Where's Obama?

Presidents get into helicopters at the drop of a hat to tour disaster areas if such a trip can get them 2 minutes of empathy-demonstration on the nightly news broadcast.  Their presence is generally a hindrance to progress as first-responders have to drop everything to plan for the visit.

For once, in St. Louis, a Presidential visit might actually do some good and Obama sits in Martha's Vineyard.  I never thought of him this way, but for much of the African-American community, Obama represents a unique, special, almost mythical figure in whom a lot of hopes and dreams were invested.   An Obama visit urging peace combined with a promise from him that a fair and complete investigation would be undertaken would, IMO, bring the rioting to a halt.   If I were he I would go out there as the true friend of the African-American community that many perceive him to be and say, "the national has heard you and shares your frustration.  Change can happen.  But further violence in the streets is only going to undermine your position and give the advocates of militarized policing further, ah, ammunition.   It is reasonable for a President to defer to local and state authorities -- in fact it would be disastrous for the President to make a habit of sticking his nose in local criminal cases -- but he may be the only person with the credibility with local residents to make this end.

Since I last posted on this, there have been two new pieces of information.  One, Michael Brown apparently committed petty theft a few minutes before he was picked up, though the officers that picked him up did not know this.  And two, an autopsy reports that the unarmed Brown was shot at least 6 times.  It is hard to imagine any story that adequately explains shooting an unarmed man** who was not known to have committed a crime 6 freaking times.  And since the police have still not released any narrative of what happened from their point of view (they are still working with Michael Bay's screenwriters to see if they can come up with something), all we can do is imagine.

**Update 8/18:  I am willing to believe I am being unfair here.  I am simply exhausted by the lack of accountability and the pass we give to officers involved in shootings.  However, just because many such shootings are unjustified and subject to cover-ups does not by any means they all are.  The question from all of this is how do we start holding the police accountable without having to have riots.


  1. xtmar:

    Not to up your cynicism level, but do look at this press briefing from 7 Aug 14.


    Do a Ctrl-F for vacation, and you'll see that he's back in Washington today, as previously planned, and should be back in Martha's Vineyard by Wednesday.

  2. HenryBowman419:

    Current information indicates that Brown may have been charging the officer when shot, not seated. As is often the case, we don't really know what actually happened and, in fact, may never know. The Ferguson PD cops don't bother to wear those really, really expensive lapel cameras, which might help out immensely (they don't always, though). Hopefully there will be credible eyewitnesses (such does not include cops).

  3. Nehemiah:

    Our pres flew back to DC to drop off one daughter and pick up the other. That was planned for some time. Pretty expensive shuttle service.

  4. Nehemiah:

    I have not seen any reporting that Mr. Brown was seated when he was shot. What I've heard is that he vacated the police car after a struggle (after punching the cop and trying to take his gun). Once outside the car the police officer pursued him to make an arrest. Another witness has come forward saying that Mr. Brown turned back on the cop and the shooting started soon after. Mr. Brown appears to be a rather large young man (6' 3"). Most of his gunshot wounds were to the right arm. They may not have been sufficient to stop him from charging. It was the shots to the head that appear to be the fatal wounds.

    There may indeed be something fishy about this shooting, but I'd like to wait for the facts to come out. The thing that bothers me most is the apparent imbalance in the racial makeup of the police force relative to the community. That is never a good thing and suggests an us versus them mindset.

  5. Tenth Amendment:

    Would Coyote like to explain how the Federal government has any jurisdiction in the unfortunate events in Ferguson, Missouri?

  6. ErikEssig:

    "I'd like to wait for the facts to come out." Well said.

    "The thing that bothers me most is the apparent imbalance in the racial makeup of the police force relative to the community. That is never a good thing and suggests an us versus them mindset."

    The thing that bothers me the most is that there is a dead 18 year old. So I can't join you on that one. Unless you can explain which white policemen you want to fire and which black policemen you will replace them with and why.
    Warren is right, the President could show some real leadership here. I'm not holding my breath.

  7. Tom Lindmark:

    With regard to you last paragraph, Dave Schuler poses some difficult questions:

    "For those who believe that the sad events were completely fomented by a mostly-black population and a mostly-white police force, what do you think should change? Keep in mind that until 2000 Ferguson was mostly white and it is only now mostly black. Do you think that:

    The population of Ferguson should have been mandated to remain white, consistent with its white police force.

    The police force should have been mandated to be mostly black consistent with the population it was now serving despite work rules governing hiring and firing.

    Some other solution and if so what?"


    The ethnic composition of government vis-a-vis the electorate is a slippery slope you might want to avoid.

  8. Nehemiah:

    My questions would be as follows:
    1. What was the size of the police force in 2000 when it was still majority white community?
    2. How many officers have been added to the force since 2000?
    3. Of the officers added, how many due to growth of department, how many to replace attrition?
    4. How many new officers hired since 2000 are white versus black.

    With the answers to these questions I would be happy to comment further.

  9. sean2829:

    Maryland is in the midst of the same situation but the racial make up of victim and shooter are reversed. An off duty NJ policeman (African American) shot a local man (caucasian) about a mile from where I live in a road rage incident about a year ago. The jury concluded late last month. The trial results are here. http://baltimore.cbslocal.com/2014/07/30/deliberations-continue-in-road-rage-murder-trial/ Anyone outside of Maryland see this in the news? The trial was concluded just 3 weeks ago.

  10. Shane:

    Yes, followed it on Legal Insurrection. The off duty cop was acquitted. The only real issue at stake on that trial is that Maryland is a duty to retreat state.

  11. Matthew Slyfield:


    On the other hand where there protests? Riots? Police SWAT teams with armored vehicles on the streets for weeks?

  12. Shane:

    Just one quibble Coyote. You are assuming that all six shots were fired at once. There are many, many instances where someone had to keep firing to keep a person down. Have seen a few stories that he had THC in his system which will act as an anesthetic. Which makes multiple bursts more plausible.

  13. Matthew Slyfield:

    "Another witness has come forward saying that Mr. Brown turned back on the cop and the shooting started soon after."

    From what I have read else where, that same or another witness said that when Brown turned back, he had his hands up and was trying to surrender.

    Even if Brown was charging, he was far enough away (his body was still 35' away when fell), that does not by itself justify Shooting him. Police these days have a whole arsenal of less lethal means of responding to unarmed violent suspects; batons, tasers, pepper spray. Police are also trained in unarmed combat, which should give the cop an advantage even over a larger opponent.

    Part of the problem is that the militarization of the police has come without any focus on marksmanship and a training regimen that teaches them to shoot first and ask questions later because their only hope is to spray and pray due to poor marksmanship.

    Brown was shot six times and only 1 or 2 were lethal.

    It brings to mind the Amadou Diallo shooting. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shooting_of_Amadou_Diallo

    41 rounds fired, only 19 hits.

  14. Bill:

    I agree that this many shots seems excessive. I sometimes shoot at a range used by local police and they practice emptying their weapons at targets in a rapid fire manner. Makes little sense to me, but ....
    On the other hand, Brown was about 6'4" and nearly 300 lbs. Recall he lifted that shop owner off the ground. If this person was coming at me I would shoot as well. Remember also that it is not uncommon for someone to put a half dozen 9mm rounds into someone and they run away. The pistols most of the police carry will not stop someone unless you hit a vital area.

  15. Frank Waleczak:

    This happened in Seattle about 15 years ago--

    ...Then about 1:30 a.m. this morning, two officers in a car downtown spotted
    a patrol car near Third Avenue and James Street. The driver was clearly not
    a cop, police said. But he was wearing clothes with police insignia.

    The officers chased the stolen police car north to the Eastlake area. But they
    lost sight of the fleeing cruiser, which had its lights and siren engaged, before
    they reached a hillcrest at East Roanoke Street and Harvard Avenue East
    on Capitol Hill.

    When they topped the hill, the officers saw another patrol car, which turned
    out to be a lone officer from the East Precinct. But they thought it was the
    suspect. They rammed him with their car.

    The East Precinct officer, in turn, thought he was being rammed by the
    police imposter. He fired at the other patrol car. The officers in that car fired
    back. Luckily, police said, EVERY SHOT missed.

    emphasis added. The Seattle Times story says 20shots were fired. At the time, I seem to recall that it was 5 times as many. But I may be remembering wrong

  16. Bob Houk:

    Is jurisdiction at issue? Presidents can, and frequently do, speak out on a variety of issues. That's why Teddy Roosevelt referred to the office as 'a bully pulpit'.

    Their talk may or may not serve a beneficial purpose. I think the point of the OP is that this is an instance where the president speaking out could be helpful -- a plausible argument.

    As ErikEssig said above, I'm not expecting Obama to actually show any leadership here (or much of anywhere).

  17. Curtis:

    Experts have been saying the 9mm round doesn't do enough damage for decades. The proof is always right there to see. The force train to empty an entire 14 round magazine as fast as they can pull the trigger. This case shows why.

    You understand, this doesn't even address the merit of the case or the rationale behind urging every cop to fire a minimum of 14 rounds at a suspect and DAMN any innocent bystanders.

    We have a lot of work to do to rein ion this attitude.

  18. Norman:

    FWIW, 9MM with high quality self defense ammunition is just as effective as 45 if the bullets are delivered to an area of the body where they will have maximum effect on the nervous system or supporting structure Shot placement, shot placement, shot placement. The concentration of the entry wounds on Brown's right side - which is a right-handed shooter's left side - indicates the officer more than likely had a poor firing grip and too much finger on the trigger, which results in pulling shots left for a right hander. Quite understandable given the adrenaline dump he was going through. See On Combat by LTC Dave Grossman for additional info on adrenaline and heart rate as it affects concentration and motor skills.

    As for hitting Brown with 6 shots: Combat shooting Instructors teach students that if there is a direct and immediate threat with the capability to cause death or severe bodily injury then applying lethal force in self defense is both morally and legally justified ("legally" may depend on the jurisdiction one is in at the time) and that one continues to apply whatever force is necessary to reduce the threat as long as the threat exists. Real life is not at all like Hollywood movies and TV shows. I do not know how many shots Officer Wilson fired, but if it was as many as 12, hitting with 6 puts him well ahead of most police officers in shooting skill level.

    As for the "Brown was 35 feet away" issue, google "Tueller Drill." When the Tueller Drill is conducted at 21 feet, well over 90% of the time the gun user is stabbed before he can get a shot off, and when the gun user is able to fire a shot it comes fractions of a second before he is "stabbed" by the rubber training knife, way too late to prevent death or severe bodily injury from the stabber. It has been suggested that 33 feet is the minimum safe distance for defensive action, not 21 feet.

    All that said, we're discussing basic mechanics here. The real issue is the attitudes present on both sides of the confrontation, and what effect those attitudes had on escalation of the problem.

  19. Anonymous Mike:


    All good points... right after reading your post I went and checked the Washington Post and the headline was:

    "Holder to travel to Ferguson to meet with investigators"

    Holder is a man who has repeatedly played the race card so what can we can infer from the compare and contrast of your post and today's headline? Between a call for healing and the equivalent of pouring gasoline on a race fire?

  20. Canvasback:

    Your last paragraph is why I think the shoplifting and assault at the convenience store are relevant. It shows Brown's mindset just minutes before the incident. Pumped up and full of swagger, maybe he took a dislike to being ordered out of the street.

  21. stanbrown:

    Warren would be better served to wait til the facts are in before pronouncing judgments. Anyone who thinks they are getting all the relevant news from the mainstream media in cases like this obviously paid no attention to the Trayvon media fraud circus. I don't trust the cops. I don't trust the race hustlers. I sure don't trust the news media. Just like with the Trayvon case, it may be months before all the facts are fully known and all the early BS reporting from the media is fully exposed.

    The only thing we can be sure of is that a lot of what some people think they know right now is going to turn out to be wrong. And some of the important facts are not yet known. Only fools are certain of anything at this point. Patience.

  22. David in Michigan:

    "It is hard to imagine any story that adequately explains shooting an unarmed man who was not known to have committed a crime 6 freaking times." Ah, ... No, it's not that hard to imagine. I can do it six times before breakfast. So can others.

    But that's really not your point is it? The point you are really making is that you've made a judgement about the events. As for me, I'm still waiting for more information.... toxicology report, report on "shot fired inside car", grand jury conclusions.

    Also, your statement that "he may be the only person with the credibility with local residents to make this end." strikes a discordant note with me. It has become rather obvious that a number of "non-local" residents have been actively involved in keeping the rioting/looting going. And I'm not just talking about the media whores or the race baiting prostitutes like Sharpton ..... they are bad enough.....but rather actual street level agitators coming into the city to foment trouble for their own purpose whatever it may be. The counter point being that none of these people is going to listen to Obama.

  23. Craig L:

    I think he was 35' away when he turned around, not when he fell.

  24. marque2:

    Looks like Toxicology shows pot in the blood. Cop and another witness show the perp charged the cop, even after he fired a shot. All the shots were in front, not the back, so it looks like the cop didn't shoot at someone running away. the police department handled the case very poorly, but it looks like, yet again, a bunch of victim groups are going around yelling that it is racism and murder, and the criminal was a saintly kid who was off college, made it sound like he deans list. The protests are being held by Communists, New Black Panthers, and other sundry folk who aren't even from the area, and live off of race pimping.

    Other case, where what was probably the correct decision is turned into a race crime.

  25. marque2:

    4 shots hit the perp in the arm and the kid kept going.

  26. Matthew Slyfield:

    The report I saw said that the body was 35' from where the officer claimed to have been.

  27. Philip Ngai:

    1. Whether or not Officer Wilson knew that Brown had recently committed a crime, it is certain that Brown knew he had and also that Brown could not have know that Officer Wilson did *not* know. Thus Brown may have reacted as though Officer Wilson was responding to the robbery. This is the most dangerous situation for the police.

    2. I have seen reports that Brown punched Officer Wilson in the face, injuring Wilson's eye. That may have affected his vision, making it hard to aim as well as he would have otherwise. Also, 4 of the shots were in the arm which probably were not enough to stop Brown.

  28. Matthew Slyfield:

    1. Brown knew he had shoplifted a $5 item, a minor misdemeanor (The store owner didn't even bother to call the cops). He likely did not know that the cops would try to make it out to be a felony strong arm robbery. That changes the calculus for how Brown was likely to have reacted significantly.

    2. Have you seen reports of this corroborated by any witness other than Officer Wilson. The police lie, they lie on a regular basis as part of their job so they are good at ling convincingly. I will believe this when I see photo evidence that can be dated to the day of the shooting.

  29. Matthew Slyfield:

    "All the shots were in front, not the back"

    One of the shots to the arm was a grazing wound that could have come from the front or the back.

    Why couldn't the cop have used a taser or pepper spray on him? Nearly all police in the US carry them these days. Cops also have batons and are trained in hand to hand combat and techniques for physically controlling violent suspects.. Any justification for lethal force in this case is slim at best.

  30. Corky Boyd:

    I guess I will be the only commenter to answer the question of "Where's Obama?" I'll leave the effectiveness of 9mm ammo to others.

    Obama likes to talk, not do. He constantly changes his message as polling numbers and focus groups show weakness among the different Democratic support groups. Making TV announcements is about as far as he wants to go on the Ferguson issue. Quite frankly Ferguson is a political minefield. If things get out of hand, more force will be needed to keep the locals in line. The last thing Obama wants to do is be in the field and giving orders to crack down. That would put a serious dent in his reliable black support. So Holder gets the nod to be the sacrificial lamb.

    Holder gets the blame if things hit the fan. And Obama the credit if things calm down. Sound familiar?

  31. Philip Ngai:

    You seem to have messed up the decimal point. But how can you think a box of cigars is really only $5.

  32. kg:

    Warren... you ask why doesn't Obama go and speak to the African American community in Ferguson? Simple.. he's not black. Yes, his daddy had black skin, but BHO was raised in white Hawaii, and has only used his skin color to get something (admission to Harvard, perhaps?; elected to each office he's held). He has absolutely no connection with the average black person in America, and even less with the black community in Ferguson. Besides, he's having too much fun in MV living the life as Royalty, paid for by the American taxpayer.

  33. marque2:

    Since you know police work so well, maybe you should become a cop. Head wounds were from the front as well.

    Once again we are making excuses for poor decision making on the part of a petty criminal.

  34. Matthew Slyfield:

    Because they weren't cigars, they were cigarillos.

  35. Matthew Slyfield:

    I am not making excuses for anyone's decisions. You seem to be going out of your way to excuse the poor decision making of a bad cop.

  36. skhpcola:

    Drop the "African-American" bullshit. It is a signifier of leftist twats and actual Africans have better outcomes in the US than native-born blacks. Your pussified, leftist liberaltarian ideology disallows honest labels, but man the fuck up and grow some balls.

  37. Philip Ngai:

    All the reports I have read said it was a "box", not a "pack" and put the price closer to $50.
    Did you read my link?

  38. herdgadfly:

    Big Mike Brown, all 6'4," and 292 lbs of him, had already visited a much smaller Darren Wilson inside the police SUV, wrestling for the officer's pistol and so the sight of this big guy bull-rushing back toward his vehicle yet again would put deathly fear into most smaller men.

    Self-preservation is a powerfully effective natural reaction. What would you do in a similar circumstance?

  39. herdgadfly:

    Whether or not Wilson knew or didn't know about the robbery is not important because Brown knew what he had done, so his drug-induced aggressiveness as shown on the store video would still be in play.

    You speculate that Wilson was a bad cop, I speculate that an immature druggy was out-of-control. General Holder is on his way to appoint a special prosecutor to keep the local prosecutor, Robert McCullough (who defends cops) from conducting the grand jury investigation.

  40. herdgadfly:

    Do you really care what the skin color is of the trained fireman that just saved your burning house? I think you have racism of the mind if you do.

    Do all white police officers plot the elimination of any and all black citizens? Man that is sick.

  41. bigmaq1980:

    "had already visited a much smaller Darren Wilson inside the police SUV, wrestling for the officer's pistol"

    That is the confusing part. I heard this reported early on. I don't see it on current news reports, and the context of the Coyote post reads like this hasn't happened ("the officers that picked him up did not know this").

    Was it an early rumor that was reported but now discarded?

  42. bigmaq1980:

    I worry that even a fair reading of the facts, wherever that may lead, will be discredited by anyone who has already taken a side (which seems to be a majority of folks).

    Might not be a rumor, if the following is true:

    Also, reporter says a dozen witnesses corroborate the cop's story:

    Some race baiters (e.g. Sharpton - "shot in the back, with hands up") have already lost some credibility in this case on some facts that have come to light. On the other hand, others are quick to point to the criminal behavior as somehow belonging to the whole African-American community in Ferguson vs just of some thugs, many of whom are not even from that locale.

    It is not like Holder has a reputation for objective investigation (e.g. IRS), nor have the police been above reproach in this country (where it is nearly a daily experience to hear reports of police abuse), and this force in particular (a small force in a community that has had a dramatic demographic shift) has not shown exemplary professionalism.

  43. Gong Tao:

    To adress Warren's original question: I think Obama stays away because the likelihood of failure is too high. We could say that the unrest is caused by three groups: sincere protesters, political opportunists, and hooligans who like to burn and steal things. Only the first group might be mollified by Obama's appearance. If Obama turns up and gives a speech and the riots continue, that is a major fail for him. Why take the chance?

  44. Matthew Slyfield:

    It's still only petty theft, not a felony.

  45. Settin it str8:

    It's still only petty theft. Unless you include the fact that the photo from that convenience store shows someone in a physical confrontation. That kind of ups the ante. You also presume that the kid a) knew it was a misdemeanor, b) would have known the store clerk didn't call the police, c) the cops weren't looking for him, d) the police didn't consider him dangerous after said physical confrontation.
    That's an awful lot of rational decision making on part of an 18 yr old who just lifted a pack/box/carton/crate of cigars/cigarillos while high.
    Nah, don't see any possible discrepancy in those statements at all.

  46. Philip Ngai:

    Strong arm robbery, of which we have seen photographic evidence, is a felony.
    Mr. Brown had had multiple encounters with the law already and likely knew he would be going to jail again.

  47. Matthew Slyfield:

    I am not presuming anything. Those that claim he had motive to fight the cop are the ones that are making presumptions, specifically that he knew it was a felony.

    As to your d), a strong arm physical confrontation that ends with no injury is thin ground on which to consider him so dangerous that he merits lethal response despite being unarmed.

  48. Matthew Slyfield:

    But to get to motive to actually assault a cop to escape, you have to show not just that it was a felony, but that Mr Brown knew it was a felony.

  49. Philip Ngai:

    Still want to complain about Officer Wilson's shooting? I think it was pretty good for a one-eyed man.

    fta: Officer Darren Wilson suffered facial fractures during his confrontation with deceased 18 year-old Michael Brown. Officer Wilson clearly feared for his life during the incident that led to the shooting death of Brown.
    Wilson suffered an “orbital blowout fracture to the eye socket.”