A July 4 assault on liberty

This is still a developing story, and the veil of lawyer-advised silence is descending, but TJIC has again been targeted by the repressive government of Massachusetts and/or his local government. This time, they’ve dragged his fiance into it, confiscating her legally owned firearms after he applied for a new MA LTC. From Tam, who has been in direct communication with the TJIC household:

Well, TJIC got his Massachusetts FID* reissued, and has reapplied for an MA LTC**.

Now the local po-po*** is surrounding his crib, wanting to inspect the premises. Without a warrant. In the suburbs of Boston. On Independence Day.

More from Tam, in various comments to her original post:

Jenn was like “There’s a cop looking at me through the window with a flashlight and his hand on his holster!”

I’m on the phone with Jenn; she’s walking through the house with the officer. They’re seizing her guns as we speak.

They’re already in contact with counsel.

TJIC himself chipped in a little info:

I had an EXCELLENT gun lawyer on speed dial. It took half an hour to get a callback on a vacation day, but after that, he was with us every step of the way.

I repeatedly refused the cops’ requests for a voluntary walk-through of the house.

I repeatedly refused to answer any questions.

The cops repeatedly told me that if I had nothing to hide, I should just allow a walk-through, and if I was a good guy, I’d have a “conversation” with them.

In the end they illegally seized my FID (just plan CAN NOT do it, but they took it and wouldn’t give it back) and they illegally seized Jennifer’s firearms. My lawyer was appalled but not surprised.

Jennifer and I have been talking about moving out of MA in 3-6 years.

We are officially looking for real estate tomorrow; I will not spend one more day than is necessary in this totalitarian hell hole.

and

At the end, some of the cops who ransacked the house tried to shake hands with me. “No hard feelings”.

I refused and said “Gentlemen, please think about what you’re doing. On the fourth of july, the day we celebrate freedom, you stole legally owned firearms from a women who is engaged to a guy who made a joke you don’t like. You are not the good guys. You are ‘just doing your jobs’. Look in the mirror. You’re the bad guys.”

Response: “I’m sorry you feel that way. Have a good Fourth.”

My lawyer says that there’s a decent chance I may yet be arrested.

And with that, I should probably go radio silent for a while.

Words do not describe how wrong this is. Tam seems to have the direct scoop for now, keep your eyes open there for new information.

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Breaking News!

The Virginia Tech Police Department has obtained a full confession in the most brazen crime our area has seen so far this year!

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Note to self: Avoid the police state of Paragould, Arkansas

They are effectively declaring martial law.*

[Paragould Police Chief] Stovall told the group of almost 40 residents that beginning in 2013, the department would deploy a new street crimes unit to high crime areas on foot to take back the streets.

“[Police are] going to be in SWAT gear and have AR-15s around their neck,” Stovall said. “If you’re out walking, we’re going to stop you, ask why you’re out walking, check for your ID.”

[...]

[Mayor] Gaskill backed Stovall’s proposed actions during Thursday’s town hall.

“They may not be doing anything but walking their dog,” he said. “But they’re going to have to prove it.”

The Constitution, you say? Probable Cause, you say? Don’t worry, the police chief has answers for that nonsense!

“To ask you for your ID, I have to have a reason,” he said. “Well, I’ve got statistical reasons that say I’ve got a lot of crime right now, which gives me probable cause to ask what you’re doing out. Then when I add that people are scared…then that gives us even more [reason] to ask why are you here and what are you doing in this area.”

See? There’s a lot of crime, so the Rights of non-criminals can be set aside! Easy!

The mayor apparently backed down a little on the severity of this police-state plan, but it looks like he still intends to have police in battle gear out patrolling the streets like some Amerikanized Gestapo unit.

I suggest the subjects of Paragould learn the phrase “Papieren, bitte!” It sounds like you’re going to be hearing it a lot. Your police department has become the standing army our nation’s founders were worried about, and your government is perfectly willing to use them to control you.

To paraphrase a great pearl of wisdom from Battlestar Galactica, “There’s a reason you separate military and the police. One fights the enemies of the state, the other serves and protects the people. When the police become both, then the enemies of the state tend to become the people.”

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* Note that the linked article is dated December 15, 2012. The town may have abandoned this plan, but I haven’t found anything to indicated that, so I am assuming that the plan is still moving forward.

[Source: Paragould Daily Press article, retrieved 1/9/13]

Quote of the Day – 2012-11-27

From Terry Pratchett’s Discworld character Commander Samuel Vimes.

It always embarrassed Samuel Vimes when civilians tried to speak to him in what they thought was “policeman.”  If it came to that, he hated thinking of them as civilians.  What was a policeman, if not a civilian with a uniform and a badge?  But they tended to use the term these days as a way of describing people who were not policemen.  It was a dangerous habit: once policemen stopped being civilians the only other thing they could be was soldiers.

- Terry Pratchett, Snuff

Emphasis mine. I don’t have much to add, it’s a pretty plain and straightforward warning.

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(h/t Firehand)

Jennifer Agee Murder Update – 2012-09-27

If you don’t remember my last post on this subject, I don’t blame you – it’s been a while. Just to refresh your memory:

Almost a half-hour before Jennifer Carter Agee was shot to death in the parking lot of a Sheetz convenience store in Roanoke on Memorial Day 2011, the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office was warned that her sheriff’s deputy ex-husband, Jonathan Agee, had a rifle and was driving to Salem to kill her.

But [then-Sheriff] Hunt told his dispatch center not to issue a “be on the lookout” alert to other law enforcement agencies, saying he would take care of the situation himself, according to a sheriff’s office radio call log. He ordered a dispatcher “not to mention anything,” that log shows.

[Source: Roanoke Times article dated 1 June 2012]

As I have noted before, it is entirely possible that Jennifer Agee would still be alive had Hunt not withheld critical, urgent information from the neighboring agencies. They could have found her before her husband did and taken her into protective custody, or they could have found and stopped him before he found her. Instead, we have an innocent woman murdered by her ex-husband in front of their daughter, and a State Trooper injured in the line of duty.

Others agreed. Back in June, after an investigation, a special prosecutor charged Hunt with the common law crime of “misconduct in office”.

Well, on Tuesday, we saw some infinitesimal measure of justice delivered, when Hunt was convicted on that charge.

A prosecutor and a defense attorney questioned more than 20 witnesses across seven hours at a bench trial Tuesday in Franklin County General District Court, all to probe one issue:

Was former Sheriff Ewell Hunt guilty of misconduct in office, based on his handling of the warnings that preceded a fatal Memorial Day 2011 shooting rampage believed to have been committed by one of Hunt’s former deputies?

Once testimony was heard and arguments made, retired General District Court Judge John Quigley took just a few brief moments to announce his decision.

“I don’t have a problem with what he did. It’s what he didn’t do,” Quigley declared, and found Hunt guilty of the misdemeanor offense.

Sadly, it’s only a $500 fine and a 30 day suspended jail sentence, not even the full sentence available. Additionally, Hunt has already filed his appeal to the Circuit Court, where the case will be completely re-tried. But if it sticks, it will at least be a permanent stain on his official record.

It will match nicely with the stain on his honour.

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[Source: Roanoke Times article, retrieved 9/26/12]

(h/t to reader Dwight Brown for reminding me about it. Thanks!)

NYPD Shoots another innocent – but it’s not negligence this time.

It was, however, fatal.

Dramatic security video released by police shows the uniformed officer, his gun drawn, positioned outside the Bronx shop’s front door moments after a 911 call. In a flash, the store manager rushes out the door. Closely behind with his head down is Renaldo Cuevas, who runs full speed into the officer, sending both men tumbling to the sidewalk.

A pool of blood appears to form on the ground the instant Cuevas lands on his back. The officer is kneeling and pointing his semiautomatic at Cuevas when the video clip ends.

I may catch flak for this, but because of how things happened, this looks to be truly an accident, not negligence. I can’t even call a Rule 3 violation, here, given the situation. From the surveillance video, it’s obvious that something from the other direction spooked the officer so that, while he was still monitoring the door next to him, his attention was mainly focused in the other direction.  So when the robbery victims ran out of the shop, he was completely surprised by them and was ready to shoot. The fact that he didn’t shoot either person intentionally is a testament to his restraint, but he didn’t have time to transition from “ready to shoot” mode when the second robbery victim came out the door and ran into him (seriously, watch the video – if you blink, you can miss it). His finger was likely still on the trigger, and the impact either hit just right to manipulate the gun in his hand so the trigger was pulled, or it triggered the officer’s “monkey grip” reflex and he pulled the trigger in the process.

This is a tragedy, but it looks like the only ones at fault are the robbers for creating the situation in the first place. I can’t blame the officer this time. Fortunately, the suspects are in custody, and are facing murder charges.

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[Source: AP article on Yahoo! News, retrieved 9/8/12]

Jennifer Agee update

A minor update to a story from last year – the murder of Jennifer Agee (link goes to my posts on the murder and scandal). From today’s Roanoke Times:

Ewell Hunt, who lost a bid for re-election last year to Bill Overton, has been charged with misconduct in office stemming from a Memorial Day 2011 shooting rampage believed to have been committed by one of his former deputies.

Hunt has been charged under common law, or law that hasn’t been codified by the Virginia General Assembly, said Carl Tobias, a professor at the University of Richmond School of Law.

[...]

Almost a half-hour before Jennifer Carter Agee was shot to death in the parking lot of a Sheetz convenience store in Roanoke on Memorial Day 2011, the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office was warned that her sheriff’s deputy ex-husband, Jonathan Agee, had a rifle and was driving to Salem to kill her.

But Hunt told his dispatch center not to issue a “be on the lookout” alert to other law enforcement agencies, saying he would take care of the situation himself, according to a sheriff’s office radio call log. He ordered a dispatcher “not to mention anything,” that log shows.

This murder, and his actions relating to it, are what ultimately cost Hunt his reelection bid. The surviving family has already accepted a settlement in their wrongful death lawsuit against him. Now he will have a permanent mark on his record that will hopefully keep him out of any kind of law enforcement forever.

The charge is a Class 1 Misdemeanor – I’m not sure if that’s an upper limit because it’s not statutory law, or some other reason – which is punishable by jail for no more than 12 months and up to a $2,500 fine. It’s not real justice for the results of this man’s actions, but it is something.

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[Source: Roanoke Times article, retrieved 6/1/12]

Open carry police encounter in Blacksburg

First, let me make it clear (for reasons to do with my private life) that it is not me in or filming this video. I got the link by way of the VCDL email list.

I’m not going to say that this unnamed carrier handled this the right way or not. I’m not sure. But I will note that with this being a college town (with the attendant prevalence of liberal attitudes) and the high-profile events that have happened here over just the last few years, having the cops come to check you out if you’re open carrying is something that should be expected. Open carry is a bit of a touchy topic around here (as Linoge noted when he visited). Another thing to remember is that all thta the officers who show up usually know is “there’s someone with a gun walking around” and that someone else was worried enough about it – for some reason – to call 911.

A couple of points. First, notice the officer as he gets out of the car. His index of suspicion is obviously pegged solidly at “normal.” You can see his left hand adjusting the volume on his radio, which is necessary because they have to turn it down when they get in the car to avoid feedback, but his right hand is not resting on or near his gun. In fact, that right arm is swinging pretty freely the entire time it’s visible. That is not the approach of a cop who has any real concern at all about the person he is approaching. (Because guess what? It’s extremely rare for a criminal, or someone with criminal intentions, to walk around openly carrying a gun. They like to try and be sneaky about things like that.)

The second point is the officer’s reaction once he gets the “silent treatment”. You can see he goes from “open and friendly” to “open and friendly but irritated” to “purely businesslike”. Considering that, ordinarily, the full silent treatment is pretty rude, his reaction is understandable. Yet he remains courteous throughout the encounter, and never becomes demanding or unprofessional.

Now, here I do need to disclose my potential bias. I know this officer from my many professional encounters with him while running EMS. My impression has always been that he is friendly, easygoing where his job allows it, and generally a good guy. I have never seen him act unprofessionally to people he has to deal with in an adversarial or investigatory capacity, or aggressively when aggression wasn’t called for, even when off camera.

I know that the person taping the encounter had no way of knowing it, but from my knowledge of this officer, and his body language in that video, I can say with pretty good confidence that he didn’t expect this to be anything more than a quick “make contact and log that he’s not doing anything illegal” encounter. He was also doing everything in his power to make it a friendly and quick encounter, and defuse any implied insult that might arise in a law abiding person from being stopped and questioned like that.

Personally, assuming I didn’t know the officer in question, I probably would have at least acknowledged the “Do you care not to speak” question. I think that was the point where he got irritated and shifted into “pure business” mode, and doing so might have avoided antagonizing someone who should be on our side, and who we want on our side. It also would not, I believe, have been anything that could be used against you legally. But I’m not going to go so far as to say that would have been the “right” way to handle it, or that the person in the video was wrong, just because I would have done something differently.

I would like to see an honest analysis from someone like LawDog or Matt G, or other LEO gunbloggers. I think it would be enlightening.

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Remember, the news media lies

… and sometimes we don’t learn about it until 40 years later.

Kitty Genovese was beaten, stabbed, raped, and killed in full view of dozens of New Yorkers on March 13, 1964. It became an infamous case, an example of urban disinterest and apathy. Nobody called the cops. Nobody cared. She was horribly killed in front of people who just didn’t want to get involved.

[...]

Or is that really how it really went? Again, not exactly.

Most of the basic elements of the story are accurate. Miss Genovese was stabbed to death while crying “help me!” by apartments containing 38 people. One witness later on admitted that he “didn’t want to get involved.” But here’s the rest of the story.

See, it turns out that the attack happened at 3am, only one person was woken up to witness it, she was only attacked twice, and one of those attacks was in a secluded location where nobody could see it.

Go. Read. Learn.

And remember how the media lies. Remember that story (any story) you saw on a subject you know about, and how they got easily researched information totally wrong? Why do you then trust them to get the details right on the very next story? This is known to many as the Murray Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect.

Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect works as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray’s case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward-reversing cause and effect. I call these the “wet streets cause rain” stories. Paper’s full of them.

In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story-and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read with renewed interest as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about far-off Palestine than it was about the story you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.

Remember all this when you hear all the news media reporting about how the “racist monster” Zimmerman “stalked and chased down” Treyvon Martin and “killed him in cold blood”. When you go and look at the verifiable facts (police reports, 911 tapes, etc.) and compare them to what is being reported by the media, two things become apparent.

  1. The media is lying through it’s teeth, by omission, by malicious misquoting, and by the use of images designed to prompt specific reactions and biases.
  2. What actually happened is not as clear-cut as most people believe.

I think Tam has the best summary of what is known.

An honest assessment would say that this is what we know:

  1. Zimmerman was out doing his neighborhood watch thing and saw Martin.
  2. He called 911 and followed Martin in his vehicle.
  3. When Martin walked someplace that Zimmerman couldn’t follow in his vehicle, he got out of his vehicle and followed on foot.
  4. ???
  5. In the process of getting his ass beaten, Zimmerman busts a cap in Martin.

The entire case turns on what happened in the ???, but don’t tell that to the media, the folks playing poker with a deck full of race cards, the victim disarmament crowd, or apparently the frickin’ President of the United States of America.

Note that the police and prosecutors are saying that they are not releasing all the evidence in order to protect the investigation and prosecution. This is normal procedure in any investigation where there is a possibility of charges being filed. So, how about everybody drink a big glass of calm the frell down and wait until all of the real facts are known before calling for Zimmerman’s public lynching? And while you’re at it try and remember how our legal system is supposed to work, too – they have to be able to prove that Zimmerman did something to nullify his self-defense claims, not just say “no it wasn’t”.

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[Source: Word Around the Net blog, retrieved 3/26/12]
[Source: Seeker Blog, retrieved 3/26/12]
[Source: View From The Porch, retrieved 3/26/12]

(h/t Firehand)

Quote of the Week

From Tam.

I’d rather my neighbors smoked a bong every day than run the risk of a dyslexic SWAT team taking a battering ram to my front door at oh-dark-thirty. We need to stop burning the village to save it.

It stands on its own, without commentary. But you should go read the whole thing anyway, because Tam is just that good.

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