Supremes: Cops can shoot you in your front yard if you look scary.


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This has got to be one of the worst Supreme Court decisions that I’ve ever seen. (And among other things, it reinforces the view I’ve had since her nomination that Elena Kagan, who sided with the Republican majority, is nearly worthless.)

You know all of those cases we’ve been hearing about where people are standing around doing nothing in their front yard or, like Stephon Clark, in their grandmother’s backyard doing nothing wrong and police, acting on a tip from some fearful neighbor, show up and shoot them?

The Supreme Court says it’s OK!

The Supreme Court on Monday shielded a police officer from being sued for shooting an Arizona woman in her front yard, once again making it harder to bring legal action against officers who use excessive force, even against an innocent person.

With two dissents, the high court tossed out a lawsuit by a Tucson woman who was shot four times outside her home because she was seen carrying a large knife.

The ruling — which comes at a time of growing controversy over police shootings nationwide — effectively advises courts to rely more heavily on the officer’s view of such incidents, rather than the victim’s…

Seriously, pretty much everything in our local OC police shooting cases that we’ve argued is unconstitutional — unless there is planted evidence, of course — is wiped out by this decision. The police are now essentially entitled to act as slave patrols, trying to make ebellion impossible by keeping fear of summary execution too high.

You can almost hear Lucille Kring saying “saved us the cost of a trial!”

I’m a longtime advocate of non-violence. I don’t think that it does poorer and darker people much good, given society’s interest and inclination to retaliate against them, and anyone unlucky enough to be around them, tenfold or a hundredfold. But if we are really saying to law-abiding people who happen to be of a type that scares police officers — that is, poorer and darker — how am I supposed to convince them to just lie there and accept a reality when police can shoot them with impunity and get away with it?

…The ruling — which comes at a time of growing controversy over police shootings nationwide — effectively advises courts to rely more heavily on the officer’s view of such incidents, rather than the victim’s.

Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg said in dissent the victim did not threaten the police or a friend who was standing nearby. This “decision is not just wrong on the law; it also sends an alarming signal to law enforcement officers and the public. It tells officers that they can shoot first and think later,” Sotomayor wrote…

Once — in the name of the need to “public safety,” by which we mean allowing killing of innocent people — you are willing to credit the police version of events in all shootings even when it is nonsensical on paper, WITHOUT EVEN LETTING IT GO TO A JURY, then you’ve lost our democracy. Oh, you probably haven’t lost if for *yourself*, if you aren’t darker or poorer, but you’ve lost it for the people who will be victims of government violence — and, constitutionally, that is worse. Or I should say, that was what the constitution said until this morning.

…”Today’s ruling gives yet another green light to officers who use deadly force as a tool of first resort instead of last,” said Clark Neily, vice president of the libertarian Cato Institute. “It does so based on a legal doctrine — qualified immunity — that the Supreme Court invented out of whole cloth to help create a policy of near-zero accountability for law enforcement.”

…Erwin Chemerinsky said Monday’s decision is part of a trend. “In case after case involving excessive police force, the Supreme Court is finding for the police and keeping juries from ever being able to decide if the police acted impermissibly. This contributes significantly to the difficulties in holding police accountable,” he said…

Only when people (probably using burner phones for their own) start calling the police on wealthier white people with lawfully held knives and guns, and some of THEM get killed, will the public start to see the injustice in this. Of course, those people won’t get killed by the police — and certainly not without them FIRST GETTING AN ORAL WARNING TO DROP THEIR WEAPON, which the officer didn’t bother issuing here before firing.

All of those jokes from minority comedians about police showing up at a boisterous party of white teenagers and combing through the crowd until they could find the Black of Mexican or Filipino kid to shoot? Those. Aren’t. Jokes.

And WHERE THE HELL are the Second Amendment people on this? Who has to be killed for legally holding a kitchen knife in their front yard before THEY pay attention?

 


About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose worker's rights and government accountability attorney, residing in northwest Brea. General Counsel of CATER, the Coalition of Anaheim Taxpayers for Economic Responsibility, a non-partisan group of people sick of local corruption. Deposed as Northern Vice Chair of DPOC in April 2014 when his anti-corruption and pro-consumer work in Anaheim infuriated the Building Trades and Teamsters in spring 2014, who then worked with the lawless and power-mad DPOC Chair to eliminate his internal oversight. Occasionally runs for office to challenge some nasty incumbent who would otherwise run unopposed. (Someday he might pick a fight with the intent to win rather than just dent someone. You'll know it when you see it.) He got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012 and in 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002. None of his pre-putsch writings ever spoke for the Democratic Party at the local, county, state, national, or galactic level, nor do they now. A family member co-owns a business offering campaign treasurer services to Democratic candidates and the odd independent. He is very proud of her. He doesn't directly profit from her work and it doesn't affect his coverage. (He does not always favor her clients, though she might hesitate to take one that he truly hated.) He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)