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Author Topic: UN Peacekeepers to occupy Ferguson Missouri
TomDavidson
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quote:
In this supposed "epidemic" of police shootings of young black males, that Brown was the best they could come up with...
Yes, it really is a shame that a more unquestionably perfect specimen of unarmed black youth has not recently been shot dead by police. Give it a week.
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jasonr
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Well Tom, for my next birthday, I'll settle for a specimen who didn't rob a convenience store 10 minutes before the shooting. Alot to ask, believe me I know. I'll try not to get my hopes up.
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PSRT
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How about a father carrying a toy gun in a store that sells that gun? Cause that wasn't long ago. Or the preteen brandishing a toy gun. Cause that happened this week. Or any one of dozens of these that occur everyyear.there is such a thing as a straw that breaks the camels back. In
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Aris Katsaris
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Am saying the obvious here but people getting shot brandishing toy guns tend to be killed because the toy gun was believed to have been real.
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PSRT
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And it is a toy. Person don't the shooting has killed an innocent person. When it is consistently black people being shot by police for any reason, then you have systematic racism. If the police were not systematically racist, we would expect 4 times more white people shot for having a toy gun than black people. This does not happen
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jasonr
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quote:
How about a father carrying a toy gun in a store that sells that gun? Cause that wasn't long ago. Or the preteen brandishing a toy gun. Cause that happened this week. Or any one of dozens of these that occur everyyear.there is such a thing as a straw that breaks the camels back.
Those all sound like really sad cases. Tell me, with so many worthy cases to choose from, why do you suppose that Michael Brown became the lightning rod for this issue? Did the civil rights leaders and community activists all get together and say "wow, this two-bit thug is the winning horse, he's the guy we want to lead the charge - this guy is going to dispel all those hateful stereotypes and force white America to listen!". If I were prone to conspiracies, I would almost wonder if some nefarious group in the media deliberately stoked the fires of this one case, sort of like how Israel was accused of raising Hamas to beat down the more moderate Fatah, or Assad has been accused of turning a blind eye to ISIL to focus on moderate enemies. Is that the endgame? Pick a victim so contemptible, so utterly unlikeable and non-credible that the entire cause was discredited? Seriously, it got me to thinking. Why did they choose to release the news at night anyway?

quote:
When it is consistently black people being shot by police for any reason, then you have systematic racism. If the police were not systematically racist, we would expect 4 times more white people shot for having a toy gun than black people. This does not happen
There is another hypothesis that is consistent with this data. Michael Brown is the poster child for that hypothesis. I'll let you connect the dots.

[ November 25, 2014, 08:59 AM: Message edited by: jasonr ]

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msquared
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The father carrying the toy gun was waving it around and it was not in a package. That event happened just a few miles from my house, so I am familiar with it. Having watched the video and listened to the 911 call synched up with the video, it seems like it was a terrible accident/tragedy. Things were done poorly on all sides.

If I am carrying a toy that looks like a gun, I should expect people to treat it like a gun, not a toy.

Are there cases out there of white guys not being shot by cops when they are waving toy guns around?

I am not really trying to make a point. I am just trying to work all of this out in my head.

msquared

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AI Wessex
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quote:
If I am carrying a toy that looks like a gun, I should expect people to treat it like a gun, not a toy.
Curious why people get outraged when a white man carrying an AR-15 walks into Walmart and is questioned. Seems like a huge disconnect between feeling that that is an outrage while killing a man buying a toy gun is just a tragedy.
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Seneca
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Context is useful. What PSRT did NOT mention is that 12 year old boy wasn't carrying a toy gun, it was an air soft pistol, and it has been confirmed that either the boy or someone else intentionally removed the orange safety marker from the front of it that usually identifies it as an airsoft gun. Certainly not a toy but not a center fire cartridge platform either.

In short the kid wanted to have something that "looked like bonafide pistol." He was carrying it in the waistband of his pants and was pulling it out and waving it periodically which led to the police call.
When the police got there, they ordered the boy to put his hands up. Instead the boy grabbed the gun and started pulling it out of his pants. He had not quite yet got it aimed and level with the officers when the officers fired.

So no, this wasn't a case of some "evil white cops" gunning down a poor little black kid for the hell of it.

And as for Ferguson this should give you a clear idea on what many of the protesters really cared about:
http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=3ea_1416891022&comments=1

[ November 25, 2014, 10:15 AM: Message edited by: Seneca ]

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TomDavidson
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Seneca, can you distinguish between protesters and looters? They're not all the same people.
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jasonr
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It is increasingly apparent now that police forces in communities with significant black populations are simply going to have to wear cameras now in order to do their jobs. This is just going to have to happen. It is the only solution.
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jasonr
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Tom, let me guess - the looters are all undercover cops, right?
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jasonr
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Tom, let me guess - the looters are all undercover cops, right?
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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by jasonr:
It is increasingly apparent now that police forces in communities with significant black populations are simply going to have to wear cameras now in order to do their jobs. This is just going to have to happen. It is the only solution.

Why significant black populations? They should be wearing them across the board so that they can't continue to get away with such abuse of the public trust.
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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by jasonr:
Tom, let me guess - the looters are all undercover cops, right?

More often they're opportunists that hide among the protesters knowing that opportunities will arise to provoke the crowd enough to give them cover.
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Pyrtolin
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quote:
In short the kid wanted to have something that "looked like bonafide pistol." He was carrying it in the waistband of his pants and was pulling it out and waving it periodically which led to the police call.
When the police got there, they ordered the boy to put his hands up. Instead the boy grabbed the gun and started pulling it out of his pants. He had not quite yet got it aimed and level with the officers when the officers fired.

And yet police in a situation where the suspect had already shot 12 people- proving that not only did he have a real gun, but was willing to pull the trigger, gave him full opportunity to put down the weapon, take off his vest, and surrender.
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scifibum
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quote:
Originally posted by jasonr:
It is increasingly apparent now that police forces in communities with significant black populations are simply going to have to wear cameras now in order to do their jobs. This is just going to have to happen. It is the only solution.

This is a good idea, but not just for areas with significant black populations.
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scifibum
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Jason, Seneca: what do you think of the way the Ferguson police blocked and obfuscated? Why didn't they file detailed and timely reports? Why isn't any early interview with Wilson on the record?

The shooting may have been justified, but they did their best to make it look like there was something to hide, and they were hiding it. That, by itself, is shameful and I think merits legal censure. It also fueled the tension.

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jasonr
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Scifi, I think the police in certain communities have adopted a siege mentality. In retrospect, I think transparency would have been the better course - but then again, from Officer Wilson's perspective, some degree of paranoia was more than warranted. It's not like the media made any secret of their desire to persecute Wilson. This was a witch hunt, plain and simple. In those circumstances, some of the initial behaviour of the police was at least understandable.

The indictment was a side show. Even if he had been indicted, he was never going to get convicted. But that hardly matters. This man's career is finished, and he will probably go the rest of his life as a marked man. This was the outcome I suspect the police were trying to prevent - the blue wall and all that.

As stated above, I think that these cases are reaching a critical mass, such that it will be impossible for officers to do their jobs in certain communities without cameras. They had a video of Brown robbing a convenience store just minutes before the incident, and even that could not dissuade the media hounds. Even after forensic evidence confirmed that Brown was absolutely fighting at close range with Wilson practically within the police car - that was still not enough. What this means is that it will never be possible for any white officer to shoot a black person, ever, under any circumstances, even to save his own life.

Like Russians who now use dashcams to avoid extortion rackets, the cops are going to have little choice but to do the same to avoid a similar kind of extortion. The alternative is to withdraw from policing certain communities, sort of like how the police in some Paris suburbs simply don't enter certain areas. That's unfortunate, but I think it may be the way things are going.

[ November 25, 2014, 11:07 AM: Message edited by: jasonr ]

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NobleHunter
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But Wilson didn't know about the robbery, or he did, or was just telling them to get off the road, or he'd been informed of the robbery and thought they might be suspects.

Wait, what? Doesn't that level of uncertainty warrant skepticism?

If they were trying to protect Wilson, they went about it entirely the wrong way. Which also seems to have been true of their attempts to prevent a riot.

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scifibum
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quote:
Like Russians who now use dashcams to avoid extortion rackets, the cops are going to have little choice but to do the same to avoid a similar kind of extortion. The alternative is to withdraw from policing certain communities, sort of like how the police in some Paris suburbs simply don't enter certain areas. That's unfortunate, but I think it may be the way things are going.
In what way is it "unfortunate"? You keep conveying the idea that police are always in the right, and police shooting black people should not be questioned. I don't think that's what you intend to convey, but...

Police are sometimes bad. Transparency and accountability are not unfortunate.

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jasonr
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quote:
Wait, what? Doesn't that level of uncertainty warrant skepticism?
It certainly does. Which is why at the time this started I thought that people should wait for the facts to come out before jumping to conclusions.

quote:
If they were trying to protect Wilson, they went about it entirely the wrong way. Which also seems to have been true of their attempts to prevent a riot.
There was nothing they could do to protect Wilson. He was a dead man walking (figuratively speaking) the second the media was sparked and this became national news. Wilson is done, finished.

One of the things I think that bears interest in this case is the media story. If these cases are common, why did this case, of all cases, light the fire that it did? If as others have stated, there are so many sympathetic, egregious examples out there, why did this one receive such attention? In all candour and being completely serious, I couldn't imagine a worse candidate for martyrdom than Michael Brown. It boggles the mind that this guy, with these facts, became the rallying cry, particularly if there were so many other cases floating out there with vastly more sympathetic facts. I mean the toy gun case, even assuming the facts Seneca raised, is vastly more troubling to me since the one shot was an actual child - not a "child man" a la Treyvon / Brown but a 12 year old. All I can say is wow - query: would we even have heard about this case if not for Michael Brown? Now if the answer is no, that's truly sad, isn't it?

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jasonr
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quote:
In what way is it "unfortunate"? You keep conveying the idea that police are always in the right, and police shooting black people should not be questioned.
No, I convey the idea that facts matter. Michael Brown is not a symbol - he's one man and the facts of his case matter, no matter how much his supporters want to sweep them under the rug and pretend that the case is just a proxy or symbol for a larger issue.

This is why when Sammy Yatin got shot on a Toronto Streetcar I was outraged and agreed with the murder charges against the cop who pulled the trigger. Those facts were egregious. The cops were in the wrong. Yatin, if you want to know, was Syrian.

quote:
I don't think that's what you intend to convey, but...
But you assume that it's what I meant.

Incidentally, I said it would be "unfortunate" if cops had to withdraw policing certain neighbourhoods. That was the only alternative I could see to using cameras.

quote:
Police are sometimes bad. Transparency and accountability are not unfortunate.
The cameras are necessary to protect the police, not the public.

[ November 25, 2014, 11:37 AM: Message edited by: jasonr ]

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Aris Katsaris
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quote:
This is a good idea, but not just for areas with significant black populations.
Fully agreed. As I've heard it said before: A policeman on duty without a camera on him will one day be considered as outrageous as a surgeon operating without gloves.
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Aris Katsaris
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quote:
The cameras are necessary to protect the police, not the public
The good thing is that they'll be protecting good people in both the police and the public, while condemning bad people in both the police and the public.

Some solutions are win-win.

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Seneca
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I understand frustration about transparency and police. My time working in IA showed me though that it isn't so much cops thinking they are above the law as a lack of training. Cops aren't a paperwork bureaucracy by primary skillset. That takes extra training.

The police commissioner did NOT deploy the National Guard to protect businesses as previously planned. The result was:
16 buildings burned to the ground.
Dozens of cars torched.
Dozens and dozens of stores looted.

What was the point of the Guard being there?

Also, I have no objections to body cameras for police, but historically police unions have largely opposed them. Something you should consider though before thinking body cams are an answer. A local PD in my area was given a public info request for dash cam videos and an investigation revealed that the department had "lost" over 100,000 of them. So cameras aren't the answer unless they stream to an outside depository that the cops don't control.

[ November 25, 2014, 11:49 AM: Message edited by: Seneca ]

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jasonr
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quote:
Some solutions are win-win.
Agreed.
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NobleHunter
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quote:
What was the point of the Guard being there?
To signal that serious rioting was expected so that people inclined to property damage would know to show up. What if they called for a riot and nobody came? [/cynic]

The authorities in Ferguson seem well into malice or stupidity territory.

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Even after forensic evidence confirmed that Brown was absolutely fighting at close range with Wilson practically within the police car - that was still not enough
A fight at close range does not later justify killing a severely wounded person who has retreated and then attempts to surrender at about 150ft.
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Pyrtolin
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The one thing that really stands out here (even disregarding a prosecutor who doesn't even blink at mentioning the defendant as "one of us" in his remarks) is that the jury was not well instructed in its responsibilities. Acting as if it were an actual trial jury, rather than a body whose sole responsibility was to determine if a trial was warranted. Things like inconsistency among witness accounts are exactly the thing that trails are supposed to work out and should have stood as evidence on their own, regardless of which side they supported, that a trial was needed to sort the matter out. The only way they should have not indicted was if there was clear and undisputed evidence that Wilson had not been responsible for Brown's death. Anything short of that would warrant a trial to sort out the facts to exonerate or convict him.
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jasonr
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quote:
A fight at close range does not later justify killing a severely wounded person who has retreated and then attempts to surrender at about 150ft.
Let's go back a few steps, to the beginning, if you will. Context is everything.

First we were told that Brown, a "gentle giant" with a bright future on his way to college, was gunned down in cold blood by a cop while his hands were in the air. Some accounts even said he was shot in the back.

Then we found out that he wasn't "gentle" - he was a thug and a bully who roughed up a store clerk during a robbery - right before being shot. This was caught on video.

Foul the they cried. Smear they said. Irrelevant we were told, as just because he robbed a store doesn't mean he deserved to get shot, and since the Cop didn't know about the robbery, surely one could not have been connected to the other? (Brown of course knew about it, but never mind that detail).

Then we found out that Brown was shot at close range, within the vehicle practically, which proved that Wilson was not lying when he said there was a close range struggle and it was not just an "execution" as witnesses had claimed (unless you believe that Wilson dragged Brown into his car to shoot him).

But irrelevant they said. Who cares if Brown attacked Wilson or they were fighting hand to hand? Who cares even if the first shots were in self-defence - it's the final shots, the ones that killed Brown, that mattered.

Then we found out that there were eye witnesses that saw Brown charge at Wilson. They were black.

Then we found out that Brown could not have been shot in the back as many eye witnesses had claimed initially. The forensic evidence disproved this.

And finally we found out that Wilson knew about the robbery. The initial claim that the two events were unrelated turned out not to be true.

This brings us to where we stand. As one by one each "pillar" of the case was knocked aside, Brown's supporters regrouped.

At a certain point, we stopped seeing the forest for the trees. The train was out of control and no one knew how to stop it. Presumably in a normal case, these facts would have come out and the prosecutor would have made a discretionary decision whether to charge or not. That discretion was short-circuited. Common sense was discounted and it was full steam ahead. By the time the case had disintegrated, it was too late to put on the breaks.

Getting back to the point Pyr, my point is not to say that the evidence is 100% in Wilson's favour or that there is zero doubt about what happened. Of course there is doubt. Of course there is evidence that looks bad for Wilson - this is true in any case. You are always going to have inconsistencies, eye witnesses that don't agree. The prosecutor needs to decide if there is any reasonable hope of a conviction. If not, why in blazes would he bring charges? Remember - Wilson, like any criminal defendant, must be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. What do you suppose the chance of that happening would have been, even if the family succeeded and got their precious indictment?

The question is: what is the practical implication here? Does every officer that shoots a member of the public get charged with murder as a matter of course now? Does all a criminal have to do is say that it was police brutuality, or marshal some self-serving "witnesses" and by default we go down the route of a full on jury trial? Is the take-home from this case that the prosecutors should just charge every officer in every case and let the criminal justice system work it out?

People talk about how extraordinary it is for a grand jury to fail to indict, And they're right. But it's an extraordinary case, isn't it? Does anyone think for a second that the prosecutor would have brought this case if his political masters didn't force him to?

One interpretation is that the prosecutor is biased against black people. The other interpretation is that he sees this case for what it is - and as a lawyer, he knew the futility of pursuing it from day one.

[ November 25, 2014, 01:04 PM: Message edited by: jasonr ]

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AI Wessex
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quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:
Jason, Seneca: what do you think of the way the Ferguson police blocked and obfuscated? Why didn't they file detailed and timely reports? Why isn't any early interview with Wilson on the record?

The shooting may have been justified, but they did their best to make it look like there was something to hide, and they were hiding it. That, by itself, is shameful and I think merits legal censure. It also fueled the tension.

I heard an interview with several law professors this morning who reviewed the GJ testimony. They were shocked at the lack of rigor on the part of the Prosecutor. They said it is typical of GJ investigations into police shootings. They cited Texas where over a period of time there were something like 85 fatal shootings by police, many of unarmed people who may not even have been suspects in any crime investigations, and only one officer was charged with a crime (of overstepping), and he was found not guilty.
quote:
If they were trying to protect Wilson, they went about it entirely the wrong way. Which also seems to have been true of their attempts to prevent a riot.
They didn't follow their own promised protocol. They didn't notify the Brown family ahead of time as they had promised, didn't give the community a 24 hour heads-up as promised, and announced the verdict at 9PM in on prime time TV instead of at 10AM, as promised.

The National Guard were not patrolling the streets during the protesting that turned into riots. The Governor refused to intervene at any step along the way to make sure things were done properly and with effective communication.

The entire police, public protection and prosecution process has been a gigantic cluster****.

[ November 25, 2014, 12:57 PM: Message edited by: AI Wessex ]

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TomDavidson
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You know, it seems to me that blaming the attention paid to Ferguson on race-baiting pundits is a theory undermined by Jason's belief that Brown was the worst possible case study. Leaving aside the question of whether he was actually a monstrous thug, isn't it more likely that attention drawn to Ferguson stuck around because of the well-documented and systematic prejudices in their community?
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jasonr
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quote:
You know, it seems to me that blaming the attention paid to Ferguson on race-baiting pundits is a theory undermined by Jason's belief that Brown was the worst possible case study. Leaving aside the question of whether he was actually a monstrous thug, isn't it more likely that attention drawn to Ferguson stuck around because of the well-documented and systematic prejudices in their community?
I actually agree here. It's why I said previously (in jest) that Brown's elevation must have been a conspiracy by anti black pro police groups. It's apparent that no rational person could think that Brown would make a good poster child for this issue.

The problem is, by the time Brown's questionable extra curricular activities became known, the circus was already in town and set up. Rather than pack up their bags and leave, they doubled down on Brown. And as I mentioned, as one pillar after another underpinning the case was knocked aside, all they could do was keep doubling down, unwilling to discredit themselves by admitting defeat.

And yes, the prejudices fed into that. The irony is, the police force may very well have been guilty of the very thing they were accused of - the slight nagging detail was that in this case, the officer was innocent.

Cased are not symbols. They are not synonymous with "social issues". They rise and fall on their facts.

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Pyrtolin
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Then we found out that Brown was shot at close range, within the vehicle practically, which proved that Wilson was not lying when he said there was a close range struggle and it was not just an "execution" as witnesses had claimed (unless you believe that Wilson dragged Brown into his car to shoot him).
He was shot 6 times. Even according to Wilson's testimony, Brown fled after being shot, at which point Wilson decided to pursue, escalating the situation instead of containing it. Wilson's testimony said he shot Brown more times after that, at range.

Unless you're asserting that Brown was the Hulk, and somehow got more powerful due to his injuries.

Of course there are interesting elements of Wilson's testimony in and of it self, most notably how, for all that was going on, he paid an inordinate amount of attention to the cigarillos, even to the point of apparently not really being phased at them magically switching hands and possession throughout the confrontation.

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jasonr
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He was shot 6 times. Even according to Wilson's testimony, Brown fled after being shot, at which point Wilson decided to pursue, escalating the situation instead of containing it.
You're suggesting that when a police officer gets attacked at close range by a criminal, the correct response should be to "de-escalate" by just letting the guy get away? Perhaps Wilson should have treated Brown like royalty; that could have done it too.

quote:
Unless you're asserting that Brown was the Hulk, and somehow got more powerful due to his injuries.

Of course there are interesting elements of Wilson's testimony in and of it self, most notably how, for all that was going on, he paid an inordinate amount of attention to the cigarillos, even to the point of apparently not really being phased at them magically switching hands and possession throughout the confrontation.

I've only been a lawyer for about 8 years now, but if I learned one thing from questioning hundreds of witnesses, it's that almost every witness is going to be self-serving at times, exaggerate, embellish - I wish it wasn't so, but it's the nature of human memory. There are no perfect cases. This one is no exception.

Yet, with enough facts, there are certain patterns that emerge, certain details that we know to be true. Some witnesses emerge more credible than others. Some theories emerge more likely than others.

I will defer to a criminal lawyer, but from what I know of the "beyond reasonable doubt" standard, Wilson was never going to be convicted, period full stop. Was there enough here to satisfy the low bar of the grand jury process? From all accounts, probably so.

But again, what exactly, in your view, was the point of pursuing an indictment with no hope of conviction?

Do you suppose that if there had been an indictment but no conviction, this would have done anything but delay the riots? Would Brown's supporters have accepted the inevitable not guilty verdict?

[ November 25, 2014, 01:31 PM: Message edited by: jasonr ]

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edgmatt
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quote:
Brown fled after being shot, at which point Wilson decided to pursue, escalating the situation instead of containing it.
I can't imagine any scenario where a cop shoots someone several time, then doesn't follow them if they try to leave if he is able to.

How would not pursuing have helped contain the situation?

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DonaldD
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quote:
I will defer to a criminal lawyer, but from what I know of the "beyond reasonable doubt" standard, Wilson was never going to be convicted, period full stop. Was there enough here to satisfy the low bar of the grand jury process? From all accounts, probably so.

But again, what exactly, in your view, was the point of pursuing an indictment with no hope of conviction?

Unfortunately, the facts available to just about everyone here have almost certainly been filtered through some form of internet self-selection process - and almost certainly not primarily a first-hand self-selection process.

Believing that there was sufficient evidence to determine that there was probable cause to believe guilt, but not sufficient evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, from 3rd hand information... I really don't think you have sufficient evidence to make that determination.

As to the benefit of a public trial vs a secret grand jury... that's pretty basic.

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Pyrtolin
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But again, what exactly, in your view, was the point of pursuing an indictment with no hope of conviction?
A clear exoneration. You seem to be under the misunderstanding that trials are only to prove guilt; they also have the very important function of affirming innocence by closely analyzing the evidence and assuring all involved that the question was given proper consideration. By not indicting him, the grand jury effectively said the question of his culpability wasn't even worth considering.
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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Believing that there was sufficient evidence to determine that there was probable cause to believe guilt, but not sufficient evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt
was beyond the responsibility of the grand jury. Their responsibility was not to determine if the case could be won, only if there was sufficient evidence for a case to be made at all.
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