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Ernie's House of Whoopass! July 22, 2011
July 22, 2011

Cops And Guns And Cameras And Shit.

Tyranny is defined as that which is legal for the government but illegal for the citizenry -- Thomas Jefferson [The Works of Thomas Jefferson]

I remember many moons ago, back before the advent of Youtube, back when COPS was just starting to gain traction, when I saw my first police dashcam video of a non-routine traffic stop. And I didn't see this on TV, either, this was a clip as part of a shock footage VHS tape that I had to mail away for and wait 6-8 weeks for delivery. It wasn't as hardcore as Faces of Death, although two clips I distinctly remember were this woman getting beaned by a train and this chick getting her leg munched off by a great white shark. But mostly it was filled with the stuff that gets passed around the internet on a daily basis -- including this asshole getting a ticket. I remember everyone in the room laughing until we had tears rolling down our faces.

But as COPS and America's Craziest Police Chases began to gain popularity, we the general public got out first look at what would turn out to be a silent advocate for those in Law Enforcement -- the camera. And as the next decade waned on, we were treated to a never ending supply of videos of people behaving badly. I would link a few here but seriously, just go to Youtube and search "dashcam arrest" and you'll find an all you can eat buffet. Anyway, we the general public, were shocked at how discourteous, how disrespectful, and plain fucking dangerous our friends and neighbors could be. Countless streams of people deserving the business end of a gun -- or at the very least the end of a tazer -- paraded past out television screens. And every once in awhile we'd see a change of pace and a dashcam video would reveal the Law Enforcement Officer to be behaving badly. It was rare, and it did happen, but the overwhelming majority of what we the public saw when a video was released to the public, was us being the bad guys.

Then as time and technology marches onwards (Moore's Law!) and cameraphone became the norm, the ability for the average person to spontaneously record the things happening around us became more popular. Probably the first instance of civilian footage playing a part in a police shooting was the famous BART Police shooting of Oscar Grant, back in 2009. And then following that seemed to be an ever increasing stream of not only we the public misbehaving, but those in Law Enforcement misbehaving as well. Going back to something I said in my "How to Get Out Of A Speeding Ticket" post; police are people too. They have good days, they have bad days. They make good judgement calls, they make bad judgement calls. They're fallible, just like any one of us. So I don't think that there's been a sudden spike in bad behavior on behalf of our Police departments, just the fact that we're on a level playing field since we the public can now record those who were already recording us and then reveal them for what they truly are; people.

The first time that I can remember a civilian actually getting into trouble for recording the police was when a motorcyclist was pulled over by a Maryland State Trooper, and the motorcyclist happened to record the incident on his helmetcam. And one of the things I like about this video is it shows the event leading up tot the controversial event in question; it doesn't begin half way through so we don't know the pretext of what transpires. Now keep in mind a lot of motorcycle riders I know use helmetcams for safety reasons -- since we obviously can't have too many witnesses riding with us, it's our way of backing up our side of the story should anything happen. But the result of that Maryland State Police traffic stop was the motorcyclist, Anthony Graber, who is also a staff sergeant for the Maryland Air National Guard, spent 26 hours in jail. One month after he posted his helmetcam video online, six state troopers raided his parents' home, seizing four computers, and Graber was charged with a felony violation of Maryland wiretapping law and faced with five years in prison. Now, raging douchebag for 80 mph, and popping a wheelies in traffic? You betcha. But felony wiretapping? For helmetcam footage? C'mon man, that's fucking crazy. When push came to shove, and with the assistance of -- and I hate to say this -- the ACLU, the case was eventually thrown out. As for officer Joseph Uhler, failed to identify himself before drawing his weapon on an unarmed civilian? No es problemo.

Now me personally, do I believe that we the public have the right to record our interactions with Law Enforcement? As long as you're doing it from a safe distance, quietly, and without intruding upon the events that you're recording -- hell muthafuckin yes. If for no other reason, hey we're all human, we all make mistakes, we all make bad judgement calls. By far and wide I always have, do, and always will give the officer the benefit of the doubt. But, there are those times. For example earlier this year the episode with Emily Good; I think the cop was 1,000% percent wrong in that instance. But for someone like this asshole? Shoot him and if I'm on the jury, don't sweat it bro. In fact if that cop drove to that guys how now two years later and shot him, I'd still find him not guilty. So to me it's all about respect. I don;t think the police should fear or have any objection to someone whipping out their cell phone camera. If anything, I would imagine they'd welcome it, because it's another indisputable eye witness.

Earlier this year we had that shooting in Miami, and since that had followed hot on the heels of other amateur video of police activity, I reached out a a [LAW ENCORCEMENT] friend of mine and pinged them for their thoughts on the video. I mean to me it was quite obvious; breaking cell phone means a cover up, right? Their response made me think a bit:

That's a tough one! What they did was not right when it came to smashing cell phones. It paints them in a poor light. But, I can understand their motive. Who the hell wants video footage from twelve different angles when you just shot someone. I know I wouldn't! What the video show's is just a fragment of the encounter. I have no doubt that the man who shot the video was considered a possible suspect when first approached. He could have been talking all kinds of shit in a very tense situation which led to them treating them like assholes. But I find something fishy about the situation... How is it the guy on the balcony just happened to be shooting video of that car driving down the road? Same goes for our video shot by Benoit... I couldn't help but notice that the man who was killed was Haitian as well as the guy who was shooting the video. What made the driver stop right in front of these two running cameras when police are chasing him? It sounds like the driver wanted to "go out Miami style" and called a couple of his Zoe Pound gang buddies to film the incident. I know it may sound a little far-fetched, but these types of incidents happen quite frequently in an effort to set up the police. I think it's too early to judge what happened until all the facts come out and the investigation comes to a close. On a side note, it sounds like the guy who shot the video has had spent some time with law enforcement before. The first place he thinks of hiding the micro disk is in his mouth? And kept it there the whole time he was interviewed by police? Just something that doesn't jive right with that.

This was a point of view that I hadn't considered actually. We bounced a few more emails and they also had this to say, which honestly kind of shocked the shit out of me:

Law enforcement Agencies primary purpose for training at all is to minimize it's potential for a lawsuit. Second is Officer safety. ... Cops can't just go killing people without worry of any consequences. When involved in a shooting, the investigation is treated just like a homicide. Internal Affairs' purpose is to shield the [LAW ENFORCEMENT] Office of any liability and to convict me of murder. Not to mention, outside agencies like [STATE LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY] get involved to ensure that a proper investigation is completed. Nobody wants to go through this type of investigation, ever. Studies are showing, although it doesn't make mainstream media, that LEO's are getting killed due to worry of have a bad shoot or what could be perceived as a bad shoot. Every swinging dick out there has an HD video camera in their pocket and whip it out at the drop of a hat to record the action, and that scares the shit out of cops. That causes hesitation, which causes the good guy to get killed.

Again, it was very interesting to hear this from the LEO's point of view. Nothing that requires me to make any life or death decisions in a split second. Everything I do allows me the time to think, rethink, think again, get lunch, and then think one more time. Le Policia don't always get that luxury and if they're forced to spend that fraction of a second thinking about what the newspaper headlines are going to say the next morning, instead focusing on an imminent threat, then yes I can certainly see how that would become an issue. So what's happening is we're seeing as an unintended clash between the rights of the public vs officer safety. What's the -- if you'll pardon the pun -- magic bullet for this? Well if you asked me before I bounced those emails with my LEO friend, I'd have said the public's rights, hands down. But now I'm not so sure that it's that cut and dry.

Here in Ohio, a police officer from Canton pulled over someone with a license to carry a concealed handgun. The end result is the driver is charged with failure to notify the officer of the handgun, and the officer threatening to execute the guy. As a police officer myself, I am truly embarrassed for my profession after hearing this ridiculous, insane dickhead go off on the driver of the vehicle. You gotta see this to believe it: [originally brough to light on ohioccw.org] Think you can help spread the word? People need to be aware of this incident on the national level. Thanks. Robb

I've been following that story for the last could of days and keeping an eye on the news to see how it played out. It started off as just a blurb on the Ohio CCW forums, and over the last two days has begun to get picked up my mainstream media. Robb also sent in a corrected link for the [Officer Matt/Douchebag Justin] encounter as well. As per Canton PD's Facebook page, the officer was relieved of all duties in June following an internal investigation complaint filed in this matter.

And if were mesmerized by such videos previous as the Japanese machine gun, or the urine based sinus remedy, or this man's thirst remedy, or this non-handicapped vagina -- all of which are all horribly uncomfortable yet still somehow safe for work -- then you'll find this collection of videos quite to your liking.

An update on the Kunis/Timberlake/White Marine Corps Ball thing. First it was Mila and Justin, both roped into it because they're currently co-starring in No Strings Attached Friends with Benefits, followed up another Marine's invitation to Betty White, who much to my relief, politely declined the offer. Throwing her hat in the ring now? Linda Hamilton. Yes, that Linda Hamilton. But listen buddie, T2 was a long time ago and she looks like this now.

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