Police Abuse

"'Stop or I'll shoot,' is not the law of the land": New Hampshire Cops Shoot Man Fleeing Their Attempted Drug Buy Sting in Head, Kill Him

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Good editorializing from the Concord Monitor on a recent New Hampshire police execution of a drug suspect–one they got to try to sell drugs to cops:

drpavloff/Foter.com

The Weare police and Attorney General Joe Foster, who is investigating the fatal Aug. 14 shooting by two Weare officers of a fleeing suspect, have some explaining to do. The suspect "failed to stop when he was told to stop. As a result, a chase ensued," Senior Assistant Attorney General Susan Morrell said of Alex Cora DeJesus, a 35-year-old Manchester resident with a history of arrests for dealing small quantities of drugs. DeJesus was the target of an undercover sting near a Dunkin' Donuts in Lanctot's Plaza on Route 114 in South Weare.

Press releases issued by the attorney general's office confirmed that several Weare officers and two confidential informants participated in the sting operation and that DeJesus's death resulted from a gunshot to the head. The authorities have not, however, explained what prompted the officers to fire on DeJesus, whether he was armed, or if he possessed illegal drugs. It is also unclear whether DeJesus was fleeing on foot when he was wounded or in the vehicle he drove away and crashed with police officers in pursuit.

Thorough investigations take time, but in this case, at a minimum, the attorney general's office needs to inform the public about police policies regarding the use of deadly force.

"Stop or I'll shoot," is not the law of the land. Law enforcement officers may not fire on fleeing suspects, or known criminals for that matter, simply to prevent them from getting away. Deadly force may only be employed when an officer needs to defend him- or herself or a third party from the imminent use of deadly force, or to prevent the escape of someone the officer believes will seriously endanger human life if not apprehended without delay.

Illegitimate police shootings or assaults happen nearly every day, and you can read about some of them here at Reason.

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  1. 10:1, no charges will be filed against these “fine officers”. I can only hope that I am wrong.

    1. Live free or die! The suspect was trying to live free and the cops made sure he died for it.

  2. DeJesus was the target of an undercover sting near a Dunkin’ Donuts in Lanctot’s Plaza on Route 114 in South Weare.

    They simply can’t help themselves, can they.

    1. This seems to tell me that the cops were lazy, stinging an idiot just outside their hangout, then when they realized the subject was running, fired instead of chasing cuz “bullets run faster than we can”

    2. To be fair, there are very, very few places in Southern New Hampshire that aren’t close to a Dunkin’ Donuts.

    3. Don’t shit where you eat.

  3. The Weare police

    These police can only be stopped with a silver bullet. Be wary of a night with a full moon.

    1. I laughed.

    2. +1 for the correct pronunciation of Weare haha

    3. I couldn’t help but read it as, “We are police! daa da daa daa da da da.”

  4. The editors of the Concord Monitor might want to be extra vigilant for the next few months, you know, in case they don’t stop resisting. Tasers can go off for no reason, police dogs get loose sometimes and, oh look, another code violation ticket.

    1. Guns can discharge. Procedures can be followed.

      1. They could just come in and smash up equipment a la the Guardian.

  5. Was it Steven Seagal? Because, if not, that would make a pretty good movie scene. “Live free or die!” *BLAM*

  6. Law enforcement officers may not fire on fleeing suspects, or known criminals for that matter, simply to prevent them from getting away.

    O Rly? If these cops are exonerated, then…I guess they can.

    “Stop or I’ll shoot,” is not the law of the land.

    Incorrect. Force is the law of the land, and the cops have a monopoly on it.

    How many of these “cops shoot a fleeing suspect, claim they were going to hit them with their car/pulled a nonexistent gun/etc.” stories do we need to hear before we acknowledge that the cops will kill you for running from them? And that they will face no consequences for it?

    1. They do have to chant some of the magic words first….

      furtive movement
      suspicious object
      feared for their safety

      etc.

    2. “He was carrying a cell phone that looked like he was driving a car right at us.”

    3. How many of these “cops shoot a fleeing suspect, claim they were going to hit them with their car/pulled a nonexistent gun/etc.” stories do we need to hear before we acknowledge that the cops will kill you for running from them? And that they will face no consequences for it?

      I’m honestly surprised it’s not “the law of the land,” considering I just assume that’s exactly what cops will do.

      1. I remember that cops used to actually chase people a lot more. Then they started deciding that it was disrespectful to their authoritah, and besides, a lot of work, so now shooting is the norm.

        You’ll note that on TV, they always give chase to a fleeing non-threatening suspect. Because that is supposed to be the law of the land. But as you well know, we do not live under the rule of law, we live under the rule of man.

  7. I saw that in the newspaper. IIRC, according to the article the cops claim he tried to hit them with his car so they opened fire, and he was found dead in his car. Are the cops telling the truth? I doubt it.

    1. I think our definition of “tried to hit them with his car” is much different than the LEO definition.

      1. He was going to go around the block and sneak up behind them in his motorcar.

        1. “They tried to kill me with a forklift”

    2. Bingo. I was going to make exactly this hypothesis.

      1. Perp gets in car.
      2. Cop intentionally gets in front of car.
      3. Perp keeps driving.
      4. Cop kills perp for assault with a deadly weapon.

      I happened to see it exactly like this on Cops. No comment from anybody how the guy was essentially executed. It is unconscionable.

      1. There is that or maybe one of the cops did something incredibly stupid like try to climb through the window to get the keys while the guy tried to drive off.

  8. whether he was armed, or if he possessed illegal drugs

    Neither of which should be reason to kill him. If he pulled a weapon and pointed at the officers, then maybe.

  9. The authorities have not, however, explained what prompted the officers to fire on DeJesus, whether he was armed, or if he possessed illegal drugs

    I would call bolting and running a furtive movement.

  10. It would be a Dunkin Donuts, wouldn’t it.

  11. or to prevent the escape of someone the officer believes will seriously endanger human life if not apprehended without delay.

    *ding*

    There’s your vague ‘out’.

  12. Live Free or Die indeed

    1. Nah, just Die.

  13. A chase ensued, a weapon was discharged, a bullet flew, a brain was penetrated, circs were totalled.

  14. That is straight up murder. Of course it will never be charged as such. But it is so appalling that someone might lose their job over this. And the trigger man will maybe go down on a manslaughter charge and do a couple of years. That seems to be the going rate for undeniable cop murder these days judging by the San Fransisco transit cop case and the case down in Virginia where the cop shot the Sunday school teacher.

    1. San Fransisco transit cop case

      How so? That transit cop didn’t mean to shoot the guy in the back (you can see his shock when his gun discharges and his story was he thought he grabbed his tazer). The guy was a dumb fuck on several levels

      a) using a tazer as a compliance tool
      b) using a tazer on someone your buddies are touching
      c) using a tazer on a guy lying on his face who is effectively in custody
      d) mistaking a gun for a tazer despite the difference in weight and balance and position on your fucking hip.

      There really wasn’t an intent to kill or seriously injure, so how does it rise to murder in your analysis and not merely a really really nasty level of manslaughter?

      1. I don’t buy it that he was reaching for his tazer. I also think that even if he was, the bottom line was he pulled a gun and pointed it at the guy and pulled the trigger. Sorry that goes beyond even depraved indifference. That should have been murder 2. No one is so negligent that they no only pull the wrong weapon but don’t notice it and shoot the guy.

      2. You’re making a lot of assumptions, tarran. What you say is entirely possible, but regardless, he got off incredibly lightly.

        1. Would felony murder apply? Seems obvious the guy was being a mouthy drunk and the transit cop was going zap him a bit with the taser to get him to shut up. The thing is, wouldn’t using the taser for that purpose be a felony? (I’ll wait until you get your breath back from laughing so hard.) And since a death resulted from his intentional act to torture/assault/whichever crime is appropriate Oscar Grant, why wouldn’t felony murder be an appropriate charge?

          As to the situation in the original post, cops in our area have jumped in front of or near fleeing cars all of the time, then used deadly force. Grand juries here seem to be cool with it. One thing that struck me about moving to Texas from California is the increased frequency of cops shooting people. I don’t know whether it’s due to an overall societal trend, or something about Texas that encourages their use of deadly force.

          I just try to avoid cops.

          1. CNN has a story on the other morning about a guy who was leaving his own house and a neighbor confused him for a burglar and called the cops. So the guy is pulling out of his own driveway and the sheriff shows up in force. He made a false move and they went bizerk and fired 15 rounds into the guy’s car wounding him in the leg. The sheriff said that well, he made a jerky movement and didn’t follow instructions so it was unavoidable. The dumb reporter just let that answer go. I wanted to jump through the TV and ask “so the penalty for a person being confused or not understanding an officer’s instruction is being shot?”

            1. Pretty much. Wasn’t the Las Vegas Costco shooting a case where the deceased was getting two, completely contradictory, sets of orders from two different cops, and he got shot by the one he didn’t follow?

              All I want is for the police to operate under the same use of force rules that I do as a non-LEO. If I don’t get to shoot a prowler until a reasonable person would fear imminent deadly force, then neither should they. (Not that I ever want to shoot anyone at all.)

              I’d get laughed out of a grand jury proceeding if I shot somebody because they made a ‘furtive movement’ when I confronted them because I thought they stole my stuff. Jeez, remember the bad old days when we’d bitch about cops using throw-down pieces? Now, they don’t even bother to do that (as far as we know…)

              Anyway, changing the rules to bring it more in line with what you and I do, will be hard on cops; it’s much tougher to react than to make people react to you. But the main priority of of law enforcement isn’t officer safety. It’s the safety of the populace. Their safety should come first. If that’s too much for officers, then go find another job.

              I’ve no idea who’s in the right or wrong in this N.H. incident. I’m just making some general observations and some aspirational wishes on the state of the use of deadly force.

      3. I do consider using a taser on a guy lying flat on his face illegal assault with a deadly weapon.

    2. Procedures, followed they were.

      1. oooh, POETIC passive voice!

  15. Anyone that runs is a VC… Anyone that doesn’t run is a well disciplined VC…

    Translate with cop taking voer the role of the door gunner and the runner being the VC, and you get the why of the shooting..

  16. The other thing about a case like this is how depraved cops have to be to shoot someone like that. Shooting another human being is really hard. It takes months of training and discipline to get infantry men to do it. And even then, in combat, a good portion of them won’t pull the trigger. A decent percentage of the guys in place like Iwo Jima and Omaha beach didn’t have the hate necessary to pull the trigger at close range and kill someone. Yet, this cop did and did so at a person running away from him in a situation where his life was in no danger. That is fucked up. And I would bet no more than 25% of all of society could do that. Yet, he did. That says very bad things about both the kind of people police departments are hiring and the training and culture within those departments. To be able to pull the trigger under those circumstances, that cop had to have been conditioned to completely dehumanize anyone he was arresting.

    1. Good points. Did you ever read Lt. Col. Dave Grossman’s book On Killing? He documents what you are talking about pretty well.

      1. Yes I have read that. Good book. And I defy anyone to read that book and then not be really disturbed by this case. Shooting people is not like the movies. It is not something you just naturally do, unless you are sociopath or have been conditioned to dehumanize who you are shooting. This is why young teenagers can sometimes be the most cold blooded killers. They don’t have fully formed brains and a sense of empathy and morality the way adults do.

        1. wait, I thought by their very nature that libertarians were sociopaths

          1. Teenage libertarians are the most dangerous type.

        2. This is why young teenagers can sometimes be the most cold blooded killers. They don’t have fully formed brains and a sense of empathy and morality the way adults do.

          To add to your point, I think this is now also true for people under the age of 40. The longer the welfare state infantilizes people, the less likely these people will EVER have fully formed brains and a sense of empathy.

    2. After listening to some drunk cops one night I was really disturbed. One of them was complaining that he’d never had the opportunity to kill someone, and his buddies were all conciliatory about it.

      These people seek out this job because they want to commit murder.

      1. In vino veritas, dude.

        1. It was some pretty sick conversation to hear. For example they were talking about how awesome it is to choke people. All loud about it and shit. They were being all boisterous about smashing faces and holding guns to heads until people piss themselves in terror. Fucking disgusting.
          I was a cook and I was having my shift drink. I felt sorry for the rest of the staff, because they couldn’t do anything. Paying customers were being driven out, but they couldn’t ask the cops to leave. Who are they going to call, the cops? They were practically serving themselves. I don’t even know if they bothered to pay. Probably not. Again, who do you call, the cops?
          It was a real wake-up call to the vile creatures that seek out that profession.

  17. Don’t rush them. They will release more info just as soon as it has been fabricated.

  18. Tennessee v. Garner, which ruled that shooting a fleeing felon who was not an immediate danger was an unreasonable seizure in violation of the 4th Amendment, was on of my favorite cases discussed in my Crim Law and Procedure class. More than any case it led me to reject a simplistic or narrow type of originalism that is popular in constitutional law these days (especially among ‘conservatives’ on the Court).

    The dissent argued this way. They said ‘well, at the time of the Founding shooting fleeing felons was OK and the general rule, and it has been so in many jurisdictions from then up until now, so it must be unreasonable.’ The majority countered though that at the time of the Founding there were not that many felonies as there are now, the felonies were things considered more serious than now, and most felonies then were punishable by death whereas now that was not the case. So the old rule may have been ‘reasonable’ given that setting, but it was no longer today. Brilliant stuff.

    1. Ah, I butchered that post! Should read “The dissent argued this way. They said ‘well, at the time of the Founding shooting fleeing felons was OK and was the general rule, and it has been so in many jurisdictions from then up until now, so it must be reasonable.'”

      1. “Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge; you yourselves did not enter, and you hindered those who were entering.”

        As a lawyer who’s been practicing for over a decade, I appreciate that statement a lot more now. At some point, adding new procedures, massaging legal language and torturing logic will not longer cut it when people demand actual justice because they’ve been stepped on by their authorities for too long. I see that as a post-law era — a Jubilee of sorts.

        1. I think one of the worst things that happened was when the legal profession rejected the concept of truth and substituted it with process. There is a whole school of legal thought out there that says that no trial or fact finder will ever know the truth. So we shouldn’t worry about that and just concentrate on making sure the process was right. If you got the right process, the “truth” is found. This leads to all sorts of crazy and unjust things.

          1. I agree John, this is exactly what I was alluding to. When I was a young buck lawyer like Bo Cara, I could get wrapped up in judicial opinions and the analysis of procedural conundrums and all that crap. But now, as a guy trying to make a living and raise a family in a crazy world, I see truth, mercy and fairness as better than new procedures, processes or rules, which ultimately become a trap and prison in and of themselves.

            Nowadays I’m more inclined to prefer the “old West law” you might see in a John Wayne movie or something like that. Those guys wouldn’t even shoot a known bad guy in the back because it was cowardly.

            1. This is how you get DA’s who will charge people with crimes that even the DA isn’t sure they committed. They figure as long as the follow procedure the jury and judge will sort it out. This is why governors refuse to use their pardon and clemency power. Hey, the jury found him guilty and the trial was legally correct, what is the problem? Our system loves process. You will always get your share of process. But it will take that process and steam roll you.

              1. That is why I cringe when I hear how we are a country that goes by the “rule of law.” Well, which “law” is it? The 5,000 new federal regulations, federal statutes and federal court opinions that came down last year? Or the 50,000 new state statutes, regulations and court decisions? Or the 500,000 new municipal and county rules and criminal penalties that were written?

                1. We are a country that goes by the rule of laws

                  Billions and Billions of laws.

          2. I agree John, this is exactly what I was alluding to. When I was a young buck lawyer like Bo Cara, I could get wrapped up in judicial opinions and the analysis of procedural conundrums and all that crap. But now, as a guy trying to make a living and raise a family in a crazy world, I see truth, mercy and fairness as better than new procedures, processes or rules, which ultimately become a trap and prison in and of themselves.

            Nowadays I’m more inclined to prefer the “old West law” you might see in a John Wayne movie or something like that. Those guys wouldn’t even shoot a known bad guy in the back because it was cowardly.

            1. Thanks Mr. Safari browser for crashing and double posting my comment.

              1. It was the three-o-clock squirrels.

          3. This leads to all sorts of crazy and unjust things.

            I believe that is by design.

    2. See, I don’t think that the majority is going at odds with the intent of the document. I agree with the majority on that. If the definition of felon expands exponentially, then saying cops can shoot a fleeing felon is no longer following the intent of the drafters. Felon doesn’t mean the same thing anymore. So you can’t take their clear intent that shooting a fleeing felon is okay to mean it is okay in every circumstance now.

    3. Back then felonies were limited to shit like murder and rape. You know, crimes with like victims and stuff.
      Not so much anymore.

      1. The State is the biggest victim of all.

    4. an unreasonable seizure in violation of the 4th Amendment

      And here I thought killing someone without legal justification was murder.

      Do they issue “shoot on sight” warrants? Sounds like shooting a suspect is a “seizure”, so why wouldn’t you be able to get a warrant to do so?

  19. If even one life is saved, the taking of this one man’s life is worth it.

  20. They have families to go home to at night. Sons and daughters. Who are finding it difficult to look them in the eye out of shame.

    ‘They say a policeman shot a man in the back of the head, was it you, daddy?’

    ‘He was a drug pusher, son.’

    ‘Not a rapist?’

    ‘No.’

    ‘Not a killer?’

    ‘No.’

    ‘Did he fight back? Were there guns blazing? A real shoot out?’

    ‘No.’

    ‘Seems to me you gotta be some kind of coward to shoot a defenseless man in the back of the head, daddy.’

    1. My stepson’s father is a cop, and there’s no way he’d ever talk to him like that. He’d get his ass kicked.
      The same kind of cowards who shoot a defenseless man in the back have no compunction against committing violence on a defenseless child. Or woman for that matter.

      1. My dad was an Army Ranger. I spent my weekends at his sides in the woodlands being taught his skills. If I had a stepfather like that, I would suggest a camping trip from which no one would have ever heard from him ever after.

        ‘Wanted to get a closer look at the hawk’s nest. I guess that branch wasn’t as sturdy as it appeared.’

        1. I’m his stepfather. His real dad is the cop who tosses his 12yr old son around like a pro wrestler with a rag doll whenever the kid pisses him off. And from what his mom (my wife) says, it doesn’t take much.

          1. I feel for your stepson, but that sort of behavior tends to become cyclical if not nipped in the bud.

            1. Of course, I don’t have to tell you that, no doubt. It just underlines the extent that this is a real problem.

    2. Who are finding it difficult to look them in the eye out of shame.

      Reminds me of the cop that lives across the street from me, beating the shit out of his kid IN THE STREET late one night.

      Yes, the cops showed up to separate them. No, it was not me who called the cops.

  21. RESISTANCE IS FATAL

  22. Don’t worry about me, worry about my mom

  23. I’m glad someone already made the obligatory Dunkin Donuts joke.

  24. So can we finally stop with the pretense that we live in a republic of laws and not men? These pigs outright fucking murdered someone and will get away with it.

  25. I just sold my house in Weare back in May. The PD is a mess, they’re known for being heavy-handed and have had a bunch of internal problems as well.

    The CoP is an elected position in town and during the last election he had one opponent who dropped out of the race a couple weeks before the election but was kept on the ballot due to state law. He siphoned off enough votes from the other candidate to keep the current Chief in office.

    The place is a small, sleepy town but they have a ton of drug busts. Mostly weed but some other stuff here and there.

    Whatever happened during the undercover buy is going to be papered over. Guaranteed.

  26. This is complete BS! I knew Alex and I’ll tell you this, there’s no way he tried to hit anyone with his green Acura, nor would he attempt to shoot anyone, he doesn’t even own a gun. I don’t even know why the cops would waste their time with a sting operation for Alex, he wasn’t some big time hustler, he lived in a 1 bedroom apt that had a beat up couch, a small tv, and a bed. He barely sold enough to support his habbit. Don’t think anything of the description of his acura suv, it was an older beat up car that had 200k he just bought for $2,000. Bottom line, whatever petty crap he was into, should have been rehabilitated, his actions didn’t justify a bullet to his head, he didn’t deserve to die.

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