Conffederate
Confederate

September 23, 2010

The Erik Scott Shooting: Update 2

Comments on the initial article have raised a number of questions that deserve clarification. Perhaps additional clarification of what I learned in my years as a police officer about the police and the world in which they live and work will be useful.

I am no more reflexively pro-police than I am anti-police. I am certainly, as a citizen, against official corruption of any kind. As a former police officer, I am more aware than most of the factors that might tend to corrupt individual officers and police organizations. The police are handicapped in that they are restricted to recruiting solely from the human race. As in all human endeavors, most cops are average, some are below average and some few are excellent. Most officers and agencies are honest and dedicated, taking seriously their oaths to defend and uphold the Constitution. Some, unfortunately, are not and do not. I have no first hand knowledge of the police of Las Vegas or their agency and its leadership. I just donít know whether itís an honest or corrupt organization or some mixture of the two. However, I, and others can draw reasonable inferences and conclusions about it from its observed behavior and actions while being always willing to be persuaded by additional facts.

Itís important to understand that line officers and administrative officers are often from two different planets. For working cops, most of the stress of the job doesnít come from working with the public, but from working with other cops, particularly administrators. In competent, professional agencies, everyone works together as a team. In dysfunctional, corrupt agencies, paranoia and anger reign as everyone is locked in a constant struggle for favor, power and dominance. In such agencies, particularly in large cities, administrators tend to be hired for their political views and loyalties to elected officials rather than for their competence and loyalty to the Constitution and equal enforcement of the law.

Itís also important to keep in mind that in dysfunctional agencies, the worst traits of human nature, those formally and informally suppressed in competent agencies, tend to be manifested at every level. Among these are the tendencies to see life through an ďus against themĒ lens, and to abuse power. The reality is that unless one is a police officer, itís almost impossible to understand the pressures, professional and social, of the job. Itís not the kind of job that can be left at the office, ever. These pressures do tend to isolate cops from the general public. Good cops handle this rationally and calmly and donít tend to view the public as the enemy while simultaneously understanding that there are inherent social issues. They also wield their authority, which is considerable, with restraint and humility. It may surprise many to learn that one of the hardest things for many new officers to learn is how to accept and properly use the inherent authority of their position. Most are not power hungry monsters dying to abuse the public and donít yearn to misuse their authority.

No officer in a competent police agency wants to be involved in a shooting. Yes, itís human nature to seek excitement, and many cops will admit to being adrenaline junkies, but they understand that the consequences of a shooting, no matter how legitimate, are severe and last a lifetime. They expect that they will be treated as criminal suspectsóthey do not for a moment expect that anyone will cover for their mistakes--and that even if a shooting is completely justified and no criminal charges result, they will almost certainly be sued by survivors of the victim who will be portrayed as a saint regardless of their actual background. Any officer who indicates a desire to get into shooting situations is a real concern for and danger toward honest, professional cops.

In dysfunctional agencies, itís quite the opposite situation. Petty local politics can have an enormous effect on law enforcement. There are classes of local citizens who are essentially immune to arrest. Administrators tend to see officers as barely sentient troublemakers who must be tightly controlled to avoid mistakes. Officers resent the lack of trust and respect and are constantly, and wisely, looking over their shoulders. Weak people with few or no leadership skills and faulty knowledge and experience are appointed as supervisors because they are easy to control. Officers know that when someone complains about themócommon no matter how good an officer isóthey cannot know in advance if theyíll be fairly and professionally treated or thrown under the public relations bus. Does this sound like many dysfunctional workplaces? It should, but when youíre in a business that actually deals in life and death decisions on a daily basis, itís rather more serious. Even in dysfunctional agencies, corrupt cops can never be entirely sure that their superiors wonít turn on them any second.

Regarding firearms, most working officers fully support the Second Amendment and have no difficulty with citizens carrying concealed weapons. Every competent officer understands that anyone they meet could be carrying a concealed firearm and acts accordingly, with reasonable caution appropriate to each situation. Police administrators, particularly those of large, urban agencies, tend to have exactly the opposite viewpoint. Some would be very happy to disarm the entire population if they could get away with it.

The fact that working police officers almost uniformly support civilian concealed carry, and deal with that issueówithout violence--every day, makes the behavior of the Las Vegas Police even more puzzling. We still have no idea of the content of the 9-11 call that forged the first link of the chain that led to Erik Scottís death, but for officers to act as they did, there are two primary possibilities: (1) They were acting under the impression that Scott was ready to start shooting any and everyone at any second, or (2) They were not in control of themselves and their weapons due to poor training, panic, malice, inexperience, or any combination of these and other factors. The possibility that Scott was a hair-trigger, raging bad guy who not only drew his weapon but pointed it at the police as police spokesmen have claimed cannot be absolutely discounted, but considering what is known at the moment, seems unlikely.

A number of those making comments have expressed concern about the taking of video resources from Costco. Implicit in some of their concerns is the idea that Costco should have adopted an adversarial stance with the police and required them to obtain a warrant. All issues relating to search and seizure of private property are governed by the 4th Amendment, which is explicit in the requirements for warrants, but which does not require a warrant for every search and seizure. This follows from the idea that individuals are protected from ďunreasonableĒ searches and seizures and that there is, therefore, a class of searches which are inherently reasonable and do not require a warrant.

It should be kept in mind that Costco could have, if it wished, refused to turn over any recordings or devices. At that point, the police would have had two options: (1) Seize the recordings and devices anyway under an exigent circumstances exception to the warrant requirement, or (2) Obtain a warrant. In order to pursue option one, the police would have to be able to show that unless they seized the materials immediately, there was a substantial risk that the evidence would be altered or destroyed. If one assumes that the officers in this case are acting to cover up criminal negligence, they would surely seize first and apologize later. A warrant in this case would surely have been issued by any judge and if the police had a legitimate fear of tampering while the warrant was being obtained, could have posted officers (a common practice)óit appears that there were more than enough presentóto prevent such tampering until the warrant arrived, a process that would be expected to take an hour or less. However, most businesses want a good relationship with the police whether they consider the police to be corrupt or not as the police provide several valuable services for them. Costco likely did not think of objecting to the taking of the materials. If the police ask (Iím assuming they did) and the citizen agrees, no warrant is required. One can legitimately argue that Costco was acting against its own interests in willingly surrendering the materials, but in this case, the end result was a foregone conclusion and resisting would have only slightly delayed the seizure.

The issue is slightly more interesting in the case of a citizen who might have recorded events on a cell phone or video camera. The police would be able to argue with somewhat more plausibility that a citizen unknown to them, as opposed to long established business, would be more likely to damage or destroy evidence, and the same processes of seizing the materials would apply. Might a citizen make copies, post them on the Internet, even send them to their lawyers for safekeeping before turning video over to the police? Certainly, unless there is some specific statute that would address the issue, but thatís quite uncommon.

If police video cameras recorded the events, things become really interesting. If such video exists it has certainly been examined by the police in minute detail. However, absent specific court orders to produce such video, whether its existence is ever acknowledged is an open question. If one assumes that the police in this instance are carrying out a cover up, such video would only be acknowledged and made available if it unambiguously supported the police version of events. Suppressing even the knowledge of such video would in the very least constitute contempt of court, and probably, a crime in most states.

Another concern related to the officers shouting commands at Scott, and suggested that their commands were not intended to resolve the situation peacefully, but to confuse witnesses into supporting the police version of events.
There is a shred of truth in this idea, but not in the manner implied. Competent training in this facet of police work requires that one officer, and one alone, issue commands, and that the most effective command when the suspect is initially confronted is ďdonít move.Ē Officers are told to do this loudly, clearly, and slowly giving the suspect sufficient time (which can be seconds) to process the command, if safety allows. This is done to control the situation and to minimize mistakes. Every officer understands that the clearer and more simple their commands and actions, the more likely witnesses are to correctly remember, and if the officers act professionally, this will benefit everyone. I need not mention that some officers are not professional and that some act in bad faith, cynically playing for onlookers the better to cover their malfeasance. I have to believe that readers can understand that the potential for bad, malicious behavior is present in any human endeavor, so I need not repeatedly offer it as a disclaimer. Based on many years of experience in similar situations, my best take on what actually happened is that three or more officers were likely so adrenaline fueled that they began yelling whatever came to mind and likely werenít aware of what their fellow officers were yelling, if they heard anything other than their own voices at all. In these circumstances, Iíve seen officerís voices raise an octave or two as they screamed mindless obscenities rather than rational commands at a suspect.

Yet another concern revolved around the police practice of handcuffing suspects theyíve just shot as soon as possible and leaving them restrained until, and possibly even after, itís safe for medical care. Some were also concerned that the police apparently did not themselves try to treat Scott. Unless an officer is a certified EMT or paramedic, few if any police agencies will allow them to engage in medical treatment, particularly if other medical professionals are on the scene. This doesnít mean that an officer would be required to withhold direct pressure to a badly bleeding wound or refuse to provide CPR, for example, but if an officer is providing medical treatment, he is not fulfilling his primary duties. It is also essential that suspects be restrained, even if they are not an immediately apparent threat. Human beings are amazingly resilient, and someone who appears unconscious one moment, may suddenly leap to their feet and inflict great harm on officers or medical personnel, even when mortally wounded. This does seem cold hearted, but to those who, like the Shadow, know what evil lurks in the hearts of men, and who have learned that lesson the hard way, itís rational and necessary. If the police abuse this procedure, if they inflict unnecessary pain or unnecessarily delay medical treatment, they are reprehensible and criminally liable, but that does not invalidate the necessity or wisdom of this policy.

On the new development front, Scottís father has posted extensively (http://erikbscottmemorialblog.blogspot.com/) on the drugs that would likely be found in Erikís system. That any drugs at all were present will tend to be supportive of the police version of events, and will certainly be played that way by the police, and possibly some elements of the Las Vegas press. William B. Scottís account indicates that Erik Scott suffered from spinal damage likely incurred during airborne training, which is certainly plausible, and that he was under treatment for intractable pain. As a younger man, I sometimes scoffed at those who suffered from debilitating neck and back injuries until, that is, I suffered a neck injury on the job. I scoff no longer as each turn of my head feel and sounds like a bag full of gravel. William Scott also suggests that the medications Erik was taking were all obtained by legitimate prescriptions. These assertions are easily proved or disproved through the testimony of his attending physicians. Whether the police rely on such direct, legitimate testimony or produce spin doctors, so to speak, to paint a differing picture may also help to clarify police intentions. The Coronerís inquest is scheduled for this week in Las Vegas, and Iíll update what I can after that event, if it occurs.

Some have suggested that the police acted with malice aforethought, in other words, planned Scottís killing before it occurred. Iíve suggested that the most serious charge might be manslaughter, which does not require such a demanding standard of proof. While itís true that premeditation may be formulated in seconds before a criminal act, with what is known at the moment, it seems that the police may have acted negligently, but not with premeditated malice as specified in the language of most statutes, which would be necessary for a murder conviction in most jurisdictions. As the information available in this case currently stands, it remains most likely that this is a classic case of one error or misunderstanding after another building inexorably to an avoidable death.

Posted by MikeM at September 23, 2010 12:37 AM
Comments

"The issue is slightly more interesting in the case of a ***citizen who might have recorded events on a cell phone or video camera.*** The police would be able to argue with somewhat more plausibility that a citizen unknown to them, as opposed to long established business, would be more likely to damage or destroy evidence, and the same processes of seizing the materials would apply. Might a citizen make copies, post them on the Internet, even send them to their lawyers for safekeeping before turning video over to the police? Certainly, unless there is some specific statute that would address the issue, but thatís quite uncommon."


I'm not following you. Are you saying it is legal/appropriate for police to confiscate the cell phone videos of citizens who may have recorded this shooting? Or is it iffy?

Keep in mind, I'm not trying to flame you or anyone. I commented earlier in the first thread that I was pretty sure that the police didn't need a warrant to confiscate witnesses cell phones. I would guess because they are evidence or something.

If you can clairify this, it would be appreciated.

And if there is a lot of variation between different states and jurisdictions about this, OK, I can understand that.

Posted by: ed at September 23, 2010 02:01 AM

While I always try and keep a wait and see attitude, I appreciate your continued well balanced comments on this LEO involved shooting. Your obvious knowledge of the potential back-story is most enlightening. Please continue to cover the emerging data / facts / spin.

Posted by: Del at September 23, 2010 06:27 AM

Dear ed:

Sorry if I was less than clear. According to the 4th Amendment, the police can seize just about any private property upon a showing that they have probable cause to believe that it's evidence of a crime and they must, on a warrant, particularly describe the items to be seized and places to be searched. Again, not all searches and seizures require a warrant, particularly those under emergency circumstances. In other words, if the police don't act immediately, without a warrant, the evidence almost certainly will be, as opposed to might be, lost.

Of course, if the police don't know about a citizen recorded video, then the matter is up to the citizen's conscience. I hope this helps.

Posted by: mikemcdaniel at September 23, 2010 08:23 AM

"It should be kept in mind that Costco could have, if it wished, refused to turn over any recordings or devices. At that point, the police would have had two options: (1) Seize the recordings and devices anyway under an exigent circumstances exception to the warrant requirement, or (2) Obtain a warrant."

Or NOT SEIZE IT AT ALL but ask politely for a copy like normal people! Good God are you really this incredibly benightedly stupid? You think you're defending cops? With every word you make yourself look worse!

Posted by: Rollory at September 23, 2010 08:44 AM

I think a lot of clarity would be achieved if the tapes from the CostCo 911 call were released. It would establish what the officers thought they were facing. If the caller said "we have a man with a gun" is quite different than "THERE"S A NUT WITH A GUN IN THE STORE!"

Posted by: Quilly Mammoth at September 23, 2010 08:51 AM

I think the police will find that they will increasingly have trouble "seizing" information that is digital. Already there are iPhone apps that stream video live to a server and distribute feeds via twitter immediately to friends so it can't be easily confiscated.

Posted by: steve h at September 23, 2010 08:57 AM

I seems to me, given the current state of the story that the first shot was most likely a mistake and the rest of the shots to Scotts back were most likely the result of poorly trained officers overreacting to the first shot ...
Once the facts all come to light, besides the officers involved any other police official who lied to the public should be punished to the full extend to the criminal justice system and anyone who made misleading statements should be fired ...

Posted by: Jeff at September 23, 2010 09:28 AM

@Rollory

"However, most businesses want a good relationship with the police whether they consider the police to be corrupt or not as the police provide several valuable services for them. Costco likely did not think of objecting to the taking of the materials. If the police ask (Iím assuming they did) and the citizen agrees, no warrant is required."(emphasis added)

Rollory, you really ought to start reading these posts before you start shrieking insults. As with the prior post all you're doing now is letting everyone know that you're ignorant and only casually acquainted (at best) with logic

Posted by: James Felix at September 23, 2010 09:37 AM

I appreciate your expertise and continuing perspectives on this case VERY much.

One disagreement. It's been my experience with the Police Culture that an officer is not really considered an REAL officer unless he has fired his weapon and killed a criminal. Note the whole subset of human beings referred to as "bad guys" when you are listening to LEOs talk. "Bad guy"s can have anything done to them and are without civil rights or humanity. Also notice the epidemic of dog shootings nationwide by LEOs, often without cause or provocation. Police officers MUST make their bones.
I think the belief that unless you have blooded your weapon you aren't a real veteran LEO is nationwide and a factor in this killing in LV.

Posted by: Robert at September 23, 2010 09:38 AM

Hey Mike,

Your clarification for ed seems less clear to me.

Are the police acting within the law by confiscating cell phone recordings by witnesses to the shooting?

Can the citizen legally refuse?

-----

Quilly,

I believe a copy of the video would be viewed as potentially tampered evidence--they need the original for court.

BTW, did MikeM shoot your dog? Where did you sign up for the I Hate MikeM club?

Posted by: mockmook at September 23, 2010 09:39 AM

Sorry Quilly, I meant might response for Rollory.

Posted by: mockmook at September 23, 2010 09:43 AM

I appreciate your perspective on what should be done by a well trained member of the police. I believe, though, that the whole point is that LV does not have a well trained PD. The fact that a man with a holstered weapon (which no one seems to be challenging) is dead seems to indicate that these officers were poorly trained. As in most cases like this, it ultimately comes down to a leadership problem; hence the attempt at a cover-up.

Posted by: charles at September 23, 2010 09:54 AM

"...many cops will admit to being adrenaline junkies..."

This is the key phrase. When adrenaline junkies are combined with a culture that encourages a siege mentality and discourages accountability bad things will happen.

It's not bad apples, it's the orchards.

Posted by: Jeff at September 23, 2010 09:59 AM

'Regarding firearms, most working officers fully support the Second Amendment and have no difficulty with citizens carrying concealed weapons.'

not in my personal experience and not in the experience of Pete Eyre and other activists. in fact, I'd argue that cc makes cops feel that they must be more aggressive toward citizens because 'anyone could be carrying'. I've been a firefighter/medic for over 20 years and have been on over 15,000 911 calls... I've never heard a cop voice support for an armed public.

there are lots of videos showing cops acting against people with concealed carry and exercising their rights to open carry.

Posted by: Marty at September 23, 2010 10:02 AM

IT's just somehow wrong for one of the parties in an investigation of this serious a nature to have possession of all the evidence. Evidence fro Costco recordings, 911 center recordings and any dashcam vodeos should all be placed in the hands of a disinterested third party.

But it's too late for that. So who can trust what that one party says? How can this be anything but lose-lose for the po-po? Well, they have guns...that's how.

Posted by: Bill Johnson at September 23, 2010 10:07 AM

Rollory stated re. the CCTV seizure "Or NOT SEIZE IT AT ALL but ask politely for a copy..."
I'm afraid that just doesn't work. Original recordings are important, because copies could be more easily edited without it being obvious (depending on how the video system works). I've found defence lawyers are not above this themselves. By way of example, I've seen a defence lawyer present still images from a CCTV recording, with some scenes magnified. Later we realised the images were out of chronological order and appear to have been run through Photoshop.
I guess the store can keep a copy, and modern digital systems often allow this, but the police will always need an original, date stamped.

Posted by: Wilbur at September 23, 2010 10:22 AM

Have any of you people noticed a civilian testified that Scott pulled his gun and pointed it at an officer before he was shot? A young woman, no less.

Nice Kangaroo Court you have here. No need to wait for facts to come out.

Posted by: Paul Fels at September 23, 2010 10:23 AM

The elephant in the room is the recording of the 911 call. Its non-release smells to high heaven. Is there any theoretical justification for keeping it secret?

Posted by: tom swift at September 23, 2010 10:49 AM

The initial reports were that the video recordings could not be recovered from the disks. The chances of several disks all failing at the same time are less than the chances that a meteor would hit the Costco security room to destroy the recordings.

If the recordings were destroyed, the only reasonable possibilities are that 1) the police destroyed them or 2) Costco employees destroyed the recordings.

If the police destroyed the recordings, it seems likely that it would have been done to conceal bad behavior by police officers. If a Costco employee destroyed the recordings it could be that the 911 call described an armed, drug addled lunatic destroying property and threatening people with a gun while video of actual events would not support this, making Costco liable to lawsuit and the Costco employees criminally liable for causing the death of Mr.Scott.

If the LVPD were expecting to deal with an armed, violent madman based on a 911 call, it would mitigate but not excuse their culpability. Peaceful citizens should not be killed by the police. At a minimum, LVPD needs a better procedure for dealing with these sorts of situations and that procedure needs to be taught to its police officers.

In the mean time I am going to stay out of Costco and stay out of Las Vegas because I don't want to be killed either by malice or by accident.

Posted by: Mark at September 23, 2010 10:50 AM

Here is a recap of the inquest being held in Las Vegas this week.
http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2010/sep/22/coroners-inquest-erik-scott/

Posted by: inspectorudy at September 23, 2010 10:50 AM

Paul Fels, did you notice that the young civilian woman was a Costco employee? A part-time employee who could probably be fired at will? No possible bias there?

I think what people are wanting to see is actual video and audio evidence, because people have agendas and eyewitnesses in stressful situations are not always reliable.

Posted by: VKI at September 23, 2010 11:03 AM

Costco had a video SYSTEM. Which means, that to protect themselves, a backup copy should have immeduiately been created for themselves if the original were handed to the police. In fact, a copy should have been created for the police. A copy made at the time is as good ads the original- it's viseo.

The fact that video taken at the time by Costco is "unuseable" screams coverup.

Posted by: Harold at September 23, 2010 11:12 AM

ed, please read the link sent in the last thread from Carlos Miller's blog, in which attorneys who specialize in this area explain why you don't have to give your camera to the police. Note that they are *attorneys* whereas the poster here is a former cop. Sorry, "attorney" wins every time.

http://carlosmiller.com/2009/01/21/do-police-have-the-right-to-confiscate-your-camera/

With digital files, there's no difference between "original" and "copy". Again, I refer to the BART shooting of Oscar Grant for an example. There, police officers stole all cameras that they could get their hands on, an act recorded by phones which weren't stolen. The DA had to ask citizens to come forward with any video they had, oddly the police didn't have any. See how that works?

Most phones store the videos on internal memory, meaning you have to "make a copy" to get it out of the phone. In the Grant case, the DA made copies of the videos for use in the court case. All of you talking about "copies" and "timestamps" are very confused about how computers work. "Tampering" is a separate, unrelated issue.

To see how tampering works, read this:

http://carlosmiller.com/2010/04/26/and-the-lies-continue-to-mount-in-the-maryland-police-beating-case/

To summarize, police beat a guy in Maryland after a ball game. He wasn't doing anything, they just attacked. Cell phone videos captured the incident, and the officers are now awaiting trial. When the victim's attorney subpoenaed surveillance video from cameras in the area, the police claimed that the particular camera pointing to the area where the beating took place wasn't working. Later, they came up with the video, but oddly the two minutes when the beating took place were blank.

Again, this is why you do not trust police with the video evidence when police have committed crimes. First, post the video on youtube. That is the absolute first thing you do. Next, *make a copy* for your own keeping. If it looks like a big case (such as a killing), give it to local news organizations, too. Finally, make a copy for the DA and take it directly to the DA's office. Hand deliver.

As to the rest of McDaniel's writing, it's actually fairly balanced but still comes down on the side of hoping for the best of intentions on behalf of the officers involved. I don't believe this was premeditated, but the fact is that it was their guns that killed a man who posed no threat to them. Regardless of everything else, they are responsible for his death. They are also responsible for their reprehensible actions after shooting him, including handcuffing him (sorry, Mike, I don't buy your reasoning, and reasonable people wouldn't - he was shot 7 times) and then handling his body roughly when the ambulance showed up.

As to Paul's point, they've come up with one witness who saw a gun? And she trumps everybody else who didn't see a gun? Everybody says he had his hands in the air - even the original author doesn't dispute this.

Posted by: Michael Chaney at September 23, 2010 11:24 AM

"Have any of you people noticed a civilian testified that Scott pulled his gun and pointed it at an officer before he was shot? A young woman, no less.

Nice Kangaroo Court you have here. No need to wait for facts to come out."

Have YOU noticed that other witnesses have testified that no such thing occurred? And isn't demanding to see the video and hear the 911 call the exact opposite of not waiting for the facts?

Posted by: James Felix at September 23, 2010 11:30 AM

Hmmmm.

1. Anybody on prescription painkillers has no business carrying a firearm. I've been on perqs on occasion due to post-surgery and even then I avoid going to the range no matter how much I'd love to.

2. "almost lethal amounts of morphine and zanax"?

Anybody else find that phrase odd? I'd suggest an second opinion from an independent coroner.

3. The witness who saw the guy draw a weapon before being shot was evidently a part-time employee of ... Costco. This doesn't necessarily invalidate the testimony but I didn't see any other witness testifying the same thing mentioned anywhere.

4. Seems like a major effort to portray/reveal Scott as someone addicted to prescription drugs.

Posted by: memomachine at September 23, 2010 11:32 AM

"I guess the store can keep a copy, and modern digital systems often allow this, but the police will always need an original, date stamped."

There is no difference between the copy and the original. None. If police demand I surrender the original storage medium, I will politely offer to work with their IT staff to make a copy and confirm that the copy is bit-for-bit identical to the original, will sign an affidavit to that effect, including the MD5 checksum and original timestamp of the file, and will testify in court to back up that affidavit. They will have their chain of custody beginning with my testimony as the camera operator. But that's only if they do it my way.

Without my cooperation in testifying as to how that video got onto the original storage medium, there is no reason to believe that it was not tampered with. I will explain this to the police, and inform them that if they insist on taking my camera from me, they will no longer be able to get me to sign that affidavit, and in fact I will inform the attorney for the suspect that I will offer this testimony: As an IT professional, because that camera left my custody before I could compute and log the checksum, I can not state with certainty that the file saved on the storage medium is what I recorded.

If they are unmoved, and continue to insist I surrender the camera, I will demand that I be allowed to go through the available tools on the camera itself and view all the stored metadata about the video, record same to paper receipt, and have the officer sign it. If he refuses to provide me even this minimal protection, I will have to inform the suspect's attorney that I will testify to that effect. A jury hearing me describe the officer's refusal to catalog the evidence I was handing to him where we could both see it would take a very dim view of the veracity of the video.

Posted by: The Monster at September 23, 2010 12:23 PM

Seems I've read that Scott was shot multiple times with .45's. Four times in the back and one even in the arm pit showing his hands were raised. There were other shots fired into his torso in the frontal area but it those in the back in the one in the armpit thats grabs my attention. Those cops had better have some film showing a gun in Scott's hand or an example is going to be made of them. You don't kill someone because he's "carrying a gun." You don't shoot people in the back when they are down usually and if you have film it had better be forthcoming.

I just had lung surgery and was on oxycodone for awhile, they make you pain free not homicidal. Sounds like the cops were on something like an adrenalin rush.

Posted by: ronnor at September 23, 2010 12:26 PM

Yeah, the "lethal" amounts almost has to be intentionally misleading. Lethal for someone who has never taken them. For someone in a pain management program, they would be more properly called "normal" or "everyday" amounts.

The only thing he had lethal amounts of in his system were copper and lead.

Posted by: Phelps at September 23, 2010 02:00 PM

Michael Chaney and The Monster hit the nail on the head for the most part dealing with camera and such.


The police under no circumstances can take your cell phone, camera, etc without giving you a hand receipt for it period. Police who take cameras and such without giving a hand receipt have one goal... hide the evidence and legally they should be charged with a host of crimes... however its unlikely even in the best of cases cops are held to the same standard and laws as the public at large(or even they're own policies).

Under many states laws in fact a person recording a police crime is not legally allowed to give it to the police "on scene" due to the fact that would be giving evidence to suspects and interfering with a police investigation. Once again though police who live by a different set of laws above normal ppl are not held to that standard and are rarely if ever charged.

Posted by: robotech master at September 23, 2010 02:07 PM

@ Tom Swift,

The lack of disclosure probably should be more appropriately directed to the DA's office I would figure. They have probably been apprised of the situation of possible police misconduct and the possibility of charges against officers. At which point the prosecutors office would take ownership of the matter and direct that no release be forthcoming.

But The dept has bigger issues. My legal counsel is an old bull dog type. I have heard him more than once reply to a threat of a suit with -- "Be my guest you have the right. But be aware that having brought suit you open yourself to deposition. You will find discovery worse than going to trial. Still interested?" Only for the LVPD, when the wrongful death suit comes they will be flayed open like a boil.

Posted by: JohnMc at September 23, 2010 02:38 PM

mockmock,

Done properly, a copy IS what is introduced in court. Digital forensic labs have a defined set of procedures and software that assure that the digital copy is a bit for bit exact match to the original. There are ways to access storage in read only mode. Copy the contents bit for bit to a mated copy of the storage media and certify that the whole procedure is untampered as the software records all the steps that were performed. The original would then be returned to evidence lockup for safekeeping. Everything else done to the copy would be documented.

Keep in mind that in many cases the defense can request an independent evaluation of the original or observe the original extraction when performed.

Posted by: JohnMc at September 23, 2010 02:47 PM

Some of the best initial radio commentary by to locals, both with Police backgrounds one of them with Las Vegas Metro PD. Some insightful comments regarding the coroner's inquest as well.

http://archives.davechampionshow.com/Champion_1_071310_150000.mp3

Posted by: Difranco at September 23, 2010 03:42 PM

Tell Scott's father to keep his mouth shut; we, the public, have no need-to-know the specifics, such as his son's medications. The place for revealing this type of information is in court, through a lawyer with documentation. Especially in this case, where all the official forces are arrayed against Erik Scott & family.

Posted by: Jason Roth at September 23, 2010 04:10 PM

Everyone who really believes someone would lie under oath for her $10 a hour job at COSTCO, raise your hand. I have a bridge I'd like to sell you.

Now there is testimony that Mr. Scott pointed a gun at a man whose dog bit Mr. Scott. Another one of his constitutional rights, I suppose?

Posted by: Paul Fels at September 23, 2010 04:54 PM

Your definition of malice aforethought being "planned ahead of time" is not correct. Malice aforethought can be developed in a fraction of a second. Murder can be mitigated to manslaughter if the malice aforethought was developed in the heat of passion, but the malice aforethought is there nonetheless. The definitions of murder and its elements (the killing of one human being by another human being with malice aforethought) don't change just because one of the parties was a police officer.

Posted by: Tinlaw at September 23, 2010 04:54 PM

"Original recordings are important, because copies could be more easily edited without it being obvious (depending on how the video system works)"

You're about 5 to 10 years behind the technology curve. This is not true for modern digital video.

Posted by: bw at September 23, 2010 06:17 PM

Paul Fels:

Not for $10/hour would somebody lie but we have no idea a) what other possible motives (love, etc.) might factor in which the young lady may value more than absolute honesty, b) whether or to what extent the witness was influenced by what she heard other people say they saw.

Witness testimony is consistent only in it's unreliability.

She may, for example, be the girlfriend of the security officer who placed the 911 call and would do anything for him, like perhaps remembering things she didn't actually see.

Security: "OMG, Jill, did you see it? He pulled a gun on the cops!"

Jill: "Oh, uh, yeah, I saw it, too!"

In this case, Jill initially just wants to be "in" on all the excitement only to find the cops putting her on the stand. So she "remembers" the event as such to protect her reputation and/or that of the security guy.

So, there are plenty of reasons why one witness recalls events differently than others.

Posted by: Director at September 23, 2010 06:44 PM

The last poster is correct. I am only questioning those who are making this troubled drug abuser the poster boy for our gun rights.

Posted by: Paul Fels at September 23, 2010 06:47 PM

I will be praying that the truth comes out, whether at the trial, or later in possible Court case to expose the truth. This father must take this to authorities who will have the video shown.

LV is a wicked place; I would have no problem believing the police there are corrupt and trigger-happy. These 3 cops should be haunted by their murder of this man for the rest of their lives. The death penalty should be one of their possible punishments.

Who wants to go to LV, and run the risk that they are the next victim of these killers?!

Posted by: Liberty's Daughter at September 23, 2010 09:38 PM

@ Paul Fels at September 23, 2010 06:47 PM

I love how you claim he was a drug on the strength of zero evidence right after claiming people who want to see the video are rushing to judgement. You're quite entertaining.

Without the video, one woman's testimony that Scott pulled a gun is utterly outweighed by the testimony of other who saw no such thing, but who report the police executed a man for no reason. The fact the police not merely seized the video but that they won't reveal even the 911 call and claim the video is ALL unusable, this is evidence on it's face the police are concealing misbehavior on their part.

Posted by: Tom Perkins at September 23, 2010 10:43 PM

"drug on" != "drug abuser on"

Posted by: Tom Perkins at September 23, 2010 10:44 PM

Another good link for those of you like the original poster who are naive enough to think that giving your phone laden with "evidence" to the police is a good idea:

http://hillsboro.katu.com/content/hillsboro-officer-involved-collision-sparks-mobile-phone-rights-questions

Let me set up an analogy to make it easy. Let's say a guy robs a liquor store one night, and on the way out the clerk says "Hey, sir, wait! Here's our only copy of the surveillance video - keep it safe so that if you're caught and have to go to court you can turn it in as evidence against you."

That's about as dumb as a box of hammers, right?

So, if the police officer commits a crime, that makes him a criminal. Hopefully you can finish putting the rest of it together.

Posted by: Michael Chaney at September 24, 2010 12:12 AM

Posted by: Michael Chaney at September 23, 2010 11:24 AM

Hi Mike.

I think we are discussing two different things here.

Confiscation of cameras that are recording/have recorded the police in their normal day to day duties...

VS

Confiscation of cameras that are recording/have recorded the police or others in the act of committing a potential crime.

I read your link and poked around that blog. It appears to me that it is usually illegal to confiscate the camera of some guy who is video taping the police or a government building or what not during the course of the day. It's a first amendment issue.

HOWEVER...

If there is a crime being committed (by the police or by a citizen) and a person is video taping it, that tape is now evidence that can prove the guilt or innocence of whoever is involved. And thus can be seized as evidence.

The question then is...do the police need a warrant or not?

I think that what I and what the author are saying is that since there is a definite chance that this person may leave the scene and not turn over that tape, the police are legally allowed to seize it without a warrant.

Now... I know that if the police are the ones who are doing something that could be construed as illegal, or is illegal, that they have a lot of motivation to seize and destroy this video evidence.

Posted by: ed at September 24, 2010 03:24 AM

Many posters here have an odd idea of what proof is. Name the person who has testified they saw the police execute Mr. Scott. The coroner testified about the drugs.

But of course only the police and their evil minions ever lie, right?

Neither you nor I really know what happened at COSTCO that day. The difference is I can admit I don't know. In your case, haters gotta hate...

Posted by: Paul Fels at September 24, 2010 09:03 AM

Paul Fels:

You really need to read what you yourself have previously posted. Your own bias is obvious:

"I am only questioning those who are making this troubled drug abuser the poster boy for our gun rights."

You state, unequivocally, as fact, that he was a "drug abuser."

You are thus discredited as the impartial observer you do a bad job of pretending to be here.

But, do feel free to continue!

Posted by: Bill Smith at September 24, 2010 10:39 AM

Once again, I didn't come up with stuff out of the blue. Check the Las Vegas papers for what the coroner and MR. Scott's own father said.

I never said I don't have a bias, everyone does. I'm saying I don't know what happened, and you don't either. I'm saying even the police share ALL the constituition rights that you enjoy.

Including a fair trail and proof beyond a shadow of a doubt. Since so much of this case depends on what the officers who fired THOUGHT at the moment they fired, you will never know the truth.

Won't stop you from thinking you do. Hate on...

Posted by: Paul Fels at September 24, 2010 11:12 AM
I think we are discussing two different things here.

We're not. If you had actually read Carlos' blog post (in which he quotes attorneys) they state very plainly that your video recording of a crime is not "evidence" and cannot be "seized". The only exception is if the camera itself is involved in a crime, such as child porn.

A warrant is required, and if you have recorded an officer commit a crime, then you need to hang on to the recording and require that they get a warrant. See my earlier post for proper procedure. Note that "giving the recording to the officer or his pals" doesn't appear at any step in the procedure.

ed, you obviously came to the conclusion that the police can "seize" cameras or video recordings and you show little interest in reading up on the subject.

Posted by: Michael Chaney at September 24, 2010 11:41 AM
You're about 5 to 10 years behind the technology curve. This is not true for modern digital video.

It was **never** true of digital video. Digital video can always be imperceptibly compromised. It's impossible to tell the difference between a video file created 10 years ago and today if they use the same codec because even file system data like timestamps can be altered.

Posted by: Mike T at September 24, 2010 01:32 PM

Michael Chaney,

I actually posted that link for him in the previous thread. I think Ed is just being obtuse. Miller interviewed several prominent attorneys on the subject and they all gave clear and convincing arguments about it.

Posted by: Mike T at September 24, 2010 01:34 PM

"..."Original recordings are important, because copies could be more easily edited without it being obvious (depending on how the video system works)"

You're about 5 to 10 years behind the technology curve. This is not true for modern digital video.."


BW, that might be the case if they actually have a modern system, but the vast majority of stores use systems that are several years old. I must have dealt with hundreds of bits of seized CCTV evidence over the years, and the average age of the systems involved is very old indeed, very few of them are modern.

A large proportion of them were unreliable, out of focus, looking in the wrong direction, or just plain not working at all too.

Posted by: Wilbur at September 24, 2010 10:10 PM

It is interesting. But all this it is really true?

Posted by: auto dealers at September 27, 2010 01:26 PM

Very insightful article. Thank you for taking the time to share your insights and experiences. Thank you for the comments and discussion on this tragedy. As evidenced by the comments, many of us see things differently, but that is part of being human. I pray that God will bless us with learning the truth soon.

Posted by: DisabledVeteran at September 28, 2010 06:56 PM