Law Enforcement Today, a police propaganda website, posted the following wholly inaccurate, intentionally misleading meme to its Facebook page this past Thursday. The meme claims that all of the 1,140 to 1,205 people killed by law enforcement officers in 2015 were only killed as a result of refusing to obey lawful orders from those officers. This meme is a lie so obvious, so grandiose that only those who believe every death at the hands of a police officer is justified, no matter the circumstances or evidence, could possibly swallow it.
This meme conveniently and callously ignores cases like six-year-old Jeremy Mardis who was shot and killed by two deputy city marshals who appear to have had no legal reason to stop Chris Few (Mardis’ father), and opened fire on the stopped vehicle they were in even though Few had his hands up and was not presenting a threat to the officers; Akai Gurley, killed by NYPD officer Peter Liang who was just convicted of manslaughter and official misconduct for negligently firing into a darkened stairwell and then failing to render aid to Gurley, instead contacting the union to help cover his ass; India Kager, who was “accidentally” shot and killed while shielding her infant son with her own body as Virginia Beach police officers filled the car she was in full of lead; Bettie Jones, another innocent bystander “accidentally” shot by a Chicago police officer she had just opened the door for.
It seems suspect that a website billing itself as “a leading law enforcement community by law enforcement officials, for law enforcement officials,” would have failed to notice any of the cases referenced above, but I’ll pretend that could be the case. Even so, surely a profession that claims to be interested in collecting factual evidence would spend some time investigating this claim before posting it, right?
If only those people had a website where they could look over the facts of cases of people killed by police last year. Oh that’s right, there are several. For convenience’s sake, I looked only at cases on The Counted for January through March of 2015. That yielded 288 incidents. Here’s what I found.
Cops’ Infamous Shitty Driving is a Danger to Themselves and Others
The danger that law enforcement officers’ careless driving poses to themselves is a well-known fact, however the number of other people they kill in car accidents is not as well reported. I found eight cases of pedestrians and bicyclists who were struck and killed by LEOs:
- Michael Kocher was initially struck by another driver who called for assistance, and then run over and killed by the responding officer (who was charged with negligent homicide) on January 3, 2015 in Hawaii.
- Howard Robbins died instantly when he was struck by a police officer while walking to a friend’s house on January 16, 2015 in Kentucky.
- Dean Bucheit was struck and killed by an LAPD officer while walking on February 9, 2015.
- Jeffrey Surnow who was riding his bicycle while on in Hawaii when he was struck and killed by a police officer in a hit and run accident on March 1, 2015.
- Bernard Moore was struck and killed by an Atlanta police officer while he was walking to work on March 6, 2015.
- Hue Dang was struck and killed by a detective with the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office in New Jersey. It is “unclear whether she was crossing the street or standing on the pavement” when she was hit on March 9, 2015.
- David Watford was struck and killed by a Louisiana State Trooper who was searching for him after responding to a call about his abandoned tractor-trailer on March 17, 2015.
- James Moore was struck and killed by a Tulsa police officer when crossing the street on March 22, 2015.
People “Accidentally” Killed by Gunfire, Tasers, and Restraints
- Frank Smart died of a seizure worsened by physical restraint after employees of the Allegheny County Jail (Pennsylvania) refused him his epilepsy medication and then took his resulting seizure as resisting orders on January 5, 2015.
- Autumn Steele was killed by Officer Jesse Hill of the Burlington Police Department when he slipped and fired his gun wildly as he tried to kill her dog on January 6, 2015.
- Christina Prestianni was shot and killed by her corrections officer boyfriend in New Jersey, illustrating the high propensity LEOs exhibit for domestic violence and murder-suicide, on January 15, 2015.
- John Gorman, Director of investigations for the Mississippi Gaming Commission was shot and killed by another agent with his agency during a training exercise on January 21, 2015.
- Larry Kobuk, who notified a nurse at the Anchorage jail he was being held at that he had a health condition that put him at risk for a sudden cardiac arrest, became unconscious and died after being pressed into the floor by four correctional officers who were on his back trying to remove a sweatshirt on January 28, 2015 (video below). According to the Alaska Dispatch News:
In its investigation of the incident, the corrections department found that its own officers didn’t use excessive force while restraining Kobuk. But the threat posed by Kobuk didn’t appear to “warrant the level of force used,” the review found.
- David Kassick was shot twice in the back and killed by Hummelstown police officer Lisa Mearkle as he lay face down in the snow because she “feared for her safety” on February 2, 2015. This evergreen excuse for extrajudicial executions was accepted by the jury who acquitted her of voluntary and involuntary manslaughter.
- Natasha McKenna became unresponsive and died after being shocked four times with a taser, in violation of the manufacturer’s instructions for safe operation, when six Fairfax County Sheriff’s Deputies removed her from her cell on February 3, 2016. The naked McKenna, who is seen voluntarily leaving her cell, is immediately confronted and taken down by the hazmat-suited goon squad of deputies as soon as she emerges from the cell. Staff at the jail were disturbed enough to leak initial reports of the incident to the media, and also to write an anonymous letter to a local journalist and advocate for the mentally ill.
Cops Charged with Murder and Other Crimes
- Anthony Hill, a mentally ill man who was shot and killed by Officer Robert Olsen on March 9, 2015. Officer Olsen has been charged with felony murder, violating his oath of office, aggravated assault, and making a false statement.
- Jonathan Paul died after being restrained and pepper-sprayed at a jail in Texas on March 12, 2015. Two Arlington Police officers have been charged with criminally negligent homicide.
- Salome Rodriguez was shot and killed after submitting to arrest by off-duty LAPD officer Henry Solis following a confrontation between the two at a bar. Solis fled to Mexico before being charged with murder. He was captured two months later and is currently in jail awaiting trial.
- Robert Rooker was shot and killed following a high speed chase in Ohio on March 29, 2015. Even though officials allege Rooker rammed or attempted to ram police vehicles, Pike County Sheriff’s deputy Joel Jenkins has been indicted for reckless homicide in the case. Jenkins has also been charged with involuntary manslaughter, reckless homicide and tampering with evidence in the shooting death of his neighbor, Jason Brady, in December.
K-9 Lives Matter
Since cops insists that their canine dead be considered the same as human officers, no list of unjustified deaths at the hands of law enforcement officers would be complete without including K-9 officers. This article provides details of the 11 police dogs killed by the actions of other police officers.
There, I Fixed It for You
If Law Enforcement Today had done even a cursory round of fact-checking they would have perhaps thought twice about posting their disgusting meme that spits on the memories of all the people unjustifiably killed by police last year. But probably not. The website’s raison d’être is providing the type of ultimately self-defeating propaganda that encourages police to refuse to even acknowledge, much less learn from, their deadly mistakes, and further isolates them from the communities they purport to serve.
Here’s what that meme would look like if its creator had been at all concerned with accuracy. I chose to use a photo with a door in it because every law enforcement officer or public official who agreed with the original should hand in their resignation and walk right out the door of whichever agency hired them. They are unfit to serve and a menace to society.