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Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Cops, cops, cops

The video embedded at the top of this post shows yet another outrage from the cops in Chicago. The victim in this instance was one Philip Coleman, who apparently suffered from mental health issues. The Intercept offers excellent coverage...
The Chicago Police Department has an extensive and troubling legacy of violence. Over the last five years, Chicago officers have fatally shot 70 people, more than any other big-city police department in the U.S., according to the Better Government Association, a watchdog group in Illinois. “The Chicago victims were nearly all male,” wrote the BGA’s Andrew Schroedter. “Most were black. More than half of the killings occurred in six South Side police districts.”

Earlier this year, an investigation by The Guardian uncovered a so-called black site, Homan Square, where police tortured multiple black Chicagoans. And in May, Chicago became the first city in the country to create a reparations fund for victims of police torture, earmarking $5.5 million for victims of former police commander Jon Burge, who ran a gang within the department that inflicted tactics including electrocuting the testicles of men in custody, and cutting off their oxygen flow with plastic bags.
Missing video. The video embedded at the foot of this post shows dashboard camera coverage of a recent officer involved shooting in San Bernardino. This footage has prompted others to ask a question which I consider quite legitimate: If we have this video, why do we not have similar video of how the police took down Syed Farook?

I'm not saying that those hidden videos would contain shocking revelations. I'm simply saying that there are a couple of equations which should be drummed into the heads of all authority figures:

Greater transparency = Less paranoia.
Less paranoia = better democracy.

Did Wisconsin cops shoot an innocent man "accidentally on purpose"? Here's a story of possible police misconduct that probably won't get much attention because the racial angle is missing.

The story concerns one Michael Funk, who worked in a motorcycle shop in Neenah. In 2012, cops raided the shop on drug charges; it was a bad bust, and all of the felony charges were dropped. Funk didn't like the way the cops treated him during this incident, and thus decided to sue the police department for $50 million. (Yeah, I know: A ridiculous amount.)

Last Saturday, there was another incident at the shop: A crazed man went on a rampage and took hostages, one of whom was Michael Funk. The cops showed up -- and shot Michael Funk. Dead.

The other hostages, as well as the gunman, all survived.

I'm not saying that Funk was targeted. But it is a fact that a nettlesome lawsuit has now been settled out of court.

And as you mull that over, here's the dashcam vid mentioned earlier. 

By Chicago standards, tasing him was a great step forward in humane treatment of prisoners. In the Daley I era, they would have just "tuned him up" until he inexplicably died.
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