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Conservatively liberal, moderately well-educated, and highly opinionated...

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Wednesday, December 28, 2005


My opinion on Monday's shooting is likely to be unpopular...

Something is really starting to bother me about the NOPD's situation, and I'm more worried about this than perhaps anything else that’s come up from Katrina to date.

Yes, the NOPD used lethal force on a man who lunged at them with a knife, but this is precisely what police are trained to do – not just in New Orleans. Everywhere. I don’t expect the police to “shoot to maim”, or wait to get a mental health report – particularly when there are as many innocent bystanders around as there were on St. Charles Ave.

It is a terrible tragedy any time a situation becomes deadly like this, but the New Orleans Police Department does not appear to have been doing anything other than protecting citizens and themselves, per policy and training. This independent watchdog group stated the problem very well:

Even if it's determined that officers have done nothing wrong, the people will continue to have a negative opinion of police in this city" because of scandals over the past 10 to 15 years, said Rafael Goyeneche, executive director of the Metropolitan Crime Commission of Greater New Orleans.

That’s very scary. If this continues long enough, New Orleans will be every bit as unsafe as it used to be (or more so), because its police department will not be able to act without second guessing themselves into paralysis.


  • At 10:56 AM, Blogger westrom said;

    if this was in LA, we would have race riots. although this was not about race, but about the nopd being above morality and the law.
    there is absolutely no reason to kill someone like that. they could have: shot in the leg, shot in the hand holding the knife, tasered, hit him with a two-by-four, let a police dog loose on him, hit him with a car, or just use the martial arts practice that every policeman should have. i know fighting a man with a knife is the first lesson you learn in any defensive martial arts training... i cannot for the life of me believe 12 cops can't subdue a man with a knife without killing him. and what about the shoot to kill policy? shouldn't we rather call it "shoot-to-avoid-lawsuits" policy?
    also, i can't believe there isn't more of an uproar about this... they had the man beaten in the quarter on tv for weeks, and now when cops kill a mentally disabled black guy, it is just news for 2 days. but then again, executing them used to be legal until a couple years ago. and people got used to police abuse, it is not that new anymore.
    i am an adoptive new-orleanian, but i think only a complete purge of nopd can cure all these ills. and we have to start by refusing to accept what has been and still is the norm with the nopd: their above-the-law status. we can't keep hiding our problems...

  • At 8:46 PM, Blogger bayoustjohndavid said;

    I'm way more inclined to agree with Polimom than Westrom on this. What Westrom's calling for isn't practiced by any police force in the country. If a cop truly has to shoot, he better aim for the body. If cops start aiming for the hand, they'll start missing. Who knows what they'll hit. There are guidelines for how close cops can safely let knife wielding suspects approach. The rules might have been broken here, but these are real life city cops, not movie secret agents. Whoever started the firing may well have jumped the gun (sorry for the word choice), I think we'd have to see the part of the tape they're not showing to answer that. Point is none of us can judge that from what we saw on TV.

    One more thing, whether its the NOPD or air marshalls doing the shooting, what does the victim being a mental patient have to do with anything. Either law enforcement overreacted to a perceived threat, or they didn't.

  • At 9:31 PM, Blogger Major Lagg said;

    The police do not shoot for arms or legs. Limbs are quite hard to hit and quite ineffective. And the police do not shoot to kill. They shoot to stop the aggression.

    This guy already struck a store employee. Every one in the neighborhood can swear to how docile he was. He could still go off at any time.

    The problem could have been easily handled if NOPD had issued Tasers to all officers. The situation would have been resolved before the fourth officer arrived on scene.

    But, the civil rights groups swear that Tasers are dangerous. Congrats to them. The only other choice is to shoot people like this.

  • At 11:04 AM, Blogger Polimom said;

    major lagg is quite right, and target practice at feet, legs, etc., is WAYYY risky.

    And yes - tasers are dangerous... but the civil rights folks are just not gonna be able to have their cake and eat it too on this issue.

    I appreciate westrom's sentiments, but I disagree that the NOPD was acting "above the law"... nor would those proposed alternatives have gone uncriticized. Hit him with a car? A 2x4? Turn a dog loose?

    Imagine the outcry.

    I also agree with bayoustjohndavid: the man's mental disability (actually, I read that he was schizophrenic...?) is irrelevant to the circumstance.

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