The Blank Slate of Justine Damond’s Death

People are killed. Some by accident. Some by criminals. Some by police. Some by police who are criminals. Some are female. Some are white. Some are in their nightclothes, having called 911, unarmed and talking to an officer driving a cruiser by a cop named Mohammed Noor, with neither body nor squad cameras turned on, by shooting through the driver side door.

Just before 11:30 p.m. Saturday, Damond, 40, called 911 to report a possible assault occurring in an alley near her home between Washburn and Xerxes avenues S., in the Fulton neighborhood.

Damond, in her pajamas, went to the driver’s side door of the responding squad and was talking to the officer, according to three sources with direct knowledge of the case.

Moments later, Noor shot across his partner from the passenger’s seat, killing Damond.

No explanation for the killing has been offered yet, whether because the investigating agency, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, isn’t talking or Noor and his partner have invoked their union contract to conceal information about a killing that would have been sweated out of them had they been anyone but cops.

When some information dribbles out, it would be anticipated that it will be some variation on the Reasonably Scared Cop Rule, with Noor’s partner swearing to it. As there were no other witnesses and no video, there is no one to dispute their story. But there was no gun found. Damond’s cellphone was found.

Damond was an attractive white woman, an Australian, who was “trained as a veterinarian,” which suggests she never made it to actually being a vet, and now worked as a “spiritual healer and meditation coach,” for whatever that’s worth. What she was not is a stone killer with a long rap sheet, the sort of person we might expect to end up on the wrong end of a cop’s gun or whose lifeless body won’t be missed. What she was not is male and black.

We know enough about this killing to provide a blank slate for every conceivable narrative, to use it to further every claim. We have enough facts to feed delusional speculation combined with the latitude of ignorance.

The nutjobs on the alt-right fix on Noor’s being a Muslim, the first Somali-American cop in his precinct. Is this to suggest that Noor was some Muslim terrorist bent on killing a blond? There is nothing to suggest this to be remotely true, but then, blank slates lend themselves to outrageous speculation.

But then, the alternative voices cry that the only reason we know about Damond’s killing, care about it, is because she’s white. Had she been black, no one would care. Will the killing of a white woman be treated as cavalierly as the killing of a black? Bear in mind this happened in Minnesota, where Officer Geronimo Yanez just got away with murdering Philando Castille, Because Damond was white, maybe whites will suddenly realize this isn’t just a black person problem.

Noor has lawyered up, and his lawyer, Tom Plunkett, is doing his best at crisis management.

Noor, a second-year officer whose identity became public Monday, has retained a lawyer. Attorney Thomas Plunkett said in a statement that Noor “takes these events very seriously.”

“He joined the police force to serve the community and to protect the people he serves,” Plunkett said. “Officer Noor is a caring person with a family he loves, and he empathizes with the loss others are experiencing.”

It’s always good to know that the cop who killed an unarmed innocent person is empathetic with those who will miss her. In fairness, what else could Plunkett say? As for Noor’s partner, he too was a baby cop.

Sources identified Noor’s partner on the scene, who did not fire any shots, as officer Matthew Harrity, 25, who earned his peace officer’s license last year.

Short of Harrity coming out and calling his partner a lunatic killer, unduly scared, who pulled the trigger without reason and, coincidentally, put Harrity at risk by shooting across him to kill Damond, could have easily ended Harrity’s career, not to mention his life, in his moment of frightened insanity.

But Harrity lived and, once he shakes off the trauma of the muzzle flash, will be put to the test of what to say. His safest bet is to not have a clue why Noor fired, having seen nothing from his vantage point to give rise to fear, but not knowing what Noor saw. Will that be the case? We don’t know now, but will eventually learn what Harrity had to say.

The problem is that there was no objective cause to kill Damond. She was the 911 caller. She was unarmed. There was no information upon which any suspicion of threat could be founded. The problem is that we have almost no information to make sense of any of this.

The problem is that the lack of information, combined with the inflammatory potential of religion, skin color, gender to fill the knowledge gap, will allow the blank slate of this killing to serve every narrative, every cry for “justice” because it can be manipulated to fit someone’s agenda. And the irony is that it may be true, that maybe there are reasons underlying this killing and its aftermath that reflect societal ills, but it is unlikely that it will ever be known, ever be proven. The fevered brow of advocates will drip with their sweat, their eyes filled with the tears of righteous indignation, whether true or not, because they can use this to prove their narrative because there is nothing to prove them wrong.

Whatever resulted in the killing of Justine Damond should not have happened. Her wrongful death is no more, nor less, important than anyone else’s, regardless of identity or job. But because we will never know, and never trust what we’re eventually told, her death will be seized upon as proof by all sides. Her death is wrong, but it’s a blank slate so it will prove everything, because it proves nothing.

77 thoughts on “The Blank Slate of Justine Damond’s Death

  1. B. McLeod

    I’m guessing accidental discharge on this one. It simply makes no sense as an intentional shooting.

    1. Dan

      It makes no sense (from what few facts we know so far) as an intentional shooting, but it also makes no sense that Noor would have drawn his weapon at all. Negligent discharge answers one question (why did he pull the trigger), but still leaves the questions of why did Noor draw his weapon, and why did he point it at her.

      1. B. McLeod

        But for the policy against links, I would link to the collection of Barney Fife accidental discharges. But indeed, even Barney typically shot the ground.

      2. DaveL

        it also makes no sense that Noor would have drawn his weapon at all.

        That’s a fairly common feature of negligent discharge incidents. Nobody wants to tell investigators they were practicing a move they saw in Taxi Driver.

        1. SHG Post author

          We may be at the point where a little too much effort is being put into utterly baseless speculation.

          1. B. McLeod

            Or even past that point (but hey, Noor shot past his partner, and through the driver’s side door, so “utterly baseless” may be a bit strong).

            When I was in law school, first year, a story hit the national news about two officers in my home town who had a pattern and practice of screeching up to one another’s squad cars to see who out-draw the other. It became news after one accidentally shot the other in the head during this Tomfoolery. I heard about this a lot, because at least 60 of my classmates knew I was from the town where that happened. To make it worse, some Police Major who was cornered by reporters was quoted stating that “it was possible departmental; firearms policy had been violated.” I could only imagine the sign posted on the back door of the squad room: “DO NOT DRAW DUTY WEAPON AND SHOOT FELLOW OFFICER(S) IN HEAD.”

          2. Frank Miceli

            “…a little too much effort is being put into utterly baseless speculation.” Amen.

            The horrible shooting of this innocent woman happened shortly after midnight on Sun., July 16. In the short time that elapsed until the time of this post, not much information was available. The investigation was assigned to Minnesota’s central investigative agency. The shooter, Officer Noor, hired a CDL. His partner made no statement. Since that time, however, a motive has emerged in press accounts.

            Officer Harrity, the partner, says they were in their car in a dark alley with their lights off. They had reported that they had found no signs of trouble and had been reassigned to another case. Suddenly, upon hearing a loud noise, a figure appeared at the open driver’s side window. Thinking they were being ambushed as in New York, Officer Noor fired and killed the person at the window, who turned out to be Justine Damond. A bicycle rider was seen nearby and the police are attempting to find him.

            Plausible? Persuasive? That remains to be seen.

            1. SHG Post author

              As Harrity’s statement emerges, two questions come to the fore:

              1. Is it accepted (in the absence of corroborating evidence) as true, or is it taken as the best story he could come up with to save his partner in the days since the killing?

              2. Even if true, does it get Noor over manslaughter? How far does the Reasonably Scared Cop Rule stretch?

              Jake’s point, that people might be able to shrug off black guys, but will be stuck on what Justine Damond should have done to survive, may make this nice white woman case the one that makes people think we’ve given cops way too much latitude to kill people for no good reason. Even if we assume Noor’s fear to be understandable, we now see that the line skews far too much in favor of a cop’s life at the expense of others.

            2. B. McLeod

              Has Noor made a statement? I saw press accounts that Harrity heard a loud noise before he realized Noor had fired. The accounts continued to be so minimal and garbled it was unclear whether the noise was “aerial fireworks,” as other officers apparently speculated from the radio traffic, or the shot(s) fired by Noor. In any event, I don’t see how Harrity could testify to what Noor was thinking when Noor fired, absent a statement from Noor.

          3. Casual Lurker

            So we have another case like Jordan Edwards, but with even less information.

            I think you hit all the right notes. That said, I kept thinking about a play I’d seen in 1990, called “Lettice & Lovage” (yes, it’s a play, not a law firm ;-)), by British playwright Peter Shaffer. The central character, played by Dame Maggie Smith (better known to younger audiences as Violet Crawley of PBS’ Downton Abbey series), plays a museum tour guide. Finding the factual narrative of the historical figures and objects lacking, she starts to embellish, making up interesting non-facts to amuse herself.

            The result is museum attendance is way up, as are donations. So, the people in charge initially don’t ask too many questions. Long story short, when the truth becomes public, she is asked why, and where these incredulous stories came from. Her response: “Fantasy floods in where fact leaves a vacuum!”

            As in my comments on your Jordan Edwards post, all the same mechanisms I describe are in full force and in overdrive, having even less to work with. And again, I’m reminded of Aristotle’s admonition of “Horror vacui”.

        1. B. McLeod

          Additional information, attributed to Hennepin County Medical Examiner, indicates decedent was struck by a single round (significant because officers are not trained to fire only a single round to neutralize a perceived threat). One TV media outlet has reported the “feared an ambush” story, attributed to an unidentified source. BBC reports that Harrity’s lawyer asserts ‘it would have been reasonable for the officers to fear an ambush” (but neither officer stated that they did fear an ambush, and notably, Harrity did not draw his weapon).

  2. Jake

    My point yesterday was/is – It’s not gonna matter -something I learned from reading S/J. Negligent discharge? Oops! Intentional discharge? Officer chickenshit was scared of the screaming lady in the alley. Bodycams not on? Pfft…These officers were code 2 at the time of the shooting. They had legal discretion on the use of bodycams.

    The only scenario where a cop has 1 chance in 100 of taking the rap for murdering a civilian is if it was intentional, premeditated, and outside of official duty. That’s what I wanted my audience of mostly white affluents, suddenly outraged about this the subject, to know. And then maybe come read your blog every day so they can get really outraged* about police shootings and maybe call their congressmen.

    *Individual results may vary depending on whether you’re covering police shootings or babbling incoherently about campus culture.

    1. SHG Post author

      I had no idea what you were trying to tell me in your twit yesterday, but this is entirely different, as it’s not yesterday and not a twit, even though it remains incomprehensible. But that’s just my mileage.

      1. Miles

        So Jake suffers from schizophrenia and you’re kind enough to tolerate him when he loses touch with reality? You are such a sensitive fellow.

          1. John Barleycorn

            Speaking of which, the zoning folks are on to me, and threatening to bring the sheriff on their next visit if I don’t let them in the front gate.

            Not sure if should go with my full makeup, crying clown get up or go all top hat and tails as ringmaster on them?

            I WONDER which outfit carries the lowest probability of getting shot?

            Fuck it! I’ll just flip a coin and rent an elephant!


            1. John Barleycorn

              Trigger man, ain’t talking! But his partner is doing his part…get your tickets while they last.

              ♡ According to the BCA, Harrity was driving and Noor was in the passenger seat as they drove through the alley looking for a suspect. The squad lights on their vehicle were off.

              Harrity told investigators that as they drove down the alley, he was startled by a loud sound near the squad car. Immediately afterward, Ruszczyk approached the driver’s side window and Noor fired his weapon, striking Ruszczyk through the driver’s side window, Harrity told the BCA.♧

              Any carnival bets as to how long it will take the boot- lickers to start blaming the “black lives matter” folks, amongst others, for putting cops in an impossible situation, as they go about their daily routine?

              Heck, by the end of the week I bet Jeff Sessions, “fearless” leader of the crazy clowns himself, will be putting on the red face to tell us all about how many juggling dwarfs, strong men, and 90lb flying trapeze divas there are out there leading secret lives as cop assassins! Millions and millions of them I bet.

              Whatch-ya-gonna- do when they come rolling up…, looking more scared than you?!

              Not to worry, i just found out that the elephant’s makeup artists guild is running a “don’t get shot” special. One entire elephant in white face/body paint with a florescent, glow in the dark, pink polka dot overlay is going on sale for the rest of the summer.

              Only twelvehundred bucks! The elephants are cool with it too. Suckers for solidarity them elephants are, worse than cops! Elephants don’t wear diapers or badges though.

              So I guess it’s all good in the hood if they all start looking alike for a few months. Even though, I like me a zebra job on an elephant myself. Don’t know what it is, but there is something about a zebra job on an elephant that scares the shit out of the local lions, county tigers, and federal bears that just cracks me up. Even though I should probably know better by now, than to be messing around with the nightmares of lions, and tigers, and bears.

              RIP Justine, hope you found yourself in the big tent, gliding around with the flying trapeze in the center ring.

              P.S. When the circus finally up and dies for good, I wonder what would happen if all the governors started offering some sweet deals to get all the Circus Roadies to replace every instructor, in every last police academy in the nation?

              Could happen. But will free beer, when the Roadies are not teaching, be enough for them to see the fun in making new friends in cop bars?

              A free pass to knock any active or retired smug cop head in any cop bar from sea to shining sea might be enough in and of itself, but I think it is gonna take lots of free beer for the Rodies to go through the hassle of convincing their new cop friends to join them while knocking the heads of their smug colleagues.

              Who knows? I guess cop bars are dying out at damn near the same rate as the circus, but if anybody can do the dirty work to safely put on and supervise the show out in the streets- no matter what or where the show may be- without killing people, it’s the Circus Roadies!

              And, by god, if that means cop bars and the circus as we know ‘um both must die for a generation or two….. Well, so be it!

        1. Jake

          Schizophrenia? Come on now…Delusions of grandeur maybe. Occasionally emotional…Sure. But you’re tossing around a diagnosis of severe mental illness based on interactions through the comment section on a legal blog? Are you even a doctor? I think you’re reaching.

          PS- Hope you’re right! I could be the next GOP candidate for president of the United States with those qualifications.

          1. SHG Post author

            And here, I’m hoping you will express in some remotely comprehensible fashion whatever it is you’re trying to express in your original comment, and instead you make this about Miles’ “diagnosis”? Deep breath. Focus.

            1. Jake

              OK, What I was trying to say is, you were the subject of yesterday’s twit, not the audience.

              Yesterday, after hearing the news of another unarmed American gunned down by a police officer with no evidence of a reason that makes sense to any outside observer I noticed something different. Affluent, white professionals in my social sphere, who in the past have either not noticed similar events or blamed the victim, were suddenly quite outraged.

              Sensing that I might be witnessing a moment where this particular segment could be open to new and/or expanded information on a subject I consider to be very important I quickly decided to act. Because I believe you are an expert on the subject I decided to direct attention to you and Simple Justice on Twitter using mildly inflammatory rhetoric.

              The manner I chose to do this without your knowledge and consent was hasty, ham-handed, and filled with hubris. First, you didn’t ask me to promote you or SJ. Second, even if you had, my approach was confusing without prior coordination. And third, it projected a level and quality of familiarity we don’t share, due to the asymmetrical nature of the connection between a writer and any one member of his audience.

              Sorry for the disturbance, thanks for the encouragement to explain myself, and thanks for Simple Justice. Still learning.

            2. SHG Post author

              Now, if only you had told me that in any comprehensible fashion yesterday, I would have certainly done what I could to assist you.

              As I would hope you already realize, one of my driving goals is to prevent people being needlessly killed by police, regardless of color, gender, sexual orientation, whatever. If this gave a crack to use to open people’s eyes to the problem, I would have certainly helped to broaden their understanding.

              Within the law circles I follow, people already understand this, so I didn’t see what you see from those right-wing mouth-breathing money-grubbing tattooed hipsters you hang out with. My people are, if I may be so bold, far more “woke” to this and didn’t need to learn Cop Killing 101.

  3. Xon

    Your standards of focus are too high, SHG! That’s the problem here. It always is.

    Aggrieved on others’ behalf,

    Xon (still weird)

  4. Paul L.

    Reads like a how to from the Police PR handbook.
    Here is the full statement released by Officer Noor:

    ‘Officer Noor extends his condolences to the family and anyone else who has been touched by this event. He takes their loss seriously and keeps them in his daily thoughts and prayers.’

    ‘He came to the United States at a young age and is thankful to have had so many opportunities. He takes these events very seriously because, for him, being a police officer is a calling. He joined the police force to serve the community and to protect the people he serves. Officer Noor is a caring person with a family he loves and he empathizes with the loss others are experiencing.’

    ‘The current environment for police is difficult, but Officer Noor accepts this as part of his calling.

    We would like to say more, and will in the future. At this time, however, there are several investigations ongoing and

    Officer Noor wants to respect the privacy to the family and asks the same in return during this difficult period.’

    1. SHG Post author

      As I wrote in the post, if you were Noor, what else would you say? Now, what does the Department say? What does the partner say? Those are more salient questions.

  5. Ken Mackenzie

    The scant early spin and lack of information is the unusual feature of this case.

        1. B. McLeod

          Somebody is leaking a “feared an ambush” theory to the press without attribution to either officer (the only ones who could possibly know). The hallmarks of floating a trial balloon to see if it will fly.

  6. Fredreich Olsen III

    The cops in the US are used to people being armed. Lately they have also had to get used to people sneaking up on them to kill them. If I was a cop in the US, I would shoot on average 25 people every day. I`d see a guy look at me in a weird way and that would be it, I`m not taking any chances. So the problem is guns, lots and lots of guns. Even the police are so scared that a loud noise makes them shoot an unarmed woman in the stomach. I`d say we would have to call this normal by now, this is the US on a normal day.

      1. Frank Miceli

        In PA a trooper dies in a collision with a garbage truck. Yesterday, hundreds of officers attend the funeral, many on their own time and at their own expense from as far away as Colorado, Utah, and Texas.

        A garbage truck! Can there be any doubt that cops feel badly beleaguered?

        Anti-cop hatred is fomented by the BLM movement. This is making police work more dangerous. Last year there was a 58 percent increase in gun murders of cops.

        When cops kill civilians, the police line of defense, generally sanctioned by the courts, is the frequent claim that they had an objectively reasonable belief that their lives were in danger. Juries tend to believe a cop over a civilian. Most Americans respect the police. They know the police often serve as mentors, counselors, medics, tire changers and good Samaritans. They know that if police did not show up in the morning to do their jobs, the rest of us could not do our jobs.

        One innocent killed by a cop is one too many. The killing in Minneapolis is deplorable. But the incidence of cops killing innocents in any given year is infinitesimal, and I use that word advisedly.

        Context is crucial.

        1. SHG Post author

          They say insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different outcome. I’m happy to post your comment, Frank, but I’m not responsible should you not get the love you think it deserves.

        2. DaveL

          That a police officer lost his life in a collision with a garbage truck is tragic, but what does that have to do with BLM or police feeling beleaguered?

          I might note that the Catholic Church also tried to blame its public image problems on those who do rudely pointed out its enabling of child molesters. That sure worked out well for them.

          1. Frank Miceli

            Uh, try reading again, Dave. And thinking hard.

            Yes, Church child molestors are bad. Do you think the connection to my post might be a bit tenuous?

            1. DaveL

              Not at all. The Church tried to pretend it was those calling attention to wrongdoing by priests who were responsible for ruining its public image, just as you blame BLM’s pointing out of actual police wrongdoing for anti-police sentiment. The Church also correctly pointed out that the rate of child molestation was no higher in the priesthood than in several common professions – all while missing the problem with their covering for and enabling those molesters. Similarly, your focus on the “infinitesimal”* number of innocents** killed misses the problem of police and the rest of the system giving cover to killer cops.

              *A term which, incidentally, you do not use advisedly.

              ** I was unaware that complete innocence was necessary to preclude a shooting being justified. Some people have this crazy notion that disorderly conduct or resisting arrest were not punishable by summary execution.

        3. Miles

          A 58% increase?

          [T}he NLEOMF found that 64 officers were killed in firearm-related incidents in 2016 — a 56 percent increase over 2015, when 41 officers were killed.

          56% is due to the law of small numbers. And of course, that included the anomalies in Dallas (5 cops killed) and New Orleans (2 cops killed). That’s why percentages without numbers, or background, doesn’t tend to make the case. Context is crucial.

          1. Frank Miceli

            Yes. That’s why I’ve provided the numbers, the sources and the context in earlier posts.

            Ah, the law of small numbers. Or it’s the law of large numbers that’s the problem. Some day I hope to find an issue with medium numbers.

            1. SHG Post author

              The law of small numbers produces artificially large percentages. The law of big numbers produces artificially small percentages. Bookends. The problem isn’t medium numbers, but to avoid using percentages without giving the actual numbers as well.

            2. Frank Miceli

              I understand the law of small numbers. And its obverse. Both in my statistical handbook. But if the argument is that the law of small numbers invalidates the conclusions drawn from the following facts, I do not understand.

              The National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund found that 64 officers were killed in firearm-related incidents in 2016 — a 56 percent increase over 2015 when 41 officers were killed. It’s the highest number of firearms-related deaths recorded since 2011.

              Those shooting deaths included 21 deaths in ambush-style shootings, “the highest total in more than two decades,” NLEOMF said.

              The rise was partly fueled by a few high-profile shootings that took the lives of multiple officers, a total of 20 officers in 2016. But this was itself a significant increase in that it was the highest total of any year since 1932.

              And already, through July, 52 cops have been killed by guns with no multiple shootings involved.

              Civilians shot and killed by police? According to PBS, 991 in 2015, down to 957 in 2016. 95 percent of those killed were armed with guns or knives.

              My conclusion:
              1. Driving down the number of civilians killed by police is work of the highest priority.
              2. The police are right to feel beleaguered.
              3. BLM is a destructive force that does not deserve our support.

        4. John Barleycorn

          Nice to see someone has “innocents” all tidied up.

          I get to get the hang of that!

          What’s for dinner?

        5. B. McLeod

          If Ms. Damond had a chance to think about that before she bled out, I’m sure it would have been a great, mathematical comfort to her.

        6. Ken Mackenzie

          Frank’s comment illustrates so much about attitudes to policing, that it is worth much closer analysis than the analogy with the Church.
          Frank refers to “the frequent claim that they had an objectively reasonable belief that their lives were in danger” that is “generally sanctioned by the courts”. The settlements very often paid to the families of the dead show the opposite; they’re paid because the courts will not sanction the killing. Acquittals based on reasonable doubt are not approvals.
          Franks cites the dangers, the value, and the intent of police work, when none of that is in issue. The problem Frank avoids is that they shoot too often, and too soon. The “reasonably scared cop” rule, is not only a rule of law, but also part of police training and attitude. The police “feel badly beleaguered” to the point where the public are either a high threat, or an unknown threat, but always a threat. When everyone is a potential threat it’s much easier to characterise their killing as “objectively reasonable”; a child playing with a water pistol, a man reaching for his wallet, a distressed woman running towards the police car, a deaf giant not complying with shouted “commands”. Each of these people may forfeit their lives because the police officer believes they might be a lethal threat. That’s the kicker in the belief – not that they were a lethal threat – but that they might be.
          This is how you lose the public. That respect -the appreciation and trust Frank tries to call in aid of his argument that there is no real problem with police shootings – it cannot be maintained if you tell the public that their lives are worth less, and much less, than the life of a police officer.

          1. Frank Miceli

            I appreciate your comments, Ken, but I differ.

            The settlements paid to the families of victims reflect not much more than government officials using a relatively painless way to shut down the static. It’s only tax money and no one objects.

            I cite the positives about police because this blog–an excellent blog overall–cites only the negatives.

            The data clearly demonstrate that police feel beleaguered because they ARE beleaguered, with the threat rising.

            It’s ugly and deplorable that the police sometimes shoot too soon at someone who is not a lethal threat. But it’s relevant that 95% of those killed by police gunshots were armed.

            The police have not “lost the public.” A Gallup poll published on Monday Oct 24, 2016 showed 76 percent of Americans have a “great deal” of respect for their local police, up 12 points from 2015’s 22-year low.

            As expected, the survey showed a racial gap. While both white and nonwhite respondents were more likely to express respect for police, 80 percent of white Americans did so compared with only 67 percent of minorities. But no group is anti-cop.

            Gallup goes on to say that among the highest ranking American institutions only the military and small business poll better than the police.

            1. Ken Mackenzie

              Frank says, “I differ” but only does so on one point. Frank contends that cash-strapped police authorities hand over hundreds of thousands of tax-payer dollars, and fire police officers, just to avoid ‘static’. It’s not, says Frank, because the officers did anything wrong. The police could win the case, they just choose not to. Frank has reached new levels of self-delusion if he believes this horseshit.

            2. Ken Mackenzie

              Frank missed the point about losing the public. The shooting practices are eroding public support, and will erode it further if they are not changed. No-one wants their life to be disposable.

      2. Frank Miceli

        When I attempted to post this comment it bounced back with the explanation that “I already said that.”
        I may have said something similar in private communications but, apart from one or two lines, I HAVE NOT “already said that” in this blog. What’s going on?

        1. SHG Post author

          That happens when you click “post comment” twice by accident. It’s just the program. Nothing personal.

  7. Pingback: Black, Blue And Dead | Simple Justice

  8. Ken Mackenzie

    Frank is reassured that 95% of the people shot have been armed. Of course, the significance of that statistic depends on what “armed” means. Most people imagine a firearm or a blade, but it might include tools, handbags, stones or dog leads (with or without dogs attached). Not only are the citizens a “rising” threat, but most of them are armed with something to boot; this, in a nation with a constitutional right to carry arms. It’s not such a reassuring statistic after all, certainly not for the family of Mr Castile whose name will be entered as another in that statistical column.

    1. Frank Miceli

      Well, Ken, looks like you can’t handle the facts and have chosen to vent your ire by engaging in something less than respectable argument. I won’t follow.

      You suggest I’m misleading you when I cite the fact that 95% of those shot and killed by police were armed. Might “armed” mean something other than knives or guns, say “tools, handbags, dog leads?’ Here’s PBS, commenting on a WaPo study:

      ALISON STEWART: A small percentage of the people who were shot and killed by police was unarmed, just 5 percent. Most had guns or knives.

      And it’s not the “cash strapped police authorities” who make the payments to the victim’s families. Its City Hall and they don’t give a damn about the cost of settling these cases because no one objects. I’m intimately familiar with govt. bureaucracy; you’re obviously not

      Of course, I didn’t say or imply what you ascribe to me, that I deny that officers engage in wrongdoing, “that police could win the case, they just choose not to.” That’s just part of your righteousness palaver.

      You claimed the police “lost the public.” I provided hard facts showing they have not. You persist. Dream on.

      Dream on, Ken. I have better things to do

      1. B. McLeod

        Possibly you might have noticed this thread has to do with the shooting of Justine Damond, who had a cell phone, pajamas and a strange, foreign accent. You may think one or more of those counts as a “deadly weapon” that justified the gut shot, but I doubt you will find many people who agree. I would put a question here, but it would be rhetorical, and you would not understand it, and we all know the answer anyway.

        Good day, Sir.

        1. Frank Miceli

          Thanks for the tip, B. McLeod. I, of course, spoke specifically to the Justine Damond killing and then provided a broader context. Particular to the general, which I’ve done several times on this subject in this blog–that’s called inductive reasoning. You may have noticed it’s the core of the scientific method

            1. Frank Miceli

              I don’t think a handbook of logic sheds much light on the nature of the scientific method. We’re concerned less with formal logic than with scientific methodology in practice, in which induction, the process for empirically observing phenomena and provisionally proving verifiable propositions is central. In contrast deductive reasoning, also important, extrapolates from premises accepted as true to conclusions thought to be certain.

              Darwin’s work on evolution is usually accepted as a paradigmatic example of inductive reasoning.

              As I’m sure you appreciate, developing an understanding of the scientific method in its historical development and current manifestations would require peeling back many layers of controversy starting with the claimed empiricism of Aristotle. However, to take just one source among many, the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, and accepting that the deductive form of reasoning is by no means unimportant in Science, there can be no question about the common understanding concerning the place of inductive reasoning. Here’s Stanford:
              “The scientific method is presented in textbooks and educational web pages as a fixed four or five step procedure starting from observations and description of a phenomenon and progressing over the formulation of a hypothesis which explains the phenomenon, designing and conducting experiments to test the hypothesis, analyzing the results, and ending with drawing a conclusion. Such references to a universal scientific method can be found in educational material at all levels of science education (Blachowicz 2009), and numerous studies have shown that the idea of a general and universal scientific method often form part of both students’ and teachers’ conception of science (see, e.g., Aikenhead 1987; Osborne et al. 2003).”

            2. SHG Post author

              The only point was inductive v deductive reasoning, not the value of scientific method. You just got it backwards.

            3. Frank Miceli


              You have a fine beard, Scott, but does that mean I’m to accept what you say as the Received Word?

              Both inductive and deductive reasoning are central to the scientific method and used daily where science is practiced. Neither is a “logical fallacy” except perhaps in an airless world of mental gymnastics.
              My sources, which are abundant, stress the centrality of induction. Others may stress deduction. But to casually dismiss my comments with the one-liner, “You got it wrong.” seems an indulgence.

              Of course, you’re a busy man. And it’s your show.

              Onward and upward.

            4. SHG Post author

              It’s not a hard concept, Frank. Inductive infers from the specific to the general. Deductive infers from the general to the specific.

              Inductive: I’m male. I’m a lawyer. Therefore, all lawyers are male.

              Deductive: All lawyers are male. I’m a lawyer. Therefore, I’m male.

              You can believe whatever you want, but this wasn’t a battle.

      2. Ken Mackenzie

        Frank’s confidence statistics did not address my point, which is that shooting members of the public because they might be dangerous is eroding public trust. I didn’t say the police had lost the public. I said this is how you do it. It’s eroding. Frank knows it, just calls it by another name. He accuses people who say “black lives matter” of “fomenting cop hatred”.

        1. Frank Miceli

          It’s impressive, striking even, your capacity for ignoring the facts. You say public confidence in the police is eroding. Gallup says precisely otherwise. We’re all waiting for you to publish the MacKenzie poll.

          1. Ken Mackenzie

            Frank’s numbers show a one year uptick in respect ratings after a 22 year low in 2015. This he cites as evidence that public trust is not eroding over time. As for the future, if the “beleaguered” police officers keep shooting people because they might be a threat, the public will see that the officers’ lives are valued more than theirs. If the police shoot too soon, innocent people die. How many Justine Damond’s have to die for the sake of officer safety?

            1. B. McLeod

              Of course, the other problem is that it erodes the mission. Shooting people is not the same as “protecting and serving” them. Once we get to the point of police destroying the village to save the village, officials will likely start questioning what we are getting for the monumental police budgets in our major urban centers.

  9. Ken Mackenzie

    Frank quoted from a PBS news report. It was the questioner who said, “Most had guns or knives”. The answer took a different turn, not quoted by Frank:
    “ALISON STEWART: A small percentage of the people who were shot and killed by police were unarmed, just 5 percent. Most had guns or knives. So, what does this tell us about lethal force and what police face?

    KIMBRIELL KELLY: There are some disparities, particularly when you look at unarmed. And the unarmed percentage has gone down. So, last year was about 9 percent and this year is about 5 percent. But what it tells us, at least what the experts tell us, is that this is a universe of people who, with different training, through de-escalation, if officers are able to slow down the process, that these are lives that might be saved.

    And so, what has happened this year is a new training that was debuted a couple of weeks ago in New Orleans in which officers across the country gathered from 160 departments, and they’re being trained on new techniques to slow down a situation, to de-escalate situations, and they believe that if more police departments across the country employ these methods, that you would actually see the number of fatalities go down dramatically.

    And so, they’re estimating about 300 to 400 of the fatalities of the 1,000 people killed this year might, perhaps, not happen in the future with techniques like this.”

  10. Ken Mackenzie

    The Washington Post study, cited by Frank, in its own words “largely relies on local news coverage, public records and social-media reports”.
    The 95% “armed” figure Frank cites was derived thus: “Of all those who were shot and killed, 84 percent were armed, most with a gun or knife. Four percent wielded imitation firearms. In 7 percent of the fatalities, it was unclear whether the person was armed.”
    It would be more accurate, if Frank was as concerned with facts and accuracy as he claims, to present this result as 88% “armed”.
    The Post settled conservatively on an “unarmed” figure of 5%, down from 9% the previous year. The unknown 7% suggests the “unarmed” figure could be higher (and 1 in 4 police departments failed to respond to the Post’s requests for information).
    What does “armed” mean anyway? Well, the Post’s data for 2508 people killed by police officers from 2015 to 2017 can, with a bit of digging, be found on their website. The “armed” column includes entries for “beer bottle”, “blunt object”, “toy weapon”, “baseball bat”, “vehicle”, “shovel”, “nail gun”, “hammer”, “box cutter”, “metal hand tool”, “carjack”, “piece of wood”, and “metal object”. Guns and knives dominate the list. Yet Frank took issue with the suggestion that this figure might include “tools, handbags, stones or dog leads (with or without dogs attached)”. To be fair, no dogs or handbags were listed, this time.

      1. Frank Miceli

        I quoted PBS as saying “A small percentage of the people who were shot and killed by police was unarmed, just 5 percent. Most had guns or knives.”

        You say, “It would be more accurate, if Frank was as concerned with facts and accuracy as he claims, to present this result as 88% “armed”.

        Last I checked, 88% means “most.”

        One-upmanship is a tedious fetish. But if it rings your bell…

  11. Pingback: The Reasonably Scared Cop Rule Meets Slapstick | Simple Justice

  12. andrews

    Frank Miceli tells us,

    Civilians shot and killed by police? According to PBS, 991 in 2015, down to 957 in 2016. 95 percent of those killed were armed with guns or knives.

    Disregard the common practice down in Dade of supplying what they call a “throw-down” after some shootings, let us unpack that statistic.

    It appears that at least 5% of people getting shot do not have pocket knives. What kind of person does not carry a pocket knife? I do not know, but it seems pretty unlikely to me. So, if honestly reported, we should see about zero percent with neither gun nor knife.

    We can draw some conclusions, I guess. I offer some and you can choose. Cops are stealing pocket knives from people they shoot We should break out the number of people using guns and knives in threatening manner from this statistic in order to have actual information Cops are killing nearly 15x the number of people who are killing them and should be praised for efficiency We need more information as to what percentage of dead on-duty cops were armed Some of these conclusions are probably useless.

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