A DUI stop in Texas (video from Dallas Morning News).
The Harris County DA’s Office answers the age-old question, “what does it take to get a cop indicted for shooting someone in this town?”
Radley Balko would — not without some irony — call these “isolated incidents;” his theory is “that this stuff happens way more frequently than what’s reported in the newspaper.”
Criminal defense lawyers know that Radley’s theory is correct. Sometimes you have to squint to see the differences between the cops and the most overbearing of our clients. Our clients don’t buy our credulity with our services, and we often recognize their stories as fiction, but as often we see that the police are making stuff up to make the case. Even a good judge can tell when the cops’ stories don’t make sense:
He talks about a gentleman running upstairs; but according to him nobody does anything about it, which I find almost incredible. I mean, I’ve seen too many of these cases. If the officer sees someone starting to run upstairs, they’re in there — (snapping fingers) — in a flash because that guy is likely to be going for a weapon. The last thing they want is someone up there shooting down the stairs at them.
The problem is in doing something about it. Pathologically, civilians tend to believe police officers over other civilians. Even when the police story is outrageous, “I find it almost incredible” is about as strong a denunciation as a judge will utter. The Blue Code of Silence puts police misconduct effectively beyond discipline. Why would a police officer not lie, cheat, and steal to reach his desired ends, whether those ends include the respect he thinks he deserves, privacy from being photographed in public, more overtime pay, or ridding the roads of drinking drivers?
All of these “isolated incidents” fit together like dots in a pointillist painting. The big picture? Give a man a sense of impunity and a badge, and he’ll find a way to abuse it.