Police Abuse

Cops Shoot 19-Year-Old San Jose Woman After Mistaking Power Drill For an Uzi and Nothing Else Will Happen


Woman brandishing power drill before being shot by cops
cellphone video screencap

While the mainstream media is trying to fit surveillance video purporting to show Michael Brown robbing a convenience store of some cigars into the various narratives it's been constructing since protests and riots in Ferguson, Missouri, propelled the police shooting of an unarmed Brown into the national news cycle, the regular succession of police, or "officer-involved," shootings continue.

Earlier this week, for example, officers from the Los Angeles Police Department shot and killed a mentally disturbed 25-year-old they said later maybe might have been in a gang. In San Bernardino County, a newspaper employee died in police custody after being tased. Police claim the employed, married, father of five was a suspect in an attempted burglary. It's reported cops are "aggressively" seeking people who may have recorded their interaction with the victim.

And yesterday a 19-year-old woman in San Jose was shot and killed by police after they mistook a power drill she was brandishing for an Uzi. ABC 7 news reports:

San Jose police spokesperson Albert Morales says officers arrived at the scene with caller information that gave them reasonable concern their lives might be at risk. 

"We had a call, somebody with an Uzi, threatening to kill family members—a very, very serious situation, very dangerous situation for our officers. We had communication with this person. Unfortunately, I guess at some point those communications either broke down or the officers felt threatened in some form or fashion."

Officers who did respond had specialized training to deal with the potential the person may have mental health issues. 

There was no one else in the home outside of which the 19-year-old was shot so it's unclear how the 911 call was so botched. Without media attention, don't expect that call, or much more information, to be released. None of these cases appear to be gaining significant media or community attention, so the stories will remain murky, uncertain. It's likely each one will be ruled justified, with little information being shared before then. The victims appear, or are depicted, as mentally unstable. Cops claim in each case that they felt threatened, and residents are expected to give police the benefit of the doubt. On the other hand, the other side insists on counting cops who died because things fell on them or they were involved in accidents as "killed in the line of duty" to push the perception of cops working in a "war zone" not of their own making.

Calls by politicians like Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) that Ferguson be a "turning point" are largely hollow. Cummings voted against an NDAA amendment in June that would've limited transfers of military gear to local police departments, and none of the establishment activists who have attached themselves to the situation in Ferguson seem to be doing anything to focus people's attentions on the systemic problems behind police brutality, starting with the propensity of most fatal police shootings to be ruled justified in a process shrouded in government secrecy and privilege.

We shouldn't have to read these kinds of stories and speculate about what happened, there ought to be a transparent process trusted by the public that can come to an understandable conclusion, whether you end up agreeing or not. Instead, cops and prosecutors act almost like a team during investigations of police shootings—it shouldn't be surprising given that they do operate as a team in pretty much every other part of their jobs. And police generally control the narrative of a shooting, painting themselves in the most positive light possible and victims in the most negative light possible. Without an engaged national media they often get away with it.

The indictment of Gov. Rick Perry (R-Tex.) for trying to force a district attorney charged with drinking and driving out of office is illustrative here. A district attorney who drinks and drives shouldn't be allowed to keep that job, given how often a district attorney prosecutes drunk drivers. And it's rich to see a prosecutor charge a governor with "coercion" for threatening funding if a DA embroiled in a scandal wouldn't resign, when prosecutors coerce defendants into plea deals all the time. Is Perry enjoying widespread support for trying to force a DA that damaged her reputation out of office? Of course not, the DA is a Democrat so a significant amount of Democrats will back her. Her job is to monitor public integrity. It would seem her job should obligate her to resign after being charged with drunk driving. But prosecutors and cops will act in their own self-interest, especially when their jobs are on the line. And so bad actors are incentivized to help each other. Add partisan tribalism into the mix, and you have a recipe for a big old heap of nothing else happening.