“We are not going to let a coward who would ambush police officers change our democracy” –Dallas PD Chief David Brown
By Doug Porter
Five Dallas law enforcement officers were killed, and seven officers along with two civilians were wounded Thursday evening by a lone gunman, now identified as Micah X Johnson.
The assailant opened fire on police in downtown at the conclusion of an otherwise peaceful protest organized in response to videos released in recent days depicting Black men being killed by law enforcement.
Ironies abound amid the tragedy in Dallas, starting with the police department’s shift towards community-oriented policing, resulting in excessive force complaints against the Dallas Police Department dropping by 64% between 2009 and 2014.
The department’s tactics for covering protests reflected its community policing focus. “You have a community that is upset, that feels wronged. It’s important to establish trust with them,” Maj. Max Geron told the Washington Post. “The ideal police response to a protest is no response at all.”
And so on Thursday night, the officers around the protest wore normal uniforms, without helmets or heavy vests.
Speaking to reporters on Friday, Mayor Rawlings said he wished to “brag” about the progress his police department has made in de-escalation training.
(Probably) A Lone Gunman
Despite early reports saying as many as five individuals were involved in a coordinated attack, police are now saying only that they are looking into the possibility of other suspects.
The Times also reported that the suspect, who was killed in a standoff with police early Friday after a robot was used to explode a device near him, was a 25-year-old Dallas resident named Micah X. Johnson with no known criminal history or ties to terror, according to an unnamed law enforcement official. Citing a senior law enforcement official, NBC News reported similar details and gave the shooter’s middle name as Xavier.
“We cornered one suspect and we tried to negotiate for several hours,” Dallas Police Chief David Brown said. After negotiations failed, there was a firefight.
“We saw no other option than to use our bomb robot and place a device on its extension to detonate where the suspect was,” Brown said. “Other options would have exposed our officers to grave danger.”
The killing of the suspect marked the first known time the use by a domestic law enforcement agency of a remote controlled device in such a manner.
At an early morning press conference, Dallas Police Chief David Brown addressed how the individual involved the standoff described his motivations:
He said he was upset about the recent police shootings. The suspect said he was upset at white people. The suspect stated he wanted to kill white people, especially white officers. … The suspect stated he was not affiliated with any groups, and he stated that he did this alone.
Police have released no evidence that the planners of the protest were involved in the shooting.
“Police officers are guardians of this great democracy, the freedom to protest, the freedom of speech, the freedom of expression, all freedoms we fight for with our lives, it’s what makes us who we are as Americans,” Brown said. “So we risk our lives for those rights, so we won’t militarize our policing standards, but we will do it in a much safer way every time.”
Brown said they had an “adequate” amount of officers and were doing the right thing to shut down traffic and protect people’s right to protest.
“We are not going to let a coward who would ambush police officers change our democracy. We’re not going to do it. Our city, our country is better than that,” Brown said.
Open Carry, Open Season
Shooter Michah X Johnson was reported by witnesses to be wearing body armor.
He didn’t have to hide his weapon during the lead up to the shootings, because Texas is an open-carry state. The law says you don’t need a license or any other special identification or previous training to openly carry a long arm, such as a rifle or shotgun.
Police initially misidentified an “open carry” advocate as a person of interest. From the Dallas News:
During last night’s tragic shooting in downtown Dallas, police released a photograph of a young man they called a “person of interest” and some called a “suspect,” who was seen openly carrying a rifle during the protest.
It turned out that Mark Hughes was not involved in the shooting. He had attended the protest and said he brought his gun to exercise his Second Amendment rights. Hughes turned himself into police after his photo was released. He was questioned and later released. Now, Hughes is asking for an apology for being misidentified as a possible suspect.
In states like Texas, where the Second Amendment is often conflated with being the Second Commandment, police officers face increased danger.
In the aftermath of the mass shooting in Dallas that killed multiple police officers, there is one thing policymakers could do to prevent the number of deaths of officers on the line of duty: limit access to guns.
That was the suggestion of a study from 2015. The study, published in the American Journal of Public Health, looked at federal data for firearm ownership and homicides of police officers across the US over 15 years. It found that states with more gun ownership had more cops killed in homicides: Every 10 percent increase in firearm ownership correlated with 10 additional officers killed in homicides over the 15-year study period.
The former Congressman has now deleted this tweet:
I don’t want black men shot at traffic stops. I don’t want cops shot by snipers. I don’t want kids shot at school. I don’t want any of this.
— EM Simpson (@charlie_simpson) July 8, 2016
I’ll update this story as I have time today. Hopefully the Progressive Calendar will be ready for Saturday. I need to step away from the keyboard for a while after the events in Louisiana, Minnesota and Dallas this week.
On This Day: 1693 – Uniforms for police in New York City were authorized. 1867 – The Pacific Mail Steamship Co. fired all employees who had been working an 8-hour day, then joined with other owners to form the “Ten-Hour League Society” for the purpose of uniting all mechanics “willing to work at the old rates, neither unjust to the laborers nor ruinous to the capital and enterprise of the city and state.” The effort failed. 1881 – Edward Berner, druggist in Two Rivers, WI, poured chocolate syrup on ice cream in a dish. To this time chocolate syrup had only been used for making ice-cream sodas.
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