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More in the Scott Case

From Confederate Yankee. Here’s an interesting observation from his account of the inquest:

One of the fundamental questions in this case is whether any Costco employee actually asked Scott to leave the store and if so, his response to that request. It is reasonable to believe that if anyone representing Costco had asked Scott to leave at any time, the police would have noted it and the prosecutor would have been sure to secure such testimony, but thus far, this does not seem to be the case. Considering the very negative thrust of the other evidence presented to Scott’s detriment, if such evidence, of an angry, armed man refusing a lawful order to leave the premises existed, surely it would have been made public at the inquest, but it has not.

I should note that there’s a difference between “legally justified” and “the guy got what was coming to him.” This is looking like the former case. This shooting didn’t need to happen, and I think mistakes were made on all sides that night. There are also, certainly, very legitimate criticisms of this inquest process. But if you put me on a jury, and every witness says he made a move for a gun, and they find the gun, even in its holster, near the guy, my vote is that the cops walk. I don’t expect them to note the difference between a gun in its holster, and a gun out of its holster. The question, legally, is what the cops reasonably believed was going to happen, not what actually happened.

23 Responses to “More in the Scott Case”

  1. Andy says:

    I agree that the current emphasis on the cops is a little over played knowing what we all know… though the cops could stand for a lot better training given that they were all yelling separate commands. The family should definitely go after Costco for wrongful death, because it was their actions that caused the confusion.

  2. But if you put me on a jury, and every witness says he made a move for a gun, and they find the gun, even in its holster, near the guy, my vote is that the cops walk

    Except that an inquest is not a trial, nor is there cross-examination of witnesses. The inquest is fully administered by individuals who have a vested interest in finding the officers justified in their actions – it comes as no surprise that a majority of witnesses would ‘see’ something that Scott did to provoke the officers.

  3. Alpheus says:

    Although I’m inclined to agree with Sebastian about the analysis, I find it a *little* creepy that someone who’s just carrying a gun, who isn’t attempting to use it against police officers, can get shot, and have those actions justified by the police. It’s rather difficult for me to put to words why I feel this is problematic.

    In any case, I think it’s partially prejudice against those who carry guns; it’s the type of thing that isn’t likely to go away any time, either.

  4. JKB says:

    This whole “he was disarming” has me concerned. Why would you ever put your hand near your firearm when the cops are around much less drawn down on you? If you’re carrying and the cops are trying to detain you, if your hand touches your gun, you’ll get shot and they’ll be declared justified.

  5. Andy says:

    @JKB “If you’re carrying and the cops are trying to detain you, if your hand touches your gun, you’ll get shot and they’ll be declared justified.”

    Because one of the cops is yelling “Drop your gun!”

  6. Kevin says:

    Unless your hand doesn’t touch your gun, then he shoots you because “I told him to drop the gun”?

  7. ctdonath says:

    If three cops are pointing guns at you and are screaming at you to put your holstered gun on the ground, you’re dead no matter what you do. If you comply, they’ll shoot you for touching it. If you don’t comply, they’ll shoot you for not complying. Either way they walk.

    I can remove my holster with gun inserted. I do so daily. Under such duress and orders, that is exactly what I would do because I would perceive it as the only rational and safe option. Then I would die as he did.

  8. Peter says:

    The poor b@st@rd was shot multiple times in the back, and you’re voting to let the cops walk?

    This is yet another instance that I wonder what planet you’re from.

    If you or I were the shooter with entry wounds in the deceased’s back, you and I are going to jail. The cops shouldn’t be any different, and trying to give them any more benefit of the doubt beyond what you or I would receive is just plain wrong.

  9. Sebastian says:

    I think it’s important to identify the wrong. The wrong is that we don’t given citizens the same breaks that we give law enforcement. I think the happy medium is probably somewhere in between.

    I would like an explanation as to how he ended up shot in the back, but I suspect that probably involved officers not ceasing fire when it was apparent the guy was down. As a juror, I’m going to be most concerned that the initial shooting is justified, rather than how many rounds gets pumped into the guy. Now if a cop came up and put one in his head, that would be different, but I don’t buy “excessive force” arguments when an officer just keeps shooting until it’s unambiguous the threat has stopped.

  10. Kevin says:

    To the best of my knowledge, not a single witness who observed the entire event has stated that he had anything in his hands when he was shot by the other two officers. All of them describe him as having his empty hands raised as he collapsed.

  11. Sebastian says:

    From the article linked:

    Most witnesses testified that Scott not only did not respond to officers, but drew his weapon and pointed it at the officers, though one saw only an elbow moving toward Scott’s back and saw Scott’s hands “in the air” moments after being shot. Officer commands heard by witnesses range from “don’t do that; don’t do that,” to “get on the ground,” and “drop it,” but no clear picture was drawn of the time frame or circumstances, including which of the three officers made these statements or why.

    Only one of the witnesses saw a gun “in a gun rug” fall to the ground. The others did not see a gun or see Scott point a gun at the officers. According to police testimony and a photograph produced at the Inquest, Scott’s .45 ACP 1911 type handgun at some point and in some way, made it to the ground somewhere near him and was photographed by police, reportedly where it was found. The weapon displayed in the photograph was still fully in its inside the waistband holster, cocked and locked (the most common method for carrying this type of handgun, with the safety apparently still on.

  12. Sebastian says:

    That says to me he removed his gun along with the holster in an attempt to disarm. If you’re a cop, confronting a suspect known to be armed, and he draws something from his waistband that looks like a gun, do you expect them to be able to discern that it’s being drawn with the holster? To hesitate and risk not going home that night?

    I think from more than ten feet, I couldn’t tell the difference between a gun in a holster and a gun out of a holster in the amount of time it takes to bring it out of the waistband and possibly present a threat.

  13. emdfl says:

    As somebody else pointed out, the ONLY witnesses called for the inquest were the ones who said what the po-po’s defender wanted to hear. The fact that ALL of the video was somehow rendered unuseable pretty much tells anyone with half a brain that the fix is in.
    And no, Sebastian, cops SHOULD NOT GET anymore of a pass then any ordinary citizen on matters like this. This guy was murdered by cops who will get away with the murder, because they are cops. And this will be one more nail in the coffin of “respect your local law enforcement officers”.

  14. JKB says:

    You expect a normal police officer to shoot you while you remain still with your hands empty, fingers splayed no where near a weapon? “Drop your weapon” does not mean reach for the gun in your waistband. It means make your hands as empty as possible. If a cop believes you have a weapon, he will tell you to drop it before his mind has registered the visual image of your hand. Me, I’ll take my chances that I’m dealing with one of the 99.9% who aren’t out to kill but who will shoot if my hand moves toward my waist, toward my weapon or out of their sight. And if I’m dealing with one of the 0.1%, well, they were going to kill me anyway why make the cover up easy.

    Most off duty and undercover cops who are shot by other cops are shot by moving, by reaching toward the belt, by moving their hand out of sight and often with a badge in their hand that they quickly thrust toward the uniformed officer. They do this because they don’t mentally accept the commands apply to them, a cop.

  15. Druid says:

    I think it’s important to identify the wrong. The wrong is that we don’t given citizens the same breaks that we give law enforcement. I think the happy medium is probably somewhere in between. – Sebastion

    NO – The wrong is that ‘we’ don’t give citizens the same breaks we give suspected enemy combatants in theatre. There, the Tangos get first shot, and ‘we’ do not shot back if there is risk of hitting non-combatants.

  16. Jujube says:

    According to the second day’s testimony, I think they did ask Scott to leave the store. http://www.8newsnow.com/story/13205712/second-day-of-erik-scotts-coroners-inquest-begins

    ” Lierley says representatives with the store told Scott of their no-handgun policy and Scott became argumentative. Lierley said Scott raised his voice and said he was a Green Beret and they needed to check the Constitution.”

  17. Andy says:

    @JKB, for a person with no weapons in hand but one tucked and holstered, the command to “drop your weapon” can easily be misinterpretted as remove it and toss it away. Yes, the correct thing to do is to remain perfectly still until the police manage to collectively calm down and quit giving conflicting orders, but then again the correct thing for the police to do is not to give the conflicting orders in the first place. Its odd that we expect civilians to have more training about these types of confrontations than we do the police.

  18. ” Lierley says representatives with the store told Scott of their no-handgun policy

    Which is not the same as asking him to leave …

  19. CTD says:

    Sadly, at this point, my null hypothesis is that cops are lying, until I’m presented with lots of evidence to the contrary.

  20. Alpheus says:

    Sebastian: “I think from more than ten feet, I couldn’t tell the difference between a gun in a holster and a gun out of a holster in the amount of time it takes to bring it out of the waistband and possibly present a threat.”

    JKB: “Most off duty and undercover cops who are shot by other cops are shot by moving, by reaching toward the belt, by moving their hand out of sight and often with a badge in their hand that they quickly thrust toward the uniformed officer. They do this because they don’t mentally accept the commands apply to them, a cop.”

    A little while ago I read the account of a cop who got shot after stopping to talk to a suspicious person, who was loitering in a car. It was shared by someone who’s point was that getting shot doesn’t necessarily stop us (this cop was convinced he was going to die, but he was determined that he was going to stop this person–and he did–and he survived after all, too!).

    One of the things I remember from the article, though, is advice such as “don’t let the suspect get back into the car” and “if you think that a suspect may have gotten a weapon, don’t say ‘show me your hands’ (because they may show the hands with a weapon and start shooting), but instead say ‘be perfectly still or I’ll shoot'”.

    From this, I tend to think that the universal command from the police officers to Scott should have been “Stop! Do not move! If you move, we WILL shoot!”

  21. Alpheus says:

    “If you or I were the shooter with entry wounds in the deceased’s back, you and I are going to jail. The cops shouldn’t be any different, and trying to give them any more benefit of the doubt beyond what you or I would receive is just plain wrong.”

    I’m not entirely sure about this, for two reasons: First, if someone is threatening you, and you decide you need to shoot, the threatening person can turn himself around very quickly, and so you could end up shooting him in the back (or so Massad Ayoob claims :-). Second, you could be in a situation where the threating person is facing the people he is threatening, and you are coming in from behind.

    In both cases, you will be justified in shooting the person in the back.

    In this case, I can see why Scott may have been shot in the back, and even when he was on the ground (a comment elsewhere pointed out that between the decision to stop shooting, and the actual act of cease fire, you typically reflexively shoot two or three more bullets). One thing I can’t help but wonder, though, is this: why was Scott surrounded? Another comment elsewhere pointed out that police are taught to avoid the “firing squad of death”, probably for safety reasons, more than anything else.

  22. Dave R. says:

    But if you put me on a jury, and every witness says he made a move for a gun, in compliance with shouted commands by police with drawn weapons to “drop the gun”, and they find the gun, even in its holster, near the guy, my vote is that the cops walk.

    Fixed that for you.

    The question, legally, is what the cops reasonably believed was going to happen, not what actually happened.

    Oh, clearly the cops acted in good faith. The fact that …complete and accurate original source videos and audio and transcripts are still not available… is all the more reason to take their testimony at face value, since its the only thing left to go on.

  23. Sebastian says:

    Depends on how quick it went from confronting the guy to him pulling his gun out in his holster. That could have easily sounded conflicting to witnesses. Not saying that is the case, but it’s reasonable doubt if the attorney for the cops makes the argument.

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