Cops Murder Another Civilian on Video


Armed African-American man fatally shot by Houston police. Police say he was threatening. Video shows he was not.

From:

An armed black man was reportedly shot and killed by police in Houston early Saturday morning.

According to the Houston NBC affiliate KPRC, Alva Braziel was standing in the middle of a southeast Houston street with a revolver pointed in the air around 2 a.m. Saturday. Two police officers were driving down the street and ordered him to drop the weapon and show his hands, and a witness also told him to put the gun down, KPRC reports.

But then the story changes.

Police said they shot a man who was armed, but then video shows up. The video shows that the police were apparently lying and that they fired 10 bullets into a guy who had his hands up.

The new story is: Cops murder a man with his hands up, attempt to lie about it.

The police had body cams on them but the video has not been released. I wonder if they had technical problems with the cams.

Cop "investigating" an innocent motorist after the Dallas shootings

Cop “investigating” an innocent motorist after the Dallas shootings

The police must be buying their whitewash in industrial quantities.

I No Longer Support Cop Cams

Back in the day I was quite the fan of cop cams. Perhaps it’s because I did some work in July 2009 as a consultant to Taser, and spent a lot of time thinking about the security questions surrounding storing such video: how to keep it from leaking out and how to keep it from Rose Mary Woods leaning on the “delete” button. These are interesting technical problems. I designed a clever way of encrypting communications between base stations and portable devices, that doesn’t eat up the device’s battery with CPU cycles.* That was an interesting technical problem, too. This problem is not technical.

Cops cams aren’t going to work, folks. They presuppose that the cops aren’t a bunch of criminals and I think we need to move past that naive assumption.

We need a new version of the Black Panthers cop-watch patrols: crowdsourced citizen cameras that are surreptitiously recording every moment that a cop is outside of their car.

The picture I embedded above, of a cop pointing a loaded weapon at a citizen who apparently was suspected of being in a car in Dallas on the night that some cops were shot – that is evidence of a crime of assault with a deadly weapon being committed.  That is another thing we collectively need to do: chip away at the indemnity protections that encourage cops to be abusive, threatening, and violent. That cop above, pointing a gun in the face of an unarmed, unthreatening citizen? What is he learning when he gets away with it? He is learning to think he is above the law.


It looks like the video is getting put up and taken down, so I’ve hosted a copy on my site. I don’t suggest you watch it. Summary: it shows police shooting a man from about 25 yards away. He never charges them or anything like that, he simply folds up as the bullets hit him.

(* When the devices are not in use, they recharge their batteries and sychronize with the base station. What you do is have the device generate a random session key, then give it to the base unit to keep. Then it can use the session key to fill its local storage with zeroes encrypted under the session key. When it stores captured data it doesn’t need to encrypt it, it just XORs it with the encrypted zero-fill, which is not a very CPU intensive process. While the devices are recharging, there is ample current to do the encryption and the CPU is not needed for anything else.)

Comments

  1. says

    He was holding a gun and facing the cops. In Canada that is suicide by cop. They have no choice but to shoot. A toy gun is enough. No case, it is suicide by cop.

  2. says

    Fred Tully@#2:
    You assert the status quo as if that it’s the status quo makes it right.
    That it’s the status quo is the problem.
    Your reasoning can justify anything. That’s a hint that it’s not very good reasoning.

  3. says

    What do You propose as a solution? Not arm the police? That would mean no police. Disarm the citizens? Good luck. The only thing is to teach the civilian population that caring a gun or other “weapon” in front of cops is suicide. Why are your black citizens having such a problem understanding this?

  4. says

    Fred Tully@#5:
    I propose disarming the cops.
    I propose disarming the populace.
    I actually took the time to write the proposal here.

    Why are your black citizens having such a problem understanding this?

    Why are our cops having such a problem understanding it?

    I’m gonna throw a yellow card on your comment, because you look to be shaping up as a tedious and irritating commenter and I’m not interested in having tedious and irritating comments on my posts.

  5. says

    Black citizens, and all citizens. We have a few here in Canada, but the cops are skittish everywhere now. And the news says armed.But what do I know?

  6. says

    Fred Tully @ 5:

    Why are your black citizens having such a problem understanding this?

    Oh my. Well, thanks for confirming my suspicion that you are a racist, bigoted asspimple, helping to putrefy humanity as a whole.

    Why are all the white people who aim guns at cops, who *fire* guns at cops, who are stopped while armed, why aren’t all of them murdered? Here’s a hint: they aren’t people of colour.

    Christ, you make me feel absolutely filthy and contaminated. I leave you to Marcus’s good graces, whatever they might be.

  7. says

    Fred Tully:

    But what do I know?

    Not much. So sweet you believe cops no matter what. Go away and learn to think.

  8. Raucous Indignation says

    Marcus, the problem you’re seeing with body cams is that the data is in the hands of the people the cams are monitoring. It’d be more appropriate if the body cam feeds went to a neutral civilian organization charged with oversight of the police. That’s what needed. Independent oversight. Everyone should have the Stop and Frisk App on their phones.

    http://www.nyclu.org/app

  9. says

    Many people believe the notion that without police, society would be lawless and there would be anarchy.

    The police ARE lawless. They ARE guilty of anarchy. How could having no police be any worse?

  10. Raucous Indignation says

    Oh, and Fred @ 10,7,5? Speaking of the highway, why don’t you go slam your shriveled, ineffectual testicles in a car door? M’kay?

  11. says

    The ultimate question is: How do you build a god free society that is safe, ethical, just, and free for all of its citizens? Until it gets “built”, you need a police force to “enforce” the laws. The alternative is to convince the citizens to voluntarily follow the law and not threaten anyone including the police. The police see anyone caring arms of any kind as a threat. It is up to you to propose a solution for the interim until a just, safe, ethical society can be developed.

  12. Menyambal says

    Fred Tully, when the police are killing citizens, especially certain citizens, this is not a society, nor a just society. When you keep telling us to be silent and obey, you are not a good citizen. When you cannot imagine unarmed police, you have a problem.

    Personal anecdote: When my (white) daughter was stopped for a broken taillight, the policeman insisted she was drunk, even though she did not register on the breath analyser. He made her leave her car where it was, and had it towed. He drove at excessive speed through the dark, with her pleading with him to slow to the speed limit, and left her for a blood test. Even though she was allegedly too drunk to drive, they insisted that she consent to a blood test, which came up negative. They held her for several more hours. They made us do several court appearances before dropping all charges, and nobody ever even blinked at getting legal consent from an alleged drunk. Our lawyer says the local police force is a travesty. I believe him.

    As long as we citizens have no direct control over the police, nor even oversight, we are not free. As long as some citizens keep insisting that the police are always right, and anyone who doesn’t support them blindly is always wrong, we do not have a society – we have a police state of the saddest kind.

  13. says

    Fred Tully@#10:
    Free thought Blog? More like my way or the highway.

    Well, this is my space. You’re welcome to say whatever tedious and annoying stuff you choose in your own demesnes.

    It’s going to take me effort to figure out how to block you, so would you be so kind as to just go away?

    How do you build a god free society that is safe, ethical, just, and free for all of its citizens?

    Put me in charge of the world and I’ll show you. Until then, isn’t that a rather stupid question?

    I think that in the future I may replace comments like yours with this image:

  14. Siobhan says

    Free thought does not mean every racist asshat repeating a point refuted a thousand times is entitled to a platform. Kindly fuck off.

  15. says

    Raucous Indignation@#11:
    Marcus, the problem you’re seeing with body cams is that the data is in the hands of the people the cams are monitoring. It’d be more appropriate if the body cam feeds went to a neutral civilian organization charged with oversight of the police.

    That was exactly the issue that Taser was looking at. The question was whether police agencies would be comfortable having the body cam data going into Taser’s cloud, or whether they would insist on having it in their own. There are really interesting technical issues on both sides of that problem, but my report came down in favor of the cloud-based approach for reasons that took me an unusually long time to figure out.

    Suppose Officer Porkbelly interrupts ${famous movie star} doing something embarrassing and illegal. Now there is video of it, and Officer P can’t simply pretend it didn’t happen. So there’s going to be some pressure to over-enforce if Officer P knows that the Police Department’s servers have that footage and it might be examined by a supervisor. If it’s out in the cloud, where it’s not browsable without a warrant, that problem goes away entirely. Nobody needs to know about it, if it’s out in the cloud, and Officer Porkbelly’s supervisor will only see it if there’s a warrant or a subpoena. Of course if all the video is in the cloud, you have the possibility that a malign system administrator might be spending time viewing everyone’s camera footage. That scenario is unlikely because the malign system administrator doesn’t know which cop saw what and when, and would have to review all the video from all the cops – a herculean task.

    Little birds told me later that the problem was more like the cops were accidentally dropping and backing up over the units.

  16. says

    left0ver1under@#12:
    The police ARE lawless. They ARE guilty of anarchy. How could having no police be any worse?

    Let me stick up for the anarchists: by definition, anarchy is not a crime because in an environment where there are no laws, there can be no crime.

    Your point, however, is good. The cost of policing has got to be going up, what with all the lawsuits, killings, and military gear. At a certain point, maybe it’d be better for the people to just protect themselves. As a sort of anarchist, I approve of that concept, but as a mostly realist I question if it’s practical.

    Need I add that the rich and powerful tend to have their own police, in the form of condottieri – uh – security guards and special police like the Capitol Police or the Secret Service? I haven’t seen much discussion on FtB of the fact that when the cops were getting shot in Dallas, Congress apparently hunkered down on a “lockdown” in the Capitol building – where they’re nice and safe behind plenty of “good guys with guns.” They didn’t run out and protect anyone from the guns that their cowardly policies have helped put all over the streets. The venal weasels!

    We must not ignore the fact that the meme that ‘people need guns to protect themselves’ implicitly assumes that the justice system is broken. Selective enforcement of it is just another obvious symptom. Gated communities, private security guards, Blackwater mercenaries, etc – those are another.

  17. chigau (違う) says

    I don’t think that Fred Tully was from here.
    They didn’t seem to have a grasp of Earth history.

  18. Raucous Indignation says

    Destroying or allowing the body cam entrusted to you to be destroyed should be a class C felony.

  19. says

    left0ver1under@#21:
    If I came across as sarcastic, I apologize. I was trying for “clever, slightly arched.” The details of anarchism are for another posting – we have plenty to discuss on that topic later. But I have absolutely no problem with anything else you said; I was using your comment to trampoline off in another direction and should have said that clearly.

  20. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    The picture I embedded above, of a cop pointing a loaded weapon at a citizen who apparently was suspected of being in a car in Dallas on the night that some cops were shot – that is evidence of a crime of assault with a deadly weapon being committed. That is another thing we collectively need to do: chip away at the indemnity protections that encourage cops to be abusive, threatening, and violent. That cop above, pointing a gun in the face of an unarmed, unthreatening citizen? What is he learning when he gets away with it? He is learning to think he is above the law.

    Agreed.

    Unfortunately, overall this might require some constitutional amendments to eradicate the SCOTUS-invented legal notion of “qualified immunity” for cops. I don’t know if a mere statute could fix the problem.

    Alternatively, it could be treated as admissable evidence of intent to conceal a crime.

    Perhaps with some proper caveats and rules, agreed. Definitely agreed to the general idea, but it might need some work to be put into practice.

  21. says

    EnlightenmentLiberal@#26:
    Unfortunately, overall this might require some constitutional amendments to eradicate the SCOTUS-invented legal notion of “qualified immunity” for cops.

    It definitely would.
    I think that would be a good idea; in fact it would be part and parcel of cleaning up the interesting legal question of whether a corporation is a “person” and the degree to which organizations can act as a liability umbrella for the members of the organization. I favor radical re-adjustment of liability protections including “executive privilege.” I want to be able to sue a president for false advertising. ;)

  22. morgando says

    Ugh. You know I love you but you’re an asshole sometimes and wrong other times. In this instance you are both. Not all cops are racist murderers, in fact most are good decent people, as are two of my relatives who wear the uniform. Not all black people are racist violent scary bad people, in fact most are good decent people. None of you here, or anywhere, have omnipotent powers that enable you to have had a 360 degree view of everything that happened. All anyone has at the moment are bits and pieces of information. But hey, don’t let that stop anyone from rushing in to immediately judge based off prior experiences, biases and what have you. Yeah, don’t do that. Bunch of fucking hypocrites.

  23. says

    morgando@#28:
    Not all cops are racist murderers, in fact most are good decent people, as are two of my relatives who wear the uniform.

    I did not say all cops are racist murderers. In fact, I only mention race in my posting in the context of that it was a black man that was shot. That the victim was black is a fact.

    You’re welcome to speculate – as many do – whether the shooting was racially motivated. Given the disproportionate number of black people that are shot by police, it’s hard to avoid that conclusion.

    Another conclusion that is hard to avoid in this case is that the cops are lying. They claimed that the victim was “threatening” but then they have held onto the evidence from their body cams that might exonerate them — and other evidence that emerges shows that the victim had his hands up. It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that these cops are lying.

    From observing that some cops lie, and police killings are disproportionate by race – both of which are facts – I do not conclude that all cops are liars or all cops are racists. If I thought that, I’d say it.

    So – you call me an asshole, but you then publicly distort my position and attack claims I didn’t make. What does that make you?

    None of you here, or anywhere, have omnipotent powers that enable you to have had a 360 degree view of everything that happened

    Of course not. I’m looking at a video that shows a guy with his hands up getting shot from a pretty good distance, by a cop. The cops said he was “threatening” and the video doesn’t show that. We all have to look at what we see, not what we desperately wish was true – if your perspective was not from the cop’s point of view, but rather from that of someone wondering what happened, would you see the guy who was shot as “threatening”?

    The gas station’s security cam video hasn’t been made public yet, and the cops are holding onto the dashcam video and their body cam videos. Given that such video might exculpate them, it seems rather odd that they prefer not to disclose it. That 360 degree view of which you spoke? Yes, it would be nice. Hence the cop cams and monitoring cops.

    All anyone has at the moment are bits and pieces of information

    Video that contradicts the story police are telling is “bits and pieces of information”?? Get real, will you? If the guns were in the hands of anyone but cops that video, alone, would be enough to get the shooter convicted of homicide.

    But hey, don’t let that stop anyone from rushing in to immediately judge based off prior experiences, biases and what have you.

    What are you talking about? Pointing to a video of a shooting which contradicts the shooter’s story of events is hardly “rushing in to immediately judge” and doesn’t require any reference to other events or prior experiences. I did not – deliberately and specifically not – make any linkages to other cases where cops have gunned someone down and then changed their story after video emerges that contradicts their story. That’s definitely the elephant in the room, here, which is why I used the words “again” and “murder” in the title of my posting. If a cop shoots someone and says they were being attacked, and later video emerges showing the cop gunning down the victim as they were running away then it is, in fact, murder.


    Slager, the cop who shot Scott in the back and lied about it, was actually charged for the crime (good!) and is under indictment. His partner, who corroborated Slager’s version of the incident, i.e.: “also lied” ought to be facing perjury charges but is not.

    In that context, yes, “again” and “murder” are the right words to use. I stand by them.

    Bunch of fucking hypocrites.

    You’d do better to learn what that word means before you throw it at me.

  24. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    I think that would be a good idea; in fact it would be part and parcel of cleaning up the interesting legal question of whether a corporation is a “person” and the degree to which organizations can act as a liability umbrella for the members of the organization.

    Agreed. One question.

    I thought that currently, individuals of a corporation can be charged criminally just fine, and possibly civilly too. Currently, LLCs only provide protection for investors, and to the extent that they’re not part of day to day operations that are the things that are criminally and civilly liable, it sounds like a good system. Whereas, for the execs, management, and employees, who conspire together to commit acts that carry civil and criminal penalties, I’m totally ok with keeping investors immune from liability (except for the amount of their investment, obviously). However, for those execs, management, and employees, their ass should totally be on the line.

    My question: My understanding is that this is already how it is, but for whatever reason, government criminal prosecutors never issue personal criminal charges when they totally could, and that pisses me off. Similarly, private persons often could pursue civil suits against individual actors in a corporation, but they don’t, perhaps because they don’t have enough evidence concerning who is actually individually liable, but in principle and perhaps in practice they could. Is my understanding of this area of US law correct? In other words, what sorts of things need to be cleared up here? Maybe provide some additional subpeona tools for private citizens to engage in civil suits against the individuals responsible, and maybe coerce government criminal prosecutors to actually pursue criminal charges against individuals, and maybe open up private criminal prosecutions.

    Am I missing anything?

  25. says

    EnlightenmentLiberal @#13:
    I’m totally ok with keeping investors immune from liability (except for the amount of their investment, obviously). However, for those execs, management, and employees, their ass should totally be on the line.

    Agreed. Board members, I believe, are financially liable for decisions they make, but I’m not sure about criminal liability. It’s probably one of those theoretical things, but I’d be surprised if it ever happens in the US. For example, Skilling at Enron went to prison for his actions as an executive, but the board of directors which supposedly had oversight authority and by whose approval he acted.. I think they suffered watching the value of their stock options plummet and that’s about it. I admit I like the idea of “companies are people, right then off you go…” march some entire companies to jail. But that’s an unrealistic fantasy.

    for whatever reason, government criminal prosecutors never issue personal criminal charges when they totally could, and that pisses me off.

    Yeah, me too. What’s going on there is that the prosecutors don’t have the funding or skills to go up against a corporation of fat cats. Can you imagine how much it would cost to go after Jamie Djimon for the financial crisis? Actually, I believe government prosecutors looked at Goldman Sachs and ran away in terror at the kind of forensic accounting that would be needed to even get a few sacrificial underlings thrown under a bus.

    Similarly, private persons often could pursue civil suits against individual actors in a corporation, but they don’t, perhaps because they don’t have enough evidence concerning who is actually individually liable, but in principle and perhaps in practice they could. Is my understanding of this area of US law correct?

    I believe that’s pretty much correct.
    And it’s not just the lack of evidence (though there’s certainly that) it’s the cost of civil litigation. Suing Goldman Sachs would cost more than anyone has, because GS could just scorched-earth the litigation and the plaintiff would be dealing with millions of dollars in legal fees (Witness the recent Led Zeppelin case – $800,000 for LZ’s lawyers, even with them working at a discount. Ow!) A district attorney can subpoena stuff for free, pretty much, but if you’re a private citizen attempting to do discovery, you’re looking at huge problems. I have been a tiny gear in 3 mega corporate lawsuits (2 I can mention were Netscreen/Juniper V Palo Alto, and Santa Cruz Operation V IBM) and the discovery costs alone are hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    Essentially: wealth protects itself by being wealthy.

    Police departments aren’t that rich, actually. If you’re dealing with a homicide case then you’ve got a good chance of winning a judgement and 90+% of the time the plaintiff is having to fund their legal fees by giving the attorneys a percentage of anything that is recovered. That whole system is horribly broken. Usually the lawyers end up with something like 80% of it. Police can protect themselves by manipulating evidence – we’ve seen that repeatedly police departments have lost crucial evidence against them. “The object of power is power”

    How to fix it? I don’t think subpoena tools would work; there needs to be an outside agency that manages evidence when the police may be culpable. Having police expected to collect evidence against themselves is simply ridiculous. I don’t trust the FBI to do that job right, either.

    I think that prosecutorial immunity needs to be broken. It ought to be possible to sue a public prosecutor that decides not to take on a case for the wrong reasons. But that just results in another infinite regress.

    Fixing the justice system in the US? Ha! Come to think of it, why are you asking a nihilist/anarchist how to fix the US justice system? “Burn it all! Burn it to the ground!” that’s pretty much all I can say. Seriously the US system is so full of built-in corruption that it’s beyond repair.
    I support this message:
    https://popehat.com/2013/12/23/burn-the-fucking-system-to-the-ground/

  26. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Thanks for your time and clarity and insight.

    I still like the idea of private criminal prosecutions. That is, allow anyone to seek an indictment from a grand jury on any criminal charge – maybe have some standing limitations (maybe). Government prosecutions can proceed as normal. Then, just give first dibs to the victim, family of the victim, and friends of the victim, to name a prosecutor.

    Would a corporation really go that hard to financially drain the resources of someone who presses criminal charges against a single exec? I’d imagine the company would be happy to cut their losses and run most of the time, and especially if it provides a scapegoat.

    Of course, there’s still the problem that wealthy people get better justice than poor people. Not sure what can be done against that, except wealth redistribution programs, such as progressive income taxes, property taxes, and inheritance taxes, in order to fund public works programs, education, health care, etc.

  27. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    To continue: With private criminal prosecutions, we could start crowd-funding it. My understanding of ye olden times with private criminal prosecutions is that crowd-funding was a common occurrence, specifically businesses would often form collectives which certain rules about using a shared pool of money to prosecute thieves. Today, it seems like crowdfunding might be able to do something, and especially if we had lawyers willing to donate time.

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