Saturday, November 14, 2015


When all you have is a hammer, they say, everything looks like a nail.

And one definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

Thing is, Tim McGinty's not insane.  When he went to the well a third time he knew he'd get the same result.  The catch is that he thinks we'll buy it if it just gets said enough.  

This is about Tamir Rice.  Actually, it's about Timothy Loehmann, the cop who shot and killed Tamir.  The grand jury's still out on him, of course, after only a couple of months of testimony.  

That's as opposed to the 20 minutes of testimony before the GJ returns a murder indictment in the ordinary case.  But because Loehmann's a cop, the grand jury doesn't just decide whether a quick and dirty summary of the evidence against him provides probable cause to indict.  Sure it would.  Which is fine for the ordinary person.  But for Tim McGinty, Cuyahoga County's elected prosecutor to show that he won't sweep the killing of Rice under the rug, he'll prove that he treats it just like any other killing by doing things completely differently.  

Thus, the GJ won't just get the quick and dirty probable cause stuff.  It'll hear, also, all the reasons that it should not indict.  A thorough investigation, after all.

And to show just how thorough the investigation is, McGinty's hired a couple of outside experts to evaluate the evidence.  Last month their reports were released.  The special investigators, retired FBI agent Kimberly Crawford and  S. Lamar Sims, a Deputy DA from Colorado, both concluded that Loehmann was cool.  

Their reports presumably made Loehmann happy.  And gave McGinty plenty of cover for when the GJ decides not to indict (or, if by chance they indict, for when Loehmann's found not guilty).  But Tamir's mom wasn't placated.  Nor was the African-American community. Nor, really, much of anyone else who thought that cops shouldn't go around shooting unarmed 12-year-old kids.  

So McGinty got himself another expert.  Cory Shaffer at the summarizes.
"This unquestionably was a tragic loss of life, but to compound the tragedy by labeling the officers' conduct as anything but objectively reasonable would also be a tragedy, albeit not carrying with it the consequences of the loss of life, only the possibility of loss of career," wrote W. Ken Katsaris, a certified Florida law enforcement officer, instructor and consultant.
Ah yes, tragedy upon tragedy. Tamir's dead. So sorry. But his killer might (just might, hey it's possible) have to find another line of work - perhaps one where killing is actually frowned upon.


Somehow, I don't imagine Katsaris's report will placate the community either.  Shaffer again.
Activists and the Rice family decried the earlier reports commissioned by McGinty, saying they gave too much deference toward the officers, and were written by experts who are biased in favor of enforcement.
Which is, of course, true of Kastaris, too.  

Now, it's also true that none of these hacks experts considered whether Loehmann actually broke the law when he shot and killed Tamir Rice.  All they decided was that what he did was constitutional and so he can't be sued.* But who's gonna say that if the Constitution isn't violated he still might have committed a crime?  Don't hold your breath.

So here's a lesson.  When you send the cops to decide whether it's OK for cops who are afraid to kill people rather than take a chance - because it's clear to the cops whose lives matter more.  

As I said, when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

Law of Rule.
And note that the Constitution is not offended when a cop with no need whatsoever and apparently against direct orders shoots into a moving car and kills the driver who might (or might not) have an outstanding warrant.  So said 8 Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court Mondy in Mullenix v. Luna, leaving Sonya Sotomayor alone to think that it's a bad thing for the Court to find that the Fourth Amendment (originalists take note) "sanction[s] a 'shoot first, think later' approach to policing."

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