Dang, that’s not an inaccurate picture of how the immune system works

Although it is missing the giant cleaner emerging out of the alley to gulp down the corpse & virus. Our immune system is almost as ruthless and brutal as the Florida police.

By the way, the Florida police:

I would never have thought of using a car full of kids to hide behind. Brilliant tactics.


  1. dianne says

    Reminds me of a conversation I had the other day, trying to explain CAR-T cells:

    Me: You take the T-cells out, teach them to recognize antigens on the cancer and attack them, then re-infuse them into the body.

    Him: So when the regular police fail, you send in the mercs.

    Me: It’s more like you send the military to the School of the Americas.

    (Brief stunned silence.)

    Me: Okay, that was a creepy analogy, but that doesn’t mean it’s not accurate.

  2. anthrosciguy says

    Made worse after the fact by the police department putting out a statement crowing that no police officers were killed, which is obviously in their eyes the only really important thing.

  3. mikehuben says

    PZ, I’d like to hear your suggestion for how to better tactically deal with the situation before I accept your derisive “brilliant tactics”.

    Go ahead, all you armchair quarterbacks. Please keep in mind that they were surrounded by other possible hostages and shooting victims as well.

    We’ll probably hear information more if there were bodycams and recording of police radio.

    UPS creating a GoFundMe isn’t necessarily bad: it is something they could do very promptly before having to budget anything. Probably before anybody else thought of it, and timeliness probably will increase the amount raised. It will do good in addition to anything they or their insurance have to pay out to the driver’s family. Can you tell me anything they did wrong?

  4. says



    There was nothing in that truck more valuable than the lives of the innocent people in and around it. It’s stuck in traffic, and is going nowhere. Bring in a negotiator and end the stalemate non-violently.

    Jesus. WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU, to think that opening fire was a reasonable tactical solution?

  5. Elladan says

    Brilliantly I
    offer analysis.
    Officers courageous.
    Totally committed.
    Life above all.
    cannot criticize.
    Killing innocents, the poor officers.
    Every day a challenge.

  6. says

    The truck wasn’t going anywhere. Time to negotiate a surrender. Hostages? Most of the civilians would have gotten away if the cops had focused on getting them out of the area.

    Then, sure, tell the guys with the guns “hey you have about 30 minutes to negotiate a surrender before our snipers get here. And you know how those guys will want to resolve this.”

  7. says

    It says a lot when some…individual (e.g. #7) can’t figure out that when you have a fire, you remove anything around it that can burn. I don’t have paramilitary training, and I can figure out that boxing in the van with cars and evacuating the bridge is the first course of action, not shooting.

    When you have hammers and triggers, every problem looks like a target to shoot.

  8. says

    It’s easy to figure out what to do: first, do no harm.

    What do you mean “that does not apply to cops!”?

    There is a saying “you can’t outrun a radio.” A criminal in North America is surrounded by millions of hostiles and miles of hostile territory. Remind them that their main project aligns with yours: making the situation less bad not worse.

    Plan B: tell them there are englishmen with a narwal tusk and a fire extinguisher and they need to come out now before they go in.

  9. Bernard Bumner says

    Too many people seem unable to imagine that the outcome here could have been anything other than the summary execution of the thieves.

    Dead suspects are so utterly normal, so expected, that putting the lives of bystanders at risk – and quite possibly killing one and the hostage – is just the price of justice.

    This is silly. Just track them from the air. Let them escape if it means not putting the public at risk. Catch them using detective work rather than the most violent possible means.

  10. lochaber says


    really? We can’t point out the obvious flaws in a plan?

    Almost anything else would have gone better. Hell, just the cops not showing up would have better results. The hostage and a bystander are dead because of trigger-happy cops.

    One really simple, really common, easily learned lesson in tactics is to avoid having friendlies in your field of fire.

    The cops should have evacuated everyone at the very least, instead of using civilians as cover. That’s not just shitty tactics, it’s outright cowardice.

  11. Porivil Sorrens says

    Imagine thinking some useless shiny rocks are worth injuring any human being over, even the robbers, especially given that there’s no chance in hell they aren’t insured.

  12. microraptor says

    The second thing I was taught about firearms when I was a kid was that you always need to be aware of what’s in the area besides you and the thing you’re aiming at (the first thing being that you treat every gun like it’s loaded). I learned that at age seven. It is absolutely insane that people are allowed to apply to be police officers without knowing this, much less actually be police officers.

  13. Jazzlet says

    Marcus @#12 And in your solution b) the criminal/terrorist till ends up dead, so neither an expensive trial nor the cost of keeping him in prison!

  14. Kagehi says

    This is a perfect example of how far “police” have fallen. Used to be that “Hogan’s Alley” was mandatory, and that cops where trained to maneuver themselves into positions that “minimized” the chances of bystanders being shot (such as putting a solid object, which the bullets wouldn’t go through, between the target and other possible victims. Also, yeah, you freaking talked people down first.

    Then, we started arming them with higher velocity rounds, which could penetrate more things, and started grabbing up “ex-military” as candidates, among other madness. So, now, if you are lucky, and this was like 20 years or more ago, when my brother still worked for the local Sheriff department, you hope that just one gun totting idiot only killed (in a trailer park), a refrigerator, two coffee pots, and someone’s TV, while wildly firing at a suspect, who they couldn’t even see, because they where inside the trailer. Or, today, you have a 7 idiots, killing two bystanders, while not giving a F where any of their bullets might end up. Argh!!!

  15. dianne says

    Plan B: tell them there are englishmen with a narwal tusk and a fire extinguisher and they need to come out now before they go in.

    Or an 80something USian woman with a table and a bottle of shampoo.

  16. quasar says

    From the linked article:

    “It’s unfortunate that the bystanders were killed, but the bad guys put all this in motion,” Steadman Stahl, president of the Miami-Dade Police Benevolent Association, told the Herald. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the two innocent bystanders.”

    My thoughts and prayers go to Steadman Stahl. Specifically, I’m hoping, praying and sacrificing a goat to Ba’al to see the sociopathic scumbag consumed by carnivorous locusts.

  17. markr1957 says

    #22 Dunc. I wish that was a joke, but I know it isn’t. Just smart enough to not be a complete idiot is setting the bar far too low though.

  18. says

    started grabbing up “ex-military” as candidates, among other madness

    I don’t mind hiring people who have served in the military. I mean, that shouldn’t be disqualifying. If they have a good history in the military they may even have demonstrated an ability to follow order even when those orders increase risk to themselves.

    However, to make that work for the community, you have to then train your ex-military police officers on how best to protect the community. Instead of doing that, we train them to attack “threats” and that their own fear makes shooting legal. They learn quickly that bravery is devalued and attacking out of fear is valued. Now their willingness to follow orders is a bad thing, because they aren’t trained to stop and question whether an order is a good thing. But the problem in this scenario is not that ex-military members might be used to follow orders. If the orders were good, following them would be just fine.

    The ultimate problem is that we simply order police to escalate violence rather than de-escalate it. Better orders would produce better cops.

  19. Kagehi says

    @25 I don’t disagree. But, the “criteria” for which sort of military gets picked seems to be… lets just say not JAG, or even grunt, but Sniper, Seal, Spec Ops, etc. So… yeah, the problem isn’t hiring military, its that they opt to hire the freaking “Comedian” from Watchmen.

  20. jrkrideau says

    @ 7 mikehuben
    UPS creating a GoFundMe isn’t necessarily bad …Can you tell me anything they did wrong?

    UPS just said we value our employees so much we ask for charity to help get rid of the body. Any senior UPS executive could have authorized a few thousand dollars out of contingency funds in a moment if the company wanted to help with funeral expenses. Their behaviour is dispicable.

  21. harryblack says

    There was an incident within the past few years where a former US Marine talked down a suspect using de-escalation skills he learned in the military and was fired for not shooting the suspect as per procedure.
    I made bad choices (and was a bad person) 15 years ago so I have (non american) military experience at a fairly high level and how we dealt with suspects and locals in Afghanistan was actually less aggressive than the way American cops deal with US citizens.
    Its not that they dont get enough training (though they seem not to) its that their training is fundamentally flawed and based on false premises and bad science.

  22. mikehuben says

    “The armed suspects engaged law enforcement in open fire,” FBI agent George Piro told reporters.

    On the highway. Not to mention earlier when they escaped police with a hostage. It’s easily visible in the video.

    PZ sez: WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU, to think that opening fire was a reasonable tactical solution?

    First, I never said it was reasonable. It might have been: but I doubt you have the knowledge to condemn it. Excuses, yes, but knowledge no.

    Did it never occur to the bunch of you armchair generals that the hostage takers could have killed other people and taken more hostages if they were not stopped promptly?

    Oh, and PZ, you missed your chance to confirm your biases against police by noting that the two robbery suspects were black. Some others here will probably claim that’s why no negotiators were brought in, rather than the fact that there was no time.

    I will wait for the review before I decide whether the right thing was done or not. That would much better inform how police should be reformed than rushed, wild-ass accusations from half a continent away by an armchair general. Even if the reforms needed are to the review process.

    I notice PZ also doesn’t mention his error about UPS creating a GoFundMe: two validated ones are from the brother of the victim and a UPS co-worker. We see here another PZ rush to judgment and condemnation. Much as I admire PZ in so many ways, I don’t see any admission of error here.

  23. says

    Did it never occur to the bunch of you armchair generals that the hostage takers could have killed other people and taken more hostages if they were not stopped promptly?

    Of course it did.
    In terms of threat assessment: serious badass ninja warriors do not steal UPS vans. Those are not notable targets or top-notch escape vehicles. Any threat assessment would conclude that:
    1) yutzes in truck
    2) yutzes in florida pd, too
    3) you are probably a yutz too

  24. jrkrideau says

    @ 22 Dunc


    I had heard of that but always thought it was a joke and had not realized it went to court.

    Still, McNamara’s Morons suggests something similar was tried before.

    This last link explains to some extent, why an Australian ex-soldier I knew was so critical of US “country boy” recruits in Vietnam.

  25. says

    I will wait for the review before I decide whether the right thing was done or not.

    Because pice self-reviews when they shoot up civilians are typically models of fairness. If I’m an “armchair general” you’re an armchair private. Get out of here and go police up cigarette butts.

  26. says

    If you’re too stupid to recognize obvious incompetence and overreach by the police, then you don’t belong here.

    Bye, mikehuben.

  27. logicalcat says

    Thats near where live. The cops are poorly trained. Ive had friends who are cops and the training they tell me is garbage. Also plenty of military personel online explaining how dumb those cops are. Making excuses for them is just blind authoritarian at this point.

  28. logicalcat says

    Oh and in case mikehubens dumb ass is reading this. Ask any military trained officer and they will tell you the police in this case were not only tacticaly dumb but cowards as well.

    Iive had friends who were police and you know what they told him im training? Shoot forst shoot to kill because dead men cant sue. Seriously.

  29. chrislawson says

    Well, that’s that from mikehuben. In case he’s still reading, sometimes police are faced with an impossible choice. For example, the Lindt Cafe siege in Sydney is now widely looked on as an example of the police being too concerned with de-escalation, allowing a terrorist to kill people whose lives would have been saved if the sniper had been greenlit earlier when he had a clear shot. But that doesn’t mean hostage situations demand a Ramboesque response from the police and it certainly doesn’t mean police can’t be held accountable for bad decisions in hostage situations. Even if the police decided they needed to storm the vehicle, there was no excuse for charging in with guns blazing while bystanders were still at the scene. Why, for instance, couldn’t the police have given the family in that car they were hiding behing a chance to get out and into cover?

  30. logicalcat says

    Booberry. People disagree with pz constantly and dont get banned. Weve all called him dumb at one point. Thats some bullshit you wrote. Its not even a coherent argument.

  31. booberry says

    Mikehuben wasn’t trolling or being abusive. He was simply advocating patience in the face of an incomplete set of facts before jumping to conclusions. He also pointed out some inaccuracies in PZ’s appraisal of the incident. A ban wasn’t necessary.

    So yes, Mikehuben was banned for being in slight disharmony with one of pharyngula’s axioms: Police man bad.

  32. William George says


    The next step is to demand PZ debate you. When he refuses you can walk away knowing you won today’s titanic intellectual struggle and never, ever return for you have many truths to selflessly hand to the rest of the world and nothing should delay you on your journey elsewhere.

  33. microraptor says

    @43: It means you’re following the exact same formula as every other whiner who comes here and gets pissy about the fact that the person running the blog has set rules about what can and can not be said on this blog and then enforces those rules.

  34. booberry says


    I’m definitely not “pissy”. Just stating my disapproval. As you said its PZ’s blog and he is free to run it however he wants. I don’t think Mikehuben said anything worthy of his dismissal and felt a little bad that he was banned.

  35. vucodlak says

    @ booberry, #39

    PZ: I like pineapple and baloney on my pizza.

    ANYBODY: I don’t.

    PZ: Banned.

    mikehuben has a long history of saying stupid shit, usually in support authoritarianism or bigots. It’s not like this was just a disagreement over whether to wallpaper the outhouse in sad clowns or judgmental cherubs- mikehuben was defending authoritarian murderers, specifically said murderers’ use of children as human shields. Because obviously there might be excellent reasons for the police to use kids as bullet stops that we simply weren’t considering in our rush to hate on cops.

    Really, every time I’ve seen mikehuben post I think “I could have sworn they were banned…” And now they are.

    Furthermore, I posted an extensive comment disagreeing with PZ about pizza a while back, so nope. Oh, and I’ve also talked about my very much being a non-atheist on more than occasion, which you’d think would get me gone here if PZ were really as ban-happy as you’re claiming. Alas, I remain.

  36. Porivil Sorrens says

    Sorry guys a pair of scared jewelry robbers with small arms are actually an existential threat and definitely prone to going on mass shootings for no reason, that’s why we have to co-opt civilians into being human shields and swiss-cheese hostages in the off-chance that we hit one of the perps.

  37. wzrd1 says

    @7, I’m a retired US Army veteran of both of our wars. What should have been done is have two officers escort the family from their vehicle, keeping their Kevlar coated asses between the shooters and the family, to a safe location that has adequate cover. What we never did was use civilian families for cover, that was the terrorists gig.

    @25, “But the problem in this scenario is not that ex-military members might be used to follow orders. If the orders were good, following them would be just fine.”

    We have annual training on lawful and unlawful orders and are trained to question questionable, unclear but sounds unlawful, etc and to refuse to follow an unlawful order. That came directly out of a pair of incidence, My Lai being the most infamous. Frankly, the Officers involved in particular, should have gotten mandatory life sentences, if not the death penalty for that tragedy.
    Instead, they get to hear that their names will live on forever, as a precautionary tale on precisely what to never, ever, ever do.
    Well, save for the ones Trump pardoned, because nothing is too awful or evil for that bipedal chunk of excrement.

    @PZ, I didn’t see any hunt of overreach, incompetence, cowardice and a callous disregard for the safety of the public. Not to mention too many officers at the scene, in what is the most disorganized tactical situation I’ve ever witnessed in my life.
    Anyone with three operational brain cells and a vague clue about tactical situations would not need 11 shooters against one that is bottled up inside of a delivery truck. There was more than enough extraneous personnel to evacuate the noncombatants from the area, then proceed in an organized fashion, rather than have a circular firing squad with civilians in the line of fire.
    Currently, I not only would not trust them with firearms, I wouldn’t trust that lot with specially blunted infant feeding spoons. Pull their weapons and issue them swimming pool noodles until they are trained to competency, are tested and pass expertly in elementary tactics.

  38. lucifersbike says

    Marcus Ranum @12: you have omitted the Pole with a pole (Lukascz, the chef at the Fishmongers’ Hall). :)
    The video of the incident clearly shows the armed police dragging the guys holding the terrorist down out of the way BEFORE they fired on him. If they had been Florida’s finest I imagine they’d have sprayed the area with automatic weapons fire from a safe distance. The majority of British cops do NOT carry firearms; armed officers receive special training and if they kill anybody they are automatically subjected to a disciplinary review. Policing in the UK isn’t petrfect but it has its good points. PS. Recent reports in the German press suggest the average German cop couldn’t hit a barn door at five paces; but at least the average German cop isn’t trigger-happy.

  39. lucifersbike says

    Policing in the UK isn’t PERFECT but it has its good points. Arthritis is a nuisance.

  40. Saad says

    You either have to be living under a rock or be a Blue Lives Matter asshat to think one needs to be a general, armchair or otherwise, to be able to criticize American police.

  41. logicalcat says


    He was banned for being an authoritarian idiot. If you cant see how defending cops whos trigger happy reckless disregard for peoples safety by shooting with civilians in the line of fire, using vehicles with civilians in them as cover and getting the hostage killed along with other innocent bystanders is both idiotic and authoritarian, then I propose you are also an idiot.

    But by all means show me the flaw in PZ and the commentariats logic.

  42. chrislawson says

    Anyone who starts off by equating authoritarian agitprop to expressions of pizza preference has zero interest in contributing to the conversation.

  43. jrkrideau says

    @ 51 The Vicar,

    Well it is good that it was not UPS who started a GoFundMe account. II would have to see the wording on twitter but at first impression, thanking the police for getting a company employee killed seems a bit strange.

  44. says

    @#59, jrkrideau:

    The tweet said:

    We are deeply saddened to learn a UPS service provider was a victim of this senseless act of violence. We extend our condolences to the family and friends of our employee and the other innocent victims involved in the incident. We appreciate law enforcement’s service and will cooperate with the authorities as they continue the investigation.

    So, okay, technically no “thanks”, just a “we appreciate it”.

  45. says

    We appreciate law enforcement’s service and will cooperate with the authorities as they continue the investigation.

    I read that as corporational speak for “goddammit, you idiots!”

  46. says

    On what could have been done, they could have backed off and followed to a less crowded area. They had helicopters, and the truck’s trackers.

    They also could have NOT used bystanders as human shields.