Friday, October 15, 2010

Modified Limited Walkback

Vin Suprynowicz, to his credit, has not let the facts of the Erik Scott shooting be completely lost in the controversy.
He first was of the opinion that the Las Vegas Metro Police Department was on a killing spree culminating in the "murder" of Scott.
It’s been two weeks since three Las Vegas Metro cops shot and killed 38-year-old West Point graduate Erik Scott as he exited a Costco store in the upscale suburb of Summerlin on July 10.So far, the incident has generated more questions than answers.

If officials lock up the evidence so you can’t get the answers, print the questions. Erik Scott had a permit; he could legally carry a firearm either open OR concealed.
Any Nevadan can carry a gun openly on the hip, no permit required. It’s a right. Mr. Scott was under no obligation to demonstrate a “need” to carry his firearms to the store (as some letter-writers have suggested), any more than you must demonstrate a “need” to go to church more than once a week, if you so choose. 9-1-1 operators called because a Nevadan is carrying a gun in a holster should respond the same way as if someone calls in a free-roaming coyote: “Just moved here recently, have we? This is an open carry state, dear; get used to it.”Nor do I agree with those who would say, if police a shot up a luncheon meeting of the Jaycees or the Rotary Club, that “Cops are getting edgy in this town; people are just going to have to be more cautious about how they exercise their right to assemble.”
Apparently Mr. Scott, who was shopping with his girlfriend, broke the plastic wrap on a carton of bottled water so he could check to see if the bottles would fit in his backpack. He shouldn’t have done that. But is it a capital crime? If I go to Costco with a perfectly legal gun in a holster, either concealed or open, even though I never present my weapon or threaten anyone with it, will employees there call the police, report a “crazy man with a gun,” and have me killed? Talk about “customer relations”! How many front-door ambushes (complete with fake bomb scares to beat the game under the hunters’ guns) do you have to set up to win “employee of the month”?
Will the 9-1-1 operator closely question such a caller, asking, “Wait a minute, this is important: Do you mean there’s a man who’s behaving oddly and he’s brandishing a firearm, threatening people with a firearm? Or do you mean there’s a man who’s behaving oddly, and you’ve noticed he’s carrying a handgun in a holster, which is perfectly legal? This is a real important distinction for me to be able to explain to the officers we’re sending”?

I hope the 9-1-1 operator in the Erik Scott bottled-water killing asked that question; they ought to be trained to ask that question. The Review-Journal has tried to get the recordings of the 9-1-1 calls to find out, but the G-men won’t release them. I also can’t find the part of the state or U.S. Constitution that says “You can be killed at any time for failing to obey a policeman’s order,” even though letter-writers keep telling me it’s in there.
However, to his credit, he did somewhat change his mind when the facts came to light:

On Sept. 28, a Clark County coroner's inquest jury predictably found three Las Vegas police officers did nothing criminal when they shot and killed West Point graduate Erik Scott as he exited a suburban Costco store shortly after high noon on Saturday, July 10.

Medical testimony established the 38-year-old Scott was stewed to the gills on prescription painkillers when he entered Costco that day.
The story's well-known by now. Scott came to the attention of store management when he was spotted stripping the wrappers off cases of reusable water bottles and experimenting to see if they'd fit in a backpack. When store Assistant Manager Vince Lopez intervened, he noticed Scott was wearing a handgun in his waistband. He told Scott the store had a no-firearms policy.

Scott had a concealed carry permit for his .45 -- though apparently not for the .380 Ruger in his pocket. Mr. Lopez testified Scott "told me that it's a (expletive)-up policy, and he continued to say he was a Green Beret, he could carry a gun wherever he went, and he wasn't going to put up with that."

(Although he was honorably discharged, authorities found Scott had no special forces training. Nor is there any "Green Beret exception" under Nevada law.)

Costco employees called police. The first officer on the scene, William Mosher, met the assistant manager outside the store, and instructed him to evacuate the building. As 50 people filed out of the store, officer Mosher pointed his handgun at Scott's chest and shouted at him to get on the ground. Witnesses report that, after failing to react for several seconds, Scott lifted his T-shirt with his left hand and reached toward his holstered firearm with his right. They disagreed about whether Scott appeared to be attempting to draw and fire, or whether he may have been attempting to remove the holstered weapon and hand it over -- which would have been unwise, to say the least.

Scott's Kimber .45 was later found on the ground, still in its holster. Scott ended up dead, shot seven times, five in the back, by the three Metro officers on the scene. The jury was asked to determine whether the police officers acted "with criminal ntent," and found they did not. That's a sensible verdict, given the question asked.
Well, there are some snide innuendo there, but given the fact that ..."Scott was stewed to the gills on prescription painkillers.." Suprynowicz has come to Jesus and let the facts change his first interpretation of the unfortuneate events at the Costco that day. This is to be understood, Suprynowicz made his bones with his book Send In The Waco Killers. Waco is something that law enforcement is still rightly paying for, but which the FBI and ATFE have never come to terms with. Kudos for Suprynowicz for his seminal work on the issue of law enforcement misconduct at Waco. But methinks he is taking ever police shooting and, like a good polemist, making mountains out of molehills. Or, like one of Bruce Springsteen's songs, reliving Glory Days. But Suprynnowicz is an honorable man and realized his mistake in the Scott shooting, and more importantly, probably realized that it was not a Waco incident, but just a drug crazed idiot with a gun who's shooting could have done more harm to the issue of Second Amendment rights than good. I don't know if this is a calculation on his part or a realization that this was a bad issue to stake out a position. I don't know if in his heart he still thinks that the LVMPD should not have shot Scott, but he deserves the benefit of the doubt.
Bob Owens, however, has not apparently seen the light, nor the coroner's report about all the drugs in Scott's system, his history of violence, and his near insanity. Owens first said that Scott was innocent because he was a West Pointer and Army veteran, but even Suprynowicz realizes that there is no "Green Beret" exception to the laws of the State of Nevada. When will Owens realize that? It is certain that there is no flood of West Pointers rallying to Scott the drug addict's side.
It should also be noted that while Suprynowicz points out some problems with police actions, he seems to think that every gun owner is proned out by hyper-sensitive police officers when confronted with a law abiding gun carrier.
Mr. Villareale, who himself has a concealed weapons permit, reported his own confrontation with police about a year before. He said he dialed 9-1-1 on his cell phone in that earlier incident, and that before police arrived he placed both his cell phone and his pistol on the ground in plain sight. When police arrived, he lay face down on the ground and let himself be handcuffed...
But where is the statute that says we must instantly obey every shouted command of a police officer, and the punishment for failing to do so is death?

Meantime, why is the public now informed that a license to carry a concealed weapon actually constitutes a license to be made to lie face down on the ground, to be handcuffed and disarmed until police are confident they have everything under control?
I would like to point out the program Alaska State Troopers on the National Geographic Channel. They routinely deal with wide-spread legal firearms carriers in their daily work and don't "prone out" everyone they encounter with a legal gun. Nor, do most police departments, as most Conceal Carry Permit holders have experienced.
But, in the end, kudos to Suprynowicz for realizing that every police shooting is not Waco writ small. Lesson learned and I hope he holds his fire in the future until all the facts are out. But three LVMPD officers do deserve an apology from Confederate Yankee and Bob Owens.

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