Another Isolated Incident

Sunday, January 23rd, 2011

Drug raid in New York City. Police got the right house, found their suspect, and found a supply of heroin. But during the raid, one officer apparently accidentally shot the suspect’s father, 76-year-old Jose Colon, in the stomach. Colon is expected to survive.

Strangely, when someone first sent me this story last night, I actually thought it was an old story. I vaguely remembered writing about another New York raid involving someone by the name of “Jose Colon”. Sure enough. In 2002, a graphic arts student named Jose Colon was accidentally shot and killed during a drug raid in the Long Island town of Bellport. According to police, that Colon was killed when an officer tripped over a tree root as the raid team approached the house. Police say he then fell into the officer in front of him, causing that officer’s gun to fire three times, striking Colon in the head as he emerged from the targeted house. Colon was not a suspect, and had no criminal record. The police found eight ounces of marijuana in the house.

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52 Responses to “Another Isolated Incident”

  1. #1 |  Marty | 

    I’m envisioning Steve Martin running aroundy yelling, ‘They hate this name!’

    the drug war is definitely stranger than fiction.

  2. #2 |  johnny | 

    I just saw this on fark and came by to see if you had it yet. The headline at fark, “Drug suspect had no dog, so NYPD shot his 76-year-old dad instead”

  3. #3 |  SJE | 

    It’s amazing how 8 oz of marijuana seems to be enough for the media to overlook the fact that a man was killed.

  4. #4 |  Chuchundra | 

    So, here’s the thing. If you’re gun “accidentally goes off” during a raid and shoots someone, shouldn’t that be the end of your career in law enforcement?

    I’m not a gun guy (being the liberal, commie-symp, statist that I am), but doesn’t proper gun safety require that you not put your finger on the trigger until you’re actually going to shoot somebody?

  5. #5 |  PW | 

    Can we have a new gun control law that only applies to cops?

    With incidents like this happening daily all over America, we plainly need to keep these dangerous weapons out of the hands of the police, who are also clearly the most prone segment of society to abuse them.

  6. #6 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Don’t leave us hanging! What happened to the officer who killed Jose Colon? Prison time? Fired?

  7. #7 |  paranoiastrksdp | 

    When someone gets shot, they’ll *Always* find drugs. Count on it. These pukes are not above framing anyone, just look at what happened with Kathryn Johnston in Atlanta.

    Makes me wonder what a K9 unit scan of your average police cruiser would reveal – Probably enough party favors for a week of debauchery in Vegas.

  8. #8 |  Bob | 

    Best part (Or worst part) about the 2002 incident:

    A Suffolk County grand jury ended its investigation on Wednesday without an indictment. Officer Gonzalez, who was temporarily placed on administrative duty as a firearms instructor,

    Let me get this straight… they WANT cops who accidentally smoke civilians to be firearm instructors?

  9. #9 |  PW | 

    “I’m not a gun guy (being the liberal, commie-symp, statist that I am), but doesn’t proper gun safety require that you not put your finger on the trigger until you’re actually going to shoot somebody?”

    Normal people respect guns because they know what they are capable of doing. Fear of what can go wrong breeds extreme caution to ensure that it doesn’t go wrong.

    Cops take a couple hours of gun “training” at the academy from a GED-toting “instructor” who got his “criminal justice” certification from ITT Tech, and the next thing you know every single fucking one of them thinks he’s the reincarnation of Annie Oakley behind a pistol. They do not fear their weapon because they assume (incorrectly) that they have mastered it. So the finger slips back onto the trigger, the muzzle direction swings about wildly, and errant shots result.

    This is another of the many reasons why private citizens should actively go out of their way to avoid ANY interaction whatsoever with the police if at all possible. They are always armed and their hubris about guns makes them naturally trigger happy, so your probability of getting hit – even if completely accidental – is actually higher than spending the day in the vicinity of an unsupervised Boy Scout with his first .22 rifle. Neither is particularly adept at his marksmanship, but at least the Boy Scout probably fears what his weapon is capable of doing.

  10. #10 |  Anthony | 

    Chuchundra,
    There is no such thing as an “accidental” shooting or weapons discharge. Its Negligence. The four cardinal rules of firearm safety are: Every weapon is loaded; only point your weapon at what you are willing to destroy and keep your weapon pointed in a safe direction until needed; keep you weapon on “safe” until you are ready to fire; keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.
    The term “accidental shooting” is misleading, firearms don’t just “go off” you have to pull the trigger or severely mishandled the weapon.

    So “accidental” shootings are violations of at least 3 of the most important rules of firearm safety.

  11. #11 |  Sebastian H | 

    “Police say he then fell into the officer in front of him, causing that officer’s gun to fire *three times*, striking Colon in the head as he emerged from the targeted house. ”

    Really? That better have been an automatic weapon…..

  12. #12 |  Sebastian H | 

    Ok, I see that it was a submachine gun. We won’t ask why we needed a submachine gun for the raid of course….

  13. #13 |  Bob | 

    Here you go. I like the way he walks it off and keeps on going. Like it happens all the time.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zw-jTCNZSmY

  14. #14 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    OK, I’m not excusing the cops in these cases. There are too many incidents like this, and the various governments involved are far too quick to whitewash the cops involved. But as PW points out, the police are given very little training with their weapons. Furthermore, in most departments, police get little or no ammunition with which to practice shooting. So if a policeman wants to become familiar with his weapon, he must do so at his own expense.

    If there is an organization that donates ammunition for police to practice with, I don’t know of it. I’ve suggested the idea to a cop friend or three, but nothing came of it. I don’t have the time or energy to start such an organization (my wife has serious health issues), or I would.

    Yes, police departments should come down a lot harder on shootings like the ones Radley posts about. Yes, we should (and I do) write to our leaders about this, and hold their feet to the fire on election days. but we should also provide ways for the armed men who are supposed to be protecting us to be as comfortable with their weapons as they can be.

    Just throwing the thought out there.

  15. #15 |  Tweets that mention Another Isolated Incident | The Agitator -- Topsy.com | 

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mary Jane, FoxArtCultTech. FoxArtCultTech said: Another Isolated Incident http://goo.gl/fb/N9i0b […]

  16. #16 |  SJE | 

    I can cut the cops a bit of slack: if it is really a dangerous situation, they should have their fingers on the trigger. But, how often are the fingers on the triggers when its not a dangerous situation? e.g. Sal Culosi. How many of these situations are made dangerous by law enforcement.

  17. #17 |  PW | 

    #14 – I’m actually of the view that cops SHOULD have to pay for their own ammo like the rest of us. Ammo isn’t terribly expensive and $10-20 can buy you a decent afternoon at the range. Many private citizen gun owners become skilled marksmen and hunters with skill levels far surpassing that of the average cop, and do so completely on their own dime.

    As well intentioned as it may be to encourage more firearms training among cops, I have a feeling that giving them free supplies will unfortunately exacerbate the current problems by instilling an even further sense of entitlement. Cops are so poorly trained with guns right now that encouraging them to shoot at the range more, and for free, only encourages their hubris via the erroneous self-perception that they are expert marksmen.

    The training problem is much more fundamental and begins with a return to the standard rules mentioned above – control your muzzle, always assume the gun is loaded, and don’t put your finger on the trigger until ready to fire. If cops don’t think those rules apply to them (and most don’t), no amount of ammo at the range will ever correct the problems of their behavior.

  18. #18 |  PW | 

    “How many of these situations are made dangerous by law enforcement.”

    Far more civilians are killed by cops every year, than cops killed by civilians.

    More cops are also killed every year by self-inflicted traffic accidents than by civilians.

    That alone should tell you all you need to know about who’s making what situations more dangerous.

  19. #19 |  Robert | 

    I would LOVE to have some statistics on the number of unarmed civilians killed by police each year vs. the number of police killed by armed civilians. That way the next time someone says that being a police officer is a “dangerous” job, I can say “Well, not as dangerous as NOT being a police officer, evidently.”

  20. #20 |  OBTC | 

    @#2 “Drug suspect had no dog, so NYPD shot his 76-year-old dad instead”

    D’oh!

  21. #21 |  Dave Krueger | 

    Isolated incident should be in quotes.

  22. #22 |  PW | 

    #19 – Stats of civilian deaths are hard to come by because police departments intentionally make it difficult to obtain them. There was a study done covering 2003-2005 though that documented 2,002 “arrest related deaths” in that three year window.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/10/11/national/main3359288.shtml?source=RSSattr=U.S._3359288

    By comparison, the Bureau of Labor Statistics does assemble “officer down” stats and very meticulously at that. Though it naturally fluctuates, a typical year has only 30-50 cops dying from actual homicides. This number is also typically lower than the number of cops who die from other non-criminal means – mostly traffic accidents and friendly fire from other cops. Although that certainly doesn’t preclude us from memorializing Officer Krupke as a “fallen hero” on the national cop monument when he removes himself from the gene pool by plowing headfirst into a highway overpass at 110mph on a non-emergency call.

  23. #23 |  Greg Beaman | 

    A question about the NYT article: why is it necessary for the first sentence of the article to mention that the officer’s father was killed in the line of duty?
    “A New York police officer whose father was killed in the line of duty nearly 30 years ago fired an errant shot on Saturday during a drug raid in the Bronx and wounded a suspect’s 76-year-old father, the authorities said.”

    Are we supposed to excuse the Officer Andrew McCormack for shooting a guy because his dad was shot 30 years ago?

  24. #24 |  PW | 

    From the same study above covering 2003-2005:

    – 1,100 civilian “arrest related deaths” that were “justifiable homicides” by cops

    – 159 cop deaths that were homicides by civilians.

    Read what you will into that, but I take it as saying that civilians are about 7 times more likely to be murdered by cops than the opposite.

  25. #25 |  Maria | 

    I get so rankled at the news media spinning the “increase in police deaths” trope. Was it here that Radley pointed out the fallacy of this argument or was it another blogger? I can’t find it on here. I’ve been trying to hunt that deconstruction article down to use the next time someone does a hand wringing statement about our poor police officers being brutalized by the evil public.

    It was a deconstruction of the comparison that for the past couple of years deaths have risen by X% BUT that’s from the all time low of like 2002 (i could have the year wrong) or something? And some of the deaths classified under “in the line of duty” had been self-inflicted gun shotsor self-caused traffic accidents? And for a decade before 2002 police deaths where going down?

  26. #26 |  Marty | 

    #19 | Robert-

    I wouldn’t trust any stats on this- a dead citizen who isn’t armed can be armed very easily.

  27. #27 |  Pete | 

    From the same study above covering 2003-2005:

    – 1,100 civilian “arrest related deaths” that were “justifiable homicides” by cops

    – 159 cop deaths that were homicides by civilians.

    Read what you will into that, but I take it as saying that civilians are about 7 times more likely to be murdered by cops than the opposite.

    The population disparity bothered me at first, making me think we wouldn’t be able to claim it’s more dangerous to be a civilian than a police officer BECAUSE of police, then it hit me –

    “Police-citizen interaction.”

    These statistics show that in all interactions between police officers and civilians, the civilian is more likely to die. I don’t know if the study that produced those numbers recorded all, and I do mean ALL interactions, but it doesn’t matter, because we know the number is finite.

    So wow, that is incredibly powerful stuff.

    “Being a police officer is dangerous!”

    “Sure is! It’s almost 1/7th as dangerous as being a citizen *near* a police officer!”

  28. #28 |  Bob | 

    I believe there was a law passed in 1994 that mandated the collection of data for police officers firing their weapons at civilians.

    However, it only mandated the COLLECTION of the data, not the reporting of it. As such, the majority of police agencies either give no or inaccurate data. (And by inaccurate i mean fluffed up in their favor.)

    Transparency. Accountability. Get on it, cops.

    Lemme google. Ah! Here we go.

    http://www.commondreams.org/headlines01/0429-02.htm

    Despite widespread public interest and a provision in the 1994 Crime Control Act requiring the Attorney General to collect the data and publish an annual report on them, statistics on police shootings and use of nondeadly force continue to be piecemeal products of spotty collection, and are dependent on the cooperation of local police departments. No comprehensive accounting for all of the nation’s 17,000 police department exists.

  29. #29 |  Aresen | 

    PW | January 23rd, 2011 at 5:53 pm
    From the same study above covering 2003-2005:

    – 1,100 civilian “arrest related deaths” that were “justifiable homicides” by cops

    – 159 cop deaths that were homicides by civilians.

    Read what you will into that, but I take it as saying that civilians are about 7 times more likely to be murdered by cops than the opposite.

    Playing with those numbers a bit: This works out to approx 360 cop homicides per year, or roughly 52.6 homicides per year per 100,000 cops. (Based on a figure of 683,000 LEOs provided by answers dot com.

    In the general population, there are approx 16,000 homicides per year, which works out to about 5.3 homicides per year per 100,000 people in the US.

    IOW, you are 10 times more likely to be killed by a cop than by a member of the general population. (I know most killings are done by a family member or someone the victim knows, so it is even more likely that, if you are killed by a stranger, the killer is a cop.)

  30. #30 |  Bob | 

    Areson:

    Sorry. No. Bad math.

    You’re linking total cops and total population as the same variable.

    If you express cop homicides (using your data) as a relation of the general population, you get 360 homicides for 150 million people (total people over age 15) … not 360 homicides for 683 thousand people (Total cops)

    As such, you’re 100 times more likely to be killed by a civilian than a cop.

    Of course, that doesn’t reduce the danger of being killed by cops when they bust in your door.

  31. #31 |  SJE | 

    Dave Krueger: actually, from the media’s POV, these ARE isolated incidents, because the media consistantly lives inside such a bubble that they cannot see wider patterns.

  32. #32 |  Aresen | 

    Bob

    My math is good. I am talking about rate of homicides committed per 100,000 people, not the rate at which people are victims of homicides.

    300,000,000 Americans killed 16,000 people. (I will admit that those under 15 are less likely to commit homicide, but there are homicides committed by minors. Also, far more than 50% of the population is over 15.)

    683,000 cops killed 360 people.

    So, a cop is ~10 times more likely to commit homicide than the average individual.

  33. #33 |  Joe | 

    I am not a big fan on the war on drugs. But this was a heroin bust with a suspect with multiple arrests. The shot that hit Colon Sr. appears to have been accidental. Other than the name, it is a far different situation than the marijuana bust Radley recalled from 2002.

    Yes it is dangerous to have the cops bust in guns drawn. It is also dangerous to deal heroin out of your home (let alone the cops busting in, other drug dealers might come and steal from you).

    Bob is right. You are far more likely to be killed by a civilian than a cop. We need to stop police tyranny and question their procedures–they work for us and should have to answer to us. But we also need to recognize that drug dealers in neighborhoods are tyrants too. Perhaps the answer is legalization or decriminalization. But recognize that until that happens, the cops doing nothing will not make people in those neighborhoods safer. Hell, the cops abandoning neighborhoods is what resulted in the South Bronx, Bed Sty, and Harlem becoming hell holes in the 70s.

  34. #34 |  CharlesWT | 

    Someone tried to even up the numbers.

  35. #35 |  Highway | 

    Joe, sorry, I’m not buying the ‘accidental’ nature of the shot. As noted above, at best it’s ‘negligent’.

    Fingers should only ever be on triggers when they are pulling that trigger in an effort to shoot and destroy the thing that is in front of the gun.

    Heck, there was an episode of “Build it Bigger” where the scrawny little host was talking about M1 tanks. Part of the show was him participating in a training CQB exercise. And he was repeatedly harangued for having his finger on the trigger while moving and standing, while participating in this exercise with no ammo and training weapons.

    Maybe these SWAT cops want to play soldier. But the soldiers think they give them a bad name, and they certainly don’t follow soldier procedure.

  36. #36 |  Bill | 

    From #34’s link:
    “Commander Brian Davis raced out of his office, exchanged fire with the gunman and got shot in the back.”

    I can certainly come up with a number of scenarios in which that’s possible, but it seems like it needs explanation.

  37. #37 |  Harlequinjester | 

    I am in the military, serveing in Afganstan. I have to carry my weapon around with me 24/7, and I am just an electrication. If my weapon is off safe, or my finger is on the trigger, or I point my weapon at someone, I am in alot of trouble, rightly so. I know I get about as much trigger time as a police officer (some I serve with are police in their civilian job) and if I ‘accidentaly’ shoot someone, I will be going to jail, probaly for a very long time. I am tiard of police being above the law, just becouse they have a hard job.

  38. #38 |  Aresen | 

    Harlequinjester:

    Good points.

    Make it home safe, bud.

  39. #39 |  BamBam | 

    @4, the police excuse is something that a 4 year old would say, not an adult with training and supposed integrity. Why do the police state such obvious lies? Because they can — all pieces are on their side (cops, prosecutors, judges, politicians, fearful and/or stupid citizens). This continues to prove that only one outcome is inevitable in such a system — brazenness increases, integrity decreases, corruptness increases, liberty decreases.

  40. #40 |  derfel cadarn | 

    As supposed professionals,the only ones competent to carry weapons,the police seem to have very UN-professional weapon safety procedures. These leos have taken human lives and/or have imposed pain and suffering on the innocent. This situation can no longer be tolerated,if this exact scenario played out with private citizens you can bet the shooter ,regardless of the facts would be in jail. If the police are so “professional” how are they not held to a higher standard than the common citizen? Presently the leos in this country are thugs and common felons. Their unions and brother leos that prattle on about a few bad apples are complicit accessories before ,during and after the fact. When will the people have had enough?

  41. #41 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    So if a policeman wants to become familiar with his weapon, he must do so at his own expense.

    Yep, that deck chair is ever so slightly askew on the Titanic.

  42. #42 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    @31

    …actually, from the media’s POV, these ARE isolated incidents, because the media consistantly lives inside such a bubble that they cannot see wider patterns.

    Bubble? I believe the proper excuse is that they have cop balls blocking their view.

  43. #43 |  SamK | 

    @#17 PW…could you link me where you buy ammo? I don’t think I have a single firearm that I can buy a box of ammo for for less than about $40, which doesn’t go very far, and I can’t use Wolf in two of my handguns or they jam so I usually end up with Winchester which is more. I could buy a .22 I suppose…anyway, if you do have a source for cheap ammo I’d really really really appreciate it if you passed it on :)

  44. #44 |  PW | 

    Just go to Cabela’s website. They have several choices of almost every common caliber handgun ammo in the $10-20 range for a box of 50. And you can usually get better deals in person at gun shows. If you’re truly paying almost a dollar a bullet as you suggest, then (a) you’re getting ripped off, (b) your wasting hollow points shooting up a paper target, or (c) every single gun you own must be an uncommon or strange caliber, in which case you probably oughta invest in something more readily available.

  45. #45 |  Andrew S. | 

    Joe @33

    Yes it is dangerous to have the cops bust in guns drawn. It is also dangerous to deal heroin out of your home (let alone the cops busting in, other drug dealers might come and steal from you).

    So you’re saying it’s justified? Or, “no harm, no foul”, since other dealers would be worse than cops?

    Even if I accept the math that you’re more likely to be killed by a non-officer than an officer (I refuse to use the term “civilian” for non-officers), the glaring difference is that if I’m shot by a non-officer, they’re going to jail. If I’m shot by a police officer, they’re getting a week’s paid vacation, a commendation and a raise.

  46. #46 |  Mattminus | 

    “They had forced open the door of Apartment 4D when Officer McCormack’s weapon discharged one shot…”

    Thank God that Officer McCormack had nothing to do with the shooting!

    And why does the article devote more ink to his father being shot than, you know, the actual news.

  47. #47 |  Pablo | 

    Part of the negligent discharge issue has to do with the types of guns SWAT cops usually carry. The rank-and-file usually have something with a longer, heavier trigger pull–an attempt by the mfr. to “idiot proof” the gun, which of course is impossible. They seem unwilling to demand competent gun handling.

    OTOH SWAT often carry single action guns (1911s, MP5s, AR15s) which have short, light triggers. You just cannot get away with mistakes esp with guns like those.

    BTW why the hell does a cop need a submachine gun??

  48. #48 |  Highway | 

    Pablo, cause they gotta scare those bad guys into giving up! It’s the ‘show of force’!

  49. #49 |  Shiden | 

    I went to an local NRA chapter’s shooting sports fair at the gun range last year, and made the mistake (since it’s not like I had used a gun before) of putting my finger on the trigger early. It was there for about half a second before I got chewed out for it.

    Police with less trigger discipline than a civilian who’s only handled guns a handful of times in his life. Sadly, this fails to surprise me.

  50. #50 |  Pete | 

    @SamK – look into home reloading setups. They’re not that expensive and very much worth it if you shoot regularly enough to cringe at the cost of ammo, vs shoot rarely enough that you can easily absorb the cost of off-the-shelf.

    My dad bought a reloading press and reloaded 30.06, .44, and .38 and saved boatloads of money. This was a while ago, so maaaaybe it’s not quite as economically attractive as it used to be, but it probably is.

  51. #51 |  Pablo | 

    Even if you don’t shoot a lot it is still a good idea to have a basic home reloading setup. One never knows when the next ammo shortage will happen and it’s always good to know how to roll your own. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy–around $200 will get you set up with a single stage press, dies, powder measure, and primier seater. A hand held press is even cheaper. No its not high tech or real time efficient but good to have “just in case.”

  52. #52 |  Daaavid | 

    Cops will always attempt to justify their actions. The war on American’s, or “drugs” is just an excuse to murder.

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