[EDIT for clarity]: it's ludicrous that prankster and police officer aren't both charged. Police incompetence is no exoneration of Tyler's responsibility, and conversely, Tyler's criminal actions are no excuse for the police officer's lethal lack of judgement/restraint. Of course Tyler is a criminal, I thought it went without saying.[/EDIT]
The core problem is that it's OK for US police to kill US citizens, and it's essential not to shift the blame. By primarily blaming Tyler (who's a super-nasty piece of shit, but that's another issue), medias and justice reinforce bad police officers' sentiment of impunity.
In most developed countries, if a cop shoots someone who wasn't actually about to kill someone, he's criminally liable. His career is over, and his freedom in jeopardy. If he wrongly "felt threatened", that's poor judgment and incompetence, certainly not an excuse. And whether the victim was guilty of anything or not isn't a mitigating factor either: it's exclusively up to the justice to say so and to punish. That's why Judge Dredd isn't called Copper Dredd.
What? Seen from Europe, by someone with a Dutch law degree, this is perfectly expected and reasonable. I mean, if this surprises you, look up 'eggshell skull' (or 'pantoffelarrest' if you speak Dutch) which, while not the same nor directly applicable here, is a good illustration for how much the nerd concept of 'guilt' deviates from what is under the law seen as 'guilty of creating the circumstances that lead to a certain outcome'.
As a dubious analogy, if someone schemes to get you alone in an area where a serial rapist is known to operate, in hope that you'll encounter him, and you get raped indeed, of course the schemer is guilty. But the rapist is not exculpated. Here, of course Tyler is guilty, but the officer who pulled the trigger is not exculpated.
This is the opposite of how the doctrine works.
"the unexpected frailty of the injured person is not a valid defense to the seriousness of any injury caused to them."
Paraphrasing, the doctrine says that if you do something dangerous, and it does far more damage than you expected, you are culpable for the full extent of damage and not just the damage you thought was likely.
Other related concepts are "you take your victim as they are" and "depraved indifference" murder (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Depraved-heart_murder).
As roel_v suggests, it is odd how far the hyper-rationalist conception of guilt differs from the law's conception. If you set into motion events with predictable risk of serious harm be prepared to be held responsible for whatever happens even if you get unlucky and "serious" escalates to "catastrophic".
I don't expect law nor jurisprudence to be rational, and neither possible interpretations of the eggshell skull doctrine--what it actually is and what I wrongly thought it was--would have shocked me.
Which one of these people, according to you, went into this whole ordeal with the idea "hey you know what, let's get this innocent man shot" :
* the guy calling 911
* the police office who ended up shooting
Moreover, I don't care much about what happens to that individual cop (as long as he's banned from ever carrying a weapon he's proved himself unfit for). The guy is dead, too late. What I care about is exemplarity: I want the next cop in a similar situation to feel like "if I pull the trigger, my career, freedom and reputation are probably over". That seems a proportionate amount of skin in the game, before voluntarily taking a citizen's life.
But to what extent would the outcome have to be predictable?
Also shouldn't this prankster benefit from a presumption of regularity? Otherwise, don't we conclude that it's is regular for the police to shoot innocent people in stressful situations. Which seems like an irregular thing..
I'm obviously not lawyer, so maybe this is too smart, but if the police benefits from a presumption of regularity, shouldn't they prankster calling them also benefit from the presumption that the police acts _regularly_?
And what happens if that presumption erodes...
Certainly makes sense..
The fake situation called in was so serious (something like being armed and holding hostages, having already murded multiple of them if I recall correctly) that the caller should have reasonably expected a lethal response was possible. The law generally regards getting somebody to kill somebody for you as being the same as pulling the trigger yourself, so at least a manslaughter charge for both would be more than reasonable.
He should, he will, and I never meant to imply that he shouldn't. But the cop should to, yet probably won't. That's a very wrong message to send to the other officers who struggle with accurate situation assessment and cold-headedness. Not to mention trigger-happy sociopaths.
> The fake situation called in was so serious
It's part of proper police work to assess the actual seriousness of the situation before escalating violence. Hostage-taking is a crime that actually exists, and police must be prepared to face it adequately. But SWATing is also a crime that actually exists, and police must also be prepared to face it adequately.
In most other countries, there is a much stronger doctrine of trying to avoid violence escalation, and way fewer people are killed by police: guilty suspects, innocent suspects and collateral damages alike. One could be tempted to see a causality.
> at least a manslaughter charge for both would be more than reasonable.
Totally agree. And depending on whether the cop felt like "he's about to gun me!" or "I'm unsure, but if I shoot I can get away with it", it's either manslaughter or murder. We'll probably never know beyond reasonable doubt, so it can't go beyond manslaughter in practice.
That's baffling to me.
The first step in ignoring a problem is deliberately rejecting any attempts to determine how often it occurs. If the police admitted how often it happened, it would just add fuel to those trying to stop it.
No, that is absolutely not another issue. If we don't hold people responsible for misusing these resources, there simply is no remedy here. SWAT teams cannot be expected to be fully prepared for both a hostage situation and a so-called prank.
Pranks are generally fucked up shit anyway. Pranks that can turn deadly so easily should not be called pranks. They should be labeled serious crimes and prosecuted accordingly.
Furthermore, I get rather tired of blow hard Europeans imagining they know what is best for internal matters of the US and that policies that work in their country would obviously work exactly the same here. If your country works better than the US, good for you. That isn't evidence that you know what is best for the US.
Yes they should, and they are in the rest of the world. Being a competent police officer is not supposed to be an easy job, and not everyone has what it takes to be trusted amid civilians with deadly weapons.
> Pranks [...] should be labelled serious crimes and prosecuted accordingly.
That is also true, but not the #1 priority. Most unnecessary uses of deadly force by police aren't triggered by pranks. I sure expect Tyler to rot in jail for quite some time, I'd be mad if he weren't. Ditto for the wannabe Dirty Harry who killed a civilian he swore to serve and protect. The thing is, I'm confident the former will happen, and I fear the latter won't.
> I get rather tired of blow hard Europeans imagining they know what is best for internal matters of the US
What baffles me is that even when a problem is solved in all of the non-US developed world, looking at how it's solved by everyone else isn't considered worth debating in the US. Or as the Onion puts it every few months, when a US mass shooting occurs:
America Uncovered (same crew as China Uncensored) made a pretty-balanced video on the topic https://youtube.com/watch?v=hAtLnTyimT0
There is a very big difference between that and some blowhard European acting like they know what is best for the US. I am all for good discussion on such subjects.
Long as it does not happen to you. Now, imagine someone sends a SWAT team to your house, and the SWAT shoots your kids because... they moved?
Would you, then, show up on HN telling us that is OK? "Yeah they shot my kids, but... it is A-OK because... "SWAT teams cannot be expected to be fully prepared..."?
I cannot fathom why that isn't obvious on the face of it. Setting people up to fail is a thing. How can so many people apparently not see that?
Are you OK with your kids and your spouse and your parents being murdered by police because... some random POS made a phone call, and "set them to fail"?
The point you misinterpret as "pro-Tyler" is that the police officer is probably co-responsible of the manslaughter, and should be charged in addition to (not instead of) Tyler. And this seems infuriatingly unlikely.
By primarily blaming Tyler (who's a super-nasty piece of shit, but that's another issue
Maybe you should reread more carefully. A lot of the replies to me have assumed things I did not actually say.
I am more concerned with... killing people.
How about... instead of military rifles, we use... tazers, rubber bullets, stun grenades and other non-lethal weapons?
That way, we all live, and whoever is accused of crime, can be dealt with judge and jury and so on. In this case, the guy that was murdered by police would be not dead... he may be sore, and also pissed, but that surely beats being dead.
If there is an active shooter and who is a competent marksman and has a perfectly ordinary hunting rifle, approaching them with non-lethal weapons is just giving them more opportunities to kill while they police try to incapacitate them.
Note the "pranker" didn't call in an event that would have resulted in normal police being dispatched (say, a domestic disturbance, or somesuch). They specifically called in a situation that demanded immediate application of potentially lethal force against an already active shooter.
but you SHOULD hold this guy responsible for misusing these resources. Just not for the murder.
>SWAT teams cannot be expected to be fully prepared for both a hostage situation and a so-called prank.
Yes they can. What the fuck? Isn't it American to say "hope for the best, prepare for the worst?".
Train shooting, teach restraint.
A kinder, gentler SWAT team is one not actually prepared for the serious situations they are intended to be called in for. If you think that works, you just have no idea whatsoever what it takes to be both psychologically and logistically prepared for surviving and triumphing when facing genuine deadly force.
Police, including SWAT, should always assume people are innocent. And they should always strive to minimize violence, if you can avoid pulling your gun out it's a lot safer for everybody, cops and criminals alike.
Let's not pretend that there are many elaborate well armed hostage situations like you see on TV. Mostly it's drunk deranged desperate people who needs to be talked out of a bad situation. Few hostage situations are organized, most of them are just sad cases...
No, the police are trained (correctly) that any shooting is shooting to kill. There have been various people arguing that the US military rules of engagement are actually stricter than the police ones, e.g. http://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2010/03/deadly_f... - because the military operating in Afghanistan are dependent on the fragile support of the local population.
Edit: the rules of engagement used by the British Army in the occupation policing of Northern Ireland: http://mikeb302000.blogspot.co.uk/2011/12/rules-of-engagemen... - these required at least one of positive identification of a weapon, incoming fire, or a verbal warning.
One reason swatting is not done so much in Europe is that cops react in much different way.
And somehow in your mind this makes the caller less guilty of the death that results.
In the few worse cases, it will mean some lost time, because the first responder cops will have to wait for assault teams. But in the 95% cases were a SWAT team wasn't need, it prevents unnecessarily violence escalation. And there are many more lives saved by non-escalation than lives lost to intervention delays.
Also, SWAT teams are considered elite forces (almost?) everywhere; but in some countries, elitism is based on sharpshooting abilities, in some others it's based on good judgement, clear-headedness and restrain.
One reason swatting is not done so much in Europe
Swatting is the act of making the prank call. It has nothing to do with how the SWAT team handles it. Nowhere have I argued that European police wouldn't have handled it better. That is a completely separate question from the question of how often these calls get made and why.
That's pretty anti-climatic, as a prank, and that's why nobody will bother making it.
General police violence in the US is not a justification for saying the caller should not be held responsible for their part in this.
I don't see people saying he should not be punished. They say that cops needs to change.
Focusing on his punishment is like adding yet another hack into badly engineered system - it makes people feel good and makes one bug go away, but it does nothing to address root cause which is bad system.
Me asserting that it isn't okay to let him off the hook is not the same as me saying the system as a whole is fine and does not need reform.
Arguing with me from that angle amounts to putting words in my mouth.
Police should be trained not to rely on firearms. The gun is a last-ditch option to protect the cop's life, not a way to neutralise citizens.
When a police officer shoots, he ought to shoot to kill, because there are very few and extreme situations that grant him the legitimacy to shoot. Very few officers experience such situations, not even once in their career.
Policing has very little in common with soldiering, and vice-versa (although we wrongfully use our soldiers as cops in foreign countries, with unsurprisingly poor results).
And you do? Based on which expertise.
> A kinder, gentler SWAT team is one not actually prepared for the serious situations
This is false dichotomy , nobody is asking for 'kinder,gentler' swat team, we are asking for professional who can professionally appraised the situation before using lethal force. It's about precision not about kindness whatever that means in this context.
We've been tired of blow hard Americans imagining they know what is best for Europe for some time, but that doesn't seem to have stopped anyone.
Seeing how often these "pranks" happen, I would say they absolutely have to be prepared that the entire situation is fabricated. I agree with OP - the officers should be charged with murder of an innocent person, the responsibility to identify the situation is 100% on them.
That is a good argument for "We clearly aren't adequately discouraging this bullshit and need to do more to convince civilians this is not acceptable."
Given how they try to hide the origin of the call, it isn't like they don't know this is bad behavior. They just seem to think it won't really be that big of a deal if they are caught.
I guess we could try to hide our empathy, after all if it's only Americans killing other Americans, who cares? I don't get the impression that Americans do.
Note that this isn't counting the Europeans killed by wars between countries, only those killed by their own government or quasi-government entities.
About 400 Americans are killed by cops every year. At that rate, we'll surpass the European 20th century toll for being murdered by one's own government in about 200,000 years.
It isn't like I don't want these problems resolved. I don't believe I go around announcing what is best for other countries. Such behavior does not foster good discussion.
But I do something wonder if you just don't want the problems solved? The solutions seems obvious, and yet you keep getting side tracked, like blaming the prankster.
Other than police training and changes in behavior, what real solutions do you see?
The fact that the US has a general problem with police shootings is absolutely not a reason to let the caller off the hook. If anything, it is a reason to argue that he reasonably knew this could result in someone's death, so the charge should be more serious than manslaughter.
This means proving that it is foreseeable that the police would arbitrarily shoot people, when called to an incident.
I guess it would be poetic Justice if the prosecutor used this case to prove why the police should be disbanded. If indiscriminate killing is an expected outcome from calling the police, what purpose do they serve?
I have had a class in conflict management. It never helps to increasingly vilify one side and say that anything goes for the other because of it.
That seems to be the gist of the argument most people here are making. It doesn't work, so that isn't how you gradually create less conflict in the US.
But rationality is seemingly not welcome here. Everyone wants to just crucify the police.
So I think I need to just bow out here.
At any rate I believe the parent to your comment is misinformed, in the European countries I'm familiar with if your funny prank leads to a death, especially a foreseeable death, you're probably going to have a bad time in court explaining why you don't have any responsibility.
I'm sorry but this whole article is ridiculous. Yes, calling the police on someone for jokes is absolutely not okay, and he deserves punishment for it. But it seems very farfetched, and honestly pretty insane, that the police murdering an unarmed man is something you should consider happening when you call the police.
The police have the guns, they are responsible for using them. Whether the call is a hoax or not, the police should not kill anyone unless they absolutely have no other choice. If someone is unarmed this is obviously not the case.
It is ridiculous that this article tries to frame some idiot for murder / manslaughter. The police killed the guy. No one else.
The police have to go into that situation ready and there's a natural opposition between being ready to react quickly and the risk you react too quickly and mistakenly hurt someone. The other side is the police are risking going in, being too slow to react and getting shot themselves. So it's a very difficult job to do and things WILL go wrong.
When you convince someone to go into a house armed and prepared to kill someone, you have to take responsibility that there's a risk someone in that house gets shot by accident.
Back home I can happily approach a police officer at night while drunk asking for directions and expecting general help and friendliness. It feels safe when they are around.
In the US and I am in the presence of a police officer I feel threatened and unsafe, even though I am a law abiding citizen.
A good way to check logic is to test the statements against other scenarios.
> The guy lied with the intent to get heavily armed people to point guns at someone.
What if we apply your reasoning to politicians that lied in order to enable invasions of other countries? Does that mean they also committed mass murder and war crimes? If no, then please explain what is the difference? If yes, then why are the politicians not charged?
What if we apply your reasoning to the same exact scenario but instead of it having been false, this was where there was an actual armed attack and a victim had been made to open the door and then been shot within seconds by the policeman? In that scenario, would you not say that the policeman had committed an act of murder or at least gross negligence leading to murder?
edit - And in your second scenario, that would be negligence causing a homicide. It wouldn't be murder unless there was an intent to kill the hostage.
It honestly feels like we're stuck in some bad Nash Equilibrium. If criminals wouldn't have guns then the police would not have to engage with guns, but they do, so their best response is to engage with guns out and ready to fire.
The amount of force used by the American police is literally mind-boggling to read about for a European (Netherlands, in particular). The whole gun culture is so insane.
On the other hand, police got word from an armed hostage (!) situation, so it does make sense in a way. The police can't really say "Oh well it's probably a fake call, let's not engage with our guns."
I'm so on the fence on this one, it's really sad and stupid that we have to have this conversation.
so it is ok to kill a hostage? the police didn't see a gun, and it would actually be very probable that a hostage would be made to open the door.
A 28 year old person was shot dead when he opened his door. In what universe is anyone responsible for this except for the fucking police, shooting the UNARMED guy who simply opens the door at his mothers house?
Honestly we live on the same planet, but in different worlds.
Well, it happens - http://edition.cnn.com/2017/07/17/us/minneapolis-woman-kille...
In this universe, where someone called in a hostage situation knowing that a full blown SWAT team would be sent in.
I am in no way saying that the police were anything other than completely and utterly in the wrong to shoot that man.
What I am saying is that doesn't absolve the responsibility of the person intentionally calling in SWAT in the United States because they're upset with someone over a $1.50 bet. With how often there are news stories about plain officers shooting unarmed civilians, you have to know that calling in a SWAT team carries with it the chance of death.
I honestly, seriously don't understand why this is controversial.
If a person "SWATS" someone, they do so knowing that they're putting people's lives at risk. That's why they do it. IMO this guy should get more than manslaughter. He was trying to get people shot for a laugh (and apparently this wasn't even the only one he had done!).
I was trying to figure out how prevalent swatting is in the U.K. and if it could go this wrong. At least here the police don’t have to be as afraid of an armed defence which gives them less of an excuse for overreacting
And someone swatted Mumsnet: https://www.newstatesman.com/sci-tech/2015/08/troll-hacked-m...
But generally the lack of trigger-happy police makes it much less likely in the UK. I suspect a lot of protocol was built up in the era of regular (most, but not all false) bomb threats from the IRA.
I won't go into to details of what will happen to this wimp behind bars, he doesn't look so tough.
But it cannot be that some stupid "kid" somewhere murders people for fun.
(no use to discuss police and use of arms in the USA)