Never Attribute to Malice…

 

Never attribute to malice that which can be explained by stupidity. Sometimes police work involves dealing with people who do not have enough dignity to be truly evil, they just don’t think things through before they decide on a course of action. That doesn’t mean their decisions don’t lead to mayhem at times.

In light of the Roseanne Barr debacle on Twitter, the lesson might be that not every thought you might have needs to be expressed. One night on a traffic stop, my partner and I were subjected to what might be called a Twitter rant. Unlike Ms. Barr, he escaped total retribution in court; barely escaped, I should say.

We stopped a driver who had run two stop signs in two blocks. My partner walked up to the driver’s door and our subject opened the conversation with a litany of “F” bombs and, for good measure, questioned our ancestry. It got better, he became petulant and couldn’t understand why we were picking on him while all these (he used the “N” word, plural) weren’t getting our attention. He repeated that several times in case we weren’t getting the message.

As the saying goes, it is much easier to talk your way into a cite then it is to talk your way out of a cite. My partner handed him his cite, and the judge gets a copy of the cite as well. On the back of the judge’s copy of the cite, an officer can write down what the subject said during the stop. My partner included the remarks our subject made on the judge’s copy. The judge would also have a copy of a subject’s DMV record as well. Do not tell the judge you have a perfect DMV record unless you do.

About two weeks later, my partner called me and he asked if I would like to join him in traffic court on the following day. I asked him why. He said, do you remember our stop with our foul-mouthed driver? Yeah, I remember him, I replied. Well, he pled “not guilty” so I have to appear with him in court. He went on to say, let’s call him Judge John Doe, has traffic court duty this month. Now I’m enthusiastic because Judge Doe is African-American. I’m not going to miss this.

The next morning I joined the other officers and my partner in the back row of the courtroom. We always sat in the back row. My partner had made a photocopy of the back of the cite and it was passed from officer to officer, there was no laughter, just smiles.

“All rise,” came the call from the bailiff. My partner and I looked at our subject, when he saw the judge he looked defeated, shoulders slumped, and looking for the exits. When his turn came to stand before the judge with my partner, he said, “Your Honor, I wish to change my plea to guilty.” There were about 14 cops sending a telepathic message to Judge Doe to turn his copy of the cite over and read it. He didn’t, he told our subject your fine is $150 and said next case. It was probably the fastest exit from a courtroom ever seen.

Sometimes it’s good to be a cop.

There are 22 comments.

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  1. EODmom Coolidge
    EODmom
    @EODmom

    This is the only kind of story our daughter in law ever tells about her work. The funny stuff. Kind of like the noise call she picked up early when she was on patrol on Halloween. It involved some Marines in costume. After consumption of adult beverages. After returning from deployment. She loves telling the story. She loves being a cop. Some days more than others. 

    • #1
  2. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    Have you ever thought of going the fiction route like Wambaugh?  I’m guessing you have the material.  They’re probably dated now, but I used to love his stuff.

    • #2
  3. Quietpi Member
    Quietpi
    @Quietpi

    Local legend goes back to when small town Chiefs of Police themselves worked a shift, and our local chief stopped a car, I don’t know what for.  The car had four or five older gentlemen inside, and as soon as the CoP got to the window they started saying all kinds of unkind things – in Italian.  Chief didn’t say anything, returned to his car, finished the process, and of course again approached the window.  He began the usual recitation we all know, “… without admitting guilt…”  that’s right – in Italian.  The car got really, really quiet.

    • #3
  4. Dorrk Inactive
    Dorrk
    @Dorrk

    Wow, how cool that you got to pull over Mel Gibson!

    • #4
  5. Mike-K Member
    Mike-K
    @

    Have you seen Chris Rock’s video on advice to motorists ?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OEvMc-K8XHY

    • #5
  6. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge
    Fake John/Jane Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    Never attribute to stupidity that which can be explained by malice.

    • #6
  7. Boss Mongo Member
    Boss Mongo
    @BossMongo

    Mike-K (View Comment):

    Have you seen Chris Rock’s video on advice to motorists ?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OEvMc-K8XHY

    Pure gold, that.

    • #7
  8. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Quietpi (View Comment):

    Local legend goes back to when small town Chiefs of Police themselves worked a shift, and our local chief stopped a car, I don’t know what for. The car had four or five older gentlemen inside, and as soon as the CoP got to the window they started saying all kinds of unkind things – in Italian. Chief didn’t say anything, returned to his car, finished the process, and of course again approached the window. He began the usual recitation we all know, “… without admitting guilt…” that’s right – in Italian. The car got really, really quiet.

    I heard a story about three or four older ladies pulled over in the Detroit area. They were Arabs, making unkind remarks in Arabic about the officer’s probably Jewish heritage while giving the driver advice to say it was because of her “sugar.” Of course, the officer was an Arab, too, and recognized them as friends of his mother’s, so he couldn’t cite them, but he did read them the riot act in Arabic.

    • #8
  9. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Doug Watt: As the saying goes, it is much easier to talk your way into a cite then it is to talk your way out of a cite.

    My brother had one like this. At the time, he lived in a high-rise apartment building. He pulls a guy over and sees the address. The guy lives two floors below him. The last thing he wanted to do was give the guy a ticket. But the guy just kept talking and saying the wrong things…

    • #9
  10. Hypatia Inactive
    Hypatia
    @Hypatia

    Unlike unlike unlike.  My husband got pepper sprayed in the eyes for asking the cop, (without profanity, in case you’re wondering) why he had been stopped.    (It was for the dangerous infraction of having touched the center line with his wheels…) Hey:  no backtalk! Or else!

    Awww, you’re right though, anybody who dares cast imprecations should  be subject to humiliation in open court!  Why, the judge shoulda descended from the bench to wash his mouth out with soap! 

    It’s intolerable. Gee I wonder: was Justine Damond swearing at that killer cop?

    • #10
  11. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    Hypatia (View Comment):
    My husband got pepper sprayed in the eyes for asking the cop, (without profanity, in case you’re wondering) why he had been stopped.

    Was this before or after bodycams? I think the introduction of these cameras forces officers to be much more careful.

    • #11
  12. Hypatia Inactive
    Hypatia
    @Hypatia

    iWe (View Comment):

    Hypatia (View Comment):
    My husband got pepper sprayed in the eyes for asking the cop, (without profanity, in case you’re wondering) why he had been stopped.

    Was this before or after bodycams? I think the introduction of these cameras forces officers to be much more careful.

    Our local cops didn’t have ’em then.  If they had, the cop maybe wouldn’t have assaulted a guy whom he had no reason to believe was a threat.

    • #12
  13. Doug Watt Moderator
    Doug Watt
    @DougWatt

    iWe (View Comment):

    Hypatia (View Comment):
    My husband got pepper sprayed in the eyes for asking the cop, (without profanity, in case you’re wondering) why he had been stopped.

    Was this before or after bodycams? I think the introduction of these cameras forces officers to be much more careful.

    Body cams will work in two ways. One way may be to show officer incompetence, and malfeasance. The second way will be to show a suspect’s violent behavior to a jury.

    Body cams have a limited field of view. In some circumstances they may not show what the human eye sees. Attorney’s for both sides will seek to have body cam footage suppressed in evidentiary hearings for some trials.

     

    • #13
  14. Arizona Patriot Member
    Arizona Patriot
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Hypatia (View Comment):

    Unlike unlike unlike. My husband got pepper sprayed in the eyes for asking the cop, (without profanity, in case you’re wondering) why he had been stopped. (It was for the dangerous infraction of having touched the center line with his wheels…) Hey: no backtalk! Or else!

    Awww, you’re right though, anybody who dares cast imprecations should be subject to humiliation in open court! Why, the judge shoulda descended from the bench to wash his mouth out with soap!

    It’s intolerable. Gee I wonder: was Justine Damond swearing at that killer cop?

    I’m curious.  Were you present personally at your husband’s dreadful incident?

    I’m generally skeptical of claims of police misconduct without any apparent motive.  I do not say that such things can never occur.  There can be provocation that does not include profanity, from tone of voice to potentially threatening moves (such as reaching for the glove compartment, which might seem reasonable in order to get the registration and proof of insurance that the cop is likely to request, but which could also be consistent with reaching for a weapon).

    I do remember, personally, being annoyed at a couple of cops who pulled me over for speeding in my youth (and they were right to do so).  I didn’t like being caught, and my reaction was to be upset at the cop and ask (to myself) why he didn’t have anything better to do.  I no longer have such a reaction, and act quite polite and reasonable in the rare event of a traffic stop in my middle age.  I’ve been let off with a warning during the last 2 stops, probably because of my demeanor.

    Hypatia, I do not say that your husband did anything wrong.  I just don’t know, and I haven’t heard both sides of the story, so I remain skeptical.

    Incidentally, this is the same opinion that I have of the Justine Damond shooting.  I hadn’t looked into this one for several months.  It appears that the cop has been charged now, but I don’t think that we know the cop’s side of the story.  There are statements in the Wikipedia entry that a female slapped the police vehicle, and that fingerprints were taken of the rear cargo door window.  I just don’t know what happened, and the best that I can do is have some faith in the legal system to sort it out.

    • #14
  15. Arizona Patriot Member
    Arizona Patriot
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Hypatia, after coming back to this thread, I continue to be very troubled by your position on this.

    For the sake of argument, I’ll accept that your husband was dreadfully mistreated by a cop, by being wrongfully sprayed in the eyes with pepper spray after innocently asking why he was pulled over.

    Now you get a report from our fellow Ricochetti Dan of an obnoxious driver who ran two stop signs and, when caught, launched into a profanity-laced tirade against the cops, complete with racial epithets, and was not mistreated at all by the cops.  The driver challenged the ticket, then realized at the last moment that he would look terrible when the truth came out at the hearing.

    I do take Dan at his word, as he is reporting his personal experience.  This driver behaved horribly, and was about to get his comeuppance.

    Why in the world would you find this offensive?  Because you think all cops are wrong and horrible, based on the one bad incident involving your husband?

    It strikes me that this is the sort of unfair stereotyping of cops, who are overwhelmingly the good guys in my opinion, that is behind the entire dreadful Black Lives Matter movement and is a major theme of the radical Left.

    • #15
  16. Mike-K Member
    Mike-K
    @

    Arizona Patriot (View Comment):
    It strikes me that this is the sort of unfair stereotyping of cops, who are overwhelmingly the good guys in my opinion, that is behind the entire dreadful Black Lives Matter movement and is a major theme of the radical Left.

    Lets not get too excited. I have the story in my memoir book, but I had a young black guy come in with a gunshot wound that wrecked his life although he survived. He was single and met a woman at a party. He was going to drive her home and they walked out to his car. At that point, two LAPD officers came up and had him put his hands on the top of his car.

    It turned out they had staked out the woman because she had a boyfriend they were looking for. It was Johnny’s bad luck to meet her. He had never been arrested, had a good job and was raising a ten year old son by himself.

    Somebody, it was never clear who, said, “Look out. He’s got a gun!” Everybody, including Johnny turned to look and the cop next to him shot him as a reflex. Nobody claimed it was anything but an accident. There was no one with a gun anywhere near.

    The bullet got his cauda equina, the extension of spinal cord that carries nerves to his legs. And to his bladder. He ended up with having to use a crutch and carry a bottle in a brown bag for his urine. I took care of him for years. He sued the LAPD and the city. I testified for him.

    He got zero.

    • #16
  17. Arizona Patriot Member
    Arizona Patriot
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Mike-K (View Comment):

    Arizona Patriot (View Comment):
    It strikes me that this is the sort of unfair stereotyping of cops, who are overwhelmingly the good guys in my opinion, that is behind the entire dreadful Black Lives Matter movement and is a major theme of the radical Left.

    Lets not get too excited. I have the story in my memoir book, but I had a young black guy come in with a gunshot wound that wrecked his life although he survived. He was single and met a woman at a party. He was going to drive her home and they walked out to his car. At that point, two LAPD officers came up and had him put his hands on the top of his car.

    It turned out they had staked out the woman because she had a boyfriend they were looking for. It was Johnny’s bad luck to meet her. He had never been arrested, had a good job and was raising a ten year old son by himself.

    Somebody, it was never clear who, said, “Look out. He’s got a gun!” Everybody, including Johnny turned to look and the cop next to him shot him as a reflex. Nobody claimed it was anything but an accident. There was no one with a gun anywhere near.

    The bullet got his cauda equina, the extension of spinal cord that carries nerves to his legs. And to his bladder. He ended up with having to use a crutch and carry a bottle in a brown bag for his urine. I took care of him for years. He sued the LAPD and the city. I testified for him.

    He got zero.

    Mike, I’m not sure of your point.  You relate a tragedy.  I agree that they occur.  In your story, the obvious wrongdoer is the unidentified person who said “Look out.  He’s got a gun!”  I do not see how you can leap from this tragic story, to the idea that most cops are horrid oppressors generally, or horrid racist oppressors specifically.  

    You may not know the toxic nature of the Black Lives Matter philosophy.  Here is a bit from their website:

    Black Lives Matter began as a call to action in response to state-sanctioned violence and anti-Black racism. Our intention from the very beginning was to connect Black people from all over the world who have a shared desire for justice to act together in their communities. The impetus for that commitment was, and still is, the rampant and deliberate violence inflicted on us by the state.

    This is not a call to sympathy with tragedy.  It is an indictment of our entire society, and the cops in particular, as a cabal of murderous thugs eager to gun down innocent black people.  That is a vicious lie.

    • #17
  18. Mike-K Member
    Mike-K
    @

    Arizona Patriot (View Comment):
    I do not see how you can leap from this tragic story, to the idea that most cops are horrid oppressors generally, or horrid racist oppressors specifically.

    I don’t. My point was that, prior to Rodney King and the videotape, the public would not even compensate a guy who was the victim of a terrible mistake. Nobody accused the LAPD of anything but a mistake.

    If somebody trips on my sidewalk (I don’t have one in Tucson thank God), they can sue me and force me, or my insurance, to make them whole.

    Los Angeles gave Rodney King $5.7 million for minor injuries from an altercation in which he was a lawbreaker. King was a felon out on parole.

    My patient Johnny had never been arrested. His boss kept his job open for a year. He had a minor child.

    • #18
  19. Mike-K Member
    Mike-K
    @

    Arizona Patriot (View Comment):
    You may not know the toxic nature of the Black Lives Matter philosophy. Here is a bit from their website:

    My opinion of BLM in 2015. 

     

    https://chicagoboyz.net/archives/49397.html

    • #19
  20. milkchaser Member
    milkchaser
    @milkchaser

    I’m a bit disturbed that the citing officer is able to send a secret message to the judge containing possibly incriminating or just embarrassing and irrelevant testimony and this message is not made available to the defendant as he is preparing his case.

    • #20
  21. Doug Watt Moderator
    Doug Watt
    @DougWatt

    milkchaser (View Comment):

    I’m a bit disturbed that the citing officer is able to send a secret message to the judge containing possibly incriminating or just embarrassing and irrelevant testimony and this message is not made available to the defendant as he is preparing his case.

    There are two types of Offenses, crimes and violations. In the case of a crime the penalty is incarceration and/or a fine. In the case of a violation the penalty is a fine, but no incarceration.

    There are traffic crimes, for instance DUII, Attempt to Elude, Reckless Driving, Vehicular Assault, Vehicular Homicide, Reckless Endangerment. These crimes call for a Miranda Warning. You would definitely need an attorney, and in fact a judge would probably not allow you to defend yourself in court on these charges.

    There are two bail schedules for violations, one is the officer’s at the time of the stop, the other is the fine that the judge can impose in court. The officer’s fine is more expensive to ensure that you will appear in court. The judge’s fine is less expensive. Failure To Appear (FTA) will become expensive because the court will issue a warrant for your arrest for FTA. That becomes a separate charge.

    The most expensive violation fines are usually parking in a handicapped space without a permit, and a speed contest violation.

    There is nothing secret about the officer writing remarks someone makes in a lawful detention. If someone tells me that they made a mistake by blowing through a stop sign, and I record that on the judges copy of the cite if they say the same thing to the judge that will usually establish their credibility with the judge, and if their DMV sheet is clean the judge may issue a warning rather than a fine.

    More than the remarks it is the DMV sheet that can influence a judges decision. I arrested a 19 year-old for DUII, and Attempt to Elude. It was his third DUII arrest in less than 30 days. His DMV sheet was 19 pages of violations, and of course 4 traffic crimes. His first trial for his first DUII arrest hadn’t been heard in court, but it was scheduled. I was never called to testify, my assumption would be he took a plea deal. 

     

    • #21
  22. milkchaser Member
    milkchaser
    @milkchaser

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    There is nothing secret about the officer writing remarks someone makes in a lawful detention.

    I was never called to testify, my assumption would be he took a plea deal. 

    If the defendant does not see what is written, it is secret from him. He would not be aware of material that would prejudice the judge. This is especially troubling given that (a) no one remembers perfectly what is said and even slight misinterpretations could wrongly prejudice the judge and (b) The statement may contain characterizations of the events rather than mere reports (e.g. “Driver appeared nervous” – says who?)

    I suspect the plea deal required the surrender of his license.

    • #22

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