“Ding-Dong Ditcher” Killed by Cop

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

Dumb, probably drunk kid knocks on an off-duty cop’s door, then runs away. The cop comes out in street clothes, hunts the kid down in his squad car, then lays him over the hood while he calls for backup. According to the cop, the kid then jumps the cop, smacks the cop’s head on the pavement, and reaches for the cop’s gun. So the cop kills him. The kid’s only prior was a 2007 DUI conviction.

I guess the first question here is why you jump in your squad car to hunt someone down for such a petty infraction. And why you make an arrest for it.  And why you need backup.But putting all that aside, the ensuing narrative doesn’t smell right, either. Why would a kid who seemed to have his life in order knowingly take on a cop on the side of the road, in front of witnesses?

Then there’s this:

The Sheriff’s Office did not release details about the case Monday, but officials say they expect the investigation into the actions of Deputy Carlos Verdoni, who shot Spann, to be completed by the end of this week.

The inquiry into the shooting is divided into two parts: a criminal investigation of the shooting; and an administrative look at whether Verdoni followed procedures when he left his home in shorts, a T-shirt and sandals to track down the pranksters who banged on his door and ran off…

Sheriff’s officials are investigating the shooting even though it happened within the Venice city limits. The Sheriff’s Office says it handles all officer-involved shootings in the county, except for those in the city of Sarasota, through an agreement with the smaller police agencies.

Followed by:

Sheriff Tom Knight has said that he believes Verdoni’s actions were justified and that the investigation will clear the nine-year veteran.

So three days after the incident, and days before the investigation is complete, the guy in charge of the department conducting the investigation says he already knows the cop will be cleared. You’d think he’d at least pretend to be impartial.

Maybe this kid had something illegal in his house, and wrongly decided it would be better to kill a cop than subject himself to a possible search. Maybe he just had a moment of derangement. Or drunken idiocy. So yeah, maybe this shooting was entirely justified. But given that Sheriff Knight already seems to have made up his mind, I’m not sure how much stock we should put into his department’s investigation.

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73 Responses to ““Ding-Dong Ditcher” Killed by Cop”

  1. #1 |  Cynical in CA | 

    “… officials say they expect the investigation into the actions of Deputy Carlos Verdoni, who shot Spann, to be completed by the end of this week.”

    I’ll spare everyone the suspense. All procedures were followed, cop did nothing wrong, we’d do it exactly the same way again. Move along, nothing to see here.

  2. #2 |  Andrew S. | 

    ALMOST made it through the whole day without you infuriating me, Radley. Dangit.

    Just for once, can’t we have an investigation into officer conduct that isn’t a joke? Just once? Where the outcome of the investigation, as Cynical in CA pointed out, isn’t already a foregone conclusion?

    quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

  3. #3 |  Michael Chaney | 

    Knight’s next line is even better:

    “I understand the questions but I hope people wait until they get the whole report to make a judgment,” Knight said Monday.

    Yes, wait for the *whole report* before you make a judgement. Like Sheriff Knight here.

  4. #4 |  dave smith | 

    Ok. Dumb, dumb kid. But how can a police officer, who is suppose to be a professional, allow this to esclate to the point where force is justified?

    The question that the citizens should be asking themselves is if they want someone who allows a simple situation to esclate to death on patrol?

  5. #5 |  El Scorcho | 

    LOL

    Spann’s family has doubts about the investigation, especially as the lead criminal investigator — Lt. Charlie Thorpe — is listed as a friend of Verdoni’s on the social networking site Facebook.

    When a Sheriff’s spokeswoman, Wendy Rose, was asked about the Facebook connection, she said it was “not a legitimate question.”

    LOL – this is great. They don’t even pretend to cover this up. Its just gonna be “cause I said so”.

  6. #6 |  KRF | 

    My first guess would be that the kid did not know he was a cop.

  7. #7 |  ShelbyC | 

    Huh. Is there any evidence that the kid was a ding-dong ditcher, instead of simply mistaken about the address? I’m not sure there’s even evidence of a crime here. And even if he was, where’s the PC that the kid was the kid was the guy who knocked on the door?

  8. #8 |  AJs | 

    I didn’t see anything in there about a dashcam video and would be curious to see how well the officers description of events matched the actual events.

    @#2 Andrew it happens occasionally – this is in my hometown :
    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/theblotter/2011599979_opening_statements_wednesday_i.html?syndication=rss

    One of the prosecution’s witnesses is actually the backup officer who showed up to the scene right as the shooting happened. Basically the officer tasered an incredibly drunk man who was arguing with him while sitting in a engin-running parked car in a parking space, this resulted in the car jerking forward in to a ditch and fence and the officer saying, “time to end this, enough is enough!” and immediatly then putting seven bullets in to his back through the window and seat. Of course, the officer has been on PAID administrative leave since the incident last year, but hey, at least the prosecuter had the gonads to go for second degree murder.

  9. #9 |  Highway | 

    AJs, I’m even thinking that because he was off duty, there’s not even any dash cam recording.

    The guy who got tased off his lawnmower should be glad he didn’t run across this guy. He might be dead now.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9rQ2mzt9IwI

  10. #10 |  Elliot | 

    Contempt of Cop: an unwritten crime which carries a fine of whatever you have on you at the time, and a sentence of anywhere from 1 night in jail to a death penalty.

  11. #11 |  Pablo | 

    #7 speaking of which, if a cop is on “paid administrative leave” (e.g. paid vacation) for months or years at a time, as does happen, is there anything to prevent them from working a second job (private secutiry, etc)? What a deal! Murder someone, then get paid two salaries while working one job.

  12. #12 |  JOR | 

    As any cop is, morally, fair game for anyone who wants to kill one for any reason at all, a cop is never justified in killing someone merely to ensure his own safety. (For the same reason that DIY robbers aren’t justified in killing people who resist them.)

  13. #13 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    From what we’ve learned, “procedures” are “shoot if we THINK we’re in danger”. So, I guess procedures were followed.

    Cops. Bars so low moles have to dig down to get under.

  14. #14 |  Roho | 

    Old and busted: “Cops are out there risking their lives each day to keep you safe.”
    New hotness: “Cops are out there risking our lives each day to keep themselves safe.”

  15. #15 |  Dan Z | 

    What procedures are there to follow when this ass hat is off duty. Thus not working, thus not governed by procedure, but rather by law (in an ideal world). This is the same BS that bothers me when a cop gets pulled over for drunk driving and they say that instead of criminal punishment he will be suspended or some such thing. We should all be so lucky as to just get suspended from our job if we drove drunk or something else like that as opposed, to getting bent over and given the poop end of the butt ram stick by the judicial system.

  16. #16 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    But how can a police officer, who is suppose to be a professional, allow this to esclate to the point where force is justified?

    That’s the money question. Today, every cop (sorry, I’m gonna include them all here) escalates every encounter until you’re either obedient or dead (aka: really obedient).

    Now, it doesn’t matter if they’re breaking the law or abusing you or violating your civil rights. They will escalate until you are obedient.

    I mean, the whole country would just fall apart if they exercised some fucking restraint.

    Yes, “submissive” and “obedient” mean about the same thing to a cop.

  17. #17 |  Joshgeek | 

    Let’s skip all this investigation nonsense and just allow cops to kill when they think it’s ok and leave it at that. Seems we’d have the same outcome with less expense.

  18. #18 |  Mattocracy | 

    There was no law broken here. Ringing a doorbell and running away isn’t a fucking crime, it’s a prank.

  19. #19 |  ZappaCrappa | 

    I’m sure cops wouldn’t like the idea of having regulations which limits them to performing as a “policeman” when off-duty in only life-threatening situations. What’s sad is, there is a possibility that this could be legitimate, but having read and seen what I have read and seen, I’m fairly certain that if it wasn’t, we will NEVER know….that whole blue code and crap. Nice job fellas….I’m to the point I don’t believe you even if there is a chance you ARE telling the truth. I didn’t used to be this way. Just the opposite. Sad.

  20. #20 |  Mattocracy | 

    Everything about this is so fucking absurd. How can they possibly pitch this story and how can there not be riots in the streets? How goddamn stupid are they to think this shit of an excuse will be believed?

  21. #21 |  AJ | 

    @#8 Highway – True, I guess you could only expect a cop to record his actions if he is legally required to do so. I would guess that you are right in guessing that even though he was in his patrol car, he would not have the cam on to record.

    And the video you linked… well, ‘Steve’, the drunk moron drinking whiskey trying to flee the officer on his lawnmower yelling, “I think I crapped my pants” got a little guilty, adolescent chuckle out of me. That whole video looked more like an episode of Reno 911 than anything.

  22. #22 |  Nathan A | 

    I’m still waiting for an IRL Punisher to start taking care of these guys.

    Reaching for a gun or not, the cop is the asshole who escalated the situation to that point.

  23. #23 |  Michael Chaney | 

    That’s the money question. Today, every cop (sorry, I’m gonna include them all here) escalates every encounter until you’re either obedient or dead (aka: really obedient).

    Standard procedure for cops is to first gain control of the situation, which is why you’ll notice they handcuff people and *then* ask questions in many cases. The problem with this mentality is seen in a case such as Henry Gates, where the proper thing for the cop to do was turn around and leave. Instead, since he couldn’t get control, he arrested Gates. Gates would have looked like an ass had the cop simply left with Gates screaming on his front lawn.

    They act like they have the brain of an insect and literally cannot handle any other course of action.

  24. #24 |  Jess | 

    This may or may not have even been the same person who rang the doorbell (assuming we believe that a doorbell was actually rung). As the story in the Herald indicates but goes to great lengths to avoid saying explicitly, the kid was shot on his OWN front lawn. Far more likely than the cop’s story is that the cop got woken up at 1 AM and in response just shot the first person he found outside at that hour. It was just a bonus that that happened to be a 20-year-old who had two beers in him; such miscreants deserve whatever punishment the Law deigns to mete out.

    It’s possible that the neighborhood has been plagued by pranksters, and that the deceased has been a prankster, but that cannot justify a cop hunting down and killing him. As for the allegation of a struggle for a gun, only one person brought a gun into that situation, and only one person used a gun in that situation. A citizenry that takes a cop at his word about crap like this will soon have the taxpayer-subsidized roving death squads that it deserves.

  25. #25 |  AJ | 

    @#17 – While it might be a prank, I could also see it being a crime (trespassing, disturbing the peace) considering it took place at 1am and it happened multiple times that evening. Don’t get me wrong, this officer should be dismissed from the force, and face criminal charges, but the kid did commit a crime as far as I am concerned and I understand why the officer chose to pursue the prankster. However his actions once he located the man were entirely wrong. I actually had knock on my door in this fashion several years back around 2am. At the time we lived in a heavily forested rural area, and someone knocked on the door yelling, “please help us”. It was actually attempting-burglars trying to see who was home and who was not – and who knows, maybe even looking to attack/rob/mug an unsuspecting person if they looked easy enough when answering the door. My father-in-law (who happened to be visiting us) and I answering the door .45s in hand spooked them enough that it thwarted it and they fled. The officer who finally came more than an hour after the call and took the report clued us in about recent break ins in the area under a similar ‘prank’ including one where one of the homeowners in the area who ignored the knock and pleas only to have the burglars break in thinking no one was home and try to steal stuff causing a violent confrontation ending with the thieves (probably meth-heads knowing the area) fleeing. Not sure what that really has to do with this story, but the story reminded me of that night.

  26. #26 |  BamBam | 

    The conclusion was reached as soon as the Sheriff got wind of the incident, and thus all facts are kept, discarded, and distorted to fit the conclusion, despite the conclusion being so obvious a lie. It is The Thugs of The State telling The Serfs “you can’t do anything about it, so we will preach such a brazen lie BECAUSE WE CAN.”

    But remember, you Citizen Nothing must wait until all of the facts are in before YOU are allowed to decide anything about The Thugs, and even then you don’t have all of the facts so you can NEVER decide. So it has been said. So it shall be done. In Nomeni Patri Et Fili Spiritus Sancti.

    http://laastro.lanl.gov/earthwatch/04/frank/boondock_saints_prayer.htm

  27. #27 |  MacGregory | 

    “Police logs do not have any responses on Valencia or Lisbon or Ponce De Leon streets the night of the shooting. McNulty and the department’s records manager had no explanation for the lack of records.”

    Oh OK. Guess this means that none of this shit actually happened. ‘cepting for the dead body and all.

  28. #28 |  Aresen | 

    My condolences to the family of Tyler Spann.

    I just wish that the cop had to feel all the pain that they have gone through.

  29. #29 |  lunchstealer | 

    #19, There aren’t riots in the streets because as much as people distrust the cops, nobody likes a punk-ass kid. The whole “They came for my neighbors” thing.

    But seriously, an ‘arrest’ on such obviously bullshit grounds as this that leads to death should be manslaughter at the least. If cop misconduct leads to a shooting, that needs to be considered a crime. Seriously, contempt-of-cop is really getting (staying?) out of hand. It’s killing people – literally.

  30. #30 |  Foobs | 

    Anyone want to take a guess at the cop’s approval rating at the tea parties?

  31. #31 |  Dan Z | 

    “While it might be a prank, I could also see it being a crime (trespassing, disturbing the peace) considering it took place at 1am and it happened multiple times that evening. “‘

    Pretty sure that neither of those in this case would be considered an arrestable offense let alone an offense to chase people down in a car for. Its a ridiculous assumption to apply this logic to chasing a kid down for knocking on ones door. Theres just no way to justify chasing the kid down which lead to the escalation, thats the root problem here. Like any other sane adult who wasnt drunk on the power of a badge would have done, he shouldve just closed the door and let it alone. Its amazing to me that someone in that position could act so immaturely in the face of a non even in their life.

  32. #32 |  Stephen Littau | 

    My question is what would happen if this was an “off duty” plumber, electrician, engineer, etc…any other profession than a police officer hunting down someone who banged on the door? I’m afraid we know that answer.

  33. #33 |  MacGregory | 

    #32 That’d be great Stephen but I wouldn’t insult electricians, plumbers and engineers by putting them on the same list of professionals as cops.

  34. #34 |  BamBam | 

    OT: http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2010/04/portland_police_union_presiden_1.html

    Portland Police union head “resigns” over road rage incidents directed at same couple, initially lied and evaded until they came forward and 911 calls were released.

  35. #35 |  JS | 

    I guess if extrajudicial execution is good enough for Afghans it’s good enough for Americans!

  36. #36 |  AJs | 

    @31 Dan Z – While you may be more sane than me, if someone repeatedly knocked at someones door at odd hours of the night/morning, I do not find it to be so irrational that that the person recieving the pranks would want to chase the person down and find out who was doing it. Perhaps you are just more restrained than I, but it just does not seem that unreasonable to me. What we both agree is unreasonable, wrong and should be punished is the shooting of an unarmed person on his own property.

  37. #37 |  BamBam | 

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JKzM8xsQ5-U&feature=related

    Boondock Saints courtroom speech.

  38. #38 |  Joe | 

    Oh oh, you are going to fire up Patterico and Dunphy with this one.

  39. #39 |  BSK | 

    Balko-

    New to the site, coming here from Positive Liberty, but impressed with what I’ve seen.

    This is obviously appalling on many levels. But, let’s not entirely excuse the douchiness of this kid. No one deserves to get killed, or even anything worse than a slap in the face for ding-dong ditch. But if he did attack the officer, it demonstrates some pretty intense idiocy and likely a sense of entitlement or privilege that the rules don’t apply to him. So, yea, the kid deserved a smack upside the head, but not in any official capacity by an armed officer. If he really did go for the cop’s gun, assuming the cop identified himself as such clearly and repeatedly, I’m not sure I have much sympathy (which is not to say the cop didn’t unduly escalate the situation and deserves some intense criticism/punishment of his own).

  40. #40 |  Jess | 

    @BSK,

    I’m fairly new to the Balko experience myself, but I suspect that few regulars around here would take the self-serving statements of a bloody-handed cop for the truth. That is, because the police will never release the dash-cam video, we can never know what the deceased actually did after the cop confronted him. We do know he was unarmed, and that he is now dead. Since this incident fits a pattern that Balko documents on a regular basis, most of us here suspect the cop killed for no good reason.

    If the police cared what we thought, they could change our perceptions by publicly releasing all evidence in police-shooting investigations, and then cracking down on obvious uniformed murderers. That hasn’t happened yet, for the vast majority of police in this country.

  41. #41 |  Michael Chaney | 

    BSK, I see you’re new here. Welcome.

    But if he did attack the officer, it demonstrates some pretty intense idiocy and likely a sense of entitlement or privilege that the rules don’t apply to him.

    Yes, big “if”. Oddly, when video or independent witnesses (read: not government officials) come out in these sorts of incidents, it’s about 99.99% the case that the cop lied about being attacked.

  42. #42 |  RWW | 

    JOR (#12) hit the ail on the head, but I’ll reiterate:

    Maybe this kid had something illegal in his house, and wrongly decided it would be better to kill a cop than subject himself to a possible search… So yeah, maybe this shooting was entirely justified.

    If the kid had something illegal and decided to kill a cop to protect himself, it’s simply self-defense on the kid’s part.

  43. #43 |  El Scorcho | 

    The fact of the matter is if I did exactly what the cop did, I would be in jail. He should have never left his house with a gun chasing some punk kid. He should have called the cops if he was worried about it – the on duty ones that weren’t all upset about being woken up. This LEO caused the death of this kid by running out of the house full of rage and wanting to punish someone. Because of his training and experience he should be held to a higher standard that I would, not lower. He should be facing the death penalty for premeditated murder under color of law.

  44. #44 |  BamBam | 

    I should also remind everyone that it’s kind of difficult for the kid to give his side of the story SINCE HE’S DEAD. The only things that can disprove the cop are witnesses (but we know that it takes 20 Citizen Nothings to equal 1 cop’s word) and/or a good coroner, not tied to the police or the DA, giving an unbiased analysis of entry/exit wounds, etc. Another independent party must then compare the coroner’s notes to the cop’s story and see if the 2 data sets line up.

  45. #45 |  Windy | 

    #30 Within my local T.E.A. party, the people would be calling for the cop’s badge, and demanding that he be jailed and face charges in court, just like any other murderer.

  46. #46 |  Griffin3 | 

    Hah! This happened in my neck of the woods, last night –> http://www.nwfdailynews.com/news/deputy-28186-gun-stole.html … Apparently the kid took on deputy’s taser and gun, and though the story doesn’t mention it, managed to wrestle for another deputy’s gun before being gang-tackled by other deputies at the scene.

    While it may be some egg on the face of the deputies involved, it didn’t result in anyone killed. If the deputy had waited for backup as required by policy, the entire scene could probably have been avoided.

    And this child/suspect was actually committing a crime, versus ringing a doorbell.

  47. #47 |  SJE | 

    BSK: look at recent stories from PG County

    Student: cop beat the crap out of me for no reason
    Cop: He attacked me and I had to defend myself, and arrest him
    Video: kid walking down the street is set upon by a bunch of officers with riot gear and nightsticks.

  48. #48 |  johnl | 

    So the police have dusted the doorbell and found this kids fingerprints on it right? No?

  49. #49 |  KBCraig | 

    In a real shocker, a police officer in Arkansas has been charged with manslaughter after shooting a man six times, killing him. The dashcam video and the officer’s report and statements didn’t match up.

    http://www.katv.com/news/stories/0410/727985.html

  50. #50 |  Mrs. C | 

    So three days after the incident, and days before the investigation is complete, the guy in charge of the department conducting the investigation says he already knows the cop will be cleared. You’d think he’d at least pretend to be impartial.

    That the cop will be cleared…is probably the most honest opinion, observation or fact that will surface regardless of the findings of the investigative department. (sarcasm)

    Within moments of my non-threatening, unarmed, 37 year old optometrist son being shot and killed…even though the officer initially claimed to not know…how it happened…or…that it was his weapon that was fired…when asked by his superior…the officer said it was an accident…and his word was taken by his superior..because the superior said the officer didn’t look like he was lying…so the pd investigator called in…did little investigating at the scene because he said no one told him to…the conclusion being it wasn’t a crime scene…the officer was the only witness to what happened…although there were other officers at the scene…so as my son, was lying in the street dying…it became time to circle the wagons…put up the blue wall…and rally around the badge.

    The police chief announced it as an accidental shooting on the news. Within 2 months of my son’s death…the commonwealth attorney found the officer who killed my son…not guilty of a crime… even though the police chief’s report to the community on its findings…was not issued to us or the public…until a year after my son’s loss…and 10 months after the commonwealth attorney’s decision.

    The report left many unanswered questions…so we filed a civil suit in order to get access to information…and we are currently awaiting a trial date…seeking the accountability and justice owed to my son and our family.

    # 20 How can they possibly pitch this story and how can there not be riots in the streets? How goddamn stupid are they to think this shit of an excuse will be believed?

    …because that is what the officer said happened…they are a brotherhood…and the public tends to be apathetic…unless they are readers of this site…otherwise it is viewed as another isolated incident…and it didn’t happen to them or theirs…yet. Look to number 26…for the answer to the second question you posed.

    #26 The conclusion was reached as soon as the Sheriff got wind of the incident, and thus all facts are kept, discarded, and distorted to fit the conclusion, despite the conclusion being so obvious a lie.

    I offer my sincere condolences to this young man’s family…and I will remember them and their son in my prayers.

    http://www.justiceforsal.com

  51. #51 |  BSK | 

    To all-

    Thank you for the feedback. As others have pointed out, the onus is on the cop to provide evidence to support his claim. Absent that, it doesn’t matter what he says. So, yes, it is a big “IF” and if it doesn’t move beyond that, this is murder plain and simple.

  52. #52 |  JOR | 

    Jesus, people. Even if the cop’s story is 100% correct, the cop hunted some guy down and started throwing him around for no other reason than that someone rang his doorbell and ran off (it may or may not have been the guy he killed). Even if the cop’s story is 100% correct, he had no rational basis and no moral justification for doing what he did, and the guy was justified in trying to get his weapon away from him, and would have been justified in killing him – an armed person who stalked you down on your own lawn to throw you around probably means you serious harm, and you’re not obligated to just take it meekly in hope that he doesn’t really mean to seriously hurt or kill you. Does a lot of cop-on-Mundane violence fit a pattern like this? Yes. So does that mean the Mundanes in many cop-on-Mundane altercations would be justified in disabling or killing the cop? Yes. Deal with it.

    It’s a fancy sort of person who can escalate a conflict to a point where the escalator is justified in doing the shooting.

  53. #53 |  RWW | 

    It seems that the people who voted JOR’s and my comments down believe one of two things:

    1. It’s wrong to kill someone, even in self-defense.

    2. It’s okay to kill someone in self-defense, unless they’re wearing a magical uniform.

  54. #54 |  Elliot | 

    : (#53) “It seems that the people who voted JOR’s and my comments down believe one of two things….”

    Or, something completely different. JOR’s comment seems to be self-contradictory. I couldn’t figure out which sentence was made in irony, or if JOR simply lost track of his point.

    You, on the other hand, took one of Radley Balko’s list of unlikely scenarios which would have justified the use of deadly force, and pretended that Radley was doing the very opposite: arguing for self defense. Maybe you didn’t read carefully, maybe you’re too obtuse to follow a discussion beyond three sentences, or maybe you’re just an obnoxious prevaricator.

  55. #55 |  Zimbabalouie | 

    Sheriff knight said today he expects the investigation to be completed in time for Saturday’s game of the week. He also said that he further expects the investigation to completely exonerate officer Verdoni (with a wink and a nod).

    So far the only thing reported here that is evident is that an armed off duty Sheriff used deadly force against an unarmed citizen. Seems by the report here that all of the evidence (i. e. the deputies story) has no other witnesss or corraboration. So the thought that there may indeed be a bit of CYA going on is rathe justifiable.

  56. #56 |  Morning Links | The Agitator | 

    [...] the police officers involved in the “ding dong ditch” shooting has been [...]

  57. #57 |  Venice resident | 

    O.K. I live in Venice (well at least 3 months ago I did). It is not a town were such force is necessary! The cops in that town shouldn’t even be allowed to carry guns! look it up yourself the median age in that town is the highest in the nation – something like 73 LOOK IT UP! the entire town is packed with old rich fulk. I didn’t know the kid that gat shot-But I know were he lived, were the cop live and have been at the bar were the kid was earlier that night. I can not believe that pig is still running the streets. Because that cop was an IDIOT the kid is dead… DEAD! I’ve been ding dong ditching myself when I was younger and if some fat headed arrogant jerk face started chasing me in his pajamas I’d go for his gun to! (lets just assume he did, because the pig face killed the only witness).

    Lets use this same story with different characters. Some drunk ass rang my door at one in the mourning. first off I wouldn’t even care – but for the sake of this case lets say I chased him. what’s the first logical thing to do? grab my gun of course… So I can chase this kid and shoot him on his front lawn.

    Now what the heck would happen to me? I swear to all thats good I wouldn’t get a paid vacation! I would be cuffed as soon as the pig heads arrived – and thrown in jail for the rest of my natural life! Thats exactly what would happen and everyone knows it! But because cops have more connection then a microprocessor there obviously granted a license to kill in any situation. I swear If I ever have the opportunity to meet this cop I will be more then happy to voice my thoughts but then agin he’d probably shoot me to!

    So if you all are reading another story about a pig shooting a kid in veinice you know what happen!

  58. #58 |  Venice Resident and MOM | 

    I am so angry I could spit. As a mom of two boys myself my heart goes out to the grieving parents. At 14, I did the same prank. That was 40 years ago. Then 20 years ago some neighborhood children did a rash of the prank. So, we disconnected the door bell and left the front porch light on. After all, kids get bored and move on=and/or=they grow up and move on, either way, it all does come to an end. Never in a million years would we have grabbed a gun and jumped iinto our car and hunted them down. They are our neighbors and they are our children. I lost respect for Venice cops the month after I moved to Venice. They have always hated our youth and I have witnessed them harassing them (and they even tried it once on me since I was younger looking and driving my son’s red sunbird). For Venice, and for Florida as a whole-everyone looks the other way until it is their child. No ONE deserves to die for this prank. If this crappy cop would have only reacted as any loving parent would, he would have stayed home-or at best-kept his gun locked up. He needs anger management classes at the very least. And by the way-what ever happened to the video footage from the cop car? And he is still harassing the youth in Venice, and why not-in Venice, they can get away with murder.

  59. #59 |  RWW | 

    Elliot: I’ve read and re-read JOR’s comment and my own, and tried to make sense of yours, and I simply can’t do it.

  60. #60 |  Elliot | 

    RWW, I tried to make sense of comments from you and JOR and had the same problem. Perhaps you could explain this to me?

    JOR (#12): “As any cop is, morally, fair game for anyone who wants to kill one for any reason at all, a cop is never justified in killing someone merely to ensure his own safety. (For the same reason that DIY robbers aren’t justified in killing people who resist them.)”

    Is the first sentence supposed to be ironic? I would guess so, but then the sarcasm is lost in the second sentence, as JOR switches to an opposing moral proposition. Unless, of course, JOR is implying that any cop is the moral equivalent of a robber. (And, what is a “DIY robber”? Is that “do it yourself”? I don’t understand the relevance of using that acronym in this context.)

    RWW (#42): “JOR (#12) hit the ail on the head, but I’ll reiterate:

    [Balko:]Maybe this kid had something illegal in his house, and wrongly decided it would be better to kill a cop than subject himself to a possible search… So yeah, maybe this shooting was entirely justified.

    If the kid had something illegal and decided to kill a cop to protect himself, it’s simply self-defense on the kid’s part.”

    You’re equivocating between avoiding being “subject … to a possible search” with “protect[ing] himself….” Outside of a specific context, those are two different things, and your assertion, taken as a generalization, is wrong.

    For example, you could have a kidnapped child, a murder weapon, or a pile of cash from a bank heist. Those qualify as “something illegal” and if confronted by a cop, your desire to avoid having your “something illegal” discovered is not moral justification for killing.

    Perhaps by “something illegal” you mean drugs, or other things which, in a free society, wouldn’t be illegal, but happen to be illegal under the immoral Prohibition laws. OK, different circumstances. If that’s what you want to focus on, you should have been more specific.

    RWW (#53): “It seems that the people who voted JOR’s and my comments down believe one of two things:

    1. It’s wrong to kill someone, even in self-defense.

    2. It’s okay to kill someone in self-defense, unless they’re wearing a magical uniform.”

    Given the confusing nature of JOR’s remark and the problems of your remark, I think you completely overlooked far more reasonable reactions to what you wrote. Like: confusion, misinterpretation, or a disagreement with your apparent generalization.

  61. #61 |  ronald | 

    theres a similar case where an old man shot a kid from the back with a rifal the officer heard about the case and did the same thing these sheriffs are out of control. killing people for nothing he did not identifie himself as an officer as well as in front of witnesses. someone will shoot him before he can shoot the witnises

  62. #62 |  Jimbo | 

    American’s are so damn funny . . . bitch and complain about cops all the time. “He was rude to me, he demanded my cooperation and/or respect, he was too rough with me (after I committed my crime), he violated my rights. . .” Just about any other country out there a cop can beat you to a bloody pulp for looking at them wrong and then throw you into jail for days afterward . . . no questions asked. It is the American public’s general attitudes to those people sworn to protect them (yeah there can be a few bad eggs) that causes the majority of these issues . . . too many yank lawyers making too much money on BS civil rights violation suits . . .

  63. #63 |  Tears of America | 

    No matter what the outcome of the investigation regarding this young man’s actions, this shooting resulted in “premeditated murder” under the color of law. Any ordinary citizen taking the same action against a prankster, would have been charged with “premeditated murder”. Local and state law enforcement will continue to have this type of power because of poor voter turnout or people who do vote, taking their prejudices/ignorances to the ballot box. see what happens in Venice during the next election????? Who was it that said, “…absolute power, Absolutely corrupts…” I beleive that law enforcement has too much power!!

  64. #64 |  neil | 

    Its a stupid dangerous game,respect others and their property. My reaction would be report them to juvenile authorities.

  65. #65 |  Ron | 

    Different standards for different folks. Cops are cowards and we have special rules to protect them. It’s part of the price we pay for their “service,” as they remind us often.

  66. #66 |  Lt Col Tom Molloy | 

    WTF is a grown man (with a prior conviction for DUI) doing playing ‘Ding Dong Ditch’ like a 10 year old? Was he mentally retarded? If not, was the “game” a cover for a more serious asault on the police officer?

  67. #67 |  Morning Links | The Agitator | 

    [...] remember the off-duty cop who got off after killing a guy who “ding-dong ditched” his house? Turns out, regular citizens don’t get the same [...]

  68. #68 |  V | 

    I don’t know. Was it? Unless you plan on introducing some kind of evidence, there’s no point in throwing out scenarios, regardless of plausibility or implausibility.

    Look at the situation as it is: a 20-year old person who consumed a small quantity of beer banged on the door of a police officer and ran off, was chased down by a police officer in a squad car who, despite not indicating a lethal threat to himself or the general public was present, had a firearm with him, even though he wasn’t on duty.

  69. #69 |  neil | 

    Thank you LT COL Molloy,glad someone noticed this was a man not a child we don’t know the full story but it reads like he nearly over powered the cop. seems the bad guys have all the rights these days.

  70. #70 |  Tears of America | 

    At ease Lt. Col Tom Molloy and maintain a civil tongue. ( You also ill neil) This was not a grown man but rather a young man, a very young man. A very young man who is now dead over a petty offense. Your comments are pure conjecture and speculation. The fact is that a person lost his life because an off duty police officer lost his cool. What if it were your son or brother who was killed over a stupid prank? The police department closed ranks so quickly that fairness and impartiality were immediately aborted. Why couldn’t the off duty cop call officers who were on duty? Also, since he was off duty, why isn’t he subjected the same RULE of LAW enforcement that every other citizen is subjected to, ” guilty until proven innocent “. This officer’s actions were premeditated and therefore the outcome was MURDER. If a cardiologist makes a mistake during a surgical proceedure and the patient dies; is the patient’s fault? Proffessionals don’t have the luxury of making mistakes that could cause a person his life or freedom.

  71. #71 |  Ron | 

    Different standards for different folks. If a Firefighter had done it, we’d be amazed and disappointed. If a soldier did it, he/she would be court martialed. If another citizen did it, they’d be prosecuted for murder. If a doctor or lawyer did it they’d lose their professional license and be prosecuted. But because we accept cop cowardice as part of the deal, because of years of conditioning to their cowardly whining about “protecting the public,” we’re talking about it as though it is a special problem of “good guys” and “bad guys” for which there is some special answer, different than common sense would normally dictate.

  72. #72 |  Jeff Charles | 

    Boyd @#16 has it exactly – the training today is to escalate in the face of anything other than abject submission by the citizen. Hence the shouted, repeated orders, there is no backing down. ANY encounter with a cop of any stripe today results in either surrender or death. We, the American People, need to put these professional thugs in their place.

  73. #73 |  Cops Get Away With Murder, Mundanes Don’t And Firemen Lose Their Jobs | Hoogly Boogly | 

    [...] April if you recall Radley Balko wrote about a guy who played ding-dong-ditch on the wrong house. The homeowner happened to be a cop who was off duty. You know the rest, the cop chased him down [...]

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