June 15, 2012

Why You Can Never Have Too Many Security Cameras

Remember this kid? NYPD officers who thought he had drugs saw him enter his apartment building and kicked down the doors, following him into the bathroom where he was summarily killed. The cop who shot him (now charged with manslaughter) claims he thought the kid was reaching for a gun and that he fired in self-defense. No drugs or guns were found, though one of those items (i.e., not the putative gun) might well have been flushed. (According to the article, dozens of officers gathered outside the courtroom applauded when the accused emerged after posting bail. Now I understand they want to support their buddy, but that's kind of a sickening scene to contemplate, given that what's at issue is the fatal shooting of an unarmed teenager, a tragic error at best, a catastrophe for his family and neighborhood, etc. Maybe the shooting was indeed justified and unavoidable, and he's innocent till proven guilty, but actual applause seems well out of line.)

Anyway, so now the kid's neighbors and the landlady of the building are suing the city for terrorizing them in the course of the officers' conducting their teenager-killing duties:

The gunshots brought the landlady, Paulet Minzie, 55, out of the shower and down the stairs from the third floor, with only a towel covering her below the waist, the court papers say.

“Police screamed at her causing great alarm,” the notice says. “Ms. Minzie immediately retreated up the stairs toward her apartment, trailed by the two officers who had just been searching for (and killed) Ramarley Graham.

As Ms. Minzie reached the threshold of her apartment door, police ordered her to put her hands up and put a gun to her head,” the papers say. One officer kept the gun to her head until she told him there were surveillance cameras operating, she alleged.

“[He] immediately lowered his weapon. His demeanor completely changed, and he alerted his colleague that they may be on camera,” the papers say.

If I were ever in such a situation, I imagine a deameanor-altering camera might come in handy. Too bad there wasn't such a camera in the bathroom.

(via Ed Krayewski at Reason, who adds: "Victory in the drug war is right around the corner!" Indeed.)

Posted by Dr. Frank at June 15, 2012 04:21 AM