Brickbat: Bad Shot


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The city of Elk Grove, California, has agreed to pay $150,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by John Hesselbein. Police officer Paul Beckham shot Hesselbein while Hesselbein lay handcuffed with his hands behind his back in the back of a police patrol car. Beckham said he feared the man had a weapon on him. Hesselbein was searched both before he was placed in the car after being arrested on domestic violence charges and after he was shot. Police found no weapon.

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  1. Hands up, don’t shoot! Wait…

    1. Watch out Ned. He’s coming right for us!

      1. Shit, he has a wallet.

  2. The incident stemmed from a 911 call Hesselbein’s wife made to report a domestic dispute. She told a dispatcher Hesselbein had been drinking and was on parole for murder. This was passed on to Beckham and other responding officers, along with an old report that Hesselbein had ties to the Sac Town Crips street gang, court documents say.

    The information was later corrected to confirm Hesselbein had been convicted of involuntary manslaughter, not murder. And, because he is white, he is not eligible for membership in the black street gang. In 1994, he was identified as a passenger in a car being driven by a member of the Crips.

    In the shooter’s defense, he knows that his department’s pat downs are as shoddily done as their information gathering and aim.

    1. I hope the guy is already divorced or the wife is getting half of the settlement in a community-property state.

    2. So whites aren’t allowed in the crips? Shouldn’t the DOJ be suing them for discrimination?

      1. They’re busy shredding the paper trail right now. They have alot to clean up in the next couple months.

      2. #whitehoodratsmatter

    3. In 1994, he was identified as a passenger in a car being driven by a member of the Crips.

      I’m glad that important, relevant info was kept for twenty plus years.

      1. Its funny how this is presented with no other context. Like, the Crip is always a Crip, 24/7. He couldn’t, for example, have a day job because he’s got a family to support and slinging crack doesn’t pay that well at the street level?

        1. 1994 was a bit early to be driving for Uber, but unlicenced cabs have been around since there were cab licences.

          1. Could have been carpooling. Working at Initech by day, slingin’ dope and bustin’ domes by night.

            1. Who else was going to teach him how to launder his money?

    4. Maybe you’re kidding, but I’ve had police officers leave arrestees in my custody before and they obviously hadn’t been searched at all. They’ve had potential weapons (pocket knives), epi pens (which the hospital should be made aware of a patient’s need for), etc. One even managed to retain a lighter and then used it on another officer’s watch to melt through the straps for his restraints. He was working on the last one when I caught him. Fortunately, nobody ever got hurt as a result of the negligence of the police.

      I think the lesson is pretty clear – never trust the police to do a thorough search.

    1. Jesus christ this endless spam.

  3. You guys clearly didn’t read the article. It is worse. So, so, so much worse.

    The payout to Hesselbein was relatively small ? $150,000. It came nearly 5 1/2 years after Elk Grove police Officer Paul Beckham used his personal assault rifle to shoot Hesselbein in the face point blank in what Beckham would later admit was an attempt to kill the domestic violence suspect.

    So – Admitted he was trying to kill him at point blank range with his rifle.

    5 1/2 years to get to a settlement…… why? Well….

    The incident set off a lengthy legal fight. A jury decided the officer was justified in shooting Hesselbein, but a federal judge ? declaring he was baffled by the jury’s decision ? took the unusual step of throwing the verdict out and granting a new trial.

    So…. Hang on a minute. I know juries like to support their local sheriff… But really?

    Hesselbein was lying on the back seat of a police patrol car with his hands cuffed behind his back. Beckham was standing no more than 5 feet from him in the door of the car.

    Hesselbein survived because the bullet passed through his left temple and cheek, instead of “the middle of his head,” where Beckham testified he was aiming. The officer said he shot Hesselbein because he was afraid the suspect had a gun.

    Holy crap, guys. That’s not even a cover story. And the jury bought it.

    The Judge had to overrule the verdict.

  4. In a 25-page order granting Katz’s motion for a new trial, U.S. District Judge William Shubb wrote that he “simply does not understand how a jury could find from the evidence presented in this case that a reasonable officer would have believed plaintiff had a gun.”

    “In order to pose a risk to the officers, plaintiff would have had to somehow retrieve the gun with one hand from its clandestine location, manage to aim it from behind his back in the direction of the officers without shooting himself, and somehow pull the trigger before any of the officers surrounding the car could respond,” the judge noted. “It boggles the court’s mind how the jury could find plaintiff posed an immediate threat to the officers under these facts.”

    So that makes one judge who would rule that way.

    Which probably explains why they settled for less than the cost of attorney’s fees for a trial.

    1. I think the real problem is that its mind-boggling that the jury would find that the plaintiff, lying facedown in the backseat of a cruiser with his hands bound behind him, could have posed a threat at all even if he had been trying to get ahold of a firearm he had concealed from the search.

  5. And finally

    At the trial, Beckham testified he had been a police officer more than 13 years, first in Galt and then in Elk Grove. He said he was at that time his department’s use-of-force training officer, which meant he trained fellow officers on when to use force and how much, depending on the circumstances.

    And you wonder why I keep harping that it isn’t racism…. it is the way our departments are training our police.

  6. Ok…. I forgot this part. It is even more worse than worse. In fact it is “the onion” level with this one:

    One part of the evidence that prompted Shubb to doubt Beckham’s credibility was the officer’s explanation for why the shooting was not filmed.

    Beckham’s patrol car was parked in the line of sight of the shooting scene and equipped with a video camera. However, he manually turned off the camera after Hesselbein was placed in another officer’s car, even though agency policy requires that recording continue until suspects are removed from the scene.

    Beckham testified he stopped recording because Hesselbein was in custody and he felt the scene had stabilized. He turned the camera on again approximately 90 seconds after the shooting because, he said, it starts recording at a time 30 seconds before it goes on and he hoped to capture the shooting, but it was too late.

    During this part of his client’s testimony, Praet remarked how “unfortunate” it was that the camera was not on at the time of the shooting.

    1. There are no words.

  7. Sounds to me like the officer must have mistaken Hesselbein for a charging dog.

    1. Let me open my mind’s eye…guy in handcuffs in cop car…charging dog…yes…yes…I can see how one could make that mistake!!!

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