Our City's Finest at Work

Phoenix police pump six rounds into the back of an innocent Phoenix homeowner who was still on the phone with 911 calling for their help with an intruder.

The scary part is how absolutely natural and well-polished the police's actions are in initiating a cover-up.  They may be screw-ups in the use of force, but they seem well-practiced in protecting their own from accountability.  Only the lucky break of having the 911 call still in progress and being recorded in the room the police were planning the cover-up prevented it from working.  Without this evidence, one wonders if the victim (who lived, incredibly) would have found himself accused of some heinous crime to take scrutiny away from the police.  "Oh, what's this here -- looks like a bag of white powder..."

One priceless detail is that the officer said he fired without seeing any gun in part because he thought he saw a Hispanic guy.  Wow -- if he loses his job with the Phoenix police (doubtful) I am sure Sheriff Joe would be thrilled to hire him.

We see this all the time nowadays - police roll without a thought into cover-up mode, and only the accident of video or audio recording prevents the cover up from working.  One wonders how many times they get away with this game when there is no electronic scrutiny.  Which is, I suppose, why police have invented a non-existent law that it is illegal to record their actions in public.  I am all for lojacking all of them with permanent electronic recorders.  (via Radley Balko, who has a roundup of a lot of similarly scary stories).

Postscript: The innocent homeowner (Tony) survived despite this treatment by police of his bullet-riddled body:

Officers ... painfully dragged Tony by his injured leg, through the home and out to his backyard patio, where they left him bloodied and shot right in front of [his family]."

The Arambulas say the officers later dragged Anthony onto gravel, then put him on top of the hot hood of a squad car, and "drove the squad car down the street with Tony lying on top, writhing in pain."


  1. Evil Red Scandi:

    Yeah, just keep that in mind next time you're running smack on how bad things are in California. We have liberals run amuck, you guys have conservatives run amuck...

  2. Greg:

    Really Evil Red? So how do you explain the Rampart scandal? The LA police engaged in a planned assassination attempt and planted a stolen gun on the victim. Oh hey, how about the Rodney King beating? That also happened in liberal California.

  3. EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy:

    Two points:

    1) "if he loses his job with the Phoenix police (doubtful)" If the officers really are on tape planning a coverup the loss of a job simply shouldn't be on the table, the only question should be what sentence they're up for on the conspiracy to obstruct justice charges. This is a no-brainer.

    2) Evil, both jurisdiction have a government run amok problem. Trying to shoehorn this into a team red/team blue world view is a sign of just not getting it.

  4. nom de guerre:

    one of the coppers' other favorite tricks is to seize the computers of the suspect/victim/random guy they shot. then, just when things start to look really bad for them - they got caught lying on video, say; or the pope and the dalai lama are gonna testify against them - they suddenly announce they "found child porn on the suspect's computer!"

    that seems to happen a *lot*. in other news, here in vegas, they're gonna have a coroner's inquest for the cop who shot the 15-year-old-kid who was "threatening his mother and refusing the cops order to drop the knife" (that last one's the fatal mistake, btw) despite the kid's mom - who was right there, getting splattered with her son's brains saying otherwise. the cop is a prohibitive favorite to walk on this, since every single coroner's inquest in las vegas since 1965 has ruled that cop's actions were a righteous shoot. every single one. we're up to about 100-and-0. my personal fave was the cop who emptied a 14-shot clip at a guy armed only with a basketball (missing 8 of those shots, btw) at the busiest intersection in vegas at high noon. unarmed guy; lousy shooting; bullets flying into crowded streets.......not only was the cop no-billed, he received a promotion soon after.

    as you might imagine, the law enforcement community here is a strong supporter of the 'coroner inquest' system, which, along with it's monotonous predictability, also prohibits members of the victims family from asking questions of the shooter cop. it's all a steaming crock of shit, just like pretty much every other police investigatory body/IA dept is all over the country. i'm a 50-year-old right-wing white guy with a record clean as a newborn baby's soul. i can't stand gangbangers, cholos, or the ghetto/barrio mentality that destroys people and cities, (detroit was once known as the "paris of america". compton california was once an "all-american city", [remember those?], a place where my wife's mom would take her to as a *treat* back in the '50's.), and despite all that, i hate and fear the police more than i do any gang or gang member. so do my (relatively well-to-do) neighbors. we find ourselves teaching the kids to avoid cops at all costs; to fear them and NEVER speak to them; to leave immediately anyplace a cop shows up at; and to assume anything told to them by ANY cop to be a lie. somebody help me out here - does that make the police already technically at war with us like i think they are? if not, what other lines have they yet to cross? especially considering the fact that for every incident like this that makes the news/hits the web/pops up on youtube,(*) for every one of those incidents, there must be....what? 500? 1000? that don't?

    *(i know, i know: quit being chatty, nom.) youtube had a HUGE hit awhile back featuring an off-duty 250-lb. chicago cop in a bar who beat the living shit out of the 90-lb. lady bartender. every gory second was caught on security-cam video. when the bar owner called the cops, (LOL) the "investigating officers" refused to look at the tape *or make note of its existence in their notes*. aftermath: since the damning video didn't officially "exist", the brave bartender-basher cop was slapped on the wrist with a misdemeanor ("bad attitude"? "impure thoughts"? something like that....) and was back at work in no time flat. how 'bout now? we at war NOW?

  5. txjim:

    Cops are human and are therefore capable of good and evil. These cops are clearly evil. It is our job to punish them with imprisonment and make sure this crap is stopped. I like the lojack option!

  6. Ron H.:

    Well, apparently gun control proponents have had it wrong all this time. It's not law abiding citizens who need to have their rights interfered with. Gun violence can be reduced by keeping guns out of the hands of the POLICE!

  7. Link:

    It's hard to judge how much of this is a new trend, or just the "same old" better reported.

    In the pre-Knapp Commission - pre-Serpico days in New York City, as an 11-year old paper boy I knew to be at Mr Ciciali's house around 7pm on Thursdays to collect. The NYPD squad car was always out front as the cops were coming to collect their bag. Ciciali had his wallet open so I always got a big tip.

  8. feeblemind:

    Rather cheap shot at Sheriff Joe, I think.

  9. MJ:

    Sheriff Joe would be proud.

  10. Matt:

    "the officers later dragged Anthony onto gravel, then put him on top of the hot hood of a squad car, and “drove the squad car down the street with Tony lying on top, writhing in pain.”"

    Cops have become Lord Humongous and his gang, right down to displaying their victims on their vehicles:

  11. Matt:

    "Rather cheap shot at Sheriff Joe"

    Cheap or not, MegaloJoe's earned every shot he gets.

  12. Val:

    It is unfortunate that there is so much cop bashing here, as if they are the true enemy. I can’t imagine that these things are all that common place - let's see some statistics, especially on the national level. A nation of 300 million is bound to have some problems. The media loves to show these types of things as much as possible, creating a perception that this is routine and everything is horribly out of control.

    BTW, put yourself in a cop’s shoes, imagine the personal danger you face on a daily basis, which is pretty extreme on some occasions. Lots of people would like to take a shot at you. You are exposed to the worst elements of humanity on a daily basis. Your rules of engagement are necessarily extremely restrictive, which has the effect of seriously limiting your ability to defend yourself. This environment is guaranteed to produce bad results on occasion, but I hear no rational alternatives. Of course one can continue to feel more afraid of cops than gangs, a rather over the top and hard to believe statement (with all due respect, nom de guerre). Let’s be truthful and admit that gangs and the like are the problem.

    While every mishap or corrupt act is a tragedy, the rate will never be zero. At some point the effort to make it so will restrict the police so much that they will become completely ineffective, a result that nobody wants. At least those that are rational. In fact, it may be that we are very close to our point of deminishing returns right now.

    I think it would be a far more effective use of time and energy to look at sources of crime, the things that require increasingly hardened police presence, and deal with those. Anything else is whining about the symptoms and failing to treat the disease.

  13. nom de guerre:

    val, your post was calm, fair, and well-reasoned, especially the second paragraph. most every word of it true, as well, IMHO.


    1) "extremely restrictive rules of engagement"? for cops? surely you jest. a cop can and will pull and/or use his weapon at any time he "feels threatened", can he not? cops are trained to open fire on (and aim for center mass. always shoot to kill, because **that's how they're trained**, isn't it?) fire upon *anyone carrying a knife who gets within 10 feet of them*. (we'll pause now for the serious speech about "how fast a knife-wielding man can move"). anyone - even someone who's not a "true enemy" - who attempts to mirror those "restrictive" ROE's and use them on COPS....will end up dead. right? if a terrified homeowner should fire a gun at a burglar breaking in who turns out to be a cop on a 'no-knock' raid **who didn't announce himself as such**, (as the neighbors all said, and were duly ignored by the aftermath investigators), he/she will either be gunned down or tried for murder, right? (the names to google are "kathryn johnston" and "ryan frederick".)
    2) as anyone who surfs the net or reads radley balko's blog can tell you, the police of late seem to be shooting an AWFUL lot of dogs these days. (google "puppycide".) even in instances where the cop initiates the contact, by jumping into the pooch's back yard. and no, i'm not talking about rabid packs of wolf hybrids here. cops have shot tail-wagging spaniels, tied-up smallish mutts, whining beagles, and labs *running away from them*. there's an infamous video out there in which a brave tennessee cop bravely guns down a family dog *in front of the kids who own it* because it bounded out of the car the cop had stopped, (with his tail happily wagging), because supercop **refused to allow the kids to close the car door to prevent it.** (google 'cop shoots dog cookeville TN'). a SWAT supercop in phoenix was seen forcing a pitbull PUPPY back into a burning building where it of course died horribly. in each and every instance, the cop superior defended these actions as necessary because "the officer felt threatened" (by the spaniel, and the puppy, and the fleeing lab. uh-huh.) OTOH, harming a *police* dog in any way (even in self-defense) is a felony, is it not? odd....SEEMS like a double standard.....
    3) then of course there's the increasing police usage of the taser for recreational purposes. i won't waste time with examples - there are literally **thousands** to choose from.
    4) the increased use of "felony stops". here in vegas, i've seen cops FS cars driven by 80-year-old grampaws. cars driven by a gaggle of high-school cheerleaders. "on the ground! now! never mind that asphalt gets pretty hot when it's 110 degrees!"
    5) i can do this all day, but i'll stop here: it's becoming ever-more obvious that too many cops - or all cops? how are we to know? - are either serial liars or grossly incompetent. illinois had to close their death row when they found out **a third** of the men scheduled to die were unquestionably, DNA-proven innocent. we can chalk up one or two to bad luck, or a cop stopping the investigation because his supercop spidey sense tingled when they talked to a bad actor. but one-frickin'-THIRD of 'em??? that means cops lied. a LOT of cops lied. this happens everywhere, of course - lon horiuchi's story was that his perfect killshot of vicki weaver was just "bad luck" - but it's gotten so bad the 'wall st. journal' recently ran a story on it. must be a PRETTY prevalent law-enforcement problem when the **money** paper writes about it, and even has to invent a new verb: "testilying". so how are we to know how many cops lie? letting them police themselves hasn't worked out so well...should we just trust 'em? put 'em on the honor system? we could install cameras in their cruisers and interrogation rooms, but they always seem to break down at critical times, darn the luck!

    your closing line about "whining about the symptoms" was telling, val. i'm guessing there's law enforcement somewhere in your family, or past. because that's how cops think nowadays, it seems: everyone not a cop is a "civilian", and when they complain about ANY police action - from puppycide to face-down takedowns that result in the perp's death - that complaint is, by definition, "whining". or "bashing". as i mentioned earlier, i'm from pretty much the *prototype* white-guy-law-n-order-supporter demographic. 50, white, middle-class, all that. i look so much like a cop that - back in my youthful days - i couldn't get any action at a topless bar because they all thought i was vice.

    here's what the cops have done to us and to themselves: *I* - mr. whitebread - HATE and FEAR the police. notice i didn't say "dislike". so do *all* my family - including the millionaire cousins. so do 90%+ of my whitebread neighbors. we've all seen the "never talk to the police" video from the lawschool guy, and took careful notes. then made the kids watch it. i know a man who's installed hidden cameras and audio on his front porch, on the million-to-1 chance that he'll need video evidence to protect himself from the cops should they ever come calling. i know people talking about installing dash cameras in their car for the same reason. since that what's it's like here in gringo acres, and we got us no gangs here, not even packs of feral preppies, i can only imagine how VERY much worse it must be in the 'hood/barrio. so, as a rough guess, i'd say the police, especially over the last 20 years or so, have managed to alienate roughly 80%? 85%? of the entire frickin' COUNTRY. stories like the one i ran across yesterday don't help much: seems a guy outside of houston caught a robber in his house, and held him at gunpoint while the mrs. called 911. the cops came. they shot...wait for it....they shot the *homeowner* 6 times. (count 'em!) in the BACK. (brave brave brave brave officer robin...) THEN, with catlike speed, they realized their mistake, and cunningly began to plan their coverup. what lies to tell. who'd tell what lie. stuff like that. sadly, all of this fine professional policework was caught on the 911 tape, *which was still running over the open phone line.* amazingly, the guy lived. like the whiner he is, though, he's planning to sue. (that's my new favorite story. saaaay, do you suppose stuff like that has ever happened before? when there WASN'T a tape running to contradict police testilying?)

    you don't see a problem here? 75%+ of the entire country hates the police, and you really think the cops aren't, as you said, "the true enemy?" then who the hell IS, dude? oh, and, as colombo would say, "just one last thing"......"you want me to put myself in a cop's shoes, imagine the danger he feels on a daily basis"? heh. this is too easy. a)nobody forced him to become a cop. he volunteered. b)police pay is now running ...what? 60% higher than average private-sector pay? c)with fabulous benefits d)lucrative overtime opportunities e)almost guaranteed lifetime job security (not many cop layoffs, and there's a LOT of stories out there about cops who got caught doing evil things getting rehired with back pay. a LOT of stories like that.) f)an **incredible** pension, which i've noticed cops don't like people talking about g)as for the "danger" a cop faces, and the bad people he has to deal with, let it be noted that studies have shown that copping isn't even in the top 10 most dangerous jobs. driving a cab is, followed by convenience-store clerk. lumberjacks. stuff like that.

    oddly, almost nobody hates and fears cabbies and 7-11 clerks. (admittedly, EVERYbody hates lumberjacks, with their PLAID SHIRTS and their HIGH BOOTS and their BLUE OXES....)(whoops. tangent.) then again, cabbies and clerks almost never shoot/tase/rob/brutalize/sodomize/plant evidence on/falsely imprison/etc the public. hmmm. might there be a connection there?

    apologies to all for the long post. didn't mean to whine. i blame the damn lumberjacks, the TRUE enemy.

  14. nom de guerre:

    awwwww, CRAP. messed up. (i blame society for this. i'm the real victim here.) the "cops shoot homeowner in back and plot coverup, all on tape" story was - as coyote pointed out in plain english - was in PHOENIX, not houston. now it's gonna bug me all night...what was it the houston (la marque?) cops did? throw the handcuffed guy into the bayou, where he drowned? shoot a 17-year-old and plant a throwdown gun on his body?

    naaahhhhhh......those are old ones. lead an organized burglary team? (no, that was the lt. in chicago...) work for the mob? (no, that was the nypd guys and the fbi guys in boston...)? serial-kill his wives? (no - chicago again...) hand over the 14-year-old boy to the cannibal serial killer who was chasing him? (nope. milwaukee. have read THAT genius has received *several* promotions since. he might even be chief by now.) beat the hell out of and tase a special-ed child? (naah - everywhere BUT houston, it seems) human sacrifices? ritual killings? dammit! what? what? WHAT???

  15. KR:

    (admittedly, EVERYbody hates lumberjacks, with their PLAID SHIRTS and their HIGH BOOTS and their BLUE OXES….)

    I don't know about that. I know a lumberjack, and he's OK.

    He sleeps all night, and he works all day.

  16. Val:

    Nom de guerre - First, let me thank you for a very thorough post :) Second, I am sorry if I offended you with my choice of words. I truly value the information you present, your analysis, and your opinion. Thank you for those things - they enable me to see beyond my own views.

    I am not a cop, nor do I have any in my family, going back many generations. I do have an attorney in the wood pile, but he is corporate attorney - specifically environmental law. That's about as close as my nature or nurture gest to the law. Oh, and my own attorney, who is a good friend, just finished helping me beat a ridiculous charge courtesy of an activist officer of the law. As of late my generally positive opinions of law enforcement have been somewhat strained. I do have several friends that are local cops (whom I go shooting with frequently), and two NHP neighbors who I don't know well, but seem like pretty good guys. I am very glad to have them there... When they moved in the frequent teen proto-gang activity and associated petty theft (my $400 prescription sunglasses, for one example) and vandalism dropped to zero. Without them doing anything. They also removed a convicted sex offender (predatory pedophile) from the house across the street (I have two small children who fit his target group). I also work out with two prison guards on occasion. One more thing: I live in Reno, and apologize for that UNR/UNLV game - I hope you can remain objective here in spite of that...

    What I am is a soldier. Not active anymore, of course (now I am in finance), but spent time in 2 combat zones pounding the ground. That is where my reference standard comes from. So, as far as rules of engagement are concerned, I can assure you that those the police are supposed to use are very restrictive. They also need to worry a great deal about being held accountable. HOWEVER, as with any system of rules, they can be and are violated, and there are times where those that do are illegally protected. Police are filled with people who are subject to tribal behavior, run of the mill corruption, and sometimes much worse. This is not exclusive to law enforcement. The exact same issues occur whenever and wherever they can (like finance, for example :-)). In any case, the events you mentioned, which I think are horrible, reprehensible acts, should be investigated and prosecuted to the full extent if it should turn out they are guilty. This is not a defense of law enforcement personal - just an objective view. I further submit that good pay packages and a reasonable assurance that they will be protected from frivolous or malicious legal attacks is the best type of assurance we can have that our police are minimally corruptible. Not perfect, just keeping it to as much of a minimum as possible.

    I made a request previously for stats, an effort to put this in perspective. We all know the many examples that hit the presses showing police horrifics, and it is important that they are publicly exposed. This is one of the few times I think the press actually does the job they should be doing (note how often it is lamented here about the general tendency of the press to push all kinds of crap, mostly resulting from their gullible and lead by the nose approach to reporting, with a healthy dose of math-phobia). I would bet a year's pay that if we stacked all of the legitimate, honest and extremely important things that are done by the police against the horrible things, we would see a vanishingly small sample of the latter with respect to the former. I would include in that bet that danger for officers is much higher in your area than mine, and some neighborhoods (i.e., beats) are much worse than others. My concern is that we, as human beings, have a tendency to heavily overweight our views and responses by seeing only the bad things. This leads to all sorts of bad decisions, like falling for anthropogenic GW and racing to install economy killing policies and draconian social controls to stop it.

    I am thinking a general view of law enforcement, with no particular community or types of crimes in mind. In Reno we have minimal problems with law enforcement, though there are some. However, I know those problems are much worse in Vegas, just like they are in LA, NY, DC, Miami, ect... Population density and warm weather don't seem to make a good combination for lower crime rate. Police presence and response vary in direct proportion. This is not a justification, but another observation. Since we both agree that there is a problem, these things are important. A solution will not be found focusing solely on the police. In fact, it will not be found by putting a majority of the focus on police. We could argue all day about where the crime comes from, but that really is the root of our problem. Less crime, less police, less problems.

    I agree there are problems. I do not have solutions to all of them, but I bet none of them are knee jerk anti-law enforcement. That MUST be avoided. Perhaps more restrictions should be put in place. Perhaps the system is peaking the extreme diminishing returns, and we have to accept it as the best that can be done. Perhaps it is somewhere in between. I further bet that it is in between but more towards the latter. In short, I am generally glad that the police are there, and they do present a strong deterrent to crime. The alternative is much, much worse. If you have any doubt, sit down and talk to a prison guard about what kind of people are behind bars. I think you will agree that it is a damn good thing they are. Though this is a topic that easily arouses passionate argument, I believe we must be very careful how we approach it. Stepping back and making a dispassionate assessment is very, very important before any solutions can be suggested.

    One more thing in parting: GO WOLFPACK!!! (Sorry - couldn't help it).