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1. They asked Curley if he was the only one giving commands. He said, yes definitely, he was the only one. He also denied touching Scott from behind to get his attention as Scott walked past.
2. They played the tape at the inquest, which was noisy (that is, could not make out what Scott said or what Scott’s girlfriend said, but several commands could be made out: (i) put your hands where I can see them; (ii) then drop it; then (iii) get on the ground. These three commands happened over a short period of time (supposedly 7 or 8 seconds from first command until the first shot was fired). It seems to be agreed that Scott did not have his gun out before the string of commands started.
3. After he heard the tape, Curley said that his was the voice giving all the commands, but that he did not remember saying “drop it,” but that the tape shows (in his opinion) that he did say it even though he doesn’t remember saying it. Curley also said that he noticed that Scott’s eyes were red before he shot him, but did not notice that the gun was in its holster.
4. The inquest did not get into detailed questioning of Curley about whether he said “drop it” before or after Scott touched his holster.
5. There is evidence that Scott said “I have a gun” before touching his holster. The inquest also did not question witnesses about whether “drop it” was a direct response to Scott’s announcing the fact that he was armed.
SO WHAT REALLY HAPPENED?
1. the inquest did a poor job making sense of this incomplete information. For example, they did not find any witness who would admit to hearing Curley say “drop it.” I think they generally did not even ask witnesses this question. They found a lot of witness who heard “get on the ground” (or some variant) but none that heard the more critical command. the inquest was structured to not dig too deeply on the important point.
2. The Costco LP “Officer” who was surreptitiously following Scott as he casually walked out of the store (he had not been asked to leave) testified that Curley was basically hiding behind a large post and jumped out and tapped Scott from the side or behind after he (the lpo) pointed out which evacuating shopper was Scott. The inquest did not follow up on this contradiction with Curley, the other officers or any other witnesses. If Curley did touch Scott before Scott really saw who he was, then that would put the command string on the audio tape in yet a different light (and a light not at all favorable to Curley). It should be recalled that the LPO is the guy who swear the video recorder was broken a day before the shooting, but did not present any corroborating documentary evidence to back that up.
3. The emerging pro-Curley narrative is this: Scott saw Curley in full uniform with gun drawn, and at that time Curley commanded “put your hands where I can see them (as heard on the tape. Scott, deep in a walking morphine dream, then said “I have a gun” and began to disarm. Curley then said “drop it.” Scott, still deep in his walking morphine dream, got confused and continued to offer his holster to Curley. Curley then switched his command from “drop it” to “get on the ground.” Scott, still deep in his morphine dream, continued to hold out the holster in front of his body. At that point Curley fired the first shot. My opinion is this: even if it did happen this way it does not necessarily exonnerate Curley. Curley should have continued to say “drop it” (once he started down that road), and not switched commands on Scott. Curley also should have seen the holster and that should have mattered as far as Curley’s giving Scott a reasonable chance to comply. Nevertheless, this far-fetched scenario makes Curley less blameworthy than some of the more likely scenarios (to be discussed below).
4. Most likely scenario: Curley did not really say “drop it” and that command came from another police officer in another direction. Curley testilied that he was the one who said “drop it” because he knows that if Scott was getting multiple commands from multiple directions, then that (and not the morphine dream) would explain why Scott began to disarm and why Scott was looking around in confusion after he began to disarm. The inquest did not try to determine whether this is what happened, and tried to hide this possibility by not questioning witnesses on it.
5. Next most likely scenario is that Curley touched Scott and said “hands where I can see them.” Scott, seeing Curley’s uniform responded by announcing that he was armed while putting his hands out. Curley then said “drop it.” Scott responded by beginning to disarm. After Scott started to disarm, Curley switched to “get on the ground.” Scott momentarily froze at this point, in understandable confusion, and Popovet Curley took unfair advantage of the confusion he had cause as an excuse to shoot his third person in as many years. Just like they do in Iraq.
6. If the inquest were serious, then there would be some reasonable basis to select between options 3, 4 and 5 (above) (or none of the above), but the inquest was a joke and tried to obscure the nub of the shooting issue with irrelevant evidence (such as witnesses who didn’t admit to hearing “drop it” still giving their opinion as to whether Scott complied).
7. The settlement will be huge, mostly to avoid getting to the bottom of who erased the video (and who let them do it), but also to avoid an in-depth analysis of scenarios 3, 4 and 5.
“”‘Do not pollute the land where you are. Bloodshed pollutes the land, and atonement cannot be made for the land on which blood has been shed, except by the blood of the one who shed it.” Numbers 35:33
Keep piling up the guilt of innocent blood, police. If any of that’s true you’ll bring judgment on yourselves. Put it another way, karma’s a bitch.
The video surveillance at Costco doesn’t use tapes. It is digital and writes the data to arrays of disk drives. I’m familiar with the technology. It is very reliable.
I don’t buy for a nanosecond the line from police forensics that the system had not been working for a day before the incident took place. These systems notify people anytime there is an issue writing the data.
I’m conflicted about this case. On the one hand, if there’s really a reasonable doubt that the shooting was justified then the officer shouldn’t be convicted of a crime. I’m unsure on what burdern of proof exists at each stage in the Nevada process, but I don’t think the officer could have been convicted based on the evidence at hand.
On the other hand, it’s infuriating that the video tapes are missing and that inquests are designed to get police officers off the hook.
as far as I know, police forensics did not testify about the video at all, attempting to leave the impression that they simply let CostCo handle the video in the wake of the shooting. They didn’t come out and sy that that is what happened, but they created that impression by having CostCo employees and contractors testify about the fate of the video while avoiding the subject with police witnesses.
I think police and Costco employees, working together, erased the video.
I think the appropriate police response would have been to immediately prevent Costco employees from accessing the tape (by getting everybody out of the costco bldg) until the FBI could get there with a search warrant.
This was certainly expected, simply due to the natural tendency of people to view “Law Enforcement” as a sack of Duddly Do-Rights and the automatic assumption that anyone who is NOT LEO and has a gun in public is a mass murderer waiting to happen.
I do not feel the facts justify the verdict.
I think the cop who initially opened fire was in a state of panic and not in calm control. As primary evidence of this, I point out that he didn’t even notice that the gun Scott was holding out was still in it’s holster. Considering that, I don’t think he was prepared or able to determine if the weapon was pointed at him or not. The other two cops just fired because he did.
Was it appropriate to take Scott into custody? Oh hell yeah! High on prescription drugs, he was a potential danger, most likely through impaired judgement. He should not have been carrying that day. But did he actively brandish a weapon at the officers? I don’t think so. If that was his intent, it’s FAR easier to pull a gun from it’s holster than to extract the entire thing, holster and all, from your waistband.
Here’s what I think. Guns should be taken away from most cops. There are WAY more cops than there is the training and psychological evaluation available to ensure that they are not only well qualified, but have the mental aptitude to not panic in a volatile situation. This is a RARE talent, and is what is needed to protect people in situations like this. These cops didn’t have the chops, and a man is dead because of it.
The current system, where ALL cops get to carry heat is just not compatible with today’s enormous police departments. They need to focus the firearm training on the few officers that are psychologically qualified to handle it. The rest can go on writing tickets and taking reports from the public with a much lighter belt. If some shit goes down? They can run like little girls and call 911 like the rest of us.
Having a gun in public is not a felony. Drawing it and pointing it at someone in an unjustified manner is. There is no reliable evidence that Erik Scott did that.
The pro-LEO crowd will respond “Well, what do you want, For the cops to wait until he is shot to return fire?” No. I want the responding cops to be trained and psychologically able to make rapid threat assessment without panicking. It looks like I’m asking too much, huh?
Short version: man drops cell phone in manhole. Man reaches in to retrieve phone. Man realizes that he’s late for court, jumps up and runs toward courthouse. Woman sees latter part of this, thinks it’s “suspicious,” alerts officials. Panic ensues.
MacGregory, the witness saw someone running away from a manhole. That’s unusual and consistent with a number of bad scenarios. Not that many people would go down manholes when they drop something down a strom drain. It was a 45 minute delay to be safe and nobody was jailed or charged due to the incident. The story seems to be a reasonable reaction to a false alarm.
It just seems so far fetched. Hell, my computer here at home is essentially immune to hard drive failure. If one of it’s 3 drives fails, the other 2 have complete data redundancy (RAID 5). All I have to do is pop open the case and toss in a replacement drive for the one that failed. It’s automatically formatted and the file system repairs itself with no loss of data whatsoever.
I have to assume their computers are a crap load better than mine. Hard core servers even have “Hot Swap” drives so you can just yank out the failed one and slap in a new one without even turning the machine off.
So.. they left the system down for days? And were unable even to get footage of Scott inside the store? It’s just incomprehensible.
Brian Wyche, a forensic multimedia analyst for the Las Vegas police, said he examined the system about five hours after the shooting, but all he got was an error message. After a reboot, the system resumed recording. Wyche said he could not find any video files between July 8 and the time of the reboot.
Jason Swords of Vegas Valley Locking Systems, which services the system, testified that he tried three methods to retrieve images from the digital video recorder’s hard drive two days later, without success.
Police sent the hard drive to the U.S. Secret Service in Los Angeles, which sent it to the maker, Seagate Recovery Services. Seagate’s David Teigen said the disk drive’s factory seal was intact when he received it. It had severe errors and showed “typical signs of hard drive failure,” but technicians recovered about two-thirds of the data, he said.
So from Seagate Recovery Services, we that the hard drive crashed. From the cops we hear that a forensics officer rebooted the system and it worked fine.
Crashed hard drives don’t magically begin working after a system reboot. Once they crash, they’re pretty much gone.
I think something happened to the drive between the time the cop rebooted the system, and it was received at Seagate.
Well, it’s possible that could happen. When one drive fails in an array, it could cause the system to crash. Rebooting it will work, and all data will be intact. However, the system will be one drive short, and as such, will lose the ability to redundantly store data. It will inform the operator that a drive needs to be replaced. But it will continue to operate with 100% data integrity while waiting for the drive to be replaced.
There are 3 possible scenarios:
Scenario 1: Costco is so fucking stupid that they put 17 cameras on a digital system with no data redundancy. (Literally, only one hard drive). So that a single drive failure will not only totally incapacitate their entire system, but will render all stored (and not archived) video to be at risk.
Scenario 2: Costco employees that are given access to the video system are so incompetent that they cannot even reboot the system.
Scenario 3: Intentional sabotage.
The fact that the system could be rebooted and started recording 5 hours after the incident invalidates Scenario 1 (The system had to have redundancy). This also brings serious question to the ‘official’ police report that a single drive was sent for analysis.
Scenario 2 is equally dubious. What’s the first thing ANYONE does with a failed computer? Attempt to restart it.
As much as I hate to be a ‘conspiracy theorist’, but Scenario 3 is looking pretty good.
What’s maddening about Geoff Schumacher’s opinion is that apparently only police are entitled to view someone with a gun as a threat. Mere mundane citizens are *NEVER* permitted to view a police officer with a gun as a threat, even though, increasingly, that is precisely what they are.
Dave W.’s (1) and Bob’s (9) comments from above remind me of what my father, who was an avid bird hunter when I was young, taught me about training bird dogs. One of the things he taught me early on was not to issue multiple or conflicting commands to the dog. At best, this only stresses the animal unnecessarily. At worst, when the dog is already stressed due to new stimuli or an unfamiliar environment, the dog could shut down and stop listening altogether or freak out and do something unpredicable.
I was an undergrad at a college located in the mountains. I taught snowboarding in the winter and did some guide work on rivers in the summer. To give myself a leg up before I got these jobs, I took some courses in basic first aid and disaster/emergency response training. The same lessons surfaced: when bad things are happening, stay calm, and deal with others in a calm manner. People aren’t dogs, but like dogs, people unaccostomed to a new kind of stress aren’t to be dealt with by yelling lots of commands or information, even if the commands are exactly what needs to be done and the information is precisely what is needed.
Beyond the situation in Las Vegas, I am struck by how often I read about a situation where the police “had to” use deadly force after trying to “diffuse” the situation by (several officers at the same time) issuing commands as loudly and quickly as they can. Even affording police the benefit of the doubt as to the intentions/mental state of your basic cop, how is it that elementary information about what NOT to do in a crisis encounter was taught to me as a teenager in order to land a barely above minimum wage job, but not to those carrying a badge and a gun and representing the authority of the State?
I am not claiming to be a Zen master who would calmly dispatch perfect, soothing commands couched as suggestions no matter what was happening around me, but I’m also not wearing a badge. And those who are weren’t dragooned into doing so. The population at large has to be shown that having police scream incoherent and conflicting orders for 6.5 seconds before going hulk on whatever poor schlub happens to have attracted their attention isn’t a side effect of or a reaction to the underlying danger of being a police officer, it’s the cause of it. And for too many police, I am beginning to suspect, it is the attraction that got them into the job in the first place.
how does an up and coming reporter (besides Radley) NOT get enticed by this story? I mean, besides being intimidated by the thought of all these cops fucking with you and your family every chance they get… if this was anyone but the cop mafia, this would create a feeding frenzy for reporters.
I’ll second the questions about the supposed video problem. I’m the sysadmin where I work, in charge of our camera system which records to a redundant RAID-5 array. If one disk goes bad, no data is lost and the system will continue to function, albeit with no data redundancy until the bad drive is replaced.
If hard drive issues were the cause of the system being totally down, then more than one drive would have to be bad, and they would have sent two or more drives to SS and then Seagate. Makes me wonder if the array simply happened to have a bad drive at the time that had not yet been replaced, and to cover their statement that the system wasn’t functioning, they took out that single bad drive (that had not been operating in the array for some time) and sent it away claiming it was “the problem” when in reality the video system was functioning perfectly.
There is no way Costco has a video-capture system reliant on only one single hard drive. If they did, as mentioned before, the system would not have worked after a reboot.
Marty “how does an up and coming reporter (besides Radley) NOT get enticed by this story? I mean, besides being intimidated by the thought of all these cops fucking with you and your family every chance they get… if this was anyone but the cop mafia, this would create a feeding frenzy for reporters.”
Yea I am amazed at what I learned the free press is in school and what it is in real life. For some reason police abuse is just something they normally won’t touch unless there’s some footage. Of course the police know this too hence they now take the view that anyone photographing or filming you is the enemy and to hell with the what the law says. So the press’s refusal to expose police abuse has created more police abuse. Fuck 99% the news media!
I don’t know how I feel about this. It’s not as clear-cut of a case as, say, Amadou Diallo. In this case, the subject was armed. Shooting an innocent man is never “justified”, but I don’t know if you can argue beyond reasonable doubt that the police acted recklessly to the point of it being criminal. I feel that taking an innocent life would certainly be grounds to move that person out of an official gun-carrying capacity, but criminal sanctions against the officer would be a bit more difficult to justify without further inquiry.
Of course, I do think the cops may have reflexively acted to destroy any documentary evidence, even if there wasn’t anything actually meriting a coverup. If that can be proven, they all should do time.
I’ve been following the case closely and watched the inquest. Like the above analyses, based on existing evidence, I’d say there’s a reasonably strong but not overwhelming case that Mosher/Curley committed manslaughter. If he weren’t a cop the strongest evidence against him would have been presented to a grand jury, which would almost certainly have indicted him.
It’s clear that the inquest system is a big show meant to keep the heat off the DA for not prosecuting cops. Without an inquest, the DA looks bad for just ignoring malfeasance; but the inquest makes it look like prosecutors actually care to people who don’t pay much attention. The public doesn’t notice that in the typical inquest the DA essentially acts like a defense attorney for the cops, giving the most one-sided, biased presentation possible. Add to this the fact that jury instructions are unclear and goofy (justified, excusable, criminal–wtf?!)–and it’s obvious that a finding of “criminal” is virtually impossible.
If the scott case didn’t convince people, the Yant shooting of Cole (a few months ago) should have. Yant really couldn’t have been more guilty, but he still walked.
I find it curious that the families don’t make a bigger deal out of the fact that the inquest has no real legal standing at all. The DA could still indict Yant and Mosher if it wanted to. I’d like to see more pressure on the DA to indict anyway.
Mosher is in such poor physical condition that it is possible that during any stress or exertion, his brain is O2 starved. This can cause both irrational behavior and memory loss. Can’t they find anyone less than 150 pounds overweight to staff their police force?
Awesome quote on police testimony from 7th Circuit Judge Richard Posner in a 2005 decision, U.S. v. Broomfield (hat tip to the latest ABA Journal for this):
“Gilding the lily, the officer testified that he was additionally suspicious because when he drove by [the suspect] in his squad car before turning around and getting out and accosting him he noticed that [the suspect] was ‘star[ing] straight ahead.’ Had [the suspect] instead glanced around him, the officer would doubtless have testified that [he] seemed nervous or, the preferred term because of the vagueness, ‘furtive.’ Whether you stand still or move, drive above, below or at the speed limit, you will be described by the police as acting suspiciously should they wish to stop or arrest you. Such subjective, promiscuous appeals to an ineffable intuition should not be credited.”
that’s crazy. it’s getting to the point where it’s ‘irresponsible’ to leave your dog outside in your fenced yard. this dipshit shot and killed an 11 1/2 year old lab, because he feared for his safety. Unbelievable.
if you’re walking your dog and it’s on a leash, some dipshit cop can shoot it. If you take your dog to a dog park, some dipshit cop can shoot it. if you allow your dog to play in your own fenced yard, some dipshit cop can shoot it. If your dog gets out, some dipshit cop can shoot it. If some dipshit cops decide to bust down your door for whatever bullshit reason and you have dogs in the house, they can shoot them. If your dog’s in a crate, that doesn’t matter to dipshits.
BUT, if one of their fascists attack dogs gets injured or killed by a citizen, it becomes ‘an attack on a police dog is the same as an attack on the king himself’. These dogs that they use to search our children and property for no reason. These dogs that are used on protestors exercising their freedom of speech.
our rights as pet owners are becoming so limited- cities trying to ban buying and selling dogs, repressive leash laws, laws restricting owners from vaccinating their own dogs, laws restricting owners from owning certain breeds…
This is messed up on so many levels. If we do manage to jump through all their hoops and get a dog, they can kill it with no consequences.
that’s a GREAT post. the classic police response ‘FREEZE MOTHERFUCKER!’ is designed to stop people in their tracks. Any time on an emergency scene you have multiple people yelling commands, you have a breakdown. It’s poor teamwork. People who don’t know how to lead, don’t know how to follow. You have to understand how to give commands in order to be able to follow commands. This looks like a scene where none of the cops were clearly in charge.
Rescuers are taught to make eye contact (with bystanders and scene personnel) and give direct commands. You have to make sure the instructions are understood. They clearly did not.
Whatever hardware they have is not just monitored in-house but remotely over the network. RAID systems give you warning when a drive is failing and a drive is considered failing not when it doesn’t wok at all, but if it is suffering from a higher than acceptable number of read/write or other disk errors. It is true that mosts RAID failures are because of some hardware component failure that you can’t predict, but I find it silly to think that Costco has an infrastructure in place that allows their security system to be malfunctioning all day without any intervention.
As a huge company, Costco probably has a support contract for mission critical systems that offers at worst a four hour response time all day any day of the week. It is likely that they even have spare parts for everything at the store. At the very worst, the system would have been logging errors that it wasn’t able to record or the array was messed up. The lost video doesn’t pass even the most basic sniff test.
Cynical in CA |
October 2nd, 2010 at 12:11 pm
#29 | croaker — “Another puppycide where nothing will happen to the cop.”
But you repeat yourself.
Cynical in CA |
October 2nd, 2010 at 12:18 pm
#32 | Marty
Marty, don’t take this the wrong way, but you’re getting it. Any dog is fair game to a cop, circumstances do not matter unless:
1. It can be proved the cop acted out of pure malice and nothing else.
2. The cop was acting for personal gain (not sure how that could apply, maybe if he shot a greyhound in a race so his greyhound could win???)
3. The cop shoots Obama’s dog, and that’s not a guarantee either.
The invention of suburbia and the expansion of the dog from working animal to pampered pet set the stage for this inevitable and insoluble problem. Human exceptionalism demands that the dogs suffer. I hate to admit it, I wish there were some solution, but all the publicity in the world is not going to change these brute facts.
So we are left with your solution. Lock up your dogs. In the land of the free and the home of the brave, it’s the dogs’ only chance to survive.
@32 No, I have a better solution: Cop shoots your dog, cop dies. End of discussion. If you’re inside my fence without a warrant, you’d better fucking behave like a civilized person, or you will become useful as worm food.
I should take less than five cops dead on the scene of a puppycide for even their lizard brains to get the message.
Cynical in CA |
October 2nd, 2010 at 3:12 pm
That certainly would be an interesting test-case, croaker.
Killing two birds with one stone, how about a new item that combines a cop abusing his position to get back at non-cops that annoy them with prosecutor trying to send teenagers to jail for consenual sex:
“how does an up and coming reporter (besides Radley) NOT get enticed by this story?”
I’ve asked that same question here a few times. How is it that Mr. Balko can visit places around the country with (presumably) not a lot of knowledge about the area or people, and walk away with great stories that the local media couldn’t? The Cory Maye case was a prime example. Are they incompetent? Is it a conspiracy of silence? Are they afraid of their government/law enforcement sources blacklisting them? Fear of reprisal? Liberal or conservative bias depending on the paper? The market is too small and quality suffers as a result? Any and all of the above?
Sure, local news often does a good job, but in my experience it usually isn’t worth watching or reading, at least on the big stories. I think you could get a great book out of that one question.
“He also said jurors would be asked to determine if the shooting was justifiable, excusable or criminal. He said “excusable” should be the verdict if they thought the shooting was accidental. He said “justifiable” should be arrived at if they determined the shooting was in self defense or in defense of someone else.”
So, if a cop’s gun accidentally goes off and kills someone, that’s excusable.