Saturday, July 23, 2005

Man Killed in London Not Linked to Blasts

I don't want to be to hard on London, because it seems that for the most part, they are handling these things better than we would. But this is the kind of thing that is going to happen when everything you do is guided by fear of a worst case scenario. With recent events, I understand they have reason to be afraid, but you really need to be a lot more sure what you're doing when you shoot and kill someone. As far as I can tell, they had no other reason to believe he was a terrorist than that he had heavy padded clothes on, and while thatmay be plenty of justification for suspicion in London these days, it certainly isn't any justification to shoot someone, and especially not to shoot to kill. Also, according to this article, they had him pinned down before they shot him, so I don't get where the urgency to shoot him would come from.

Also, it looks like the Mayor is trying to pin this guy's death on the terrorists, and while that may make everyone feel better, I don't see how this one is their fault. We need to find some real legitimate ways to fight terrorism instead of being guided by fear, because in the long run, that will just make things worse.

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23 comments:

Christiana said...

Um, well, he had heavy padded clothes on in the middle of Summer after leaving a house that was under surveillance and trying to run away from the police and board a train after being ordered to stop.

Not definitive, but if he HAD been a terrorist, those police could have just saved dozens of lives. Turns out it's a tragedy, and I don't want to blame it all on him, but he should have known better than to try to run from the police and board a train like that.

John Howard said...

Yeah, IF. We could just shoot everybody, then we'd definitely get the terrorists. Running from the police or wearing the wrong clothers should not warrant a death sentence. And why did they need to kill him? From everything I've read, they had him pinned down, and if they thought that he had to take action to detonate, then they should have prevented him from taking that action and if he had something that was going to blow up anyway, then shooting him wasn't going to do them any good. And if he was so suspicious, why not stop him before he got to the subway? Like I said, I don't want to be too hard on them, but there are way too many things wrong with this one.

manxome said...

"Um, well," christiana, jackets are not against the law. Living in the wrong apartment building is not against the law. Running is not against the law. And depending on how it played out, running from 20 regularly clothed people coming after you is usually a good idea.

If the police are interested in saving innocent lives, perhaps they can refrain from, um, well, taking innocent lives.

Patrick said...

John, John, John. "Why did they have to kill him?" This isn't a John Wayne movie, where you can shoot him in the leg and he gives up. He was attempting to elude, was dressed in an extremely suspicious manner, and resembled the description of the suspects on the day following the second BOMBING IN A MONTH.

Here's a clue for you. When the police say halt, you halt. Fleeing the police makes them extremly nervous and somewhat pissed off. It's never a good idea to act suspiciously, quadruple bad in London and exponentially bad near the mass transit system of London.

It's unfortunate that he chose to engage the police like this, and it cost him. Yes, he engaged them. Dressing like it's the middle of winter, jumping turnstyles (or whatever he did), and resisting arrest.

Mistakes were made on both sides, but his was first and cause the incident. EOS

John Howard said...

I ask why they had to kill him because it said they had laready pinned him down and shot him at point blank range. It didn't matter whether or not he wanted to give up, they caught him. So resembling someone is a capital offense?

Yes, obviously it would be nice if people didn't try to run from the police, but do you really want to give them license to shoot (and kill)anyone who doesn't? Maybe he had other reasons for not wanting to get caught by police, maybe he didn't know they were police, maybe he was deaf, whatever the case, not stopping for police is not an excuse for them to shoot you in the head. Acting suspiciously could mean anything, there's no way to know you're gulity of it until after they've shot you.

Dressing like it's the middle of winter is now a crime? That'sso ridiculous, I can't believe anyone would actually even say it.

His mistake may have been first, but the police's mistake was lethal. Which is worse?

Patrick said...

Your last question is quite easy to answer. His, because without his the lethal mistake doesn't happen.

He was shot because, even when tackled, he failed to comply with a lawful order to stop resisting. His profile was consistent with that of the terrorists that had attempted the attack the prior day.

You may not like it, but racial profiling (or more correctly, suspect profiling) is a necessary and effective tool of law enforcement and is one of the main reasons why you can sit and blog without ne'er-do-wells breaking into your house and stealing your keyboard.

If I, a pale white fellow of an advanced age, was walking to the tube wearing a winter coat, people would pity the poor daft bastard. If a young male, eluding the police and resisting arrest is wearing a winter coat the day after an attempted bombing, he gets dead.

Mistakes were made on both sides.

On the larger subject of shooting people who flee the police, I can't say I'm against that in the case where a subject is suspected of attempting to blow up hundreds of people. I'm not even sure I'm against it on a routine basis. Maybe as technology improves, we can have two different law enforcement weapons that can be used at long range. The kill-you kind, and the stop-you-but-don't-kill-you one.

Christiana said...

I agree with Patrick. It's a terrible tragedy that this poor man was killed, and without wanting to say it was all his fault, I think that he gave the police no choice.

Imagine this hypothetical. What if he actually did have explosives under that jacket. The police tell him to stop, but he refuses, running instead into a crowded tube station. The police pursue, but they don't want to kill him, so they shoot him in the leg. He falls over, they struggle with him, he manages to get one arm free and pulls a pin or a cord or pushes a button, the explosives go off and dozens of people are killed.

In that case, we would be saying. He was fleeing! He was struggling! He was a threat! The cops were armed! Why didn't they kill him before he could set off the explosives?

It turned out to be a mistake, and that's terrible, but he put the cops in the awful position of having to decide what risk they were willing to take. Risk shooting a man who might turn out to be innocent, even though he's acting very suspicious? Or risk death and destruction for who knows how many people?

I think the cops did the right thing, and though the man is not 100% to blame either, it's the terrorists who hold the rest of the responsibility, not the cops.

Chris Howard said...

"Witnesses said he was wearing a heavy, padded coat when plainclothes police chased him into a subway car, pinned him to the ground and shot him in the head and torso."

The weather in London over the last few days has been in the low to mid 60's and overcast. Maybe not padded coat weather exactly, but it's not summer in Florida either. My wife wore a heavy lined yellow coat in London last year in June some of the time.

According to the news reports, he was pinned to the ground before he was shot, so we're not talking about trying for that elusive leg shot. We didn't see it, so we can't know what happened for sure, but raising the question John is raising is certainly legitimate. If this guy had done exactly the same thing one month ago, would the same thing have happened? Or if it happens again in a few years, and there haven't been any recent local attacks? Clearly, there are times when police have to shoot suspects. But if we assume that everyone who runs from police is a potential suicide bomber, we can shoot everyone with impunity.

In response to Patrick, I would also say that people who question the actions of those in authority also play a large part in our freedom to sit here and blog without the government breaking in and stealing our computers as evidence in an investigaton.

Christiana said...

But if we assume that everyone who runs from police is a potential suicide bomber, we can shoot everyone with impunity.

Um, no. It means that running from the police is an even stupider thing to do now than it always was.

The easiest thing we can do to not be treated like terrorists is to not act like one.

Patrick said...

Chris Howard,
Since you apparently haven't read a single thing about what has happened in London, I'll inform you that a month ago this unfortunate episode would not have happened. The rules changed on 7/7, just like some things in the world changed on 9/11. The Metropolitan armed police now have shoot-to-kill orders, and the more they use them the less dumbasses there will be jumping turnstyles and generally acting a nuisance.

And if you think that bloggers play as important a role in our freedom as the armed services and public safety, you need to get a dose of reality. Former journalism student, or still in school? Your statement strikes me as holier-than-thou, just like the news media who think they're entitled to war plans and detailed exit strategies.

John Howard said...

I don't see how any of this guy's actions were "acting like a terrorist." The police may have had reason to be suspicious, I'm not arguing that, I'm arguing that they didn't have reason to shoot him in the head at point blank range. Regardless of whether he was resisting or not, that's an ridiculously extreme solution. And as I already pointed out in my post, I don't see how it gained them anything even if he had been a terrorist. And everyone's hypothetical situations about what if he was a terrorist just make me sick, because he wasn't. And I certainly don't want to live in a world where everyone is assumed to be a terrorist until their dead body is searched for explosives.

Patrick, if you say that this would not have happened a month ago, then you prove my point for me. Either this was the proper way to handle it or it wasn't. If it wasn't the proper way a month ago, then it isn't now. If you say it is, then you can justify any action, including shooting people for absolutely no reason. This is disgusting, an innocent man was killed. He ran from people who were police, but I'm not even sure that's a crime, and even if it was, they were apparently in plain clothes, so why would he necessarily know they were police? And even if he did, his mistake should not have cost him his life.

We could just live in a police state, then we would definitely be safer. I was going to ask you if that's what you're arguing for, but then looking at your comments again, I already see that you are.

Everyone plays an important role in our freedom, particulary those who question the government when it fucks up. Those who go along blindly with whatever the government does simoly because it's the government don't do anything for freedom.

It is honestly appalling to me that people are actually defending the shooting of an innocent man simply on the basis that he might have been a terrorist. That is insane. Civilized societies don't act that way. But congratulations to the terrorists for changing (some) people's definition of freedom.

Recidivist said...

Here are a few more clues:

He lived in an apartment block in which one apartment was under surveillance .. NOT his apartment. Not a house where everyone knows what everyone else is doing.

It rains in London and the weather forecast was for rain. Wearing a coat isn't so very strange.

If the concern was for public safety, why let him get on a bus and travel three miles on the bus?

The Police account doesn’t tally with any of the eye-witness accounts. Try this for size:

By far the most controversial claim comes from a number of witnesses who have cast doubt on police statements that they shouted a warning or identified themselves to the suspect before opening fire.

Lee Ruston, 32, who was on the platform, said that he did not hear any of the three shout “police” or anything like it. Mr Ruston, a construction company director, said that he saw two of the officers put on their blue baseball caps marked “police” but that the frightened electrician could not have seen that happen because he had his back to the officers and was running with his head down.

Mr Ruston remembers one of the Scotland Yard team screaming into a radio as they were running. Mr Ruston thought the man that they were chasing “looked Asian” as he tumbled on to a waiting Northern Line train.

Less than a minute later Mr Menezes was pinned to the floor of the carriage by two men while a third officer fired five shots into the base of his skull.
Again, Mr Ruston says that no verbal warning was given.


All of this happened not only in the most violent part of town, but the most violent part of the country. Only weeks before this same guy had been attacked in that area .. if someone not wearing a uniform suddenly points a gun at you, wouldn't you want to run like stink?

The simple fact is that he was behaving like an ordinary person and the moment we stop allowing people to behave like normal people, then we can say for certain that the terrorists have won.

The terrorists have won.

John Howard said...

Thanks recidivist, I wasn't aware of that much detail, and now that I am, it only makes me more disgusted with this whole thing.

Christiana said...

Regardless of whether he was resisting or not, that's an ridiculously extreme solution. And as I already pointed out in my post, I don't see how it gained them anything even if he had been a terrorist.

I'm sorry. Whether we agree or not about the police's actions, please don't play dumb. What it would have gained them if he HAD been a terrorist is that they would have prevented him from detonating his bomb.

We can debate whether or not what they did is right, but that statement is just silly.

John Howard said...

they would have prevented him from detonating his bomb.


I'm not playing dumb. They already had him pinned to the ground, so how does shooting him further prevent him from detonating a bomb? And the fact is, he didn't have a bomb, it was a ridiculous assumption driven by fear, and that's my whole point, that you can't decide someone's life on such a precarious assumption.

Patrick said...

Oh, Lord. "The terrorists have won", sayeth recidivist. Yes, because one innocent man, in proximity to where 50+ innocent Londoners were blown out of their shoes, ignores the police (just because the people in proximity to the shooting allegedly didn't hear the police identify themselves doesn't mean it didn't happen earlier and repetitively), resists and runs from the police, and is wearing an inappropriate garment for the weather (big difference between a raincoat and what has been broadly described as a heavy coat) is brutally killed by the police - the terrorists have won. Unbelievable.

This whining is coming from the very same crowd (not necessarily individuals here, as I don't really know you) that would be calling for Blair's job if this guy had gotten away from the police, had a bomb and detonated it. Or had detonated it while struggling with several policemen, killing them all and innocent observers also. You can't have it both ways, folks.

This unfortunate incident was brought upon by the innocent man's actions, not by police that picked him out of crowd, wrestled him to the ground, and popped him in the melon. He caused it. Don't resist, don't run from the police.

John, your last statement about shooting him when they alread had him pinned is answered easily. Just watch Cops. Two, three, four cops might have a guy immobile on the ground, but that doesn't mean they have control of his hands or other means of detonation. People who deal with terrorists regularly, like the Israeli commandos, deal with them in exactly this way. Once you cross the threshold, you are eliminated. You can finetune the threshold if you want, but that only costs police and bystander lives.

Not unlike the Marine who was caught by that twerp, shooting the terrorist in Iraq. He thought the guy moved and was a threat. Shoot him. If he was already dead, no threat. If he was a threat, threat eliminated.

John Howard said...

Jesus fucking Christ, we're arguing over whether or not he could have detonated something after being pinned to the ground, do you honestly not realize that he had nothing to detonate, and there was absolutely no reason to believe that he did? Raincoat, heavy coat, a gortex parka, it doesn't matter, maybe that was the only coat he had, regardless, it's not a crime. Sure it might be a reason to be suspicious, it's not a reason to shoot him in the head. Whether or not the police identified themselves is also pretty irrelevant, since they were in plainclothes and he had no reason to believe them. Besides, why would you not believe the witnesses if their stories are consistent? It's ridiculous, this guy didn't do anything wrong, and he's dead and that's disgusting. Being in the vicinity of where a crime occured earlier does not make someone a criminal. Neither does wearing a coat, neither does running when people are chasing you.

I guess we can kill everyone and then we don't have to worry about all these "threats", but I'm sure you'll stop being in favor of that strategy when someone is threatened by your actions.

Patrick said...

Jesus fucking Christ right back at you. Do you not realize that people fucking blew up buses and trains in London, and continue to try to do so. And you want people to shoot-to-wound, or ask nicely that suspects who match the profile of the perps please please please just come here and let us talk to you? Do you honest not realize that if he had just stopped and put his hands up, instead of running and jumping turnstyles and generally acting like someone who had something to hide, that he would be alive and in jail, or since he was so innocent, back at work doing his electrical thing?

Racial or suspect profiling is not only a good law enforcement tool, it's a necessary one. Let's see. Dusky, teen-to-twenty-something males are trying to blow up trains? Start by stopping all DTTTSMs and examining them closer. Beats the crap out of frisking grandma at the airport because a gaggle of mid-eastern males killed 3,000 New Yorkers.

As for witnesses, I've been a paramedic for 23 years and it would not be possible to cite every resident of jurisdictions where I worked who, after we had a documented 3 minute response time, got in front of a camera and said it took 45 minutes for us to respond. Witness accounts in stress situations are well established to be uneven at best and just plain faulty at worst.

And now John has declared that it's OK to run from the cops unless they have the Bobby hat and full Class-A uniform. Wait, Mr Suspected Terrorist. Let me show you my badge and ID and business card.

You are wrong about running from the police not making you a criminal. Sorry, but eluding the police and/or ignoring a stop order is illegal, which makes you a criminal. Not a capital offense, except in London where trains are being blown up.

Brings us full circle. If he had no reason to run, stop and put your hands up. Turnstile jumping - bad and suspicious. Running from the cops - bad and suspicious, especially in the Tube weeks after dozens of people were blown up in there. Resisting arrest - bad, especially when the reason you were being followed is because you are suspected of being associated with the terrorism.

Turned out to be a real bummer for everyone. Dead "innocent" guy (had just committed several criminal acts, however.) Family members and cops scarred for life. The Spanish Inquisition by gun-fearing-weenies.

Incidentally, I do feel badly that an innocent guy died. But not so badly that I'm just going to wholesale condemn the cops involved.

As for killing everyone, of course I'm not in favor of that. Ridiculous. Risky behavior like running from and resisting the cops puts you in another category. My repeated advise to people I know? When a cop says halt, running is not among the best uses of your time and energy unless you want somewhere between a "tune-up" or a lead injection.

This has ceased to be a John Wayne movie, where you can just wing the bad guy and he'll give up. The crazies out there that want to kill you and I and all 40 of your readers, will use their good limb to blow us all to kingdom come. Will your average terrorist be deterred by the threat that some twitchy cop might just shoot first and ask questions later? Probably not. Will the next kid who thinks it's sporting to run from the cops think twice about it? Probably. A fortunate side effect of an unfortunate incident.

Nice chatting with you. Love the place.

John Howard said...

people fucking blew up buses and trains in London

Uh, not this guy.

John Howard said...

Why are you so convinced that you know exactly what happened? You don't think it's even possible that this guy didn't know or believe that these people were cops? That's ridiculous. So you have no problem living in a police state? That's where your arguments take us.

Recidivist said...

They blew up busses and trains?

Gosh, if I'd known they did that in my city and nearly got my best friend in the process, then I wouldn't be so outraged at the killing of an innocent man, would I?

Anything I have to say to that sort of mentality is already on my blog, so I wont bore people with it all over again.

Patrick said...

I can answer you both in the same post. Ooohhh, the dreaded Police State! GMAFB, John. You can't seriously equate one police mistake (yes, even though the cop did the right thing in the situation it was a mistake) with the police state. However, true to the liberal talking points like the talk radio callers all day today, the cops are wrong and the poor innocent guy who ran from the cops was murdered by the Gestapo.

And, recidivist, if your best friend was actually killed I doubt you'd be so cavalier. As it is, it's good for you that you have no friends so you're none the worse for wear.

I like this place. At least when you guys are wrong, at least you're civil about it! Can I stay?

John Howard said...

No, I'm not equating one police mistake with a police state. I'm saying that when people like you argue that the police are justified in shooting innocent people on such flimsly suspicion, then that's where that argument will take us. Since any police action can be justified the same way, they don't have to have an reasonable justification, they just have to say they thought you might be a terrorist.

The guy was innocent. That's an indisputab;e fact, unless there is some additional information that we haven't been made aware of. Therefore the police were wrong, sinceit ispretty clearly wrong to shoot innocent people seven times in the head.

You can stay, I'm too lazy to kick anyone out.