Thursday, November 13, 2008

99 Years for Attempted Murder

Courtesy of our frequent commenter Bob S., we have this story, which as he so well pointed out has all the things I look for in a good story to post about.

BROWNSVILLE - A Harlingen teen will spend 99 years in prison for trying to kill a police officer. Jurors unanimously agreed to the sentence.

Is that Brownsville Texas? I know Bob's from the Lone Star State. Does anyone else find that sentence a bit excessive? Wasn't it just the other day we all agreed that the Irish lady, convicted of Attempted Murder for hiring a hit man to kill her millionaire husband, sentenced to 6 years, got a fair deal? Is the Brownsville case another example of the "cop killer" mentality, you know the one in which killing a cop, or in this case, attempting to do so, is so much worse than killing a normal person?

Or is it just Texas justice at work again? Maybe the kid was a really bad pre-teen and with a record like his he deserved 99 years. With the almost complete dearth of detail it's hard to say. Just as it's hard to say anything about what weapon was used and where it came from. But, as our former commenter Tom used to say, weapons in Texas aren't exactly scarce. Tom also said that as a result, folks tended to behave themselves. I guess no one told the teen cop shooter.

The above story led me to another incident in the local news.

BROWNSVILLE - A mentally disabled man is dead. Brownsville police shot and killed him. They say it was self-defense. But relatives of 60-year-old Ricardo Moreno tell NEWSCHANNEL 5 he wouldn't hurt anyone.

What is it with these cops? What is it with the jurors in the first case? I imagine they represent the local populace, so I ask, what is it with these people? Incredibly excessive punishment for a teen offender who shot a cop while brother cops are out shooting up the joint, killing people who don't need killing!

What do you make of these cases? I find them disgraceful to say the least.


  1. I don't have any comments on the 99 years (Tho I will say the difference between 99 years in Prison and a trip to the execution chamber are simply accademic, and it supports my statement that the Death Penalty is simply a circus in its current form here)

    As for the second case, Police arrive on scene and find people suffering from stab wounds (That's attempted Murder and Assault with a Deadly Weapon right there) They attempt to question a man they suspect might have done the above crimes, and he grabs a knife and attacks....again assault with a deadly weapon.

    I don't care what the guy was like, or if he was retarded, abused, donated to charity or who he voted for in the 2008 Election.

    When faced with a deadly weapon you do not have the luxury to examine your attacker's biography, or ask them their motives.

    The fact that there are other people who were attacked that evening is only further proof that the police were potentially in grave danger.

    Their actions are 100% without-a-doubt justified given the facts of the case.

    I'm curious, Mike, why do you think Police officers responding to a violent crime, now faced with a suspect with a deadly weapon overreacted?

  2. Mike,

    Thanks for the mention.

    What I found interesting in the story was the video, especially the part of his friends talking. Did you watch that part?

    I was amazed to hear them say something along the lines of he did what he had to do. I think about that and call it bunk. Millions of people live in poverty, yet they don't shoot cops.

    Hundreds of Thousands of people are abused as kids, yet they don't shoot cops.

    Thousands are members of gangs, yet they don't shoot cops.

    Viktor Frankl, in his book "Man's Search for Meaning - highly recommended by the way; had this quote:
    Between stimulus and response is the freedom to choose."

    I can see a person's background explaining why they made their choices, but to excuse the choices they made is to deny free will.

  3. I love Victor Frankl's book, Bob. I've read it several times.

    But, Weer'd, about that 100% justified, I don't think so. A knife-wielding mentally handicapped man facing heavily armed police officers, even SWAT guys, could easily be taken down with a leg shot or a right shoulder shot. I say killing him is just not acceptable.

  4. Mike you NEVER go for a leg or shoulder shot...and only aim for the head in some VERY specific scenarios.

    Why? because it isn't even remotely "easy" to do an effective shot.

    Arms, hands, and heads are both SMALL targets, and capable of moving at VERY fast speeds...the center of Mass is only capable of moving as fast as the target can run, and is limited at the speed that it can change directions. Just watch a boxing match, watch how fast those feet, hands, and heads move.

    Also Mike, remember, you own EVERY bullet that is fired until it comes to rest. a missed shot simply does not go away it continues to fly, and can still kill...even after it has passed through a wall.

    Also with the locations of the Femoral and brachial artery, a leg, shoulder, or arm shot can very easily be the increased risk of missed shot, and the bullet not being effective there are zero tactical advantages to extremity shots with exception to the head, where a well-placed shot has a VERY high probability of an instant take-down (Hence why its advised when stopping a suicide bomber, as even a terrorist with two collapsed lungs might still be able to flick the detonator switch, making even the best COM shot worthless)

    Also, Mike, the Type IIA ballistic armors do NOTHING against a knife. Bullets act as blunt instruments, and the kevlar defeats that, but a knife can cut right through them. Even the heavier vests worn by SWAT and some beat officers only protect against knives over the ceramic trauma plates.

    And again, they don't wair armor over Femoral and brachial arteries!

    I think you are in no position to be second guessing these brave men and women who were placed in a very bad situation for our safety.

  5. Mike,

    I'll back up what Weer'd said with some statistics. These come from the New York Times, a semi-reputable source.

    In 2006, when officers intentionally fired at someone, they had a hit rate of 28.3%.
    In 2005, the hit rate was 17.4%
    In LA, the officers did better and had a 40% hit rate.

    All these hit rates are based on the training of going for the large, least moving portion of the criminal, the torso area.

    Complicate that by trying to shoot someone in the arm or leg, and there are a lot more bullets flying toward innocent people.

    From the article:
    Bad marksmanship? Police officials and law enforcement experts say no, contending that the number of misses underscores the tense and unpredictable nature of these situations. For example, a 43 percent hit rate for shots fired from zero to six feet might seem low, but at that range it is very likely that something has already gone wrong: perhaps an officer got surprised, or had no cover, or was wrestling with the suspect.

    “When you factor in all of the other elements that are involved in shooting at an adversary, that’s a high hit rate,” said Raymond W. Kelly, the New York police commissioner. “The adrenaline flow, the movement of the target, the movement of the shooter, the officer, the lighting conditions, the weather ... I think it is a high rate when you consider all of the variables.”

    I will tell you that my wife and I are training to use firearms in our defense and we always aim at the center of mass, the torso.

    One thing that Weer'd didn't mention is how little training police department, on the average actually do with firearms.
    Much of their training involves trying not to have to pull their weapon, not how to effectively use it. I've read that many departments don't have a requirement to practice, only yearly or semi-annual qualifications.

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  7. seconding what weerd said, there's basically no part of the human anatomy where it would be "safe" to shoot a person.

    with the strange and odd things a bullet can do after flattening out in flesh, bouncing off bones, shattering into fragments, and so on, coupled with the fact you can find large blood vessels pretty much all over the body and not always in the same place on every individual human --- any time you shoot somebody, there's a chance of killing them. pretty much no matter where the bullet strikes.

  8. Mike,

    J.R. has a video of an officer involved shooting that really reinforces everything Weer'd and Nomen said.

  9. I must admit, I am deeply prejudiced against the police. Did you notice that in my writing? When I was a kid about 10 years old, in a NJ city near ours, a cop went berserk. He took his family hostage, the house was surrounded, eventually he came out brandishing his service weapon. They took him down with a leg shot and brought him to the hospital. I learned an early lesson from that. The black guy in Newark or Camden gets it in the chest, the rogue cop gets it in the leg. I realize it's a mistake to base a lifetime opinion of the men in blue upon that one incident, but to some degree that's what I've done. But, not to be too hard on myself, there have been other incidents along the way.

    I hear what you're saying about the difficulty and danger in trying for anything other than a kill shot in a volatile situation like that. And I agree with what Weer'd said, I'm "in no position to be second guessing these brave men and women who were placed in a very bad situation for our safety." I go for that, really. And I want to give the cops the same benefit of the doubt I so readily give the criminals. Sometimes I need reminding.

  10. That's a VERY big statement of you, Mike, and I'm moved to see it.

    It does seem that a lot of your views do see to come with anecdotal support (from tales of your personal life, your friends and acquaintances growing up, but also from news stories) not to lead you on so much, but is this why you seem to have an aversion to statistical data on these issues?

    You've spent some time in Jersey...I've spent a bit there, I worked for a few years in Cape May. Of course most of the people I worked with there were in the Scallop industry. None had college degrees, many were high school dropouts, many were on heroin, or had kicked the habit, and the ONLY people I've ever met who were members of the KKK and Aryan Nation I met there.

    Of course I didn't spend much time outside of Cape May, and Point Pleasant, and I didn't spend ANY time outside the fishing community. Obviously my data is worthless in me inferring it to you, despite the commonality of New Jersey.

    Our experiences can be VERY biased, and to attempt to infer any data from them is an exercise in futility.

    One further statement you use the term "Kill Shot", which is improper. The confusion of shooting for Center of Mass (COM) and "Shooting to Kill" is understandable, as within the COM are many organs and structures vital for survival, and death can easily ensue from a shot to this area. But that's not the POINT of shooting there. Shooting for the COM is shooting to STOP, and by "Stop" I mean the target is physically unable to continue their actions no matter what their physical abilities, pain tolerance, or mental condition (Either through mental illness or drug-induced) you want them unable to function. Now this can be through death, but this can also be accomplished through sending the attacker into shock, (most commonly through blood loss, nerve shock, or a collapsed lung) these conditions while serious are medically treatable and may result in the survival of the person. But in either case the end result is the same, so the tactic is the same. Does that make sense?

    As a general rule you never draw your weapon unless deadly force has been justified. Shots don't need to be immediately exchanged, but the person drawing their firearm should be prepared to do just that. If you're drawing your piece for any reason OTHER than deadly force you should have never drawn the piece in the first place.

    Lastly, Bob, WOW what a video. I watched it first just watching everything I could, and it looked a little off to me...then I watched it again ONLY watching the suspect's hands. That coupled with me inferring what the camera could see and the officer couldn't, that's a VERY scary situation, and honestly I think the officer hesitated and he's lucky it didn't cost him his life.

    An old Marine Corps saying, paraphrasing: Watch hands, hands can use tools, tools can kill. They say "In God We Trust" everybody else can keep their hands where I can see them.

  11. I like the distinction between shooting to kill and shooting to stop. My cynical self immediately conjures an image of one burley cop elbowing another with a wink saying, "Yeah, I'll shoot to stop, sure a bullet right in his heart." But, there I go again generalizing.

  12. Mike,

    You really aren't far from the truth, shooting to stop often requires a shot to the heart or central nervous system.

    In the "Wild West" there was a band of hoodlums called the James-Younger gang. During the unsuccessful robbery, some of the survivors were shot multiple times. I think one was shot 11 times and another was shot 17 times.

    In the reason article I pointed out to you, one of the things that caught my eye was the victim survived 32 of the shots.

    Point is this, if someone is coming after me or mine, I will stop them. Best way to stop them may also be a shot to the heart or central nervous system.

  13. Again a shot to the heart or Spine IS a stopping shot...and most often a fatal shot. Tho, Mike, your Burly cop aiming for specifically the heart to ensure a killshot smacks of Hollywood magic. To know exactly where a mans heart sits in his chest AND to Aim and hit it in the VERY fast and pressured situations of life-and-death shooting is pure fantasy. We train to shoot the COM, that's the resolution we look for, and another advantage is the COM-Zone (often described as a triangle with points at the Adam's Apple and both nipples. Below this zone the Spine continues, as is the Abdominal organs and a wealth of blood vessles. Above continues the spine into the head, and to the left and right are the arms. Its a very general resolution targeting designed to be acquired quickly and hit multiple times in the compressed time that exists when a normal situation turns into a life-and-death scenario.

    Also there is really little gray area in this. If you draw your weapon on somebody that is assault. Even if you don't fire, its assault. If you can't justify deadly force at that moment, you have committed a crime.

    If you aim for an extremity but can't justify lethal force again this is a crime...if the wound causes the person to die (either on the spot, or weeks later) you have just committed murder.

    So in the scheme of things no matter where the bullet lands, and if the attacker lives or dies, all stopping shots are judged the same at that moment, because stopping the attack is the ONLY concern.

    Also these rules SHOULD be the same for private citizens as well as Cops...tho that doesn't always happen, and I'll be the first to complain when I hear about it.