We recently discussed the decision by the Los Angeles district attorney not to charge officers who shot up a vehicle of an innocent man because they were acting in “an atmosphere of fear and extreme anticipation.”Officers were on edge in the search for cop-killer Christopher Dorner (right). We now have a decision in the shooting that proceeded the McGee case where eight Los Angeles police officers fired over 100 times. Margie Carranza, then 47, was cut by flying glass while her then 71-year-old mother, Emma Hernandez was shot in the back. You guessed it. No one will be fired or even suspended.
Let’s recap what these officers did and will now only be required to take a little more training. Police were searching for Dorner. Two women happened by the police delivering newspapers in a blue Toyota Tacoma pickup truck. (Dorner was driving a charcoal Nissan Titan pickup truck). Without clear identification and without any appearance of a weapon, the police fired 103 times at the truck.
A Commission has now completed its investigation of the officers and found that the officers were not at serious fault in trying to kill two innocent unarmed women and unleashing a wall of lead on a vehicle.
The Commission found that the officers did find that eight officers violated Los Angeles Police Department policy. However, a violation that results in gunning down an innocent elderly lady does not appear to be a firing or even suspending act of misconduct.
Chief Charlie Beck insisted that this shooting was simply the result of “a tragic cascade of circumstances that led to an inaccurate conclusion by the officers.”
Of course, these women were hit by 103 “inaccurate conclusions.” Both could easily have been killed but that would not have changed the result.
The decisions in these two investigations will only reaffirm view of many that police are beyond increasingly beyond accountability while police powers are on the rise in our society. I find these decisions to be perfectly otherworldly. Both opinions tend to justify the actions on the basis for the fear and anticipation that existed at the time. However, police are supposed to be professionals trained to deal with such pressure. It is also worth noting that, if this were Dorner in the truck, it would have been highly questionable as a justified shooting since no weapon was present or shown to the officers. None of that seems to matter. It leaves a chilling message that police are at greater liberty to use lethal force (without positive identification or appearance of a weapon) when searching for a cop killer.
It is also worth noting that citizens are regularly charged when they shoot at officers by mistake under the same chaotic circumstances. They have also been cleared in shooting citizens who appear with a weapon in response to commotion. In the meantime, we have seen officers cleared and even honored in mistaken raids or shootings (here and here and here and here and here and here).
The increasing police powers in the United States and the absence of serious deterrent over misconduct or mistakes by some officers makes for a deadly combination. What is fascinating is the relative timidity of citizens in the face of even the most egregious abuse as we discussed recently with regard to New Mexico police officers. Likewise, there was no outcry recently with the incredible decision by the Dallas Police Chief that officers will no longer be allowed to give their accounts of shootings for the first 48 hours after officers were found to have lied in past cases. They will now be allowed to get their accounts straight before going on the record.
The final conclusions from the Dorner investigations sends a message to officers and citizens alike that even the most outrageous and potentially lethal misconduct by officers can be forgiven.