COPS KILL SUSPECT FOR BUMPING INTO THEIR CRUISER
By Jon Christian Ryter
March 3, 2004
If California governor Arnold Swarzenegger wants to make Los Angeles streets safe for the average unarmed California citizens, he needs to sign an executive order that will, overnight, temporarily take about 6,000 guns off the streets in LA. If he did (which, of course, he won't), the streets of LA would be much safer tomorrow. The guns are not guns owned by honest, hard working California citizens, or even by the seedy criminal element that infests every major urban center in the world. Swarzenegger needs to take the guns out of the hands of the Los Angeles Police Department until every cop on the force has successfully completed a course in anger management. (And that from a law and order, gun rights conservative!)
The City of Angels has the deadliest, most out-of-control police force in America. Crimes perpetuated on stupidly belligerent but otherwise honest citizens by angry cops is rapidly escalating, and something very drastic needs to be done--and done quickly--to stop this trend before the epidemic of "blue-on-you" violence becomes pandemic. Violence perpetuated on the American people by the "men in blue" who are charged with the responsibility of protecting us is becoming more prevalent only because we, through apathy, are allowing it to happen.
When we read that cops (in any city in America) forcibly subdued a "suspect" and broke half of his ribs, or an arm or leg in the process, we justify that action in our minds believing the "perp"--who had to have done something wrong to be stopped by the local police--should have submitted rather than fighting efforts to subdue him. Perhaps so.
But, we think that because the "perp" is someone else. He or she isn't us. But, what happens, unexpectedly, when the "perp" suddenly is you? And your "crime" is being White in a Black neighborhood, or being Black in a White neighborhood? If you are doing nothing wrong, and you are stopped by police, and find yourself being roughly thrown against a police cruiser, or a wall, and searched...all of this happening when you know you did absolutely nothing to bring suspicion on yourself, are you going to willing submit to being rough-handled by overbearing men with badges, and perhaps even being handcuffed in the process? Or are you going to protest? You have constitutional rights, and you know it. And, more important, you did nothing wrong. And, you know it. Unless you are the world's mousiest wimp, you are going to sputter, and protest. That protest is always construed by the police as resisting arrest. Once you do it, you have just committed a crime that justifies your arrest. At that point, the cops are going to knock you to the ground, and using whatever force needed, they will then handcuff you.
And, believe me, your natural reaction, without even thinking, will be to resist. And when you do, you will be tomorrow's video clip on the national news with your own broken ribs, bloody nose or cracked skull. And those watching on TV--people like me in the comfort of my living room--will casually brush aside what is happening to you by saying, "the guy was really stupid for resisting." Because all of us law-abiding citizens know the "men in blue" are out there to protect us. And all of us know that the police within our communities would not spitefully react in anger; nor would they, we believe, attempt to handcuff someone who was not doing something wrong.
The man who was killed by LA police officers Manuel Solis, Arthuro Ramirez and Carlos Ocegueda, was apparently not an innocent victim. Nicholas Hans Killinger was a robbery suspect. He reportedly tied up a gas station attendant and stole $180. If it is established that Killinger was the guy who robbed the gas station, he definitely qualifies as one of the bad guys. But, the Thursday, Feb. 26 AP wire service report that detailed the events that transpired in LA in the early morning hours of Monday, Feb. 23 didn't mention the cops finding a weapon on Killinger, or in his car--or even that someone in one of the many police cruisers chasing him saw him throw a gun out his car window during the high speed pursuit (which, of course, would not bode well for the cops' self-defense theory).
Police spotted Killinger's car a few minutes after the crime was reported and the chase was on. Local LA TV, which finds police car chases are good for ratings--even at 3:30 in the morning--began filming the chase from traffic helicopters. After an hour or so, FOX News picked up the live feed from LA and the chase became a national spectacle. I watched part of it from my vantage point on the East coast. I tuned in about five minutes before the end of the chase. The driver tried to engineer a hard turn. The police cruisers blocked his car from the rear. The suspect's car came to a complete stop. His front wheels appeared to be up against the curb. He had to back up and turn before he could continue his flight. Killinger put his car in reverse and backed up--right into one of the cruisers. The video feed did not contain sound, so viewers watching this on FOX news didn't know that the officers fired eleven shots into Killinger's white sedan.
The car door opened, and with hands in the air, Killinger fell out of the car on the ground. FOX announced the chase was over. Because I was already late for starting work, I walked away from the TV, got a cup of coffee and fired up my trusty iMac. It was not until that night, watching one of the local LA TV stations on my satellite system, that I learned that Killinger had died from wounds suffered during the car chase in which he tried to "ram" the police cruisers.
Whoops? Ram? I beg your pardon. Try bump. From a complete stop, backing up what was no more than two or three feet, just how fast, and how life threatening was Killinger's "ramming" of a police cruiser? Particularly since none of the cops were outside the cruiser, standing with guns drawn behind the open door. Rightfully, the cops were cautious because it was reported that Killinger had a gun that was used to rob the gas station attendant.
Watching from the safety of my own family room, a nation removed from the action in LA, the white car did not appear to have hit the cruiser hard enough for the collision to show on TV, but apparently hard enough for three cops to fire eleven slugs into Killinger's car. Several of the bullets hit Killinger who died about an hour later.
Instead of telling the media that the department was investigating to determine whether the police on the scene used excessive force (since there was no way a sane and reasonable person would believe that the lives of any of the cops were threatened when Killinger's car bumped the cruiser), a LA police spokesman, Lt. Art Miller told the LA Times that the "...suspect could have ended this situation at any time. But instead, he chose to reverse his car into the officers." This is called "blue-on-blue" cover-up. The police in LA and in every other urban center in the country needs to very clearly understand that there is an inherent responsibility that comes with the shield and the gun--and that does not include the unwarranted use of lethal force. In addition, the police also need to be more cognizant of the fact that because high speed chases net TV ratings, the media's eye-in-the-sky now catches most of the high speed chases around the nation's largest cities. The chases, and the apprehensions, are being video-taped. That means police excesses--when cops get mad at "suspects" who try to elude them--are increasingly being recorded for the evening news when something goes awry.
If these three cops (one of whom--Solias--received the Medal of Valor in 1998) felt their lives were threatened enough to justify lethal force based on what I saw on TV, then they need to turn in their shields and find something else to do for a living. The City of Los Angeles needs to hold these men accountable for the death of Nicholas Killinger. They used excessive force and killed a man. Then, it appears to me, they fabricated a story that Killinger endangered them when he "rammed" their cruiser (a word that suggests both speed and force when neither were evident). Thus, they engaged in a cover-up to justify the use of lethal force. No police force in the United States can afford cops who rile easily, react in anger, use poor judgment while carrying lethal weapons, and attempt to cover-up their poor judgment by concocting a story that the news media videos contradict.
You might disagree with me on this
one, but the American people can't afford angry cops who use clubs
when switches are merited.
© 2004 Jon C. Ryter - All Rights Reserved
Jon Christian Ryter is the pseudonym of a former newspaper reporter with the Parkersburg, WV Sentinel. He authored a syndicated newspaper column, Answers From The Bible, from the mid-1970s until 1985. Answers From The Bible was read weekly in many suburban markets in the United States.
Today, Jon is an advertising executive with
the Washington Times. His website, www.jonchristianryter.com
has helped him establish a network of mid-to senior-level Washington insiders
who now provide him with a steady stream of material for use both in his
books and in the investigative reports that are found on his website.
"The City of Angels has the deadliest, most out-of-control police force in America."