Something Feral

Digging up the flower-beds.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

To Serve and Protect (Our Interests)

Mistakes were made, others will be blamed:

Maria de la Torre, 45, was shocked by a Taser and shot with a gun at least twice in the torso about 4 a.m. Sunday by two police officers who are now on administrative leave, police said. De la Torre died later that day at Natividad Medical Center.

Police reports said the officers fired because they saw De la Torre threatening them with what they believed was an ice pick or knife. Later, they said, they discovered the weapon was a crochet hook. A police spokesman said an unnamed witness confirmed the police officers' accounts.

The emphasis above is mine. Now, consider this:

But Jose Liceo, De la Torre's husband, and Maria Perez, a friend and neighbor, said they saw the confrontation and insist De la Torre had nothing in her hands when officers shot her. Based on descriptions given of the scene, Liceo was standing about 10 feet from the incident, and Perez about 40 feet away.

"She got killed like an animal, a deer," Liceo, 50, said in Spanish. "We had called for help and she got shot as if she were a criminal."

I have a few questions:

- If an emergency call was made with a reasonable expectation of medical aid, why wasn't an ambulance dispatched with law enforcement if there was a concern for safety?

- Why do police departments issue "less-lethal" weapons if they only seem to be used as a prelude to execution?

- Without the addition of medical training to police training, how do the police expect to make an informed decision on a potentially-lethal use of a Taser?

As a community, as a State, as a Nation, we should be expecting more moral and ethical restraint from our police than this. I'm sure the phrase "poor judgment" will appear somewhere in the ensuing fray, but it seems that despite the consistent and aggressive use of "poor judgment" on the part of the police is not only ignored, it is both subsidized and encouraged by our government. (A bit of a naked assertion, but I'll back it up tenfold on challenge.)


Elusive Wapiti said...

" is both subsidized and encouraged by our government."

Well, I'd say it is encouraged for no other reason than the cops won't be punished for her death.

Leadership failing to apply consequences for poor judgement serves as encouragement almost as effectively as if the leadership had given them a pat on the back.

Their lack of corrective action will be interpreted as the standard.

Something Feral said...

Yes, tacit approval is still approval, and I don't expect Salinas PD to actually do anything here without a heavy legal prompt.

Salinas has a per-capita murder rate about twice that of the national average, largely due to a high amount of gang violence. I believe this is more than symptomatic of an underlying problem with the community leadership tolerating police abuse in the same of "cracking down" on crime... However, the attitude assumed for such excess doesn't just vanish into the ether when the police respond to other calls.

It's rote-procedure versus active thinking. Amusingly, anything rote could be replaced by robots in the future, a la shades of RoboCop. Or in a style more befitting our government, ED-209.