? Remember: big cities already have people like this --- parking enforcement, traffic direction --- and most cities are facing pension problems due to the assault forces they already have.
2. Clearly we can find the people to do the work. TSA staffs unarmed people at checkpoints designed to catch armed terrorists. Big cities already put unarmed officials in adversarial contact with citizens.
3. It only solves part of the problem. But I'd hope that by gradually relegating assault officers only to those scenarios where escalation was known to be required going in, we'd eliminate the kinds of snap-judgement mistakes police make in routine confrontations that end up with firearms deployed.
I guess the one part I remain a skeptic about is whether or not people are going to be ok with it, much less demand it. It feels like the underlying attitude towards policing is the sticking point - the same attitude that lets police literally get away with murder would also prevent people from demanding unarmed police.
Perhaps I overestimate how pervasive this attitude is, especially in big cities. It is definitely something I'd love to be wrong about.
As to 3, the UK police do escalate sometimes, and I think some of their behavior is disgusting, but at least it results in non-lethal harm (and hopefully disciplinary action) when there are no armed units involved.
Exactly. Expecting police to go to an active shooter / hostage situation unarmed seems rather flawed. That said, I think many other situations police officers are in don’t warrant being armed.
Like many I watched Die Hard and Die Hard 2 over Christmas, and it struck me how deeply the rogue, trigger-happy cop is embedded as a folk hero in American culture. The real life John McClain is George Zimmerman or Mohamed Noor. You guys have got to stop making these movies if you want to make any progress
Then I remember seeing 24 and thinking the entertainment industry wouldn't make that mistake again.
Also note that Hans Gruber is not exactly an example of average citizen and was shown committing several murders (not to mention a row of other felonies including hostage taking) before McClane has even a chance to encounter him. This is exactly the case where police officer is justified to use lethal force - unlike, say, woman in her pajamas calling the police because she heard a strange noise in her backyard. Constantly confusing these two is exactly the reason why no sensible discussion happens in US public debate about it - it's either "police can do no wrong" or "always blame the police, even if the other side is Hans Gruber".
Come on, one of the main characters in the Fast & Furious franchise is a rule-breaking cop. The archetype is alive and well.
It is actually the entire society that is happy to side with police.
Consider many people in the US owns gun, maybe it's because of those officers are fear of death (It's very normal) so they tend to act first to save themselves?
As an outsider, I don't think it's a good thing to allow people to own a gun. Because people are different in general, some easy to anger, some more likely to hurt other. It doesn't mean they are naturally bad, they may just need longer time to cold themselves down. And gun is too quick and lethal, ripped than chance from them.
If people need to protect themselves, maybe allowing them to own a taser instead?
All my friends who have guns own them because they hunt, like shooting them as a hobby, and/or like the feeling of power it affords.
Besides the above, how did that recent uprising in Catalonia work out...
Tweet, hold signs, vigils, hashtag whatever.. Without the blood of sacrifice and guns to make it painful, those people were really just pissing into the wind.
When we look back on these incidents they seem horrible, but if you give someone a gun and give them a reason to believe their life is in danger you're probably going to get deadly consequences. It's obvious to us that the cops life wasn't in danger in the instances you mentioned, but people are fallible and they may have brought past trauma or prejudice to the incident. It's probably extremely rare that a cop actually wants to murder someone and is looking for the right opportunity.
That said, if cops had better non-lethal alternatives to guns, we could save lives. Something that is more effective than tasers and works immediately at a distance. The cops objective in a potentially deadly situation should be to immediately incapacitate rather than kill.
"Standard overreaction" by the police is to my mind a bigger problem than the homicidal intent of the fraudulent calls. That kind of overreaction is a force multiplier for anyone with ill intent towards the US, never mind immature, violent and mentally ill people within the US.
I don't disagree with the idea that there is culpable homicidal intent for the prank caller, of course.
Police violence does seem like the "bigger" problem --- not that the difference tells us anything about how we should handle the ostensibly "smaller" problem. But I'll suggest that there's a "big" problem behind SWAT-ing, too: the way technology intermediates between agents and consequences, abstracts away externalities, reinforces the rationalizing techniques our brains use to salve themselves when violating fundamental inhibitions. In some circumstances, we even celebrate these effects, which seem to me far more menacing than a lot of mind-altering drugs.
At this point, I am not sure the people who go all the way to make the phone call to SWAT someone are somewhat detached from the consequences. I would put it on the same scale as loosening the bolts of someone’s ladder.
The intentions and consequences are clear, even if the “accident” might or might not happen and there is some indirection. The very fact they have to choose specific channels to make the call, or spoof caller id makes them explicitely cross the boundary of the “joke”.
Also I believe a sizeable fraction of Us is not beyond wishing someone’s actual death during a long enough period to act at least partially on it. I see it as human nature. But up until now we didn’t have a button in our hand to press it to kill any random person within some probability.
all of which are regulated, unlike calls to SWAT..
In what sense is a call to SWAT regulated?
Guns, cars explosives etc are things, and it is possible to regulate their possession wrt individuals that may misuse them.
A call to the police is a service, and is not the same kind of thing since anyone might witness a crime and need to call the police, even unreliable individuals; whereas few people need explosives (esp without a demonstrable need or credentials), and depriving an unreliable individual of e.g guns or a car, is unlikely to be as harmful to third-parties as limiting access to the services of the police.
The gang mentality that gets trained into police is problematic. They are told they are "warriors", they're told to use lethal force quickly, they're told that the sex they'll have after killing a human being will be the "best sex of their lives". It's sick:
You've conflated employing fraud with direct use of force.
Fortunately, the law draws a fine line between the two. You must prove that swatting somebody presents the same probability of death as detonating a pipe bomb. The truth is there is far more successful SWAT operations that doesn't result in death of innocent lives. Out of the SWAT pranks, only a few results in death. Therefore, it does not pose the same direct harm and high probability of death that a pipe bomb would.
He's conflating employing fraud to harm others with direct use of force. Put another way, should it matter whether you caused harm (and I'm assuming that means physical harm for this argument) using fraud or whether you paid someone to inflict it?
I think perhaps you interpreted the harm from fraud he was referring to as financial harm, but this specific issue is all about fraud that caused bodily harm.
I think it does matter, for the simple reason that people who are willing to commit violence, up close, with their own hands, have a very different psychology than people who are willing to do harm but still (presumably) have the normal human instincts that make them not want to do it personally.
It's one thing to kill; it's quite another thing to be willing to (or take pleasure in) literally get your hands bloody. The latter is the mark of an dangerous psychopath.
The manner in which a crime is committed affects all stages of the legal process, including sentencing, jury deliberation, and those considerations will certainly also affect how a prosecutor decides to charge someone.
If you're saying that someone hiring a hitman has the exact same probability distribution of getting charged (let's say, given airtight evidence in both cases) compared to someone who pulls the trigger, that seems like a very strong and surprising claim.
If you're saying that 'in theory' both crimes would rate a certain type of murder charge, that sounds reasonable. Even then though, the prosecutor would certainly be able to tack on other charges (e.g. assault with a deadly weapon) that tangibly affect the outcome, from plea bargaining onwards.
And that seems correct? One of the goals of the criminal justice system is to prevent future crime, so to the extent that the manner a crime is committed reveals information about the future threat level of a criminal, society (and by extension, the legal system) should take that into account.
> The cops didn't shoot soon as he opened the door. They commanded Andrew Finch to put his hands in the air, he did then put his hands down. They tell him to put his hands up again. Then he drops his hands by his side again. The cop that shot him thought he was going for a gun. Andrew Finch wasn't following directions of the police and the officer made a mistake and Andrew died, but he would be alive today if wasn't for those two morons on the internet that started the whole thing. The Cops legit thought a dangerous situation was happening and I believe they had good intentions. The amount of time to react to someone pulling a gun and killing you is milliseconds. It's bad that they shot him but the weight of all this falls on the people the winded up the machine and sent it to an innocent family.
If it was indeed homocide, the prosecutor needs to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the guy who called SWAT would be able to predict the course of events. The fact that he swatted others before and walked away will point to the fact that this was indeed a prank gone horribly wrong.
I'm just looking at the facts and the more they come out, I get that you are emotional but I'm not defending the guy, but that it's a stretch to say the person swatting was trying to get him killed, rather than say using pipe bombs or hiring hitman which show intent to kill.
It's clear there was no malice aforethought here which you repeatedly claimed without any examples or arguments to back it up.
I'm sorry but this is just how the law works in America or any developed country anyways. We can't have populism and mob mentality run the courts because they are not based on logic, evidence and impossible to separate bias from the truth. Am I happy that these guys will probably walk away? Absolutely not, but I am speaking from a place of clarity and reasoning, not turning to angry blood lust.
In the case of SWATting, the fraud is obviously meant to jeopardize the liberty of the targeted subject, and the jeopardy of their life at the same time is highly predictable, even that doesn't let the police officers off the hook.
How would "being a lot more sure" help here? If you mean the police should verify information more thoroughly before responding, then that comes at a direct tradeoff in response times. If instead you mean police should respond swiftly but not bring out the SWAT teams without more verification, then that could pose a (different kind of) safety issue for responders and potential hostages.
The issue here is more one of militarized police tactics. When you're trained to respond to any threat, any sudden move, with overwhelming deadly force, then deadly outcomes will happen.
To begin, talk of swatting someone ought not be sanctioned on these communication channels. Mod down the comments or suspend their privileges/account.
We agree, use of force is far to casual in the US, especially with the reduced rate of violent crimes.
In the time being, we could also start dealing with the false positives directly. For example, while SWAT is gearing up, the operator could ask who is calling and how they learned of the issue. Without that information, the odds of a false report go up and the trigger bias should be going down.
How exactly would that help? Swatting is by definition fraudulent callers claiming to have firsthand knowledge of an issue -- in this case, he pretended to be a hostage taker.
Better hoax detection training is a fine idea but swatters are determined adversaries. It's going to take more than just asking a couple basic questions. And since real emergencies are often signaled by imperfect and limited inbound information, there is only so much that can be done to filter out false positives. I agree with Krebs that this is primarily a matter of police use-of-force training and stronger action against swatters.
 911 recording starts at 10 minutes: https://www.pscp.tv/LJSNicholeManna/1lPKqponlzQxb?t=9m10s
I think you're getting close to someone people don't like to talk about; we (as a society) seem to value the lives of police officers far higher than we value the lives of innocent "civilians". This seems entirely backwards to me - I'd strongly prefer that police officers effectively never fire first. Let the SWAT teams be very highly armoured and lightly (or non-lethally) armed.
And are they actually taking great personal risk? Police killed a bit under 1000 people in the US in 2016 and had around 150 officers die (with lots of this vehicle related). Seems like it's riskier for people interacting with cops than the cops themselves.
It's not applicable to what the swat has to deal with: hostage situations, armed fights, bombings, etc... they can't hold on the phone forever and do nothing.
The sanctity of saving innocent lives from state abuses is a hard fought lesson of history that we should not take lightly. Any time the state abuses this there should be serious consequences. Not a civil lawsuit paid out by taxpayer money.
That's a bit extreme.
First, because illegitimate aggression isn't just accepted by quite a lot of people, there is vocal debate and public outcry over it. Which is good.
Second, confirmation bias may be amplifying your fears here. According to the Guardian (https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/ng-interactive/2015/jun/...), there were about 1100 people killed by police in 2016, and almost 1200 in 2015. And some portion of those were likely justifiable (and maybe even saved lives).
To get killed by police is not quite as unlucky as getting struck by lightning, but the odds are about 1/295,000 for the former.
It's hard to overstate how completely alone the United States stands when the stats are compacted: 
Australia had 94 fatal police shootings between 1992 and 2011. The U.S. had 97 in March of 2015.
England and Wales had 55 fatal police shootings in the last 24 years. The U.S. had 59 in the first 24 days of 2015.
Illegitimate violence from the state (the police) is actually common enough that I have seen it many times in my life; and I am a White, law-abiding person who makes a point to stay out of trouble.
I feel extremely safe and have always had friendly encounters with police in both Europe and East Asia.
Note the official stats don't include scenarios such as the ones around Gary Webb or Ian Murdock. We won't ever know what really happened, but they're extremely suspicious.
How we calibrate our personal fears and existential anxieties in light of all these bad things, is a different matter.
The context of a World War - even more so than that of any other war - makes it much easier for any government to do what it likes. Which most often means to kill lots and lots of people.
What I argue is that such context is very different from a time of peace. It's not really fair to include WW2 atrocities when talking about the number of deaths caused by guns in a peace-time.
The GP tried to do exactly that, which I disagree with in itself, and moreover forgot to include any other "government [that] murdered millions of unarmed civilians" in their argument. I don't have a strong opinion on whether Hiroshima and Nagasaki were a good or bad idea, I just pointed out that, in that single operation, the US government effectively "murdered hundreds of thousands of civilians". Again, that's nothing surprising, nuclear weapons are designed to do just that.
So, again, it was war. People die in wars. That's what the wars are for, basically. Now, since then, we're at peace (here in Europe, at least). The number (and rate) of deaths caused by guns during this peaceful time is overwhelmingly higher in the US than in Germany. That's it, I don't mean anything else, just that this is a fact and that mentioning Auschwitz is not a valid counter-argument for this.
Germany also had economic warfare waged against them and this should not even be controversial--even mainstream "modern-day priests" like the hugely influential economist Keynes had said this.
That said the Japanese empire was an evil one, like most empires, but when the bombs were dropped on civilians the war was already over--that is why Eisenhower said "there was no reason to use those things."
Police violence is an issue but way overblown for most people -- violence from other citizens far outweighs the police risk.
Compare to third world countries where you can easily be murdered in broad daylight surrounded by people, over a few hundred bucks, and the murderers face very little chance of being caught, let alone convicted.
Of course the best solution is to move to a country with great demographics equalling no crime or police violence, but those are becoming hard to find.
1: Turns out if you report (online with no followup) one of your licence plates as having fallen off your $300 car, cops might do a "felony takedown" on you, your 100 lbs wife, and 1 year old daughter. This apparently includes aiming handguns at your head while giving instructions like "lift your shirt up from the top".
Canada, The UK, Australia, New Zealand - those are the english speaking ones that meet your criteria. After that, most countries in the EU, Nordic countries, most countries in Asia would also be considered to have less crime and police violence than the US, while having comparable or superior social services and demographics (most but not all, countries in Asia - Duterte isn't making any friends recently).
Wait, what? That's the kind of statement that just begs for a followup. Did they say what they thought was going on to justify that response?
I got new plates soon after that, I never found out what happened to mine.
But if so you would think the criminals would learn to swap plates instead, as who looks at their plates that closely?
Telling the police someone has murdered several people and is armed and has taken hostages is likely to result in SWAT responding with potentially deadly force, because that's what they're supposed to do.
That's not at all equivalent to a proof that "calling the police on someone is likely to result in them getting killed."
I understand the anti-police contingent in these threads tends to be strong, and the feeling is often justifiable, but let's not pretend what happened here is a typical police response, even in the US.
I'm British and the words you just wrote sound insane to me.
The key point here is that the threshold for the use of lethal force by the state should be much, much higher than merely an anonymous call. If that makes me "anti-police" then I'm very happy not to live in your great nation.
That's what makes this crime so evil: the people doing it are deliberately trying to put the police in the worst possible scenario. Police need more training and better procedures and they are certainly abusive, but it's this exact situation --- when it's really occurring, and isn't just some troll --- that drives most of those abuses.
Especially if the call is anonymous with few concrete details -- the police should consider why does this caller know the info they know? Why is the call anonymous or otherwise untraceable?
How many times have lives been saved by SWAT entering after a call like this vs an innocent person getting injured or killed? How many anonymous, untraceable calls to 911 have even turned out to be legitimate?
Of course "going in" does not mean shooting indiscriminately.
Apart from call tracing, I'd expect simple things like whether the caller stays on the line and cooperates with the dispatcher (vs hanging up immediately) to be quite predictive.
Actually going inside seems like it should be the last resort
I don't know how often hostage scenarios as extreme as you describe actually occur in the USA, but I read about instances of 'swatting' constantly. Given the false-positive rate of such reports, it's no surprise that sending military-style squads to 'shoot on sight' ends in tragedy again and again.
Often. Mostly domestic violence barricading scenarios, which are usually handled by front-line officers with sidearms and negotiation. SWAT deployment is usually discretionary at such a scene, predicated on an active shooter, and anticipates forced entry. In an active shooter scenario, front-line officers will typically defer to SWAT to force entry, given the risk.
But yes, it does happen. A lot of domestic violence ends badly.
I'm no fan of wife-beaters, but somehow every other nation on earth has figured out less violent ways of dealing with them. Yes, in many cases "the way" is to simply accept that wives will get beaten. Admitting this is no more an acceptance of police violence than admitting that not all nations are governed with perfect justice would be an acceptance of all of our damned wars. This is a "won't somebody please think of the children?!" level of argument.
People can obviously do plenty of damage beating each-other with objects, slashing with kitchen knives, or whatever, but guns seem to lead especially often to escalation from shoving to instant death.
When police show up, if someone has a gun everything is a lot more difficult/dangerous.
Collect some evidence? Absolutely.
I get the point about guns being important to protect against a fascist government, but then I literally see a p protest march by Nazis armed with assault rifles...
So should we take away rights so the government feels less threatened? That seems like the wrong reason.
"The government" - that's supposed to be the way we organize ourselves and stand up together to above things we believe in as a nation. While that's not always working well talking about it as if its given that it's a malevolent, suppressive regime is only going to make things worse. The US finally needs to do its wild West mentality and arrive on the 21st century with the rest of the civilized world.
Asking the most armed government in the world to eliminate gun violence, by using their guns?
The cost:benefit of the second amendment is way out of proportion, IMO.
I don't actually disagree with you. The use of lethal force was the mistake here, but the presence of force was justifiable. The problem is how easily one seems to lead to the other. What should have happened is the police realizing their force was unnecessary and then standing down.
Also, if someone were to call in, say, a terrorist threat or a bomb threat in Britain, someone would show up with guns there as well. You know, because Britain also has their equivalent to SWAT teams. With guns. That they shoot people with.
Not that 'shot dead from across the street as soon as his hand twitched' is justifiable.
“A male came to the front door,” Livingston said. “As he came to the front door, one of our officers discharged his weapon.”
Perhaps it previously had some other claim about the circumstances, but if so it has since been revised to remove it.
"They're trained to properly identify targets before shooting, knowing that they will be required to justify their actions in court."
Obviously, they neither properly identified their target nor did they have to justify their actions in court.
I think the balance is about right and nothing like the USA. More importantly the jury of peers, in the coroners court, thought the Met Police failed on Health and Safety grounds but not the individual shooters.
The big difference is, there are fewer opportunities for armed police to screw this up. There are far fewer of them (heavily armed police are the exception, rather than the default) and they are not nearly needed as often (the citizenry is not as heavily armed). The policy that largely prevents the mistakes is what really helps, rather than having better armed police or better post-cockup inquiries (both of which, to me, seem fairly debatable).
We're not going to get anywhere with such silly caricatures, and they are dangerous in themselves -- just ask Dallas. May be something to keep in mind while we're on the subject of indirect culpability.
I'm not sure where you thought I was being nationalistic. I stated my nationality to make the context clearer. My country is an odious cesspool in many ways. We're just lucky not to have a fully militarised police force.
The *use* of lethal force was the mistake here, but the *presence* of force was justifiable.
That isn't the problem (at least primarily). Claiming that there is a serious hostage situation with the possibility of serious violence (perhaps even a potential murder) seriously escalates the risk and hostility of the situation. I didn't say potential hostility; the claim itself directly increases the perceived threat level of the situation, even if it isn't credible. A team of people responding en masse with weapons at the ready further escalates the tension of the situation and the hostility of the room, even if their weapons are never used.
The end result is a very tense situation with everyone - on all sides - ready to jump at anything that might be a threat. Fortunately there is at least some evidence that in "most" swattings, cooler heads eventually prevail and nobody gets shot. However, evaluating potential threats is always going to use the faster but less accurate "System 1". The higher the tension level, the greater chance that someone's mind will make a serious mistake, which can easily result in a cascade of everyone recursively responding in ways that probably compound the mistake, which is when people tend to get shot/stabbed/beaten/whatever.
The solution is that there needs to respond to situations that are less likely to escalate the situation to greater levels of hostility. Once it turns into a "charlie foxtrot", it's too late. However, if a streamer's prior notification to the police that, should any threat be called in regarding their address, if the police pound on the door, they can expect the stream to walk outside peacefully to talk, maybe the dangerous escalation where they breaking down the door and pointing guns at everyone can be avoided. They can always fall back to that strategy if nobody comes out to talk.
edit: added 's missing footnote and URL
 of any type - a bunch of people storming a room armed only with batons is still an escalation of violence.
Should this not be responded to with lethal force available? You're going to get a lot more people killed that way. Obviously the error rate should be reduced as much as possible, but a naive approach of ignoring calls without a lot of validation would be a disaster.
I imagine it would be really easy to fake some verification anyways, and coordinate a SWAT with two callers.
The way your police acts is retarded. No other country would respond with such backwards way to a simple single call.
calling this homicide
OTOH, some codes specifically address false reports of emergencies producing death, avoiding any need to address indirect homicide.
There's a pretty good description of how that works here -
This case, a repeated offender (he did many calls like that) who made highly specific buggy claims (armed hostage taking with already dead hostages) with the intend to arm or kill the target (see his message) and a trace of everything (see twitter messages and recordings).
It's a perfect school case. It makes perfect sense to charge him for murder. Everything is the worst it could possibly be with the worst possibly aggravating circumstances.
Can't wait to see the proceedings. Won't be surprised if they make an example out of him.
Justified police shootings are not homicide by any definition.
Yes, they are; they are pretty much the textbook example of justifiable homicide.
They aren't criminal homicides, but not all homicides are criminal.
> the deliberate and unlawful killing of one person by another; murder.
If you're just charging the officer and not the entire swat squad, then you're admitting that that officer stepped out of line of what the swat call should have done. In that case, there's no homicide case against the caller.
In this case, ONLY the officer should be charged with homicide.
Two people can be equally and severally responsible for something.
But what about the Muhammad cartoonists in Europe? Drawing a caricature of Muhammad is not a crime in Europe, however it will result in angry reactions in the Muslim world, and people (often Christians) getting killed there. The cartoonists know that but proceed nevertheless. Are they in some way responsible for those killings? I’d argue not but many disagreed then. But drawing the line of where responsibility stops being shared is non trivial.
A CoD player who isn't mentally impaired or something specifically sending in a SWAT team on a target who is shot by the team should be charged first degree at the start. Similarly for anyone else that clearly knew what a SWAT team does from games, movies, or other media. Prosecution might act mercifully from there depending on the circumstances. They better know they can do first-degree, though, with enough locked up to hopefully be a deterrent.
I do fully agree about the person who made the call also being culpable, but it's dangerous to buy into the idea that cops don't have any moral agency when they're on a call.
If you're going to send a group of people armed with guns into a harmless but tense situation there's at least a chance that something really bad is going to happen.
And for sure it shouldn't be like that, where cops can and will shoot you given any justification. But "swatting" isn't a funny prank at all and it's sickening that it's even a thing.
The question is why are American cops so much more likely to find themselves in these situations?
I think first and foremost Americans are just a more wild and criminal people. Our murder rate is much higher in general. So there are going to be many more situations that really do justify the use of force. You can't change this easily.
But the police take the real threat and hype it up. American cops do have to fear someone shooting them. But the police take that fear and train as if they are going to be under fire at any moment.
I've seen a police training simulator made by a major weapons company. The simulator had a scenario where the office spoke to a homeless man with his hand in a bag. You were supposed to make him show his hands. At the end the man points the bag at the office and shoots a gun hidden in the bag. It's a ridiculous scenario and it is designed to teach the office to fire his weapon because someone MIGHT have a weapon.
The cops are basically taught to shoot first and ask questions later.
The public isn't outraged because most of the people who get killed where already playing with fire. It is taking the publicizing of these instances were innocent people die to get people to notice.
The reason that cops are so nasty in the us is because there are so many guns. It's a different environment than other Western countries, and calls for different police tactics.
Unless guns are removed from the equation somebody is going to die. Either use a heavy handed police force, and civilians will die, or use a police force with a lighter touch and police will die.
1. use expendable police materiel to scout out the situation of a dispatch in advance of sending in any actual police bodies (e.g. police drones with fancy optics.)
2. send people in heavily armored rather than heavily armed. If you can make your SWAT team immune to bullets (such as by, say, encasing them in an Armoured Personnel Carrier), then they're not going to be feeling threatened and shooting anyone.
#1 is pretty universally useful. You can figure out who has guns and who doesn't.
#2 is more situational, because our best solution for heavy armor right now—APCs—have no good way of entering your tenth-floor apartment. This is why I'm constantly checking up on the progress of military robots and powered armor: the more invincible you can make something, the less it needs to actually kill anybody to do its job. The ideal here is a combination of robot-police and human-in-exosuit police that don't even need guns, because nothing they are sent to deal with is ever really that dangerous to them.
It's way easier to figure out ways to pierce armor than it is to develop it. Green-tipped ammunition is more than good enough to pierce all common and easily-worn body armor today.
Besides, if you send people in heavily armored, they are going to feel threatened by nature and will be more trigger happy.
The motorcyclist has a gun in his pocket, and shoots the cop without warning.
How will your proposed solutions are going to do anything in that situation?
Sorry to rant, but this attitude of an amateur thinking they know better than all the professionals who have been doing their job for many years, and can propose quick fixes that will solve everything, is ridiculous.
Is being a cop scary? Hell yeah and I feel bad for those folks, but if you don't want to constantly be in fear of your life, get another job.
Put cops who murder innocent civilians in jail. End of story. This shouldn't even be a debate in the U.S.
EDIT: Since I had the goal posts moved on me, I want to make it explicitly clear that a cop should be allowed to kill in self-defense, just like any other lawful citizen.
Consider two civilians. If A shoots at B, and B shot back and killed A, should B go to jail for murder?
Now just because B happens to be a cop, does he lose all his rights?
You've just created a pure strawman. Cops should never lose their rights! I am not making such an argument, and I don't see how you got there from my points. I would never argue such a claim.
The cases I'm talking about are not self-defense. They are like the story above. If A murders B, and A is a cop, then A should go to jail regardless of the fear A had in that situation. But this is not what happens in the United States. Cops don't go to jail for shooting perfectly innocent people because the cop can claim they were afraid for their life and thought that B had a gun.
If I'm a civilian, that defense doesn't fly. But if you're a cop, then it does work. That is a flaw in our justice system that needs to be corrected because a perfectly innocent man can be killed by the state and no repercussions are felt.
The state should never be able to kill an innocent man. If they are shooting at you, they aren't innocent. But if you think they have a gun (especially in an open-carry state like Kansas or Texas) then they are innocent and should not be killed.
EDIT: I am saddened by the downvotes. Does the state have the right to kill innocent people if those people own a gun? Doesn't the second amendment protect against this? I simply do not see the legitimate argument for allowing such behavior. This just seems like rabid tribalism for police.
If you're talking a cop straight-up murdering someone, and it getting covered up, then, of course, that's wrong.
I think there is a lot of gray area between these two scenarios, however. I also think if there was a ban on guns that would solve most of it.
My point was that your video seemed out of place since the actual issue is that cops in the U.S. are held to a different standard for murder. If cops were held to the same standard, then they could be held accountable for their crimes and some of the public outrage would be alleviated.
If (for the sake of argument) the amount of guns in this country were significantly decreased via a ban and the police still held to a different standard, police would still be able to kill an innocent person out of fear for their life. Racial biases could also cause a cop to be more fearful in a situation and still kill an innocent person without consequence.
I also think that changing how police are prosecuted for crimes is much easier than repealing the second amendment in the U.S. (although both would face fierce opposition).
That video was part of a specific response refuting the idea that if the cops just used drones and body armor, there wouldn't be a problem anymore. I did in no way intend to imply it was a counterpoint to the main story. I don't know why it's being perceived in that way.
> I also think that changing how police are prosecuted for crimes is much easier than repealing the second amendment in the U.S. (although both would face fierce opposition).
Yes, but that runs into the trade-off I was talking about. Either you have a heavy handed, "shoot first, ask questions later" style police force, or one with a lighter touch. In the first scenario, more civilians are killed. In the second, more cops.
Only by banning guns can you reduce casualties on both sides.
If you just want a gun for self defense or murder, they are cheap. Buy a Hi-Point or a Ruger LCP for $175 and a box of 50 9mm and now you can kill more people than you'd ever have a reason to.
Do different us states invoke SWAT teams with different rates, so it's known how many policeman are hurt?
Unless you can remove the guns from criminals, the cops will need guns.
It doesn't seem like the choice for most American cities is between armed cops and unarmed cops. It's between armed cops and no cops. Why would anyone sign up and expose themselves to that level of risk?
Killings by officers in US: 1140
Killings by officers in England: 3
Deaths of police by shootings in US: 41
Deaths of police by shootings in England: 0 (about 1 every other year)
Population of England: 54 million
Population of USA: 325 million
England has 7% of the deaths per capita compared to the USA. I couldn't find data on Germany, but I suspect it's similar.
In general, I think the idea of having people being able to defend themselves against the government is a good idea, and people having the right to have guns was a way to achieve that. But with the amount of power the government has nowadays, I don't think it's a justification anymore.
Overall, in Central Europe the differences in fatal police action per capita is essentially noise.
Just because there's a temporary lull doesn't mean that the problem has gone away permanently, yo.
Once your country has been around for a bit longer, you will also have a long history with plenty of atrocities to point back at.
How many native Americans were killed during the "colonization" of the American continent? Or do these not count because they hadn't been US citizens back then?
With the sole exception of the U.K., our government has been around longer than every other representative democracy on the face of the earth. Note that France is on its fifth attempt at a republic. We won't even mention Germany here.
> Or do these not count because they hadn't been US citizens back then?
They were mostly killed by European colonists operating under European rules, just like the atrocities that the European governments perpetrated on every other continent of the world.
I was talking about countries, not governments, these two are not the same, even tho the parent comment would like to pretend they are.
In that regard, it's still very dishonest to compare Europe, with its often centuries-old animosities between countries in a very small space, to the short history of the USA being a thing, in which it had mostly only had to deal with Mexico and Cannada in terms of "neighbor conflicts".
> They were mostly killed by European colonists operating under European rules
That's even more dishonest, it's not like all that changed and native Americans were recognized as such, as soon as the US got founded, and everything was perfect after that.
The US has the luxury of being rather isolated, thus the vast majority of conflicts can easily be externalized, usually to a completely different continent, with barely any real consequences for the US population. It's for that very same reason that the US been involved in some kind of "war"  pretty much constantly in its 200+ years of existence.
It's for exactly that reason that so many US Americans have been a-okay with these armed conflicts, as the vast majority of them never hit close to home. No US American alive today does know what it's like to have militarized conflict in, or at, their countries borders. Which probably also explains, in part, the massive overreaction to 9/11.
Now you can argue not all of them are "real wars" but rather "interventions" or "anti-terror missions" or whatnot, but let's be real here: That's simply schematics to keep on selling this state of affairs to a US population which is starting to be pretty fed up with sending their kids overseas to die for often very questionable reasons.
So what's the point of still letting citizens keep them?
Don't run away from German cops, they can legally shoot you!
My German isn’t very good so there’s a good chance I might be missing something.
It doesn't matter whether they care about the law or not, it's about making it harder for them to get a gun regardless, and being able to confiscate them if we catch them. It worked in Australia.
And it didn't work in Mexico, Honduras, or Nicaragua, all of which have more in common with the United States than Australia does, and all of which have a) strict gun control laws and b) breathtakingly high murder rates.
...The things some people say to justify guns...
However gun culture and the prevalence of gun manufacturers in the US may make it practically impossible in the near term, but it definitely is possible.
Guns are not the issue. The issue is badly trained people and the idiotic mentality.
"Whether you can say we're 20 per cent better off, 80 per cent better off, is subject to debate... But the bottom line is, if [the reforms] had the effect of reducing the number of guns that are available to Australians, it is strongly correlated with the gun homicide and suicide deaths on the wane."
"Data from the Australian Institute of Criminology shows the rate of homicide victims dying from a gunshot wound has dropped since the reforms came into force, but not consistently in every year."
"ABS data indicates the rate of assault by firearm causing death has also declined since the reforms, but not in every year."
The only credible argument against gun reform that article gives is that correlation doesn't imply causation, which is of course true. However, that's not an argument against the common sense position that gun reform decreases gun deaths, but an argument against this specific type of study (which OP didn't mention at all).
In this case there’s a clear case of premeditation and targeting of an individual, which is genuinely different from the depraved heart statute. At the same time however, it’s going to be hard to prove intent without relying on something like the statute in question. This really does feel more like murder one, albeit with a very unreliable weapon.
TWO things went wrong here. Not one. The criminal who made the fake call was to blame and the police officer who shot an innocent and unarmed occupant is also to blame.
There will be always crazy pranksters. We have laws to prosecute them but they can be out of country, so we really cannot fix that.
But we can fix the second thing that went wrong. We can ensure that police is trained not to kill wrong person in hostage situations (i.e., it could be that there was some hostage situation but person going out was the actual hostage).
In the history of media, there have always been a small fraction of maladjusted people who cannot distinguish the fantasy of the medium from reality. ( Here's an example from 1774. Search for "suicides" http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Storm_and_Stress ) These instances are rare, in the same way that instances of "swatting" are rare. There are multiple reports of such accounts, the damage each such instance produces is outsized for the planning and effort to pull it off, and the details are quite lurid. However, as a fraction of the general populace, the affected population is tiny.
I say this as someone who counts himself in the gamer camp. I have seen firsthand, adults who are gamers transfer the morality they learned in their online community -- where the consequences are only in the context of games -- to the running of real world organizations. People can be treated as fungible/disposable. Truth and morality doesn't matter -- if the system allows it, then it's all fair game. This is quite different from the false and long debunked notion that the fantasy violence in media can lead to real violence -- precisely because of the demarcation between fantasy game-world objects and real people and the real world. When you shoot a soldier in-game, people know full well it's not something real that just happened, and the object of such treatment is objectively not real. When someone "kills" a prostitute in a Grand Theft Auto game, there is literally no victim. However, when someone sh#t-talks another player, the human mind on the other end is quite real, and the emotional impact is intended to be every bit as real as if the event happened in person. The game is fantasy, but your fellow players are real human beings, and the moral experience gained through the interaction between fellow human beings is also real. So too, the moral experience gained through the running of an online organization of real human beings is also real.
It's widely acknowledged all over the internet, that the reality of the humanity of people on the other end of communication is somehow often forgotten. The real emotional toxicity of such behavior is widely acknowledged in the gaming community and over the general internet as well. These things aren't in question. The things that are in question are 1) what it means and 2) what we should do about it. Without question, the toxicity of online interactions is due to an online disconnect between communications and consequences. It is a failure of the mechanisms which regulate the social animal Homo sapiens. There are entire libraries of novels and nonfiction books about how the breakdown of aspects of the social fabric reduce human interactions to might-makes-right brutality. Perhaps it's progress that all of human nastiness moves onto the digital realm and away from the world of flesh and atoms. Certainly, the immorality and nastiness of even attempts to regulate/counter the general toxicity seem to devolve down to the same level as the general toxicity itself. Perhaps the existence of walled gardens is akin to the building of town walls and the rise of feudal lords. People in the real-world 1st world adhere to the rule of law and generally live by principles. People in the virtual 0th and 1st worlds are still in a feudal world of rule by force and of personal/tribal loyalties taking the place of principle. Perhaps it should be no surprise that the nascent moralism of today's online world often resembles medieval moralism in its acerbic irrationality and absolutism.
A couple years back, some vulnerability researcher friends found a series of horrible security flaws in a very popular pacemaker brand. Does anyone here really doubt whether, if fully weaponized exploit scripts for those flaws made it to the wrong IRC channel, some depraved asshole would kill a stranger for "lulz"? I don't. Technology is amplifying something truly bad inside of us. Maybe it's worse than we think; see: the Fermi Paradox.
I think you probably underestimate how common SWAT-ing is. I have relatives with no unusual connections to the grimier communities on the Internet who have been SWAT-ed after disputes in video games.
It's easy to underestimate unless you've listened to it happen tens of times in a single hour.
The calls take two minutes or less, individuals have literally been competing on how many they could do within a single day.
"I'm at 725 5th Ave, I've shot a bunch of people and will shoot any police that come" Takes only seconds to say and would almost guarantee a heavily armed police response.
There must be thousands, possibly over ten thousand of these incidents every year.
It's a shame we can't have any reliable statistics based insight into exactly how often it happens because of the widespread policy amongst US police departments of not collecting and/or publicizing such data. The Obama DOJ was attempting to correct this trend (in a collaborative manner, which was the only available avenue) with many such departments, but cancelling that policy initiative was literally Jeff Sessions's first policy action as AG.
Me too. I often wonder how much worse the results of a modern-day Milgram experiment might be.
This is one of those things that keeps me up at night. I've instructed my wife and children that if police ever come banging on the door, get on the floor, face away from any entry points, call 911 immediately and negotiate compliance over the phone.
I'm with you until that part. For one thing, many SWATings result in no-knock entries - even if you're prostate and facing away, holding and manipulating a phone, and/or continuing to talk through a phone instead of responding to the verbal commands of the assault officers are both Bad Ideas imo.
In any case, my advice does not preclude obeying orders if an officer is pointing an MP5 at you and telling you to put your hands on your head-- it's too late then, so just comply and hope for the best.
Perhaps I need to look into that more. However, also note that not all instances of SWAT-ing are equal. How often do they result in fatalities? I'm sure that Sturm und Drang novel readings resulted in quite a few more family arguments and morose journal entries than resulted in suicides. Maybe I should rephrase that to fatal SWAT-ings.
No disagreement here.
This seems to be the first publicized incident. Pets have had worse luck in the past though.
I think this applies to that theory only if we assume an evolution of strong small group tribal mentality of species in all cases. For all we know, that could be a requirement for intelligent high-technology using life, but there's not a lot of facts about that to my knowledge.
> Perhaps the existence of walled gardens is akin to the building of town walls and the rise of feudal lords.
> People in the virtual 0th and 1st worlds are still in a feudal world of rule by force and of personal/tribal loyalties taking the place of principle.
I think those are the money quotes right there. It's important to remember that there are many people that can remember life before the internet, and had to learn as they went, and those are the people that the younger ones that grew up with the internet saw as elders and the people who set norms. It will probably be a few generations until we get to a normal cyclical situation where the pendulum swings back and forth between online behavior, privacy, etc. We're not even close to knowing where there center/average is on these issues yet.
As someone who has been using the internet since before the existence of the World Wide Web, the younger generations who came along happily ignored many of the preexisting norms and groupthinked/made up their own.
What's more, this sort of thing happened again and again in smaller, less global contexts. Programming is termed "half a field" by Alan Kay because it forgets its own history. There is a tremendous tendency for human society online to re-invent its own body of knowledge whole cloth, ignoring what has come before in a way that further propagates ignorance.
Well, nothing happened in a vacuum. It may have appeared they ignored it, but some behavior may have been specifically in rebellion of existing norms.
It's chaos currently, but I think we'll be able to identify trends in future decades.
> What's more, this sort of thing happened again and again in smaller, less global contexts. Programming is termed "half a field" by Alan Kay because it forgets its own history. There is a tremendous tendency for human society online to re-invent its own body of knowledge whole cloth, ignoring what has come before in a way that further propagates ignorance.
I think there are explanations for this. The main one being that Computer Science is much too large a field for areas people are expected to use it later. It's like not having Engineering as a Major, much less the subcategories such as Mechanical, Civil and Aeronautical engineering, and just expecting people to have a Physics or Mathematics degree.
Of course that results in a lot of people reinventing the wheel, because so much of what you actually were exposed to relevant to what you're doing comes from employees who happened to have interests in that area or your own research of whatever material you can find, of which it's all pretty new (relative to most other fields), and a lot of it may have been kept as trade secrets (or seen limited exposure which is why it's hard to find).
Of course this is all exacerbated by ungodly amounts of money being thrown at these people to develop something quick and get it out and iterate on it before someone else can.
Computer Science isn't half a field, it's the spoiled child of the sciences, where money smooths away all the problems and mistakes are never learned from. That doesn't paint a good picture for the future (and now I'm depressed, but at least feel I have some job security :/)
From the wiki page you linked:
>defendants commit an act even though they know their act runs an unusually high risk of causing death or serious bodily harm to a person.
That definition could apply to manufacturers and vendors of firearms and weapons.
Police (and soldiers) operate on unreliable information all the time. They should be held equally responsible. I've heard plenty of veterans deployed in actual warzones show more consideration for human life. Whoever makes the call to pull the trigger needs to accept the consequences. Being a police officer is extremely difficult and dangerous, and is compensated accordingly.
Of course, the police are not here to keep you safe but to ensure society keeps functioning for those who control their payroll. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warren_v._District_of_Columbia
Worth a read, the excellent book: The Rise of the Warrior Cop, that goes at length to explain why we have reached this point and how bad it gets.
Here's an article from the author as well:
From the video seen online, it appears that the victim made a sudden movement when blinded by the lights after being confronted by SWAT. I think it was too trigger happy, but we have the benefit of hindsight. I feel terrible for the victim.
Agreed. People with agendas seem to try to twist this into an either-or situation. But both the "swatter" and the cops who shot are in the wrong here.
> and that calling in a false report with the hope that it will provoke an armed response is effectively an attempt at homicide.
Since the guy was killed, I'd say it was homicide rather than attempted homicide. But I think both the swatter and the cops should be tried for homicide and both should be found guilty or neither should.
I disagree. I am not a US citizen but where I live there are two things to take into account before qualifying a crime: the consequences and the intent.
I am pretty sure US laws have something like that https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intention_(criminal_law)
>> Depraved-heart murder is the form of murder that establishes that the willful doing of a dangerous and reckless act with wanton indifference to the consequences and perils involved, is just as blameworthy, and just as worthy of punishment, when the harmful result ensues, as is the express intent to kill itself.
So prosecutors will have to find out about the intent.
The concept of felony murder originates in the rule of transferred intent, which is older than the limit of legal memory. In its original form, the malicious intent inherent in the commission of any crime, however trivial, was considered to apply to any consequences of that crime, however unintended.
Swatting involves sending anxious humans with military grade weapons to an innocent person's house. Those anxious humans are trained to kill. If you Swat someone, and that person ends up dead, you're the reason they died -- and I fully agree it should be treated as a homicide, manslaughter at a minimum.
In your scenario, you are a hostage taker. You've taken both me and the other person hostage with the threat of murder...
Ensuring there are consequences for people who act immorally may help address the systemic issues, of course.
Not an American here - what is the controversy?
That seems difficult to prove. I used to spend a shitload of time on WoW where I wouldn't watch what was going on with the world. Some people lose touch by immersing in games, and Trump has taken over the news anyway within the last year. Not that I'm defending the dude, but wouldn't bringing up something that's difficult to prove hurt your case overall (IANAL obviously)?
There should be more than enough to simply get the guy on calling in a fake hostage situation, or hopefully homicide.
Clearly, he's well aware of what happens.
that requires malice aforethought which must meet the following criteria in some jurisdictions in US:
> Intent to kill
Just because they called SWAT doesn't show intent to kill. Hard to prove even if the accused has threatened to kill the gamer because calling SWAT is not like calling a hit squad.
> Intent to inflict grievous bodily harm short of death,
Reckless indifference to an unjustifiably high risk to human life (sometimes described as an "abandoned and malignant heart"), or
Intent to commit a dangerous felony (the "felony murder" doctrine).
So this is where the problem lies with your argument. The accused did not call or hire assassins which would suggest intent to kill. The accused could not physically hurt or threaten the life of the deceased by calling SWAT because that would mean its common knowledge SWAT are hired guns.
At best involuntary manslaughter makes sense. If there was a law in place before this event, specifically aimed at protecting people from getting SWATTED, then there's a small chance in escalating the charges.
I'm equally frustrated at the lack of laws and punishment to deter SWATing, but this is a side effect of the militrilization of local security apparatuses.
But like other tragedies in America, it will do little to deter the trend, as it is clearly divided on excessive force. Proponents will claim guns will keep the government in check....against a suite of surplus military hardware used to invade a few countries.
This is a systematic problem, charging one man will not fix the situation. Of course, after this case, people stupid enough to swat each other are going to find an increasingly less sympathetic jury. But it will happen and SWAT is not suddenly going to stop and ask if it's legit or not.
It's incredibly cowardly and shortsighted to traumatize using security apparatuses meant for true emergencies, over some ruffled egos, in a virtual, ephemeral electronic world.
Maybe they'll get manslaughter on a plea.
The level of culpability, not least the causal connection here is hundred fold weaker. Casual reading of the law rarely lines up with established case precedence.
At the precinct, defendant admitted that he stole the minivan, exceeded the speed limit, and swerved into oncoming traffic as he fled the police. In explaining his driving, defendant said he tried to avoid hitting cars and pedestrians, and that he did not know the neighborhood well and drove down the one-way streets by mistake. Defendant said he was lost when he ended up on Manhattan Avenue, and that he was avoiding cars as he evaded the police. According to defendant, he was going against traffic and looking in his rearview mirror for the police immediately before he struck the victim. When he looked forward again, defendant said he saw the victim and that he thought he "hit the girl in the hand or something." When he saw more people and traffic two blocks later, defendant decided to crash into the parked car to avoid hurting anyone else. He also expressed remorse for his actions.
It's easy to make the argument that SWAT-ers do the opposite of what this person did and are in fact more culpable: they deliberately, competitively, and with care create circumstances optimized to put lives at risk. They don't just call the police; they call fake active shooting incidents to the police.
Read the case you just cited. It overturns a depraved indifference conviction and so goes deep into the details on this.
> "Depraved heart second-degree murder requires a conscious disregard of the risk, sufficient under the circumstances, to manifest extreme indifference to the value of human life. Recklessness that can be assimilated to purpose or knowledge is treated as depraved heart second-degree murder, and less extreme recklessness is punished as manslaughter. Conviction of depraved heart second-degree murder requires PROOF that the defendant acted recklessly under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life. This language describes a kind of culpability that differs in degree but not in kind from the ordinary recklessness required for manslaughter."
So yes, you still need to show proof beyond a reasonable doubt that this was a prank gone wrong. Unless the accused called assassins, it's going to be hard to argue intent.
Ordering armed people who expect to fight an armed murderer with multiple hostages is not a prank.
> According to the article, allegedly two Call of Duty players were threatening each other over a $2 bet. One call of duty member gives the other a fake address when the other threatens to SWAT him. Police go to the fake address and shoot somebody. Guy who got shot couldn't have possibly prevented the situation and is ironically the least at fault of anybody involved.
There is no proof that the accused party intended to kill, in fact it was a random address that another third party had posted, and somebody decided to pull a prank that went horribly wrong.
Involuntary manslaughter is the unlawful killing of a human being without malice aforethought.
Of course I'm not a lawyer but I refrain from allowing emotions to taint the lens of truth. I've yet to see any constructive counter arguments from you, instead you've sidetracked the debate by attacking my character.
No, in the example you've presented, that is directly demonstration of intent to kill using a device (a gun) that has high probability of death. That is not the point I've made and you are attempting to bend what was said.
Conviction of depraved heart second-degree murder requires PROOF that the defendant acted recklessly under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life.
"There is no proof that the accused party intended to kill"
It does not require that they "intended to kill." It just requires that they "acted recklessly under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life." You find it hard to believe that anyone could consider it reckless (and indifferent to the life of the victim) to send a team of gunmen, who you've explicitly instructed to be on high alert?
Assuming this player is in an extraditable country, I predict he's going to rot in jail for the rest of his life. It's not like he was playing CoD through TOR. He won't be hard to find.
So yes, it's a very short matter of time before police start knocking.
Who are you trying to fool here?
Trying to get the target "accidentally" shot is the entire point of SWATting. If it weren't, they would have called family and child services to fraudulently report child sex abuse, animal control to report an escaped rabid panther, or any number of other government bodies that don't show up to the party with fully-automatic assault rifles.
The victim was shot because he refused direct police order and endangered himself by making the SWAT thinking he had a gun.
The guy calling the SWAT is an effete asshole but there's no way he could've predicted the endangerment that the victim put on himself by directly refusing orders to keep his hand up (he didnt and he was shot thinking he was pulling a gun).
So if you wanted to prove intent to kill, you'd have to
1) Show the probability of getting killed by SWAT vs Hitman is the same, which the judge will throw out as intent.
2) Show that the SWAT caller could've predicted that victim would put himself in danger by disobeying a direct armed officer.
3) Retrospectively show intent to kill in previous SWAT calls the perpetrator has been charged for.
This is just the harsh realities of court. It's very hard for prosecutors for cases like this, especially when the public is so skewed to one version of the story. It's ironic that such zealous energy from the mob crowd will only hurt the case, the internet and the mob mentality doesn't prevail against examination of facts and evidence....
Hence this is why I stopped pursuing a legal career...because I realized that true justice will rarely be delivered. To convict someone, you need more than just conjectures and emotional response, you are up against highly intelligent defense lawyers who are expert in raising doubts in those that react with emotion, not logic.
Nonsense. The point is to cause incredible inconvenience to the victim, not to kill them. Most of the time the cops will probably waste a few hours of your day, and make you look pretty bad in front of your neighbors.
This is quite possibly the first death after thousands of swattings, it seems unreasonable to assume that the perpetrators wouldn't be aware of how rarely this actually happens.
Didn't think so.
I simply believe that the vast majority of the people engaging in this activity do not do so with the intention of actually killing the victim.
I don't expect there to be a significant decline in swattings.
I believe deaths caused by swattings are far too rare for that to be a common motivation.
Just a "prank", for the most part... An entirely unforeseen circumstance and byproduct of merely trying to "inconvenience" the victim...
>Trying to get the target "accidentally" shot is the entire point of SWATting.
Is usually not correct.
So when you react with such vulgar statements and continually attack others who present facts and evidences against your conjecture, it's hard to take you seriously.
You keep thinking the accused somehow had blood lust without even looking at all the pieces. It's so easy to jump on the bandwagon, but there's always those that choose logic over passion, this is what the legal industry is about.
This may be the first death as the direct result of a prank call, but it is far from the first accidental death as the result of a swat team being deployed.
If inconvenience were truly the goal, a prank call to child services that launches an investigation would work much better. But that's not the outcome the caller actually wants to see happen.
SWAT teams are not deployed by the police when they think that it is likely that they will need to behave inconveniently to someone, they are deployed when the police think that it is likely that there will be a need for overwhelming deadly force.
The point of falsely triggering a SWAT team is not to cause inconvenience through police.
The point of triggering a SWAT team is to deliberately risk someone's life.
Great white sharks rarely eat people.
However, if I admit to having deliberately pushed someone into the water with a great white shark to see what would happen and then they get eaten, quoting the probabilities is not going to impress a court very much.
Unfortunately, it wasn't as if the SWAT team were going in guns blazing. The victim specifically chose to put his hands down when ordered to keep it up. He failed to do so and that resulted in his death.
Seeing the huge number of SWAT cases, this is the first time that I'm aware of, where a person has been deceased. To make the argument that calling SWAT team to somebody's house is akin to calling a hitman to your house is ludicrious.
The case falls further apart because the victim was unknown to any of the parties involved, there's no way they could've predicted the victim would disobey police orders that put himself in danger.
“malice aforethought”, as noted uphtread, isn't the same thing as “intent to kill”. Gross recklessness/depraved indifference is also malice aforethought.
> in fact it was a random address that another third party had posted, and somebody decided to pull a prank that went horribly wrong.
SWATting is a “prank” which inherently involves the mental state of depraved indifference; the fact that the target endangered is different than the one the “prankster” expected is fairly immaterial.
The victim was killed because he disobeyed direct orders from an armed officer. At the end of the day, this is what boils down to, not what he said or she said.
As I said, calling SWAT to somebodys house is not the same as calling hitman to whack somebody. Even in cases involving spouses calling hitman on their estranged lover, it takes an awful lot of evidence to get a malice aforethought and even more damning evidence to get intent to kill.
This is just the reality of working under a legal system that relies on evidence presentable to a neutral third party. If anything, the internet mob mentality will hurt this case as the judge will throw out anything related to the notion the prank caller technically called armed hitman, because the prosecutor will need to show evidence that the accused knew the target victim would willingly disobey armed police officer, which is impossible because the victim was unknown to any of the parties involved.
An intend to kill might be far fetched but an intend to harm is not.
They are not supposed to come into the main house without knocking. They do not have keys.
It is like pulling teeth to get them to pay rent and utilities. They hit one of the peoples car that lives inside the main house and refused to fix the broken taillight. The part is 40 bucks and I can replace it. But they refuse.
And this has escalated over the last few weeks. The police have been called three times over the RV guys behavior. I told my mom to get a restraining order to get them out fast but for some reason refuses.
So the eviction process has started. And they were not happy. I was there the other day and was getting the space heater in the bathroom going so the pipes don't burst and overheard them saying that when they leave they should, "SWAT the bitch".
And my mom rents out a room to a forty year old guy on disability that they say has a mental capacity of a 12 year old. He is somewhat impulsive. If the cops poured in he would not understand what is going on and would probably get shot.
I went with my mom to the police station to tell them what I overheard. So hopefully before they send a SWAT team a note pops up that they were warned about this and it is probably false.
There is no such thing as a 'do not SWAT' list, and there is no such process in place.
Well, to be fair, most of the world is a 'do not SWAT' list. I know that's not the point you were making, but let's keep things in perspective.
(I mean, it would probably cause an international incident and such)
I mean, if there was a special thing someone could do before hand to keep the cops from showing, guns blazing, when they thought it was appropriate, nearly everyone would do it and that would be a problem if such a response was appropriate.
So there's really only approach - make cops dial back on the use of deadly as their default. That's the only thing, there's no way to get a special "no don't shoot" card for random in random suburb, much as people might want it. Well, unless you are a neighborhood with money, then it's different.
Edit: And don't think the cops would cough-up their notes on house X for the same reason. Obviously, if the cops even admit they are keeping those notes, of course they become subject to all sort of controversies. Whether they're constitutional would come into question, etc.
Of course various dispatchers will be running different software so this may not be universally supported, but these notes are a pretty basic feature.
Whether the warning pays off is still mostly unknown ground.
Brian Krebs did just this, visiting the local police to inform them of the potential for a swatting attack.
Then when he was later SWATted:
"One of the officers asked if it was okay to enter my house, and I said sure. Then an officer who was dressed more like a supervisor approached me and asked if I was the guy who had filed a police report about this eventuality about six months earlier."
For all we know it could have saved his life.
It says something pretty sad about American society that your assumption is that calling the Police will result in them murdering an innocent person.
How the police respond may be weighted too much towards a specific action, but it's important to consider this is the actual reason that SWAT teams exist.
I would definitely be interested in knowing how situations like this are handled in other countries, and the success rates involved. My suspicion is that in countries without the equivalent of SWAT some scenarios don't have an adequate response, while others that we use SWAT somewhat inappropriately for that are handled better. I suspect a less military approach is better overall, but an entire lack of that option isn't beneficial either. I don't think it's hard to argue that there's far too much police militarization in the U.S. right now.
If I were told the chances of me dying from jumping off a cliff were 1:1000, I still wouldn't jump that cliff.
How insane is it that you have to pre-empt SWATing now?
The only reason this is even a problem is because (too) many people know that the police is so trigger-happy these days that all it takes is say something dangerous-sounding about someone else and there's a not insignificant chance that the police will murder them.
That's how out of control the "Serve and Protect" police has gotten in the US.
Speaking to cops without a lawyer is a bad idea in many cases, but this doesn't appear to be one of them.
After that execution in Arizona, I wouldn't rule out the possibility that some of your local officers, depending on where you are in the country, are more interested in getting some action and shooting "criminals", than helping you and your mom.
The thought of wannabe-action-heroes or, god-forbid, psychopaths like Charles Langley, getting ready to tear through my family's property, terrifies me.
That is what is so terrifying about police abuse. Who do you call. What can anyone do.
In general, it's unwise to agree with those who shroud their violence-fantasies in truisms. Also, since english is not that person's first language.
The first thing I thought when I read this article was, "Wow, the toxic Call of Duty community finally killed someone."
I've been playing CoD WW2 online off and on since it came out last month. I have been astounded by the behavior of many people in those games. Players with racist and genocidal names who spout horrible things on chat about minorities. Threats of real world physical and sexual violence. Homophobia and misogyny. And of course just childish spamming and yelling and cheating and complaining and other nonsense.
It is a terrible, terrible community.
It does not surprise me at all to see it escalate to actual real world violence.
Yes, the kid who made this particular call should be punished. And the police department needs to be held accountable too.
But the root of this problem is the CoD community, and to some extent the gaming community at large. I don't know how to fix it, I don't know how you get an entire community to start treating each other like human beings -- but that's what needs to happen.
The behavior you described fits many if not most online, semi-anonymous, young, male majority communities. CoD is just one community in that bucket.
> I don't know how to fix it, I don't know how you get an entire community to start treating each other like human beings -- but that's what needs to happen.
Hang out around a group of young guys and you'll realize that the groups you described are just an amplified reflection of IRL groups of similar makeup.
If you want to fix this type of behavior you have to change it at a much deeper level than online gaming communities because its a mindset.
People do it mostly for the laughs - even the extreme idiotic shit like SWAT calls... just like they do extreme idiotic shit IRL like fraternity initiations that get people killed. IMO the stuff you're describing is systemic.
And like to be clear, I think you're right that it's a bigger problem than CoD. Absolutely. The toxicity in the other games I play isn't okay either. It hasn't been as extreme or concentrated as CoD, but it's definitely a problem too.
I've been in plenty of online, semi-anonymous, young, male majority communities that were overly friendly, welcoming and inclusive to see that CoD is just a pisshole. A bad place. End of Story.
The stuff describes might be systemic but only systemic to a subset of communities, not all of the gaming community.
From personal experiences games with older gamers tend to have less... idiots.
They are still there, it's just they are banished from well admined servers quickly.
Games from Tripwire Interactive are a good example (Red Orchestra, Killing Floor).
COD is bad, simply because it is too big and "young". But again if you play on well-admined servers it is not a problem.
While I agree with the gist of your post, I can't help but feel that pointing out that it's not "special" is the opposite of helpful.
People are mostly equipped to notice problems in their ballpark, and are right to call out problems as they see them. Whether or not similar problems exist in another ballpark is beside the point. Even if other ballparks are worse it's beside the point!
I frequently play Dota 2 and it has similar problems and I don't want to see them there, either.
I disagree -- I'm pointing out that the issue is not CoD or even online gaming, its a larger issue. You can't really address it on a small scale without understanding the bigger picture.
Pretty much all issues in life are systemic, this does not at all mean addressing them in a smaller area is ineffective. I'd say most people have a much better chance of addressing it in a smaller area than addressing the systemic problem. I don't see how I, as a gamer, can go modify how "young men" (assuming this generalization is correct) behave, but I can definitely discourage it in any gaming communities I'm a part of.
I don't think some other nice communities I'm in, if they followed the notion of "well, other communities are bad already and it's a systemic problem..." would have been successful.
911 is an open API with no authentication. It cannot possibly prove guilt. Therefore, in a society which values innocence absent proof of guilt, police are bound to treat anyone they encounter by dint of information from 911 as innocent.
Also, it is not unlawful to carry a firearm in the USA nor in Kansas. Therefore, even if this person had been wielding a firearm, they are still to be regarded as innocent.
I'm actually of the mind that it makes sense to intentionally subject 911 to incorrect information (like we do with the TSA) in order to audit and pentest it.
We need a society where incorrect information given to open, authless APIs never leads to anyone's death.
And in fact, in this case, the officer who fired a weapon is, to my way of thinking, the only person at fault for this murder.
The caller is certainly an asshole and is even culpable for homicidal intent, but I don't think that their conduct is tantamount to murder - more like involuntary manslaughter. After all, with the exact same intent and the exact same conduct, they can reasonably expect that the other party is killed only a very small percentage of the time, and in every such case there is another more directly culpable party.
I'm also concerned, despite solid reasoning from many other commenters here, that any deference to the police officer in the form of pointing to mistaken information is a roadblock to advocacy of police reform.
In short: when the state murders someone, it's the state's fault. It doesn't make for a peaceful and just society to hold the state to the same low standard we hold some idiot CoD player.
If there was a magic button in the world that killed someone every time it was pressed, I'd be much more concerned about getting rid of the button or enacting societal change to keep the button under protection than I would care about tracking down people that pressed the button. Sure, some degree of that is good to discourage it too, but if the button remains out in the open, easy to press, and pressed by more people than actually do get captured, then something isn't right.
Basically a couple receives a box with a button and pressing it will give them $1 million but a stranger somewhere in the world will die at the same time.
I don't remember if it's any good but your scenario reminded me of it.
Even if this had been a real hostage situation, that absolutely required the presence of SWAT - they still shot an unarmed man by the front door - in a real situation that's a hostage.
Dealing with a house full of only innocent people is objectively simpler than one with a mix of innocent people and bad guys even if you don't know which you'll face when you open the door.
But laying this at the door of one man is not much help - there's no deterrent needed here just better systems/training.
Agreed: this is the real takeaway. The phone call is a distraction.
It is crimes like this that make me think we've got to break down the walls protecting anonymity on the internet -- which makes me sad, because I've always kind of liked anonymity on the internet...
which is entirely wrong and should absolutely be stopped and as a nation we need to have a real conversation about this...
I'm not a legal expert, I just have a functioning sense of morality...
The caller spent upwards of 20 minutes on the phone with the police describing a homicide scene with the intent of misleading the police to cause this type of reaction.
He could not have known the murder would take place, but the intent was obvious.
In the same vein, if a database is breached and personal information leaked, I think most people here would agree it is the company/system at fault, rather than some scapegoat programmer/sys-admin.
I can't believe the amount of deflection/justification in the comments section here. A police officer showed up to a house and shot an innocent person. They either shot a hostage (if they believed the threat to be real) which is unacceptable, or they shot an innocent bystander (if they believed the threat is not real).
This is a process failure, as is evident by how "SWATing" is a known/common thing.
This is a good example of moral hazard. The risk is born not by the first responders, but by the people they affect.
If it's the latter, then I want to suggest that this is a strong indicator that emergency services are better built in a manner where the state is unable to substantially influence their particulars.
That is because there is intention behind the action, that has caused the death of another.
It is the same as shouting fire in a crowded movie theater, which again is for the intent to cause potential harm.
So the person making the call in this case when they are identified will 100% be charged with a rather serious crime.
There are probably other charges that the person can be brought up, but most likely there will be something manslaughter related.
You seem to be completely disagreeing with this statement when you later agree that "The caller is certainly an asshole and is even culpable for homicidal intent" and "when the state murders someone, it's the state's fault"
Who hired the police officer? Who makes the standards for police training?
Who is the "CoD swatting community"? Who is the ACTUAL person that called in this specific swatting?
We need a society where incorrect information given to open, authless APIs never leads to anyone's death.
What the heck? Imagine this scenario:
911 What's your emergency?
Caller) I'm wearing blue jacket & red hat in Terminal 2B at the airport and will detonate a bomb killing everyone at the airport in 10 minutes.
Can you suggest to me how this ends well?
Is it real? Is it fake? You have 10 minutes to make a decision here. Are you going to have your officers walk in without guns to make sure no one accidentally gets killed?
I'm saying that, even though this person had homicidal intent, they did not commit murder - the police officer did that part.
> Caller) I'm wearing blue jacket & red hat in Terminal 2B at the airport and will detonate a bomb killing everyone at the airport in 10 minutes.
> Can you suggest to me how this ends well? Is it real? Is it fake? You have 10 minutes to make a decision here. Are you going to have your officers walk in without guns to make sure no one accidentally gets killed?
I don't think that Hollywood-inspired hypotheticals have any place in the architecture of an emergency response system.
Incidents like the one you describe are rare enough not to need any specialized protocol at all, so a more general protocol of investigation and verification applies. In an age where cameras are everywhere - including in the pocket of every person in Terminal 2B - a great deal of investigation and verification can happen in 60 seconds.
The difference between second degree murder and manslaughter is intent. If he's culpable for "homicidal intent" then he's committed murder.
But to me it's more like in the legal category of assisted suicide (which has clear intent to kill, but is charged as manslaughter): The person played an "assistive" role in ensuring that the circumstances for homicide came to pass, did not themselves make the decisions that led to the homicide.
In the case of assisted suicide, the actual perpetrator is the patient (whom, to my eyes, has committed to affront to justice) while, in this case, the actual perpetrator is the police officer.
In both cases, the "assistant" is culpable for some form of manslaughter, but not murder.
Note, even if swatting was 100% safe, it's still would be a serious criminally false report, and consequences would help dissuade abuse.
No, "innocence absent proof of guilt" is a courtroom standard. Police encountering suspects do not apply the same standards of evidence as a courtroom.
Although, like all legal principles, its application is entertained and applied in a court room, it is pervasive throughout every component of the mechanisms by which the power of the state is restricted.
That the presumption of innocence is a legal right (you use the phrase "courtroom standard" - fine) and not the SOP of a civilian police force serves to lengthen its reach, not shorten it.
...and to the degree that this principle is about restraining the moments at which the state may encroach upon rights to lawful findings of guilt: shooting someone at their front door is about as violative of an innocent person's rights as I can imagine state conduct being.
It appears that he was shot from across the street as he raised an arm. It sounded to me like an order was given to fire (or a voiced, mistaken observation, like "gun!"), rather than a purely organic reaction by the shooter to a specific provocation. In any event, it's unthinkable to me that an uncorroberated "threat" like this, at that distance and with no observable, immediate threat to others in the home, justified firing at that point.
Unfortunately firing him is not enough -- he will almost immediately be able to get another job carrying a badge and a gun unless he has a criminal record.
There is some sad truth in this comic as this case shows. Here, just opening the door got him shot.
This has absolutely nothing to do with Call of Duty, full stop. The issue is the threat de-escalation training used by the Kansas police and their inability to safely and competently serve the general public. "hostage situation" does not translate to "shoot to kill." The proper response is to establish a perimeter, establish communication, and work to neutralize the situation without a violent escalation.
Dial-a-murder shouldn't be a thing - we need 100% body cam coverage and real repercussions for law enforcement officers that kill innocent people. How do we achieve this when the system is so corrupt?
Kind of reminds me of bomb threats -- how many people who actually place bombs make a phone call first? It's almost like if a bomb threat is called in, you can be sure there's no bomb. I remember my high school years ago kept getting bomb call threats, and eventually started ignoring them, figuring it was a student making the calls.
I thought it was interesting to find the information via a 20 year old online newspaper article, instead of a link to Wikipedia or some more recent rehash of the information presented in the article.
From the memoirs of Richard Nixon. "From January 1969 through April 1970 there were, by conservative count over 40,000 bombings, attempted bombings and bombs threats-an average of over eighty a day. Over $21 million in property was destroyed. Forty-three people were killed. Of those 40,000 incident, 64 percent were by bombers whose identity and motive were unknown."
The police react to the incentives we create for them. How many articles did you read in the 1990s flipping out because police didn't react to some tip. How much "the police should've known about the 9/11 bombers all along!" In contrast, nobody will remember this accidental shooting.
"My dad just shot my mom, I think he's going to shoot me next. I have to go--" and it's done.
It's dissimilar to a bomb threat in that an alleged victim is calling.
SWAT should be held to a far higher standard for weapons use when they have time to show up at a location in force, in full gear, with superior training, and take up a defensive position before starting the engagement, vs. what I'd expect of a solo officer encountering a suspect on the street. If you're in cover, with a team of other people also in cover, all behind rifles, wearing level III or IV hard armor, with massively overwhelming force, immediate medical support, and technology, you have time to wait to see if a furtive movement into a waistband is pulling out a handgun. Even if someone is reaching for a handgun, it's probably not going to be an aimed shot at the 4x3" or so of exposed target you're presenting at 10-25 yards, and you should be able to take your shot in 0.2 seconds or so from seeing the cue. And yes, this might increase the risk to SWAT officers by a small amount, but it's already a very low risk, so even doubling that risk, if it halves the higher risk to the public during SWAT callouts, is the correct choice. And it's probably more like doubling a very tiny risk while 100x reduction in risk to innocent people and halving risk to criminal suspects.
The whole justification of giving these teams massive amounts of weapons, armor, and other equipment is so they'll have overwhelming force and will be able to apply more discretion. We don't want the fight between police and bad guys to every be anything close to "fair". It should be like an adult breaking up a couple of children fighting, where the goal is to avoid injuring them.
There's a separate problem of SWAT being used for a lot of no-knock drug warrants and other stupid things, but the solution there is to decriminalize drugs and get rid of those searches.
1) Interview neighbors: "Did you hear a gunshot tonight?"
2) Get more info from the caller. "How do you know this detailed information from inside the house?", "Where are you so we can talk to you face-to-face?", "Can you describe the house?"
Anyone can call 911. It is an unreliable source of information by default. I understand that the police want to act quickly in a dangerous situation but there has to be some parallel fact checking happening that can suss out the facts before someone gets killed.
And why not? In the same situation in Europe, this is what would happen. Regular cops would confirm the situation first. And it works. Units similar to the SWAT do exist, but I've never heard of them being dispatched directly after an anymous call.
"if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail...", and well, the SWAT is pretty much a hammer in this kind of situation.
I'd personally be shocked if it were any difficult to get a hold of the GIGN, the RAID, the DGSE, the GCHQ or the UK SWAT when necessary.
Cops get addresses wrong on warrants and execute SWAT raids on the wrong house. I recollect at least one innocent guy killed this way. Let's see what a quick Google search turns up:
If a person directs a dog to maul another person, the person is responsible and the dog needs to be put down. If a person reports a hostage situation that directs SWAT to raid a home where somebody dies, the person directing the action must be accountable and the police who killed in error must be, at minimum, removed from police work. A police officer who shoots an unarmed person has positively proven their unsuitability for the work. I'd like to see the officer charged with negligent homicide, but as case after case has shown, the US public is unwilling to convict officers.
Once you know to look for it, it becomes obvious that this is what is happening when watching the video.
I don't know whether the police can be 'legally' pinned with criminal culpability here, but there is no doubt that they royally fucked up. No amount of presence of mind on the part of this guy would have prevented an entirely uncontrolled, reflexive action in response to them shining incredibly bright HID lamps in his face.
Most people in stressful situations do not follow orders well, people are not trained to "jump" on yelled orders. Barking orders at a confused/drunk person is the worst thing you can do. People are not trained to even think about their hand location except while pulled over, hands on the steering wheel.
But, we also do have criminals who do go for weapons.
I guess we just need better training and to have cameras, because each shooting is different, could be bad cop, bad training, bad situation or justified, nobody knows.
The way that plays out in practice is, "that's my secret. I always think I'm in danger."
Edit I'm responding to the point about using a loudspeaker, in case that wasn't clear.
We need to be addressing these issues at the training and policy level, but the thine blue line needs to be busted up first. I knew an old school LEO who had done undercover and cartel work, and even he complained constantly to me about the death of the concept of the "peace officer".
Police forces are way too eager to be in a war zone and they are going to keep doing this shit until the public stops them, the ultimate irony is that most of these incidents are because the war-wannabes are actually cowards who get scared as shit at every blade of grass and end up emptying magazines for no reason... Essentially SWAT is mostly just COD players who grew up but couldn't handle war if they got what they think they wanted.
Its like they never heard of an OODA loop.
Oh, and let's not let this opportunity to talk about how much the cops protect rich corporations and pillars of the community at the expense of everyone else... Their pinkertonian origins make things like CIA working with them against occupy wall street that much more disturbing.
Oh and one more thing. Many of the bad escalation of force policies and training are because a huge amount of these guys get cross trained by Israelis...and I'm just going to let the implications of that sink in.
Pog = "Pogue is derogatory pejorative military slang for non-combat, staff, and other rear-echelon or support units" (in other words, REMF).
I would agree with your characterization of LEOs as cowards.
So many LEOs are bullies and thugs. Scratch the surface of a bully and you'll find a coward.
> Many of the bad escalation of force policies and training are because a huge amount of these guys get cross trained by Israelis...and I'm just going to let the implications of that sink in.
1. Cops didn't order a single verbal command before Officer Sean Williams shot him to death -- first murder.
2. A woman in the store had a heart attack and died as a result of their insane recklessness -- second murder.
BONUS: Knowing there was no gun they still interrogate his girlfriend in custody for 90 minutes. At the end of the interrogation they let her know Crawford died. Months later she dies in a car crash.
Zero charges for anyone involved. Everyone in the department should be facing prison for not taking action against murderer Sean Williams, it was obvious he was far too dangerous to wear a badge much less carry a weapon:
> Beavercreek police officer Sean Williams used force 10 times more than the staff average during his first eight years in the department. His 36 “response to resistance” incidents from 2006 through 2013 does not include the Aug. 5, 2014 shooting death of John Crawford III at Walmart.
He was not fired.
What steps can I take to protect my home from SWATting attacks?
Spend some money on home surveillance, inside and outside. Cameras that are connected via some sort of home automation that can provide not just an early warning, but evidence for yourself and your family in the event something goes wrong. Offsite storage would be ideal, something that cannot be held, removed, or destroyed at the scene that only you or a limited number of trusted people have access to.
Alerting when there are people outside of your home. This way you'd be able to contact 911 if there was suddenly a large police presence around your home and let them know there is nothing happening there, you are extremely willing to cooperate, unarmed, and awaiting further instructions. It might give you some time to deescalate the situation before it starts.
Maybe contact the police and let them know that because of the work you do, you feel you may be targeted for these kinds of things. Ask a lot of question and see if they can put some sort of process in place like attempting to contact you or a neighbor if something comes in, or at least having the dispatcher let the responding officers know that the call might be fraudulent and to proceed with that in mind?
Do everything you can to minimize your online presence. I know that's saying a lot these days, but every little bit helps. If it takes someone an extra few minutes to find information about you, that might be just long enough for them to lose interest or find an easier target.
I'd love to hear other ideas because I'm kind of at a loss myself for how you can protect yourself from this.
It's not a great solution, and there might be other ways, but this would be the common advice. It's not exactly feasible all the time though.
Oh... ok. So the takeaway is, when someone pounds on my door at 3AM, it's safer just to not answer in case it's the police and an officer discharges his weapon (A lovely euphemism that shifts blame away from the officer).
In fact, any time you get a knock at the door, it's probably best you retreat to the farthest corner of your house and lay down with your hands on your head because that's basically the only way you can maximize your chances of not getting blown away for responding like a rational human being.
There have been 976 people shot and killed by police this year. "Three out of five of the people shot and killed by police were armed with a gun, while fewer than 1 in 10 were unarmed."  Note that the category of armed with something other than a gun seems very context dependent (being armed with a knife or vehicle is a wide range of life threatening to someone armed with a gun).
"As of Thursday, 128 officers have died in the line of duty this year, with 44 shot and killed." 
While this is not enough data to get a good false positive/false negative (is there any data on how often SWAT responds appropriately? Talks down an armed, threatening person or similar?), it gets us partially there. While all incidents such as this one warrant a response, I feel that a societal response needs to be based on how frequently this happens, in context with total number of events (ie: 10% requires a much different response than 0.1%)
Maybe a reward for murder isn't the best solution.
>Even then, the Administrative Leave isn't fun. The take your badge and gun and you are basically on house arrest between the hours of 8am and 5pm on weekdays. You cannot leave your home without permission of your superiors, even it its just to go down the street to the bank or grocery store. You must be available to come into the office immediately at any time for questioning, polygraphs, or anything else involved in the investigation. Drink a beer? That's consuming alcohol on duty, you're fired. So even when officers are cleared of the charges and put back on the street, Admin. Leave still isn't "paid vacation."
I encourage anyone to read the entire comment, as it explains much more about the process. Given that the review process can reasonably multiple to many weeks, it's not unreasonable for that time to be paid. If we're being honest, most people are not in a good enough financial position to pay 1 or 2 mortgage payments without any money coming in the door.
If it were unpaid time, why would I as a police officer want to volunteer to serve in the parts of town which are more rough?
If someone accused an officer of sexual harassment, the response would probably be the same - paid administrative leave. If 5 people came forward with completely untrue complaints against an officer sequentially, they could bankrupt the officer who literally did nothing wrong.
How is that not a reward?
This is true. However, I interpret it as yet another reason why police should be systemically held to a stricter standard for unjustified killings: they know they are far more likely to get away with it, so the process of investigation should be a deterrent in itself to counteract the low likelihood of punishment.
Think about this case for a second. The chief gave no information about whether the victim was carrying a weapon or threatened the officers. The victim was surrounded by cops and yet there is no immediate clarity about precisely what happened.
Cops are a fraternity, and they deal extensively with the justice system. There are systemic benefits that they enjoy due to this. Many cops have gotten away with murders that were documented on video, and witnessed by other cops.
To counter this, you have to construct parts of the system as a deterrent to killing nonthreatening people. That may make the job more dangerous, but it's better to put a trained officer in danger of being attacked, than to put an innocent and clueless civilian in danger of being gunned down by a careless SWAT team.
1. Bail is refundable collateral. It's supposed to be priced within attainability, but it needs to be an amount sufficient to motivate compliance with the court. And when you're looking at criminal charges, that amount generally has to be quite significant, since compliance may result in incarceration or other seriously adverse outcomes. Also, bail will be set based upon the totality of the circumstances including the severity of the crime; the amounts you hear are frequently high because the crime must be serious and/or noteworthy to grab attention on the news.
2. There is a whole industry built up around helping people make bail. "I can't make bail" is not a novel problem and there is a lot of infrastructure in place to assist with this.
3. Excessive bail is not allowed and motions can be filed to get bail reduced.
4. No matter what, in every large system with rules that get enforced, there will be anomalies and anecdotes about the rules going awry. Isolated heart-wrenching stories of breakage should be addressed, but are not grounds for condemning the system as a whole.
Also, these separate serial investigations seem like a powerful incentive to brush over the criminal inquiry as quick as possible - figuring wrongdoing can still be punished by the second investigation, and also not wanting to delay it.
What exactly do you think this investigation is going to yield? "It looked like he may have had a weapon" or "He made a threatening comment"? Neither are reasons why the officer should have shot the man.
Edit: and yeah I agree cops don't get convicted often enough. Either way a real investigation is going to take time.
Though being put on house arrest and being treated as on duty whilst on leave is on dodgy grounds I am surprised the police unions haven't challenged this in court.
The pranksters are the root cause, the reason this house came under the awareness of the cops at all.
The police could end up at the wrong house for any number of reasons not all of which are malicious. There is no excuse for the actions of the police officer. The manner in which the SWAT team arrived at the house does not in any way change the culpability of an officer for their actions.
The prankster also has culpability here since they did what they did with the intent to cause harm and they should also be held accountable. To say the prankster is the root cause though is non-sense. The root cause of the man's death is the police's unprofessional handling of the incident.
I have no numbers to back this statement up, but one would assume that cops draw their weapons often, and of course we hear about the times when they have to discharge them in stories like this one. I’m not saying all cops make perfect decisions all the time and there are no bad apples in the force. But I’d assume that cops just want to get home to their families safe every night.
“A male came to the front door,” Livingston said. “As he came to the front door, one of our officers discharged his weapon.”
Livingston didn’t say if the man, who was 28, had a weapon when he came to the door, or what caused the officer to shoot the man. Police don’t think the man fired at officers, but the incident is still under investigation, he said. The man, who has not been identified by police, died at a local hospital.
Here in India, depending upon the situation, one of the security forces(police, paramilitary, Army, special forces, swat, etc), or combination of them, respond, and first cordon off the area.
Then, the alleged criminals/terrorists are asked through loudspeakers to surrender. If they do, good. If they don't, and start shooting on security forces/civilians, then they kill them. How does it work in US? Was this guy not asked to surrender?
This person called a city government office, not through 911. Someone in the city government copied the phone number to call back and had 911 call them back. This should be incredibly suspicious. Why wouldn't the person just call 911? It seems to me some means like calling a local government is the only way someone from outside of the area would be able to SWAT someone else.
I think we should take away this excuse from cops to kill innocent people with a flimsy excuse like this. They should show actual danger before being allowed to shoot people. Just feeling in danger should not give them any protection. The Arizona cop who killed a man crawling on the ground is a prime example of this. If it results in some cops hesitating and getting injured, then so be it, that's what happens when this privilege is abused the way it has been over the last 10 years. Better a few cops get injured that absolutely innocent or unarmed people getting killed.
Apparently there is something like 400 of these swatting incidents in a year. So while it sucks that the person died, most of the blame does actually belong to the swatting culture, not the police officer.
Think about it, 400 incidents in a year * 5 years this has been going on = 2000 high stress events involving 5 - 10 police officers = 10000 to 20000 police officers with weapons cocked and ready to fire at people.
So 1 out of 20000 police officers makes a mistake - yes its the culture that caused this, and when this number hits 40000 or 100000 what will the body count be?
Also, how did the cops "know" that the guy answering the door was the perp and not a hostage?
Penalties are hardly an effective deterrent to crime. As with all forms of undesirable/antisocial behaviour, proper education would be far more effective.
It's a different part of the world...
Does that mean that police in other countries don't get fake calls? They also get them, but they usually react to them in a somewhat more reasonable manner which prevents the worst from happening.
The same doesn't seem to work for US police due to cultural differences (abundance of firearms everywhere) and the resulting police mentality (better shoot first than to get shot first).
In that regard, some of these "pro-gun ownership" and "guns are not the problem" comments here are simply mind-boggling, still denying a problem exists. A problem pretty much everybody recognizes as such, except for the people who still think that their AR-15's will prevent the US from becoming some fascist police state.
Not a week goes by where not another totally absurd case of irresponsible gun owners end up getting somebody killed or hurt: Babysitters getting babies killed , dogs shooting their owners , parents getting shot by their own toddlers , heck even when people are meeting at church to discuss a shooting spree, they end up shooting each other by accident  it's a collection of absurdities that wouldn't be possible anywhere else, but in the US it seems to be considered "normal".
At least that's the only way I can explain how some people still pretend there isn't a problem. It becomes especially grating when these very same people use countries with high ownership rates (and pretty strict regulations) to argue for their case of "everybody should have a gun!", straight out of the NRA meme book.
Case in point: Citing Germany and Switzerland as examples for societies where "high gun ownership and low crime" exists, while at the same time completely ignoring the massive gun-regulation laws in said countries.
Similarly: Hitler could only take over because he banned all the guns, when in fact he did the exact opposite to arm his SA thugs.
Google the hopefully unique username.
Find the first and or last name (Facebook).
Find the state and or city.
If you have the name and the city you can find the address.
My friend's 11 year old is already in THE database.
If you search for his first and last name and city you get his parent's address and home phone number.
Welcome to the Brave New World!
Edit: misunderstood the $1.5 bet was just the game not the SWAT
How common is it for the police to shoot the first person on sight coming out of a "hostage situation"?
Regardless of how reckless the cop was, it's all a matter of how the prosecutor will spin this to the Grand Jury. It's why only 33% of the cops ever get indicted, while the prosecutors otherwise have a indictment success rate of 99% for everyone else and can indict "even a ham sandwich."
The department should be held responsible even though it was an individual who made the fatal mistake.
As for the person who called in the swat team, it’s clearly murder.
Both are culpable, if the facts are as reported here. The cop was either improperly trained or did not have the personality to remain calm in a situation where use of deadly force might be required. Maybe both. That's the department's fault.
But the cop is the one who pulled the trigger.
> As for the person who called in the swat team, it’s clearly murder.
Reckless or negligent homicide is probably more realistic.
What incentive the department has to promote training that leads to less violence? It seems to be very little. They have trainings that makes cops more paranoid, more afraid and more aggressive (per Radley Balko reporting). It is not poor training as in "little of it". It might be result.of training itself.
They came in with the following information: "a call that someone had an argument with their mother, that the father had been shot in the head and the shooter was holding his mother, brother and sister hostage."
It is my belief that those officers did nothing wrong. It was not a trigger happy cop reacting badly to a traffic stop. It was officers that acted on information that were planted by a malicious individual. The prankster is the one that needs to go to jail for this.
Yes, the situation wasn't right. That doesn't mean that the officers on the ground were in the wrong.
There is a more systematic issue going on, you can't put all the blame on the door kickers.
Quoting @matt_wulfeck's comment on another comment thread as he made the same point as I did but with better wording:
"Adrenaline and poor training lead to situations like this.
As for the person who called in the swat team, it’s clearly murder."
Why should the presence of a firearm, or the reach for a pocket or "long black stick", be a death sentence for a citizen? Why do we allow state actors to behave in this way at all?
Five states with lowest rates of gun death: Hawaii, Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island.
States with constitutional carry: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho (residents only), Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Dakota (residents only; concealed carry only), Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming.
Vermont = lots of guns and safe
Louisiana = lots of guns and unsafe
Hawaii = not so many guns and safe
Illinois = not so many guns and unsafe...
May as well tie it into most popular music if we're using sample sizes that small.
1. The compare gun deaths. This includes suicides and excludes all other murders. So it is a totally biased metric.
They even admit most gun deaths are suicides.
2. Ignore by far the most salient variables for predicting murders.
Don't even get me started on the "suicide is always terrible" bullshit. Many suicides are rational responses to untenable situations. I'm glad that my grandfather had a gun, when AEC and his physicians had both failed him completely.
Looks like your numbers are badly off (those countries have less than half the guns the US does per capita, so not all that high), and in Switzerland there are a ton of restrictions on the guns (and on the ammunition!) compared to the US, to boot.
As to legal restrictions in Switzerland, that is absolutely true but orthogonal to the point I've made. The issue lies in the number of guns per person (and I'd personally argue the culture surrounding guns which spurs it), not the legal framework. South Africa has tighter gun laws than the US but still suffers from greater gun deaths (again, in total not mass shootings).
Guns are an efficient tool for killing people, much more so than knives or baseball bats.
This is, incidentally, the same reason other things that are efficient for killing people and not constitutionally proteced, like dynamite, are not something you can walk in and buy in Walmart.
It's a bit 'noisy' because there are a lot of 3rd world places that are simply quite violent. The US has a lot more than, say, a lot of Europe.
Also, don't discount suicide: guns make that easier too. Some will find a way without, but some would be prevented if it's 'too much effort'.
Are you arguing that the police are more likely to kill people at random in areas with higher amounts of gun ownership?
I'm not sure I follow you.
Cops have to make split second decisions with their own lives on the line. In a country where it's very likely that the person they're interacting with in a tense situation could be armed with a gun, it's going to make them more likely to shoot.
Perhaps not quite so relevant to this particular case, as the caller said the person was armed, but I think this would have played out differently in a lot of other countries.
This is precisely why the USA needs to reform its approach to police use of deadly force.
The problem is in the police culture towards discharging a firearm, not the greater ownership of guns. American society bears much of the blame for lionizing cops instead of scrutinizing them.
Many cases of police officers killing innocent civilians involved civilians who were either fleeing, submitting, or already subdued and pinned down. Cops in the US tend to be exonerated for using deadly force, even when the victim could not arguably have endangered others.
Wrong, police in e.g. UK or Japan do not customarily carry guns.
And SHOCKER these countries have fewer police-related homicides.
Do a graph of legal gun ownership versus murder rate (comparing US states, or countries). No relationship, in fact slightly negative.
Do a graph of other demographic factors against murder rates. Bingo!
Please keep in mind... I used to live in an Atlanta neighborhood where a Sheriff and his deputy responded to a domestic violence dispute. Sheriff responded to a call and knocked on their door. The man inside the home opened the door, shot the deputy in the chest at point-blank, slammed the door shut, and then barricaded himself inside for a 6-hour standoff (ah, the memories of that neighborhood!). Thankfully the standoff ended peacefully thereafter.
Keep in mind the shit that SWAT deals with on a regular basis: they're putting their lives at risk for public safety. That doesn't give them carte blanch to go shooting people, but they deal with life & death situations regularly. It sucks.
So let's talk about the part that isn't generally agreed upon…
> It is my belief that those officers did nothing wrong.
That may be your _assumption_, but going straight to "belief" is a HUGE step considering the lack of information. We don't know that the police identified themselves. We know that the police had an _entire block_ instead of an actual address. For all we know this was a random person stepping outside to see what was, to their mind, happening "across the street". We have near-zero information about how the shooting happened.
Why the strong desire to pick a side?
I'm not saying that I think you're wrong. I just think it's odd to form a strong opinion _right now_. We know so incredibly little, why bother forming and espousing an opinion at all? Why pick a side now? You don't have to be on a team. You can just… wait. It's possible to not have an opinion — at all. We can all move along with our day. Why the rush?
On ending lives.
Given that you've formed and shared an opinion despite a near-total lack of information, it seem to me that you're of the more general opinion that cops have the right to end lives with little information. At best, information that they know has a reasonable probability of being incorrect. Cops jobs center around dealing with false information.
My question given that world view: In the spectrum between "someone was shot at this address, your life is in danger while near that address" and "there are dangerous people roaming our streets, your life is in danger", where is the line? Should cops be allowed to end the life of any person who places their hands out of sight while in their presence? There are, after all, dangerous people roaming our streets.
With all the respect due a random person one corresponds with via the internet, the view you're espousing seems extraordinarily reductionist.
And that's okay in the end. We don't need everyone to be on board with concepts like asking questions first, compassion, mercy — with the idea that ending a life is a last resort.
How someone can think that those officers are to blame is beyond me. To me, THAT is extraordinarily reductionist. It describes the situation as if we were living in a movie or a video game where people who do mistakes are "evil" and should be "punished".
(Am I wrong in using the word "belief" in the context of "the state of mind in which a person thinks something to be the case with or without there being empirical evidence to prove that something is the case with factual certainty."?
English is not my primary language and this might be the root of our incomprehension. You say that going from "assumption" to "belief" is a big jump, so perhaps you should reread my first message with the word "assumption" where I put in "belief".
I specifically added the word for people to avoid getting the false idea that I was attempting to convince anyone since there was no hard evidence at that point.
Isn't the difference between an assumption and a belief that beliefs are rooted in previous experiences and values?
I looked at this situation through the lens of Hanlon's razor "never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity" and through my own personal experience with police as human beings. This led me to believe that the truth of the situation was a systemic issue in how police are trained in the USA and not in those particular officers require to be punished.
It is my assumption that acting reckless in front of police during a raid will get you shot. It is my belief that the officers which shot the man are not in the wrong.)
Regardless of the information they had their actions seem way beyond reckless. The fact that some people think that nothing is wrong with how this scenario, and I'm sure lots others, played out is mindnumbing.
Even if it wasn’t a prank, imagine them getting the wrong address. Or the caller being in good faith but mistaken.
People killed on false grounds shouldn’t be summarized in “those officers did nothing wrong”
But if the 911 system is subject to malicious intent, no authentication, no verification, and incomplete signals then police need to act on that information accordingly.
If you place no blame on the police reading signals incorrectly, then there is no reason to waste money on hiring a killer to do the bloody work. There is a < 100% chance of going to prison either way and a greater chance of being successful with the police.
Information has to be verified before you can act on it with deadly consequences. Hell, I doubt if some prankster called your boss and said you were sleeping with his SO, and your boss fired you, you'd just say "no hard feeling, you are just acting on information planted by a malicious individual."
And yet I can’t possibly think of something more wrong than trigger happy cops shooting an unarmed person in their own doorway. Swatting isn’t a new thing. It’s one scenario that cops have to consider when they receive a call like this. Unless he had a weapon, the cop that shot him needs to be held accountable. Wearing a badge does not entitle you to execute someone for opening their own door.
I'm sorry to be so direct, but your belief is based on zero facts. We should all withhold judgement until more facts come to light.
Your advice is probably right - I think what chafes us, myself included, is that it's even necessary for us to have to keep that sort of thing in mind; that SWAT teams can be weaponized for personal feuds in this manner.
I agree the prankster needs to go to jail but if the cop really did kill an unarmed innocent man there should be some type of punishment.
A single caller claiming shots have been fired really isn't the same thing as information that shots have been fired.
I mean, your reasoning process hands a pretty huge victory to malicious pranksters that want the cops to shoot at someone.
There's absolutely no way that an anonymous call alone should lead to a death except in a freak, extremely rare accident.
There are literally no good consequences from a swatting, only bad consequences. I would argue that most actions that have literally no chance of good consequences, and high probably of bad consequences (minimum ruining a persons day and wasting police resources), are pretty good candidates for evil.
You don't get to wash your hands of the blame just because you didn't pull the trigger.
While it should not be possible for such a prank call to lead to a lethal outcome, it currently is entirely possible and realistic for such an outcome to occur in our society today. The perpetrator knew that was a very probable outcome, and used that knowledge to intentionally instigate such a scenario in order to achieve that outcome.
Just because he didn't pull the trigger doesn't mean he doesn't share any blame.
The world is not the perfect, logical, orderly fantasy-land you seem to think it is.
Calling the police for a large armed response for a fake domestic violence situation is on a whole other level. IIRC, domestic violence calls are among the most dangerous that the police face, so I guess it wouldn't be a huge leap to think they would be on edge in those circumstances.
The police definitely share some blame, but swatting is absolutely abhorrent. It is not a victimless crime, it is not a casual prank, it is unacceptable, and your indifference is incomprehensible.
I get sick when I think that one phone call and a random address can get INNOCENT HUMAN BEINGS killed. Is this the American idea of being the greatest nation on earth?
What you're suggesting would sound utterly ridiculous to someone in Europe.
12 week sentence, suspended for 18 months. http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-
18 week sentence, suspended: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-south-east-wales-42255427
12 month sentence (not suspended, I think) http://www.legalcheek.com/2015/02/breaking-news-nazi-bomb-ho...
2 years for a combined bomb hoax and blackmail: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/sep/29/g4s-employe...
One shot an unarmed man in the face/body.
One of those scenarios is not like the other in terms of magnitude.
Those 10 cops were also innocent, and are still people with families and people who love them. I'm not saying the way things are right now is the way they should be forever and that it's all rainbows and butterflies, but it seems callous to say one innocent life is worth more than another.
The idea that protecting the innocent is more important than punishing the guilty is the basis of the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard of evidence used in criminal trial, and in an ideal world, we would be able to hold cops to the same standard. If they had any doubt that pulling the trigger was the right thing to do, they would not. Unfortunately, in these situations there’s really no time for deliberation.
In modern days, look at the socioeconomic status of people that sign up for the U.S. Military. They come from poorer and less educated than average families. That is basically what military pay does... you start at some level, and slowly raise it until you have enough people willing to risk their life to earn it. Everyone has a price.
Here are three strawmen we can argue about instead of the actual case in front of us, which had nothing to do with Ving Rhames or guns or bomb threats. Oh, and as a bonus, I'll start my three with a story about a big, menacing black man and a poor little petite white woman.
This line of conversation is unworthy of humanity, much less Hacker News.
Just because these scenarios are fictitious does not make them strawmen arguments. In the first scenario, I was pointing out that even unarmed people can be dangerous. In the second, I was pointing out that often innocent lives are in danger. In the third, I was pointing out just how absurd it is to expect police to shoot "only after at least one shot has been fired by the suspect, period."
Obviously these scenarios fall apart in the real world and that's the point.
It was your decision to bring race into the discussion. I chose Ving Rhames because he's big and I had recently seen him in a movie. Apparently to have a valid point I need to pretend he doesn't exist and go with John Cena instead (as if specifically excluding a black actor would somehow not be racist). I didn't specify the race of the female officer at all.
For your 1st scenario, yes the police officer should be able to handle it without a gun. That's what training is for. US cops need to spend less time at the shooting range and more time studying close combat technics, like in every other civilized country.
For the other 2 scenarios, sure the cop can shoot, even if for the last one there are probably ways to avoid it upstream.
US cops do study close combat techniques. Talking about the training generally is impossible, since the quality, type, and upkeep of that training varies a lot by department. Usually it depends on what is needed in their area and what funds are available.
That said, all departments put office safety first. They will not generally take unnecessary risks, so a charging behemoth who has specified his intent to kill will probably be shot, regardless of close combat training.
I'll just highlight: "There are plenty of other ways to fix this, including body cams and proper prosecution"
So you're saying that if cops were more afraid of being prosecuted and punished after using their guns they would be more careful before killing a citizen. As in "well, now they're almost never punished, so yeah, they can just shoot first and ask questions later, otherwise they would first make sure the guy is actually armed and hostile". This is mind-blowing to me either it is the actual state of mind of police officers or if you believe it is and think it's ok.
In this case? I suspect the officer was completely in the wrong, but I'll reserve judgment until I have all the facts.
>So you're saying that if cops were more afraid of being prosecuted and punished after using their guns they would be more careful before killing a citizen.
No. I am saying that body cams, prosecution, and other tools will help protect bystanders, police officers, and suspects. It will help make better policies, protect innocent officers, prosecute guilty officers, and inform the public (because the police are sometimes wrong, but also sometimes not, in shooting people).
Expecting police officers and any bystanders/hostages to be target practice before they can shoot back just makes for a lot of dead officers and bystanders. It doesn't solve the problem. And it probably exacerbates it by increasing tension in an already stressful situation, limiting officer control of the situation, and encouraging corruption (since a system so unfair to police will necessarily cause them to close ranks further).