Friday, November 02, 2012

The sharpshooter who wasn't

A DPS sharpshooter in a helicopter aiming to take out the tires of a fleeing pickup truck missed and killed two undocumented immigrants in Hidalgo County, causing the local DA to request that DPS quit shooting at fleeing cars from helicopters. The term "sharpshooter" seems misplaced in describing such an episode; mere "shooter" would be more accurate. Notably, the Houston Chronicle reported, "a nationally known use-of-force expert has said he had never heard of a U.S. law enforcement agency with a similar policy." Compare this episode to an Austin case where an officer was recently fired for shooting at a fleeing vehicle. After the US Supreme Court issued Tennessee v. Garner back in the '80s, most local law enforcement agencies changed their policies on shooting at fleeing vehicles and DPS' approach seems like an odd, outdated throwback.

MORE (11/03): DPS now says the agency employed this tactic for fear that the speeding truck would soon enter an area with schools where children might be endangered. The audio from the chase was released to the media, and it cuts both ways. To DPS' credit, it contradicted earlier reports that DPS troopers were able to tell that people were in the back of the truck. The troopers involved in the chase declared, mistakenly, that "bundles" (i.e., drugss) were under the tarp. OTOH, I just listened to the audio clip up to point of the shooting and nobody ever mentioned schools or children. If that was part of the decision making process, as DPS now asserts, it wasn't discussed by any of the DPS personnel actively involved in the chase.

DPS has asked the FBI to investigate the incident, so stay tuned. This ain't over. 

AND MORE: One more notable aspect to the audio file keeps nagging at me. Dispatchers asked repeatedly right after the shooting whether there were any injuries, whether they should send an ambulance, etc., to which personnel at the scene responded with six minutes of radio silence on the subject. After someone on the ground finally answered, yes there were injuries, the dispatcher sarcastically asked if in the future "can we call him on the phone if he's not going to answer the radio?" Can you imagine those intense six minutes? What goes through a trooper, game warden or police officer's mind as the dispatcher's question rings out, unanswered over the radio - "Are there any injuries?" "Do you need an ambulance?"- all the while with the bodies of two sniper victims laying in the back of the truck? The living vehicle occupants had bailed at the 9:30 mark on the audio, and at least one had already been caught before the eleven minute mark; on-the-scene personnel confirmed the injuries at the 17:12 mark. Were there officers at the scene - troopers or perhaps from the game warden or other agencies - who could or should have seen these injured folks but delayed responding, perhaps panicked at their mistake over the cargo? There were 10 to 12 units at the scene, one officer estimated. Wouldn't somebody have looked in the truck bed that minutes earlier they thought was carrying a dope load? Those are the sorts of questions, one supposes, the FBI will be burrowing into soon.

17 comments:

Richard Boland said...

Makes you wonder if they were playing Wagner's Ride of the Valkeries over loudspeakers on the helicopter.

Anonymous said...

This incident will be HUGE after Obama is reelected. I can promise that the DPS will end this practice after the Justice Department is through with them.

Anonymous said...

http://www.texasstatetroopers.org/forumviewmessage.cfm?startrec=1&forumnbr=6644&topicnbr=13155&discussionnbr=1437096&maxrowvalue=all

Anonymous said...

Kind of like the incident in amarillo a few years back where a trooper
shot a fleeing.car, while being perched on a bridge, after his sargent
told him to stand down. Was cleared, predictably, by the grand jury.
His.attempt to disable the car, missed, and his bullet hit the.driver
in the throat, killing.him.

lawinsider said...

So wait, these guys have the specific task of shooting at tires from a helicopter? And they accidentally shot two people in the vehicle? Seems like some great room for plausible deniability.

Anonymous said...

1st - shouldn't have been here illegally : 2nd - shouldn't have run. At least this policy may cut down on recidivism.

Anonymous said...

Richard Boland:

That image is hilarious, even though I don't agree with law enforcement firing randomly at human beings.

Thanks for the good LOL this a.m.

BZ said...

I was thinking more about the crazy door gunner scene from Full Metal Jacket.

"How can you shoot women and children?"

"Easy, you just don't lead them as much! Ain't war hell?"

Anonymous said...

The DPS director and Gov. Perry have been spoiling for a fight like this since failed presidential bid. The mass of military hardware purchased by DPS speaks volumes of their intent. Each officer has more armament and protective gear than I had in Iraq during the "liberation".

hyperqube said...

@ 7:40 life is cheap to a disgusting human being such as yourself.

Vincent van Gogh said...

Let me understand this. A shooter in a helicopter is attempting to shoot out the tires of a pickup truck. However, he ends up missing, (by a wide margin), and shots two people in the bed of the truck evreyone thought? - were bags of drugs. This is very poor shooting and judgement and is as good of an example as I can think of not to allow the DPS to be able to attempt this incredibly stupid maneuver in the first place.

Anonymous said...

First off and foremost, is the fact that they were illegally in the US! If you were to go to North Korea for example,what do you think would have happened?
As for Anonymous's reference to the Justice Department, all I will say if the feds were doing their job then quite possible then this would not have happen. Do I feel sorry for the people were killed, yes I do. However as I have stated before they were illegal's!

Edward Greff said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Last time I checked this is not North Korea - thank God. Just because the victums were illegal does not mean we say, "sorry but then again..." Are you suggesting that if Americans had been shot you would be outraged?

Anonymous said...

Illegals should have no constitutional rights. You should earn those rights by either being a citizen or a legal visitor.

rodsmith said...

sorry 5:50 but your missing the point.

They are not "constutitional rights"

Those rights that were laid out in the constitution were given to MAN by GOD! all that document was doing was stating them for the record with a notice to the new EXPERIMENTAL government NOT to touch them.

All men and women of course have the RIGHT to not be shot by some retard with a badge. Unless they are causing immediate and continual danger of violence and injury to others.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, 5:50,

they're human rights. Something a troll doesn't understand.

~~L~~