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Guns and Crime

Police shooting: don’t trust David French

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As Ben Shapiro frequently notes, droves of people will agree that they want to cut spending, but when attempting to identify specific programs to reduce or eliminate, they draw a blank. The same can be said for many conservatives’ approach to police shootings.

Ask David French, for instance, senior writer for National Review, whether police shootings pose a significant problem in America. At least in 2016, he would’ve told you that it was all a “media-created fake crisis.” So which hot-button shootings were blown out of proportion by the media and Black Lives Matter? Aside from Michael Brown’s death in 2014 and a lukewarm defense of Officer Betty Shelby in 2017, you’d be hard-pressed to get an answer from French.

In fact, it seems every piece he’s contributed to this discussion has been just the opposite, pointed at decrying the officer in question. According to my research, French has not published a single piece dedicated to exonerating an officer who has fired on a suspect.

Even in tepidly standing by the side of Officer Shelby, he used the opportunity to smear Officer Yanez, who shot and killed Philando Castile, despite the fact that the circumstances surrounding the two shootings were remarkably similar, as I noted in June of last year.

In that article, I wrote, “The war on cops needs to end, especially from the Right. I have far less tolerance for conservatives who sell out justified cops in the name of virtue signaling than I do for those on the Left.”

Well, David French is up to his old tricks, so here I am again.

First, the facts of the case as seen here:

Sacramento police responded to reports that a man had broken a truck window just after 4:00 am. They knocked on the door of a nearby home, asked to search the backyard, did so, and came back to the street empty handed. A police helicopter then spotted a suspect breaking the window of a nearby home and, shortly after, jumping a fence. The officers ran up and down the street looking for the suspect, spotted him in the side area of a home approaching the rear, and shouted that he show them his hands. Instead, the man fled. Police pursued him into the backyard, repeated the command to show his hands, and announced to each other that they had seen a gun. They repeated the command, repeated that they had seen a gun, and opened fire. It appears that the suspect, Stephon Clark, died immediately.

All told, Clark was holding an iPhone, not a gun, and the backyard in which he was shot was his grandmother’s. No, none of this should make any difference, but we’ll get to that later.

Addressing police violence, French wrote in 2016, “This is how the Left sustains a false racial crisis: Step One — Begin with the misleading use of statistics.” Not content to merely know his enemy, French has decided to imitate them.

In his recent article, French questions whether the officers faced any significant risk at all, contending, “According to the City of Sacramento, it’s been almost 20 years since a cop was shot and killed in the line of duty.”

But what about the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department, where four officers have been shot dead in the last 12 years, one as recently as August 2017? Coincidentally, the officer murdered in August was surnamed French.

Regardless, to imply that a risk is unrealistic because it hasn’t happened in a while is patently unhinged.

Nevertheless, French persists, “Before you object and tell me that routine encounters can and do escalate, I know that. But what I am questioning are probabilities and perspective.” This is absurd. The likelihood of a police officer being shot on duty is remarkably low anyway. Tragically, it still happens. In all circumstances, regardless of probability, police officers must be vigilant, and French’s suggestion otherwise is dangerous. To be clear, I’m not saying he’s trying to endanger cops; I just think he’s not being level headed.

French “[finds] it deeply disturbing and problematic” that “the encounter … took roughly 17 seconds.” Does he not realize that officers can be (and sometimes are) murdered in far less time than that?

Next, he downplays a likely felony (burglary) to a misdemeanor (vandalism) in order to minimize Clark’s offense (just like Castile, Crutcher, Brown, and Sterling, Clark committed at least one serious crime before being shot). As held in Graham v. Connor, “all claims that law enforcement officials have used excessive force … are properly analyzed under the Fourth Amendment’s ‘objective reasonableness’ standard,” meaning we must judge what an objectively reasonable officer would have thought or inferred from available details.

Unlike David French, let’s attempt to put ourselves in the officers’ shoes (remembering, of course, that only police officers can truly understand exactly what they go through): a suspect breaks the windows of a vehicle in the middle of the night, a crime we can reasonably assume might precede some other crime, such as theft. The man then breaks the window of a home, which he more than likely wants to enter — civilian’s are now potentially in danger; this is serious. Hearing police are nearby, the man jumps the fence into another yard — another household threatened. When confronted, he runs — this is a guilty man. He refuses to show his hands, and there’s an object in one hand. It’s dark. This man is a felon. He’s fleeing the cops and resisting arrest. He doesn’t want to go to jail. Now he’s holding something as he finds himself cornered. Might it be a gun? Given what we know, isn’t that at least objectively reasonable? The man doubles down on his belligerence. He doesn’t respond. He doesn’t comply. He stands there with the object in his hand. And just like that, he’s dead. And who’s to blame? His own dumb self.

French dubiously insists, “It’s one thing to be in hot pursuit of an armed robber or a known, violent felon. It’s one thing to approach a situation where you perceive that innocent lives are in imminent danger. It’s another thing entirely to deal with a person who, to that point, had broken windows, and no other civilian was perceived to be at risk.”

To quote Luke Skywalker, “Amazing. Every word of what you just said was wrong.”

According to objective reason, the police believed Clark was armed. They believed he may have committed theft and burglary. They believed that, in potentially burglarizing at least two homes, Clark posed imminent danger to civilians. French is totally, ludicrously, irresponsibly wrong.

In contrast, French would have us believe that it is more objectively reasonable to expect police officers to be mind readers. They should have known Clark wasn’t holding a gun. They should have known that he was in his grandmother’s yard. They should have known that he meant no harm in breaking the windows of a vehicle and a home just a few feet from his grandma’s house. They should have suspected that he didn’t respond because he had earbuds in, despite the only evidence to such being that his grandma said Clark might have been wearing earbuds (you’d think officers would’ve noticed this as they attempted to revive his body). And finally, they should have assumed that Clark was running because he was a scared, helpless victim in all of this, merely misunderstood and startled.

Gag me.

What bothers me most is that French apparently knows all of this but doesn’t care. He has previously referenced Graham v. Connor, asserting, “How, pray tell, is a police officer supposed to discern whether a shooting victim ‘actually’ poses a threat other than through their ‘objectively reasonable’ beliefs? How can anyone tell?” Whereas he once wrote, “It’s always a bad idea to flee from arrest, resist arrest, or introduce any unexpected behavior into an encounter with police,” he now claims it shouldn’t have made a difference. In paradoxically defending Officer Shelby but not Officer Yanez, French admitted, “The law does not require cops to be omniscient. It requires that they be reasonable. It is reasonable to believe that a person who won’t obey commands, won’t get on the ground, and is walking back toward (and ultimately reaching in) his car is a threat.”

He makes many similar concessions in this article as well, such as, “The officers seemed to genuinely believe they faced an imminent, mortal threat,” and, “We don’t require cops to be omniscient, and the fact that the ‘gun’ turned out to be an iPhone makes the shooting horribly tragic, not criminal.”

But as French makes clear from the beginning, these facts, the law, and all objective reason are irrelevant.

“Focusing on whether the shooting was lawful misses the larger point.”

Never go full SJW.

French continues, “When we speak about police shootings, we often focus too much on the most basic question — was the shooting lawful — rather than the far more complex and ultimately more consequential question. Was the shooting proper? … I say no. I say that the escalation and response we saw in Sacramento is more akin to the kind of immediate escalation and engagement you’d find in a war zone when chasing a suspected terrorist.”

I have it on the authority of someone who served in Afghanistan as more than a military lawyer, like French, that “you don’t chase [fleeing terrorists], you shoot ‘em.” The escalation of force as shown by these Sacramento officers in verbally warning, chasing, repeatedly warning, and ultimately firing upon a known criminal who, by objectively reasonable standards, posed an imminent threat to both officers and civilians was not only lawful, but yes, it was proper.

As articulated by Jason Angel — senior police consultant for The New Guards, Marine Corps Captain, and my brother, “Unfortunately David French has not realized that he possesses the same ignorance toward police work that Black Lives Matter does. His analysis is egregiously flawed. His attempt to use military service as a comparison does not work for a number of reasons, but he also forgot that non-threatening civilians are killed far more frequently in war than by the police. … At no point does he put himself in the officer’s position and at no point does he recognize that his military experience as a JAG does not give him combat experience or translating experience to law enforcement.”

French suggests a shift in law enforcement training to better resemble military standards, namely law of armed conflict vs. rules of engagement. He posits, “Cops don’t have a law-of-armed-conflict problem — the constitutional standards and state statutes governing when a cop can be prosecuted are appropriate — they have a rules-of-engagement problem.” In other words, they’re not breaking any laws; just arbitrary rules.

 

He concludes, “It’s time to change the rules.” But what does that mean? Who decides the rules? What will they be? What measures will be taken to ensure these rules are not conflated as law?

What is the proposed punishment for a lawful action that violates French’s beloved rules? Instead of jail time, should we protest and insist upon the firing of an officer who legally shoots a suspect in a manner we don’t like? Will this somehow heal the divide between police and civilians? Will this assuage police officers who are already petrified to do their duty for fear of punishment?

“I say no.”

Thankfully, David French doesn’t speak for National Review generally — here’s an excellent take on this shooting and French’s piece from Jack Dunphy, an actual police officer who knows that French is full of it. And here’s another piece written by another police officer for The New Guards on the proper way to react to a police shooting.

I advise scrutiny in reading anything of this nature — it’s a serious topic. Where possible, talk to actual cops. I’m not nor will I probably ever be a police officer, but that’s why I never write any articles on police work without consulting either my cop brother, my cop father or both; trust them, not me.

And definitely, don’t trust David French.


Richie Angel is the Editor at Large of The New Guards. Follow him and The New Guards on Twitter, and check out The New Guards on Facebook.

Guns and Crime

Why isn’t Katie Brennan’s #MeToo accusation getting national attention?

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It’s the type of story that should have received national attention immediately. It was sourced by a respected major news outlet, the Wall Street Journal. Both the accuser and the accused are high-ranking public official in New Jersey’s government. The accused stepped down two weeks ago when approached by WSJ for comment. Katie Brennan’s story is a major newsworthy scandal.

As of Monday morning, a day after the story officially broke and four days after it was leaked to other major news outlets, both mainstream media and the #MeToo movement are essentially silent.

That will change soon, possibly today. Brennan, a prominent volunteer for Phil Murphy’s gubernatorial campaign and current Chief of Staff at the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency, released this statement:

On April 8th, 2017, Al Alvarez raped me. On April 9th, 2017 I learned that the system is broken.

I have pursued every form of justice available. But it has become clear that this system is not built for survivors.

The details of the assault portrayed in reporter Kate King’s Wall Street Journal report published today are accurate. But to date, I have received no justice.

I decided to come forward because I know that Al Alvarez, and all perpetrators, must be held accountable, must never rape again, and the justice system needs a complete change with regard to sexual violence.

New Jersey residents are only given a two-year window to file a civil suit. After spending an entire year pursuing a criminal case before hitting a dead end, I am left with less than one year to pursue civil action.

It is clear that leadership from the Murphy administration is needed to create meaningful policy change on several levels to make sure future victims do not have to endure what I have. I urge Gov. Murphy and the Attorney General’s Office to eliminate the statute of limitations on civil action related to sexual assault, and to direct prosecutors to be more aggressive in taking on these criminal cases. Further, the Murphy administration and the General Assembly should pursue legislation to ensure New Jersey’s police and other first responders are better trained to handle sexual assault victims.

Finally, sexual predators like Al Alvarez are only able to stay in power when those around them do nothing. Several senior level members of the Murphy administration were aware of my assault and failed to take meaningful action. Al Alvarez remained employed at a senior level in the Murphy administration until just a few weeks ago, when he knew the Wall Street Journal article was coming out and opted to resign. The failure of members of Gov. Murphy’s staff to respond in an aggressive, proactive fashion is unacceptable.

To other sexual assault survivors in New Jersey, I urge you to join me in coming forward if you are able. I will stand with you, because when we stand together, we are safer and stronger. Our voice is our power. Together, we can finally receive the justice we all deserve.

Murphy has not commented other than saying Alvarez should not have been hired. He was made aware of a “sensitive matter” that needed to be discussed by Brennan in June and claimed his staff would set up a meeting. That was the last Brennan heard from Murphy.

Gov. Phil Murphy’s handling of aide sex assault allegation questioned

https://www.northjersey.com/story/news/new-jersey/governor/2018/10/14/murphys-handling-sexual-assault-allegation-called-into-question/1642517002/His accuser, Katie Brennan, was a Murphy campaign volunteer who said she spent more than a year seeking action against Alvarez for the alleged sexual assault before directly emailing Phil and Tammy Murphy in June. Phil Murphy responded within the hour, according to the Journal.

“Hang in,” he wrote. “We are on it.”

But Alvarez remained in his $140,000-a-year position until October. The alleged assault happened in April 2017.

Standards set by the #MeToo movement dictate that credible accusations should be believed. Brennan appears to be extremely credible, having reported her rape immediately after it allegedly occurred. Alvarez offered a $15,000 settlement that would have been attached to a non-disclosure agreement, which Brennan refused.

Where is MSNBC? Where is CNN? Where is Alyssa Milano?

Social media is starting to take notice. In particular, they’re going after Murphy and his wife for speaking out in support of Christine Blasey Ford’s accusations against Brett Kavanaugh.

Katie Brennan

My Take

I am a strong proponent for what the #MeToo movement once promoted and how it started. The original intent was to embolden women who had experienced sexual misconduct at the hands of men in power over them. The goal was to give courage to those who were in very tough situations.

Recently, the #MeToo movement has been weaponized. I’m not going to draw comparisons between accusations against Kavanaugh and Alvarez. That would be unfair to Ford since Brennan’s accusations against Alvarez are much more recent and have the benefit of an immediate report to the authorities. Nevertheless, it’s worth noting that as of now, either the story hasn’t reached the right people or the right people have chosen to ignore it.

We can’t let them.

It’s not as if this is a political hit job against Democrats. Brennan’s image was used in Murphy’s campaign handouts and she was outspoken as a “Young Democrat of the Week” in New Jersey as a result.

Katie Brennan NJ Democrat

I don’t like when something as heinous as rape gets politicized, but silence from mainstream media and the #MeToo movement is deafening. Would they be avoiding the story if Brennan had accused a Republican?

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Guns and Crime

Infographic: Opioid overdose deaths in the United States

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Infographic Opioid overdose deaths in the United States

The use of opioids in the United States has dramatically risen in recent years, prompting calls for action from both sides of the political aisle. It’s not like the old drug wars on the streets of New York or the suburbs of Dallas. This drug epidemic is affecting all races, economic conditions, and ages.

In this infographic from Visual Capitalist, they examine the death rates county by county. Of note is West Virginia, where in some areas the opioid death rate is approaching the cancer death rates.

Courtesy of: Visual Capitalist

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Guns and Crime

Inmates on death row in Washington state given life sentences after capital punishment struck down by Supreme Court

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Inmates on death row in Washington state given life sentences after capital punishment struck down b

The Washington state Supreme Court has ruled the death penalty is unconstitutional based on racial bias. This move affirms Governor Jay Inslee’s moratorium in 2014.

“We are confident that the association between race and the death penalty is not attributed to random chance,” the justices wrote in a majority opinion.

Racial bias was cited following a study commissioned by Allen Eugene Gregory, a death row inmate convicted of aggravated first-degree murder. The study found that black convicts were 4.5 times more likely to receive the death penalty than white inmates with similar charges.

The bias was attributed to juries rather than prosecutor recommendations. There was no evidence that prosecutors were more likely to pursue the death penalty based upon race but juries were more likely to sentence with racial bias.

Source: NPR

Washington State Strikes Down Death Penalty, Citing Racial Bias

https://www.npr.org/2018/10/11/656570464/washington-state-strikes-down-death-penalty-citing-racial-biasThursday’s ruling makes Washington the 20th state to abolish capital punishment. According to the ACLU, this state supreme court is the third to do so citing concerns about racial disparities, along with Massachusetts and Connecticut.

The court decided to convert Washington’s current death sentences to life imprisonment. The state’s corrections division says that there are eight people currently on death row.

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