NYPD: Baby, You Know We Love You. Why Do You Make Us Angry Like That?

Law

Back in September, several NYPD officers were confronted with an agitated mentally ill man in Times Square. When — according to the officers — they believed he was reaching for a weapon, they fired three shots with their handguns, missing the agitated man entirely and hitting two citizen bystanders.

Police said officers saw a man on foot weaving erratically through traffic and sometimes blocking vehicles. After approaching him, police said, the man reached into his pocket as if grabbing a weapon, and two officers fired a total of three shots. They missed him but struck a 54-year-old woman in the right knee and a grazed a 35-year-old woman in the buttocks, police said.

The women were taken to hospitals, where they both were listed in stable condition, according to police. Neither had injuries considered life threatening, police said.

The man was taken into custody after a police sergeant subdued him with a Taser. No weapons were found on him.

Police said the 35-year-old suspect was taken to Bellevue Hospital, where he was in stable condition. They described him as "emotionally disturbed."

As long as you ignore the fact that the shooting victims were innocent bystanders, hitting two people with three shots represents unusual excellence in marksmanship for the NYPD, matching another recent incident in which skilled NYPD officers were able to hit their target and nine bystanders with only 16 bullets. Overall the NYPD usually requires about 331 rounds to hit 54 targets, of which 14 will be innocent bystanders, 24 will be dogs, and 16 will be people the NYPD was actually aiming at. Statistically, if you aren't a dog, it is slightly more dangerous to be the person the NYPD was shooting at than a bystander (16 people out of 331 shots for intended targets for a 4.8% hit rate vs. 14 people out of 331 shots for bystanders, a 4.2% hit rate.) NYPD has a better success rate for other weapons, and certain factors, like shooting unarmed people in the back, tend to increase hit rates.

When NYPD officers fire 331 shots, and hit 16 targeted people, 24 dogs, but also 14 bystanders, there is a problem.

That problem is the people who are making the NYPD think they need to open fire.

That's why the District Attorney has indicted Glenn Broadnax, the mentally ill homeless man who created the disturbance in Times Square back in September.

Initially Mr. Broadnax was arrested on misdemeanor charges of menacing, drug possession and resisting arrest. But the Manhattan district attorney’s office persuaded a grand jury to charge Mr. Broadnax with assault, a felony carrying a maximum sentence of 25 years. Specifically, the nine-count indictment unsealed on Wednesday said Mr. Broadnax “recklessly engaged in conduct which created a grave risk of death.”

“The defendant is the one that created the situation that injured innocent bystanders,” said an assistant district attorney, Shannon Lucey.

This is perfectly fair. Look, Mr. Broadnax, you know how the NYPD is. They love the people of New York. They just . . . they just get stressed out and angry sometimes. Why do you have to make them angry like that? Look what you made them do now. Look what you made them do.

Last 5 posts by Ken White

126 Comments

123 Comments

  1. Patrick Non-White  •  Dec 5, 2013 @9:53 am

    Foiled.

    The post that I didn't finish on this would have explained, in great detail, the ancient legal doctrine of "Now Look What You Made Me Do!" in light of Justice Marx's majority opinion in the case of Laurel v. Hardy, and would have discussed the question of forseeability as applied to the specific facts of Mr. Broadnax's case.

    Well done in any event.

  2. Nicholas Weaver  •  Dec 5, 2013 @9:56 am

    One other factor: Although the NYPD uses glocks, they use artificially heavy triggers in the name of "safety"

    Ask anyone who's shot a heavy pull, double-action revolver (what the NYPD's glock triggers are set to be like), and then shot a modern polymer pistol like a default Glock or M&P back to back, its night and day.

    I'm actually surprised they can hit anything with that 10 lb trigger pull they use.

  3. Kirk Taylor  •  Dec 5, 2013 @9:58 am

    The paragraph on accuracy is possibly the funniest thing I've seen in weeks. (Except the "Terrorism changed everything" SMBC comic).

  4. Sky  •  Dec 5, 2013 @9:59 am

    For the majority of NYPD recruits, firearms training at the Academy is their first experience with a handgun. What kind of accuracy can you expect when you effectively outlaw firearms and chase the shooting culture out of the city?

  5. Turk  •  Dec 5, 2013 @10:02 am

    And a pretty good lesson — if the trained police have difficulty hitting a target under this kind of stress, what kind of success would school principals and other civilians have if they were armed and confronted with an emergency?

    (Sorry if that looks like hijacking your thread, but the point needs to be made.)

  6. Christenson  •  Dec 5, 2013 @10:11 am

    Sounds like we need a FEDERAL prosecutor to take on the Manhattan DA's office for creating the clearly forseeable danger that NYC Cops will shoot innocent bystanders just to put them in jail and bump up their arrest numbers!

  7. Chris  •  Dec 5, 2013 @10:17 am

    Where is the popehat symbol for this poor SOB?

  8. Dion starfire  •  Dec 5, 2013 @10:18 am

    Oh, come on. Mocking the NYPD for … well, anything, actually … is like mocking somebody with CP for how they move.
    I'm not apologizing for the NYPD, but in a city with that many people (i.e. lots of room for statistically extreme outliers) and a tradition of not selecting the police from the less intellectual, more violent sections of society it'd be surprising if they even rose to Deming's level of competence.

    tl;dr Large populations have lots of (statistical) freaks. NY has a HUGE population, and tradition of hiring outcast-types for their police.

  9. M Dandy  •  Dec 5, 2013 @10:20 am

    Your honor, the defendant was all but asking to be shot at. Just look at the way he dressed and behaved!

  10. Ken White  •  Dec 5, 2013 @10:23 am

    @Chris: You mean the Popehat Signal, which we use to find pro bono help in First Amendment cases for bloggers and other online writers threatened with bogus defamation suits?

  11. Tim Cushing  •  Dec 5, 2013 @10:23 am

    NYPD: Times Square is this year's most compelling third-person shooter. 9.5/10 – IGN

  12. Jason  •  Dec 5, 2013 @10:25 am

    Sky,

    I think by that argument, a private handgun owner without more shooting training than the NYPD academy course cannot be trusted to use their gun in self defense.

  13. Mimi  •  Dec 5, 2013 @10:25 am

    No, that "point" did NOT "need to be made".

    First, we are US CITIZENS, not "civilians". That imbecilic cop talk BS whereby they proclaim themselves entitled to the name of soldier (while apparently proclaiming us armed insurgents within a war zone, rather than citizens within our own country ) needs to be kept on police blogs only. The rest of us need to treat that cop slang with the utter contempt it deserves , not least for the mind set it seems to create in its users.

    Second, CITIZENS who go out to ranges and target shoot for the sheer pleasure, (not to mention those who hunt) seem to do much better at marksmanship than do police, who have to qualify as part of their job. Once something's mandatory, it's no longer fun…Could that be why we read of so many examples of craptacular marksmanship on the part of the police-that they only practice shoot when they absolutely must?

  14. Matt Smith  •  Dec 5, 2013 @10:27 am

    I do not understand what the big deal is here. 83.7% of the time the NYPD hit no living thing at all! That's pretty good, no?

  15. Anglave  •  Dec 5, 2013 @10:27 am

    Why the HELL were they firing deadly weapons at an unarmed and mentally unstable individual to begin with? Even if they absolutely needed to subdue him immediately, they are issued several nonlethal weapons for that! The subject was later brought into custody without having been shot.

    Not to mention firing with innocent bystanders behind their target!

  16. ZK  •  Dec 5, 2013 @10:28 am

    @Nicholas Weaver, This comes up every time the NYPD fails to hit what they're aiming it.
    The NY Glock trigger is silly, but it's meant to (and almost does) replicate the trigger of a double-action revolver. Police departments around the country managed to do just fine with double-action revolvers for decades.

    I think @Sky's point is correct, it's much more lack of training and any supporting culture than technological.

  17. Crusty the Ex-Clown  •  Dec 5, 2013 @10:31 am

    Actuarial data indicates that there are far more dangerous jobs than policeman – like miner, logger, commercial fisherman, and even farmer. Yet society continues to condone the use of inappropriate deadly force by police as a matter of course. It's as if we were brainwashed by decades of TV idolizing police as white knights in shining armor who do no wrong and are justified in protecting their own lives at whatever the cost. What will it take to restore a sense of proportion and restraint, not just in law enforcement, but in society at large as well? This sad old ex-clown doesn't have the answer.

  18. Waldo  •  Dec 5, 2013 @10:31 am

    "(16 people out of 331 shots for intended targets for a 4.8% hit rate vs. 14 people out of 331 shots for bystanders, a 4.2% hit rate.)"

    I suspect your hit rate numbers are off because of an unstated, and likely incorrect, assumption that you're making, namely, that all intended targets and bystanders are hit with one and only one bullet. From news reports, we know that at least some of the intended targets are struck with multiple bullets. Hit rates are likely to be much higher, especially for those targeted.

  19. William  •  Dec 5, 2013 @10:33 am

    @Turk

    And a pretty good lesson — if the trained police have difficulty hitting a target under this kind of stress, what kind of success would school principals and other civilians have if they were armed and confronted with an emergency?

    Well, speaking personally, probably substantially better given that I don't carry a pistol with a 10# pull, actually have to engage in sound judgement because I don't have a departmental culture designed to have my back no matter how badly I behave, spend more time on range in a month than the NYPD requires it's officers to spend in a year, and likely have nearly the same amount of professional firearms training that I paid for out of my own pocket because I recognize the responsibility that comes with carrying a weapon and don't have the luxury of being an entitled government employee who sees other people prosecuted for my mistakes.

    But, you know, thats just me being an irresponsible gun nut.

  20. OH Krill  •  Dec 5, 2013 @10:34 am

    @Turk:

    "Trained" is the key word in your comment. After the Empire State fiasco, there was some commentary floating around that the NYPD's firearms training is woefully inadequate.

    Any serious proposal to arm school principals or other civilians in sensitive areas I hope would include an equally-serious proposal for training them.

  21. Joel  •  Dec 5, 2013 @10:39 am

    Aside from the frequency of police shootings, I'm astounded by how universally crappy their accuracy is.

    Yes, chaotic situations, pistols are less than optimum at range, etc.

    But in this militarized police culture, why the hell don't they have the budget to have each officer spend a couple hours a week at the range to increase their firearms skills. And raise the bar on the initial proficiency tests as well. And institute annual re-testing, etc

    I mean if you can "afford" heavy vehicles, SWAT teams pimped out with all the latest gear, etc… you'd think you could afford some more basic training for the average cop in a patrol car.

    Or maybe spend that money on better mental health programs, etc.

  22. Chris  •  Dec 5, 2013 @10:42 am

    @ Ken White • Dec 5, 2013 @10:23 am

    Yes, I was partially saying it in jest, but this is clearly an injustice being done and he certainly needs competent representation. Wouldn't you agree?

  23. Ken White  •  Dec 5, 2013 @10:45 am

    @Chris:

    Yes, I was partially saying it in jest, but this is clearly an injustice being done and he certainly needs competent representation. Wouldn't you agree?

    Yes, I concede that the narrow pro bono avocation on which I spend my own time and money does not address every injustice in need of pro bono support.

  24. Nicholas Weaver  •  Dec 5, 2013 @10:45 am

    ZK: Its not silly, it is a problem.

    Shoot a double action revolver and an out of the box Glock, and see which one you actually hit the target with. Heck, lets make it "fair" for the revolver: use a .22 revolver in double-action mode and pick-yer-modern 9mm.

    I've done it myself. I'm not the shot my grandfather was, (OK, I'm a lousy shot), but the difference is remarkable.

    One of the reasons the Glocks (and the M&Ps etc) became so popular for police use is that almost every department does NOT use the "NY trigger", and all those departments immediately saw significant improvements in officer accuracy at the range.

    Yes, 50 years ago cops had revolvers. But they didn't use them the same way either. My grandfather was LAPD, both as a patrol officer and as an instructor for marksmanship. He was also quite proud to have only drawn his gun in the line of duty 5 times, and never fired it in the line of duty.

    We have obscenely overmilitarized police departments: what LAPD officer today could say 'I only drew my gun 5 times in the line of duty, and never fired it'? But we can at least hope that they can hit who they are shooting at.

  25. Doc Railgun  •  Dec 5, 2013 @11:05 am

    This is a perfect example of the truth that no one needs a pistol. They are useful for one thing only: killing people at short range. If the police are afraid for their lives and still want to shoot innocent bystanders, they need long arms or at least SMGs.

  26. En Passant  •  Dec 5, 2013 @11:13 am

    The only thing that surprises me is that the DA didn't indict the two actual recipients of police bullets for interfering with police in performance of duty. If the bystanders' presence hadn't distracted police from their duty, they would have hit their intended target.

    Eventually anyway, even if they had to reload.

  27. Rick Horowitz  •  Dec 5, 2013 @11:19 am

    Isn't it funny how everyone EXCEPT the police is always responsible for their own actions?

  28. bill  •  Dec 5, 2013 @11:23 am

    @Nicholas – Not familiar with guns, are you saying that the heavy trigger makes you less accurate or more accurate (from the context i'm assuming it's less accurate). I guess it makes sense, but having never thought about it, i assumed the reason people used automatics was b/c you could put more rounds in it and shoot quicker but it sounds like accuracy is a big factor too?

  29. bill  •  Dec 5, 2013 @11:27 am

    @Doc Railgun – not knowing much about guns, i don't get your point – why is this an example of why no one needs a pistol? Aren't there cases where things break out quickly and at short ranges? but more specifically, isn't the size a major benefit that would offset some downsides over accuracy (not for just cops, in general). Again though, I'm pretty uninformed on the subject -so apologize in advance if these are stuipd questions

  30. Mark  •  Dec 5, 2013 @11:27 am

    Proves the quote — "a grand jury would indict a ham sandwich, if that's what you wanted" — ironically by the former Chief Judge of the New York State Court of Appeals.

  31. Jack  •  Dec 5, 2013 @11:29 am

    @ DocRailgun – Yeah, there is nothing better than an inaccurate officer with an itchy trigger finger sitting on a fully automatic SMG in a crowded city street capable of emptying the magazine in 3 seconds flat or less… THAT would TOTALLY be better than a semi-auto pistol…

    Are you just being a troll or do you really have a complete lack of basic firearm knowledge?

  32. ZarroTsu  •  Dec 5, 2013 @11:30 am

    Question:
    Did they charge Mr. Broadnax for the used ammunition?

  33. Rich Rostrom  •  Dec 5, 2013 @11:34 am

    Anglave • Dec 5, 2013 @10:27 am:Why the HELL were they firing deadly weapons at an unarmed and mentally unstable individual to begin with?

    Because unlike you, they didn't know he was unarmed, and he appeared to be drawing a weapon? Several recent mass murders were committed by mentally unstable individuals who were armed. It is arguable that the police action was mistaken, but not prima facie, or as one might put it, "to begin with".

  34. in-Texas-dept  •  Dec 5, 2013 @11:34 am

    @bill:

    A heavier trigger means that more force is required to get the gun to fire. Adding force makes keeping the gun steady harder, resulting in inaccuracy when the bullet is actually fired (the mechanism itself induces some movement of the weapon). Training can help you compensate for that, but it can only go so far – at a certain point, you are in the realm of forces applied at speeds that your body simply cannot react in time to correct (and thus keep the weapon aimed in the intended direction). Also, the farther you are from your intended target, the more accuracy you need to have in order to not miss your target and hit something else. So your gun jumping at the point when the bullet is fired reduces your effective range significantly.

    On a second note, this is why you see the police using two hands when using their weapons – they need both hands to effectively compensate for the kickback because of the trigger pull.

  35. Doctor X  •  Dec 5, 2013 @11:36 am

    Now if Ken's article upsets an officer, and he shots 37 innocent bystanders in the process of arresting perpetrator guilty of Contempt of Cop "demonstrating clear and imminent danger mandating the application of deadly force upon useless civilians he can be indicted for felony murder.

    I mean, those are "foreseeable consequences" and . . . stuff, right?

    Ken, do you know any good lawyers? :)

    –J.D.

  36. Duvane  •  Dec 5, 2013 @11:38 am

    @Turk
    I'd give at least even money odds that a school principal chosen randomly from the whole country would be a better shot than a randomly chosen NYPD cop. So, no, the firearms (in)competence of a particular police force does not have any bearing on the likely competence of any other group.

    To put it another way, the fact that the NYPD aren't good at handling firearms even though they're supposed to be good at it probably isn't an indicator that handling firearms is really, really hard, but rather that the NYPD aren't good at the things they're supposed to be good at. (There's a hole with no bottom.)

  37. ZarroTsu  •  Dec 5, 2013 @11:41 am

    I'm also wondering if there are incidents wherein police shot at an individual retrieving their wallet to pay for their dinner at a restaurant.

    Could have been a weapon; it's not unlike people to shoot waiters to get out of a tip, right?

  38. Frank Ney  •  Dec 5, 2013 @11:41 am

    Unblessed citizens won't be using guns with stupid trigger pulls. Also, unblessed citizens actually go to the range and practice more than once a year. Not to mention cops shoot the wrong person five times more often than an unblessed citizen.

    I feel a lot better with guns in regular people's hands than NYC's Army of Occupation.

  39. Sebudei  •  Dec 5, 2013 @11:41 am

    In point of fact, the NYPD trigger is 11 to 12 lbs.

    bill–imagine the action of lifting a weight with your index finger until you touched your palm. One weight is 5.5 pounds. The other is 12 pounds.

    Which one can you do more smoothly and with less effort?

  40. Mark  •  Dec 5, 2013 @11:42 am

    After the charges leveled against Mr. Broadnax were increased, the Manhattan district attorney’s office announced there would be additional charges against those perpetrators whom were successfully apprehended through use of police force. "Both individuals have been indicted for attempted petit larceny and littering. Both attempted to leave the scene of the crime with NYPD property secreted about their persons, and both succeeded in casting rubbish and/or refuse onto the public streets of our fine city. They will each be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."

  41. Erica  •  Dec 5, 2013 @11:48 am

    But we can at least hope that they can hit who they are shooting at.

    Since the LAPD has such a difficult time identifying the right suspect, actually I'd rather they didn't hit anything at all.

  42. Frank Ney  •  Dec 5, 2013 @11:49 am

    I'd go so far as to say that any cop that uses such verbage, even on a cop blog/board should be outed and dismissed as unfit to wear the uniform or whatever the cop equivalent of a Big Chicken Dinner is.

  43. Third News  •  Dec 5, 2013 @11:49 am

    So what you're saying is that Kalief Browder, a sixteen-year-old that had never been arrested, had no previous criminal record, thrown into Rikers Island jail for years, all without ever having been charged, was damn lucky not to be shot?

  44. PLW  •  Dec 5, 2013 @11:51 am

    How many of the dogs were bystanders?

  45. Lizard  •  Dec 5, 2013 @11:53 am

    @Zarro: Ask, and ye shall receive: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shooting_of_Amadou_Diallo (Not at a restaurant, per se, but returning from one, and yes, he was going for his wallet).

    The Onion barely needs to be satirical, here: http://www.theonion.com/articles/nypd-apologizes-for-accidental-shootingclubbingsta,739/

  46. Mark Wing  •  Dec 5, 2013 @12:10 pm

    If we provide the NYPD with more ammo, maybe they will take more shots but miss more innocent people, and that will improve the statistics a little.

  47. Anton Sherwood  •  Dec 5, 2013 @12:10 pm

    In fairness to the fuzz: comparing 14 directly to 16 understates the relative safety of the bystander, unless the ratio of bystanders to targets is 1 or less.

  48. Rich Rostrom  •  Dec 5, 2013 @12:15 pm

    Statistically, if you aren't a dog, it is slightly more dangerous to be the person the NYPD was shooting at than a bystander (16 people out of 331 shots for intended targets for a 4.8% hit rate vs. 14 people out of 331 shots for bystanders, a 4.2% hit rate.)

    Mr. White, this is statistical garbage, and you should know better.

    You start by noting

    NUMBER OF TARGETS HIT / NUMBER OF BULLETS FIRED

    is only slightly greater than

    NUMBER OF BYSTANDERS HIT / NUMBER OF BULLETS FIRED.

    Well, NUMBER OF BULLETS FIRED is the same in both ratios, so it is irrelevant. All you're really pointing out is that NYPD hit almost as many bystanders as targets.

    The real measure of danger to each class is NUMBER HIT / NUMBER IN THE CLASS.

    NUMBER OF TARGETS is not known, but could probably be determined from NYPD event reports. It is probably about 50-75.

    NUMBER OF BYSTANDERS is not only unknown, but unknowable. It is unquestionably many times greater than the number of targets. There were several hundred just in the Times Square incident.

    NUMBER HIT / NUMBER IN THE CLASS (the measure of danger) will be much much lower for bystanders.

    That would be true even if NYPD were massively incompetent and routinely hit ten times as many bystanders as targets – so it's not even a useful metric.

  49. Steven H.  •  Dec 5, 2013 @12:26 pm

    @Ken

    I suspect you're misreading the statistics given in the articles on NYPD shootings…

    It says that 16 people were killed by the NYPD, but does NOT say that those 16 were all intended targets. It's always possible that some of the 16 killed were also innocent bystanders (no, I didn't take time to check, but it's unlikely they failed to kill even one innocent bystander)..

  50. Third News  •  Dec 5, 2013 @12:26 pm

    In fairness to the police, just arresting innocent people must become increasingly boring. I think cops should be allowed to shoot people holding sugary drinks, eating salty food, and any jackass who takes an elevator

  51. Avatar  •  Dec 5, 2013 @12:30 pm

    It's worth mentioning that here in Texas, there is a marksmanship requirement for getting a concealed weapon permit. Not a particularly stringent one either, though you do need to qualify with at least a .32, so you've demonstrated that you can hit a target sufficiently well with multiple shots in fairly rapid succession, dealing with recoil, etc.

    As to why police don't keep qualified, a lot of the reason is budget. It's sexy to say "hey, we just got an armored riot vehicle with a government grant," less so to say "we burn through two thousand bucks a week on the range" (and that would be enough to keep what, twenty officers up to proficiency? For NYPD you'd be in the millions.)

    But it's also cultural. Some of these guys haven't shot a gun since their days in the academy. Don't want "poor marksmanship" to show up on anyone's record and interfere with their god-given right to regular raises and promotions based solely on seniority, y'know?

  52. Steven H.  •  Dec 5, 2013 @12:36 pm

    @Bill:

    i assumed the reason people used automatics was b/c you could put more rounds in it and shoot quicker but it sounds like accuracy is a big factor too?

    Automatics are not intrinsically more accurate than revolvers. While a double-action revolver has a heavy trigger pull, this is usually dealt with by manually cocking the revolver (which reduces the trigger pull to the levels of a single-action revolver).

    The same is true for most self-loading pistols (AKA semi-auto) – if you pull the trigger with the hammer down, it's a pig, but if you cock it first, it's very crisp.

    The Glock (and most other police pistols these days) are double-action only. Which means that at their best, they'll be harder to shoot than a cocked revolver or self-loader.

    As to why most PD's have switched to glocks/etc, I expect it's because they're sexy.

  53. Dan Weber  •  Dec 5, 2013 @12:43 pm

    I tend to vaguely support felony murder: if you rob a bank and someone dies in the process, it's on you.

    But what this guy did ought not (distinct from "is not") qualify as a felony. I've heard that three-felonies-a-day thing, and I'm not sure I believe it, but standing around looking agitated ought not be a felony in America.

  54. ZK  •  Dec 5, 2013 @12:47 pm

    @Nicholas Weaver,

    I'm not inexperienced here; I actively compete in handgun competition, including revolvers. Shooting a 10-ish pound revolver trigger is certainly harder, but it's not so hard that you'll see the sort of accuracy deficiencies you're seeing here. Is a lighter trigger easier? Of course. But it's not a deficiency that can't be mostly mitigated with practice (which officers don't get anymore).

    Sure, cops and crime 50 years ago were different. But the NYPD still got in a ton of real gunfights in the late 60s and 70s while carrying the S&W Model 10. This is the era which produced cops who would later call themselves gunfighters, like in the old west. Plenty of shooting happened, and they weren't spraying bystanders.

    The NY Trigger doesn't help. But it's not the root of the problem. EDIT: Not that you claimed it was.

  55. Firehand  •  Dec 5, 2013 @12:52 pm

    The NYPD went to the 'New York trigger' on Glocks primarily because of training shortcomings; they figured that having a heavier pull required to fire would reduce the negligent shots fired by someone running around with their finger on the damned trigger. And they were doing that because they weren't sufficiently trained on the matter.

    It didn't work. The standard is 'Keep your finger off the !(#*&$&^ trigger until your sights are on the target' specifically because people who trip/stumble tend to jerk their hands(BANG!), and because people who keep their finger on the trigger when trying to holster their sidearm shoot themselves in the leg
    http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2013/08/18/rookie-nypd-officer-recovering-after-accidentally-shooting-himself/

    By the way, yes, a double-action revolver has a heavier trigger pull than a Glock or S&W M&P or 1911; that does not mean you can't shoot accurately with it. Pure matter of training and practice.

  56. naught_for_naught  •  Dec 5, 2013 @12:59 pm

    Thank God he wasn't smoking when they tried to shoot him, or he'd really be in trouble.

  57. Suedeo  •  Dec 5, 2013 @1:00 pm

    Not to defend this completely unacceptable shooting, or the farcical criminal charges which followed, but let's not forget that police are not magically conferred with expert marksmanship upon swearing-in.

    A PD's best marksmen are probably on SWAT, not on patrol.

    Departments are challenged by budgetary concerns regarding the number of practice rounds per officer, and the number of (paid, of course) hours to be spent practicing at the firing range.

    Accuracy aside, I think that LEO procedures need to be adjusted so officers are requred to literally see a weapon before the level of force may be escalated. It seems to me that "he reached for his waistband" is often a (ahem) cop-out.

  58. Malc  •  Dec 5, 2013 @1:07 pm

    @Dan Weber,

    My issue with felony murder is that it usually gets charged identically to "first person" murder. I don't see any moral or ethical basis for felony murder ever being equivalent to first degree murder ("willful and premeditated"), although it clearly can be seen as equivalent to second degree murder.

    I mean, how can you "premeditate" a cop shooting a bystander as part of your carefully planned and otherwise non-violent bank robbery?

  59. Malc  •  Dec 5, 2013 @1:12 pm

    On the original topic: it seems utterly predictable that the city would want Glen Broadnax convicted, because if they win a conviction or can browbeat him into a plea deal, that let's them most-ways off the hook for shooting bystanders.

    So faced with a potential or actual multimillion dollar lawsuit from the bystanders, of course they'll charge Broadnax, and probably convince themselves that he'll get treated while incarcerated, so it's in everyone's best interest that be go to jail…

  60. ketchup  •  Dec 5, 2013 @1:18 pm

    At the local university there is a rifle team with its own indoor firing range. A visitor to the firing range noticed bullet holes in the walls, floor, and ceiling, some of which were not in the general vicinity of the target area. The visitor commented to the coach, "Looks like some of your kids are a bit wild." The coach replied "Actually, those are from the local police."

  61. Neurokeen  •  Dec 5, 2013 @1:25 pm

    Statistically, if you aren't a dog, it is slightly more dangerous to be the person the NYPD was shooting at than a bystander (16 people out of 331 shots for intended targets for a 4.8% hit rate vs. 14 people out of 331 shots for bystanders, a 4.2% hit rate.)

    While I still got a good chuckle out of it, this is about as clear an example as you get of the classic base rate fallacy – unintended bystanders will almost always outnumber intended targets.

  62. Clark  •  Dec 5, 2013 @1:39 pm

    @Joel

    But in this militarized police culture, why the hell don't they have the budget to have each officer spend a couple hours a week at the range to increase their firearms skills.

    Because it is all about how bad ass you look not about having any real skill and desire to be good at what you are doing. Think about bullies, they are all show. Someone who is bad ass doesn't need to show anything, in fact they kind of avoid it.

  63. Jacob H  •  Dec 5, 2013 @1:53 pm

    Actuarial data indicates that there are far more dangerous jobs than policeman – like miner, logger, commercial fisherman, and even farmer. Yet society continues to condone the use of inappropriate deadly force by police as a matter of course. It's as if we were brainwashed by decades of TV idolizing police as white knights in shining armor who do no wrong and are justified in protecting their own lives at whatever the cost. What will it take to restore a sense of proportion and restraint, not just in law enforcement, but in society at large as well? This sad old ex-clown doesn't have the answer.

    I love this comment and agree with it, as do most people here, most likely. Watch me alter it only slightly to arrive at a statement almost nobody here will agree with:

    >Actuarial data indicates that there are far more dangerous jobs than >soldier – like miner, logger, commercial fisherman, and even farmer. >Yet society continues to condone the use of inappropriate deadly >force by soldiers as a matter of course. It's as if we were >brainwashed by decades of TV idolizing troops as white knights in >shining armor who do no wrong and are justified in protecting their >own lives at whatever the cost. What will it take to restore a sense >of proportion and restraint, not just in war, but in society at large as >well?

  64. Clark  •  Dec 5, 2013 @1:53 pm

    @Rich Rostrom

    NUMBER OF BYSTANDERS is not only unknown, but unknowable. It is unquestionably many times greater than the number of targets. There were several hundred just in the Times Square incident.

    And hence the tongue in cheek statistics. Should you really be shooting in that type of situation unless you are absolutely sure this is a the beginning of a mass shooting.

    Here is a statistic for you, visiting NY you are in Times Square, what are your odds of being shot by the NYPD? Answer: 100% when you are shot.

  65. Tam  •  Dec 5, 2013 @1:54 pm

    "matching another recent incident in which skilled NYPD officers were able to hit their target and nine bystanders with only 16 bullets."

    Sigh.

    This has entered popular mythology as fact (heck, I thought that's what happened, too,) but it turns out that it's about as reasonable a description of what actually happened as the media's reporting on the Zimmerman case.

    It's not even worth rebutting in detail, but just know that you are believing a very shaded version of events if you take the information in the above quotes at face value.

    Here's a thumbnail from a source other than the no-doubt totally unbiased PLAINTIFF'S ATTORNEY cited in the link above.

  66. Jacob H  •  Dec 5, 2013 @1:57 pm

    Statistically speaking, we all have one ovary and one testicle

  67. mcinsand  •  Dec 5, 2013 @2:02 pm

    I would be very nervous if I was with the city. Inadequate training for the officers combined with a firearm that might be more difficult to control… Not a good recipe, and there are too many ambulance chasers out there.

  68. melK  •  Dec 5, 2013 @2:17 pm

    re @Dan Weber:

    Is it felony murder if a bystander gets shot dead by police while the police are arresting someone selling "fake" cisco routers or pirated software at a swap-meet?

    The triggers (according to the always-reliable interwebs) are:
    1) a felony being committed (copyright infringement, 10+ items, nontrivial value)
    2) someone dying
    3) a causal link between the two (escape attempt, "justified" firing of weapons).

  69. Jacob H  •  Dec 5, 2013 @2:25 pm

    @melK

    as always, IANAL, but I bet there are exceptions for white-collar felonies. If Bernie Madoff had run, and the cops had opened fire on him, killing a bystander, would that have been felony murder? I hope not…

  70. Antistone  •  Dec 5, 2013 @2:32 pm

    "Statistically, if you aren't a dog, it is slightly more dangerous to be the person the NYPD was shooting at than a bystander (16 people out of 331 shots for intended targets for a 4.8% hit rate vs. 14 people out of 331 shots for bystanders, a 4.2% hit rate.) "

    I realize this is a rhetorical flourish, but I am unable to appreciate whatever point you were trying to make because I am too distracted by your abject failure at statistics (and the failure itself does not appear to be for rhetorical effect).

    To determine whether it's safer to be a bystander or a target, we need to know the percentage of bystanders hit and the percentage of targets hit (and maybe something about how badly they were injured), which would require knowing the total number of bystanders and the total number of targets who were on the scene (including those who were not hit). Since you don't actually know either of those things, you seem to have substituted the number of shots fired for both missing variables, which makes about as much sense as dividing by the number of dogs hit or the number of hours since the last lunar eclipse.

    Or perhaps you were trying to calculate whether targets or bystanders were hit more often, but that would require knowing the number of bullets that hit targets (which is subtly but critically different from the number of targets hit) and bystanders, and still technically does not involve the total number of bullets fired (though admittedly that may be interesting for separate reasons).

    Your underlying point may or may not be true, but you are lying with your statistics: your calculations do not in any way support your claims.

  71. Ken White  •  Dec 5, 2013 @2:36 pm

    I thought I could convey that my statistical analysis was mostly satirical. Apparently I failed.

    I did, however, succeed at making numerate people flinch, which was part of my purpose.

  72. En Passant  •  Dec 5, 2013 @2:46 pm

    Jacob H Dec 5, 2013 @1:53 pm:

    I love this comment and agree with it, as do most people here, most likely. Watch me alter it only slightly to arrive at a statement almost nobody here will agree with:

    >Actuarial data indicates that there are far more dangerous jobs than
    >soldier – like miner, logger, commercial fisherman, and even farmer.
    >Yet society continues to condone the use of inappropriate deadly
    >force by soldiers as a matter of course. …

    Yes, I disagree with the bold portion of your restatement. Army Spec. James P. Barker, Sgt. Paul Cortez, Pfc. Steven D. Green, Pfc. Jesse V. Spielman, Pfc. Bryan L. Howard, Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales and Second Lieutenant William Laws Calley Jr. are a few well known counterexamples.

  73. Clark  •  Dec 5, 2013 @2:48 pm

    @Ken White

    I did, however, succeed at making numerate people flinch, which was part of my purpose.

    Good thing that those people that were a part of the NYPD had 10 pound triggers when you did this otherwise a dog or an innocent bystander would have been shot.

  74. Owen  •  Dec 5, 2013 @2:50 pm

    melK:

    The factors that you've listed aren't entirely accurate, which leads to an inaccurate conclusion. I don't know every felony-murder rule in the country (I think there are more than 40 states using it), but generally they require it to be a violent felony, or an action that otherwise demonstrates an extreme indifference for human life (e.g., drag racing through school zone, perhaps). Many statutes actually list the felonies on which a felony-murder charge may be based. For example, New York Penal Code 125.25(A)(3) describes their felony-murder rule (which is somewhat confusingly subsumed as a type of Second Degree Murder) –

    Acting either alone or with one or more other persons, he commits or attempts to commit robbery, burglary, kidnapping, arson, rape in the first degree, criminal sexual act in the first degree, sexual abuse in the first degree, aggravated sexual abuse, escape in the first degree, or escape in the second degree, and, in the course of and in furtherance of such crime or of immediate flight therefrom, he, or another participant, if there be any, causes the death of a person other than one of the participants;

    The Model Penal Code has something similar, though it has the felony-murder rule as more of an evidence rule. It allows listed violent crimes to be evidence of a manifest extreme indifference to human life:

    § 210.2. Murder.
    (1) Except as provided in Section 210.3(1)(b), criminal homicide constitutes
    murder when:
    (a) it is committed purposely or knowingly; or
    (b) it is committed recklessly under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life. Such recklessness and indifference are presumed if the actor is engaged or is an accomplice in the commission of, or an attempt to commit, or flight after committing or attempting to commit robbery, rape or deviate sexual intercourse by force or threat of force, arson, burglary, kidnaping or felonious escape.

    So, to answer your question, it is unlikely that copyright infringement would lead to a conviction for felony-murder, unless you're infringing in a particularly creative and gruesome way.

  75. Jacob H  •  Dec 5, 2013 @2:54 pm

    @En Passant

    Yes, there are (lots, probably, of) counterexamples of soldiers whose bad actions are not tolerated by society. Just as there are (lots, probably, of) counterexamples to the original point – examples of cops whose bad actions were not tolerated by society.

    Your response illustrates most peoples' knee-jerk reaction: to hate cops, and adore soldiers.

    In my opinion – my current, not-firm opinion, conflicted and ambivalent as it is – cops are generally better than people make them out to be, and soldiers are generally worse than people make them out to be. But pretty much everybody instinctively reveres soldiers, forgiving them of any bad policy decisions that the higher-ups make – while decidedly not extending the same goodwill to police.

    Where does my analogy fail so spectacularly as to justify such a large gulf in general attitude?

  76. Jacob H  •  Dec 5, 2013 @3:10 pm

    @En Passant:

    Also, while focusing on Lt. Calley might emphasize how we punish bad actors in the military, focusing on the 25 other soldiers charged who got of scot-free paints a bit of a different picture. As does the military's initial attempt to cover up My Lai.

    And even Calley is not a great example of how society will not tolerate inappropriate deadly force – lots of folks in society wanted to do exactly that! From Wikipedia:

    Many in America were outraged by Calley's sentence; Georgia's governor Jimmy Carter instituted "American Fighting Man's Day" and asked Georgians to drive for a week with their lights on.[10] Indiana's governor asked all state flags to be flown at half-staff for Calley, and Utah's and Mississippi's governors also disagreed with the verdict.[10] The Arkansas, Kansas, Texas, New Jersey, and South Carolina legislatures requested clemency for Calley.[10] Alabama's governor George Wallace visited Calley in the stockade and requested that Nixon pardon him.

    After the conviction, the White House received over 5000 telegrams; the ratio was 100 to 1 in favor of leniency.[11] In a telephone survey of the American public, 79% disagreed with the verdict, 81% believed that the life sentence Calley had received was too stern, and 69% believed Calley had been made a scapegoat.[11

    Yea…and how much time did he serve anyway, for the murder of 109 people? Oh, about 3 years…Not a great example, really…

  77. Owen  •  Dec 5, 2013 @3:13 pm

    Jacob H:

    Where does my analogy fail so spectacularly as to justify such a large gulf in general attitude?

    I guess I'd start with the fact that you have not presented any evidence for any claim in your analogy. And then because it's a false equivalence (i.e., a soldier's actions in a war in Helmand are not equivalent to a police officer's actions while patrolling Times Square). Another false equivalence when you're comparing the specific actions of police officers in shooting bystanders with "bad policy devisions that higher-ups" in the military make. And then I'd say you're setting up a false straw man, in the sense that you're relying on the assumption the "everybody instinctively reveres soldiers" and wouldn't express the same outrage if they were in a similar situation – that is, shooting bystanders while not engaged in a war.

    So, I'm not sure what you're trying to conclude here. Is it your position that being at war in Afghanistan is as peaceful as walking around in Times Square, or that police officers in New York City are as likely to encounter RPGs, mortars, automatic fire, suicide bombers, and IEDs as a soldier in Kamdesh?

  78. TM  •  Dec 5, 2013 @3:18 pm

    But pretty much everybody instinctively reveres soldiers, forgiving them of any bad policy decisions that the higher-ups make – while decidedly not extending the same goodwill to police.

    Don't you answer your own question right here: "the bad policy decisions the higher-ups make"

    When congress votes to send soldiers to some foreign country and those soldiers start getting themselves killed, we don't tend to condemn them for shooting back, because they didn't choose (baring the choice to join the military in the first place) to go to that country and be shot at. We do however, often give them hell for them stepping over the line from "actions in war" to "war crimes" and "inappropriate conduct". For example, a number of people involved with Abu Ghraib were sentence to jail terms, demoted, discharged and in some cases dishonorably discharged, which is more or less equivalent to a felony conviction.

    By comparison, when people complain about police conduct, they aren't usually talking about the decisions the higher ups made. They're talking about the decisions of the individual officers in question. Decisions like shooting up a pickup truck that was the wrong make, model and color because someone else who drove pickups shot some cops. Decisions like keeping your booger hook on the boom switch, allowing you to negligently kill a train passenger. Decisions like shooting the family chihuahua because it barked.

    I also imagine that at least some of it comes down to the public perception (rightly or wrongly as I have no statistics) that badly behaving soldiers are more often punished than badly behaving police.

  79. Jacob H  •  Dec 5, 2013 @3:31 pm

    @ Owen

    My general conclusion, as I stated above, is that "cops are generally better than people make them out to be, and soldiers are generally worse than people make them out to be".

    Is it your position that being at war in Afghanistan is as peaceful as walking around in Times Square, or that police officers in New York City are as likely to encounter RPGs, mortars, automatic fire, suicide bombers, and IEDs as a soldier in Kamdesh?

    No, it isn't. But only a small fraction of soldiers see combat (something like 10%) and encounter those things, so I don't think that's an apples-to-apples comparison. Just like it wouldn't be fair to compare LAPD SWAT casualties to casualties of soldiers stationed at the DMZ. A fairer comparison might be to just look at casualty and fatality rate for cops as a whole vs. rate for soldiers as a whole. Whether to include reserves, I don't know. I am honestly not sure which profession is more dangerous, but anyone with concrete #s, speak up!

    And then I'd say you're setting up a false straw man, in the sense that you're relying on the assumption the "everybody instinctively reveres soldiers" and wouldn't express the same outrage if they were in a similar situation – that is, shooting bystanders while not engaged in a war.

    No, that's not the fair analogy, because the cops here (and in pretty much every other case) were on duty. The fair comparison would be to soldiers shooting civilians while on patrol, but in a way that the necessity of doing so was very much in doubt. And yes, the general public tends to be very forgiving of soldiers when that happens.

  80. Jacob H  •  Dec 5, 2013 @3:37 pm

    @TM

    For example, a number of people involved with Abu Ghraib were sentence to jail terms, demoted, discharged and in some cases dishonorably discharged, which is more or less equivalent to a felony conviction.

    Yes, "a number". A very small number of very low ranking troops. Who couldn't possibly have been as high up as it went. But yes, "a number". Uh also, "more or less equivalent to a felony conviction"? Balderdash…in what possible way is that true? They still get their freedom from jail time, their right to vote and bear arms, a clean criminal record (it's not like they are required by law to put the dishonorable discharge on their resume), etc…How could that possibly be "equivalent"??

    By comparison, when people complain about police conduct, they aren't usually talking about the decisions the higher ups made

    That's arguable. When they complain about stop-and-frisk, or quotas, or zero-tolerance policies, or failure to respond to 911 calls from poor areas, they definitely are talking about policy decisions made by higher-ups. And even in other cases, surely official policy plays a role. Many commenters above have pointed to the lack of training that NYPD cops get, especially with firearms. Isn't that a policy issue?

  81. The Man in the Mask  •  Dec 5, 2013 @3:49 pm

    Notably missing in action are the qualities of "courage", "service", "judgment", "valor" and "sacrifice".

    If you really think that someone is drawing a gun in an area crowded with civilians, and it is your job to protect those civilians from threats like that, then you don't open fire on the guy: you rush him. ALL of you rush him. Because unless he's equipped with excellent reflexes (probably not), self-defense skills (probably not), and is an excellent shot (probably not) then the two or three of you will tackle him before he can get more than a shot or two off — and his aim will be affected by what you're doing.

    Yes, this means you take a bullet. That's your job. You get paid to serve and protect, and if that means you get shot so that a civilian doesn't get shot, then that's what should happen. Yes, this means running into a gun, but if you don't have the courage to do that, you shouldn't be a cop: you're a coward. Yes, this means that you might get wounded or killed, but you signed up for that. You agreed to be a public servant, and in service of your masters, you may be required to suffer or die.

    What you don't do, in this situation, is reach for your weapon, because as we've seen the probability is high that you won't hit the target or won't hit it quickly enough.

  82. Al  •  Dec 5, 2013 @3:51 pm

    OK, now the NYPD is getting just plain creepy.

  83. Jacob H  •  Dec 5, 2013 @3:55 pm

    @TM

    When congress votes to send soldiers to some foreign country and those soldiers start getting themselves killed, we don't tend to condemn them for shooting back, because they didn't choose (baring the choice to join the military in the first place) to go to that country and be shot at

    True, but that's not what we're talking about. When cops shoot back, nobody condemns them for that, either (generally). What we're talking about is being too quick to gun somebody down when they are just reaching into their pocket for their cell phone, for example. That happens both in NYC, and overseas in combat zones. And you can't deny that when it's a soldier who accidently shoots a (foreign) civilian who was just reaching for their phone, the public is much more forgiving than if it was a cop shooting an American. Probably a fair bit of jingoism/patriotism/nationalism there, IMHO

  84. htom  •  Dec 5, 2013 @5:39 pm

    @Bill — for either a revolver or a semi-automatic, the rate of fire is identical, and is "as fast as you can pull the trigger." (I suspect that for a very very small number of shooters that the revolver might be faster than a semi-automatic — Jerry Miculek's 12 rounds into a target, with a single six-shot revolver and a reload, in 2.99 seconds, is on youtube.)

    The idea behind the NYC trigger seems to have been to prevent negligent discharges. Negligent because they happen after violating Cooper's 4 Rules of Firearm Safety:

    1. The gun is always loaded. (This means that a firearm is always to be handled as if it is loaded, because when it is and you think it's not, very bad things happen. Especially if you've just checked the firearm and it is now known to be unloaded, it is to be considered to be loaded — you made a mistake. The gun is always loaded.)

    2. Never let the muzzle cover anything you don't want destroyed. (Don't point the firearm at your TV, your significant other, your children, your neighbors, the bystanders ….)

    3. Never put your finger on the trigger until you're ready to fire. (Keeps you from moving the trigger by falling, seizure, being hit, ….)

    4. Be sure of your target, and what is above, below, beside, beyond, and through that target.

    There was negligence here; Rule 4. Shooting bystanders is a violation of it. The decision to shoot Glenn Broadnax is probably also negligent, but harder to demonstrate. Shooting bystanders? No, no, no.

  85. mud man  •  Dec 5, 2013 @5:48 pm

    Rich Rostrom

    Because unlike you, they didn't know he was unarmed, and he appeared to be drawing a weapon?

    and if he did have a weapon, he might shoot it; and if he did shoot it, some innocent bystander might get shot! !

  86. jdgalt  •  Dec 5, 2013 @7:14 pm

    So long as the NYPD stick with their current Rules of Engagement and target selection, I'm not at all concerned about their lack of shooting competence. It may be the only thing that saves an innocent person's life.

    What really makes this post ROCK for me is how, if you take the last paragraph and substitute in "Al Qaeda" for "NYPD", it makes exactly the same, perfect sense.

    Perhaps the TSA should start putting suspected members of NYPD on their no-fly list. Or CIA should start shooting at them with drones. Or both!

    Or at the very least, let's make them all follow Barney Fife's ROE. Only one bullet apiece, and they have to carry it in their shirt pockets.

  87. JimBob  •  Dec 5, 2013 @7:31 pm

    Lizard–

    The dead giveaway in the Onion article isn't the situation description, it's the claim that they hit the suspect 175 times, but only fired 245 rounds.

    Clearly, that's where the satire comes in.

  88. babaganusz  •  Dec 6, 2013 @1:45 am

    Rostrom:

    All you're really pointing out is that NYPD hit almost as many bystanders as targets.

    wow. where's the cutting follow-up about making omelettes? bring it, champ.

    Mask:

    You get paid to serve and protect

    i'm fully on board with the rest of the cut of your jib, but i'm increasingly of the mind that invoking The Bottom Line is nigh-invariably where the thread of, say, swearing a fucking oath gets lost.

    (and tangentially, fading too fast to neatly steer this into Jacob H's loop, but am reminded of [paraphrased]: 'we can't afford [x] for all of our brave-loyal-selfless-patriot veterans, regardless of how many limbs/brain tissue samples/etc. any individual may or may not have lost in our name' … something something apple pie.)

  89. M. Alan Thomas II  •  Dec 6, 2013 @2:22 am

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but he was only criminally reckless if a reasonable person would have foreseen the risk that the NYPD would open fire in a crowded area with little provocation and miss (or have their shots pass through) a reasonably large man at close range.

    Actually, that sounds perfectly reasonable as a finding of fact.

  90. mcinsand  •  Dec 6, 2013 @7:50 am

    @babaganusz, you had to go tapdancing on my current hotbutton. If we are going to expect officers and officials to take and keep an oath, then that expectation is not only unfounded but stupid if we don't prosecute those that break those oaths. The police officers are an example, but what about congresspeople, senators, and presidents that swear to uphold the constitution only to allow the NSA to gut the 4th amendment?

    @M. Alan Thomas III, let me see if I have your argument correct: since anyone familiar with the NYPD would reasonably expect them to be negligent and irresponsible, the defendant was criminally negligent and irresponsible by implicitly expecting for the officers to be diligent and responsible. Do I have it right?

  91. JdL  •  Dec 6, 2013 @7:58 am

    Yet another lurch by the "Justice" system in the U.S. toward complete insanity and the antithesis of true justice.

  92. Dan  •  Dec 6, 2013 @8:41 am

    @ Jacob H

    They still get their freedom from jail time, their right to vote and bear arms, a clean criminal record (it's not like they are required by law to put the dishonorable discharge on their resume), etc…How could that possibly be "equivalent"??

    Army lawyer here.

    A dishonorable discharge (or a bad conduct discharge, which is not the same thing) can only be given as part of the sentence for a felony conviction by a court-martial. Usually, though not always, confinement is also part of the sentence, just as it is often, but not always, part of the sentence for a civilian felony conviction.

    A conviction by a special or a general court-martial (the latter being the only one that can give a dishonorable discharge) counts as a federal conviction for all purposes. You're not required to list civilian convictions on your resume either.

  93. Owen  •  Dec 6, 2013 @9:21 am

    Jacob H:

    No, that's not the fair analogy, because the cops here (and in pretty much every other case) were on duty. The fair comparison would be to soldiers shooting civilians while on patrol, but in a way that the necessity of doing so was very much in doubt.

    So your position is that a soldier patrolling in an active war zone has the same mentality, the same pressures, the same rules of engagement, and the same goals as a police officer on duty in Times Square?

    It appears that you are not recognizing a problem with the categories that you have drawn. You are arguing that the category in this article, on duty cops, are viewed unfairly in comparison with another category, soldiers. But you're not recognizing that there is a difference between soldiers in a war zone and soldiers at home (of course you know this, but you aren't recognizing it for the purposes of your argument). This is an important distinction because there are fundamental differences between the circumstances that each class is involved in – unless you are genuinely stating that there is no difference between a war zone and New York City.

    You try to get around this by saying that only a small proportion of the soldiers are ever at war. The problem with this is that the only evidence you have used to support your proposition (that soldiers are forgiven more readily after shooting civilians than police are) takes place at war or in similar circumstances – so you do not have evidence to support such an assertion regarding non-war soldiers. Therefore, you're either contradicting yourself, or conflating the two classes of soldiers.

    So, the way I see it, there are essentially two ways to make a fair comparison such that your argument has a basis. You can either compare:

    1) On duty cops and soldiers at war;
    2) On duty cops and soldiers on duty but not at war.

    The problem is, in argument 1, you face a false equivalence because, as I have explained, there is a fundamental difference in the circumstances that explains the difference in perception. People acting at war are held to a different standard of conduct than people – even the police – in New York. This needs no more evidence than the fact that an entirely different set of laws applies to soldiers in a war zone (i.e., laws of war, rather than state/federal criminal laws).

    The problem in argument 2 is that you have not identified any evidence that soldiers are or would be perceived better than the police if they were to shoot civilians when they were not at war. If you have a soldier walking around downtown Miami and shooting anyone he thinks might have a gun, I guarantee that the public would not support him for it.

    TL;DR – you either have to argue that soldiers in a war zone are held to the same standard as the police in NYC, or find examples of soldiers being treated well after shooting civilians on the home front.

  94. Brian C  •  Dec 6, 2013 @11:35 am

    I am thoroughly disgusted by the Manhattan district attorney’s behavior. I also disgusted by some of the contributions to this discussion remaking on insignificant points like the use of statistics, shooting dogs, and 10 pound triggers. While reading the super snarky remarks is highly entertaining there has been very little discussion on the legal ramifications of charging a man for a crime he did not commit.

    1) More legal cost to the public unless your a lawyer then it's gainful employment
    2) The legal issues of fighting the charges and getting them dropped.
    3) The risk some stupid jury would actually convect the man

    Somebody did mention this is a tactic to reduce blame the civil lawsuits. The intent of the blog was to point out the incredible gall of the district attorney not if the NYPD can hit anything using speeding bullets.

    So my question is how could a grand jury buy this crap?

  95. TM  •  Dec 6, 2013 @11:43 am

    @ Jacob H.

    Yes, "a number". A very small number of very low ranking troops. Who couldn't possibly have been as high up as it went.

    But still "a number" which is in general, better than when the police misbehave. I was merely explaining why the reactions are different, not suggesting that the handling of criminal behavior by the military is ideal.

    Uh also, "more or less equivalent to a felony conviction"? Balderdash…in what possible way is that true?

    Disqualification from any future federal jobs, most state jobs, disqualification from 2nd amendment rights federally and voting rights on a state by state basis (as are most felony convictions). You're not a protected class (just like felons) so it is legal (and common) for employers, banks, and housing agencies to discriminate against you for your DD. See also what Dan said.

  96. Frank  •  Dec 6, 2013 @12:00 pm

    "So my question is how could a grand jury buy this crap?"

    A wise man once said something along the lines of "I have a problem giving my life over to a group of people so stupid they can't get out of jury duty." Robert Heinlein (through his avatar Lazarus Long) said that a group IQ can be determined by taking the highest individual IQ in said group and divide it by the number of people said group. Any drill sergeant will tell you that a platoon has the collective IQ of a centipede — less since a centipede won't step on it's own feet.

    Grand juries indict ham sandwiches with disturbing regularity.

  97. Ken White  •  Dec 6, 2013 @12:12 pm

    "So my question is how could a grand jury buy this crap?"

    I was a federal prosecutor in a very busy district that indicted 1200 to 1500 cases per year. In the more than five years I worked there — meaning somewhere between 6,000 and 7,500 indictments — I know of only one time that a grand jury failed to return the indictment that prosecutors asked for.

    (INS agents show up to arrest 20-year-old for deportation, mom of 20-year-old lets out allegedly dangerous dog which rushes agents as they try to arrest kid, agents shot dog dead, agents demand that USAO charge mom with assault on federal agent. Result: no bill. Good for that grand jury.)

  98. Jacob H  •  Dec 6, 2013 @1:02 pm

    @Owen

    I am comparing soldiers at war to cops on duty. I am very aware that there are differences in their two situations, but so what? I am drawing a comparison, a contrast, to show what I feel is a permissive, over-reverent attitude towards soldiers, and the opposite attitude towards cops. Yes, soldiers are held to a different legal standard when at war, as you point out, but again, so what? I acknowledge that there is a different legal standard for soldiers at war, I'm pointing at a very different moral standard. If a soldier is much, much too quick to open fire on a "suspicious" civilian, the public says "oh well, that's war for you".

    You keep accusing me of claiming that an officer in Times square has the same mentality, the same challenges, as a soldier in Afghanistan. First of all, I'm not, and so please stop mischaracterizing my position. Second, if you asked a cop and a soldier for their job descriptions, you would probably hear a lot of overlap; a lot of "keeping the innocent safe at night in their beds," "keeping the bad guys at bay," "putting themselves in harms way," and so on. Even though the environments are very different, I would bet that the mindsets are similar. Namely "I'm out here walking the fence so good people can sleep sound".

    Are you really that much more sympathetic to a soldier who is too quick on the trigger, kills an innocent, thinking "I'm protecting my platoon," than a cop too quick on the trigger who kills an innocent, thinking "I'm protecting the public".

    Because to me, the main difference in the public attitude in response is the nationality of the victim.

  99. Anton Sherwood  •  Dec 6, 2013 @1:34 pm

    It's odd to find so many of you saying "Afghanistan is a bad analogy" and not mentioning Iraq, which was at peace until Our Gallant Lads came in to preserve disorder.

    Frank: I wonder whether Heinlein had in mind an analogy to resistors in parallel.

  100. Owen  •  Dec 6, 2013 @1:43 pm

    I am comparing soldiers at war to cops on duty. I am very aware that there are differences in their two situations, but so what?

    So you are outraged because there is a different public perception regarding similar actions by different occupations, with different job duties (protect the public versus conduct a war), exposed to different stresses, operating in wildly different circumstances? I'm sorry, but I don't think that's a particularly profound statement.

    The perceptions are different, well, because of all of the differences.

  101. Jacob H  •  Dec 6, 2013 @2:18 pm

    @Owen
    Yes, and there are lots of differences between Broadway actors and NPR hosts. There are lots of similarities too. The point of an analogy is to draw attention to the similarities, and to an incongruity in attitude. You think that the differences are so vast that there can be no meaningful things to be learned by comparing them. I do not. And I further think, that if you asked a cop, they would not consider themselves as vastly different from a soldier on patrol as you do. They would probably claim that they face a similar amount of danger, for a similar goal (protect the public).

    Also, I never said I was "outraged".

    @TM
    I am not aware of any states that prohibit someone with a DD from owning a gun or voting. Please cite. Also, there's the whole "not going to jail" thing, which seems like a pretty big difference!

  102. Brian C  •  Dec 6, 2013 @2:33 pm

    Thanks on my question regarding Grand Juries. So all ham sandwiches are at risk of indictments (and most people) regardless of their actions. And maybe if you let your dog out to pee, you might be given a break as somebody on the Grand Jury might be a dog lover.

    Maybe we can charge the Grand Jury with collusion with the DA's office to conspire against the People of the USA. I would have the ghosts of Robert Heinlein, Ayn Rand, and Thomas Jefferson as the Jury and Robert Jay Mathews as the executioner.

  103. Nobody  •  Dec 6, 2013 @2:44 pm

    > I did, however, succeed at making numerate people flinch, which was part of my purpose.

    PI IS EXACTLY 3!

    (If you're going to do something like that, do it properly.)

  104. Bobby Zimmerman  •  Dec 6, 2013 @2:53 pm

    "Pronoun trouble!", as Bugs would say…

  105. Owen  •  Dec 6, 2013 @3:14 pm

    Yes, and there are lots of differences between Broadway actors and NPR hosts. There are lots of similarities too. The point of an analogy is to draw attention to the similarities, and to an incongruity in attitude.

    Yet no one decries the difference in the public perception of Broadway actors and NPR hosts, so I fail to see what possible support your argument derives from that statement.

    @TM
    I am not aware of any states that prohibit someone with a DD from owning a gun or voting. Please cite. Also, there's the whole "not going to jail" thing, which seems like a pretty big difference!

    I realize I'm not TM, but if I may jump in…

    18 USC § 922 states:

    (d) It shall be unlawful for any person to sell or otherwise dispose of any firearm or ammunition to any person knowing or having reasonable cause to believe that such person—

    (6) who has been discharged from the Armed Forces under dishonorable conditions;

    And…

    (g) It shall be unlawful for any person—

    (6) who has been discharged from the Armed Forces under dishonorable conditions;

    to ship or transport in interstate or foreign commerce, or possess in or affecting commerce, any firearm or ammunition; or to receive any firearm or ammunition which has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce.

    http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/922

    Please note that this is a Federal law and therefore applies to all states.

    Also, where did you get the idea that people who get Dishonorable Discharges don't go to prison? A DD is PART of a sentence for a felony conviction after a court-martial. It can only be given following a conviction and it it is by no means the sole avenue for punishment. Just like felony convictions in civilian courts, many people go to prison, some don't. You seem to have a very biased understanding of Dishonorable Discharges.

  106. Jacob H  •  Dec 6, 2013 @3:42 pm

    @Owen
    Thanks for the info on the gun laws, that's helpful. What isn't helpful is accusing me of bias because I wasn't (and still am not) aware that DDs only occur concurrently with felony convictions. If that's true, it's hardly common knowledge. I'd love to see a citation that states it is impossible to get a DD without a felony conviction. I (and probably millions of others) thought you could be DD'd for repeated AWOLs, or other military code violations.

    Anyway, all that being rather uncommon knowledge, I don't think a charge of "bias" is very warranted, or very polite. I could have accused you of "bias" for an instinctive, knee-jerk defense of soldiers, but instead I addressed your points. Like this:

    Yet no one decries the difference in the public perception of Broadway actors and NPR hosts, so I fail to see what possible support your argument derives from that statement.

    I thought it was obvious that was a statement meant to illustrate that although two jobs may have many differences, they may also have many similarities, and so pointing out the many differences does not mean that no analogy can be made between them. It wasn't (and I think you knew this) meant to be an example of two jobs which have a gulf between them in the public sentiment. Since you pretended that confused you, I'll just state it outright:

    Although differences exist between the jobs of soldier and cop, similarities also exist, and I, personally, think that the differences between the two jobs is much, much smaller than the difference in attitude towards those jobs.

    In other words, cops and soldiers are different – but not as different as "thug" and "knight"

  107. TM  •  Dec 6, 2013 @3:53 pm

    @ Jacob H

    Yes, and there are lots of differences between Broadway actors and NPR hosts. There are lots of similarities too. The point of an analogy is to draw attention to the similarities, and to an incongruity in attitude.

    But, and fair warning we're about to get meta here, your analogy and question is akin to me asking "Why does everyone get so upset when NPR (and it's producers) creates outright lies and fabrications when they tell their stories, but people don't get equally upset when broadway actors (and their producers) do?" The answer is because despite whatever similarities they may have, their differences are more relevant.

    And I further think, that if you asked a cop, they would not consider themselves as vastly different from a soldier on patrol as you do. They would probably claim that they face a similar amount of danger, for a similar goal (protect the public).

    And that would be another reason why people are less sympathetic, because while the cops may think they're soldiers (see the militarization of the police) they most emphatically are not, nor are they in nearly as much danger (especially walking around Times Square in NYC) as a soldier in war. This is easily demonstrated:

    Line of Duty deaths for cops: (http://www.odmp.org/search/year)

    2013: 93
    2012: 120
    2011: 176
    2010: 177

    Soldiers just in OEF (http://icasualties.org/OEF/Index.aspx)

    2013: 118
    2012: 310
    2011: 418
    2010: 499

    I am not aware of any states that prohibit someone with a DD from owning a gun or voting. Please cite. Also, there's the whole "not going to jail" thing, which seems like a pretty big difference!

    You know, if you're going to argue a point, you should at the very least make yourself aware of the most basic aspects of the side you're arguing against, especially when you're arguing against laws that have been on the books since the 60's. As Owen so helpfully pointed out, you really ought to check out the US Code, you know, the federal laws on firearms ownership which denies it to DDs. Similarly, you might want to pay attention to the Army lawyer up thread who noted that DDs are given out as part of a felony conviction. You might also consider the actual Courts Martial manual which notes time and again that DDs should be reserved for issues which would be felonies in a civilian court (http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/law/mcm.pdf). Also note that just because they don't serve time in a civilian jail doesn't mean they don't serve time in jail. Even non military folks have heard of Fort Leavenworth

    I'd love to see a citation that states it is impossible to get a DD without a felony conviction. I (and probably millions of others) thought you could be DD'd for repeated AWOLs, or other military code violations.

    Even if you can get a DD without an actual felony conviction, that doesn't strengthen your point. DDs are considered to be the equivalent of felony convictions for hiring, rental, loaning and firearms related purposes almost everywhere. I suppose there might be a few exceptions, but then again, I'm sure there are some places that don't care if you're a convicted felon when they hire you either. If you can get a DD without a felony conviction, all that means is that you can have your voting and firearms rights stripped and be legally discriminated against for a misdemeanor crime as well.

  108. Jacob H  •  Dec 6, 2013 @4:22 pm

    @TM
    you just made a rather glaring statistical error – comparing absolute numbers between police and troop casualties. Unfortunately, there are about twice as many troops as police (as far as I can tell from cursory investigation).

    So by those numbers you just provided, we can see that in 2013, it was safer to be a soldier (118 deaths/~1.5 mil troops) than a cop (93 deaths/~750,000 cops). In the other years, yes, it was safer to be a cop, but not by all that much!

  109. Owen  •  Dec 6, 2013 @4:38 pm

    Jacob:

    Look, I don't want you to have the impression that I'm actively trying to hurt your feelings. You asserted a position. I challenged your position. I hardly think that it's rude of me to challenge a controversial opinion that you've stated, to ask what you meant in your comments, or to point out that statements don't necessarily support your position. To the extent that it was done impolitely, I do apologize. If I had realized that you were just informing us of a personal opinion, as opposed to putting forth an argument intended to persuade, I probably wouldn't have commented at all.

    As to my statement that it seemed as though you have a "biased understanding" of Dishonorable Discharges, I'll respond this way. You absolutely have a right to not know things. But it strikes me as a bit dishonest when a person supports their argument by making factual statements about things that they do not know (i.e., "Also, there's that whole "not going to jail" thing, which seems like a pretty big difference!") and then complains when someone gets the impression that they are biased. You do not have a right to make factual misstatements and then be free from criticism.

  110. Dan  •  Dec 6, 2013 @4:41 pm

    @Jacob H

    I'd love to see a citation that states it is impossible to get a DD without a felony conviction. I (and probably millions of others) thought you could be DD'd for repeated AWOLs, or other military code violations.

    Other than the military attorney (that would be me) telling you so? Again, a dishonorable discharge is part of the sentence for a crime, and can only be given by a general court-martial. See generally 10 USC 801 et seq. "Felony" is rather a vague concept (as many states define it differently, and federal law has different definitions for different purposes), but the most common definition I've seen under federal law is any crime for which you could be imprisoned for more than a year. Most offenses under the UCMJ (uniform code of military justice) meet this definition, including many military-specific offenses.

    To verify for yourself, look in the Manual for Courts-Martial. For one example, see the discussion of Article 90, "Assaulting or willfully disobeying superior commissioned officer". The maximum punishment for disobeying (see page IV-21) is given as "[d]ishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for 5 years." In time of war (which we've been for the last 12 years), the maximum penalty is death. For AWOL, a DD is an authorized punishment if the period of time AWOL exceeds 30 days (page IV-15), and at that point the accused can also be confined for a year.

    I'm not going to go through all of them, but I think you get the point. It's possible that there's an offense out there that can give you a DD but not 1 year in confinement, but I can't think of any.

  111. Jacob H  •  Dec 6, 2013 @4:43 pm

    @Dan,

    Thank you, that's very helpful.

    @Owen

    I stand by the whole "not going to jail thing," because it isn't the dishonorable discharge that sends somebody to jail/prison, it's the felony charge or whatever that led to the DD that sends them there, but OK, I freely acknowledge that my perceptions of DDs were pretty wrong.

    But not due to bias – just due to it being somewhat uncommon knowledge

    As for the rest of your comment, well, this is my thesis statement:

    cops and soldiers are different – but not as different as "thug" and "knight"

    Is that something that you disagree with?

  112. TM  •  Dec 6, 2013 @4:48 pm

    @ Jacob H

    Nice try, but you're again not differentiating between all troops everywhere and troops in a war zone. If we look at the deployment figures (http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/R40682.pdf) on page 9 we see a roughly 100,000 deployed troops in the areas where the troop deaths statistics came from.

  113. Jacob H  •  Dec 6, 2013 @5:03 pm

    @TM,
    and you aren't differentiating between police everywhere (like in desk jobs), and police on the beat.

    I absolutely agree that the most fair comparison would be between troops that are in combat (ie not in the DMZ or Asia, or generals who don't ever see combat, or quartermasters who never leave the green zone) and police that are actually "on the beat" (ie in potential danger, not at a desk, not evidence locker clerks, not dispatchers, not jailers, etc.)

    That's why those comparison numbers you just posted are next to meaningless. In order to know which job is actually more dangerous, we need to know the actual numbers "in harm's way"

    I wasn't trying to pull anything over on you, you just seemed to be making a general comparison between your "average" soldier and your "average" cop. But either way, it certainly wasn't "easily demonstrated"

  114. Owen  •  Dec 6, 2013 @5:34 pm

    Is that something that you disagree with?

    No, I suppose not. :)

  115. TM  •  Dec 6, 2013 @7:11 pm

    @ Jacob H

    Per the BJS (http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/lpd07.pdf) 67% of officers regularly respond to calls. Look baring limiting your selection to officers on foot patrol in downtown Chicago gangland, without you pulling out some really perception altering statistics of your own, you're not going to make a very convincing argument that cops and troops face nearly equal amounts of danger. In fact, until you start using any citations at all, I think I'm going to end this here.

  116. Dan  •  Dec 6, 2013 @8:06 pm

    To continue the threadjack a little further, there are many types of discharges from the US Armed Forces. This probably isn't a complete list, but it at least includes the most common options:

    Uncharacterized (only for those who leave very early in their careers–first few months or so)
    Honorable — if you don't get in trouble, and finish your term of service, this is what you get. You may also get if you got in trouble but the command didn't think it was too serious, if you get a medical discharge, or a number of other reasons. It's the one everyone wants, and it results in your keeping all of your benefits.
    General, under honorable conditions — You got in trouble, and got thrown out, but it wasn't considered too serious. You lose a few benefits, but not much.
    General, under other than honorable conditions (an "OTH" discharge) — You got in trouble, got thrown out, and the command thought it was moderately serious, but not serious enough to press criminal charges. You lose most of your veterans' benefits with an OTH.
    Bad-conduct discharge — serious trouble, with a criminal conviction.
    Dishonorable discharge — Even more serious trouble, with a felony conviction. You lose all your veterans' benefits with a DD.
    Dismissal — the equivalent of a DD for a commissioned officer.

    The general discharges, including the OTH, are considered administrative; the BCD, DD, and dismissal are punitive–that is, they're considered criminal punishments. A punitive discharge can only be given by a court-martial with a military judge, the option of having a panel (the military equivalent of a jury), and counsel provided to the accused. A conviction by a court-martial that has the power to give a punitive discharge is treated as a federal criminal conviction for all purposes, and needs to be reported in the same way that a conviction in a civilian court would be.

    A court-martial conviction can result in (depending on the offense and the type of court-martial) death, confinement for any number of years, forfeiture of any or all pay and allowances, and/or a bad-conduct or dishonorable discharge, or a dismissal. There are no formal sentencing guidelines for this process, only whatever the individual panel comes up with on their own, less whatever clemency (if any) the convening authority (a Colonel or a General) decides to grant.

    Speaking only to the Army (I assume it's similar for the other services, but I've only seen the Army side of things), most people who get in trouble and thrown out of the Army are administratively removed rather than criminally charged, tried, and discharged. The administrative separation and OTH discharge are not criminal proceedings or punishment, and are not treated as convictions.

  117. Owen  •  Dec 6, 2013 @9:00 pm

    Dan:

    Thanks for the information. Out of curiosity, are you aware of anything (fed statute, state statute, reg, etc.) that states that a punitive discharge is treated functionally as a federal criminal conviction? Or is it just some kind of common law or course of practice?

  118. Dan  •  Dec 6, 2013 @10:12 pm

    Another Dan here, continuing the threadjacking. It's a little dated, but a document I found at http://www.hsdl.org/?view&did=445125 had some good info and citations; most of the info was towards the end.

    If I understand correctly, the way court martial convictions are treated as felonies for the purposes of disenfranchisement depends on the individual laws and requirements of states. However, with regards to entry into NCIS/NCIC and gun ownership: that's a federal call, and occurs when convicted of a crime that can be punished by imprisionment for more than a year or that involves domestic abuse. So it's not really a question of the type of discharge but what you were convicted for. In theory I could be convicted of insubordination and given a DD at a court martial, but that probably wouldn't fall into the categories that get entered into federal databases. Also, I really haven't seen too many DDs . . . We recently had a guy get two years for Abusive Sexual Contact, and he received a BCD.

  119. TM  •  Dec 6, 2013 @11:00 pm

    @ (other) Dan

    Like most things legal, there's no one all encompassing answer, but at least as far as guns go, 18 USC 922 prohibits the sale or transfer of firearms and ammunition to anyone " who has been discharged from the Armed Forces under dishonorable conditions". No mitigation is provided for sentence time, if your discharge was dishonorable, you're a prohibited person period.

  120. Dan  •  Dec 7, 2013 @6:08 am

    @Owen

    The discharge, as such, isn't treated as a conviction. The court-martial conviction that gave you the discharge is what's treated as the conviction. I'd have to dig a bit for authority (which may not happen for a while, if at all), but a special or a general court-martial conviction counts as a federal criminal conviction, while a summary court-martial does not.

    The reasons for the distinction have to do with the degree of punishment that can be given, the composition of the court-martial, and the rights of the accused. A summary court-martial can give only fairly minimal punishment, is not presided over by a judge (it's generally a non-legal officer who presides), does not have a panel, and does not provide an attorney for the accused (at least in the Army; I understand some of the other services do as a matter of policy). A special or general court-martial can sentence the accused to increasingly greater punishment, does have a judge and a panel, and does provide an attorney to the accused.

  121. norahc  •  Dec 7, 2013 @10:20 am

    @Owen

    Thanks for the information. Out of curiosity, are you aware of anything (fed statute, state statute, reg, etc.) that states that a punitive discharge is treated functionally as a federal criminal conviction? Or is it just some kind of common law or course of practice?

    In order to receive a punitive discharge, you must be convicted by a court martial of a violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which is actually 10 USC Chapter 47. Therefore any conviction handed down by a court martial is a federal criminal conviction.

    http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/10/subtitle-A/part-II/chapter-47 specifically subchapter X details the crimes that can be charged under a court martial. UCMJ Article 134 (also known as 10 USC § 934) is the catch all.

  122. DocMerlin  •  Dec 9, 2013 @9:43 am

    @Mimi

    First of all, in the parlance of the 1700's, cops are soldiers (a large body of men, paid to be under arms.) They are the standing army that the founders warned us about.

  123. babaganusz  •  Dec 11, 2013 @8:23 am

    mcinsand:

    that expectation is not only unfounded but stupid if we don't prosecute those that break those oaths. The police officers are an example, but what about

    right there with ya. in most threads this is the part where i plug my ears and squint, waiting for the inevitable fairweather-lib cretin to toss in a "hurr, you can vote them out".
    working on an essay which (a) addresses the stupidity you pinpoint (b) and is somehow worth repeatedly sending to every party both interested and offending (or perhaps a slight change in format between one and the other). any tips?

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