Brickbat: The Public's Right to Know


Police officer with gun
Thomas Lukassek /

Officials in Burlington, Iowa, have agreed to pay $2 million to settle a lawsuit brought by the family of a woman shot to death by police Officer Jesse Hill in front of her toddler. But the city is refusing to release body camera footage of the shooting. The officer claims he accidentally shot the woman while trying to shoot an aggressive dog. An attorney for the family who has seen the video says it does not support the officer's claims.

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  1. And the Reason comment section burst into flames.

  2. So the officer was mauled by the dog, then?

    1. Then he shot the bitch.

  3. White woman. Black cop. Nothing to see here. Move along.

  4. We need a Barney Fife rule to all cops. They can keep one round I their shirt pocket only. Sounds like there’s officials are trying to protect the officer from a murder charge.

    1. A murder charge would be up to the prosecutor. Prosecutors are almost never willing to indict police officers, regardless of the evidence. The concealment is probably more about protecting the department’s image than protecting the officer.

      1. Public trust. The public needs to trust the police and government for it to function. Prosecuting criminal cops would harm that trust. It’s better to keep criminal cops on the streets doing criminal things than to admit that they exist. Because that would erode the public trust.

        At least that’s the argument I’ve heard.

        1. And you probably heard that argument from someone who derides the religious for believing incredible things.

  5. Should have been part of the settlement agreement.

    1. The government can delay the case until you’re dead. They don’t care. Take their conditions or it will never be settled.

      1. So true. They will spend tax money forever to cover their ass.

  6. I will bet that the purchase of the body cameras was justified by saying it will prevent exactly this kind of skulduggery.
    Taxpayers bought them, taxpayers should control who sees the video.

  7. Body cameras are supposed to help keep cops accountable – – except when they murder innocent people, and then, fuck that shit.

    1. Body cameras are supposed to help keep cops accountable

      That’s how they sold the public on them, but really they’re there to protect the cops from occasional bogus police brutality complaints. Anytime the cameras show the cops doing anything thuggish (which is most of the time), it’s “We can’t release the footage to the public because… reasons… fuck you that’s why…”

  8. The excuse that he accidentally shot her while trying to shoot an aggressive dog really does not sound much better than shooting her on purpose. Pleading incompetence is legally better than malevolence, I suppose.

  9. Government is just another word for the mothers we choose to murder together.

  10. I have trouble trying to visualize how he could aim for a dog and hit the woman in the chest, especially after the dog had supposedly bitten him in the thigh and was “continuing to come forward”. How do you get any more forward than being bitten? How does aiming for a 2 foot high dog (jaws at thigh level) result in a chest shot?

    And what makes this cop so special to the department and the city that the coverup was worth $2M?

    1. And what makes this cop so special to the department and the city that the coverup was worth $2M?

      Maybe he has photos of the mayor and the DA in bed with someone/ something other than their wives?

    2. It’s not about this one cop. It’s maintaining the assertion that ALL shootings by cops are “good” shootings.

    3. It’s not just the cop. Once a cop is indicted then shit starts to roll uphill. Who hired him? Who did the screening? Who did the training? And so on. Basically “How did this happen?”

    4. If he’s telling the truth then it would work if the cop fell while back-pedaling away from the dog he could shoot at the dog from on his back, which could result in an upward trajectory. The dog could ‘continue to come forward’ after a bite if the cop is stepping or falling backward.

      It could also have happened if the woman was obeying his orders to “get the dog” and she’s down attempting to restrain the dog while the dog is resisting her – she could end up in any position and below the dog, particularly if she fails to restrain the dog.

      That’s almost certainly not how it happened, imo, but that’s how it could have happened. In either of those scenarios, the cop would be criminally negligent, anyway, in my opinion.

      1. Thanks for pointing those possibilities out. I assumed that because the city would rather pay $2M than risk a jury trial, the cop must have done something really stupid, and why bother trying to come up with reasonable real-world scenarios? Glad you did it anyway 🙂

  11. The city has undoubtedly seen the footage. If the city is willing to give up $2M, I suspect the footage is really bad.

    The family undoubtedly needs the money. But I sure wish I could offer to bankroll them so they could say “We’re not taking the offer. We’re going to sue you into oblivion for that footage, and we’re putting it on YouTube, and everyone is going to see what happened.”

    And after that, see what sort of penalty a jury is willing to assess against the officer / department / city.

    I’d also like to think that at the trial, the plaintiffs could bring up the fact that the city was willing to spend $2M to hide the evidence from the jury.

    1. A trial jury would never see it unless the prosecutor gets an indictment. Good luck with that. When a prosecutor wants a no-bill from a grand jury, he gets it.

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