Sunday, April 21, 2013

Valley cops go on a weekend killing spree: "We're all living in fear in our own homes." (UPDATE)

Cops kill with impunity this weekend in Phoenix

Valley police agencies went on a hell of a killing spree this weekend, shooting dead four five people (see update below) between Friday and Sunday morning.  Are there more still to come?

Following a police chase Friday, cops took a 54-year-old man into custody on the on ramp of 19th Avenue and I-10.  After they handcuffed him, "the suspect began to complain of being hot and not feeling well. Officers removed the suspect from the car and became concerned about his appearance and the way he was acting."  Paramedics showed up, and police further restrained him when he became delusional.  He went into cardiac arrest and died.

Then, in Mesa, cops trying to arrest a man on a warrant opened fire, killing him.  Officers aren't sure how many cops shot him or how many bullets were fired, but neighborhood residents were not happy.  One shocked woman described the chaotic and dangerous situation when police starting shooting, disregarding the safety of locals and their kids: "When they started shooting I ran outside to grab my children and we ran to the living and we sat down on the floor. We heard other gunshots go through our kitchen."

She went on to describe her frustration at ongoing reckless police behavior in her neighborhood, saying, "It's unsafe to be out of your house now because you don't know when the cops are just going to have a shootout with somebody. Where's the warning for us. We're all living in fear in our own homes."  Friends of the man killed described him as "a good person" and "a good friend" who was well-loved, but that he was depressed and didn't want to go back to jail.

Meanwhile, in Phoenix, police killed a man who they say pointed a gun at them.  Initial reports weren't so clear, saying that police merely "believed" he had a gun.  Media initially seemed content to leave it at that, as if the mere belief by officers was justification enough to kill someone.  Later, this news report phrased it a bit oddly, saying that the man "was seen grabbing something near his waistband before stepping out of the vehicle and pointing a gun at the officers", at which point cops opened up on him, killing him.

Finally, Sunday morning Phoenix cops responded to a call about a man damaging mail boxes and threatening neighbors.  Police say he refused their orders, grabbed them and picked up a table leg, at which point they shot and killed him.  Sounds like a proportionate response! 

In every case, cops have a convenient excuse for their murderous actions, but Valley cops have a dubious record at best when it comes to violence, so there is ample cause for skepticism, and accountability is near zero for cops that kill.  Take the recent case of 16 year-old Alexander Wilson as a prime example, although there are countless more. Is it really good for a society to have armed men who feel free to act as judge, jury and executioner on our streets?  Unfortunately, the media rarely asks critical questions, serving more often than not as a megaphone for their excuses and justifications.  This leaves it up to us to demand justice and investigate.


UPDATE:
It's a sad commentary on the state of policing in Phoenix that I could have written a piece about a killing spree by Valley cops that took four lives and yet I still overlooked one.  Friday afternoon Phoenix police were serving a warrant in a business complex at 43rd and Olive.  According to to police (and as dutifully reported by the news), the man they were looking for "turned toward the officers and pulled out what officers perceived was a weapon", so they shot and killed him.

So, again, we see this pattern where the media treats police perception of a weapon as just as good as actually having a weapon.  And, of course, given the racist nature of policing, cops tend to perceive weapons more frequently when the target isn't white.  And in the era of cell phones, police have ample opportunity to misidentify a threat.  So that makes five people killed by Valley cops since Friday.  For a point of reference, Valley police killed more people than the Boston bombers did.  If this was done by anyone other than the police, the media would be going crazy.

UPDATE 2:
Friends and family held a vigil for Travis Trisoliere Sunday, daring to stand up against the police and their unaccountable violence.  Trisoliere's mother vowed, "This is wrong. I'm not just going to sit back and let this go away. My son deserves better."

Julie Martinez denounced the police and the way their reckless behavior put herself and her children at risk.  Police bullets hit her house.  Her kids were outside playing at the time of the shooting.  Martinez told ABC15, "When I came to the window is when they let out the second round and hit here. So I went like this (ducks), 'cause I was scared and I yelled, and that's when I ran to the front door to get my kids."

Enough is enough.

2 comments: