Fixed To Fail: Justice (updates)

The shooting of Tamir Rice

Dec. 28, 2015:

The ploy of "seeking justice through the courts", a favorite of those Malcolm X referred to as the hand-picked Negro leaders, ran its predictable course: a grand jury declined to indict the Cleveland cop who fatally shot 12-year-old unarmed Tamir Rice.

The shooting of Eric Harris

June 30, 2016:

Apparently, the pay-to-play deal Bob Bates cut to play cop ("volunteer reserve deputy") didn't include the impunity clause that seems to be standard issue for regular union killer cops: on April 27 2016, a jury convicted him of second-degree manslaughter in the April 2 2015 shooting death of Eric Harris. The local media reported:

Bates testified May 3 on his own behalf in an effort to be released on bail as he awaited sentencing, using much of his time on the stand to describe his poor health and complain about hardships of being locked up in the Tulsa Jail.

A judge denied bail and then on May 31 sentenced Bates to the maximum punishment allowable — four years imprisonment, upholding the jury’s recommendation.

Recap: the judge denied bail, the jury recommended the maximum punishment, and the judge agreed. Clearly, Dude's charm mojo was on the fritz. What went wrong?

Ever since his first interview (two weeks after the shooting), Bates, 74 years old, has consistently agonized over the distress the whole affair has caused in his life, while apparently oblivious of his responsibility for taking a human life.

On the other hand, Bates has good grounds for an appeal if he claims "ineffective assistance of counsel": what competent lawyer would let him act like an ass, and essentially be cross-examined, on national TV before the trial? Especially when he seems to be cursed with a slight case of the Dick Cheney sneer, making his words seem to issue from The Heart of Evil itself...No doubt, Bates' collossal ego could not resist the offer of 15 minutes of star-time, but any sane lawyer should have firmly nixed the idea.

Dick Cheney
Dick Cheney: the face we loved to hate
Bob Bates
Bob Bates on TV: the face of contrition

Or maybe it was all calculated to toss Bob Bates under the bus. About two weeks after the interview, a secret recording from 2012 was leaked to the press, where Bob Bates bragged that he doesn’t pay his lawyer, but instead uses his position at the sheriff's office to do favors for the lawyer. Maybe Bob got the quality of legal services he paid for...

Anyway, given the corrupt environment that allowed him to run around with lethal weapons, it's certain that he won't actually serve much of that four year sentence - which would explain why there doesn't seem to be any appeal planned.

So much for the deterrence effect of imprisonment...

Sep. 16, 2016:

But, less than four months after Bates' sentencing, before anyone had much of a chance to make uplifting speeches about how "justice was served", a regular Tulsa cop, Betty Shelby, had been caught on video fatally shooting another unarmed person, Terence Crutcher, and has been charged with manslaughter.

In this case, the same prosecutor that charged Bates with second-degree manslaughter is now going for first-degree manslaugter - which is more difficult to prove. In Oklahoma, conviction for second degree only requires establishing that the killing was neither excusable nor justifiable - as in Bates' case of “culpable negligence”. But conviction for first degree requires establishing that killing was in heat of passion, or was an unnecessary killing committed while resisting the victim's attempt to commit a crime. The prosecution seems to be claiming that the killing met both those criteria: A court filing by prosecutors said Shelby “unlawfully and unnecessarily” shot Crutcher because he was refusing to comply with her orders.

Shelby “reacted unreasonably by escalating the situation”, according to an affidavit from Doug Campbell, Kunzweiler’s chief investigator, who alleged that she became “emotionally involved to the point that she overreacted”.

Although it would seem obvious that the shooting was unnecessary (Shelby shot at the same time that another cop fired a Taser!), it is not difficult to imagine the defense attorney claiming the other cop wrong for using the Taser, or claiming that Shelby saw something the other cop did not see, blah, blah.

Joe Friday On the other hand, the defense against the claim that she became "emotionally involved" merely requires that she testify with sufficient dispassion (preferably in uniform), to tap the jury's stone-cold Joe Friday archetype, implanted by Dragnet and other propaganda. Meanwhile, the prosecution certainly wants to avoid giving the appearance of sexism when claiming that a female cop became “emotionally involved to the point that she overreacted” - which means there's a limit to how vigorously that claim can be pursued.

In short, the case already looks fixed to fail.


Fixed To Fail: Justice (video)

Are calls to arrest, judge, and imprison killer cops effective in changing/eliminating the existing power structure - or do they only help maintain that system?