There’s just too much news for one diary, given the complexity of some of the cases, so I’ll break it into two or three posts.
Another assassination by police that’s almost too sad to bear: ‘Bipolar daughter needed help, cops ‘ended up putting a bullet in her’ – parents’ (RT, April 5)
“A bipolar Alabama woman was gunned down by Auburn police after her parents had called 911 to seek help in getting her to a mental hospital. Melissa Boarts was driving on an interstate when cops pulled her over and shot her for her “threatening manner.”
The Auburn Police Department said Boarts, 36, exited her vehicle on Interstate 85 on Sunday and was “armed with a weapon and charged the officers in a threatening manner,“ the Associated Press reported. Auburn police officers then fatally shot her.
The family attorney, Julian McPhillips, said Boarts was armed with only a pocket knife at the time of the shooting, AP reported. Police said they did not know what type of weapon she had when she exited her vehicle.
McPhillips, the Boartses’ attorney, lambasted the department’s officers for their aggressive actions in a situation where Melissa did not have a gun.
“We just think it was so unnecessary,” McPhillips said. “She had a pocket knife on her, and she’s only 5 feet 4, maybe 130 pounds against these big old husky law enforcement officers. They could have Tased her or used a stick or something. They didn’t need to shoot her.”
The Auburn PD has withheld details of the shooting, and has sent body cam footge to the State Bureau of Investigation, although the police chief “believes the shooting was justified, and that his officers only last month received training for how to handle situations involving people with mental health issues”.
The stats on how often the mentally ill or disabled are killed by police in the article are illuminating and tragic. Fuck the police.
‘Former Texas officer who fatally shot unarmed woman found not guilty’; Daniel Willis cleared of murder charges in the 2014 death of Yvette Smith by visiting judge who chose jurors in Sandra Bland case’, the Guardian
Lewis was cleared of murder charges in a retrial by a visiting judge, his trial last September having ended in a mistrial due to a deadlocked jury, 8-4 in favor of a guilty verdict. This time, Willis waived his right to a jury trial. Now this was the same judge who’d chosen jurors in the investigation into Bland’s alleged suicide although he is a critic of Texas law that he calls ‘fraught with avenues of abuse’.
“Yvette Smith was seemingly trying to act as a peacemaker during a dispute between two men that involved a gun. She called 911 about half an hour after midnight on 16 February 2014. When Bastrop County police arrived at the house, at least one of the men was in the front yard and the worst of the disturbance appeared over.
Willis, who is white, saw Smith, a black 47-year-old former caretaker, and ordered her to come outside. As she opened the door he shouted “police!” then fired within about three seconds. She died in the hospital after being shot twice by the deputy, who was using his personal AR-15 semi-automatic rifle.”
Now keep in mind that Willis lied while claiming Smith was armed, had been turned down by other law enforcement agencies (Austim PD said he failed their psych eval), had been said by one SD to have his staff jig his training records. Still just before he delivered his verdict, he apportioned some of the blame to the two fighting men in the yard, then then he had the huevos to quote this:
“He asked Willis to stand and quoted an excerpt from a speech Theodore Roosevelt gave in 1910: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds …”
Now Judge McCaig must have considered this Peace Officer Willis’s ‘valiant struggle’:
“In the prosecution’s closing argument on Thursday, special prosecutor Forrest Sanderson said that the state opted for a murder charge because “his decision to shoot and kill Yvette Smith was intentional and knowing”. He said that Willis indicated no remorse and quoted him telling an investigator that “‘she fell like lead’. As if he’s in a video game.”
Sanderson said that though the scene was dark and Willis suffers from poor night vision and was 40ft from Smith, he did not put on his tactical glasses. Protected by a bulletproof vest and using his SUV as cover, Sanderson said, “he had plenty of time to respond by taking a careful look, taking a second look, taking a third look if he needed to. He could have given commands to drop the gun, moved around, observed that situation as long as he needed to before ending Yvette Smith’s life.”
“Why does everybody else get to be scared except Daniel Willis?” asked his defense attorney; when you are a police officer and you encounter apparent danger you are trained to eliminate that threat.”
Too bad so many of them are so afraid that they kill with such abandon, or are only too eager to act as prosecutors, judges, and juries:
‘Lawsuit Proceeds Against Cops Accused Of Fatal Beating In Staten Island’, the Gothamist
O.M.G.: “The officers arrested 52-year-old Irving Mizell at the scene at around 6:30 p.m., and according to a lawsuit filed by Mizell’s daughter, Shandrica Edwards-El, dragged him down seven flights of stairs, beating him along the way.
The lawsuit claims that there were several working elevators that the officers could have taken, but that they chose the stairs knowing that NYCHA buildings don’t have cameras in the stairwells. The suit claims further that at the neighborhood’s 120th Precinct Mizell made repeated pleas for medical care, but the officers “intentionally [denied] or [delayed] access to medical care, and intentionally [interfered] with the treatment once prescribed.”
Paramedics arrived to drive Mizell to Richmond University Medical Center in an ambulance shortly before 9 p.m., and doctors at the hospital pronounced him dead on arrival, the suit says. Mizell suffered head, neck, back, and body injuries, and doctors declared the death the result of those injuries, according to the lawsuit.
The Medical Examiner’s Office, however, found that his death was accidental, caused by heart failure brought on by a heart defect and exacerbated by muscle relaxers and alcohol in his system.
Thomas Giuffra, one of Mizell’s family’s lawyers, told the Daily News:
“To say his death was an ‘accident’ is absurd. It’s shocking to me that this could happen in New York City in the 21st century.”
His brother George lamented: “My brother was complaining he couldn’t breathe. He was crying, actually screaming he couldn’t breathe, and, you know, his cries fell on deaf ears, just like Mr. Garner’s, and he died in that precinct,” he said.”
Attorneys for the city blamed Mizell for his own death, of course. The case is ‘ongoing’, as is, apparently, the ‘investigation’ into the killing of drummer #CoreyJones:
CNN has at least part of the story, but briefly it’s that Jones’ car broke down near Palm Beach Gardens on his way home from a gig; he’d phoned a band-mate friend who arrived at the car and called a tow truck, then headed on home. ‘On duty’ peace officer Raja in plain clothes and driving an unmarked car, stopped to investigate what he’d taken for an abandoned car.
“As the officer exited his vehicle, he was suddenly confronted by an armed subject,” Stepp said. “As a result of the confrontation, the officer discharged his firearm, resulting in the death of Mr. Corey Jones.” [snip]
“Authorities said they recovered a handgun at the scene and paperwork showed Jones bought it three days before the shooting.
Officials have not said whether that gun was fired. There is no dashboard camera footage of the shooting nor was the officer wearing a body camera.
What led to the confrontation and shooting is unclear.
A source close to the investigation told CNN on condition of anonymity Wednesday that investigators believe the shooting was a result of Jones and Raja misidentifying each other.
Raja “was working as part of a detail related to a string of burglaries in the city,” Stepp told reporters Tuesday.
The anonymous source told CNN on Wednesday that investigators believe Raja may not have made it sufficiently clear he was an officer and that Jones may not have heard what the officer said.
Palm Beach Gardens police have not said how or whether Raja identified himself to Jones.” (Well that might be awfully relevant to the case…)
“Corey Jones was a God-fearing man who dedicated his life to doing the right thing. He lived every moment to the fullest and was an inspiration to many; the kind of son, brother and friend people could only hope for,” his family said.”
How many more months might a ‘thorough investigation’ take?
#JusticeforLoreal I’ll do by Tweet
Killed by Police on Facebook tracks corporate news accounts of the killings; yesterday they’d tallied: At least 1,207 people were killed by U.S. police in 2015. The Guardian’s The Counted (interactive) has tallied 281 in 2016.
[Updated] and sorry to make it longer, but this is so fresh, and seems so sinister:
‘Police brutality and homelessness collide in aftermath of San Francisco killing; The story of Luis Gongora, shot dead by police this week, reflects city’s twin crises and raises alarming questions about the official and witness accounts of the shooting’, the Guardian, Julia Wong. Please consider reading her brief vignette, bless her heart.
She spoke with witnesses and neighbors, both in the tent encampment on Shotwell Street, and in the apartments and lofts above, almost all of whom found Gongora a charming man who spent much of his time kicking a soccer ball at a wall, and came to some ‘alarming conclusions’ as to the variance between their accounts of his killing…and those of the S po-po.
“Gongora was shot and killed by two police officers on Thursday, shortly after 10.00am.
Police say they were called to the scene by members of the city’s homeless outreach team who reported a “suspect waving a large kitchen knife”. Two of the responding officers opened fire – first with beanbag rounds and then with live ammunition.
Shortly after the shooting, police chief Greg Suhr told reporters that after the initial volley of beanbag rounds, Gongora “charged” at the officers with the knife. The officers then opened fire with live rounds.
That claim has been disputed by witnesses, including other residents of the encampment such as Grant and her partner John Visor, both witnesses to the incident.
Gongora was transported to a local hospital where he was declared dead around 1pm.”
Wong spends some worthy time writing of Gongora’s relationship with his hermano Raybon, who inherited his tent after his murder. She interviewed several of Gongora’s ‘upstairs’ neighbors, including ‘47-year-old documentary filmmaker named S Smith Patrick, who has lived in a second-floor loft on Shotwell street for 14 years’.
“We never had a problem with him,” Smith said of Gongora. She recalled how her young son would sometimes practice the Spanish he learned in class with the homeless man.” Other occupants on the block recounted much the same: ““He was a really decent fellow, not violent. We never worried about him.”
“The police department’s insistence that Gongora “charged” at the officers with a knife has already prompted several witnesses to come forward to challenge that account.
Patrick [the very pregnant filmmaker above], the woman who lived opposite Gongora’s tent, and whose six-year-old son occasionally spoke with him in Spanish, is the latest to contradict the police’s version of events.
“Her account, one of several provided to the Guardian, all of whom have contradicted the police’s account, could be the most significant to date. Patrick saw the shooting from her apartment window, where she had an unobstructed view of the incident as it unfolded directly across the street.
“He never charged them. There’s no way they were going to get hurt from the knife,” she said, adding that she is “enraged” by the police department’s version of events.”
Referencing video obtained by the San Francisco Chronicle which apparently shows the police cruisers arriving on the scene and provides audio of the gunfire, which began just 30 seconds after the officers exited their cars Patrick told Wong
“…that she was sitting at one of four windows in her apartment when she heard someone shout, “Get on the ground.” She ran to the next window and saw Gongora.
“He was on the ground, crouched with his head between his knees,” she said.
“He didn’t get up until they were shooting,” she said. “I would by no stretch of the imagination say that he was charging them. His body was recoiling from bullets.
Patrick said that the police officers were moving “parallel” to the street, toward Gongora, but that once he stood up, he was moving “perpendicular” – as if to cross the street – until he fell. “It was after he was shot several times that the knife kind of fell from his body. I don’t know if it came from his hand or his pocket, but he was never like this to somebody,” Smith said, miming holding a knife up as if to threaten someone.
She added: “It’s like they came out shooting. It’s complete bullshit what’s happening. There’s no way that somebody deserved to lose their life.”
Patrick’s account of the shooting fills in key details that are missing from the surveillance video, which does not show the police officers while they were shooting or any view of Gongora.
It also corresponds with the account of another neighbor who said that he saw the entire incident from his kitchen window, also across the street.”
And what has the good Mayor of the city by the bay said?
“San Francisco’s mayor Ed Lee, who has struggled to cope with both the claims of police brutality in the city and the issue of homelessness, said on Friday that Shotwell street’s tents would be taken down.
“Once the various investigations have finished collecting evidence and completed their interviews of witnesses, I will be ordering the Shotwell camp to be taken down and for it not to come back,” he told the San Francisco Chronicle. “When it comes to public safety, I’m not going to compromise with these camps.”
Fuck the police, fuck Mayor Lee. Is moregentrification the reason, Mayor Lee? We here that property values and rents in the city have inflated crazily.