Police Abuse

Unarmed Man Fatally Shot by Cops; California City Fought Release of Video Because It Paid Millions in Taxpayer Dollars to Make Incident Go Away

City argued they settled because they thought it would keep the video away from the public.

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LA Times

In 2013, the city of Gardena, Calif., paid out a $4.7 million settlement over the fatal police shooting of Diaz Zeferino, who was unarmed at the time and had been mistakenly suspected by police of stealing a bike when they were actually helping their friend look for his stolen bike.  Since then, city officials have been fighting to keep video of the incident, caught by cameras on the two squad cars at the scene. This week, they argued in District Court that the city agreed to the settlement because it believed that would keep the video of the incident from the public.

Judge Stephen Wilson disagreed, as the Los Angeles Times reports:

The "defendants' argument backfires here — the fact that they spent the city's money, presumably derived from taxes, only strengthens the public's interest in seeing the videos," Wilson wrote. "Moreover, while the videos are potentially upsetting and disturbing because of the events they depict, they are not overly gory or graphic in a way that would make them a vehicle for improper purposes."

The judge's decision was a response to a request from the Los Angeles Times, the Associated Press and Bloomberg, which challenged a blanket protective order that had prevented the release of the videos and other evidence in the court case.

Despite the judge's clear-headed ruling in this instance, avoiding transparency and accountability are exactly why most jurisdictions agree to settlements over police brutality in the first place. Generally such settlements include no admission of guilt by the city—the cops involved usually keep their job, and the settlement money always comes from taxpayers, not from police officers, their unions, or their pension funds. Settlements effectively end discussions on police brutality because many people view them as victories even though they come without admissions of guilt and with the punitive bill being picked up by taxpayers, not cops.

On appeal, another circuit judge ruled the video should be sealed, but by that point it had been released to the Los Angeles Times, which posted it online. You can watch the whole thing below:

Gardena's police chief said the killing was "tragic for all involved" but that the police department instituted new training after that.  He framed the issue of releasing the video as a matter of privacy for the man police killed and his friends. "Our police officers are entrusted with sensitive and extremely personal information and we often come in contact with people under tragic situations and at their worst," he said. "We worry about the implications of this decision and its impact on victims and average citizens who are recorded by the police." It's the same line cops use to concern troll about the implications of them being equipped with body cameras. Watched cops are polite cops, but someone has to watch the tape.

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63 responses to “Unarmed Man Fatally Shot by Cops; California City Fought Release of Video Because It Paid Millions in Taxpayer Dollars to Make Incident Go Away

  1. Gardenia’s police chief said the killing was “tragic for all involved”

    I always describe my headaches as tragic, too.

    1. one man’s tragedy is another man’s getting away with murder.

  2. Remember, only law enforcement officers have the training and experience to carry guns.

    Which matches up well with their privilege of being able to commit manslaughter and murder with impunity.

    And, the public gets to pay for the consequences! Win win!

  3. “Gardenia’s police chief said the killing was “tragic for all involved” but that the police department instituted new training after that.”

    Because those cops had never been taught that it was wrong to shoot unarmed and innocent people in the street.

    1. He wasn’t innocent. Toxicology showed alcohol and methamphetamines at the time of the shooting. Plus, he was furtive and had an aggressive posture. But worst of all, he didn’t obey.

      1. of course- he could have had a beer and some Desoxyn…

      2. I know your being sarcastic, but some people actually believe that shit.

        1. Look, everybody’s guilty.. it’s just a matter of where and when..

        2. Most of the comments on the Daily Mail’s version of the story were something to the effect of “Do what you are told and you won’t get shot.”

          1. Obey or die.

          2. “Just bend the fabric of reality to simultaneously comply with contradicting orders and you won’t get shot. Fucking noobs.”

            1. -Signed, The Doctor

      3. “He didn’t obey”, you nailed it!

      4. Having alcohol and meth in your system is in no way illegal. Neither is a furtive movement. Nice try, pigfucker.

    2. I don’t recall being taught that, either.

      Is there a class I should take, or something?

  4. The sad thing about this video is how predictable it is: two cops shout multiple, confusing orders at bewildered suspects. One suspect does not comply fast enough and then bang bang bang.

    Cops are giant pussies that panic and lose what little trigger discipline they have in situations that should not be tense at all.

    1. Sometimes I wonder: If you put one of these officers into a combat zone or otherwise into a situation that’s actually dangerous, what would they do? Besides piss themselves and curl into a fetal position, that is.

      1. I wonder if they’d even qualify to be infantry, they are such gigantic pussies. I can see them in the rear with the gear, and working hard to profit from that.

        1. They’d be the kind you wind up having to hang as an example for the rest of the platoon.

          1. Guys who pulled this kind of shit with Iraqi civilians got long stretches in military prison. Shoot a civilian who isn’t pointing a gun at one of our guys, you get charged with murder.

        2. I was infantry (3/8 Marines). We would have fragged these fuckers given their complete lack of trigger discipline and cowardice.

    2. Sometimes I wonder if they shout conflicting commands on purpose to give them an excuse to open fire. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if they are trained to do this.

  5. There is no “i” in Gardena, Ed. It’s Gardena. Not “gardenia”.

    1. the little old lady from pasadena had a flowerbed of white gardenias…

      1. she also had a super stock Diodge!

      2. Pasadenia

    2. cauliflower, carrots, cucumbers, pepperocini, etc.

  6. Watch the video, and then read this, where the DA says that the video proves that the officers were completely justified in shooting.

    1. DA – tough on crime… except when committed by cops.

      1. Cops can’t commit crimes. Cops bust the people who commit crimes. If cops committed crimes, who would bust them? QED.

        1. Quis custodiat ipsos custodes?

  7. We worry about the implications of this decision and its impact on victims

    I’m more worried about the impact on victims caused by bullets that never should have been fired at them.

  8. But they implemented new training afterwards. It’s all good, now.

    1. I’d be fine with the training if it were administered by the families of the victim using baseball bats.

      1. I’m thinking, “The fundamentals of social etiquette: A primer for fresh fish. ? Folsom penitentiary press” for their new training..

    2. Are we allowed to see the new training? If not, then they’re lying.

  9. So why aren’t settlements and lawsuits awarded from pension funds? Better yet actual pay. Seems like that would be a great incentive to encourage good behavior.

    1. Seems like that would be a great incentive to encourage good behavior.

      Well, there’s your problem.

    2. Because when the pensions of cops and firefighters aren’t properly funded to pay out the super bennies, the taxpayer still has to come in and bail them out.

      http://www.twincities.com/ci_2…..boost-fire

      We passed a bill to add a $5 surcharge to all homeowner and car insurance policies. Why? To try to fill in the pension funds.

      The state patrol plan, which is part of the Minnesota State Retirement System, needs about an additional $7.6 million each year to make up its shortfall between its contributions (plus investment returns) compared with the amount needed to pay benefits and cover past unfunded liabilities. Filling this with employee and/or employer contribution increases would require an additional 11.5 percent of an employee’s pay, on top of what is already being paid.

      So maybe you tell the cops and firemen to either pay in a lot more, or accept less generous bennies?

      1. Well that’s nothing that a little MN Nice Scandinavian Socialism can’t fix! Pretty soon I think there will be about 5 of us in this state paying for everyone else.

        I realized the problem with relying on unreliable and truly unsustainable pension funds which is why I said it would be even better if it came out straight out of pay. That has the added advantage of applying the punishment closer in time to the event as well.

        1. Pretty soon I think there will be about 5 of us in this state paying for everyone else.

          Thank God I got out.

      2. The next time the union contract gets negotiated, sure. I don’t think governments can adjust benefits on the fly.

      3. The next time the union contract gets negotiated, sure. I don’t think governments can adjust benefits on the fly.

  10. On appeal, another circuit judge ruled the video should be sealed, but by that point it had been released to the Los Angeles Times, which posted it online.

    Sounds like they should have done a better job judge shopping the first time around.

  11. Deputy Dist. Atty. Rosa Alarcon wrote in a memo about the shooting that Diaz Zeferino’s right hand was no longer visible from the officers’ angle and that it was reasonable for them to believe he was going to reach for a weapon.

    “They made a split-second decision and they were not required to hold fire in order to ascertain whether Diaz [Zeferino] would, in fact, injure or kill them,” she wrote.

    When are people required to ask questions first and shoot later?

    1. So apparently police procedure is now to approach all people that are possibly suspected of committing a crime with guns drawn? Even when the crime they may be suspected of committing might garner a few days in jail? There was no reason to believe these guys were even armed.

    2. When did “they had a gun in their hand” turn into “I couldn’t see their hand”?

      Why does someone have to die because the cop was at a bad angle?

  12. First of all, guns drawn over a possible STOLEN BICYCLE???? Oh my fucking gods.

    Then I don’t care what the person is suspected of having done, there was ZERO reason to assume he was threatening any of them. This was nothing short of 2nd degree murder.

    1. When you point a gun at an individual and shoot them that is an activity that requires aforethought and is premeditated first degree murder.

      1. I actually thought about when I was typing. You could certainly make a case. I was sort of erring on the side of caution thinking that assuming drawing his weapon and pointing it at the guys is not a felony to begin (in this case it should be, but again playing overly cautious here), I don’t think you could prove premeditation on the part of the cop. So malice aforethought, but without premeditation or prior planning would probably be 2nd degree murder.

        From FindLaw.com, three typical conditions that would consitute 2nd degree murder:
        1) A killing done impulsively without premeditation, but with malice aforethought
        2) A killing that results from an act intended to cause serious bodily harm
        3) A killing that results from an act that demonstrates the perpetrators depraved indifference to human life

        So I think 1) should be a slam dunk in any reasonable society, 2) definitely could be proven (2 officers pointing their weapons at three guys that are barely suspected of stealing a BICYCLE)
        3) probably not applicable, unless they tried to argue “I was trying to shoot him in the leg” or some lame thing.

        1. I was sort of erring on the side of caution

          An Illinois prosecutor did just that when prosecuting a police officer for manslaugter and the judge said “Not guilty! Should have been charged with first degree murder! He’s free and double-jeopardy is unconstitituional!”

          You have to assume that if the prosecutor charged him with first-degree murder the judge would have said “No, it’s second-dgree murder. You lose.”

          Being a government employee means you are corrupt.

      2. I actually thought about when I was typing. You could certainly make a case. I was sort of erring on the side of caution thinking that assuming drawing his weapon and pointing it at the guys is not a felony to begin (in this case it should be, but again playing overly cautious here), I don’t think you could prove premeditation on the part of the cop. So malice aforethought, but without premeditation or prior planning would probably be 2nd degree murder.

        From FindLaw.com, three typical conditions that would consitute 2nd degree murder:
        1) A killing done impulsively without premeditation, but with malice aforethought
        2) A killing that results from an act intended to cause serious bodily harm
        3) A killing that results from an act that demonstrates the perpetrators depraved indifference to human life

        So I think 1) should be a slam dunk in any reasonable society, 2) definitely could be proven (2 officers pointing their weapons at three guys that are barely suspected of stealing a BICYCLE)
        3) probably not applicable, unless they tried to argue “I was trying to shoot him in the leg” or some lame thing.

  13. He framed the issue of releasing the video as a matter of privacy for the man police killed and his friends.

    Well, traditionally dead people have no privacy interests.

    And, if that’s really the concern, why don’t we ask the surviving friends if they have any objection to the video being released? What’s that? The cops never asked them?

    Huh. Its almost like the police chief is lying his ass off, in public, with no concern that anyone is going to call him on it.

  14. So they spent $5 million of other peoples’ money to protect one employee? Why aren’t all these thieving fucks in jail?

    1. And that is really the bigger problem isn’t it? Of course there will always be a few bad apples (please I know that it is more than a few, and the consequences of a few, armed bad apples with the freedom to kill whenever they want is pretty scary). But the fact that the, all the other officers, Police Chiefs, the Unions, the DAs, Mayors, etc. all bend over backwards to protect these sons of bitches is really what is worse. How about a zero tolerance policy for police brutality?

  15. I have to say, I’m somewhat on the side of the police here. The victim, if you can really call him that, was suspected of stealing a bike. I mean, it turns out he was helping his buddy search for the stolen bike, but still…they thought he might have been the suspect. We can’t let suspected bike thieves walk the streets. They must be killed.

    And, if you’re itching to kill someone why not kill a bike thief? Or, kill a jaywalker, or that guy selling loosies. Loosies are bad, jaywalking is bad. Littering is terrible. Don’t go after drug cartel guys, because they shoot back. The most important thing is you get your K, you go home safe and sound to your wife, have a few beers, beat the old lady up, and then go to bed.

  16. And where are the filthy pigs that shot him? Not doing life for murder I suspect.

  17. Perhaps it is time to re-examine the entire question of Nightsticks, and their substitution for side-arms, or at least an intermediate step to them.

    1. Time to disarm beat cops and allow only a small percentage of support cops to be armed. If a patrol/beat cop runs into problems, they can call for an armed cop.

  18. Murder by cops…says the retired detective, me

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