Fifth anniversary of the murder of Fouad Kaady
This year marks the fifth anniversary of this horrendous event. The following article is but one account of that murder, at the hands of the Sandy, Oregon police, and Clackamas County, Oregon Sheriff's Office. A full, video account can be seen here : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W8WijDe5BhQ
Justice has not been accomplished, and likely never will be. The Sandy Police Department, in order to scrape the feces of former Officer William Bergin from their collective shoes, settled their lawsuit with Fouad's Family for one million dollars. Most of that money, of course, went to the attorneys (The Spence Law Firm), and to cover legal costs, but of course, the suit was never about the money, but an attempt to force recognition that the police have acted very poorly, both in the initial murder, and in the attempts to sweep the killing under the rug under the cover of claiming that the victim was on drugs (he was not), or seriously mentally deranged (being on fire does that to a person). Clackamas County finally settled, earlier this year,, which again was mostly eaten by court and attorney costs. The family has quietly given most of the remainder to worthy causes, as they have always indicated that the suit was never about the money (think about it! If they killed your brother, son, cousin or friend, would you want any money that was collected because of their callous disregard of human life?).
Anyone who believes in justice will readily see that it has not happened here, and that no amount of cash award could ever comfort this family, who have lost a loved brother, son, uncle, cousin and loved one. What is desperately needed is recognition by a court of law, that a most heinous act has been committed by those who were charged with protecting and serving us all. Due to the delaying tactics of the lawyers hired by the agencies involved, that day in court will never occur. The agencies were hoping that the legal delays would cause the litigation to outlive the litigants. The family was finally forced to capitulate to these tactics, after a long and hard battle, which took a great toll on each of them.
Fouad, we will always remember you, and we reach out with love to your family, in hopes that this will provide some measure of comfort. They are the kindest, gentlest, and most loving people that I have ever met, and I hope that some peace can come their way now that this tortuous process is complete.
To the Officers responsible, and their supervisors, we offer disgust, distrust, and a sincere hope that there is another life beyond this one, where you can atone for your actions, as you can never do enough in this life to make it right.. At least Bergin has finally been stripped of his badge, as his future actions more than proved his unsuitability for such a position of power. By now, hopefully, Willard is off the streets, and has, through his alleged daily prayers, made some attempt at convincing his Creator that he will somehow atone for this egregious act.
Fouad Kaady was killed on September 8 2005, by a Clackamas County sheriff'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.
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. This killing occurred only 28 SECONDS after the officers radioed to dispatch that they had arrived and were exiting their patrol car.
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. Of course this process will continue unaltered, as long as fellow officers, and their supervisors continue to "circle the wagons" around officers who have made dreadful mistakes, and instead of admitting the error, and apologizing, compound the error by attempting to somehow blame the victim, and the family. If we wish to claim credit for those things that we do right, we must also accept the blame, when we do something wrong. THIS WAS WRONG, WRONG, WRONG!,
One final thought: Is there anyone here who for one minute believes that Clackamas County's distinguished District Attorney, John Foote, would not be able to find a true bill and indict any one of us, if we had killed someone, or even just assaulted someone, given Fouad's obvious injuries, no matter how much we feared his blood? We would be looking at serious prison time, I assure you.
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