Two Shoots, Two Hits, Two Misses

First Shoot: It was a pedestrian puppycide, which is completely permissible if a cop utters the magic words that he feared the doggie might hurt him.

Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies killed a teenager Thursday morning while shooting at a pitbull they said was charging at them.

It’s another example of over-reliance on police response and too much deference to the actions they take. The Los Angeles County sheriff’s office said its policy is that officers are allowed to shoot at dogs if they “reasonably believe” they could be seriously injured or killed by the animal.

Police responded to a “loud party” call. Loud parties can be annoying to others, who are certainly entitled to their quiet enjoyment of their own home. But the call to cops for salvation implicates another truism, that every police interaction has the potential to end in death, no matter how trivial its initiation.

The deputies initially responded to a call about a “loud party,” at an apartment complex. Deputies said a pit bull charged at them when they arrived at the location. Armando Garcia-Muro, 17, had briefly restrained the dog but it got away again.

Dogs will do that. And, much as a cop will love his kid’s dog, you’re not his kid and he won’t risk so much as a scratch for your dog’s survival. Heck, he might just shoot because he can.

Two of the five sheriff’s deputies shot six to eight rounds at the pitbull. None of them appear to have hit the dog.

Five deps responded to a call for a “loud party”? Do they have nothing to do in LA? And two fired six to eight rounds and missed. Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, and possibly, boom, boom, and missed. Every round. Either their mad shooting skillz aren’t what they thought they were or the dog was very sneaky.

Garcia-Muro was hit in the chest by at least one round about 3:40 am Thursday in Palmdale. Deputies said the bullet may have ricocheted off the ground. A ricocheting bullet fragment also struck the leg of a deputy who was bitten by the dog, according to the police account.

Shoot at a dog and you’re likely to piss him off enough that he’ll bite. Fire rounds at the ground and bullets end up going in unanticipated places. Like a 17-year-old’s chest. Garcia-Muro died.

It’s wrong of me to be facetious about the confluence of events and incompetence that ends in the death of a human being. Was the opportunity to get a free puppy kill worth a life? Will you wear your medal for bravery in the face of death proudly?

Shoot Two: The last cop on the scene suffers the dilemma of being the only one too clueless to appreciate what has come before, but he wants to get in that one final blow to show that he’s not a slacker when others faced deadly fire.

The incident began around 10 p.m. when a police license recognition system spotted a car stolen from Maryland Heights last week. Authorities used spike strips to stop the vehicle. Three people in the car fired shot at officers. A short time later, the car stopped at Park Lane and Astra Avenue where additional shots were fired.

As it happened, an off-duty cop lived right around there, heard the commotion and came out to help. A good deed, perhaps, and everyone knows what a good deed means.

Officials say the off-duty officer, who lives in the area, heard the commotion and came out of his house to assist.

Police on the scene told the off-duty officer to get on the ground and surrender. He complied with their commands. When another officer recognized him and told the others to let him get up, . . .

An off-duty officer is still an officer. Neither his authority nor duty end with his shift. In a large department, however, one can’t expect every cop to know by sight every other cop. Obviously, the off-duty cop didn’t engage in criminal conduct, but then, unknown guy with gun in area where shooting just occurred is certainly good enough for uniformed cops to take precautions. Once they finally realized he was a brother, they relented, had a good laugh and…

. . . another officer shot him.

The last cop to arrive was at a disadvantage. He has no clue what happened. He has no clue who the guy on the ground is. He has no clue what other cops have already determined. He has no clue that the guy is an off-duty cop. He has no clue that the off-duty cop has been cleared. So what is this utterly ignorant cop to do when he sees a guy on the ground, get up?

Another officer just arriving at the scene saw the off-duty officer get up and, not knowing he was an officer, fired his weapon once at the man.

There is no better explanation for doing harm than ignorance. It’s the cop’s best friend. explaining away pretty much any bad decision, baseless action, stupidity. He didn’t know? So naturally, he shot.

But then, there was one additional factor: The off-duty officer was black. The shooter was white.

Fox reports that the white officer told investigators he fired at his colleague because he “feared for his safety.”

Bad aim. Ignorance. The nasty little badly-kept secret that black guys are more criminalish than white guys. You get to kill puppies for free. Two human beings shot, one killed, one a teen, one a black cop. You wonder why you don’t get the respect and admiration you so desperately crave?

Yet you keep shooting as long as there is some jury, some judge, some sycophant, who believes the magic words. You didn’t know? You were afraid? Poor boys. It’s so hard to be you. It’s not too good to be shot by you either. Or killed. But then, at least it wasn’t you harmed, and isn’t that all that really matters anyway? Just another day on the job.

50 thoughts on “Two Shoots, Two Hits, Two Misses

  1. Turk

    Dog at loud party. No problem with dog.
    Police arrive. And now dog has problem?
    When someone acts aggressively toward a dog’s owner, the dog will defend. Dogs are pretty damn good at sensing danger.

    The aggressive dog, who wasn’t aggressive before, is evidence the cops escalated, instead of deescalated.

    1. SHG Post author

      Ironically, the dog was owned by another person. But then, you assume the dog attacked because they shot in the dog’s general direction. The latter doesn’t prove the former. Some cops just hate OPDs (“Other People’s Dogs”).

      1. Turk

        Sorry I wasn’t clear. The dog was likely pissed before the guns were pulled.

        1st. Aggressive cops cause…
        2nd. Dog to get defensive…
        3rd. So cops pull guns.

        As opposed to a situation where the cops show up and sheepishly say, you’re not gonna believe this but we got a phone call complaint and I hate to do this but I’m going to have to ask you to hold it down. Hello pooch….Maybe you’d like a treat…

        Dogs don’t know from guns. They know about threatening demeanors.

        1. SHG Post author

          Yes, got it. Thank you for your mad dog expertise, because most of us are completely unfamiliar with dogs and would never have been aware of how these rare beasts react otherwise.

      1. Jason Street

        What’s a puppycide? I mean it’s not like cops are out here shooting golden retrievers.

        What the hell do I know tho, I can barely do the algebra to complete these posts.

        1. SHG Post author

          So that’s you? You’re that one mythical person in America who has never heard of google? Because it has to be you, since anyone with a real question as to what puppycide is wouldn’t leave a comment asking such an idiotic question, but would just google it. Unless of course, you don’t actually want to know and are just wasting my time with such nonsense. But you would never do that, so you must be that one mythical guy.

          P.S. It’s easier to google than do math.

  2. anonymous coward

    The LA shooting may be even worse, several gun bloggers think the shot that killed the boy wasn’t a ricochet off the concrete because most pistol bullets break up on impact, so it had to be either a clean miss, or a deliberately aimed shot. The LASD has a gun handling record at least as bad as the NYPD, so it could be incompetence, but I’m inclined to think it was a deliberate shot and the shooter is lying.
    I’m also curious to se how the St. Louis police and their union spin this since “smear the victim” won’t play well.

    1. Jason Street

      Pistol bullets are big and slow, riccochets are very likely. Still possible it was a clean miss tho.

    2. DaveL

      What I’ve been reading isn’t so much about them breaking up, but rather that they ricochet at such low angles and lose so much energy that a fatal hit to the chest of a standing individual is even more remote than it would first appear.

      1. Jason Street

        I would imagine all of this happened at 30 yards or less. A ricochet would still be lethal in that range. When a bullet is fired, all bets are off and you own that bullet until it stops moving. Always know what’s your beyond your target is one of the first things taught in any firearms safety class.

        It’s kind of rich most cops probably hate Mike Vick.

        1. SHG Post author

          I’m sure there’s a really cool gun blog somewhere where they would love to discuss the ricochet issue at great length and with deep passion. But this isn’t it.

  3. Matthew S Wideman

    I had an altercation with the police, where the officer pointed his gun at my dog on my own property and me after my 38 pound lab barked at him. When I complained to his supervisor and filed a complaint with the civilian oversight board. I was given the same explanation as the LA county sheriff’s office did in this story. He was in reasonable fear of his safety, so me and my complaint can go to hell. It seems like all the policing problems in America are solved with bullets.

    I was wearing a suit and tie, and I had just got through talking to another batch of officers and identified myself as a lawyer. So, I can only imagine what would have happened if I was in a rough neighborhood and I was in my civilian clothes. SHG, I know this comment is a personal feelz story, but after reading the first story I had to share with the class.

    1. Mike

      “It seems like all the policing problems in America are solved with bullets.”

      Lament of past performance or suggested future solution?

    1. el profesor presente

      Not that it’s material (except to the people who care about the dog) but they didn’t miss the pit bull, they just didn’t drop it on the spot. It was euthanized afterward.

      1. SHG Post author

        After dodging six bullets, it might be inclined to be distrustful and bite. Once bitten, twice shy.

          1. SHG Post author

            If it mattered, they should. It would be terrible to lose sleep over such a critical tangential detail.

            The dog was shot and survived but will be euthanized, authorities said.

      2. B. McLeod

        Oh. Well, every dog has its day, but this wasn’t that dog’s day. Or the kid’s day. Probably not even the cop’s day. Time for remedial range practice.

          1. B. McLeod

            Wasn’t really even that good as jokes go. But, I did notice of the recent ABA Journal story about Charlotte School of Law, “Kay Mindy Ayness” has resurfaced, joined by her colleague, “Herb Utz-Luce.” Somebody’s asleep at the switch, or not even at the switch (or perhaps has forgotten that there is a switch).

  4. Frank Miceli

    “But the call to cops for salvation implicates another truism, that every police interaction has the potential to end in death, no matter how trivial its initiation.”

    According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, there were 63 million face to face interactions between police and adult Americans in 2011, the latest year for which statistics are available. In 2012, there were 12,197,000 arrests in the United States, and there were 410 uses of deadly force. So, one police killing in 0.00003 percent of all arrests; one police killing in an infinitesmal percent of all interactions.

    I should worry?

    1. Rick Horowitz

      No. Obviously the daily stories of dead citizens killed for no reason but a cop who stained his underwear makes everything cool.

      Because it’s only 0.00003 percent of all arrests that cause the daily increase in body count.

      And, hey, it wasn’t you, or someone you’d care anout, right?

      1. SHG Post author

        That’s interactions, not arrests. It’s one of those silly stats that ignores the law of large numbers and deflects attention from the obvious problem. Nobody is putting a decal on the side of police cruisers that says, “To Protect, Serve and Only Rarely Wrongfully Kill.”

        1. Rojas

          It’s arrests vs homicide data. Original source of the quote Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn. He used FBI data from 2012. Independent studies have shown the data flawed, under reported by at least half.
          For some perspective on how other disciplines might weigh acceptable risk we could look to the Takata airbag recall. 70 million airbags 11 deaths and we are going to remove and replace every one of them.

          1. Rick Horowitz

            None of which changes my point. There remain too many killings without justification, however small the percentage.

            But thank you for the added information.

          2. Frank Miceli

            The most relevant and reliable study I’ve found is the BJS report, “Arrest-Related Deaths 2003-2009, Statistical Tables.” There we learn that there were 2931 homicides by law enforcement personnel over that period. From the same report, we learn that the FBI estimated 98 million arrests in the U S over the same period. That works out to .000029908 arrest-related homicides by law enforcement personnel over six years. Double it, quadruple it–still, reason, common sense, and experience would conclude that we have little to fear. In my opinion arguments to the contrary are a hugger-mugger.

            The dimensions of the Takata airbag recall exemplify nothing so much as regulatory overreach, if not stupidity.

            1. Patrick Maupin

              Fortunately, Frank, 0.003% is not a large enough number to ever supply cover to a cop with a personal grudge against someone, right?

              Oh, wait — it was 3,000 actual people. MyYour bad.

            2. Eliot J CLingman

              This is slightly off topic, but 98m arrests / 320m residents in 6 years is a pretty horrific ratio and not acceptable for an advanced western society. Even a small fraction of that is a lot…2931 … of death

            3. Rojas

              Someone summed it up pretty well in the comments some time ago. “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know which cop your going to get”.

              You appeal to reason, common sense and experience. I’ll try to speak to my experience without breaking the rules here. For over two decades, because I reside close to our plant, I get the call from the alarm company. The alarm company always inquires “will you be meeting them on the scène?”. The answer these day is no. I tell the alarm company if the police find the building unsecured to call me back after they leave and I’ll go secure it. That answer is based on my experience. Interaction with one “reasonably” scared cop will change your outlook and your behavior.

              As to the Takata recall being regulatory overreach, I wonder Frank, did you feel the same way when a few cops were immolated in Crown Vics after rear end collisions.? Perhaps you were a statistical outlier in that regard.

              Engineers have a different way of looking at things. When a safety systems fails to operate it’s a bad thing. When a safety system fails in such a way that it will injure or kill it’s a really, really, bad thing. An airbag that becomes a grenade even a small percentage of times is tantamount to a fire extinguisher that shoots flames back at the operator upon deployment, if only, occasionally.

              In a sane world we’d be looking at these daily killings of citizens by police with the same tools used in the Takata recall. We would use 20-20 hindsight. We would use proactive tools such as FMEA to diagram both the failure mode and effects. Not because all cops are bad or because the statistical probability of your kid getting killed by a cop is high across the general population. We would do it because it is too high for some groups. We would do it because it’s a National god damned disgrace.

    2. el profesor presente

      You’re using the FBI figure for “justifiable homicides” by law enforcement in 2012 as a measure of the use of deadly force?

      That’s like using the number of fatalities caused by drunk drivers in 2012 as the measure of how many times people drove drunk.

      These folks are still using deadly force even if they wake up at home the next morning, run over Fido, or make someone a quadraplegic.

    3. Jardinero1

      Frank, Your interactions data is not necessarily the best indicator of the danger posed by LEO’s. Especially, since you do not compare to interactions date for non-LOE’s.

      I live in Texas. In Texas, since 2005, there have been fifty to seventy deadly force incidents, by LEO’s, per year, known and reported. Call it 6 a month. That compares to a total of about 90 homicides, by citizens, per month in the entire state.
      Now consider the odds. There are 28,000,000 Texans, well armed, who commit 90 homicides a month; yet, there are only 43,000 LEO’s who commit 6 homicides a month. The likelihood of a lethal encounter with your fellow citizen is one in 311,111. The likelihood of a lethal encounter with an LEO is one in 7166. Using the above numbers as a reference, we can discern that police officers are about 45 times more likely to kill you than your fellow citizen. The reality is likely higher given that there are still many unreported lethal force incidents. It is better not to interact with the police.

      1. Frank Miceli

        Jardinero, you say LEO’s in Texas commit an average of 6 homicides a month. The FBI (source: BJS) says LEO’s in all 50 states commit an average of 41 homicides a month. So LEO’s in one state, Texas, are responsible for 15% of the homicides in all 50 states?

        Your calculations depend on using all 28 million Texans as your base. No can do. According to the NY Times, the number of Texans with a license to carry is 1,017,618.

        Your calculations are further flawed because not all license holders carry every day. Cops carry every day. Not to mention that cops confront and arrest people all the time, interactions fraught with peril, and they wear a uniform, a kind of bullseye on their backs. Citizens don’t.

        You conclude by saying: “It is better not to interact with the police.” But I’m not advocating interacting with the police willy nilly. My point is that the empirical evidence, no matter how you cut it, is that we have little to fear. I would add that there are times when we have much to gain.

        1. Rojas

          I don’t want to get too far off in the weeds here, but the BJS stats are a farce. The FBI has acknowledged this. Seems an odd place to hang your hat Frank.

          1. Frank Miceli

            Yes, Rojas, for various reasons the BJS stats are imperfect, as acknowledged by the BJS itself. Work is underway to perfect the numbers. Still, it’s the BJS numbers that are most often cited by academia and others and not someone else’s.

            In any case, I invited the reader of my post to double the reported LEO homicides, to quadruple them. My conclusion remains. We have absurdly few reasons to fear being killed by cops.

          2. Frank Miceli

            Rojas, your anecdote about the police is just that, an anecdote. Interesting, maybe, but I tune out when people present an anecdote as data.

            Engineers are nice. I studied the work of engineer/statistician W. Edwards Deming who said, “In God we trust; all others bring data.”

            As to Takata, you dispute my characterization of the government’s action as bureaucratic overreach. The faulty Takata airbags are connected to 11 deaths in 13 years, which is a tiny fraction of the deaths known to be caused by airbags working exactly as designed. As an engineer, you must know that an airbag is a bomb in the dashboard designed initially to protect the typical non-seatbelt user. Forcing Takata into bankruptcy may please bureaucrats, politicians, and their trial lawyer donors but we’ll still be left with a highly problematic safety technology.

        2. Jardinero1

          I was being generous in my prior post. Since September 1, 2015, all Texas law enforcement agencies are required to report lethal use of force incidents to the Attorney General of Texas using a standard form promulgated by the AG. Agencies and PD’s have thirty days to report incidents so the first reports only started trickling in around mid-October 2015. Per the AG’s Office, the results are 105 LEO caused fatal shootings and 133 non-fatal shootings, through January 31st 2017 or 7 fatal shootings per month, between October 2015 and January 2017. Additonally, there were another 15 incidents known via the press but not reported to the AG. That takes us to 120 or eight a month. There is no penalty for non-reporting so the actual number of incidents is likely higher still, nine or ten a month. You are right, that I have little to fear from the police, because a one in 7166 chance of being killed by a police officer is small. Nonetheless, it is 45 times greater than my chance of being killed by a fellow citizen.

          1. Frank Miceli

            I accept your numbers concerning LEO homicides in Texas since 2015. As I said, my numbers were for earlier years. But for reasons I’ve explained what doesn’t pass muster at all is analogizing cop-caused homicides to citizen-caused homicides. Cops and private citizens are very different. The nature of their work differs, their objectives differ and the authority with which thay are vested differs. The comparison is logically fallacious.

            Basta!

            1. Jardinero1

              Frank, Sorry, but cops are still citizens. But yes, cops supposedly have special skills and training to deal with dangerous citizens that the ordinary citizens don’t have. So cops should kill way less than the ordinary citizen, not more.

  5. MamaLiberty

    One thing I didn’t see mentioned here yet… though you’ve all no doubt thought of it.

    What happens to the ordinary person who shoots at an aggressive dog (whatever the situation) and wounds or kills a bystander instead? I have a feeling the “I was afraid of the dog” excuse wouldn’t fly very far in court.

    I’ve been a certified firearms instructor for many years so I am very clear that ordinary people are accountable for every round fired, whatever it hits – and that every bullet fired hits SOMETHING.

    There should be no exceptions for police.

    1. SHG Post author

      This is a law blog, meaning for lawyers and judges, so we there would be no reason to mention aspects that might be interesting to a non-lawyer but are either too obvious to mention or legally irrelevant.

  6. N. Freed

    > Do they have nothing to do in LA?

    FWIW, this fiasco happened in Palmdale, not LA-the-city, which is at the northern edge of Los Angeles county separated from LA-the-city by the San Gabriel mountains. It might as well be on a different planet.

    And the answer is no, they don’t have anything to do in Palmdale.

      1. N. Freed

        My bad. I meant to say, “Socially and culturally it might as well be on a different planet.”

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