Police shooting policies need rethinking

July 30, 2012

By Steven Greenhut

While sitting in a restaurant in Philadelphia’s Chinatown during my first visit here in more than a decade, I watched TV news reports of violent protests erupting in normally placid Anaheim after two fatal police shootings the prior weekend. It was shocking. The footage of riot-clad police tussling with and firing nonlethal weapons at protesters brought back bad memories of growing up in the Philly area in the 1960s and 1970s.

These days, Philadelphia is a surprisingly calm place, but back then, when tough-guy Mayor (and former police commissioner) Frank Rizzo ruled the roost, there were frequent confrontations. The worst incident actually came in 1985, after Rizzo had left office, when city cops dropped a bomb on a row house occupied by a black liberation group. Eleven people died, including five children. Those were dark times, but it seems Philly has learned some lessons that have eluded many California police forces.

While Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait (pictured above) thankfully is no Frank Rizzo, he tried his hand at tough-guy rhetoric at a news conference after Tuesday’s violence: “Vandalism, arson and other forms of violent protest will simply not be tolerated in our city. We don’t expect last night’s situation to be repeated but if it should be, the police response will be the same: swift and appropriate.”

Of course, we all are against violence, vandalism and arson. Indeed, the mother of one of the men killed by police poignantly called for calm. But I can’t agree that the police response was appropriate.

Tait, who rightly called for an outside investigation of the police shootings, over the objections of other council members, needs to work harder to live up to the promises he made when became mayor. Tait promised to foster a culture of “kindness” in the city. I know he means it, and he told me he is deeply concerned about some police actions.

Police culture

Anaheim’s police culture echoes the old Los Angeles Police Department culture that valued aggressiveness over community policing, and the city administration has shown no willingness to confront it. City police have shot six people this year, five fatally, under varying circumstances.

Sunday, an Anaheim gang officer shot and killed Joel Acevedo, 21. Police said Acevedo fired at the officer during a foot chase. A handgun was found lying between the man’s legs.

But it was the shooting July 21 of Manuel Diaz that brought people out on the streets.

Diaz, 25, reportedly ran from police, possibly from plainclothes officers. He was unarmed. According both to a lawsuit filed by his family and witnesses quoted in the media, one officer shot him near his buttocks; another officer then shot him in the head.

Police reportedly left the mortally wounded man on the ground without calling an ambulance. It’s not hard to understand the resulting outrage.

Fullerton death

After Fullerton police beat to death an unarmed homeless man last July, hundreds of people took to the streets in protest, and there were no violent encounters. Fullerton authorities just left the protesters alone. In Anaheim, the police — bolstered by reinforcements from other police agencies — cordoned off downtown streets, stood in riot gear and fired nonlethal projectiles at the crowd, including at journalists.

I covered one police shooting in Anaheim in 2008. A 20-year-old newlywed stepped outside his house with a wooden rod in his hand after hearing a ruckus nearby. Police had been chasing a robbery suspect, and when the young man came out of his house, they shot him to death. Even Police Chief John Welter, who still leads the department, said the man “was innocent of anything that the officer thought was going on in that neighborhood.” Yet, apparently, nothing has changed since then.

Powerful police unions

While Anaheim has a greater need than some other cities to re-evaluate its policing policies, problems with police use-of-force problem are endemic throughout the country and, especially, in California, where police union priorities — i.e., what’s best for officers, not the citizenry — have dominated policy decisions for decades.

Recent news reports show a significant increase in police-involved shootings in many areas of California. Police shootings account for one of every 10 shooting deaths in Los Angeles County, according to a Los Angeles Times report. Videotapes of the encounters often show that the official version of the story is at odds with what really happened. No wonder police agencies spend so much time confiscating video cameras from bystanders, something that should chill every freedom-loving American, whether on the political Left or Right.

The California Supreme Court’s Copley Press vs. San Diego decision in 2006 allows allegations of police misconduct to remain shrouded in secrecy. The public can access complaints against doctors, lawyers and other professionals but, in California, misbehavior by public employees who have the legal right to use deadly force often is off-limits to scrutiny. Because of an exemption in the public-records act, police agencies need not release most details of their reports of officer-involved shootings.

Furthermore, the Peace Officers Procedural Bill of Rights in California’s Government Code gives accused officers such strong protections that officers can rarely be disciplined or fired. The “code of silence” is alive and well in police agencies.

Most police department citizen-review panels are toothless. We should never condone violent protests, but it’s not hard to understand the recent frustration in central Anaheim. What if it were your child or your neighbor’s child?

It’s time for a real discussion about how police should deal with the community and under what conditions they should use deadly force. It’s time to bring California in line with other states and open records to greater public oversight. If Mayor Tait is serious about creating a safer and kinder city, he will need to insist on this debate, regardless of the expected pushback from the police unions.

No comments

Write a comment
  1. Robert D. Livingston
    Robert D. Livingston 29 July, 2012, 22:27

    Dear Mr. Greenhut,

    When you have walked in the shoes of a Police Officer for at least 6 months, you will come to realize that you have it all wrong!!!

    Sorry, but your rhetoric is not worth the paper you wrote on!

    A former Peace Officer!

    Reply this comment
  2. NTHEOC
    NTHEOC 29 July, 2012, 22:44

    Pure garbage greenhut!!!
    First off, I am not a police officer. Second, can we at least address the violent felons by their real gang member names, Manuel ‘Stomper’ Diaz and Joel ‘Yogi’ Acevedo! Lets see here, one gang member reaches into his waist band and pulls out a gun shooting at officers(he’s a good boy though)!The other gang member is a known felon who has been known to carry weapons and is caught in a stolen vehicle doing who knows what crimes and runs.He is also reaching in his waist band!! So i’m sorry steven greenhut, I do not expect the officers to find out what the heck he’s pulling out.(but he also was a good boy and best son a mom could want)hah!!!

    Reply this comment
  3. NTHEOC
    NTHEOC 29 July, 2012, 22:52

    Steven greenhut says,
    “”the mother of one of the men killed by police poignantly called for calm.””
    ======
    Sure she did, she has $50 million riding on it now and i’m sure the atty is feeding her notes as she speaks!! Has this enabling mother of a gangmember ever called for calm and protest gang violence? Yaaaa rrrrright!!!!!!

    Reply this comment
  4. CalWatchdog
    CalWatchdog 30 July, 2012, 00:54

    Mr. Livingston: When I was growing up in Michigan, my father was the local judge for 25 years. I knew well the police chief and lots of cops. The guys back then wouldn’t have shot an unarmed man, no matter what. Nor would they have beaten to death a homeless man, as the Fullerton cops did to Kelly Thomas. I remember there was a homeless man — a bum he was called circa 1970 — who wandered around our town of Wayne, Mich. Whenever Hutch got hungry or cold, he would wander over to the police department and the cops would give him food and shelter in exchange for him washing their cop cars.

    Something has changed since then in many cop cultures. Part of it was the change in the LAPD culture Greenhut mentions, which spread to many departments. It fostered an us vs. them attitude, with citizens seen as the enemy. And Greenhut also mentions the Peace Officers Procedural Bill of Rights, obtained for the ultra-powerful cop unions by the good liberal Gov. Gray Davis and the Democratic Legislature of the late 1990s, which gave cops virtual immunity for any mayhem they may cause. It’s a more violent counterpart to the general story of recent years of unaccountable government.

    But as with the immense government waste in most areas of government, the cop violence is breeding a backlash.

    — John Seiler

    Reply this comment
  5. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 30 July, 2012, 02:18

    When you have walked in the shoes of a Police Officer for at least 6 months, you will come to realize that you have it all wrong!!!

    LOL…another GED cop with his fictional spin of the job.

    First, cops do not WALK, they sit on their chair shaped butts 95% of the shift, in a car or in an office, and most of that time, 75% or more- is either writing reports or doing nothing. If you’re a sheriff working the jail you do a 10 minute round on th ehour to check the inmates-the rest of th etime it is computer games, ask the OC sheriffs dept. Oh, some watch “Cops” instea dof talking to their BF or GF or playing video games.

    Second- it is an unskilled job, where a GED gets you hired, and the rest of the skills are OTJ training, fully paid for by taxpayers, that is why you get 5,000 people applying for every 1 open slot….and after all the cronyism, nepotism, consent decrees and military hires are scammed in and are done the odds are 50,000 to one of getting hired on.

    Reply this comment
  6. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 30 July, 2012, 02:22

    And Greenhut also mentions the Peace Officers Procedural Bill of Rights, obtained for the ultra-powerful cop unions by the good liberal Gov. Gray Davis and the Democratic Legislature of the late 1990s, which gave cops virtual immunity for any mayhem they may cause. It’s a more violent counterpart to the general story of recent years of unaccountable government.

    This is why when you sue the PD, you do it in federal court, where the court laughs at those state created immunities. You want to see the cops file in a federal lawsuit, you ask for it in discovery and there is not a thing the PD can do about it-except turn it over, and let me tell you something, you will be amazed at things that are in there.

    Reply this comment
  7. Ted Steele, Janitor
    Ted Steele, Janitor 30 July, 2012, 07:58

    Greeny—- A “vet” like you ought to know by now that comments before the investigation are usually wrong. Wait for all the facts little buddy!

    John– Please stop telling us the “my dad was a judge so I saw some cops story”….. Alot of folks out here ARE judges and cops in the modern era– your story is not compelling or persuasive of anything. Sorry man.

    Ted

    Reply this comment
  8. NTHEOC
    NTHEOC 30 July, 2012, 09:33

    Steven greenut says,
    What if it were your child or your neighbor’s child?
    =============
    LOL,my children are not gangmembers or thugs and they are taught to obey the law and respect authority!! nothing to worry about here, now you may need to worry about your kids greenhut! i’m sure with your mentality of cops are the bad guys,firefighters are evil,and do not listen to your teachers because they are union thugs is cause for you to worry about them!!!

    Reply this comment
  9. NTHEOC
    NTHEOC 30 July, 2012, 09:43

    greenut says,
    I covered one police shooting in Anaheim in 2008. A 20-year-old newlywed stepped outside his house with a wooden rod in his hand after hearing a ruckus nearby. Police had been chasing a robbery suspect
    ====
    Ok,what a terrible set of circumstances to come across for all involved! I hope the officer was able to come back to work,if not he deserves a disability pension for the mental stress of that night and what he had to endure from that call. Let’s see here about a lesson learned. If you hear a nearby ruckus “OUTSIDE” your home that you feel you need to arm yourself with a weapon. 1)stay inside,2)lock your doors,3)call the police and stay put in your house and do not come out like your chuck norris!! I could never imagine chasing down a robbery suspect and having a guy come out of nowhere with a weapon! How many split seconds do they have to decide?

    Reply this comment
  10. CalWatchdog
    CalWatchdog 30 July, 2012, 10:04

    NTHEOC: I see your point. We should cower inside our homes and never go outside to sweep the porch or yard, always fearful that one of our uniformed “servants” might kill us. That’s why we pay the high taxes.

    — John Seiler

    Reply this comment
  11. Ted Steele, Janitor
    Ted Steele, Janitor 30 July, 2012, 10:31

    Greeny and Johnny—

    Man you guys left skeptical and arrived at cynical a while ago. It’s a human system, populated by humans. There will always be mistakes sadly. The review and policy process is actually pretty good. Training and examining the process is always good. But your mantra is a bit intellectually dull amigos.

    The Ted System Inc. LLP

    Reply this comment
  12. NTHEOC
    NTHEOC 30 July, 2012, 10:37

    CalWatchdog says
    NTHEOC: I see your point. We should cower inside our homes and never go outside to sweep the porch or yard, always fearful that one of our uniformed “servants” might kill us. That’s why we pay the high taxes.
    =================
    Slow down john, you are missing the point big time! This was not somebody outside sweeping the porch or mowing the lawn or doing some other outdoor activity. This happend in the middle of the night, this man armed himself with a weapon,i.e wooden rod,steel rod,etc, and came outside his home after hearing a dangerous type ruckus.If he would have stayed inside and called police(why you pay taxes) and let them handle it this horrible situation would have been avoided.I would even go as far to say the robbery suspect if caught should have been charged with murder because of the actions he initiated. What would the outcomes be like if these thugs just manned up and said”you caught me” instead of resisting? I still believe in good vs bad and your support for the bad guys astounds me!! BTW, i would have never guessed your father was a tax eating public trough feeder judge.your description of public employees,not mine!!

    Reply this comment
  13. Ted Steele, Janitor
    Ted Steele, Janitor 30 July, 2012, 10:53

    Well said NTHEOC—-

    God I remember when (long before the religious right and the teabaggers) Republicans supported law enforcement. Now folks likes John’s dear old Dad are considered by the folks on this blog as scum essentially. What happened to the Republicans? After you folks lose this election (yours to win of course…) I wonder if you’ll re think allowing the lunatic fringe in the wheelhouse? Seems like extinction is headed your way.

    Ted– Pol Analyst

    Reply this comment
  14. Ted Steele, Janitor
    Ted Steele, Janitor 30 July, 2012, 10:56

    For instance– This clown Beezytool is a pretty typical Repub these days.

    He thinks the President is a Muslim ™
    J Roberts is stupid
    The Pres was born in Kenya
    Pres Bush took down building 7
    and on and on

    Why have you let these loons grab the wheel of your party? The good Repubs are tiny these days……wow.

    Reply this comment
  15. Ted Steele, Janitor
    Ted Steele, Janitor 30 July, 2012, 10:56

    Discuss at once—

    Reply this comment
  16. Ted Steele, Janitor
    Ted Steele, Janitor 30 July, 2012, 11:09

    Post #14 of course would also apply to Rex the Poodle another poster out here ubiquitously.

    Reply this comment
  17. Rex The Wonder Dog!
    Rex The Wonder Dog! 30 July, 2012, 15:44

    Teddy Steals=11111111111111111111%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%% BABY!

    OK, enuf said. The Pit Bull has spoken 😉

    Reply this comment
  18. Ted Steele, Janitor
    Ted Steele, Janitor 30 July, 2012, 16:50

    Please have the last word troll.

    Reply this comment
  19. Donkey
    Donkey 30 July, 2012, 17:33

    Good article Steven. The fact that LE RAGWUS members are allowed to gun down, beat down, and flat out murder citizens of the United States at will is clear from the murders I have read about over the past 20 years.

    Derek Hale, a two tour Iraq war vet was gunned down sitting on his friends front porch. The man in Long Beach sitting on a stairwell step gets murdered by a cops with shots to the top of his head. Ashley MacDonald was gunned down in the middle of a park by two cowards of the HBPD.

    Nothing in our Constitution gives the police the power to murder citizens. It in fact restricts the power of government agents to do so, yet over my 55 years I have seen the police become execution squads, with no accountability.

    Only lately has the DA of the OC charged an on duty cop with murder for their actions, and the accused are being treated with kid gloves. Where are the tens of charges that the non-LE citizen recieves at every hearing? Where is the terrorizing that takes place when a non-LE citizen is accused? It doesn’t happen because the RAGWUS is the RAGWUS, no matter what bureaucracy, all are liars, thieves, and parasites, feeding off the private sector workers. 🙂

    Reply this comment
  20. Ted Steele, Janitor
    Ted Steele, Janitor 30 July, 2012, 17:53

    Duncey– The reason cops have rarely been charged is because police fatal shootings are rarely murders. You write like a drama queen. mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

    Reply this comment
  21. Donkey
    Donkey 30 July, 2012, 18:43

    Ted Steals, you must live your life by your “Golden Rule,” He that holds the gold makes the rules!

    The LE RAGWUS sociopaths commit murder on citizens everyday. Just because they control the courts, prisons, and politicians doesn’t make it any less true for the victims. 😉

    Reply this comment
  22. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 30 July, 2012, 19:16

    Teddy Steals = GED Cop….Might be George Jamarillo even 🙂

    Reply this comment
  23. NTHEOC
    NTHEOC 30 July, 2012, 20:30

    Rex the Wonder Dog! says
    Teddy Steals = GED Cop…
    =========
    If I had a dime for every comment you post with the initials “GED”, I would be a millionaire!!!! Have you a new language that includes GED,GED,GED in every sentence.lol!!!

    Reply this comment
  24. Ted Steele, Janitor
    Ted Steele, Janitor 30 July, 2012, 20:35

    he has a very small imagination/vocabulary.

    Reply this comment
  25. NTHEOC
    NTHEOC 30 July, 2012, 20:36

    Donkey says,
    Derek Hale, a two tour Iraq war vet was gunned down sitting on his friends front porch.
    =======
    Now the real story!Hale,was member of the Pagans Motorcycle Club.
    In November 2006, the Delaware State Police concluded an 18-month narcotics investigation which led to the arrests of 12 people – including some members of the Pagans’ Delaware chapter – for drug and weapons offenses. Authorities searched Pagans’ homes and seized personal property in a series of raids.
    Hale, a “person of interest” in the investigation, was Tasered and shot to death by police who said they feared for their safety after confronting him at the home of another Pagan because Hale refused to remove his hands from the front pockets of a hooded sweat shirt.
    Again,a gangmember and drug dealer refusing to follow orders!!

    Reply this comment
  26. Ted Steele, Janitor
    Ted Steele, Janitor 30 July, 2012, 20:36

    Duncey— Drama Queen.

    Reply this comment
  27. Ted Steele, Janitor
    Ted Steele, Janitor 30 July, 2012, 20:38

    Classic reply intheoc—- once again Duncey shoots from the hip and wounds himself.

    Reply this comment
  28. NTHEOC
    NTHEOC 30 July, 2012, 20:44

    Donkey says,
    The man in Long Beach sitting on a stairwell step gets murdered by a cops with shots to the top of his head.
    =======
    The real story!!
    long beach residents called 911 to report a man seen with a gun,
    Douglas Zerby suffered multiple gunshot wounds when Long Beach police officers shot at him Sunday, believing the water nozzle he was holding was a gun, according to authorities. He was carrying the metal-tipped object, grabbed it with two hands and pointed it at them. Now thats a stupid thing to do unless you want to commit suicide by cop! We could always charge the residents for murder for calling and lying about a man with a gun!!

    Reply this comment
  29. Ted Steele, Janitor
    Ted Steele, Janitor 30 July, 2012, 21:42

    ntheoc– Thanks for some truth.

    Reply this comment
  30. NTHEOC
    NTHEOC 30 July, 2012, 21:48

    Ted Steele, Janitor says:
    ntheoc– Thanks for some truth.
    =============
    Anytime!!

    Reply this comment
  31. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 30 July, 2012, 23:52

    If I had a dime for every comment you post with the initials “GED”, I would be a millionaire!!!! Have you a new language that includes GED,GED,GED in every sentence.lol!!!
    ==============

    LOL…I only do it b/c it gives you a major meltdown everytime you see it!

    Reply this comment
  32. Donkey
    Donkey 31 July, 2012, 07:11

    Ntheoc, as Americans we are not the slaves of any government bureaucracy. You however, being a RAGWUS feeder, have the belief that we are subjects to the state KGB, and the Constitution no longer has relevance.

    Hale was on a “Toys for Tots” run you fool, and Doug Zerby was minding his own business when a gang of blue clad thugs showed up. Hiiding inside upstair apartments, the cowards never said a word, but in their typical all too cowardly practice, shots rangout and another murdered unarmed citzen and the murderers are cleared of any wrong doing. Ashley, how can any normal male justify two men gunning down a 120lb teenage girl, standing in the middle of a park.

    The worst, and most disturbing part of all the murders conducted by LE RAGWUS members is that there are people like ntheoc that can still lick the boots of the murderers with a smile. 🙂

    Reply this comment
  33. Donkey
    Donkey 31 July, 2012, 07:15

    Ntheoc wrote: “We could always charge the residents for murder for calling and lying about a man with a gun!!”

    Sure, and we could charge the kids in Aroura Colorado for showing up to watch Batman and then getting wounded of murdered, that is the extent of your logic dude!!! It is the folks with the guns that are doing the murdering Ntheoc, not the unarmed citizens walking the streets. 😉

    Reply this comment
  34. Jesus
    Jesus 31 July, 2012, 12:43

    If your not from the hood don’t comment on gangs period. All y’all can say what you say but the police is the biggest gang in America. I’ve seen it in person, t.v. and many stories and articles. The man was shot in his own front yard! The only crime he committed is living in the hood and like myself he hails form Anaheim, I would know. Manuel was hanging out in front of his apartment complex with friends! If he had a backyard that of course comes with a house he would still be alive. But living in the projects my whole life not one time have I lived In a house so at times, you might find me sharing a word or two with a friend in front of my home. So why come harass us? He ran because he doesn’t like police because he knew and experienced the pigs won’t give him a fair greeting instead they just harass us. We’re going to use this shooting as an example and we will prosecute to the full power of the law. We’re hoping for a maximum sentence for the pig officer so it could be used as an example for all the other trigger friendly coc using cops.

    Reply this comment
  35. NTHEOC
    NTHEOC 31 July, 2012, 19:20

    Manuel was hanging out in front of his apartment complex with friends!
    =============
    You mean”STOMPER”diaz was chillin with his homie gangbangers looking to commit some crimes!!lol. I just love the quote from his gangster friend in the ocr paper.””Michael Gonzalez, 25, said: “We were still talking about what we wanted to do when we grew up.”” hahahhahaah, oh the thug life!! Thank you to the APD for saving us the tax dollars….

    Reply this comment
  36. Donkey
    Donkey 1 August, 2012, 05:40

    Ntheoc, it is not about money. It is about state sponsered murder. However the lawsuits for those murdered will be in the millions. 😉

    Reply this comment
  37. Nancy Lewis
    Nancy Lewis 8 August, 2012, 17:03

    CHP Michael Walling and CHP Steve Coffman found liable and guilty of excessive use of force and battery in the shooting of Joseph Pinasco! Found liable to pay over $1,000,000.00 each!
    joeypinasco.com God Bless the 8 jury members and Judge Kimberly Mueller

    Reply this comment

Write a Comment

Your e-mail address will not be published.
Required fields are marked*



Related Articles

3 plans, no budget

JULY 2, 2010 The governor has a budget proposal. Democratic senators have a budget proposal. Assembly Speaker John Perez and

Uneasy Riders

JUNE 18, 2010 The key is how many will ride the train. That’s all: how many people, say, 15 or

AB 917 would send charter schools to the back of the class

The popularity and success of California’s 900 charter schools aren’t making everyone happy. Union leaders have tried to organize the