North Carolina grand jury indicts officer for voluntary manslaughter for killing schizophrenic teen

February 4, 2015

Good news from North Carolina: A grand jury has indicted Officer Bryon Vassey for voluntary manslaughter. He is the officer who allegedly said, “We don’t have time for this,” before shooting and killing a schizophrenic teenager who had been subdued by two officers.

Think Progress has the story,

Officer Bryon Vassey was one of three officers from different North Carolina precincts to respond to a call by the family of 18-year-old Keith Vidal last month. The teen, who suffered from schizophrenia and weighed just 90 pounds, had apparently picked up a small screwdriver and wasn’t putting it down. But his parents say the two other officers already had the scene under control when Vassey walked in. They say the third officer simply tased Vidal, then took out a firearm and shot him dead, saying “we don’t have time for this.”

Records show Vassey was at the Vidal residence for just 70 seconds before calling in that shots had been fired, reports the North Carolina Star News.

The two officers who had subdued Vidal before Vasey arrived were cleared of wrongdoing by the North Carolina Bureau of Investigation.

I wrote about the incident here.

In the Boiling Spring Lakes case, there were three different officers at the scene. The first two didn’t open fire, but Vassey did. His lawyer, W. James Payne told CNN that Keith Vidal attempted to stab one of the officers multiple times with a screwdriver, but the officer was wearing a bulletproof vest, did not request assistance and was not injured.

Vidal’s stepfather, Mark Wilsey, who witnessed the shooting with Vidal’s mother, told CNN that the detective disrupted the situation,

“(He) walks in the room, walks around the corner, (and) says, ‘We don’t have time for this. Tase that kid now. Let’s get him out of here.'”

At a protest following the shooting, Keith’s mother warned,

“My word that I want to get out to every family who has a mentally ill patient: Do not call the police department for help,” Vidal’s mother told reporters. “Because your son will probably get shot and killed, just like mine did. Think twice about who you call for help.

Vassey has to post a $50,000 bond by today or surrender himself at the county jail.

I was really beginning to wonder if a grand jury would ever indict a cop. This indictment gives me some hope.

In other good news, a week before Christmas a jury in Missoula, MT rejected Markus Kaarma’s claim of self-defense, based on Montana’s stand-your-ground statute, and convicted him of deliberate homicide for the shotgun killing of a 17-year-old German foreign exchange student named Diren Dede. After an unsolved burglary, Kaarma installed some motion sensors in his garage and set a trap by leaving the door open with his wife’s purse in plain view. When Dede set off the sensor, Karma entered the garage and fired his pump shotgun four times, killing Dede.

Kaarma, whose case is similar to the Byron David Smith case in Minnesota (he also was convicted), will be sentenced on February 11th.

These three cases provide a basis for guarded optimism. I use the word ‘guarded’ because the victims in the three cases were white and I am not convinced the results would have been the same, if they had been black.


What did McCulloch know and when did he know it

December 20, 2014

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Good morning:

What did Robert McCulloch know and when did he know it?

Monica Davey of the New York Times reports that McCulloch admitted during a radio interview yesterday,

Mr. McCulloch said the grand jury was able to sort out whose testimony to believe, and acknowledged that witnesses he did not believe to be truthful had come before the jurors. Mr. McCulloch said that one female witness, who provided testimony that appeared to bolster Officer Wilson’s account of events, “clearly wasn’t present” when the shooting occurred.

In her testimony, the woman whom Mr. McCullough appeared to cite, acknowledged a history of feelings that “others consider to be racist,” gave various reasons for being near the shooting, and described extensive memory problems from a head injury in a car crash. Asked whether he believed the grand jury had given credence to the woman’s testimony, Mr. McCulloch said, “none whatsoever,” and added that the grand jury also heard from other witnesses whose testimony was also in doubt. “It went both directions,” he said.

There is a huge difference between knowing Sandra McElroy committed perjury when she testified before the grand jury and doubting the credibility of other witnesses who also testified.

I am going to be very specific. No ethical prosecutor would ever consider putting a witness before the grand jury if they knew the witness was going to lie. Furthermore, an ethical prosecutor, who found out that a major witness had committed perjury, would inform the grand jury that the witness had lied and instruct them to disregard her testimony. If the ethical prosecutor discovered that the witness had lied after the grand jury decided not to indict, he would summon a new grand jury and present the case to them without the lying witness.

McCulloch’s excuse that falsehoods went both ways basically cancelling each other out, therefore, no harm no foul is unacceptable. McElroy is the only witness who backed up every material claim Darren Wilson made. Her influence is baked into the grand jury’s decision not to charge Wilson and cannot be carved out by claiming other witnesses lied. He does not know that. He believes it because he wants to believe it and he wants to believe it because Darren Wilson is a member of his tribe. They are on the same team. Wilson is a white cop and he’s a white prosecutor who works with white cops disproportionally prosecuting black defendants.

The foul stink of racist driven corruption is suffocating.

Governor Nixon needs to appoint a special prosecutor immediately.


Weekend reads and open thread

November 22, 2014

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Good afternoon:

The waiting continues as we are being told that the grand jury did not reach a decision yesterday regarding whether they should indict Darren Wilson.

I won’t bother to speculate about what is going on because I have already decided that the process is illegitimate.

Meanwhile, most of you have been following Shaun King’s fine work analyzing the Michael Brown shooting. Here is his latest, Video: Police lied. Mike Brown was killed 148 feet away from Darren Wilson’s SUV.

FYI: Here is an excerpt from a book by George Lakoff titled, The Strict Father Is at the Core of Conservative Ideology and Values.

For a pleasant change of pace, check out this article by Paul Bibeau titled, Should We Defund The Pentagon And Give That Money To Canadian Musicians?

Best wishes to all,

Fred and Crane


Police version of the shooting of Vonderrit Myers is not credible

October 10, 2014

Friday, October 10, 2014

Good afternoon:

For the following reasons, I do not believe the official police version of the shooting death of Vonderrit Myers.

A police officer cannot stop someone he suspects of committing a crime, unless his suspicion is reasonable. That is, a mere hunch is not sufficient unless it is based on an articulable set of objective facts and circumstances that would cause a reasonable person to suspect that a crime is being committed, was committed or is about to be committed. See: Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968).

Race does not qualify as a reasonable suspicion. An investigative stop based on race alone is racial profiling, a Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment civil rights violation.

An arrest must be supported by probable cause or reasonable grounds to believe that a person committed a crime.

I have yet to hear any justification by the St.Louis Police Department for the officer’s attempt to stop and question Vonderrit Myers and two others other than they were ‘acting suspiciously.’

Acting suspiciously is an opinion, not an articulable objective fact or circumstance.

Therefore, I see a police officer violating the civil rights of Vonderrit Myers and two others that ended when he shot and killed him.

St.Louis Today is reporting,

A shot to the head killed an 18-year-old teenager shot to death Wednesday during an encounter with an off-duty police officer, the medical examiner said Thursday.

Preliminary autopsy results showed that Vonderrit Myers Jr. was shot from six to seven times in the lower extremities, said Dr. Michael Graham. The fatal shot entered the right cheek and was recovered in the body, Graham said.

Sen. Jamilah Nasheed had suggested at a press conference earlier Thursday that the teen had been shot in the back of the head, but the autopsy did not find any gunshots to the back of Myers’ head.

I also have a difficult time believing that the officer waited for Myers to fire three shots, attempt to unjam his gun and fire more shots before he drew his own gun and squeezed off 17 shots.

That sounds like a movie script, not a real-life event.

As I stated in my post yesterday,

Many cops carry difficult-to-trace firearms acquired under questionable circumstances for the sole purpose of throwing them down on people they arrest or kill.

I have yet to hear whether any gunshot residue was found on Meyer’s hands and clothing.

I do not believe the official police version of this shooting, given the attempted unlawful stop, the absence of evidence that any gunshot residue was found on Myers’s hands and clothes, and information from witnesses that Myers was armed with only a sandwich, including the shopkeeper from whom he purchased it a few minutes before the encounter.

If you like what we do, please take a moment to make a donation.

Thank you.


Yet another young black man killed by a cop in St.Louis

October 9, 2014

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Good morning:

More trouble in St.Louis last night.

An off-duty police officer shot and killed an 18-year-old black male in St.Louis last night. According to the police chief, the young man fired 3 shots at the officer during a chase. The officer returned fire squeezing off 17 shots.

A gun was recovered at the scene and a ballistics investigation confirmed that it had been fired three times.

The young man’s family is claiming he was not armed, raising the possibility that the officer might have used a throw-down weapon.*

The shooting is under investigation.

Hopefully, the victim’s hands were bagged at the scene and the ME will check for the presence of gunshot residue on them before washing the body prior to the autopsy.

The gun should be checked for prints.

*Many cops carry difficult-to-trace firearms acquired under questionable circumstances for the sole purpose of throwing them down on people they arrest or kill.

Please consider making a donation, if you like what we do.

Thank you.


Open-carry enthusiasts in Ohio protest a police shooting that killed a young black man in a WalMart

October 8, 2014

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Good morning:

In this bizarre country where up is down and down is up, open-carry enthusiasts in Beavercreek, OH demonstrated inside a Walmart against a white police officer for shooting and killing twenty-two-year-old John Crawford III inside the Walmart on August 5th. They openly carried their weapons as they strolled through the store.

Crawford, who is black, was carrying an unloaded toy pellet gun that he apparently intended to purchase when the officer, who responded to a 911 call from a Walmart customer reporting a man with an unboxed AR-15 waving it around and pointing it at people, confronted and shot him to death. A state grand jury refused to indict the officer, however, a federal grand jury is now investigating whether to indict him for violating Crawford’s civil rights.

Raw Story reported on Monday,

About 40 open-carry activists protested the Aug. 5 police shooting of 22-year-old John Crawford III at the Beavercreek retailer after a grand jury declined last month to charge the officer who killed him.

In addition to weapons, the demonstrators carried signs that said “I am John Crawford” and “Serve and Protect. Not Serve to Kill.”

According to attorney Michael Wright, who represents Crawford’s father, he watched a store video that shows Crawford walking around the store with the unpackaged toy rifle that he picked up in the toy department and carrying it in his left hand as he was holding a cell phone to his ear with his while speaking the mother of his two children.

Crawford’s father and Wright said the video showed Crawford carrying the BB gun in his left hand, pointed at the floor, except when he momentarily swung the rifle to his shoulder.

Although there were other shoppers in the store, no one else called 911.

And the killings continue.

Check out the video at the beginning of this post and share your thoughts.

If you appreciate what we do, please make a donation.

Thank you


Police officer shoots and kills schizophrenic 18-year-old

January 10, 2014

Friday, January 10, 2014

Good afternoon:

We have yet another tragic incident to consider in which a police officer shoots and kills a mentally ill person.

CNN reports:

A man calls 911 saying his family needs help. His wife is scared of their schizophrenic son, armed with a screwdriver. One, then two, then three law enforcement officers — all from different agencies — arrive. After the situation calms somewhat, according to the family, a tussle ensues.

What happens next?

In a case this week out of Boiling Spring Lakes, North Carolina, one officer responded by firing his gun, killing 18-year-old Keith Vidal, who was mentally ill.

The teen’s furious family soon take their case public, saying there’s no justification for Sunday’s shooting. Vidal, they say, weighed all of 100 pounds; he was mentally ill, yes, but he was a “good kid.”

The shooter is Byron Vassey, a detective with the Southport (NC), Police Department, which has placed him on administrative leave pending an investigation of the shooting.

The legal test to apply is whether the officer reasonably believed that Keith Vidal was an immediate danger to himself or to others. Writing for the majority of the SCOTUS in Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 396-397 (1989), Chief Justice Rehnquist explained the test as follows:

Determining whether the force used to effect a particular seizure is “reasonable” under the Fourth Amendment requires a careful balancing of ” `the nature and quality of the intrusion on the individual’s Fourth Amendment interests’ ” against the countervailing governmental interests at stake. Id., at 8, quoting United States v. Place, 462 U. S. 696, 703 (1983). Our Fourth Amendment jurisprudence has long recognized that the right to make an arrest or investigatory stop necessarily carries with it the right to use some degree of physical coercion or threat thereof to effect it. See Terry v. Ohio, 392 U. S., at 22-27. Because “[t]he test of reasonableness under the Fourth Amendment is not capable of precise definition or mechanical application,” Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U. S. 520, 559 (1979), however, its proper application requires careful attention to the facts and circumstances of each particular case, including the severity of the crime at issue, whether the suspect poses an immediate threat to the safety of the officers or others, and whether he is actively resisting arrest or attempting to evade arrest by flight. See Tennessee v. Garner, 471 U. S., at 8-9 (the question is “whether the totality of the circumstances justifie[s] a particular sort of . . . seizure”).

The “reasonableness” of a particular use of force must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, rather than with the 20/20 vision of hindsight. See Terry v. Ohio, supra, at 20-22. The Fourth Amendment is not violated by an arrest based on probable cause, even though the wrong person is arrested, Hill v. California, 401 U. S. 797 (1971), nor by the mistaken execution of a valid search warrant on the wrong premises, Maryland v. Garrison, 480 U. S. 79 (1987). With respect to a claim of excessive force, the same standard of reasonableness at the moment applies: “Not every push or shove, even if it may later seem unnecessary in the peace of a judge’s chambers,” Johnson v. Glick, 481 F. 2d, at 1033, violates the Fourth Amendment. The calculus of reasonableness must embody allowance for the fact that police officers are often forced to make split-second judgments — in circumstances that are tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving — about the amount of force that is necessary in a particular situation.

As in other Fourth Amendment contexts, however, the “reasonableness” inquiry in an excessive force case is an objective one: the question is whether the officers’ actions are “objectively reasonable” in light of the facts and circumstances confronting them, without regard to their underlying intent or motivation. See Scott v. United States, 436 U. S. 128, 137-139 (1978); see also Terry v. Ohio, supra, at 21 (in analyzing the reasonableness of a particular search or seizure, “it is imperative that the facts be judged against an objective standard”). An officer’s evil intentions will not make a Fourth Amendment violation out of an objectively reasonable use of force; nor will an officer’s good intentions make an objectively unreasonable use of force constitutional. See Scott v. United States, supra, at 138, citing United States v. Robinson, 414 U. S. 218 (1973).

In the Boiling Spring Lakes case, there were three different officers at the scene. The first two didn’t open fire, but Vassey did. His lawyer, W. James Payne told CNN that Keith Vidal attempted to stab one of the officers multiple times with a screwdriver, but the officer was wearing a bulletproof vest, did not request assistance and was not injured.

Keith Vidal’s stepfather, Mark Wilsey, who witnessed the shooting with Vidal’s mother, told CNN that the detective disrupted the situation,

“(He) walks in the room, walks around the corner, (and) says, ‘We don’t have time for this. Tase that kid now. Let’s get him out of here.'”

The North Carolina Bureau of Investigation is investigating this shooting.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

This is our 846th post in 26 months.

I absolute hate begging, but if beg I must . . .

We have been asking for donations for a week now, but have received only 4 donations totaling less than $50. We get hundreds of visitors and several thousand page views per day.

Takes a lot of time and effort to post articles every day and run a blog.

We also have bills to pay and we cannot continue to do this without your support.

Please make a donation today.

Fred


%d bloggers like this: