Who Hijacked Our Country

Thursday, January 08, 2009

What’s The Difference Between a Revolver and a Stun Gun?

No, this isn’t a riddle. Bay Area Rapid Transit police officers can’t tell the difference. Or at least that’s the excuse they’re using.

On New Year’s Day there was a fight on a BART train in Oakland, CA. One of the people involved in the fight, Oscar Grant (unarmed), was forced to the ground by transit police officers. While he was lying face down, officer Johannes Mehserle drew his gun and shot him in the back, killing him.

Mehserle quickly resigned from the police department before he could be questioned. Some people are speculating that Mehserle thought Grant was armed (he wasn’t). Others are speculating that Mehserle thought he was firing a Taser and not a revolver. DUUUHHH!!!

As of this writing, Mehserle hasn’t yet been charged with a crime. And meanwhile Oakland is being torn apart by riots.

This wouldn’t be the first time a crooked cop has slithered away untouched. There was a similar case a few years ago in nearby Richmond, CA, another city with a high crime rate and an unaccountable police department. An off-duty Richmond cop shot and killed somebody during a bar fight. Prosecutors couldn’t (or wouldn’t) touch him because he was a cop. The police department couldn’t touch him because he was off duty. And off he went.

Here’s a link to the YouTube video that shows the BART shooting. And here are some more links to the shooting incident.

Since we seem to be reverting to frontier justice: Wanted, Dead or Alive — Johannes Mehserle.

cross-posted at Bring It On!

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18 Comments:

Blogger Lew Scannon said...

Just another public servant who can't be held accountable to the public it serves.

January 8, 2009 at 6:01 PM  
Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

"Oscar Grant (unarmed), was forced to the ground by transit police officers."

Let's see. The guy is face down and under the control of officers (plural), and one of them shoots him in the back.

At the absolute least, this is wrongful death and should lead to a humongous settlement or court award. If the prosecutor is up to it, maybe even first-degree murder.

Mehserle is clearly beyond incompetent. He has to have mental problems and/or was on something that made him spaced out.

As far as Mehserle not talking to anyone, he's almost certainly been told by his lawyer to clam up. Even so, he can't refuse or escape questioning by the two police investigations getting under way. He doesn't have to say anything that will incriminate himself, but he does have to undergo questioning.

January 8, 2009 at 8:30 PM  
Blogger People in the Sun said...

And you know no one would have ever known about it without the video.

January 8, 2009 at 10:01 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Lew: Gotta love these "public" servants.

SW: It sure sounds like 2nd degree murder to me. Probably not 1st degree since it wasn't premeditated. "Beyond incompetent" -- absolutely. It must be awfully easy to get onto that police force. You have to wonder what their testing and screening consists of; or if there even is any.

PITS: Thank God for those cell phone videos. I first read about this on a blog post 2 days ago, but even that was 6 days after the fact. Now of course it's all over the news. Another case of the Internet leading the news "media."

January 9, 2009 at 1:13 AM  
Anonymous Carlos said...

That's cute. Even if the guy was armed, unless the cop was in fear for his life or the life of others, there was absolutely no justification for shooting the guy. And if he can't tell the diff between a stun gun and a real gun...well, the guy needs to get bent over and given the high hard one.

They better get this fuck and prosecute him.

January 9, 2009 at 2:39 AM  
Anonymous kate said...

Cold blooded murder. All Americans should be up in arms over this. And it's only going to get worse. If you don't have your guns and ammo now, you'd better get them STAT. Tyranny is knocking at our doors.

January 9, 2009 at 6:40 AM  
Blogger Randal Graves said...

What happened to the bad ole stick? At least then Oscar Grant, though injured, would be alive to see a potential victory in court as opposed to having his life ruthlessly torn away from him. Now it's break out the lethality. I'm sure some cop spokesyokel will blather on about the need to protect oneself in a dangerous situation. Never know when that prone person is a cartoon ninja.

January 9, 2009 at 6:45 AM  
Blogger rockync said...

I saw the video and I am shocked and disgusted with that cop's behavior.
I WOULD be in full support of the protesters if I were not almost equally disgusted by the car burnings and lootings accompanying the protest.
You really have to wonder about the true motivation of some of the participants and their total disregard for this poor family whose cause is diminished by such boorish and criminal behavior.

January 9, 2009 at 9:39 AM  
Anonymous Thomas said...

I'd just like to be xtra sure about the terminology here.

While a taser is actually a type of stun gun, the expressions usually denote two different weapons.

It would be hard to confuse the two in any case but a taser is, at the very least, shaped like a gun and worn the same way, despite being much lighter and having different operating characteristics. A stun gun, on the other hand, generally resembles the remote control for your TV and could never be mistaken for a firearm.

Moreover, stun guns can't be fired at range. You have to touch the device to the person that you want to stun. That's why tazers are so much more popular; they can be used at a distance.

January 9, 2009 at 10:12 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Carlos: This is totally beyond any logic or explanation. Even a taser would be way out of bounds in that situation, let alone shooting him. He definitely needs to be prosecuted and jailed for a looong time.

Kate: That sure is cold-blooded murder. Tyranny really is getting worse. Where I live — near the Canadian border — the Border Patrol is getting more restless all the time. If you’re within 100 miles of the border, they can stop your vehicle without cause; and they’re doing this more and more.

Randal: No doubt the police spokesyokels will spin this, no matter what happens. “We’re protecting you from criminals and all you do is keep whining!” “If you get mugged, call the ACLU!”

Rockync: I agree, those riots are totally senseless. It always seems to work this way; whoever happens to be walking or driving by at the wrong time, or anybody who lives there or owns a business there, is the victim of the rioters. They need to be prosecuted too, no question about it.

Thomas: Thanks. I did kind of run the 2 things together — Taser and stun gun. I don’t know much about weapons.

January 9, 2009 at 12:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm horrified that transit police are armed at all. It says something really bad about the system as a whole that they carry guns.

This looks like just cold-blooded murder, and they need to prosecute it accordingly. No whitewash this time.

January 9, 2009 at 2:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well now we are in my back yard.

I'm questioning the wisdom of the cop quitting the force as wouldn't that make him a private citizen and no longer under the protection of the police in court?

As for the Riots everything I am hearing is that the Usual Suspects showed up - the "Anarchist" who are there for every event whether it's saving the whales or raising fines on parking meters.

I also know there were a bunch of thugs who were there for any chance to rumble. Oakland seems to be a gravitating point for outsiders who want to come and vandalize like the Raider's riot (when they lost to Tampa Bay) and some New Years Celebrations.

The guy who organize the protest fully intended it to be peaceful but he didn't count for the agitators.

But it does nothing to dispel that there is a lot of anger there of a population that sees their rights routinely ignored by the very
people who are supposed to protect them.

As Rodney King has shown a handy camera will protect your rights more then a legion of Cops, DA's and oversight committees/internal affairs units.

You mentioned Richmond Tom, almost 15 years ago the city after years of complaints had finally prosecuted a group of over a dozen cops known as the "Cowboys". In order to join the Cowboys you have to have had made 5 false convictions, that means arrest 5 people for crimes they did not commit, have them found guilty and done jail time.

It was one reason why I never lived in Richmond.

If we put this cop away (and Odds are against it) do we breath a sigh of relief and say "the system works" or do we (like me) say we need to take a real close look on how cops conduct their business and realize doing so does not mean (as the conservatives insist) that by doing so the criminals win.

I was once driving through the affluent city of Palo Alto and a cop pulled me over, he demanded my license and registration ignoring my request to tell me why he was pulling me over. He ran a check on me (I am clean) then came out with his hand on his gun when he got another call. He handed me by my papers saying he had a emergency and said "don't let me catch you in Palo Alto again"

Oh my crime? I had a burned out light on my license plate.

Erik

January 9, 2009 at 3:03 PM  
Blogger Ricardo said...

Can you believe this crap? I saw it on the news. I don't think he mistook it for a tazer. Did he snap or something? Whatever the case this is going to fester until there is a trail and a guilty verdict is handed down. If he is let off all hell will break lose. They had the guy down on the ground. They won. Why shoot?

January 9, 2009 at 4:00 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Anonymous: It's a bad sign that transit cops need guns. In some of the bad parts of Oakland, maybe they need them. But they need to know when not to shoot somebody, like when the suspect is lying face down, unarmed.

Erik: That's the trouble with these demonstrations that turn into riots. Even when it's for a good cause, the Usual Suspects have to come along and fuck everything up. That cop definitely needs to be put away, either legally or by vigilantes. But more importantly we need to get to the bottom of why there are so many shitty cops out there. How are they trained and screened?

That sucks about being told "don't let me catch you in Palo Alto again."

I remember reading about the Richmond Cowboys.

Ricardo: Yup, this is totally unreal. All I can think of is that the cop must have snapped. You're right, all hell will break loose if this guy isn't put away.

January 9, 2009 at 4:17 PM  
Anonymous Laura said...

I wonder what kind of screening some of these police get before being handed a badge and a gun? Sure, they need people who are risk takers and like excitement, who else would want the job, but they need to do better screening to find the psychos in the bunch or the "Voted Most Likely to Snap."

January 9, 2009 at 8:08 PM  
Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

Comments about there being an always-eager bunch of anarchists around who will use any excuse to destroy and loot everything in sight are all too true. They exploit incidents like this, infiltrating peaceful protests for their own ends. They no more care about the victim than they care about the man in the moon.

On further thought about this (somewhat echoing Laura, above), I wonder if Bay Area transit cops are subject to the same screening, training and testing as city cops. If not, and if they're to be armed even with tasers, they should be as trained and qualified as city cops, at least.

You can be sure, BART and/or local government is about to get hit with one hell of a lawsuit. I'll bet the award ends up being enough to do a lot of careful screening and training.

January 9, 2009 at 9:51 PM  
Anonymous Paul Malden said...

Awful. Just awful

January 10, 2009 at 11:27 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Laura: I wonder too. As despicable as that transit cop is, he shouldn't have made it through training. Or at the least, a supervisor should have noticed that he was a ticking time bomb.

SW: I agree, if transit cops have the power and authority of regular police officers, they need the training and oversight to go with it. BART has already been hit with a huge lawsuit, but somehow that never seems to deter anything. There have been a lot of cases where a city or police dept. gets sued for millions of dollars for police brutality, and the guilty cop stays on the force and keeps getting regular promotions. Doesn't sound much like "leadership" to me, but what do I know?

Paul: Yup, it sure is awful.

January 10, 2009 at 1:47 PM  

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