Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Media manipulation on police shootings, and other stories

A quick review of recent, regional police shootings coverage highlight a number of topics which merit Grits readers' attention:

Calling out media manipulation on police shootings
Austin PD's media manipulation tactic of waiting until after the initial press cycle to inform reporters that naked high school kid in Austin who was gunned down by a police officer was unarmed backfired on them in the case of David Joseph. Opined the Statesman's editorial board:
That delay was too long for information that had to be known to the police department within hours — if not sooner — following the shooting. That is a misstep the department should not repeat as the investigation into this tragedy unfolds.

It’s also the kind of misstep that undermines public confidence in the police department’s ability to investigate its own officers. It’s the kind of lag that fuels public perception that the police department is buying time to craft excuses to justify an officer’s use of lethal force under suspect circumstances rather than conducting a fair investigation that goes where the evidence leads.
Managing coverage of police shootings media cycle by media cycle - eliding the truth as long as possible while the department gets its story straight - is a tried and true old-school method of media management that will probably soon become outdated now that the news cycle runs an hour or two at a time instead of 24. This has been ridiculously common as long as I've followed these civil rights issues around police shootings. You can often tell the dubious ones because the department's story changes over time. Initial press announcements following police shootings in many cases misstate or obfuscate key facts - like overlooking that the naked guy was unarmed - which sometimes are corrected in followup coverage days or weeks later, sometimes years later in litigation, or sometimes not at all. It's really good to see the media calling them out on it.

'I'm down, bro'
A civil rights suit has been filed, reported the Texas Tribune, in which police were caught on video beating an already-detained jaywalking suspect:
In last fall's much-publicized incident, Austin police officers arrested Jeremy King, 22, and Lourdes Glen, 24, alleging they had jaywalked on Austin’s 6th Street. Video taken of the arrest shows several officers forcing King and another friend — Matthew Wallace, 23 — to the ground. King and Wallace are black. Glen is Hispanic.

The suit names Austin police officers Richard Munoz, Brian Huckaby, Gustave Gallenkamp, Vanessa Jiminez and other "unknown officers."

At one point in the video, an officer appears to punch Wallace repeatedly, though Wallace is already being held on the ground by three officers.

“I’m down, I’m down, bro,” Wallace says on the video, which went viral online. “I’m down, I’m down. What did I do?”
There was an imminent threat he might text someone
The wife of an unarmed man killed in San Antonio when police mistook his cell phone for a gun and shot him has sued SAPD in federal court. This happens a lot. Cell phones cost $600 so people don't want to leave them in their car. Plus, some folks access their insurance info that way. Of course they bring their phone with them.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for staying on top of things like this. It is very much appreciated. This is so common now. People are losing respect for police more and more each day. They are under the microscope now with social media, cell phones etc. People are tired of being abused and mis-treated. Thanks God it is all coming to light.

Anonymous said...

You are right, police are not to be trusted at all. The media has hidden their darkness for years, but the party is over. A light has shined on Goforth in Harris county and the investigation has proven his dark side along with his dept. Police must be held to higher standards and that includes being charged with crimes they have committed prosecutors included. The Texas justice system is a travesty. Smith county is living proof where prosecutors, Clark, Steen, Dodd and Bingham have ruined innocent lives. Prosecutors that withold evidence to win at all cost much recieve the same amount of time in years in prison as the exonerated. With this mandatory equal time for punishment will prevent prosecutors like above and others from destroying innocent lives.

Anonymous said...

Officers are usually punished only internally with time off without pay or reassignment for criminal acts such as assaulting innocent civilians. Instead they should be held accountable for their behavior just like any other citizen.

Debbie Russell said...

Indeed--same as it ever was. Even though this time the one thing they did right was not immediately march out his criminal history. Another thing they did that was S.O.S. was to say at first Joseph was "acting aggressively" then a few days later say he had "charged the officer." Did they need the extra couple of days to interview witnesses to see if they saw enough (or not) to not dispute this claim?

We 'conveniently' don't have the video to see ourselves; and body cameras are still at least 9 months if not a year+ away (even though we've been calling for them for over 5 years now.

As a side note, many in the African-American community think the officer in this case will be fired - b/c he's African American and Acevedo has yet to fire any officer in his tenure for any lethal incident, so he needs a scapegoat to 'make up' for all the times he's not done so. He called Sanders (asleep in a car, gun nearby, not in his hand nor was there a "struggle" as the independent report showed), Carter (a passenger in a car!) and Jackson (shot in the back of the neck during an alleged struggle; the ME report showed horrendous injuries to his lower torso indicating a serious beating before the shooting) all GOOD SHOOTINGS. So to do so here - where, IF, Joseph was actually charging TOWARD the officer, where he didn't fire an officer for shooting an unarmed person in the back/back of neck or head (as in definitely not an "imminent threat") would definitely reek of scapegoating.

As far as an indictment, let's just hope Officer Freeman wasn't acting in a "federal capacity" such that he isn't subject to accountability.

I've been updating my "APD's History of Excessive Force" piece - a constant work in progress: https://www.facebook.com/notes/debbie-russell/resources-for-the-police-accountability-summit-apds-use-of-force-history/10151109608068573