The City Council will consider a recommended ordinance change to the city’s weapon laws on August 5 perhaps to address what happened very late one evening this past month.
Shortly before midnight on June 18, twenty-eight year old Patrick O’Meara was shot dead at a Tillicum residence by Lakewood Police.
In a follow-up story June 24, Lt. Chris Lawler stated that the four officers at the scene believed the cap pistol O’Meara was holding at the time was a firearm.
“Officers approached the residence and knocked on the door, announcing that they were the ‘Police’. Other officers were standing at the side of the residence at a window and spotted O’Meara inside, armed with a firearm. Despite repeated attempts to order O’Meara to drop the weapon, he refused and forced officers to fire their weapons,” killing O’Meara.
Now, in a letter dated July 25 to the Mayor and City Council, Matt Kaser, Acting Lakewood City Attorney, suggests the following change:
“It is unlawful for anyone to carry, exhibit, display or draw any pistol, rifle, dagger, sword, knife or other cutting or stabbing instrument, club or any other
weapon item apparently that appears to be capable of producing bodily harm, in a manner, under circumstances, and at a time and place that either manifests an intent to intimidate another or that warrants alarm for the safety of other persons.”
Both “weapon” and “apparently” are crossed out, while the word “item” and the phrase “that appears to be” are inserted.
The document may be found at this link and click on “Study Session Agenda July 22, 2013,” and scroll to pages 37-43.
The amendment here referenced would allow “the act of the display of an item purporting to be a weapon (to be) treated the same as if it were a weapon” evidently an attempt to clarify, and give strengthened support for, what happened to O’Meara and others wielding toy guns in such scenarios.
As serious as such life-and-death matters are, word-changes to address weapon violations – or “items” that shall now, if this ordinance change passes which is likely, be considered weapons that weren’t heretofore weapons – stops short, far short, light-years short of the discussion that should be taking place in city hall and in neighborhoods and across this city if not country.
Why, in the name of “protect and serve” did O’Meara have to die? And is a word or two difference the only difference that will be made per the “making a difference” logo emblazoned on Lakewood’s patrol cars?
The pat answer is cold, calculated, confrontational, and even crude: pull a weapon – now retroactively even a pretend weapon – and pay the ultimate price. About which I’ve written previously.
And does the Lakewood Police Department’s Use of Force Policy – a copy of which I have been promised early this coming week – have a preamble or mission statement the purpose of which “is to communicate both to the community and to police officers that the preservation of human life is at all times a central tenet of the police agency”?
And does the Policy’s introduction fail to instruct LPD officers “that the use of deadly force is an extreme measure to be employed only in the most limited and extraordinary of circumstances”?
These questions were raised in extensive investigative research conducted by the ACLU of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) – which was found significantly wanting – in a 2012 report that reviewed use of force policies from various police departments and law enforcement agencies in Los Angeles, Denver, Louisville, Portland (Oregon), Philadelphia, and Washington DC.
The American Civil Liberties Union found that whereas “Louisville Metro and LAPD both explicitly communicate its mission to serve as guardians of the public and to preserve human life above the use of force, in contrast, LVMPD’s introduction section does not direct officers to value the preservation of human life over the use of force.”
The ALCU recommended, in keeping with life-over-force preambles, “that an officer may withdraw to a position that is tactically more secure or allows an officer greater distance in order to consider or deploy a greater variety of force options.”
It’s what David M. Kennedy wrote in his book “Don’t Shoot,” wherein he concluded “Nobody should go to prison who doesn’t have to,” any more than anybody should be shot who doesn’t have to be.
In other words, wordsmthing, word changing, deleting a noun here and adding a phrase there, isn’t what “making a difference” should mean.
Not when life matters. Not when community matters.
Sue M says
Well said, David.
Bruce L Bronoske Sr says
“When life matters…” What of the life of the officers of the law? This man undoubtedly knew that by not dropping his ‘weapon’ he was taking a chance that the officers might fire. If my son was one of the officers, I would not want him taking a chance with someone with a weapon – real or perceived real. O’Meara took that chance. O’Meara paid the price. And, It was his choice… his decision! Sad (or maybe not) but true! I would rather have a police officer return to his wife and children than watch another funeral of another first responder who was doing his/her duty. When you do stupid things, you sometimes have to pay the stupid tax!
David Anderson says
Bruce, We’ll know soon enough this week, given a copy of the LPD’s Use of Force Policy has been promised, if in fact “life matters” in the verbiage of the department’s preamble which is where, according to the extensive research conducted of the Use of Force Policies of police departments across the country by an ACLU investigative team, such an emphasis belongs – specifically whether life was valued over the use of force both in print and in practice.
We’ll also learn, as I wrote in my article, whether – at least on paper – and at the scene the officers took steps to as you say “do their duty” – one of which, as again recommended as the result of research, is whether officers took steps to de-escalate the situation not only by command but by retreat.
A preamble that declares forthrightly tactics that employ and exhibit preservation of life at all times and the use of force under only the most limited and extraordinary of circumstances is at issue.
To turn your worst case scenario around in which you suggested officers could have been hurt or killed had it been a real gun, by the same token had the officers the protocols recommended and utilized by police departments across the country O’Meara would be sitting in jail not lying underground.
Slugo XYZ says
Talk about blow hard. I do love it when a guy who just loves to listen to the flatulence spewing from his own mouth goes on and on about what could have been, what should have been and then uses adjectives like he’s John Steinbach as some sort of smoke screen for the fact that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
Here is how I see it. I grew up in a suburban neighborhood of a really big city. I wanted for plenty but never missed a meal. I could have turned to drugs and crime or abused alcohol and lived off of society’s dime contributing absolutely nothing of any value except maybe a child (that I see sometimes but honestly, who is better off without me). But I didn’t. I grew up, productive, contributing, or at the very least, making my own way. I have stumbled and I have fallen but I’ve always gotten back up on my own and continued moving forward. David paints a picture of a potentially troubled young man who should have been given a second chance. The police should have “retreated”? Really? What if the object in that man’s hand had been real (who knew except the man)? What if he had killed everyone else in that house and then fired indiscriminately around the neighborhood endangering my children, your children and everybody else the troubled young man could gain access to or within range of this item in his hand? Maybe the officers should have quick drawn their weapons, shot the gun out of this man’s hand, spun them around 3-4 times, blown the smoke off and re-holstered? I saw it on the Lone Ranger!
Maybe the cops should have forgotten every previous contact with that young man where he proved his willingness to resist or fight? Maybe all police officers should also be trained in social services and offered soft, soothing tones to ease the troubled mind of the SUSPECT (not victim) in this incident? Maybe the officers should have used their psychic powers and predicted what the suspect was going to do and forced him to drop whatever was in his hand using their mental powers? Yeah.. I pushed it a little far but I’m reading the crap David Anderson is writing because he somehow feels like he can write garbage with lots of adjectives and adverbs and somehow he might know what he’s talking about?
What you do is take personal accountability out of the equation but liberals love to do that. Don’t blame the suspect for his bad choices (one after another after another). Blame the police because they chose to go home that night rather than have a flag draped over their coffin. Yes! Patrick goes to jail and all it costs us is one of our officers! THIS WAS NOT A GOOD GUY. Patrick is lying in the ground because he made a very, very bad decision in a blink of an eye and police did what they were trained to do when confronted by a person with potentially lethal means to do them or others harm. You want to shepherd the community but what did you do to help Patrick? You want to armchair quarterback now but maybe we should blame YOU. Why didn’t you intervene in that man’s life and save him from the mean police? Why do so many of you act like this incident started when the officers opened fire? You have missed about ten or more steps in this long saga. That makes you as irresponsible as the dead guy only you do it under the guise of a shepherd.
David Anderson says
Slugo XYZ says
David? You’re kidding right? The ACLU is who we all turn to when it comes to self-defense? You want Police to use less than lethal means against a firearm? You seem educated but your ineptitude here is staggering. You are upset that a member of your flock made a bad decision and was killed as a result. But where was the shepherd? At home in bed? Writing to the Suburban Times? Why weren’t you out there helping him with his inability to refrain from crime or drugs? He was 28 years old so you Reverend, had plenty of time to save him from himself but clearly, your tool of choice (thousands and thousands of useless words) did not work so you want to criticize the organization left to fix your failure? How do you get off blaming the police who simply tried to protect your neighborhood from a person who ever so clearly slipped through your fingers? You want to blame people who would probably prefer nothing to happen during their difficult shift in your area of expertise. How dare you? You want to blame the people who arrive in chapter ten of this man’s declining saga? You need to look at all the people who witnessed that nearly three decade spiral to his demise. The police were merely forced to react to your failure. Spare us David. Your verbosity is a crime in and of itself. You probably need to step back and evaluate your personal failures before you start blaming others. There is a distinct lack of accountability here.