Archive for the ‘Cops’ Category

Crime and punishment.

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016

The first three paragraphs of this article push one of my hot buttons, so you might take that into account when considering my recommendation.

However, I really like Kathryn Schulz’s “Dead Certainty”, about “Making a Murderer” specifically, and the general trend of reporters conducting their own “extrajudicial investigations”.

Nearly seventy years have passed since Erle Stanley Gardner first tried a criminal case before the jury of the general public. Yet we still have not thought seriously about what it means when a private investigative project—bound by no rules of procedure, answerable to nothing but ratings, shaped only by the ethics and aptitude of its makers—comes to serve as our court of last resort.

Schulz puts her finger on something that’s bugged me for a while. I’m not proud of this, but I used to watch “America’s Most Wanted”. Sometimes, it reminded me of a scene from “Fahrenheit 451″, where Montag is being pursued and the pursuit is broadcast live on television, complete with a host who sounds a lot like John Walsh.

I don’t have a dog in this fight: I didn’t watch “Making a Murderer” and I didn’t listen to “Serial”. But I think what Schulz says is worth thinking about:

It is largely because of these systemic weaknesses in our judicial system that we find ourselves with a court of last resort. While that court cannot directly operate the levers of the law, it has drawn attention to cases that need review, and innocent people have been freed as a result. Yet in the decades since Erle Stanley Gardner launched his column, none of the forces that put those people in prison in the first place have changed for the better. Nor have we evolved a set of standards around extrajudicial investigations of criminal cases. However broken the rules that govern our real courts, the court of last resort is bound by no rules at all.

Random notes: December 30, 2015.

Wednesday, December 30th, 2015

Okay, so it isn’t exactly Ninja Part 3: The Ninjaing. But I was entertained by Pete Wells’ review of Señor Frog’s in the NYT.

Señor Frog’s is not a good restaurant by most conventional measures, including the fairly basic one of serving food.

(Spoiler: he still liked it better than Guy’s American Kitchen and Bar.)

From the HouChron: off-duty HPD officer lists a couple of personal firearms on Texas Gun Trader, meets up with potential customers, and gets into a shootout.

Mildly interesting, but I call it out here for this quote:

Senties did not know how much Curry was asking for the guns, but on the website, the price tag for pistols can range from about $300 to almost $2,000 depending on the model and the condition.

“…from about $300 to almost $2,000″. Wow. That certainly narrows it down.

Seriously, if you don’t have specific information on what Curry (the HPD officer) was selling and how much he was asking, why put that in? Does the HouChron even have editors these days?


Thursday, December 24th, 2015

Speaking of Ross Thomas, I’ve been meaning to link to (and bookmark) Ethan Iverson’s “Ah, Treachery!” essay for a while now. There are a few things in it that I disagree with, but I think Iverson’s essay is generally perceptive about Thomas and his writing; I find myself referring to it periodically.

Young Joseph Wambaugh and the hobo, from the LAT.

Dave Barry’s year in review, in case you haven’t seen it yet.

An OPM statement plays down the seriousness of the data breach, stressing that “if anybody publishes any photos allegedly depicting an alleged Cabinet secretary with an alleged goat, those are fake,” further noting that “it was totally a consenting goat.”

For the record: NYT obit for Joe Jamail.

Time flies.

Friday, November 27th, 2015

Damn. It has been a year since that asshole tried to shoot up the police department and got center-punched for his trouble? Where does the time go?

One year later article from the Statesman, which has some details I either didn’t know or forgot.

Johnson turned protective. Still holding on tightly to the horses’ reins with his left hand, he pressed his chest against one of the garage’s concrete pillars and drew his weapon, the Police Department’s standard-issue Smith & Wesson M&P 40.

The bizarre nature of the incident and his incredible gunshot come up nearly every day. According to a ballistics investigation, the .40-caliber bullet fired from Johnson’s gun traveled 314 feet in less than a second. The bullet nicked the driver’s door frame of McQuilliams’ vehicle and continued tumbling sideways 5 more feet before it hit McQuilliams.

Yes. That was a 100 yard, one-handed shot with an M&P .40.

That was the only shot police fired that night.

It was also the decisive one.

I can’t find it online, and my memory is a little sketchy, but I’m reminded of an “Ayoob Files” from some years ago. Briefly: bad guy armed with a rifle is holding off cops (and kills one dead). Cops are only armed with handguns, and try to take the guy out, but he has them pinned down 80 to 100 yards away. My recollection of Ayoob’s account is that at least one of the responding officers tried making shots at that range with his duty gun; when the bad guy was finally taken down (as I recall, by someone who arrived on scene with a shotgun and hit him with a rifled slug), they found a fairly tight group of bullet holes…just above where the bad guy’s head would have been.

One of Ayoob’s points, which I thought was well taken was: maybe every once in a while you should try taking long range shots with your duty weapon, just so you have some idea of what it can do and where you might need to hold. Then again…

Johnson, 40, loves his unit and his job, a perfect fit for someone who had grown up riding horses on a ranch and practiced shooting with a .22-caliber rifle from his back porch.

…if you grew up shooting off the back porch, maybe you don’t need that advice.

(Also, Massad Ayoob, if you happen to be reading this: this incident, and Sgt. Johnson in particular, might make for a good “Ayoob Files” installment. Just saying.)

Obit watch and random notes: November 24, 2015.

Tuesday, November 24th, 2015

I’ve written previously about Ron Reynolds, a state representative and lawyer who was charged with barratry.

Well, it has been a while. The other seven people who were arrested with Rep. Reynolds took pleas, but Rep. Reynolds went to trial. And…?

You’re going down in flames, you tax-fattened hyena!

The Fort Bend County Democrat was convicted Friday of five counts of illegally soliciting clients, or misdemeanor barratry. A six-person jury on Monday rejected his plea for probation, and instead sentenced him to 12 months behind bars and a fine of several thousand dollars.

I’ve also written about Kelly Thomas, who was beaten to death by the Fullerton PD. The city (meaning local taxpayers) is going to pay out $4.9 million to his family, in settlement of their wrongful death lawsuit.

Obit watch: noted elsewhere, but I did want to mention the passing of Ken Johnson, former player for the Houston Astros (and the Colt .45s, their predecessor), and the only pitcher ever to “complete a nine-inning game without yielding a hit and still manage to lose it.”

(Oddly enough, there’s a good explanation of how this happened in the FARK discussion thread.)

Also among the dead: Adele Mailer, Norman’s ex-wife and the woman he stabbed in a drunken rage.

Some guests recalled that the point of no return came when she told her husband that he was not as good as Dostoyevsky.

Random notes: November 1, 2015.

Sunday, November 1st, 2015

In case anyone was wondering, the hand surgery went about as well as I expected: in that, I lived through it and didn’t die on the table from a bad reaction to the anesthesia or something else. My left hand is still wrapped tightly, but I’m approaching maybe 1 1/3 hand functionality. At this point, I’m off painkillers and it really doesn’t bother me: the itching is more disturbing than anything else.


I’d managed to avoid breaking any bones or surgery requiring more than a local anesthetic for over 50 years. So much for that record.

I think what bothers me the most was the loss of continuity of consciousness, if that makes any sense. What I mean: one moment, they’re telling me that they’re going to put a sedative in my IV line. Next thing I know, they’re telling me the surgery is over and I’m okay. It just feels…weird, for reasons I can’t articulate. It’s not like going to sleep: it feels more like a gap during which I stopped processing memories. I need to think through this some more.


I haven’t seen this covered elsewhere yet, and I’d really like to see coverage in someplace I trust more than the WP, but: the FBI is switching back to the 9mm, and away from the .40.

The new 9mm round — known to gun aficionados as the 147 grain Speer Gold Dot G2 — is significantly more effective than what FBI agents carried into the field in 1986. According to Cook, the bullet has been rigorously tested and has received high marks in the FBI’s most important category for bullet selection: penetration.

This also means new pistols for the FBI, and that’s going to be a windfall for somebody. It also won’t shock me to see the current administration attempting to use the procurement process to advance their political goals…

“We are on a completely different program,” one senior HRT operator said, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the team’s arsenal.


Well, it’s official now…

Friday, October 23rd, 2015

…VonTrey Clark has officially been indicted on capital murder charges.

Obit watch: October 14, 2015.

Wednesday, October 14th, 2015

Robert Leuci.

I don’t think he ever reached the level of fame Frank Serpico did, but he was part of the same NYPD anti-corruption movement.

Of the 70 men assigned to the Special Investigating Unit of the Narcotics Division from 1968 to 1971, 52 were indicted as a result of evidence gathered by Mr. Leuci. Two committed suicide with their service revolvers. Two others, both 42, died of heart attacks after they were indicted. One went insane.

Short random notes: September 24, 2015.

Thursday, September 24th, 2015

James Mee has his job back.

I feel sure I’ve written about this before, but I can’t find the post now. Mr. Mee was a deputy with the LA County Sheriff’s Office. He was fired because of his alleged involvement in a police chase that ended when the vehicle he was supposedly chasing crashed into a gas station.

At least, that was the claim. So why was he really fired? Well, Mr. Mee was also one of the officers who arrested Mel Gibson back in 2006.

Mee’s lawyers argued that sheriff’s managers falsely blamed Mee for leaking details of Gibson’s 2006 arrest and the actor’s anti-Semitic tirade to celebrity news site Mee, his attorneys alleged, was repeatedly subjected to harassment and unfair discipline in the years that followed, culminating in his firing over the 2011 crash.

This one’s for Lawrence: Frank Gehry is working on a project to rehabilitate the Los Angeles River. This has some people upset.

(Obligatory. Plus, the video I’ve linked to before has been taken down, so call this a bookmark.)

Art (Acevedo), damn it! watch. (#X of a series)

Friday, September 11th, 2015

In the time I’ve been doing the Art (Acevedo) watch, I don’t think I’ve ever put up a photo of the chief. Some of the articles I’ve linked to may have had photos, but I don’t if people click through, and I don’t think there’s ever been one here.

Until now.

Yes, the chief is kind of a geek.

The chief also has a button installed in his office that makes the noise of the “red alert” alarm in classic Star Trek episodes.


“On the day it opens, do not call me,” he said. “Do not get in my way. I will be at the Alamo Drafthouse with a bucket of buttered popcorn.”

“Do not get in my way.” If someone does, could they be charged with obstruction of justice?

This is…

Wednesday, September 9th, 2015

…not But I do find this interesting:

Cincinnati Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell was fired Wednesday after city leaders concluded he had belittled his staff, violated rules, destroyed morale and plunged the police department into crisis.

The reports portray Blackwell as a poor leader and publicity hound who favored a core group of favorites over the assistant chiefs and district commanders who are part of the traditional chain of command. According to some of those officers, Blackwell badgered them to obtain free tickets for him to sporting events, approved overtime for his friends without going through proper procedures and personally attacked officers who disagreed with him.

He also allegedly took selfies during a funeral procession for an officer who was killed in the line of duty.

Obit watch: September 8, 2015.

Tuesday, September 8th, 2015

Judy Carne. WP. She’s just at the fringes of my memory: I remember watching “Laugh-In” with my parents, and I remember “sock it to me”, but she left the show when I was four…am I inventing these memories?

Martin Milner. “Route 66″ went off the air a year before I was born, but I loved “Adam-12″ when I was a wee lad. I have the first season on DVD, and you know, it still holds up well.

The FARK thread is actually pretty respectful, and worth reading if you were a fan of “Adam-12″, “Emergency”, and “Dragnet”. It reminds me that I want to write a re-evaluation of both “Dragnet” and “Adam-12″, arguing that what Jack Webb was trying to represent was his vision of how policing in general, and the LAPD specifically, should work. Not the way it really did work, but the ideal that he felt they should strive for; in a way, you might say that Webb was trying to represent on television Peel’s Nine Principles of Policing.