Monday, August 25, 2014
Updates on Police Killing of Kajieme Powell
But here's a good new piece from The National Interest asking if maybe his suicide-by-cop had a deliberate political message. Hard to judge since--we know so little about Powell.
Yet another media host, this time Melissa Harris-Perry at MSNBC, stresses too much that St. Louis cops were more "transparent" and downplaying the lies they told early on. Those on her panel stronger.
Saturday Former police chief of Tallahassee, Fla. hits police actions in this killing--says one could have tased him while the other kept gun on him because he was still good distance away.
Finally, the St. Louis Dispatch with first few details on Powell's life, though just recent months (other reports have his mother passing away not long ago). Seemed "smart" and "quiet" and "courteous."
Friday 1:30 p.m. Antonio French, local alderman, so tough and eloquent on the Brown shooting, on CNN just now and continues--as he has since it happened--to advise accepting that police acted within their rules, man had weapon, and will not be prosecuted.
I noted what this writer says from the start: Powell looks back in video to see people behind him who might get hit if police fired on him there-- and so deliberately walked far to left to get them out of line of fire. This shows 1) he really was ready to die 2) had perhaps more concern for human life at that point than the two cops who plugged him.
8:30 a.m. Writer at The Economist, of all places, calls for prosecuting the two police officers for needlessly shooting Powell.
Jake Tapper of CNN goes to scene of shooting and actually measures how far Powell likely was from nearest cop when shot and comes up with greater distance than we and others estimated--at least 16 feet from closest cop and more from the second one. Police chief had claimed two to four feet. Tapper's piece better than nearly anyone else on TV so far although too much focus on accepted police protocol (without mentioning other options such as taser, temporary retreat, etc.)
Thursday 9:40 p.m. Oddly, given the Maddow segment (see below), a piece just up at the MSNBC site is one of the most critical of the police on a mainstream site today. And first to quote a new witness, who says, as video shows, that Powell was just walking with hands at side and didn't seem like "a threat."
NYT w/ a useless report, actually claiming that from video you can't tell if Powell has arm raised with knife. (See my full report from yesterday.)
Rachel Maddow opens show with this on MSNBC. Starts with several parts of video. Times incident from moment cops drove up to 23 seconds. Like others, she praises "transparency" of police and for putting out video themselves (even though they had no choice as it was about to come out). But she does not point out right away that he also gave much false testimony.
Also she ticks off three questions they asked the department this morning and answers--even though everything they asked about had already come out. Then hails the "transparency" again as reason there hasn't been much community protest there. She then interviews a local radio host, Kenneth Murdock. He says community upset about police acting like "soldiers" and need for dash camera in all cars--and points out, which Rachel did not, that police lied about Powell hold knife up as he moved toward cops.
2:15 p.m. CNN just now with latest defense of police from ex-cop policing "expert." Says "they had to use deadly force." Says what if taser doesn't work. Couldn't "negotiate." Shooting in limb might not stop him. Must shoot "until threat negated." Then host runs tape of police chief, hails police expert. The usual. No questions about false police accounts. (CNN last night showed clearer tape that they were given perhaps by guy who shot it.)
It's revealing (though host doesn't pursue, naturally) that ex-cop says Tasers can be effective up to 15 feet. Powell closer than that to one cop so theoretically accuracy might be pretty good.
Note: Police Chief Sam Dotson continues to fully defend shooting with such as "They used lethal force in a lethal force situation." Seems a bit prejudicial for any in-house investigation....
Earlier Thursday: I first raised questions about the shooting of Kajieme Powell in St. Louis, near Ferguson, on Tuesday and then I was first, I believe, to post on a blog and analyze the cell phone video that emerged, yesterday afternoon. I updated for the rest of the day and critiqued the very weak coverage on CNN and MSNBC all night (with Chris Hayes, among others, dropping the ball). Now I'll continue to follow today.
It's really gone viral, with NYT (although in limited way) now covering on its site. And the paper's conservative columnist @DouthatNYT just tweeted a string of comments critical of the police as shown in video, such as : I think it's impossible to watch the video and not see a policing disaster....I have never been directly menaced by a lunatic with a knife. I also have not been trained, on the public $, to handle situations like that."
The contradictions in police account that I raised remain unresolved. This piece at The Atlantic is all over the place but includes some valid postings by others and link to Ezra Klein piece grappling with it. I still have not read one word about his background, beyond him telling some at the scene that his mother recently died, and that he had moved in with grandmother. I've also not seen any signs of street protests in the neighborhood, but maybe not covered much.
New Republic piece seems to think police followed policy-but policy is "insane."
is author of a dozen books (click on covers at right), including the new "THE TUNNELS: Escapes Under the Berlin Wall and the Historic Films the JFK White House Tried to Kill." He was the longtime editor of Editor & Publisher. Email: email@example.com. Twitter: @GregMitch