Tip to all cops: if you feel like murdering someone, be sure to do it on duty and in uniform

In the past couple of years, CopBlock has covered a wide range of stories involving police murder.  John Williams, a half-deaf, disabled, hobbling Native American man was basically executed in the streets of Seattle by on-duty officer Ian Birk. Birk was never criminally charged. Westpoint and Duke graduate Erik Scott was executed at Costco for no legitimate reasons when police were called to the scene. His killer of course was found to have been “justified” in the murder.

Trevon Cole, an unarmed father-to-be was shot and killed in his bathroom during a mistaken drug raid. Grandfather of 12, Eurie Stamps was similarly unarmed and killed during a botched drug raid. Former Marine Jose Guerena was shot multiple times by police during an alleged drug warrant entry by police. He lay dying for over an hour until he bled to death because police refused medical care. Allen Kephart was tasered to death for honking his car horn at police. Douglas Zerby was shot and killed for holding a garden hose spigot which police purportedly mistook for a gun.

The list goes on and on, but a girl can only maintain so many murder victims’ names in her head before going insane. At any rate, without exception, police involved in these murders were found to have acted reasonably or were determined to have been justified in their murder. Even before they were found to have behaved in a “justified manner,” they were not immediately arrested or charged (or ever arrested or charged).

On the other hand, in recent news, one Officer Dayle Long had the misfortune of murdering someone and actually not getting away with it. Long was drunk at a bar when a bystander ribbed him for not being good at playing darts. Long responded, “That’s why I’m a cop, I can do whatever I want to do.” Things got heated, and Long ended up shooting and killing a third man, Sam Vanettes, who was attempting to break up the fight. Surprisingly, Long was actually arrested and held on $1 million bail. This is a good thing. Barely, though (yay! A cop was actually treated like a normal person, for once!)

Long had one part right. Police pretty much can do what they please. They get away with murder with much more success than ordinary people. They certainly get away with more innocuous violations they engage in almost daily, such as driving while talking on cell phones (illegal in California, apparently except for the police), parking in red zones, parking in handicapped zones, speeding, jaywalking, etc.

The part Long failed to take into consideration is that the key to this distinction is the badge and the uniform. People don’t care about murder when it is committed by police in uniform. The response is usually, “well then [the victim] shouldn’t have disobeyed/talked back/drank alcohol/[insert petty violation here].” People most definitely don’t care when police in uniform break traffic laws, because of course police are just “doing their jobs” and “keeping people safe” by speeding, parking in fire lanes, and talking on their cell phones while driving. But when the uniform comes off, to a certain extent, they are viewed once again as regular old losers like the rest of us.

Regular old losers can’t jay walk, speed, or murder with impunity. You have to have a uniform and a badge to do that. Long’s mistake wasn’t murder; his mistake was committing murder out of uniform. And as a side note to all you regular old losers out there, regardless of uniform, never honk your car horn at a cop or challenge his dart skills – someone could end up dead.

  • http://tjic.com TJIC

    Excellent post.


    @ George

    What about the morons thats killed Kelly Thomas?. They were IN uniform. and are being charged.

  • George

    @VYPER – I won’t count them as being in trouble until they have been convicted and go to prison permanently. Further, I believe the Kelly Thomas case is out of the ordinary for several reasons. 1. There were many witnesses on the scene who recorded the incident, and were videotaped immediately after the incident, describing what happened. 2. People of Fullerton were outraged and demonstrated at the police station every weekend for months.

    It shouldn’t have to come to that for there to be some basic accountability, but in my opinion, those are the only reasons why the officers got in trouble at all. During the beating, police officers seized at least one witness’s phone because she was recording, and arrested her. However, there were too many cameras watching for this to be easily covered up. Even so, they continued to try to cover it up. For the entire month after his death, the city refused to release the video, city officials defended their actions, and the officers continued on duty. It was only when public outrage and the multiple videos taken by witnesses could no longer be contained that something was done. This situation is out of the ordinary. Accountability here was a freak accident, if you ask me.


    @ George-

    I can agree with that. I misinterpreted your article then. The shooting incident in the bar over darts would then fall under that right?. Granted that “Officer” was NOT in uniform but CLEARLY based on his exclamation of being able to do what he wants because he is a cop was displaying behavior that would indicate his clothing had no bearing on his actions that night. I dont believe however that his media exposure played a part in the decision to charge him.

  • Steve in Iowa

    Dayle Long’s future incarceration, in my opinion, will be used as an election slogan by either the judge or DA in the near future (“Elect me, I’m tough on cop corruption!!”). Or, they are taking Fullerton to heart and don’t want us peasants to realize that there are millions more of us than there are of them and start getting all uppity and demand resignations or just find the nearest lamp post to deal with the corruption ourselves, you know, using it to their advantage to calm the masses.

  • Ann

    Hope you never call 911.

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