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the state of mind of kaady's killers

Fouad Kaady was killed on September 8 2005, by a Clackamas County Sherriff's deputy named David Willard and Sandy police officer William Bergin, despite being unarmed and seriously injured from burns. He had evidently torn his clothes off to escape the flames of a fire in his motor vehicle.

The basic scenario is so outrageous that it has left many people completely appalled. But one thing that hasn't been talked about much is the state of mind of the cops who killed Kaady.
Fouad Kaady was killed on September 8 2005, by a Clackamas County Sherriff's deputy named David Willard and a City of Sandy police officer named William Bergin, despite being unarmed and seriously injured from burns. He had evidently torn his clothes off to escape the flames of a fire in his motor vehicle. (See  link to portland.indymedia.org for more details.)

The basic scenario is so outrageous that it has left many people completely appalled. But one thing that hasn't been talked about much is the state of mind of the cops who killed Kaady.

The officers responded to a series of calls reporting a vehicle fire and a number of ensuing hit-and-run collisions, and reports of an irrational, severely injured burn victim running naked from the scene. (See  http://www.sandypost.com/news/story.php?story_id=115654635282841200)

Officers chose to focus on suggestions that the man was "irrational" and -- they surmised -- "on drugs," as a catchall to explain "irrational" behavior, and chose to react by treating Kaady as a "suspect" instead of a citizen in need of urgent assistance.

This initial choice on their part proved disastrous. Even though they observed, by their own admission, that the man was in a "catatonic" state and incapable of following their orders, they proceeded to bark a series of senseless orders at him, including trying to force him to lie on the ground, a totally illogical demand in view of Kaady's burn injuries. When he refused to heed these commands, they immediately escalated to "less lethal" weapons (tasers), and finally, when Kaady attempted to flee, they shot him to death, citing his proximity to an unattended weapon they had left on the hood of their squad car as the reason.

It seems clear that the reports the officers received from witnesses of Kaady's behavior prior to their confrontation with him completely framed their own eventual interactions with him. Over and over again, they cited their fear of coming into physical contact with him, emphasizing that he was "covered in blood." They explicitly described their fear of contracting blood-borne pathogens, which risk they thought was heightened by their assumption that the man "must be a drug user." This fear of coming into physical contact with the man they killed helps explain their rapid escalation to force, and finally lethal force.

When the officers were asked if they could have or should have handled the situation differently or better, they responded "no."

Despite the appalling mistakes committed by the officers, it seems patently unlikely that they were motivated by bloodlust, and wholly believable that they were in fact "afraid," afraid of fantasies concocted in their own imaginations on the strength of partial and partially digested reports from previous eyewitnesses. Out of these reports they concocted a scenario of a "bloody, deranged drug addict," possibly infected with hepatitis or HIV, against whom they had to protect themselves. All of these notions turned out to be totally false.

Based on what we know so far, it would probably be a mistake to paint the officers involved in the killing as being far outside the norm. It is not at all hard to believe that many if not most other officers, faced with the same circumstances, would make the same or similarly appalling errors in judgment. Hence the quick decision by the Grand Jury not to prosecute them. Of course, however, all of this makes the situation MORE APPALLING, not less. Because the odds are that, even were Willard and Bergin cashiered, even prosecuted, the underlying social and cultural assumptions that led the officers to behave as they did would persist unaltered amongst the rest of their colleagues.

Thus, it could be useful for those who know more about the case to explore the ramifications of the state of mind of the officers, their cultural and social backgrounds and assumptions, and how prevalent the same assumptions are amongst their colleagues. Because unless these underlying mental dynamics are challenged and altered, it is inevitable that tragedies like the one that befell Kaady will happen again, if not at the hands of these officers, then by their colleagues.

I think you're right... 27.Jun.2007 15:59

mh

to a point. I agree that hysteria re: disease infected drug users was probably a part of the motivation behind their actions. I've railed here before about the MSM invented "meth epidemic" and the way that it has created another class of people to demonize and blame for society's ills. It makes it that much easier for much of the general public to feel it's OK to marginalize and just plain throw these people away too.

And though fear likely was a part of why they did what they did, I posit that it wasn't the only - or even the primary - reason. I think it was the only reason that they believed (correctly, it turns out) would pass muster with both the public and the grand jury - and that didn't highlight their dishonesty and incompetence.

If you've been following this case from the beginning, you'll see that their reasons kept evolving as time went on. First, we heard that Fouad was a wild, violent animal and couldn't be subdued. Then we learned that he was actually sitting catatonic in the road before they started torturing him with a Taser.

Then we heard about the unsecured shotguns. But, WHOOPS! Turns out that was the cops' bad, wasn't it - not only against policy and regulations (even though the internal review said it wasn't) but just plain stupid - as any Joe Blow on the street could tell you.

THEN - and only then - did we get the story about their phobic fear of blood. See? The other two excuses - er, stories - didn't go over well. They weren't getting the requisite amount of sympathy and/or apathy for Fouad's rights like they expected. So they trotted out this version.

And after seeing the film, "28 Seconds" it's pretty clear to me what was behind their behavior that day - and why it won't stop. You only have to listen to the police dispatch tapes; the ones the cops coincidentally tried to supress. Hear them LAUGH and JOKE as they delightedly proclaim "Naked guy down! Naked guy down!" It makes you want to puke and cry and scream all at the same time.

I'm sorry, but IMO, there is a huge US vs. THEM mentality out there. Not just among cops, but among politicians, corporate leaders and way too many people in the general public who have zero compassion, insight or appreciation for their good lot in life. But it's the cops to whom we give lethal weapons and the authority and discretion to use them.

After every single one of these killings by cop, we hear ad nauseum about how devastated the officers involved are. I'm sure some are. [At least I hope so anyway - but I'm a perpetual optimist.] But those dispatch tapes tapes prove otherwise, in this case for sure.

Don't kid yourself. Up here in Sandy they get off on this stuff. Watch the DVD for yourself and see if you don't agree.

discussion

What makes me ill... 29.Jun.2007 03:15

sixpack wabc@mutualaid.org

Is that the perpetual "fix-it" for a murder committed by a cop is to remedy their "lack of training", as if another 24 hours of being reminded what common sense looks like will correct the problem. I have yet to see one criminal defendant go before a judge and get sent to a training seminar to learn how to be "pro-social"---they nearly all go to prison. That IS the training the rest of us get for the choices we made, the taking of life notwithstanding.

And as for the cops "fear of touching him", they didn't have to touch him to leave him alone. They really didn't have to "subdue" him or force him to comply. Does that mean that they have an open policy of shooting people because they don't OBEY immediately? Are we okay with that policy?

Perhaps cops may need extensive training on blood-born pathogens, so that they might recognize that they don't have to kill someone who is bleeding in order to protect themselves---hell, EMT's wade into blood on more occasions than we know, and THEY AREN'T SCARED! And even if they were scared, how many times do we know of where EMT's let anyone die for fear of blood getting on them? Can't think of any right off hand...

So, why is the "sangrophobia" issue so compelling? Because we have been programmed to believe that other people's (bodily fluids) are, or may be toxic and we should avoid contact at all costs---apparently Sandy police consider murder an acceptable cost (for the victim).

or you could just see it the way I do, that they are a bunch of liars who say whatever buzzwords necessary to escape punishment for their actions...