Police Abuse

No Witnesses Coming Forward in Florida Police Shooting

Witnesses talk to local news reporters but not the sheriff's office

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cityoffortpierce.com

Police officers in Fort Pierce, Florida, shot and killed 21-year-old Demarcus Semer at the end of a foot chase that started with an unspecified traffic violation, the Orlando Sun-Sentinel reports.

Semer was unarmed and had no drugs on him, according to police, who say they are waiting for a warrant to search Semer's car. The Fort Pierce police department says it handed the investigation into the weekend shooting over to the St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office so that it would be impartial.

According to the sheriff's office, at least a dozen people said they witnessed the shooting but none has come forward to offer details to the sheriff's office. "We need our community's help," the county sheriff said. "We aren't interested in rumors or gossip; we are looking to find the truth." Some of the people who claim they witnessed the shooting have talked to local news reporters, saying Semer had his hands up when he was shot.

According to police, Semer refused to pull over until a second cop arrived at the scene. Police claim Semer clipped one officer and dragged another in his car window. The identity of the officers, who were interviewed by Wednesday, has not yet been revealed.

Semer worked as a bank teller and had no criminal record. he was a quarterback at the local high school in 2012 and 2013.

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  1. The Fort Pierce police department says it handed the investigation into the weekend shooting over to the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office so that it would be impartial.

    You betcha.

    1. Worked out so well for Steven Avery

  2. “According to police, ”

    Everything after that qualifying phrase can be safely disregarded.

  3. “Semer was unarmed and had no drugs on him,”

    I’m not sure why the second thing matters.

    “according to police, who say they are waiting for a warrant to search Semer’s car.”

    I think that it’s great that they’re respecting his constitutional rights. Too bad he’s not alive to appreciate it.

    1. I’m not sure why the second thing matters.

      Which is doubly funny because the first isn’t actually illegal either.

  4. Semer worked as a bank teller and had no criminal record. he was a quarterback at the local high school in 2012 and 2013.

    It’s almost as though many months of racializing police abuse has made young black men terrified of police. And police are doing their level best to live up to the reputation.

    1. Black people have been having “the talk” with their kids about cops for decades bruh.

      1. And it’s probably a good talk to have, given the circumstances. But this is different than being cautious and respectful around cops.

        1. The reason black parents have to tell their kids to be extra respectful to cops is because cops are more likely to treat them harshly. Probably, as Hans Bader points out below, because those kids are criminals and deserve to get shot down like thugs.

          1. “Scrutiny of police shootings is needed. Absent potential scrutiny, some police can be cavalier about taking life even when there is little chance they will be killed if they don’t shoot a suspect.”

            ^ Yeah, clearly that’s what he’s saying here Hugh.

            1. “Scrutiny of police shootings is…Absent, some police can be…killed if they don’t shoot a suspect.”

              Woooo cherry-picking quotes is so much fun. I can see why you enjoy it.

              1. I wasn’t cherry picking. His point was that higher crime rates are part of the reason more black people are shot by the police.

                At the end of his post, he mentioned that there are instances where cops shoot people wrongly, and that these should be investigated fully.

                You’re the one who misrepresented what he was saying when you claimed he argued that all of them deserved to be shot “because those kids are criminals and deserve to get shot down like thugs.”

                My “cherry picking” is a more honest representation of what he said than your ridiculously dishonest paraphrase. I know you like to substitute snark for any kind of fucking point, but it gets to be a bit much.

                1. Would it be ageist to point out that younger people are more likely to commit crimes, and therefore more likely to be shot by the police? It’s a true observation, is it not?

                2. The I in Irish stands for Idiot, no?

                  Several studies of Washington DC pot arrests showed blacks and whites using pot the same amount, but blacks something like 2-3 times as likely to be arrested (cited?) for possession. Other studies have shown the same ratios in New York stop and frisk busts.

                  Do you seriously claim cops are not bigoted sonzabitches, and that blacks are arrested more often because they deserve it?

            2. Well looky what we have here.

          2. In my experience cops are pretty harsh on all kids, regardless of their race. Punks are punks are punks.

            1. The reason black people make up a higher percentage of those shot by police than their percentage of the population may be partially related to racism, but given the much higher rates of violent crime in urban black neighborhoods, it’s impossible to know for sure.

              When 70%+ of shootings in Chicago are committed by African Americans, I don’t think you can say the reason more black people are shot by the CPD is definitely because of racism. That’s not saying there aren’t racist cops or that cop racism isn’t a problem, just that there are other variables you have to consider.

              When members of one group are more likely to be running around shooting people, members of that group are also more likely to wind up in violent confrontations with the police.

              1. I dunno, Irish. Maybe they should stop shooting unarmed black kids.

                Things might look better on the PR front.

                1. Maybe they need to operate under the same rules of engagement our military uses in occupied territory.

                  Don’t shoot unless you have already been shot at.

                  I mean if our soldiers can take that risk why not our cops?

                  1. I mean if our soldiers can take that risk why not our cops?

                    No Soldiers’ Union.

                2. I’m not disagreeing they shoot lots of people wrongly, and probably shoot more black people wrongly than white people. I’m also not disagreeing many cops may be racist.

                  But the crime rates are still relevant. Even someone like Laquan McDonald, who I think was obviously murdered, was only in that situation because he was running around slashing tires/breaking into cars in the middle of the night. It’s not victim blaming to point out that he was a victim, but that he was in a position to become a victim because of his own criminal behavior.

                  Would cops have shot a white kid in that situation? We’ll never know. It’s just wrong to assume he definitely wouldn’t have given how many white people I can point to who were wrongly killed by the police.

                  Here’s a white autistic 6 year old who was shot by two black police officers. You probably didn’t know about it because the media didn’t care. Instances where white cops shoot unarmed black people make the news. There’s also Kelly Thomas and a whole lot more. Instances where different races are involved don’t make the news. It doesn’t mean they don’t happen.

                  1. Kelly Thomas and Jeremy Mardis both made the news. That’s how you knew about them.

                  2. But the crime rates are still relevant.

                    How are they relevant *when no crime has been committed* or a crime not even coming close to requiring a lethal response? The *only* way that the crime rate is a valid data point is *only* due to a higher police presence to begin with, just in sheer numbers. Everything after that is an assumption on the part of the cop, which then, yeah, is likely racist, or just fucking stupid.

                    As I said above, maybe they should stop killing so many unarmed kids/people. Their numbers might look better.

                  3. I can’t help but to wonder why there isn’t more national outrage over this shooting. If a white officer had gunned down a 6-year old black kid and wounded his unarmed father in a personal vendetta, Black Lives Matter, the liberal media, and President Obama would literally explode with anger. We’d hear nothing but racism, white supremacy, and the need for justice reform. There’d be a Justice Department investigation and riots in the streets.

                    Nothing to wonder about. If all instances made the news, then people would see it is a problem with police culture, not a few racist apples. That would harm the public trust, not just the black public trust. Nobody except some loony libertarians would want that to happen.

                  4. But the crime rates are still relevant. Even someone like Laquan McDonald, who I think was obviously murdered, was only in that situation because he was running around slashing tires/breaking into cars in the middle of the night. It’s not victim blaming to point out that he was a victim, but that he was in a position to become a victim because of his own criminal behavior.

                    Actually, yeah, it is victim blaming for blaming them for being murdered by a cop.

                    You know who is to blame there? Think hard. I’ll give you a couple minutes, but show your work.

              2. When members of one group are more likely to be running around shooting people, members of that group are also more likely to wind up in violent confrontations with the police.

                Oh, I agree (though many people consider such observations to be racist, because only a racist would notice something like that). I’m just saying that when I was a youth I found the cops to be equal-opportunity dickheads.

              3. Get a load of TrigglyRacist here.

            2. “Why won’t these punks stop absorbing my bullets?”

    2. Cops want people to be terrified of them. They like the power.

      1. And then they wonder why no witnesses want to talk to them.

        Hell, given their reputation I’d want to talk to the Justice Department.

  5. No witnesses? SOooooooooo, doesn’t that AUTOMATICALLY make it a good shoot?

    1. They have to wait for witnesses to come forward so they can put the proper spin on it.

    2. Not no witnesses, just no witnesses that will talk to the police. They know that witnesses that talk to the police have a tendency to become no witnesses.

  6. Speaking of police shootings:

    Studies described in the Washington Post today found that even prior to Ferguson, police were more likely to shoot whites than similarly-situated unarmed blacks, perhaps due to the greater media and legal scrutiny such shootings bring. This suggests that wrongful police shootings are due to factors other than race.

    The Washington Post story is here: https://goo.gl/wGa68u

    The fact that police shootings disproportionately involve black people is largely a function of the crime rate, not police racism against blacks. The murder rate, for example, is six times as high among blacks as among whites (according to Bureau of Justice Statistics and FBI data). The Supreme Court’s ruling in U.S. v. Armstrong accordingly rejected the “presumption that people of all races commit all types of crimes” at the same rate, which is “contradicted by” reality. Blacks, who are only 13 percent of the population, commit nearly half of all murders. But the homicide rate is 10 times higher for black teenagers than for whites.

    Scrutiny of police shootings is needed. Absent potential scrutiny, some police can be cavalier about taking life even when there is little chance they will be killed if they don’t shoot a suspect.

    1. I meant to write “factors other than racism against black people,” rather than “factors other than race” in my comment above. The Washington Post story suggests race does play a modest role, but in the sense of reverse racism (cops know that there will be little media scrutiny if they wrongly shoot a while male, but much more media scrutiny if they shoot a black person, and that results in them being more cautious about shooting unarmed black people than unarmed white people.

      Note also that there are other studies that do not reach this conclusion.

    2. As pointed out in AM links, that’s a bad study because it was based on a simulation, not real life.

      1. Could you give me the link? The last AM links I can find is from yesterday, and it says nothing about the study:

        https://goo.gl/7q3LSG

        I have yet to see a study on this issue that didn’t have some flaws, but this one stuck me as making a useful contribution to the literature on the subject.

        Thanks!

      2. I agree, but the rest of the comment is accurate. There are plenty of cops that are blatantly racist, for sure, but our subconscious reactions and threat calculations are out of out control. If a cop sees black people shooting each other all the time and knows that black people are more likely to commit murder, even if they’re not knowingly racist their brains will take into account when making decisions. It is a no-win situation. Cops shoot black people more often because they know that those black people are more likely to commit a crime and be violent, and black people commit more crime partially because of this inherent thought process in everybody’s brains. We can’t help noticing patterns and acting accordingly. It’s hardwired in out brains. It’s why we evolved into such an advanced species.

        1. Cops shoot black people more often because they know that those black people are more likely to commit a crime and be violent, and black people commit more crime partially because of this inherent thought process in everybody’s brains.

          I get it now. They’re psychic. They *know* that they’ll have to eventually shoot them uppity niggers for some reason, so they might as well do it now.

  7. What does it tell us that plenty of people seem to have witnessed what happened, but aren’t willing to talk to the police about it?

    A) The ‘witnesses’ are liars trying to get media attention or;

    B) They are terrified of what the police might do to them if they tell the truth.

    1. A combination of both. Witnesses are just as untrustworthy as the cops. Even video doesn’t answer all questions half the time. No easy solution. Just sucks.

      1. I agree, eye witnesses are mostly useless. I disagree about video. It’s the one thing that can give a jury a clear picture. Fantasy law: any cop that shoots a person without a functional lapel cam will be charged with murder.

        1. Not only that, but if all those cop cams on are the internet for us to watch you instantly could fund your Police Department with advertising dollars on the cop cams!

          /genius

  8. No witnesses? It’s almost as if they fear retribution. Hmmmm….

    1. “Just come talk to us and tell us what you saw. Of course, you can completely tru….BLAMBLAMBLAM…sorry, trust us.”

      1. “Thank you for coming forward to tell us what you saw. Now hand over some identification so we can run you for warrants. No warrants. Fuck. Alright, turn around and put your hand behind your back while we search you for drugs and weapons. Fuck. Nothing to arrest you for. Get lost. What? You still want to tell us what you saw? Alright. It’s off to the hospital for a cavity search.”

      2. You’re being melodramatic. There a reason cops wear cameras.

        Oh.

  9. “According to police, Semer refused to pull over until a second cop arrived at the scene. Police claim Semer clipped one officer and dragged another in his car window. The identity of the officers, who were interviewed by Wednesday, has not yet been revealed.”

    I just wish there were tiny cameras you could put on police officers so we could know exactly what happened.

    As Mark Steyn said, at this point if you don’t put cameras on squad cars and possibly on cops as well, it’s because you don’t want people to see what they’re doing.

    1. I’ve always enjoyed Mark’s skepticism of cops. He told a nice story once about being pulled over in New Hampshire near the Canadian border and hassled by a disrespectful cop. He filed a complaint and raised hell, and the cop was sent to cultural sensitivity training or something. I’ve seen the same sentiment out of Kevin Williamson and Tucker Carlson. Some conservatives get it.

  10. Well, the cops claim he had no drugs or weapons and had no apparent reason to flee, that he was a well-respected member of the community, recently gotten a job with a tech firm after working as a bank teller, and that the cops had no dash cams or body cams, he hit one officer and dragged the other and none of the witnesses are coming forward to talk.

    If I had to guess, I’d guess every single one of those statements will turn out to be terminologically inexact by the time this is all over.

    1. Well, the cops claim he had no drugs or weapons

      Amateurs. I thought throwdowns were Cop 101.

      1. Maybe other cops getting caught planting evidence on cellphone video have discouraged that.

  11. YA horrible story.

    One thing I don’t understand is — even if you *are* terrified of the police, what *possible* thing do you hope to gain by running from them?

    1. When did running become illegal?

      I have a hunch that the victim had previous encounters with the 5-oh that would drive that impulse.

      1. “When did running become illegal?”

        Running gives the cops reasonable suspicion. Once they have that, failure to obey becomes a capital offense.

        1. From the gewgle

          A criminal charge of fleeing or evading the police may be either a misdemeanor or felony charge, depending on the circumstances. For example, fleeing the police in a vehicle is a felony charge, but eluding the police on foot is usually a misdemeanor.

        2. Also, running from a predator is almost never a good idea.

          1. Also, running from a predator is almost never a good idea

            Play Dead. Hopefully they wont think to shoot you then?

      2. It’s not; and your hunch may be correct.

        It just seems one should realize running will *only* compound one’s difficulties with the 5-oh.

        1. I don’t disagree with you, but decisions made under fear for your life won’t always be rational.

  12. Sad to say, but don’t count on the BLM folks getting terribly worked up about this. A bank teller trying to get into a tech firm? They’ll write him off as “white”. Sad state of affairs when people who at least sound like are genuine victims of authoritarian policing get less sympathy than actual thugs.

    1. This incident is not useful because it can’t be used to divide people along racial lines, since it seems so egregious that white people will be just as sympathetic and outraged as black people, so there is no opportunity to create racial animosity.

    2. The BLM vs. LEO fight is largely one where both sides are wrong. They each end up arguing against their own straw men. BLM says it’s all about racism, when its really about corrupt authority in general. The LEOs say its about a war on cops, when its really about a lack of respect for their corrupt authority.

      Either way, it is sad when BLM gives more attention to someone like Micheal Brown than they give to someone like Kelley Thomas or even Tamir Rice.

      1. I can answer the Double Jeopardy question: “Who can be racist and corrupt, sociopathic scum simultaneously?”

  13. an unspecified traffic violation

    IOW DWB.

    1. Once they get a warrant to access his car, he will no doubt have a brake light that’s not working.

      1. There’s a lot that doesn’t add up.

        (1) No throwdowns.

        (2) Cops waiting for a warrant to search a car.

        I haz a confuse.

      2. Or the ubiquitous “He coasted through a stop sign a few blocks back.”

        Never mind that I don’t think I’ve ever seen a cop actually stop at a stop sign… or drive under the speed limit… or not tailgate whoever is in front of them… etc.

  14. Great alt text

    But apparently Donuts are not the only things with holes in the middle in Florida these days

  15. If I saw some cops gun somebody down who was (a) running away from them or (b) had their hands in the air, I’d get my story out to the public first, too. Its protection against retaliation.

    If you talk to the cops first, they’ll tell you its evidence, not to tell anyone else, etc. You are much more exposed to retaliation in that case.

    1. I dunno. I think in either case you’re going to be exposed to retaliation. What do the cops have to lose? It’s not like they’ll get into any trouble.

  16. he was a quarterback at the local high school in 2012 and 2013.

    Sounds like he was a pocket passer rather than a scrambling QB… and not a very elusive one at that.

    1. Of course, the defensive line didn’t have guns….

    2. Masturbation metaphor?
      (Looks at screen name)
      Yup.

  17. Heh, Fort Pierce is my home town. Lots of interesting things happen there. I dunno. In the 90s, living there actually used to be scary….now it’s kinda not. Most St. Lucie, Martin County and FP cops are actually good folks too (and, bonus points, they aren’t militarized like the police are where I live now, heh). So yeah, I’d be really sad if corruption started bleeding into there…

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