Before you get excited and start seeing this as a sign of the times, or start thinking the police state is crumbling. Keep in mind that establishments have long been willing to sacrifice their own in order to maintain the appearance of integrity, loyalty and justice. Throughout history the tyrannical and corrupt have served their own best interests through a methodical use of smoke and mirrors in an attempt to disguise their real intentions.
Charlie Beck, the Los Angeles police chief has recommended criminal charges be brought against an officer who shot and killed a homeless man on the Venice Beach boardwalk last year. This is the first time he has made such a recommendation in a fatal on duty shooting. Beck followed up by saying,
“the majority of shootings by officers are justified. But, he added, “in those much rarer cases where a shooting is not justified — and on top of that, not legal — I will also say that.”
The recommendation was made after the LAPD handed their internal investigation over to the prosecutor’s office.
The comments sparked a heated dialogue in this city, with community members and activists critical of the department welcoming the move: the mayor hopes the chiefs recommendation will be considered with the “utmost gravity.” The president of the LAPD police union said the chief should not weigh in on the DA’s decisions.
Chief Beck should never be involved in this,” said Craig Lally of the Los Angeles Police Protective League. “He should just hand over the investigation and let the people who are actually going to either file or prosecute this case – with the evidence at hand – let them decide.”
Glenn’s mother released a statement, through her lawyer, expressing her gratitude that the chief is defending her son.
She is still devastated by the loss of the son. She is gratified that Chief Beck recommended criminal charges, but her grandson Avery is still without a father,” said Jim DeSimone, the attorney.
Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey has come under fire for her unwillingness to bring charges against officers involved in questionable shootings with fatal outcomes. The DA’s office has not charged a single cop in Los Angeles County for the past 15 years.
The New York attorney representing the family believes that the officer will be charged for shooting Glenn in the back.
E. Stewart Jones, The New York attorney, said he believed Lacey’s office would charge Proctor for shooting Glenn, not doing so, he said, would be “political suicide.”
There’s too much controversy over police shootings,” Jones said. “When someone is unarmed and shot in the back, you’ve got to send a message to the rest of the police that you can’t do that.
Clifford Proctor shot Brendan K. Glenn after an altercation with a bouncer. Proctor and his partner originally responded to a call about a man hassling customers and after a short interaction returned to their vehicles. Glenn wasn’t so much hassling customers as he was panhandling on the street.
Shortly after their first interaction, the same officers saw Glenn struggling with a bouncer outside a local drinking establishment. When the officers approached him a physical altercation occurred and Proctor opened fire. Proctor said that Glenn was going for his partners gun but investigators with the LAPD concluded that Glenn was on his stomach and pushing himself up when Proctor fired two bullets. His partner also said, he did not perceive such a threat. Chief Beck said the the surveillance footage of the incident showed no supporting evidence for the use of this level of force.
This isn’t the first time that Proctor has been investigated. He was the subject of a probe after he omitted the statements from two material witness in a 2007 arrest. The DA opted not to charge Proctor with perjury or filing a false report. After the investigation no misconduct was found and his supervisor was blamed for misconstruing the details. See the memo here.
Chief Beck surely is making waves with his recommendation but is it too little, too late?
There have been multiple officer involved shootings, in Los Angeles, over the past few years just as unnecessary as the murder of Brendan Glenn. In those instances Chief Beck was silent when it came to recommending punishment for those officers. Beck supported the actions of Sharlton Wampler, the officer who killed Ezell Ford, as justified. Those findings were contradicted after it was decided, by the Los Angeles Police Commission, that Officer Wampler had no legal reason for detaining Ford in first place.
Should chief Beck have recommended criminal charges in that shooting as well?
In the case of Charly Kuenang who was killed by officers during a struggle on Skid Row. Officers claimed he reached for an officers gun and they had to use lethal force to defend themselves. Chief Beck said the officers actions were justified.
Practically every use of force incident has been defended by the chief, until now.
His recommendation might be ignored completely, since 2005-2015 only one officer in California has been charged with a homicide while on duty. A long history of officers who either avoided convictions or received minimal punishment for their actions might be disrupted with charges against Officer Proctor.
Personally I’m looking forward to the coming dialogue and eventual outcome of what could turn out to be a significant court case of 2016. It’s not often that officers are charged and it’s even less likely that they will be found guilty. Many states allow for grand juries when seeking indictments for police officers. The secret tribunals have proven so ineffective that California has outlawed the practice, essentially placing the decision with the prosecutor’s office.
Even if a jury can decide that shooting was justified and there was an imminent threat to the officer it will already be a better outcome than just ruling the use of force justified, placing the officer on paid administrative leave and closing the case forever without re-training officers or exploring alternatives to lethal force.
A surveillance camera led to Chief Beck making his recommendation in this case, only strengthening the idea that filming the police can have substantial results and every possible interaction with law enforcement should be filmed. Convicting police of wrongdoing is an uphill battle from the start and that is only one of the many reasons that people should film the police. Technical entrepreneurs have even started making community apps that allow you to live stream, fake delete and even send your video directly to a civil rights attorney.
It is the age of shooting cops. As fewer people point guns at cops, more people are pointing cameras at them. The best weapons to defend yourself from police are, solid understanding of your rights when in a police interaction and a camera- preferably live streaming- to create an objective record of the incident.
If you would like to learn more about filming the police check out the Film the Police page. Once you are up to speed consider joining the CopBlock Network to work with many other individuals united behind the idea that “Badges Dont Grant Extra Rights.”