Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Absurdity in an Absurd City

I watched it go down on live TV. As is my usual practice, I had turned the TV on before pulling my boots off and brushing my teeth. Much to my delight, a car chase was in progress on one of the local stations. You have to love L.A. TV, if there is a car chase and a news chopper is up, you are going to get to see it.

I stood there in my chonies, working on my molars, looking up at the screen. The driver of the pursued car was a real desperado it seemed. It appeared as if he was getting ready to flip a u turn and head back toward the many patrol units that were pursuing him. He was in the middle of his maneuver when one of the black and whites hit him in the driver's side door, causing the car to come to a stop.

The driver crossed over to the passenger's side door, opened it and hopped out. The suspect ran down the freeway, officer's in pursuit, with at least one officer pointing his weapon at the suspect. There appeared to be something in the suspect's hand as he ran. 

The suspect stopped a couple of times and pointed the dark object toward the pursuing officers.  At one point, the suspect took cover behind a stopped car before resuming his flight and stopping at least one more time to assume a firing stance. I remember thinking "this is going to go bad for someone" and wondered how long it was going to take until someone got shot.

As it turned out, not very long. An undetermined number of officers (probably many) opened up on the suspect, quickly eliminating the threat. The suspect was dropped and cuffed, dying somewhere in the process. The dark object turned out not to be a weapon, but a cell phone. Yet another tragedy, one brought on by bizarre behavior.

If my description was not adequate for the purposes of this discussion, watch the video below. It is exactly what I and thousands of fellow viewers saw.

To be honest, I was not shocked nor horrified. I was glad that no officers were hurt and I felt bad for the suspect,  in that he lost his life. However, it appeared to me that the outcome was about what it should have been.

Having been a peace officer for a short time, one that was armed and reasonably well trained, It looks like a good shoot to me, though a tragic one. Either  the suspect was really, really stupid, or he wanted to die but lacked the guts or method to do it himself. Either way, a tragedy, someone lost their son, brother or friend. It is not a good thing.

Initially, I withheld commenting on the matter, despite video clips of the suspect's family publicly demanding why their loved one had to die. Despite their ridiculous statements, ludicrous questions and absurd protestations,  I figured my lip service on the subject would serve no functional purpose and out of respect for the family, I abstained from expressing my ever humble opinion. That is until yesterday, when the family announced that they filed a $120,000,000 million dollar wrongful death claim against the City of Los Angeles.

The family retained an attorney, I don't know who approached who. Regardless, as the attorney/family partnership has began trying their case in the media, the gloves are off.

Though I am saddened by the loss of this 19 yr old man, I am even further saddened that his lack of intellect or his desire to kill himself has dragged so many others into his mess. This sadness is only surpassed by my anger over the cost to the City that defending this frivolous claim will cause.

Hopefully, this case will get dismissed or dropped before it really gets rolling. In my perfect world, L.A. would fight this at all costs and would prevail, with the plaintiff's attorney getting nothing. As the City of Los Angeles has a history of settling cases rather than fighting them, this is unlikely.

The attorney has probably hit the LAPD lotto, the family will still grieve. The residents of L.A. will all pay.

For those of you who wonder what happens when you wait too long to eliminate a threat, watch the video below. Be warned however that it is very disturbing, I was both shocked and horrified when I saw it and I won't watch it again.

Thanks for reading and allowing me to vent.



  1. The first shooting in LA is a bad deal all the way around. I would presume that the police can't see what the law breaker has in his hand and are not willing to wait around until it goes off. I wish they would have had a K9 unit with them. No shots would have been fired and a lawsuit avoided.

    The clip with Deputy Kyle Dinkheller in it is something else. First off, I'm not sure this is actual footage - I can't imagine anyone waiting as long as Deputy Kyle did before opening fire. Secondly, I've seen a very similar clip taken from a different angle. Unless you have very good reason to believe the clip is genuine, I'm betting it's a hoax. I may be wrong, but that's the way I'd bet.

    The whole business about wrongful death lawsuits against the city is way out of control. This group won't collect $120 Mil. and they know it. Well, their attorney knows it, but that isn't the point. The point is to settle out of court, grab your third of the bread and take out a restraining order against your erstwhile clients, who now feel somewhat cheated because they didn't realize that the attorney gets so much money.

    I don't know. I don't have any real good solutions.

  2. Mad Jack - I'm confident that the Dinkheller video is real. The written accounts are exactly what happened in the video and the video is widely used for training LE personnel.

    One of the topics discussed on a LE forums talked about how officers are trained to seek cover as they begin to fire/return fire and how this might have been a contributing factor in Dinkheller's response. He might have been better off closing in on the suspect as he retrieved the rifle from under the seat.

    Dinkheller did place one round in the suspects abdomen, sadly not enough to put him down. The suspect was arrested the next morning, convicted and sentenced to death. He is currently sitting on Ga death row.

    Good thing you're not a betting man.

    1. If anything, a contributing factor to Dinkheller's death was that he had just gotten off suspension for citizen complaints about his "aggressiveness," drawing his weapon during traffic stops.

      His putz of a chief literally made him gun-shy.

      50,000 Tazer volts in the chest would have ended that dance real quick too, but for a lack of the device at the time.

    2. Good thing you're not a betting man.

      Well, you see, I am a betting man. That doesn't mean I win all the time.

      I should have run this one through Google before I posted anything. Well, here's one result I found: Kyle Dinkheller on Wikipedia.

      When I watched the video I was practically yelling at the screen - "Shoot! Shoot Him!" Which is easier done from my office chair than off someplace all by yourself, having to contend with a crazy man.

      I would have called the shoot justified the instant a gun came into view. That's a long time to wait, but what if it wasn't a gun? The man had been disciplined for drawing his gun too often, now he doubts his own good judgement.

      The murderer Andrew Brannan is still on death row awaiting execution.

  3. BH - 50kv might have ended that dance, but I am not really sure that I would bring a tazer to a gun fight.

    Of course, maybe the tazer would have ended it before it became a gun fight. I know that some don't like the tazer, but I think it has saved many many lives. Both LE and bad guys.

    Thanks for the comments.

    1. That's what I meant Cap. Once he starts dancing, he's a threat in my eyes, the threat needs to be controlled, and I'm not going hands-on without either overwhelming force or a crying, whimpering subject.

      Police training at the time was (and may still be) that distance=good. Distance from a guy with a bigger gun who knows how to use suppressive fire and is willing to advance on you is not.

      I agree with you on one key point- I'll never watch that video again if I can avoid it.