Five before Midnight

This site is dedicated to the continuous oversight of the Riverside(CA)Police Department, which was formerly overseen by the state attorney general. This blog will hopefully play that role being free of City Hall's micromanagement.
"The horror of that moment," the King went on, "I shall never, never forget." "You will though," the Queen said, "if you don't make a memorandum of it." --Lewis Carroll


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Location: RiverCity, Inland Empire

Monday, November 27, 2006

Shades of Diallo: Walking while Black

"Clearly they were victims, and at the moment, from what I know, there is no evidence whatsoever that they were doing anything wrong," [Mayor Michael]Bloomberg said. "Period."

Michael Daly of the New York Daily News has been writing columns about the Nov. 25 shooting of three unarmed Black men including Sean Bell, 23, by five armed New York Police Department officers.

Fear of gun triggers death


Everything from the number of shell casings around the car to the absence of a gun inside it to the witness accounts suggests the police officers who shot three unarmed young men early Saturday morning did so in the mistaken and panicked belief they were in mortal danger.

The same facts and statements suggest the three young men in the car who repeatedly tried to crash past an unmarked police van did so in their own mistaken and panicked belief they were in mortal danger. One was climbing into the back of the car when he saw a tall figure in street attire approach in the early morning darkness.

"Yo, my man, come here, my man, let me holler at you," the figure was heard to call out.

The tall figure was holding something black by his side.

"He's got a gat! He's got a gat! Be out! Be out!" the young man climbing into the car shouted.

The figure was an undercover cop, but by one witness account neither he nor his comrades announced themselves as police officers until after Sean Bell tried in vain to drive away and six to 10 shots were fired.

"That's when somebody started shouting, 'Police! Police! Put your hands out! Put your hands out!'" recalls witness China Flores.

The shooting only intensified.

"That's when all hell broke loose," Flores says.

Daly goes on to write about how one White officer fired his weapon 31 times at Bell's vehicle and how the lieutenant's reaction was to duck underneath the dashboard of his vehicle while the officers in his charge kept shooting at the perceived threat that they believed surrounded them.

The stories coming in from different sources including those within the NYPD continue to conflict with each other as they do in most officer-involved shootings, in part due to the confusion of the events as well as for other reasons. The New York Post stated in its latest story that one of the officers may have fired into Bell's car and shattered the rear window leading the other officers to believe that they were being shot at.

Another eyewitness said that the police van had crashed into Bell's car and then the officers had jumped out and started shooting without shouting any warnings or identifying themselves as NYPD police officers.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg walked out of a meeting with community leaders yesterday, with much harsher words than he had used the day of the shooting. He admitted that it was possible that the involved police officers may not have identified themselves to Bell and his friends until after they began shooting.

Mayor Bloomberg's words on shooting

New York Times: Mayor calls shooting excessive


“I can tell you that it is to me unacceptable or inexplicable how you can have 50-odd shots fired, but that’s up to the investigation to find out what really happened,” Bloomberg said at a news conference after the meeting.

Bloomberg continued to defend NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly even as at least once city council member and a crowd of angry demonstrators demanded his ouster. In the difficult days ahead, it may remain difficult for Bloomberg to do so. After all, these are the kinds of shootings that can end a chief's or commissioner's career. Often enough, they are "fired" by the communities or the police unions depending on the outcome of their departments' investigations.

The officers involved in this shooting remain unidentified but all five of them have been placed on administrative leave and have surrendered their department issued firearms. Questions have been raised particularly about the "veteran" who expended two entire magazines into Bell's vehicle before he stopped shooting.

According to the department, he, along with the other four officers, had never fired his weapon in the field and had a "spotless" record which means little and is entirely dependent on the integrity of a police agency's ability to self-investigate alleged misconduct involving its own officers. After all, this is the same agency that was "stung" by the Police Complaint Center in 1999 for its failure to provide complaint forms at many of its precinct stations. In fact, in one case, a supervising officer physically dragged a complainant out of the station, an action that was caught on video tape. In seven years, it is hoped that this situation has been rectified.

Police Complaint Center says 40% of NYPD stations refused to give out complaint forms

What little information provided about the officer who shot 31 times appears here.


"He lost it. Four or five rounds maybe. But to reload? It's hard to understand. Even in the heat of the moment, it's overkill, " a law enforcement source told the New York Daily News.

And in this case, there wasn't even a battle taking place, except inside these officers' own heads. A sting operation involving the strip club where Bell and his friends had just left had somehow erupted into a frenzy of gunshots that hit Bell and his two friends and narrowly missed hitting two Port Authority officers in a nearby police station not to mention residents who lived in houses that were also struck by the officers' bullets.

The police department hasn't questioned the officers involved in the shooting, just those who witnessed it including the lieutenant who took cover in the car, apparently waiting for bullets that never came. The Queens' District Attorney's office is the one who will interview the officers who fired their weapons.

Bell's family continues to mourn him during the period of time which should be the happiest in any parents' life, the day when their son gets married. Bell's three-year-old daughter, Jada, has been given some hard information about her father's death.

The hardest part is that Jada still wants her father," said Bishop Lester Williams, who was supposed to preside at the wedding of Jada's parents.
He said that when Jada's puppy died recently, her dad told her to look to the sky, explaining, "When you see the sun, that's the puppy."

"This morning, we had to tell her, 'Daddy is taking care of the puppy. Look up and say hi to Daddy,'" Williams said.

Many people compared the shooting of Bell and his friends to the 1999 fatal shooting of Amadou Diallo by four plainclothed officers. Diallo's mother, Kaidatou, provided her perspective here.

Diallo's mom: I think it is unbearable.

She plans to add her voice to the others demanding answers. So did the New York Daily News editorial board here.

Congressman Gregory W. Meeks, who represents the area, released this statement on the shooting.


"On the surface, it is hard to explain why five police officers found it necessary to fire 50 rounds into a vehicle with three unarmed individuals inside? It is even harder to explain what compelled one of the officers to empty his clip, reload and empty a second? Even if the officers thought the men were armed, it is hard to understand why the police officers simply didn't order Bell, Guzman, and Benefield to raise their hands and get out of the car?

"Justice and truth demands unvarnished answers. If this is yet another case of excessive force then the police officers must be held accountable to the fullest extent allowed by law. The investigation must be conducted with transparency, thoroughness, and priority. "

However, at least one more witness has surfaced who casts doubt on the NYPD's version of events. Trini Wright, a dancer at the Queens club, said that after the police van had crashed into the men's car, the officers "jumped out shooting...there was no 'stop'. No 'freeze'. No nothing."

As the temperature rises in New York City, an investigation continues and a grieving family watches as a time of celebration so quickly turned into a time of mourning.

Other articles on the NYPD shooting:

New York Post: Mayor disturbed by shooting

Calls for Justice in NYPD shooting

Mayor meets with community leaders about shooting

Fox: NYPD shooting


Anonymous Professor Zero said...

Excellent post (and blog concept, Riverside needs it!).

Monday, November 27, 2006 5:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are we sure that Mayor Bloomberg and Mayor Luvridge are not the same person? Nothin like a Mayor second guessing and basically condemning an officer involved shooting before the Department can complete its investigation. I especially like the touch where he had a bunch of black people including THE REVEREND AL SHARPTON behind him. Now that is a credible political figure!!Can you say Tawana Brawley? Anyways, these old, rich white guys try to use these poor black people that they dont give a shit about as political wall mounts the same way they would hang a head of some animal they killed over their fireplace after going on some expensive safari. The funny thing is, them rich white guys are gettin played by those black people cuz they aint as stupid as old Bloomberg thinks they are. I'm not saying the shooting was good or bad. Sorry, was not there and neither was Bloomberg. Anyways, I also like how the media has tried to portray this black guy who got killed as having to have been inncoent of any wrongdoing because he was getting married the next day. I was unaware of societal law that states that he who plans on getting married the next day and all of his friends shall not engage and will not engage in criminal activity. Hey Mary, why dont you do some investigating reporting and check out the rap sheets on those involved. Maybe we can talk about that next week.



Tuesday, November 28, 2006 1:45:00 AM  
Blogger Sheelzebub said...

Jaysus. *edits out unprintable response to story*

Your blog continues to rock.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006 8:40:00 AM  
Blogger Five Before Midnight said...

Dear Cosmo Kramer:

I thought you would respond to this posting given that many of your aliases are fictional characters based in New York City. I see that since you have returned, one of your little friends who is probably a regular here has apparently seen fit to contact you and inform you that I was writing about the NYPD shooting. And here you appear like a bad cold! My, my.

Btw, it wasn't Mayor Ron Loveridge who surrounded himself with Black leaders, it was former Chief Jerry Carroll who appeared at a service at one of the local churches. His association with African-Americans after the shooting and his firing of the four officers who shot Tyisha Miller,led to several hundred of now mostly departed Riverside Police Department officers suddenly deciding they needed new hair styles, before they sent Carroll packing. You do remember that time period or was it before your time?

Btw, how is your afro doing? You know the one that you were growing for your video on the RPD to poke fun at Black people. Or was that "Serpico" talking? Where is he anyway? He did learn that the city settled with Officer Roger Sutton and turned him into a millionaire so he must be crying into his beer somewhere.

So you are returning next week? Good! Why is it that you only show up on certain days of the week anyway? Are those your days off, or don't your parents let you use the family computer on other days? That would be like, so unfair of them if that's true.

What have your buddies in the NYPD told you about this case? Do they send you messages through your secret decoder ring? Do tell.

Have a nice day,

Tuesday, November 28, 2006 9:21:00 AM  
Blogger Five Before Midnight said...

Dear Professor Zero:

Thank you for your kind words! I see they hit a nerve with my little visitor here.

Yes, Riverside definitely does need it.

Thanks again and have a nice day,

Tuesday, November 28, 2006 9:24:00 AM  
Blogger Five Before Midnight said...

Hi Sheelzebub,

Thanks for your comments! That's the reaction many people have had to what is unfolding in New York City involving this shooting. Well, except for "Cosmo Kramer" here who watches way too much television and believes that this tragedy best serves as fodder for further jokes.

Have a nice day,

Tuesday, November 28, 2006 11:36:00 AM  
Blogger Sandalou said...

I see the little man's back. Where's the roach spray?

Friday, December 01, 2006 12:03:00 AM  
Blogger Five Before Midnight said...

Dear Sandalou:

I think "little man" is probably something he may aspire to be some day, but right now, I think he is probably still a "little boy".

Thre was an officer who was called the "groin groper" because he used to greet people in local businesses in the area where he worked, by grabbing his crotch, wiggling his hand and asking women, if they could help him with it before sharing sexual jokes with them, some rather graphic. I heard several stories about his antics second hand, never having had the misfortune to be subjected to that behavior myself.

The man-of-many-aliases kind of reminds me of that guy, same energy level, same lack of maturity, same lack of impulse control and he apparently operates under the same delusion that people enjoy being on the receiving end of his behavior. The power differential between law enforcement officers and civilians often makes it hard for women to object to how the officer is conducting himself, even though that behavior constitutes misconduct.

If any law enforcement agency has or ever has hired him, then that agency's hiring practices should be examined, because I'm a little puzzled how this individual would ever pass the psychological evaluation.

Have a nice day,

Saturday, December 02, 2006 11:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

but he did be passin the psycho exam before he be gettin hired. can you be passin the phsyco exam? can you be passin the po-lice psycho exam?

with the new police contract, he be gettin paid $42.60 per hour (swing shift patrol)as of july 1, 2006. that be $88,608 per year, excluding overtime.

he also be gettin $935 per month for his health insurance (city contribution for family). that be $11,220 per year.

he also be gettin 9% PERS retirement, paid by the city, ZERO employee contribution. That be $7,974 per year.

to re-cap fo yo accounting plezure...

that be
$ 7,974

which be

$107,802 per year (excluding overtime)

and he be havin three days off every week to work at his "side business", whatever that may be, if you know what i be sayin' wink wink wink (dem ladies, do be lovin dem mens in uniform)

you is da bomb, five befo midnight. you be makin a FINE po-lice. you needs to study for dat po-lice pscho exam!

If the groin groper be makin women smell his fingers, then i agrees witch you. dat aint right.

Do i get an "A" for effort and an "F" for ?

luckily, i am not associated with law enforcment in any way, shape or form.

give me a diablo sandwich and a Dr. Pepper! I'm in a god-dam hurry!
B.T. Justice
Texarcana, Texas

Sunday, December 03, 2006 12:29:00 PM  
Blogger Five Before Midnight said...

Dear "Mr. B.T. Justice":

You know what? You're probably right about not being in law enforcement for which everyone can be eternally thankful, but you do sound familiar.

Sandralou was right. You're not only disgusting, you are boring. Too boring and disgusting to be posted in my blog, consider this your final comment approved.

Good day,

Sunday, December 03, 2006 1:06:00 PM  

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