October 4, 2013

The face of the cop, in the aftermath of the suicide by cop.



The cop looks into the death scene, into the car named — too aptly — Infiniti. In his arms is the baby of the woman the police shot. We are shielded by pixelation from having to see the expression on the baby's face.

76 comments:

madAsHell said...

I saw the video with the first volley of gun fire. I know an automobile is a deadly weapon, but I'm having trouble understanding why this escalated to gun fire.

Matthew Sablan said...

It escalated because the woman driving the car did something that was potentially dangerous. If she had a bomb, or weapons, she could have done something really, really bad.

She was just crazy. Hindsight is a bear like that.

MrCharlie2 said...

Hate to politicize, but is this the "Life of Julia" gone wrong?

Matthew Sablan said...

Charlie: No. This is a deranged woman who needed help, did not get it, and then suffered the consequences. It isn't tragedy in the Greek sense, but it is in the modern sense.

Brian said...

It's too early for final judgement, but I'm leaning strongly toward "every officer who discharged his weapon into a car containing a baby should be fired."

Republican said...

Please. She was locked and loaded in a 4000 lb death machine, with the potential to take out dozens of innocent gawkers.

And coming on the heels of the Navy shooting, tolerance for crazy ppl is going to be minimal.

David Carlson said...

@brian

Really? In a world filled with crazys we refuse to hospitalize, it would of been better to let her keep going and blow up the White House?

Take mark twain's advice before posting next time

Matthew Sablan said...

Did they KNOW a baby was in the car?

David said...

Suicide by cop or incredible misjudgment? That will never be clear.

The lady's mother says she thought her daughter was in Connecticut taking the child to a doctor's appointment. There is, according to one report, a father that the lady and her child lived with. Nice car. Had a job (though not clear if she had lost the job.) No firearm.

Many are saying that "she did not get help." Some of those are blaming the evil Republicans for not providing enough mental health funding. We have no idea whether she got help. We have no idea whether she even sought it.

So many questions.

Sometimes help is not helpful.

Brian said...

If the police officers in question would not have ordinarily fired on her, but did so because they were edgy following the Navy Yard incident, that is more evidence that they ought to be fired.

Brian said...

Look, like I say: too early for final judgement. ut here is CNN's account of the events:

"Thursday's drama began around 2 p.m., when the woman steered a black Infiniti near the White House, a U.S. Secret Service source said. She drove up to a barrier at the 15th and E street checkpoint and was approached by Secret Service officers. She hurriedly made an erratic three-point turn, struck the barrier and backed into an officer before driving away, the source told CNN.

Police said the car sped down Pennsylvania Avenue toward the Capitol, where security vehicles stopped it at Garfield Circle.

The woman slammed the car into reverse, crashing into a police cruiser, and tried to get away. At that point officers began firing, a witness said."

So, by this account the early reports that she "rammed a barrier at the White House" are wildly overblown, and she was actually killed attempting to escape.

Brian said...

And I would never violate Twain's advice, David. Why, just here at my desk I keep a heavy leather-bound volume with a clasp in case I need something to throw at a cat.

Freeman Hunt said...

Of course they fired at her. She was ramming barricades at sensitive areas, ramming vehicles, racing through the city, and she hit a Secret Service officer. What else would anyone expect to happen in that situation? Pro tip: If you do all these things, the police will assume you are very dangerous because you are causing much danger, and they will shoot you.

It is very sad that she was a mentally disturbed person with a small child, but that has nothing to do with whether or not the police response was appropriate.

Lezer said...

Oh the facile smugness of hindsight.

Matthew Sablan said...

"backed into an officer"

-- That's probably what touched them off.

Freeman Hunt said...

"Attempting to escape?" You mean attempting to flee?

EDH said...

It's an occupational hazard.

"...dental hygienist at the Park Court Mall Dental Center, said Monday that she can no longer tolerate the half-truths and outright fabrications she is exposed to hourly. "Their lips tell of daily flossing, but their gums impart a far different tale," she said.

"I became a dental hygienist in order to earn a decent living, clean teeth, and make small talk, not to play confessor to unscrupulous fabulists and prevaricators." [She] asked the public to be candid about their dietary and brushing habits, as denial of unchecked gum-chewing and soda-drinking is "but a house built on shifting sands."

Hagar said...

"Suicide by cop."
We still do not know that. It could be that it started with her stepping on the gas pedal instead of the brake, or both (remember Ralph Nader and the "Demon Audis?"), hit the "Barrycade," the cops over-reacted, she panicked, and after that it was just one bad thing after the other.

The reporting so far is just "disaster porn by the media," and CYA by the authorities, and is not to be taken seriously.

Brian said...

"You mean attempting to flee?"

Yes. Police in the US are not generally permitted to fire on fleeing suspects. Police chases are common enough; they almost never end with officers firing into a car.

Marshal said...

daveweigel ✔@daveweigel

This wouldn't be happening if members of Congress were allowed to carry guns at all times.


Loved this from Dave Weigel. No doubt he will similarly claim Obamacare a failure if anyone dies from cancer after its implementation.

Isn't he supposed to be one of the more reasonable ones? That must be some curve.

madAsHell said...

She leaves behind several female siblings. One of the sisters was a sergeant in the police. How did they fail to see changes in her behavior??

David said...

You have no idea whether they failed to see changes.

You assume that if they saw "changes" they would have the perfect remedy available.

There is no basis to criticize her family, most of whom lived more than an hour's travel from her.

Larry J said...

madAsHell said...
She leaves behind several female siblings. One of the sisters was a sergeant in the police. How did they fail to see changes in her behavior??


They may have seen the changes in behavior but were unable to do anything about it. If she refused help, what could they do?

A car can be a lethal weapon. If the car was boxed in, she was effectively disarmed. However, she'd managed to get away once before. Once the first cop started shooting, others also opened fire. Fortunately the baby wasn't harmed.

We'll likely never know why she did this unless she left a note, which I tend to doubt.

rhhardin said...

It's hard to see a paying news story narrative coming out or it.

The women are confused.

They'll tune away.

Floss regularly, perhaps.

David said...

Again, sometimes help is not helpful.

El Pollo Raylan said...

Had the poor woman lived, she may have been charged with something, tried and given the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. I don't see much evidence in the extant video that she "rammed" the barrier.

As it stands, a narrative now must be constructed.

TosaGuy said...

I've seen car bombs explode in Iraq and knew a person killed by one. We also put .50 cal. bullets into engine blocks on rapidly approaching cars we thought were car bombs.

If I was security where the incident occurred, I would have suspected a car bomb and reacted accordingly.

An unfortunate situation all around. The Captain Hindsights of the world can go jump in a lake and then tell themselves how they could have avoided getting wet.

DAN said...

Yeah, yeah, I know, you want me to make her a Tea Party activist. Got it. You can stop praying now. ~ God

El Pollo Raylan said...

The Captain Hindsights of the world can go jump in a lake and then tell themselves how they could have avoided getting wet.

None of us were there to hear what words, gestures, etc were exchanged when she was surrounded in the video.
It's not like she was Dorner (renegade LA cop) who made threats on the internet.

Inga said...

"Hate to politicize, but is this the "Life of Julia" gone wrong?"

10/4/13, 9:09 AM

She had a skill, she was a dental hygienist, hardly a "Julia". It sounds as if she was mentally ill, which happens to non Julia types.

William said...

In ambiguous situations such as this, the cops deserve the benefit of the doubt. The woman acted irrationally and there was no way to judge her ultimate purpose.

TosaGuy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TosaGuy said...

"None of us were there to hear what words, gestures, etc were exchanged when she was surrounded in the video.
It's not like she was Dorner (renegade LA cop) who made threats on the internet."

Security is situational. The incident was at the White House and the Capitol -- two of the highest-priority targets in the nation. The security there trains on a variety of scenarios that your average police officer does not. Responses are trained to the point where they become a battle drill.

At the start of my Iraq tour, car bombers were lone, 20-something males in crappy cars. By the end of my tour, there were incidents with new cars and a family in the backseat. The point is that you never know and you sometimes simply have to react. Sometimes you react wrong, but if you didn't react, you and others could be dead. It sucks.

Marshal said...

TosaGuy said...
I've seen car bombs explode in Iraq and knew a person killed by one. We also put .50 cal. bullets into engine blocks on rapidly approaching cars we thought were car bombs.


We do have to give them some slack, but maybe there's a difference between a war zone and DC.

EDH said...

She looked like Obama's Baby Mama, if Obama had a Baby Mama.

Deirdre Mundy said...

Post partum depression can segue into post partum psychosis. And often friends and family think that more rest, or trips to the gym, or less stress can make things better... so they'll try to help by offering babysitting or cooking meals... But what the mom really needs is serious care...

Mental illness can turn close relatives into enables or make them live in denial.

We really do need improved mental health care in this country, but I don't think Obamacare or Congress can fix this... help is going to need to come at the community level-- more grassroots community health services, and more people willing to step in and say "Look, I think you're depressed and you need to get help before this escalates" and "Mrs. Smith? Your daughter isn't acting like herself."

A lot of times, the family has a sense something is wrong, but 'helpful' people tell them 'don't worry... it will pass' in an attempt to calm them down. In cases like this, honesty is better... they need an outsider to confirm that they're right, that something is really wrong, and that they're NOT being worrywarts.

Robert Cook said...

"Police in the US are not generally permitted to fire on fleeing suspects."

Increasingly, and soon totally, police in the US are and will be permitted to do whatever the fuck they please to whomever they please to fuck with.

FullMoon said...

I was received a reckless driving ticket in 1991.
If I get another one tomorrow, the media can truthfully claim I have a history of reckless driving.

The developing story is that a crazy lady tried to run down the police.

She apparently had 2 episodes in December 2012 related to postpartum depression.

A follow up in January 2013 she was 100% back to normal.

I saw 5 guns pointed at her and her baby before she sped off.I wonder what effect (affect?) that had on her thinking.


Cedarford said...

Cook - "Police in the US are not generally permitted to fire on fleeing suspects."

Increasingly, and soon totally, police in the US are and will be permitted to do whatever the fuck they please to whomever they please to fuck with."
======

Wrong legal standard. Not a driver merely fleeing, but one smashing into things, using her car as a deadly weapon, putting law enforcement officers and pedestrians at risk for their lives. And resisting cop efforts to pin her and the car in a safe condition.

Police had use of lethal force justification in that if they just let the crazy woman continue, deaths were possible.

"A fleeing suspect" argument completely misreads the situation, and the danger.

This was not the case of a black thug running away from cops after they saw him do a drug deal.

Nor is the argument they had to let her continue her insane rampage and perhaps kill some people because "A Baaaaaay- Beeee"!! - was in the car - a good one.

lemondog said...

re: postpartum depression, is it more likely that what is automatically called postpartum depression is an underlying psychosis triggered by the stress of the body giving birth?

This article indicates she was on meds and had a family history of schizophrenia.

Freeman Hunt said...

This didn't happen in Anytown, USA. It happened at the White House and the Capitol. It is wholly unsurprising that she was shot. Very sad? Yes. A case of police overreaction and brutality? Probably not.

Martha said...

But she did get psychiatric help and intervention and her live in boyfriend called the police twice because she was hallucinating and putting their daughter at risk.

ABC reports:
Miriam Carey, the woman killed in after yesterday's violent police chase in Washington D.C., was reportedly in the grip of a belief that "Obama electronically monitored her." This fear of constant government surveillance is being described as a "delusional" belief.

Not sure fear of constant government surveillance is delusional though.

Matt said...

From this video, one of the damaged police cars being shown in a lot of this coverage seems to have been a case of "Friendly Fire"; the officer sped down the road and into security barriers as they were being raised.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MCu80iDid_Q

Brian said...

The police opened fire as the car headed away from them and the alleged "high-value target". (And after a large number of them had surrounded the car at very close range, increasing the probability that they knew about the presence of the kid.) Really, y'all, there is video; she was not fired on as she sped toward the Capitol like Liam Neeson in Taken 2.

My (developing) position is that the officer(s) who fired on the vehicle as it fled made a very serious mistake, and got damned lucky that they didn't kill the child. If the department cannot find some correctable flaw in their training that caused them to make this mistake, it needs to let them go so they won't be in a position to do it again. And they should go quietly into some other line of work, and count themselves lucky that nothing really bad became of such a potentially disastrous mistake.

For those of you who are aggressively defending the officers from my 'hindsight', I ask: How do you think the officers feel about themselves, knowing that they fired at the child? And how do you think they would feel if it happened again, and ended with the child dead?

Are you really doing the officers a service by trying to protect them form the sort of review of their actions that I propose?

Brian said...

(For the record, I don't especially care that the driver was shot. If it turns out that Officer Annie Oakley did the shooting and every round expended is center mass in the driver, then I withdraw my objections and volunteer to pin the decorations on Officer Oakley myself.)

FullMoon said...

I wonder if the police who shot her were actually involved in the initial situation.

Were getting frantic "officers down, shots fired, armed and dangerous " radio messages?

Did they shoot her after she exited her vehicle, or did they fire into a car with (perhaps) darkly tinted windows, not knowing there was only a woman and her baby inside?

Although I believe it was unnecessary to kill her, I also suspect the officer(s) who shot her are personally suffering emotionally because of it.

prairie wind said...

It escalated because the woman driving the car did something that was potentially dangerous. If she had a bomb, or weapons, she could have done something really, really bad.

One doesn't need a bomb or weapons to do something bad. If Matthew Sablan is driving a car, he could do something really, really bad. So you're okay if the cops fire on you?

Is there no other way to stop a car than to kill the driver?

MadisonMan said...

but I'm having trouble understanding why this escalated to gun fire.

One police with an itchy trigger finger, then the other police don't know where the gunfire came from will follow through.

Brian said...

FullMoon, there is video on every news site. The police boxed the car in between cruisers and the barrier at the edge for the Capitol grounds. Officers approached from all sides with weapons drawn. She reversed and rammed a cruiser, then escaped the box. The officers fired at the car as it moved away from the box of cruisers.

No one can really say what the officers were hearing on the radio, but public reports are that there were no "shots fired" until the officers at Garfield Circle fired them.

Later she crashed at the Hart building and, we hear, more LEOs fired on her. I'm not seeing any video of that currently. My objections are limited to the earlier incident in Garfield Circle, where we have the AlHurra video.

If this distinction between the Garfield events and those at Hart a few minutes later is the source of my disagreement with any of you, I apologize for the confusion.

grackle said...

From the news accounts it seems to me that the shooting was justified. She sent a person to the hospital, after all. Should they have waited until she killed or injured someone else? I don't think so.

david7134 said...

It is clear from the comments that our society has evolved to the point where it is perfectly acceptable for the cops to gun down a woman on a crowded city street and everyone feels that this action is justified. I am sickened by that revelation. Points are made that she could have had a bomb or that the car is a weapon, but these justifications are hollow and it is apparent that those we consider to be trained professionals over reacted and killed a young woman. Then there is the immediate response that the woman had mental issues, as if this justifies what occurred. If I understand this, it is ok to kill the mentally ill. That sounds like the German (and American) activity in the 1930's. How about this, the woman panicked. I have seen this happen and people do very stupid things when the panic. A professional (like a cop) should know this and contain the situation. The woman could have been easily controlled with blocking cars. But, she might have had a bomb!! That why you get paid the big bucks, to take the chance and help, not shoot, shooting would not have disarmed the bomb. Maybe we need to understand the terrorism is not the basis for all actions and if we are worried about terrorism we should address the Islam problem as that is the origination of most violent acts to kill innocent people. Not assume that all people are terrorist until proven otherwise. This society has allowed itself to degenerate into a terrified blob that no longer used reason and logic to confront bad situations. No one is concerned with the cops shooting bullets all over down town Washington! For my part, I think we need gun control, that is taking the guns from the cops and authorities, not citizens. I have been in sniping situations and can assure you that most injury is caused by the cops shooting up the area as they panic. That is what happened here.

Then the question, why was the woman at the White House with a baby? Doesn't that raise any concern. Who is the child's father? Is he part of the White House? The child is not all black, so anyone from Obama on could be the father. This would explain more than calling her crazy. Look at the other evidence, she is driving an expensive car yet earns less than $100,000 per year. More is going on here than we are being told.

Conserve Liberty said...

I have personal experience with Suicide by Cop. Two of my friends died; many of my neighbors were in the Council Chamber; one of them saw the gun and froze - he has never recovered from the guilt.

It was three minutes from my house.

At this time the story reads like a bat-shit-angry nervous breakdown, but not an intentional attempt to be killed by Police gunfire.

TosaGuy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TosaGuy said...

The crowd in the cheap seats always sees the play better while it is happening than the official making the call, any sports fan knows that.

Lydia said...

Is there no other way to stop a car than to kill the driver?

How about shooting out the tires, like this cop did earlier this year?

Brian said...

TosaGuy, do you really propose that the Capitol Police should use the same RoE in Garfield Circle as soldiers use manning checkpoints in Iraq?

And that, having killed a citizen, their in-the-moment judgement that deadly force was appropriate ought to considered sacrosanct, and exempt from any review by the public?

All I can say is that I disagree.

Matthew Sablan said...

"If Matthew Sablan is driving a car, he could do something really, really bad. So you're okay if the cops fire on you?"

-- If I had just ran over an officer, rammed a protective barrier for the White House, and was driving off to who knows where?

I wouldn't WANT them to fire on me, but I fully would expect it as a consequence of my actions.

TosaGuy said...

"TosaGuy, do you really propose that the Capitol Police should use the same RoE in Garfield Circle as soldiers use manning checkpoints in Iraq?"

Not knowing the precise ROE, I can only guess Cap Police ROE is less restrictive than the one I had to follow. The WH and Capitol are far more important targets than anything I was guarding.

"And that, having killed a citizen, their in-the-moment judgement that deadly force was appropriate ought to considered sacrosanct, and exempt from any review by the public?"

This should most certainly be investigated and ROE refined accordingly -- we did this after every incident. But should not that public have ALL the information before it makes judgment? We don't have that now.

"All I can say is that I disagree."

I may, in the end, end up agreeing with you if we do find the Cap Police had some itchy trigger fingers. We come at this with our personal experience. I think the perspective I bring is relevant to the conversation because few on this board have had to make such a split second decision to shoot or not shoot. It's a decision I don't wish on anyone.

Matthew Sablan said...

It reminds me a bit of watching a taped soccer game with our team. Our coach asked a player who froze and got the ball taken what the right move was in that position.

He said to pass the ball. The coach said no, he needed to just make a play. In life, sometimes, there aren't perfect choices. You make the least bad one you see at the moment and review later.

Brian said...

For the record, I have expressed uncertainty throughout the thread ("it is too early for final judgement" and "should not that public have ALL the information before it makes judgment?" are not exactly light-years apart in meaning) and never proposed any "punishment" worse than asking some of the relevant officers to find a new line of work.

I can't say I fully understand the vehemence of some of y'all's reactions.

David said...

I think the level and nature of training of the police for such an incident is a legitimate inquiry here. Do they know what they are doing?

Did someone broadcast that the people in the car were a woman and a child? Should they have? What if any different tactics should the police use if they have knowledge of such a fact?

This is all split second stuff, so training really matters.

Maybe all this woman was guilt of was bad judgment, bad driving and panicking? This is not something we are likely ever to know.



David said...

The best reaction to the whole thing is captured by the face of the policemen holding the child.

"Dear God. How terrible."

Rich Rostrom said...

david7134 said... It is clear from the comments that our society has evolved to the point where it is perfectly acceptable for the cops to gun down a woman on a crowded city street and everyone feels that this action is justified. I am sickened by that revelation...

Yes. No woman should ever be shot at by police. Even if she's Bonnie Parker, blazing away with a tommy gun. Or deranged Laurie Dann putting bullets into schoolchildren. Or Symbionese Liberation Army "soldiers" Kathleen Soliah and Emily Harris killing a bank teller. Or Röte Armee Fraktion terrorist Ulrike Meinhoff machine-gunning a banker's limo.

Right?

Women are generally less aggressive and violent than men. But those who turn to violence can be more so. That's why "hostage rescue teams" have a rule: when storming the target area, shoot the women first.

This woman was doing things that were harmful and possibly fatal to other people - potentially lots of people. Anyone in that position must be stopped as fast as possible, whether male or female, and especially if there are lots of other people around.

Guimo said...

Why did they not shoot out the tires when the car was fully stopped and at least 6 officers were surrounding it?

Jason said...

Shooting out the tires does not disable a detonator.

The Godfather said...

I had the same question as several other commenters. Why didn't the cops shoot out her tires when she tried to drive away? They thought they had her surrounded and blocked in, they had guns pointed at her, but didn't shoot her when she started to pull away, and I can understand that hesitation, whether or not they'd seen the baby. But if they had shot out a couple of tires at that moment, that might have stopped her. And she'd be alive today.

They were standing right next to the car, so I don't think detonators were on their mind right then.

But I'm not going to sit at my computer screen and look at videos and pass judgment on the cops who were there. Not yet.

Almost Ali said...

I think some here are overlooking the thrill of the chase. Specifically the police chase. More than any other segment of society, cops produce an inordinate amount of adrenalin, especially when the prey is fleeing. Which in turn makes the prey irresistible.

Paul said...

Shooting out tires does NOT STOP A CAR. The car can drive on deflated tires or even the rims (but at a slower pace.)

Yes she could have been driving a car bomb so I can see why they freaked and opened fire. In Iraq and Afghanistan if you drive toward the cops and military they will open fire with cannon!

I do not blame the cops (and I'm many times critical of them.)

Broomhandle said...

Cook said it succinctly and accurately at 11:44. And that's not a judgement on the rights and wrongs of this particular incident. The more paranoid they get, the more they ninja up, the less respect they command.

Carl said...

There are other ways to stop a car than shooting the driver and risking shooting a 1yo in the back seat. Boxing it in with cop cars -- SWAT trucks, whatever -- is just the most obvious, and they have lots more possibilities.

But cops are like that. I wonder what the LAPD paid to the two women who received a hail of bullets because their car looked vaguely like fugitive Chris Dorner's?

Let's imagine that the woman had just smashed her car into two or three barricades, then was hung up on a median and attempting to back off. Now an armed citizen pulls out his .45 and shoots and kills her.

Everyone is going to be saying oh he clearly had no choice, right? Nobody is going to be second-guessing that judgment, right? See? This is why private ownership of guns is terrible! You get some "untrained" person taking matters into his own hands, when there might well have been a less violent way to solve the problem... Nobody will be saying that?

Maybe the police were right, although I'm inclined to doubt it. They're always too quick to shoot, since there are almost never any bad consequences for doing so. But the gross hypocrisy in the distinctions between how a man who uses a gun is treated when he's dressed all in blue, and when he isn't, is nauseating.

Freeman Hunt said...

People watch too many movies.

AlanKH said...

Pixel baby looks like Rudolf Giuliani.

openidname said...

@FullMoon: "I saw 5 guns pointed at her and her baby before she sped off. I wonder what effect (affect?) that had on her thinking."

The effect it would have on any rational person is, "I need to stop, get out of the car, put my hands up in the air, and lie prone. If only to protect my baby."

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Michael Deloatch said...

I say rest in peace, Miriam. Your fight and fears have ended. And may God bless that poor little motherless girl.

I say there is mordant symbolism in a flight from the White House to the Capitol to be shot in sight of the Supreme Court.

Almost Ali said...
This comment has been removed by the author.