Civil Liberties

Are Inhumane Police Tactics Preferable to Murder?

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In July I wrote about Nashville police injecting unruly suspects with Midazolam, a "strong sedative" that caused short-term amnesia. I suggested that it was a bad idea (and in general, I still think it's a bad idea), but then three weeks ago, two DC police officers shot David Kerstetter to death in his own bathroom. His death brings up some interesting questions about the use of force. Jason Cherkis, a colleague at Washington City Paper, has the details:

Two cops arrived—a rookie and a master patrol officer with more than 20 years on the job. They were greeted by the Iowa employee and led to Kerstetter's condo.

The veteran officer, Frederick Friday, says the employee called up to Kerstetter, asking him if he could come upstairs. Friday says Kerstetter shouted back that he knew he was lying—that he was with the police and refused to let him upstairs.

The employee pleaded with Kerstetter some more. But it was no use. Eventually, Friday and his partner went inside. "We have to check—that's our job," Friday says. "Can't just leave him."…

Allegedly, Kerstetter was holding a knife when he met the two cops.

Kerstetter was shot multiple times, according to his mother, who cites the death certificate. He was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead a short time later.

In the coming months, the department will investigate the circumstances surrounding Kerstetter's death, though D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier has already told the Washington Post her people acted in self-defense. She did not return repeated calls seeking comment.

What's unlikely to come out of the investigation, however, is the answer to this straightforward question: How did a man who seemed to pose no danger to anyone besides himself end up being killed by the police in his own bathroom?

According to a police press release, officers were forced to use lethal force after "a struggle ensued." The shooting occurred after officers "repeatedly ordered the man to drop the weapon."

There's no doubt that Kerstetter had mental problems that made him unstable, if not dangerous (he suffered from bipolar disorder and extreme paranoia, seldom took his medication, and had a history of meth addiction), but there's also evidence—enough to spark a rigorous MPD Internal Affairs investigation—that the responding officers didn't make an adequate effort to engage Kerstetter before resorting to lethal force: the officers didn't suffer any injuries, nor were their clothes torn; the glass door leading into the bathroom wasn't damaged, nor was the vase that was on the floor just inside the door. Yet Kersetter, emaciated, half-naked, and armed with only a kitchen knife, was shot to death in a confined area.

D.C. has a poor record of responding to people with mental disorders (the day after Kerstetter's death, the Department of Mental Health sent a memo that it had been sitting on to the MPD detailing appropriate responses to mentally-ill suspects), so here's my question: If police officers find themselves face to face with a potentially dangerous and mentally unstable citizen, are inhumane methods for restraint preferable to lethal force? (For the sake of this particular thought experiment, let's pretend that police don't regularly abuse tools such as tasers, batons, etc., etc.)

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  1. Eventually, Friday and his partner went inside. “We have to check-that’s our job,” Friday says.

    Just the facts Ma’am.

  2. Was there some urgent reason they had to go get him at all?

    Something so urgent they couldn’t wait for him to come out?

  3. A rigorous internal affairs investigation?

    Is that where they actually say to the officers “Hey, you guys did everything you could first right?” twice?

  4. Thanks for staying on top of these stories, Balko. …Wait, who?

  5. are inhumane methods for restraint preferable to lethal force?

    If I had to make a choice, non-lethal beats lethal, no contest.

    -jcr

  6. If I had to make a choice, non-lethal beats lethal, no contest.

    Au contraire.

    This sounds like one of this situations which is going to be just on the edge. It’s hard for me to fault the police for shooting an armed man, especially one who’s agitated and acting erratically. Assuming that all sides are telling the truth, my gut feeling is this case is probably justified.

    And while it’s easy to make assumptions based on his attire (naked) and mental condition, I can assure you that a naked, agitated man of unstable mental condition can be extremely deadly.

    Excerpt of incident where Deputy Herzog (slain) confronted an agitated, naked and unarmed man in a traffic median:

    Witnesses and police say the deputy got out of his car and attempted to calm Matthews, who had been wandering through traffic and had stood in front of a Metro bus.

    Moments later, the deputy sprayed the naked man with pepper spray to try to subdue him.

    According to witnesses, the two scuffled and the man grabbed Herzog’s .40-caliber semiautomatic Glock handgun.

    Herzog retreated, and police and witnesses say the assailant repeatedly shot him. Some witnesses said the man stood over the fallen deputy and fired several times from nearly point-blank range.

    “It certainly appears,” Reichert said, “that Deputy Herzog was executed.”

  7. I don’t understand. Why didn’t the cops just follow standard procedure and drop a perp weapon and a couple rocks of crack by the body after shooting it?

  8. It seems that the officer acted in self-defense. A person who has bipolar disorder, extreme paranoia and a meth addiction is indeed a dangerous person. The same concept can apply to a person who is so doped up with drugs and cannot feel anything. Even if non-lethal methods were applied, I don’t think that would have stopped the guy. Finally, a person with a knife against a person with a gun up close can win the fight.

  9. As a previous commenter mentioned, this does sound like an on the edge incident that could go either way. However, before lambasting these cops for shooting a naked, knife-armed man, you should do a little research.

    Look up the Tueller Drill. If a knife-armed suspect is within 21 feet of an officer with a holstered handgun, the person with the knife can generally charge and injure or kill the officer before he has time to fire his weapon. If these officers were in Kerstetter’s apartment, then they were certainly within 21 feet of him.

  10. If I had to make a choice, non-lethal beats lethal, no contest.

    Some here may have noticed that I don’t exactly side with the cops all of the time. 😉

    I’m not sure these guys did anything wrong. If they had a taser, that should have been tried first, but the facts are bit sketchy to go tossing blame around.

    They call for the mental health folks, and the guy kills himself while they’re waiting? Not good, we start blaming cops for being timid.

    They go after the armed guy with batons in an enclosed space and a cop gets knifed? Even worse. We then blame the cops for placing themselves in unnecessary danger with their cowboy attitude.

    They don’t carry knockout gas and mace has limited range and won’t necessarily stop a crazed individual, it may be the worst thing to do in that case. We, and the cops, just don’t know.

    This case and many other similar ones should instead lead to an examination of de-institutionalization the seriously mentally ill. Walk the streets of a major city for a couple of hours and you can’t count the the number of folks “who should be locked up” on your fingers. The quandaries raised when considering the treatment of the mentally ill makes me feel a tad bit humble.

    Would the guy have been better off, would we as a society been helping him, by placing him in a secure mental health facility and treating his illness rather than let hin exercise his rights as a free adult to be left alone?

    I have questions galore but the answers are in short supply.

  11. Stupid lowlife cops. These are EXACTLY the kind of cops that I just LOVE to hear about in the news that get clipped in the line of duty. Sad, if that were my father they KILLED, I would not hesitate to show up that their houses and deal with them (and anyone else in the house) personally! Losers!

    Jess
    http://www.privacy.mx.tc

  12. D.C. has a poor record of responding to people with mental disorders…

    I know of no city that is exactly good at dealing with crazies. My own hometown’s cops just shot one to death a few months ago, and similar situation from the write-up.

  13. (For the sake of this particular thought experiment, let’s pretend that police don’t regularly abuse tools such as tasers, batons, etc., etc.)

    An argument that excludes the most critical elements of the discussion is not of much use.

    And the argument doesn’t even apply to this case. If the police are afraid to tackle and restrain the suspect, how then is injecting the suspect with drugs a credible alternative to shooting? Putting a small needle in a body is much harder than punching a face.

  14. If a knife-armed suspect is within 21 feet of an officer with a holstered handgun, the person with the knife can generally charge and injure or kill the officer before he has time to fire his weapon. If these officers were in Kerstetter’s apartment, then they were certainly within 21 feet of him.

    It is quite unlikely that the cops entered the residence of an uncooperative man, whose location and armament status was uncertain, had their weapons holstered.

    However, I have heard of this rule of thumb. It was one of the factors that caused my alma mater’s police to remain without firearms: many engagement distances were determined by the dimensions of the dorm rooms, which were needless to say smaller than twenty feet in most directions, less with stuff in them.

  15. While I hate to defend the cops, and I question why they had to go in in the first place, a dude with a knife in an enclosed space is fucking dangerous. Especially if your hands are full of gun. If he can close on you, he can cut you up. I’d shoot him if he came at me too.

    Now, as for non-lethal, the problem here is that they need to subdue him before he can be on one of them using the knife. A gun-style taser can do this (as long as you don’t miss and it works), but do you really want to risk it?

    In situations such as this one, you can’t ask the police to not shoot to kill, because it’s the only sure way of stopping the guy if he comes at them. Unfortunate, but true.

  16. I know of no city that is exactly good at dealing with crazies. My own hometown’s cops just shot one to death a few months ago, and similar situation from the write-up.

    It’s on page 3 of the metro section when it happens here. It’s common and far too easy to blame the cops for situations that our society has failed to address, situations that are out of control before the cops are even called to the scene.

  17. Epi, see my previous. Your thoughts?

  18. Isn’t this the sort of situation that tazers were invented for?

  19. If the privacy troll’s privacy wasn’t so private, I’d publicly kick his ass.

  20. Wait, is that the same privacy troll as usual?

  21. I have to say I don’t understand why they went in the house either.

    They were called to the scene because the front door was open. The front door being open is only relevant if they thought there was an intruder in the house. Since the maintenance man had spoken to this guy through the window, they knew there was no intruder in the house. This guy wasn’t a renter, so if he wants to kick his own front door in that’s his own damn business.

    Once the cops established that the homeowner had kicked in his own door, they should have left. A policy that says they have to confront the guy in his own house because his front door is damaged is absurd.

  22. Not only that, but this guy told them to leave. The maintenance man talked to this guy frequently and it doesn’t sound like there was any doubt about his identity. So the police had no probable cause to enter this condo. “Suspect didn’t call his mother back when she wanted him to” and “Suspect kicked in his own front door when his keys wouldn’t work” doesn’t sound like probable cause of ANY crime to me, and he told them to leave.

    So if the cops come to my house with no warrant and no probable cause and stroll in the front door after I tell them to leave and confront me while I’m buttering some toast, if I tell them to fuck off they get to shoot me? Fuck that noise.

  23. Epi, see my previous. Your thoughts?

    I agree with you, it’s a very difficult subject. Ideally you try to only lock up those that are a threat to others. It’s determining that that can be very difficult.

  24. Why didn’t the cops just follow standard procedure and drop a perp weapon and a couple rocks of crack by the body after shooting it?

    Perhaps that’s why this may be justified. They didn’t feel they needed to.

  25. Cop commandment; when faced with a person in possession of a knife or other edged tool and when this person is within 21 ft of you, he is a fast moving zombie who can slice & dice you before you can draw and fire (less than a second), so shoot first, we’ll cover you later.

  26. This shooting was probably justified. A deranged man with a knife is, indeed, dangerous. But the question asked was an odd one: Is inhumane, non-lethal force preferable to lethal force when attempting to take a violent person into custody?

    Well, duh. If there is a humane, pain-free way of arresting someone who doesn’t want to be arrested, I don’t know it. OF COURSE non-lethal force is preferable to lethal force.

    In this particular instance, if I had been the cops, I would have contained the man in the bathroom and placed a call for someone with a Taser to respond to the scene. We all know the problems associated with Tasers, and using them in a confined area is even more dangerous.

    But it’s still safer than a couple gunshot wounds.

  27. It is quite unlikely that the cops entered the residence of an uncooperative man, whose location and armament status was uncertain, had their weapons holstered.

    And that’s where you’d be wrong, sir.

    My wife works as a CDMHP. (County Designated Mental Health Professional). Those are the people that go with cops to houses inhabited by potentially dangerous, unstable people and try to make assessments if the person needs to be detained “against their will”.

    There are dozens of situations where cops force their way into the homes of mentally ill or unstable people when the neighbor has called because the person has exhibited extremely disturbing behavior. The cops will literally break in doors. No guns drawn.

    Many a door has been kicked in by police with no guns drawn. It truly depends on what the exact circumstances are.

    Suspect didn’t call his mother back when she wanted him to” and “Suspect kicked in his own front door when his keys wouldn’t work” doesn’t sound like probable cause of ANY crime to me, and he told them to leave.

    Fluffy: see above.

    It’s not always about crime and warrants. There are laws in place to deal with just this situation. I’m going out on a limb here and guessing that Mr. Kerstetter had a bit of a reputation– even if only within his own family.

    I’ll bet dollars to doughnuts that his mom didn’t just call the police out of the blue– she probably called them knowing his propensity for highly disturbed behaviour; he probably had been getting increasingly agitated over time and it finally came to a head when his behaviour reached its nadir and she could no longer get ahold of him.

  28. call for someone with a Taser to respond to the scene.

    Ever seen that video of that cracked/coked/methed out guy get hit with the taser WEB.. the one that shoots an entire ‘net’ of taser points. It’s a nighttime video, he’s on his roof, screaming at cops, no shirt on– he gets hit with half a dozen taser points, you can see the blue electrical arcs surging all over his chest, he calmly rips the entire apparatus off his chest and continues to stand there yelling at the cops.

  29. I have bipolar disorder (or at least I’ve been diagnosed somewhere on the spectrum), I hope that doesn’t mean I’m therefore bought and paid for.

    This seems to me like a case of “legally justified, should have done something different anyway.”

    So I think it’s a matter of work related punishments rather than legal ones (likely neither will happen).

    I wonder if maybe there should be linebacker police (big, fast and strong) who get used for precisely this sort of stuff. Out of shape or undersized or otherwise physically limited officers really have fewer options, one of which is their gun. A Brian Urlacher police crew may have been able to distract and/or overwhelm the guy. And of course such a crew might also provide an additional deterrent effect when it comes to potential physical confrontations.

    I’m only half-kidding and obviously there’s a downside to gangs of officers who are physically intimidating. It’s tough to tell whether the benefits when used in the proper situations would outweigh the downsides when over applied.

  30. “Would the guy have been better off, would we as a society been helping him, by placing him in a secure mental health facility and treating his illness rather than let hin exercise his rights as a free adult to be left alone?”

    I’m just curious, do libertarians support these mental hospitals of which J sub D speaks? Are they privately funded or is this an ok thing for government to fund (equivalent to jails)?

  31. “Well, duh. If there is a humane, pain-free way of arresting someone who doesn’t want to be arrested, I don’t know it. OF COURSE non-lethal force is preferable to lethal force.”

    Let’s cut Riggs (one of my faves here on Reason) some slack, I imagine what he means is what should police policy be, to use have as first option in such situations something like tazer/Midazolem or the old fashioned pull your gun, knowing that if the former is chosen cops will be less hesitant to go that route than they would the latter (since it often ends up in a death). The tazer and drugs are being sold as “hey it’s non-lethal so use it without a second thought.”

  32. obviously there’s a downside to gangs of officers who are physically intimidating

    Whence this useful fellah.

  33. I think a great way to get rid of ones enemies would be to call a mental health professional on them and accuse them of bipolar disorder or child abuse or elder abuse.

  34. I have bipolar disorder (or at least I’ve been diagnosed somewhere on the spectrum), I hope that doesn’t mean I’m therefore bought and paid for.

    You and 3/4’s of most of the successful people in the world. My wife (the CDMHP) is bipolar.

    I’m just curious, do libertarians support these mental hospitals of which J sub D speaks? Are they privately funded or is this an ok thing for government to fund (equivalent to jails)?

    This libertarian supports a reform of the system as it exists. The new old way of doing things isn’t working. There are people with real mental illnesses suffering on the street who while lacking a technical justification of being a danger to themselves… clearly are.

    Society doesn’t have a satisfactory answer to dealing with the severely mentally ill because, in the end, they aren’t rational.

    So how does society deal with a small subset of people who are simply beyond any rational action?

    It comes down to this: We could dismantle 65% government and its functions, and have more than enough left over to literally wallpaper our current medical system with reasonable care and aid for the relatively tiny percentage of people with completely debilitating mental illness.

  35. ones enemies would be to call a mental health professional on them and accuse them of bipolar disorder or child abuse or elder abuse.

    It used to be that way. It was called “committing dear old dad” right after he made out the will that didn’t throw his estate your way because hey, clearly he’s not being rational. Then we changed the law and said you can’t be committed against your will unless you’re a danger to yourself or others.

    One note: one cannot be ‘accused’ of bipolar. It’s a diagnosis, just like AIDS, cancer, or the flu. And bipolar don’t get you committed, otherwise Martha Steward would be in prison.

    Oh wait…

  36. Whence this useful fellah.

    There is something about the way that thing’s legs move that is simply deeply disturbing.

    Otherwise, very cool.

  37. Then we changed the law and said you can’t be committed against your will unless you’re a danger to yourself or others.

    Or, if I’m not mistaken, mentally retarded. And yes, mental illness != developmental disability. Just trying to be complete here.

  38. “I think a great way to get rid of ones enemies would be to call a mental health professional on them and accuse them of bipolar disorder or child abuse or elder abuse.”

    Or the at times manic abuse of the elder child. Triple effect.

    I keed.

  39. It’s not always about crime and warrants. There are laws in place to deal with just this situation. I’m going out on a limb here and guessing that Mr. Kerstetter had a bit of a reputation– even if only within his own family.

    OK, I’ll bite. What laws?

    Who cares what his reputation is within his own family?

    If a neighbor called with a complaint about an actual crime – even something simple like excessive noise – I can see the cops knocking on the door.

    But these cops came to the door of a man who had committed no crime and been accused of no crime on the basis of nothing more than a statement from the maintenance guy that the front door was broken. What’s the police basis for forcing their way into my home and confronting me just because my front door is open? I don’t care if I’m carrying around an M-16 in my house just because I think it’s fun – if the police have no warrant and no probable cause, they should have no right to enter my house, no right to demand that I put my M-16 down, no right to make any demands whatsoever. Hit the fucking bricks. I understand that the police can intervene if a mentally ill person is a threat to others, but having a weapon in one’s own home doesn’t fit that definition by any stretch of the imagination, no matter how high you are and no matter what psychotic episode you’re in the middle of. If I come outside, then we’ll talk, but if I’m in my own house we won’t.

  40. Fluffy raises a good point about why the cops were in the house in the first place. I presume the investigation will cover that topic, and we can have a whole discussion about that.

    Once the cops are legitimately in the same place as a knife-wielding maniac, then that is the paradigmatic example of the justifiable use of force. If the cops had a right to be there (a point to be established), then when confronting a crazy knife-wielder, they have the right of self-defense. That includes using guns.

    I emphasize this because until Fluffy’s comments raised important new issues, the case was framed in terms of, “OMG the police overreacted to a crazy knife-brandishing guy!”

  41. And while it’s easy to make assumptions based on his attire (naked) and mental condition, I can assure you that a naked, agitated man of unstable mental condition can be extremely deadly.

    Unless they’re posting in their mother’s basement on H&R, in which case they’re just trolls.

  42. OK, I’ll bite. What laws?

    You’re kidding, right? You actually believe that all entrances onto private property by police personnel must be accompanied by a warrant?

    This could have easily fallen under the umbrella of a welfare check. Especially if the mother requested it.

    What it sounds like you’re trying to conflate is the ability of law enforcement to enter the premisis on the basis that there may have been a crime committed, and where police enter the premisis on the same pretext, but end up arresting the occupants because when they do come in, they found a joint in the ashtray.

    The laws will make distinctions about arresting someone on the premise of non-related criminal activity due to searches in plain sight and lack of warrants, etc. But that’s not what we’re talking about here.

    What we’re talking about here is a case where an agent of the building’s owner (maintenance guy) found a door kicked in and requested a check by police.

    One would certainly hope that police would enter a home if being held hostage after a home invasion robbery, and the ‘perp’ was yelling down “Nnnoope, nothing wrong here, nothing to see here, please go away!”.

    Had these police performed this check and then arrested Kerstetter because after entering, they found a dime bag of marijuana sitting on his kitchen table, then this conversation would be entirely different.

    We have no idea how the man responded, what he said exactly, and what subtle circumstantial evidence there was for police to be concerned or suspect something was amiss, and hence entered the property.

    Who cares what his reputation is within his own family?

    *rubbing temples*

    You do realize that many a CDMHP visit (with cops in tow) is very often referred by either a family member or… an apartment manager or some such thing? Again, it seems that you’re insisting that the police were acting as if they were going to arrest Kerstetter before they even arrived at the scene. Is there any evidence of this?

    Fluffy raises a good point about why the cops were in the house in the first place.

    No he doesn’t. He merely questions the evidence that brought the police into the house and based on a rather thin description of the circumstances, leads him to believe that the police can’t enter private property without a warrant unless there’s clear evidence of ongoing criminal activity.

  43. fluffy and prole
    Your answers to my q at 6:22?

    Part of me thinks libertarians would not be for mental institutions paid for with tax payer money. But then I assume libertarians believe in tax funded jails for those who are a danger to one’s property and body and a mental asylum for the dangerous might be equivalent to a prison. But then how about the “treatment” part? Can a libertarian advocate that be paid for with taxpayer dollars?

  44. Of course I should say “danger to OTHER’S property and bodies”

  45. [cite]Ever seen that video of that cracked/coked/methed out guy get hit with the taser WEB.. the one that shoots an entire ‘net’ of taser points. It’s a nighttime video, he’s on his roof, screaming at cops, no shirt on– he gets hit with half a dozen taser points, you can see the blue electrical arcs surging all over his chest, he calmly rips the entire apparatus off his chest and continues to stand there yelling at the cops.[/cite]

    I was personally a witness to an incident something like that. A deranged man walked into the hospital emergency room with a gun in his waistband. Security evacuated the waiting room and isolated the man there, and called the police for assistance.

    When police arrived, the man as standing in an apparent catatonic state. arms at his side, chin resting on his chest, and the gun still in his waistband. He refused to acknowledge and verbal orders, remaining motionless, and the decision was made to use a Taser.

    He was hit four times with the Taser. Each time, his head would jerk up momentarily, then fall back to his chest. There was no other response. We finally tackled him, taking him to the floor, and placed medical restraints on him.

  46. This is a much more pertinent situation to what Fluffy is referring. Cops do welfare check and stumble across meth lab.

    http://www.crossville-chronicle.com/local/local_story_303115714.html

  47. Paul
    Good points, but I think the easy answer might be that things such as meth should not be illegal to begin with.

    I can see good reasons for cops to demand entry and once they are in I think a bit strange to make them ignore evidence of criminal activity plainly in view, but I think criminal activity should be limited to things like murder, rape, kidnapping and such, not things like drug possession or porn possession, etc.

  48. Good points, but I think the easy answer might be that things such as meth should not be illegal to begin with.

    I know. But that’s totally irrelevant to the point. Replace meth lab with bodies up on hooks…

    And besides, even if Meth becomes legal, meth labs on your back property will probably remain illegal for all sorts of other reasons. Sort of like it’s illegal to run a still and sell whisky in your backyard.

  49. that the responding officers didn’t make an adequate effort to engage Kerstetter before resorting to lethal force: the officers didn’t suffer any injuries, nor were their clothes torn;

    You people are nuts. You can easily kill someone by throwing a knife at them. Were they to wait until the maniac caused them injury, perhaps a knife through the heart?

    Why doesn’t Reason do an analysis of the amount of people killed by cops a year vs. cops being killed? Or how about people killed innocently by cops every year versus the doubling or tripling of the murder rate of the last 40 years since the expansion of “civil liberties”? Put some of these stories you’re obsessed with into statistical perspective.

  50. But I can also see fluffy’s point: if a cop can demand entry to any person’s home and when that person says through the door “go away” the cop can just say “well, I still had to go in just in case the guy was being held hostage or was getting ready to harm himself” then there would be no ability of the homeowner to not allow entry to cops, and that disturbs me.

    I’m guessing an answer might lie in the diagnosis of mental illness creating probable cause.

  51. ou can easily kill someone by throwing a knife at them.

    Not really, no.

  52. people killed innocently by cops (emphasis added)

    ?!?

    since the expansion of “civil liberties” (emphasis added)

    Seriously, put down the crack pipe.

  53. @ anonymous @ 8:01:

    police officers voluntarily choose to assume risk as a consequence of being employed as police officers, much like the military

    mentally unstable people don’t voluntarily choose to be mentally unstable

    innocent people who get their homes no-knock raided in the middle of the night because LEOs made a mistake don’t voluntarily choose to be no-knock raided

    et cetera

  54. “Why doesn’t Reason do an analysis of the amount of people killed by cops a year vs. cops being killed?”

    52 law enforcement officers feloniously killed nationally in 2003.

    http://www.albany.edu/sourcebook/pdf/t31572003.pdf

    Numbers for civilians killed by cops are hard to find (suprise?) compared to cops killed, but check this out, in NYC alone 14 civilians were killed by the police in 2003.

    http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9B01E7DD123BF937A35751C0A9629C8B63

    So I’m betting WAY more civilians are killed by cops than vice versa.

  55. “52 law enforcement officers feloniously killed nationally in 2003.

    http://www.albany.edu/sourcebook/pdf/t31572003.pdf

    Numbers for civilians killed by cops are hard to find (suprise?) compared to cops killed, but check this out, in NYC alone 14 civilians were killed by the police in 2003.

    http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9B01E7DD123BF937A35751C0A9629C8B63

    So I’m betting WAY more civilians are killed by cops than vice versa.”

    I don’t doubt it, but who were these 14? What percentage of people killed by cops are representative of the kind of stories Reason runs about innocent people shot for smoking a joint and having people over for poker?

    Let’s look at murder in the US compared to other Western nations

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crime_in_the_US#International_comparison

    Why is the US murder rate 2-5x higher than the rest of the Western world? There’s over 15,000 murders a year in the US. At times in our history its been much lower. Why the overwhelming focus on the miniscule number of cops shooting people?

  56. Well anon, for one thing, doesn’t it strike you as strange you can find the civilian killing civilian number and the civilian killing cop number so easily but not the cop killing civilian number?

    And, because I’m not the boss of civilian killers but I (and you) are the boss of police.

  57. I can’t judge this as I wasn’t there.
    While a non-lethal outcome is preferable I don’t think it should be required. I assume a scenario involving a rookie and a “master patrol officer” probably goes strictly by the book.The guy might have a better chance with a couple of veteran big ol’ boys who didn’t want the bureaucratic hassles of a shooting.
    If they were in his residence legitimately and he threatened with the knife after they had their weapons drawn he probably got exactly what he wanted.

  58. I assume a scenario involving a rookie and a “master patrol officer” probably goes strictly by the book.

    A man is dead, it’s totally reasonable to assume everything was done correctly.

  59. I can’t judge this as I wasn’t there.

    Well, the people who eventually will be tasked with judging (in whatever official capacity) weren’t there either, so it behooves us to circumvent this particular impediment.

  60. Did the cops consider the option of walking (running) away when confronted by the guy with the knife? At that point, just leaving is an option. He wasnt a criminal, they werent there to arrest him or question him about a crime.

    This goes to Fluffy’s point, but allows for some warrantless entry to check up on a mentally ill person. They could leave with a “Yup he’s ill”. Then bring in the professionals instead of just shooting.

  61. Did the cops consider the option of walking (running) away when confronted by the guy with the knife? At that point, just leaving is an option. He wasnt a criminal, they werent there to arrest him or question him about a crime.

    This was my first reaction as well. It makes sense: your reason for being on the scene is exhausted, and prolonging the contact only endangers everyone longer. Why wouldn’t you withdraw?

    Maybe there’s an epidemic of jock-douchebag culture in police departments that makes the social pressure against doing the not-stupid-thing-that-won’t-kill-a-guy very strong. Strong enough to encourage fatal risks?

  62. Did the cops consider the option of walking (running) away when confronted by the guy with the knife?

    That’s what occurred to me too. As others have noted we don’t really have the whole story and while the kneejerk “cops are wrong” reaction is the one I’m prone to, reflection should lead one to give them the benefit of the doubt in this case.

    Still I can’t help feeling that retreat, containment and calling for qualified help might have been more appropriate here. I’m not sure I see them facing the emergency they apparently thought they did.

    Maybe there’s an epidemic of jock-douchebag culture in police departments…

    I don’t know about an “epidemic” but it does appear to be common.

    Oh, and one other thing. One of the first steps to demilitarizing our law enforcement is to stop legitimizing the slang use of the term “civilians” to refer to the general public. For Civilian Policing to work cops need to remember that they a civilians too.

  63. OK, The comments here are filled with statist douchebags.

    The police were not attacked by anyone and did not have to “defend” themselves. They attacked a mentally ill man with a knife.

    I don’t even see where it says why they were the there, but the partial story indicates perhaps he was suicidal? and was no threat to anyone but himself…

    So why did the pigs attack him? They forced entry and assaulted a mentally ill man yet it’s somehow his fault they killed him?

    Give me a fucking break.

    This is where we separate the libertarians/decent folks and the violent statist douchebags.

    Anyone who thinks police should be breaking in home to kill people for the crime of wanting to harm themselves….

    Well what the fuck can I say?

    Happy Thanksgiving, turkeys.

  64. A couple more thoughts:

    1. It saddens me that anyone here would actually support incarcerating someone for the “crime” of mental illness. There seems to be as much support for using the “right” state violence against this man as, you know, maybe they shouldn’t be using ANY force against this guy and leave him alone.

    2. For those who wanted the cops to walk/run away, then if something were to happen we’d have to put up with all the comments from “libertarian” writers and all-around douchebags mocking the cops for “bravely running away.” If the guy threw the knife in the back of one of the officers and killed him, some “libertarian” would write a 1000 page ode to the murderer with 800 pages on how much of a coward the cop was, interspersed with a 100 page love letter to Sarah Palin.

  65. paul,

    Whether the cops had the right to be in the house in the first place is a legitimate issue. I don’t know. What interests me is that *if* they had the right to be there, they certainly had the right to use deadly force against a knife-wielding lunatic.

    It is possible, of course, to imagine a scenario when their use of force turned out to be unreasonable. Maybe the guy had passed out, maybe he was trying to drop the knife and surrender. But if he was waving that thing around like he wanted to stab someone, and if (as seems likely) he declined numerous invitations to drop the weapon, then I’m inclined to give the cops the benefit of the doubt on the reasonablness-of-the-force issue.

  66. If I made my living kicking people’s doors down, and I found out some Bozo kicked his own door in…well, he’s gotta go.

  67. OK, The comments here are filled with statist douchebags.

    Damn, it’s early but …

    DRINK!

  68. The “qualified professionals” who deal with deranged persons armed with knives are the police.Who did you expect? Men in white coats with a giant butterfly net?

  69. At some point, the police were with David in the master suite. The home’s interior design and lavish touches had once been featured in Metro Weekly

    I wondered why this was even “news”. The deceased wasn’t some borderline homeless guy in a welfare SRO. From the linked article sounds like an open and shut case of the guy committing suicide-by-cop.

  70. Men in white coats with a giant butterfly net?

    This seems appropriate here.

  71. Damn Epi.

    I guessed the link you provided before I clicked on it. Thinking along the sames line as you strikes me as rather disquieting, worrisome even.

    I think I’ll have to get an analyst and talk to her.

  72. Kerstetter had started self-medicating with crystal meth about a decade ago.

    How tragic, he wasn’t some kind of dirty junkie speed freak tweeker just a rich mentally ill gay man who was self-medicating.

  73. I guessed the link you provided before I clicked on it. Thinking along the sames line as you strikes me as rather disquieting, worrisome even.

    It should. Especially since I am coming off a Percocet/Vicodin/tramadol/alcohol bender. Maybe you are too, and that’s why you guessed the Napoleon XIV.

  74. Trivia!

    MPD issues either the Glock Model 17 or 19 to MPD members assigned to patrol duties.

    Kerstetter was shot with a Glock.

  75. They’re Coming to Take Me Away was one of my favorite childhood silly songs.

    Remember this one?

  76. Personally, I’m not sure that what happens with a meth-addled bipolar schitzophrenic is all that enlightening or instructive for figuring out how police should interact with the rest of us.

  77. Personally, I’m not sure that what happens with a meth-addled bipolar schitzophrenic is all that enlightening or instructive for figuring out how police should interact with the rest of us.

    Perhaps the way in which the anti-social among us are treated indicates something about the society?

  78. Remember this one?

    That stuff is before my time, Jsub. I listened to Napoleon XIV on Dr. Demento’s show, not in original release.

    Personally, I’m not sure that what happens with a meth-addled bipolar schitzophrenic is all that enlightening or instructive for figuring out how police should interact with the rest of us.

    If the cops were capable of handling a meth-addled bipolar schizophrenic non-violently and without harm, that would be a credit to them and could indicate that they probably handle less volatile situations very well. Except they didn’t, and they don’t.

  79. Dr Demento is still alive? And still attracts listeners?

    It takes all kinds, I guess.

  80. I’m not sure that what happens with a meth-addled bipolar schitzophrenic is all that enlightening or instructive for figuring out how police should interact with the rest of us.

    If policeman are incapable of empathy, we’re all at risk fucked.

    It might be a little easier to justify shooting that guy, but don’t expect them not to shoot you.

  81. In a sane society, the mentally ill would be sterilized.

  82. Hazel Meade,

    I’m not sure that what happens with a meth-addled bipolar schitzophrenic is all that enlightening or instructive for figuring out how police should interact with the rest of us.

    seems uncharacteristic of your comments here.

    Likely I’m missing your point, but which element(s) of the set make the deceased’s killing by the police acceptable? And if I’ve misconstrued and/or read into, please apprise me.

  83. In a sane society, the mentally ill would be sterilized.

    In a society that compelled sterilization, there would be no sanity.

  84. In a society that compelled sterilization, there would be no sanity.

    In modern America retarted women have 50% more children then non retards. What is the libertarian answer to this?

  85. In modern America retarted women have 50% more children then non retards. What is the libertarian answer to this?

    Clearly, the answer begins by fashionably invoking the term “Retard” as an insult, a taboo from which the past 25 years have liberated us.

  86. In modern America retarted women have 50% more children then non retards

    And people who can spell neither anonymous nor retarded are Full Retart.

  87. Open weekend thread claim.

    Re: Historic preservationists who lack the money to actually buy the stuff they want to save.

    Fuck ’em.

  88. As in if you lack the money to start your own website, just knock off the cornices on a perfectly good thread and replace it by your own? 😉

  89. anarch,
    It just seems like a rather bizarre and exceptional case. A paranoid schitzophrenic is difficult enough to deal with. Add meth addiction and bi-polar disorder, and I’m not sure there is anything set of procedures the police could possibly institute that would avoid harm in all such cases.

    If they had know he was mentally ill maybe they could have called in medical professionals who are trained in dealing with mental illness. Can’t imagine how you could give cops that kind of training. They’re not going to be up to it.

    There’s going to be lots of cases where the police are dealing with an unmedicated mental patient and not know it. Shit will happen. The mentally ill are often a danger to themselves precisely because they’ll do things that will scare or endanger others.

  90. Added: To me it seems like a case of this guy being on a downward spiral that was likely to end up with someone getting hurt. If it wasn’t the cops shooting him, he probably would have overdosed on meth, got in a fight with some drug dealers, or shot someone he thought was spying on him. Apparantly he thought his neighbors were in a conspiracy against him.
    This is pretty close to being “suicide by cop”.

  91. In modern America retarted women have 50% more children then non retards. What is the libertarian answer to this?

    Conforms with this stat

  92. Carful Epsiarch, or Annonymous wll use his mighty spelling erors and go FULL RETART on you.

  93. Tryptophan Catatonia,

    Props on the name.

  94. his mighty spelling erors

    I don’t usually do this, but LOL.

  95. Yet another cops are pigs story! it’s time for us to take a stand against their corruption. Keep the stories coming.

  96. LMNO: I don’t usually do this either, but joez must get his £ of flesh.

    LOL LOP

    Hazel Meade:

    I’m not sure there is anything set of procedures the police could possibly institute that would avoid harm in all such cases.

    Which is why we do well to leave them out of so many situations discussed on this board.

    To me it seems like a case of this guy being on a downward spiral that was likely to end up with someone getting hurt. If it wasn’t the cops shooting him, he probably would have overdosed on meth, got in a fight with some drug dealers, or shot someone he thought was spying on him. Apparantly he thought his neighbors were in a conspiracy against him.

    Since you accurately qualified your predictions by “likely” and “probably,” I demur that

    This is pretty close to being “suicide by cop”.

  97. I only got one answer to this, how do libertarians feel about state funded mental asylums? I assume you guys support jail/prison for those who violate the laws (the minimal laws of a libertarian state). What about those who violate the laws because or (if you are into the whole Szasz thing) are simply also bonkers? Should they just be put in jail/prison, or a different place? Would this place have “mental health” treatment and is it ok to fund it with taxpayer money? If so, why not fund it preventively outside of the asylum?

    I’m not trying to trap anyone (I already know how I feel about this), I’m just curious as to libertarian answers to this. I’d appreciate links to any Cato or such stuff on this topic too. Thanx

  98. And for Epi:

    I’m gonna dispel a few myths, a few rumors. First off, the retarded don’t rule the night. They don’t rule it. Nobody does. And they don’t run in packs. And while they may not be as strong as apes, don’t lock eyes with ’em, don’t do it. Puts ’em on edge. They might go into berzerker mode; come at you like a whirling dervish, all fists and elbows. You might be screaming “No, no, no” and all they hear is “Who wants cake?” Let me tell you something: They all do. They all want cake.

  99. Carful Epsiarch, or Annonymous wll use his mighty spelling erors and go FULL RETART on you.

    You never go Full Retart, Naga.

  100. “Mrs. Blank, we’re doing our best to weed them out, but some of these retards are extremely clever.”

  101. And Epi I don’t know if you are aware of the comic genius of Dave Attell, but:

    They say she’s retarded, but those titties ain’t retarded!

  102. “Especially since I am coming off a Percocet/Vicodin/tramadol/alcohol bender.”

    They say that Hemingway liked Fitzgerald around because Scott’s drinking made Ernie’s seem controlled.

    Epi, you are my Fitzgerald.

  103. They say that Hemingway liked Fitzgerald around because Scott’s drinking made Ernie’s seem controlled.

    Epi, you are my Fitzgerald.

    Does your wife buy that?

  104. No, but neither did his wives

  105. CED —

    The whole mental health system thingee is an issue, and one I react to with great ambivalence. On one hand, crazy people generally do not present a great enough threat to any particular property for there to be an economic incentive for a private solution. So government action is not right out.

    On the other hand, there is a problem with what exactly we’ve decided to medicalize and shunt into the medical system *instead of* the criminal justice system. There are many different types of mental illness. Defects of logic and an inability to discriminate reality from fantasy are one thing, but anti-social compulsion is another entirely. Do we put kleptomaniacs in prison or in a hospital?

    I also do not feel comfortable with the state being able to more freely wield medical diagnoses as tools of personal control.

    I think if there were to be an acceptable option of state-funded or run mental health apparatus, it would only be able to act after a pattern of discrete incidents indicated clearly and convincingly that a person is an imminent danger to themselves or others.

  106. “I also do not feel comfortable with the state being able to more freely wield medical diagnoses as tools of personal control.

    I think if there were to be an acceptable option of state-funded or run mental health apparatus, it would only be able to act after a pattern of discrete incidents indicated clearly and convincingly that a person is an imminent danger to themselves or others.”

    LMNOP
    I agree totally here.

  107. Crow Eating Dumbass,

    The “tragedy” of de-institutionalization wasn’t the release of those confined against their will but of those acculturated to the asylum who didn’t want to leave.I have no problem with voluntary institutionalization although in a perfect world the lunatic asylums would be run by private charities.For the “mentally ill” who commit crimes worthy of imprisonment, prison/ jail is where they belong.If you advocate locking up people against their will because they are “crazy”, even if they have broken no law, you are on the wrong fucking blog’s comments.

  108. SIV

    This is one of the rare moments I agree with you. Locking someone up who has harmed no other person is something I look down upon. People have the right to be “strange” and “crazy” if they are not harming others.

    Do you think we can’t commit someone until they have harmed someone? I’m inclined to agree with that statement, but I have reservations. And do you think someone who is very retarded should be put in “normal” prison? What about someone with brain lesions (even Szasz says these people are fucked up beyond their responsibility)? “regular” jail or a special institution? If there is no private institution (remarkably charities do not always address everything that maybe should be addressed!), is it OK to use tax funds to fund an establishment that would “treat” these people?

  109. SIV

    I hope you think the national media is as silly as I do for harping on the GA senate race as a “horse race”. Chambliss is obviously going to win.

  110. What we’re talking about here is a case where an agent of the building’s owner (maintenance guy) found a door kicked in and requested a check by police.

    Um, no. The building’s owner was the dead guy. This was a condominium, and not an apartment building. That means that any role the maintenance guy has as an agent disappears as soon as they hear from the actual owner – the dead guy.

    The article indicates that the cops stood there while the maintenance guy and the building owner talked through the window at some length. There is no indication they thought they were speaking to some home invader with really good voice impressionist skills. They knew they were talking to the homeowner and that he didn’t want any assistance. Once that was established, they should have left.

    But fine, they made a mistake and didn’t leave. Maybe they thought there was some kind of kidnapping going on and the homeowner was telling them to leave under duress. As soon as they entered the building, they knew that was not the case. So if they didn’t leave when they talked to the guy through the window, they should have left when they entered the building and saw that the homeowner was home and was not under duress.

    “Buh-buh-but he had a knife and was being a dick!” Tough shit, coppers. Get the fuck out. The homeowner was right and they were wrong, so I don’t really care if they felt threatened. Want to not feel threatened? Get the fuck out of the house you had no right to enter.

    You’re kidding, right? You actually believe that all entrances onto private property by police personnel must be accompanied by a warrant?

    This could have easily fallen under the umbrella of a welfare check. Especially if the mother requested it.

    The police can check to see if a crime is in progress, and they can check to see if the homeowner is injured. Once they established that no crime was in progress and the homeowner did not want their assistance, both of those were no longer options, and they should have left. That means they should never even have SEEN the guy’s knife. No warrant, no probable cause, no legitimate welfare check, no legitimate belief a crime was in progress. I’m not seeing any gray area here. It seems like a gray area to you only because you accept the premise that the cops should get to push their way into houses just to satisfy their curiosity.

  111. Explain this: Why was it Greycat hier but gray area hier?

  112. Do you think we can’t commit someone until they have harmed someone?

    I don’t think we should involuntarily commit anyone unless it is an alternative form of sentencing, rather than imprisoning them, after a crime has been committed and they have been found guilty.

    They don’t necessarily need to harm someone BTW — we have laws against drunk driving because even if the behavior didn’t physically harm someone that time, the behavior drastically changed the probability that they would have harmed someone.

    If you are crazy but able to act in a way that doesn’t pose unreasonable threats to others or cause them harm, society should leave you alone.

  113. I imagine it would help to separate criminality from insanity if we were to pin down whether the relevant element of crime is the act or the actor.

    If it is the act, then criminal law is decently-prepared to deal with nutters who happen to contravene the law. As prolefeed says, it becomes an issue only as to sentencing, by providing for an adequate environment for housing the criminal, such that the housing is humane and effective at rendering the criminal harmless.

    If it is the actor, however, then the law is fairly useless for dealing with insanity, because the issue becomes hung upon how the crazy person differs in kind from the criminal, and thus is (entitled to? deserving of?) differing status and treatment as a matter of course, rather than as from a consequentialist rubric for harm reduction and salubrious placement.

  114. Fluffy, I was under the impression that the maintenance man had been called because the guy’s family were worried and afraid that he might be in danger. It sounded like the maintenance man may have been informed that the guy might be in danger. Say, possibly he mgiht try to commit suicide or harm someone else. So the police might have suspected that there could be a suicide in progress.

    Also, there’s the possibility that a burglar might have been holding the guy hostage. Yelling through the window isn’t really enoguh to know for sure that someone else isn’t inside with a gun to the guy’s head. I personally would want the police to see and check in person to make sure there’s nothing wrong, if it was my condo, with the screen torn and the door kicked in.

    Remember the whole deal with Jeffrey Dahmer, where the police left a victim in his control who was killed?

    I can totally see why they might feel the need to enter the condo and look for themselves.

  115. As far as insanity goes, judging from the whole article, it sounds like this guy was definitely a candidate for commitment.

    He was sleeping in his closet cause he thought his neighbors were sneaking into the house through the attic and plotting against him. He thought they were planting drugs in his house, and was hearing voices.

    If I were those neighbors, I’d have a rational reason to fear for my life. A crazy meth addict next door thinks I am out to get him. Hell yeah.

  116. So the police might have suspected that there could be a suicide in progress.

    That guy sure was lucky the cops stopped him before he could kill himself.

  117. “The employee pleaded with Kerstetter some more. But it was no use. Eventually, Friday and his partner went inside. “We have to check-that’s our job,” Friday says. “Can’t just leave him.”…”

    No, certainly not. Better to kill him. Just to be sure of the situation…

  118. Elemenope,

    I out did myself on that one. I’m usually more subtle with my humor.

    Episiarch,

    I got some of that thar’ “Booty Sweat” energy drink for ya’.

    “Tugg Speedman: There were times while I was playing Jack where I felt…
    [pause]
    Tugg Speedman: …retarded. Like, really retarded.
    Kirk Lazarus: Damn!
    Tugg Speedman: In a weird way I had to sort of just free myself up to believe that is was ok to be stupid or dumb.
    Kirk Lazarus: To be a moron.
    Tugg Speedman: Yeah!
    Kirk Lazarus: To be moronical.
    Tugg Speedman: Exactly, to be a moron.
    Kirk Lazarus: An imbecile.
    Tugg Speedman: Yeah!
    Kirk Lazarus: Like the dumbest mother fucker that ever lived.
    Tugg Speedman: [pause] When I was playing the character. “

  119. No, certainly not. Better to kill him. Just to be sure of the situation…

    Ah, bullshit. If they were going for this, they would have nuked the site from orbit.

  120. A couple few* questions for the board.

    What percentage of those in prison would you guesstimate are insane? I’m not speaking of the merely mentally ill because most of humanity is mentally ill to some extent, but insane.

    Can we determine insanoty prior to the commision of a crime? Is it moral to imprison (a mental facility is a prison if you can’t leave) the insane? Most would agree that quarantine is justified for those with infectious disease (typhoid, smallpox if it ever rears its ugly head again, polio) because they pose an unreasonable danger to others through no fault of their own

    Would not the same reasoning apply to the possibly violent or destructive insane? I realize that that would be pre-emptive punishment (treatment?) which is an anathema to most here.

    Even if we wait until the insane individual commits a crime, say assault which normally garners the offender less than a year, can we place the person in a mental facility until “cured” or no longer a danger, far longer than your garden variety punk?

    Does any of this relate to pedophiles and rapists?

    * One thing leads to another.

  121. Can we determine insanity prior to the commission of a crime?

    Not really. Insanity is a defect of internal and subjective (and obviously inaccessible) mental states. Thus, diagnosis relies primarily on patterns of behavior and self-report. Most mental diseases have no clinical test.

    Is it moral to imprison (a mental facility is a prison if you can’t leave) the insane?

    I have a quibble. Assuming for the sake of ease that mental hospitals exist to provide treatment and/or palliative care to disturbed individuals, it is very much distinct from a penal prison. If you mean in the bare metaphysical sense of “a building I cannot by force of will and locomotion leave”, then sure, but that’s also practically true of a lot of other places, like a school for a student, normally not equivocated directly with a prison (even if there are fruitful *comparisons* to be made!)

    As to its morality, preemptive commitment firmly falls within the rubric of a consequentialist ethic, and so I’m not quite sure that moral rightness is really a factor for policy. After all, very little of what the state does is buttressed by a (legitimate, non-laughable) moral claim. States are a necessary and unfortunate evil, and their worth is determined not by moral rectitude but by utility.

    And, no, it wouldn’t be moral. Even a private individual undertaking such an act would be subordinating one human will to their own, denying self-ownership. But even if it isn’t moral, sometimes it can be necessary.

  122. denying self-ownership

    Isn’t this a case of abandoned or unclaimed property? And no, I haven’t figured out a litmus test for that. Nobel Prize to the first who succeeds.

  123. J sub D —

    Yer answers:

    What percentage of those in prison would you guesstimate are insane? I’m not speaking of the merely mentally ill because most of humanity is mentally ill to some extent, but insane.

    Depends on how you define “insane” versus “mentally ill” versus “normal”. Plenty of people are crazy about some stuff and well-grounded otherwise — invite some Mormon missionaries in your house and feign interest about J. Smith, but then also ask them their views on the proper fiscal role of government. First part batshit insane, second part generally more libertarian than average.

    And liberals tend to think libertarians hold crazy, whackjob notions about the proper role of government.

    Can we determine insanoty prior to the commision of a crime?

    Yes, once the definition of insanity is pinned down. Some people are clearly out of touch with reality, yet haven’t committed a crime. Some may continue to be crazy and never commit serious crimes. Some people who are not crazy commit serious crimes.

    Is it moral to imprison (a mental facility is a prison if you can’t leave) the insane?

    Yes, if they have committed acts that have harmed, or seriously elevated the probability of harming (such as drunk driving), others. Otherwise, no.

    Most would agree that quarantine is justified for those with infectious disease (typhoid, smallpox if it ever rears its ugly head again, polio) because they pose an unreasonable danger to others through no fault of their own

    Would not the same reasoning apply to the possibly violent or destructive insane?

    Not entirely comparable situations. If you have a highly infectious disease such as typhoid, and take steps to essentially quarantine yourself, such as confining yourself to the grounds of your house and avoiding contact with others, then no government action should be taken. If you refuse to take all the actions to prevent the spread of these diseases, then your actions significantly endanger others and steps to stop that endangerment are morally justified.

    But, how would you know that someone is “possibly” violent or destructive if they haven’t in fact done any acts that are actually violent or destructive or significantly endanger others? I believe the movie “Minority Report” addresses this notion of suppressing “future crime”. I believe much of the WoD is predicated on this notion of “possibly”.

    I realize that that would be pre-emptive punishment (treatment?) which is an anathema to most here.

    And rightfully so.

    Even if we wait until the insane individual commits a crime, say assault which normally garners the offender less than a year, can we place the person in a mental facility until “cured” or no longer a danger, far longer than your garden variety punk?

    This is a matter of having laws on the books that allow appropriate discretion in sentencing and paroling that takes into account the probability that someone who has harmed others will continue to harm others if released back into society — whether they have formed the recognizance of the wrongness of their acts so as to prevent reoccurrances — admittedly a tricky thing to get even approximately right. If the problem is that garden variety punks are being released despite intending to continue to harm others, then the appropriate remedy is to not release the punks prematurely, rather than seeking a distorted view of “justice” by also releasing people incapable for other reasons of not repeating their harmful acts.

    Does any of this relate to pedophiles and rapists?

    Obviously it does. The overall question is how to restrain people who have committed harm to others from continuing to do so, and discouraging others from acting similarly, in a manner that accomplishes that purpose while minimizing unnecessary and counterproductive losses of liberty of the perpetrators.

    As a casual review of Radley Balko’s blogs would reveal, our various levels of government fall *somewhat* short of optimizing that libertarian approach toward implementing the NIOF principle.

  124. how would you know that someone is “possibly” violent or destructive if they haven’t in fact done any acts that are actually violent or destructive or significantly endanger others? I believe the movie “Minority Report” addresses this notion of suppressing “future crime”.

    So have real-life situations of schoolkids getting into huge trouble for writing violent fantasy-fiction [Citation needed. So shoot me].

  125. Can we determine insanoty prior to the commision of a crime?

    In some cases. Having auditory hallucinations is pretty straightforward evidence of schizophrenia. There are objectively measurable differences between schizophrenic brains and those of normal people.

    Is it moral to imprison (a mental facility is a prison if you can’t leave) the insane?

    If they have behaved violently in the past, or their delusions are something that would likely lead them to harm others. For instance, as in this case, if an insane man thinks that a specific individual is out to get him, following him with armed goons, and bugging his house, it’s totally reasonable for that individual to be afraid that the insane guy is going to try to harm him. If a crazy person was following me around accusing me of persecuting him, I would totally want police protection. No question.

  126. So have real-life situations of schoolkids getting into huge trouble for writing violent fantasy-fiction [Citation needed. So shoot me].

    You have solicited an act of Future Crime TM with your statement of “so shoot me”. Police bots will be on the scene shortly to take you into custody.

  127. Damn server squirrels, Officerbot! The complete thought was “So shoot me a line if you know where I can link the story.”

  128. Well which one of you libertarians wants to get into a knife fight at close range? In a knife fight in a confined space you wanted the cops to do what? Talk? Someone with a knife in a confined space can kill you in a second. Shooting him was the only solution.

  129. In a knife fight in a confined space you wanted the cops to do what?

    1. Never enter the confined space.

    2. If you fuck up and don’t do #1, leave the confined space.

    Simple. Really, really simple.

  130. Several readily available issues from the article not mentioned in H&R comments:

    1. Veteran officer on scene had prevented Kerstetter from committing suicide a year prior. (exhaust from his van, hose in the window)

    2. Kerstetter had threatened to kill himself and others on numerous occasions in the past

    3. Police department had responded to numerous assault and suicide calls at the residence (apparently his partner and he got into lots of physical altercations)

    I dislike pigs, but from the verifiable information on the article, I don’t see the officers at fault, especially since the initial call from the mother initiated a welfare check by the maintenance guy. Police who knew Kerstetter reported to a break in call at his residence. They talked to him, but would not allow him to come up. Knowing his history with attempted suicide, made the decision to investigate after calling for support (psychiatrist, case worker)for 20 minutes. Kerstetter, a Gulf War vet, was brandishing a knife (butter, combat, who knows?). Seems like the vet decided to talk him down. Kerstetter threatened suicide, then the cops either shot him for no reason, or he charged for death by cop. Note that he failed several previous suicide attempts.

    So yes, police officers escalated the violence level by entering the home. However, given the history, shouldn’t they have at least checked on him? Then seeing him about to do the deed, talk him down?

    That being said, non-violent should always be chosen were applicable, but the previous posts regarding 21 ft make me curious. If I can’t pull a gun in 21 ft, how could I be expected to tase or baton a guy in 21 ft? Doesn’t that basically mean police would have to shoot anything threatening them with a bladed weapon within a 21 ft radius?

  131. This is another example of why you don’t call the cops to help someone. If there is a crime, I’d call them. But not for anything else.

    A mother learned this lesson in NYC a couple of months ago. A crazy man was standing on an awning about 10 feet off the ground. His mom called the cops to help get him down. The cops tazed him, the guy fell on his head and died. So lethal vs non-lethal only matters if a dumbass isn’t pulling the trigger. The officer that ordered his guy to shoot ended up killing himself. Sad.

  132. What percentage of people killed by cops are representative of the kind of stories Reason runs about innocent people shot for smoking a joint and having people over for poker?

    What percentage would you consider acceptable?

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