Two Deputies Shot, Below The Fold (Update x4)

There was a time, a very long time, when stories about police beatings and killings were either buried or whitewashed, and so I did what I could to tell those stories because they were happening, needed to be known and represented critical problems that needed to be fixed. There were a few others who did the same, but not too many. And not too many cared.

It was a time when America was in fear, of crime, of terrorism, of whatever bogeyman was the worst thing possible that had to be stopped or the sky would fall. So the few of us were lone voices in the wilderness. Times change. Boy, do they ever.

Now, it’s all the rage, and not only are such things the obsession of the media and the passionate, but the stories are ubiquitous. Usually exaggerated, often misleading and, occasionally, outright lies, but you can’t miss them. And the reaction is often explosive, literally, even when the factual story isn’t “cops did wrong.”

Two Los Angeles County deputies were sitting in their car outside a metro station in Compton yesterday when someone walked up and started shooting.

The story would have been huge a few years ago. Perhaps the shooter had a beef with one of the cops, and that’s why it happened. But that doesn’t seem likely. More likely, the shooter just targeted two random cops for being cops.

That’s not a sane act, and the rage that’s being widely promoted against police in general is the sort of thing that a person suffering from mental illness might seize upon to engage in such an act of violence. It’s not that there shouldn’t be rage against police for what they do to harm others, but blind rage, like blind faith, feeds the violence. Twisted minds don’t think to be better, but use blind rage to justify being as bad or worse. There are a lot of twisted minds out there, they’re having their moment.

Like this reply to the twit containing the video of the shooting, posted one minute later.

It’s not wrong that the police use the release of video to their tactical advantage, concealing it when it might not show something flattering and revealing it with amazing speed when it serves their ends. But is that really the first thing that comes to mind upon the shooting of two human beings for no apparent reason other than their jobs? Is there really such a compelling need to pile criticism upon an attempted execution?

The answer is obviously “yes,” for some. And there’s a fairly good chance that many reading here will join that chorus, and add their voices to rationalize why no chance to dunk on cops should be missed.

Back when so few of us were telling the stories of bad things cops do, the needless damage to the guilty and innocent alike that just shouldn’t happen in our glorious nation, it was valuable to raise the facts, the issues, the points, that others failed to mention. But now that everyone is telling these stories, shouting them from the rooftop of the New York Times building, there’s little reason to do so here. You hear the stories of cops gone bad. You hear the stories of lives ruined by police callousness, violence and deceit. You can’t get away from the stories, even when the cops didn’t actually do anything wrong but the stories somehow make them the bad guys anyway.

But acts are neither good nor bad because the cops did them. They’re bad because the acts themselves are bad, and shooting two deputies sitting in a car is bad even though the shooter isn’t a cop but the victims were. And still, you can’t find it in your heart to care. At least not too much. At least not without the caveat about how cops are still the villains of the moment, so even though these two cops didn’t deserve execution, cops still get what they deserve.

Yet, the juiciest part of the story of two deps being shot came afterward, and it’s got longer legs to capture public interest than the mere attempted execution of two deps in a car in Compton.

Unsurprisingly, the local media is outraged that a reporter was arrested, and not just any reporter but a Woman of Color, as Asian women are described when not seeking admission to Harvard. Huang was arrested for obstructing officers, although there are no details available yet.

Deputy Morgan Arteaga, a sheriff’s department spokeswoman, said Ms. Huang had been arrested on charges of obstructing officers.

Being a reporter sometimes means pushing the envelope to get a story. Being a reporter doesn’t mean whatever you’re doing isn’t obstructing officers. There have been instances lately of reporters indistinguishable from hostile crowds but for the word “press” on their backs, believing that gives them a free pass from their actions.

But there are no facts here as yet to suggest Huang engaged in such conduct. Maybe she just didn’t move back when an angry cop told her to, and he took out his frustration at the shooting on a reporter doing her job.

The fury of the moment is no justification for the cops taking Huang to the ground, if she was just doing her job. The fury of the moment is no justification for shooting two L.A. County deputies for doing their jobs either. The fury of the moment is the bogeyman that’s making us react so very badly, so mindlessly and foolishly, to whatever is happening, and since so few are telling that story, it’s the one I choose to tell.

Update: Protesters blocked access to the hospital where the deputies were taken, shouting “We hope they die.

Update 2: An explanation has been given by the police for the arrest of Jose Huang:

(1/3) #LASD Century Sheriff’s Station Watch Commander reports the following:

After deputies issued a dispersal order for the unlawful assembly of a group of protesters blocking the hospital emergency entrance & exits, a male adult protester refused to comply & cooperate…

(2/3) During his arrest, a struggle ensued at which time a female adult ran towards the deputies, ignored repeated commands to stay back as they struggled with the male and interfered with the arrest…

(3/3) The female adult, who was later identified as a member of the press, did not identify herself as press and later admitted she did not have proper press credentials on her person. Both individuals have been arrested for 148 P.C.

Update 3: LAistas posted a story contending that all of the allegations against Huang are false. Notably, the video of her arrest shows a lanyard around her neck with what would be expected to be press credentials, making one of the allegations against Huang clearly false.

Update 3: Josie Huang has provided a twitter thread including the video she shot, which shows what preceded the arrest. While it’s possible she was closer to the arrest than cops found appropriate, it was clear she did not interfere and they did not give her an opportunity to back away before seizing her.

16 thoughts on “Two Deputies Shot, Below The Fold (Update x4)

  1. Rengit

    The reaction amongst the snarksters on those Twitter threads is disturbingly callous and displays a kind of reasoning that I wouldn’t even dignify as “facile”: saying “That’s terrible, but I need to know the criminal history of the two cops before I know how to feel about this. Were they carrying any weapons or doing anything that made the shooter feel unsafe? Withholding judgment until I know more.” And this is met with ample praise and deigned to be some genius level of commentary. I wouldn’t have thought this level of stupidity was possible just a decade ago: so now shooting someone in the course of making a lawful arrest is the same as walking up to unsuspecting strangers in broad daylight and ambushing them from the side/behind? My generation lacks the most basic critical thinking skills.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Since I am not on Twitter, has Erik Loomis declared killing police is just as moral as killing “fascists”?
        Sadly this seems like a continuation of the incident last week where a black man stabbed a white man, because he felt a need to kill a white man

  2. Jay

    You’re conflating the few people who are always looking for a Bandwagon with the public. You don’t go from pro cop to anti cop over a few bad stories. I know it’s hard for you to believe people have actual grievances with the police because you’ve spent your life being ignored trying to point out the issues, but seriously you sound conceited and blind. Society isn’t falling apart because people are so weak and gullible and want to be angry. It’s falling apart because it was built on violence and made out of oppression. Nothing you ever experienced, and you can’t grasp the idea that so many have. Well. They’re tearing it down Greenfield. Keep telling them that they’re in the wrong and are just being swayed by the moment. Great idea.

    1. David Meyer-Lindenberg

      Jay, you know I haven’t commented on one of your rodomontades before, but I feel compelled to this time because good heavens man this makes absolutely no sense. Have you been French-kissing Barleycorn?

  3. David

    As anticipated, the 2 shot deputies got some perfunctory coverage, but the arrest of Huang is the big story generating huge outrage. Priorities remain unchanged.

    1. SHG Post author

      Other than the cops coming out of surgery successfully, there’s not much to add on that front. There’s a $100k reward for the shooter, but he remains unidentified and at large. Plus, it appears that cops were very wrong about Huang’s arrest, which certainly feeds into the larger climate.

  4. Joseph Masters

    There’s also the matter of the local climate: LAist is among the publications that has accused the LA County Sheriff’s Department of having in-house gangs; though to be fair many SoCal publications up to and including the paper of record, the LA Times, are also reporting that the 18 June 2020 killing of Andres Guardado by LASD deputies might have been related to an initiation into the Executioners, the most notorious of the purported LASD gangs.

    The shooting of the deputies might have been random, but the media spotlight on the LASD has been intense in California, and that between the klieg lights and the Guardado investigation a shooter targeting two deputies might just be related. Huang’s arrest too might be explained by the unfavorable media atmosphere the LASD is facing.

    But while these deputies might feel unfavorably targeted by the media, the LA Times has been running stories about the Executioners for more than a year, and the Guardado killing involves an 18-year old security guard running away from the deputies that killed him. The overall climate is akin to Minneapolis…or Louisville…in a metro area that has an ugly history of racial riots in 1943, 1965 and 1992 that were all sparked by police actions.

  5. delurking

    I have been critical here of police responses in these discussions; and on some things more critical than SHG. Thus I find it interesting that after watching the reporter’s videos, the only thing I can really be critical of is the lying about the press credentials. I am OK with a cultural norm that you don’t walk right up to within a few yards police officers who are in the middle of a violent arrest, even if you are press. You can hear police saying “back up” when she was at least ten yards away. They may or may not have been speaking directly to her at that moment, but there wasn’t anyone else closer than her so she should have been on notice that they didn’t want people closer than that. She got within yards at least. While a lot of video-recorded arrests during the protests were clearly BS, I suspect that overall the fraction of justifiable arrests supports the norm of keeping your distance.

    I know this means you can’t get high-quality cell-phone video. That’s why real video crews carry cameras with bigger lenses.

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