font-family: 'Arizonia', cursive; Michael Stichauf - "As I understand it now...'til it changes": February 2015

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

DUI checkpoint loophole, Walgreens employee disarms thief, Playing political "football" with Homeland Security budget

My Take On This Week's Stories

This is my attempt at committing to a weekly post, discussing a couple of the more interesting stories from the previous week.

Dui Checkpoint Loophole

A St. Louis T.V. station, KTVI, did a segment on Florida attorney, Warren Redlich's brilliant strategy for drivers to get through D.U.I. checkpoints without rolling down their windows and without police contact for the duration of the checkpoint stop. Here is a video of Redlich going through a checkpoint in Miami, Florida on July 24, 2014;

For everyone out there who feels the way I do about bad coppers, as well as GOOD POLICE OFFICERS, you've got to feel good about this terrific service Warren Redlich has given us! 

In a nutshell, this is Mr. Redlich's advice; You make up a flyer with the following, printed on it- 
I will remain silent
I will not consent to a search
I will not roll down my window
I want my attorney
In the video, you can see Redlich show his flyer as they pull him off to the side. You also see him showing the officers his drivers license. If you go to the link that I gave you through clicking on the word "segment" above, there is also the option of having the flyer and your D.L. in a plastic bag which you then hang out the window of your car as you go through the checkpoint. Of course, the purpose of this is so the officers have the opportunity to put their hands on your D.L. (make sure your window is shut though, this way the officer CAN'T SAY that he smelled alcohol on your breath, thereby opening the door to testing you on a breathalyzer). 

I am a huge believer in civil rights, the fact that coppers (not good police officers) abuse these rights on a regular basis is an issue I've written about. Yet, drunk driving is a problem that every state must continue to deal with. Consequently, I have mixed emotions about this issue. I applaud Mr. Redlich for this tactic but it also sends a shiver down my spine when I think of the fact that there might be a drunk driver who uses this technique and five minutes down the road, kills someone. 

In the segment that KTVI, St. Louis did, they interview an attorney about the effectiveness and legality of the tactic. He makes a great point and for us Chicagoans, a very scary and valid one! He says that when you ask the question whether this tactic works and is it legal for a driver to use, you need to look at it in two different views, the "practical" one and the "legal" one. Yes, it is legal. That's all well and good but is it practical? Now you've got to take some things into consideration. There's always that chance that you run across a copper who becomes incensed that you dared to defy him! BAM-CRASH!! Your driver's side window is shattered and you've just been dragged through it by Mr. Copper! Every driver has to ask himself that question; Do you REALLY want to risk a confrontation? In Chicago? No, I don't want to risk it! Plain and simple. A very interesting topic.

Walgreen's employee disarms thief

In Chicago, a Walgreen's employee threw caution to the wind and helped Chicago police officers disarm a thief who grabbed an officer's gun and was able to fire off a shot. 

Ray Robinson was working at an Andersonville Walgreens store on
Thomas Thompson
Valentine's day when he noticed an individual exiting his store with some items that he cuffed. The news stories that I've read didn't say whether Mr. Robinson had a chance to call police before the thief left but as he followed Mr. Thomas Thompson out the door, two Chicago Police officers were right there. That's when things broke bad!

A struggle broke out as the officers tried to detain Thompson. Thompson punched one of the officers and hurt him good. Next, during the struggle, Thompson gained control of one of the officer's gun and was able to fire a shot! This is where Ray Robinson turned into a hero and joined the fray! The Chicago Tribune Redeye describes Robinson as, "short and slender" at "5 foot 6, 130 pounds" and Thompson as "6 foot 3, 250-pounds" but Robinson didn't care.

Most people, at this point, would have their "flight response" in high gear but not Ray! When that shot went off, Robinson said, "I'm thinking, the cops don't have control of the situation. It's getting really dicey." 

"I knew the one cop was hurt", Robinson said. "I grabbed his hand I forced (the gun) to the cement. By the grace of God, I was able to get my other arm up there and was able to pry his finger off the trigger. I just knew they needed help."

Thomas Thompson, 33, is a former soldier with an honorable discharge from the Army. He is currently resting his head on a pillow at the stately Cook County Jail, charged with attempted first-degree murder, disarming a police officer and possession of a controlled substance, to wit cocaine. If he can come up with 10% of the $500,000 bond, he can be back at home, sleeping on his own bed. We ALL hope that's not gonna happen. 

Mr. Ray Robinson, 48, is definitely a hero. Left in the wake of the incident are two, unfortunately injured, police officers who also heroically tried to do their jobs by arresting a thief. They, I'm sure, are grateful that an individual like Mr. Ray Robinson was working that day AND willing to jump in and help them as they were surprised by a hulking goof like Thompson. Think about this; any other person who happened to be working and at the scene that day, probably would have chosen NOT to get involved! And they wouldn't have been at fault for that! That being the case, we would be mourning the death of two Chicago Police Department officers. Thompson already showed that he was willing to fire at the officers and would have shot those men had Robinson not been there to pry his fingers off that trigger!

We don't see heros in Chicago much. On Valentine's Day, 2015, Chicago was fortunate enough to have a Mr. Ray Robinson willing to step up and become one!
No picture is available of Mr. Ray Robinson.

Playing political "football" with the Homeland Security budget

This Saturday, the 28th, the budget of the Homeland Security Department will run out. Because 86% of the employees are considered "essential employees", they will be required to work because their job is important to the security of the United States. They will be working but they won't get paid, unless the President AND the Republicans stop using the budget as a political football! 

The Republicans have decided to attach amendments to the funding that would require the President to stop implementation of a program that would defer the deportation of some 5 million illegal aliens. In other words, the Republicans are saying, "Unless you stop playing the way you are playing, we are taking our ball and going home!"

One of the reasons the Republicans are using to justify their actions is that they are saying that this President has abused his power, the power of the Presidency, and has acted more like an Imperial Monarch than an elected official who should be beholden to the voters and the citizens of the United States. Whether you are a Democrat or a Republican, you surely can't hide from the facts and the facts are these. The biggest indicator of a President acting like he doesn't have any constraints on his power, is in how many "Executive Orders" he has issued. To date, President Obama has issued 144 "E.O.s". Compared to Bush's 291 "E.O.s", President Obama has issued less than half in more than three quarters the amount of time. At the rate that President Obama is going, he will end his Presidency with about 192 "E.O.s", still 99 less than Bush. You never heard the Republicans threatening Bush's budgets because of Presidential overreach. 

Now, on the other side of this issue, President
The President
Obama needs to, somehow, come up with another idea about what to do with the immigration issue. For those who believe in the theory, "What part of "illegal" don't people understand about the "illegal alien" situation", it's got nothing to do with being against ANY minority group. It's about obeying the law as it is now. If you don't agree with it, work to change it. Yes, people understand that the issue is difficult but that's why we've elected the public officials to the offices that they hold. If our public officials want the job of running our country, then they need to do the jobs that we've elected them to. 

Tom Ridge
This situation is exactly the reason why the actions by BOTH sides are terrible. Regular, everyday Janes and Joes are caught in the middle. Tom Ridge, former head of "Homeland Security" said the employees of "Homeland Security" are the ones who will be made to suffer for the "political folly" created by his fellow Republicans. 

Here's the deal, though. When all is said and done, the Republicans, who are deluding themselves into thinking that the Democrats will end up being blamed for this funding problem, are refusing to fund an agency which will end up depriving average, everyday individuals, who live from check to check, their weekly paychecks! It's the Republicans who have the power to say, "You know what? We have the power NOT to drag innocent people into our PERSONAL HATRED of this President. Let's fund this agency so these people can live their lives." That's what the Republicans have the power to do! As it stands now, the Republicans are blinded by their hatred and their personal animosity of a President who they feel, doesn't deserve the office that the Electorate and the citizens of the U.S. have legally elected to the Presidency! According to the L.A. Times, Rep.
Mr. Principles
Curt Clawson, a Republican from Florida says, "I'm just not that scared of sticking to principles and fulfilling campaign promises that we made back home." Okay, Mr Principles, then you pay these people from your pocket and the pockets of your Congressmen friends. Better yet, if you really believe in your principles, then cut the funding for your paychecks, not someone else's. Why isn't it EVER the funding that ends up paying the salaries of the Congressmen and Senators, who want to talk about it being "principles" upon which they govern this country, being cut! What Americans need to start to understand, and I really hate to say this, is that your elected officials don't care about you! What they care about is their power and how they can expand it. Whether this situation ends up being resolved by Saturday or not, it doesn't matter. The Republicans have proven that they will stoop to any level in order to satisfy their insatiable hatred for this President and to increase their power! I'm sure there are situations which can be used to show that the Democrats have the same desire for power. Fortunately, they haven't been the cause, yet, of any American citizen being deprived of their lawfully earned paychecks.

And that's, "As I understand it now... 'til it changes". Thanks for reading.
Michael K. Stichauf. 

Friday, February 20, 2015

A Badge, A Uniform and A Gun

It feels like all I seem to be doing lately is posting story after story about some form of police officer malfeasance. Frankly, I'm getting really tired of it! I wish, above all else, that these incidents would stop and here's why; 

  • Innocent people would stop getting injured or killed and the injustice that the citizens of this country experience would come to an end,
  • I have a couple of close friends who are police officers and it bothers me, to no end, that they suffer the embarrassment of being linked together with these bad "coppers", simply because they do the same type of work to put food on the table for their families.

Now, I don't have a "pollyannaish" view on this issue of "police malfeasance". We'll never totally rid society of it. But, one individual who doesn't have to suffer the humiliation from a person who feels that he/she is better than others or has power over others, just because he/she has a badge, a uniform and a gun, is one more building block in the foundation of a free society. Right now, America needs as many "building blocks" as it can get. This post about this particular incident, without a doubt, is the most egregious incident that I've reported on since I started doing this. I consider it the "most egregious" because we actually watch a man die right in front of our eyes! Mostly, because the men who were sent to control the situation, lost control of the situation and they all wore a badge, a uniform and, unfortunately, a gun!

Witness this tragedy for yourself before you continue, please-

I saw this video earlier in the week but for some reason I only got to see the part of it where the "coppers" are running after the victim and then it ended a millisecond before they gun him down in cold blood! The video I saw earlier might actually have been taken by a different witness who had almost the same vantage point as this witness taking this video. The views are extremely similar only, in the video I originally saw, the segment where the actual killing takes place is from the same direction and vantage point but there is a car in between the camera and the shooting. As you can see here, there is a clear, unobstructed view of the whole shooting segment. If I was, in fact, watching a second recorded version of this heinous act, whoever posted it to YouTube stopped the action as the view of the murder became blocked. I'm not sure if the witness was practicing a rare act of compassion by self-editing the video to show respect for the victim or he simply stopped recording when his view became obstructed. In any event, I remember leaving the video thinking to myself, "Well, this doesn't show me anything."

Imagine my shock when I saw this recorded version of the "murder". Folks, I literally got SICK TO MY STOMACH! SICK TO MY STOMACH! I'm not using this statement as literary hyperbole, either! It was physical and it was real! The only other time that I physically got sick from witnessing something was the only other time I witnessed an individual get shot! 

There are a number of things about this incident, aside from the "murder", that are seen in the video which are shocking in their nature. Witnesses have stated that the man was initially tasered but that it really did no good. One witness said that the man was pulling the prongs out of his arm. Now, I have to admit, that's a little disconcerting to me if I'm a police officer. If I was on the scene by myself as the first officer responding, this response to being tasered would have me looking for another way to handle the situation. I'll be the first to admit that if the suspect pressed the issue, I would consider using my gun. I don't know how you can avoid that thought process considering what you just witnessed. But, from all accounts, there isn't any mention of an officer being alone on this scene. Obviously, the video shows numerous officers there from the outset of the video. Being alone isn't a viable excuse for the implementation of deadly force in this situation. 

Another issue, according to witnesses, was the fact that this victim was aggressive. Another threat to the officers. Witnesses said that the man ran at the officers which obviously happened before the video was started. BUT, what you can see, at the very start of the video, is the victim throwing, what I can only assume is a rock, at the officers. Police were originally called to the scene because the man was throwing rocks at cars. As you click the "play" button, you see one of the officers trying to subdue the victim. While this is happening, the victim has his right arm up, in a throwing position and as he breaks the officer's grip on his wrist, he throws whatever is in his hand at the officer. Now, most people who are on the side of the "coppers" here, will say this is definitely grounds for the use of deadly force. Yet, the officer who is closest to the victim, the one who was trying to subdue him, isn't initially trying too hard to get away from him. Although, he is throwing something at the officer, the officer's actions don't betray any feelings of fear towards this victim. This is where things break bad for everyone involved.

From what the video shows, the first time the officer who is trying to grab the victim to subdue him shows any urgency in his movements is when it's obvious that his fellow officers decide that it's time for this victim to die! The officer then moves quickly to get out of the line of fire! What is also so interesting is the fact that the officer who was the closest to being in danger, doesn't even raise his own gun to defend himself! 

The rest of the video is self-explanatory. It's scary and tragic but it's self-explanatory. There is no reason for these officers to use deadly force in this situation! Even with the actions that have been explained in this post, these officers never had a reason to fear for their lives. There are three of them there within feet of this victim and two of the three are bigger than the victim. What we witness here are officers who are either unwilling to use the training they were given to subdue an aggressive suspect or officers who are full of their own power and importance and have no fear of retribution for the actions they take in the line of duty. Either situation is a travesty. We've already heard about the departments that have been forced to hire candidates who are unqualified to perform the duties of the job of police officer. Politicians, in their desire to hold or acquire positions of power have learned that the "magic" phrase is, "I'm TOUGH on crime! Vote for me and I'll fund the police department to the hilt! There'll be a cop on every corner!" Unfortunately, the people who are applying for these new police officer openings have already been turned down by at least one and possibly multiple police departments because their character's aren't right for the position. Some of them have been fired from one force already for "excessive force" issues. I don't care how long any of these "coppers" have been on the force, their actions are the actions of a.) rookies, b.) under-trained and c.) arrogant, inhuman bullies who have a license to kill! 

Another problem that we need to deal with is the fact that it is few and far between the "coppers" who've been charged and convicted for crimes such as these. As I said, these are the actions of bullies who have no fear of retribution for these actions that they've committed on this video! Even without the video, these guys committed this "murder" with dozens of cars and witnesses watching everything that happened and yet, they shot this man not once, but multiple times. When you watch this video, they initially fire five shots at this guy from point blank range! Two of the officers start the shooting as soon as the victim breaks free from the officer and throws the rock at him. The man runs away! He actually runs away, after the first round of firing. The fact that he runs shows that he isn't a threat to the officers. But, wait, it gets worse! As he's running, he has his hands in the air, showing that he has NOTHING IN HIS HANDS with which to use against the officers! They chase him down, like a rabid dog. As the man gets to the other side of the corner, he realizes that they are still chasing him and he turns around and stops, showing the "coppers" his hands and AGAIN, from point blank range, all three of these bullies fire more shots than I can count into this man's body and he just drops! He just DROPS! 

As I watched the video, I thought about the fact that in the span of a second, this victim goes from being a breathing, living, albeit probably troubled man, to a dead body with no life coursing through his veins! Killed by the very men who we've entrusted the lives of our citizens with by giving them a badge, a uniform and a gun and said, "Go forth and protect!" Well, ladies and gentlemen, these men did go forth, they went forth and they killed a man who was unarmed and who was SHOWING THEM HIS HANDS, trying to surrender! 

I can go on for quite some time here but I'm sure there are some of you, who don't agree with me on this issue who would prefer that I just shut-up. Sorry, can't do that. I think that a "copper" who abuses his authority is one of the worse problems we have in America today! I'm sure that there will be the comments from people who will always think that a guy like this deserves what he gets. I'll also get some comments from people who will be parsing words about the rules for using "deadly force" but when you look at this video and you realize that these bullies shot and killed an unarmed man, do you really want to parse words with me?!? If there is any reason that we have a code of conduct which has a loop-hole for these scum to be able to wiggle out of prosecution for this crime, we ALL SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF OURSELVES FOR ALLOWING THAT LOOP-HOLE TO EXIST! Yes, from all accounts, this man seemed like he was troubled. According to some publications, the Pasco Police Department is keeping very quiet right now, while they start to dig up "dirt" on this guy. Eventually, they'll come out with the usual stuff about him being arrested multiple times or maybe he wasn't arrested multiple times but we're sure he had plenty of police contact, aren't we? There are so many police officers on the street that you have police contact for looking the wrong way at one of them! The fact of the matter is this, though, this man will NEVER get the chance to become, "un-troubled"! He'll never be able to possibly receive some help, which just might have really only included a Doctor putting him on the right medication and, "Poof", we have a fine, upstanding member of society! Maybe this man wasn't troubled at all. We'll NEVER know now, though. These men "snuffed" his life out in an instant because they had a badge, a uniform and a gun!

That's, "As I understand it now... 'til it changes".
Thanks for reading,
Michael K. Stichauf.