A Nurse with a Gun

Saturday, January 10, 2009

New Year Blood in New Orleans

As fireworks exploded over the Big Easy on New Year's Eve, 22-year-old Adolph Grimes III pulled up to his grandmother's home near the French Quarter after a five-hour drive from Houston, Texas. Grimes, who relocated to Texas with his fiancée, Shae Whitfield, after Hurricane Katrina, couldn't wait to get home with their 17-month-old son, Chris, and ring in the new year with friends and family. "He made it at 12 o'clock exact, with a second to spare," said his father, Adolph Grimes Jr.

Three hours later, Grimes lay dying on the sidewalk half a block from his grandmother's front door, with fireworks giving way to the hue of flashing police lights.
It was New Years, 2009. Adolf Grimes had a concealed carry permit. He was legally packing his 9mm handgun. He had never committed a crime.

The last acts of Adolf Grimes will likely result in manipulation of fact and torquing of reality to dovetail with a preordained conclusion in a heated debate over responsibility. Adolf Grimes was shot 14 times, including 12 times in the back, according to Orleans Parish Coroner Frank Minyard. Violently killed in the streets of New Orleans while waiting on his cousin. The first homicide of 2009 in New Orleans. Gunned down by New Orleans police officers. 48 spent brass casings were recovered from the scene.

Police Chief Warren Riley himself has stated he isn't confident that Adolph Grimes knew the members of a street clothes roving narcotics squad approaching him with guns drawn were undercover police officers. Nine officers have been reassigned. When a police shooting is being investigated, this is not unusual. Citing an ongoing internal investigation, the shooting report and the names of the officers involved have not been released. I suppose it has to be massaged first. According to Thom Kahler,
In the "Superintendent's Major Offense Log" for crimes between 6 a.m. 12.31.08 to 6 a.m. 1.1.09, an unnamed officer in car #4144 wrote in the gist for report #A00426-09 for a code 108 (officer's life in danger) that "officers approached a suspicious vehicle, the subject inside the vehicle pointed a gun at the officers. Officers fired at the subject. The subject expired on scene."

There was no mention of the subject firing a gun, only pointing it at the officers.

Then the next day in the Superintendent's Log, a "Sgt. McMullen" in car #4150 revised the early report, now saying "Officers approached a suspicious subject. The subject fired at the officers, the officers returned fire striking the subject. He expired on scene."

This time the report said the subject fired a gun.
At the time of the shooting, police were reportedly searching for an armed suspect a few blocks away. The car involved resembled the black Toyota Camry driven by Grimes. After he was killed, Adolf Grimes' car was impounded inside a chain link cage designed to preserve evidence. Two days later police discovered a shotgun and "extra ammunition" in it's trunk. How convenient. Police claim it took that long to obtain a search warrant in the case. This morning I personally have 1200 rounds of 45ACP, 2200 rounds of 22 long rifle and 200 rounds of 38 special in the back of my Jeep. I also have a black plastic shooty thing that is a defender of good against evil. On my hip I have a miniature version of a fierce 1911 military weapon. I suppose Little Darling and I could be painted as the next John Allen Muhammad and Lee Malvo if the NOPD surrounded my vehicle at Brookshires and killed us in a hail of bullets.

The FBI has announced they will investigate the case for any civil rights violations. Geoffrey Alpert, a University of South Carolina authority on police use of force, says undercover police officers have an "extra burden" to identify themselves when engaging a citizen at gunpoint. Theoretically, that may be true. The reality is the citizen often pays dearly if they are unable to swiftly and correctly identify what they perceive as a hostile and lethal threat to themselves.

As a result, it is incumbent on officers of the law, as the initiators of the contact, to take into account that honest citizens may be carrying legal weapons. It is incumbent on police departments to recognize that honest citizens have a legal right to protect themselves from a hostile and lethal threat. Just as police officers have a basic right to defend themselves from what they perceive as a imminent lethal threat, so do citizens.

Police officers engaging unknown citizens with guns drawn must positively identify themselves as officers of the law to prevent unjust killings. Shouting "Stop! Police!" while advancing towards the armed citizen is not enough. Any street thug can shout that. Flashing lights on the dashboard of a beat up and dusty maroon Ford Taurus are not enough. A gold badge swinging on a chain underneath a battered parka is not enough.

Procedures regarding searches for suspects that may be taken into custody at gun point need to be examined, and revised. Procedures must take into account that a lawful citizen has the right to arm themselves and protect themselves from what a reasonable man would perceive to be a lethal threat. It should be recognized that officers dressed like common street thugs will be seen as street thugs by the citizen. To protect the lawful citizen from an unjust death, perhaps only uniformed officers in marked cars should be used for the actual apprehension of the suspect. In this case, the undercover officers could easily have held fast and radioed for marked cruisers and uniformed officers to approach their person of interest. When the paths of a legally armed upstanding citizen and plain clothes undercover police officers intersect, the results can be tragic.



Local ministers with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference have set up a hotline for info pertaining to the NOPD shooting of Adolf Grimes and other future issues at 504-853-7252 (504-TEL-SCLC).

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17 Comments:

Blogger Brambor said...

I might have missed it but was he shot while sitting in the car or was he shot outside of his car? I'm thinking he was shot outside of the car. He might have been approached by tough looking undercover dudes at midnight and of course by reflex reached for his gun to make sure it's ready in case of confrontation. Perhaps then wanted to get back into the house...and got pumped with lead doing that.

The story might be entirely different but it makes me think about what the dangers of 'escallation' are. Bad things happen when people get scared and cornered.

9:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

X I'm usually with you, but I keep thinking about a young man with a year and one half old baby, not married, and is out after driving 5 hours from Houston at 3:00 am alone. Why was he a block away from his family's house? What is there to do at 3:00 am that you can't do at 8 pm?

If I am a honest black man, in the crime filled, homicide city of NO, I get myself off the streets when the criminals take over at night...period.

10:34 AM  
Anonymous Wolfwood said...

I'm with you: in an age where a huge number of people walk around with those cell phone thingies in their ear, a person doesn't even have to make an obvious movement to call something in.

I actually had a debate with my roommate about this sort of thing after he claimed there was no reason to ever shoot a cop or ATF agent. I pointed out that it doesn't take a lot of resourcefulness to come up with an official-looking uniform and to shout "POLICE!" when kicking in a door. He also pointed out that neither of us does illegal stuff and so we shouldn't expect a no-knock warrant. I asked what would happen if there were a meth lab discovered at a location with a similar address to ours and it got jumbled in translation (e.g. 123 Main instead of 132 Main). He and I aren't even "on notice" that by doing something illegal we could be legitimate targets for arrest.

Like you said, though, the police don't seem to be trained to think that others could be legitimately armed. The sad thing is that I see the end-game of this being a revocation of CC "for the safety of officers."

1:14 PM  
Anonymous joseph said...

There are occasional incidents where fake cops assult/rob people. The problem for me, a civilian, is that anyone can buy a police jacket and a generic badge. If someone kicks my door in at 1 am and yells "police", what am I supposed to do? People in this situation who shoot (and it turns out to be police) are going to be prosecuted and jailed.

1:56 PM  
Blogger Old NFO said...

Sad story, but not unusual at all today. I fear it will get worse rather than better with the new adminstration and crackdowns on 2A.

3:24 PM  
Anonymous Jack said...

What would each of us do when some people in "plain clothes" or "street clothes" surround your car, perhaps with hands on their holsters, if they aren't pointing guns at you already? What would we do?

3:33 PM  
Blogger Anthony said...

@ Anonymous:

I do not question his motives for being out at 3am, especially on New Year's Eve/New Year's Day. There are two scenario's that come to mind, both of them real to my life.

1st in the wee hours of the morning after New Year's I can also be found driving, leaving my grandmother's house or my aunt's house. The whole family gets together to celebrate another year gone and to look forward to a new year. This year it was 5am when everyone finally left, we all live within a 1 mile radius and thus at any given time may be only blocks away from our homes.

2nd my cousin has a young son whom sometimes has trouble sleeping. It is often that the only way for the baby to fall asleep is to drive him around in the car and then hope to get him inside before he wakes up again. When this happens in the middle of the night my cousin can be found only a few blocks from home with a baby in the car.

The scenarios are not unlikely, and a legally armed citizen being approached by men dressed like thugs, with guns drawn, has the right to defend himself. The fact still stands, the police ended an innocent human life.

Do not get me wrong I normally support the police, but in this case, the police failed and a family is suffering, a child will grow up fatherless, a women will be a single mother...and not because of drugs, or gang violence, or bad decisions, but because the police failed.

Thanks for bringing this to everyone's attention X, sometimes we need to be reminded of things like this.

4:06 PM  
Blogger Montie said...

Xavier,

As a 23 year police veteran who has spent nearly half that time in plainclothes, I have to agree with you about the need for the police working plainclothes to identify themselves VERY clearly.

I have always worried about mistaken identity shootings, either by other police officers, or armed citizens. This is why it is incumbent upon officers working plainclothes to utilize uniformed officers to make an initial contact if at all possible.

The problem that I have seen is that officers who get into undercover assignments are usually high achievers, who get cought up in the excitement and adrenalin rush of making dangerous arrests, and are loath to call in a uniform to make a collar that they feel they could make themselves.These narco officers should have simply staked out the vehicle and Grimes until a uniformed officer could get there (after all, weren't they only a few blocks away looking for a suspect vehicle similar to Grimes' vehicle?).

I am very suspicious of the wording change in the reports. If shots were fired at the officers, I can assure you that the initial report would have made a big deal about it.

NOPD has never had a good reputation in the law enforcement community in this country. I did not go to New Orleans to help after Katrina, but I have many friends here locally who did, and they were not very impressed with the quality of the NOPD.

If Grimes was able to qualify for a concealed carry permit, I would think that he was a person of character, not some gangbanger itching to sling lead. I tend to believe that the officers failed to properly identify themselves in the rush to take down someone they believed was a dangerous armed suspect, not thinking that a citizen might perceive THEM as dangerous armed suspects.

4:43 PM  
Blogger GEM said...

The site of Grimes' shooting is right where I exit I-10 on my way to work. Passing through this neighborhood is the main reason I'm armed. This could easily have been me.

5:02 PM  
Blogger Oleg Volk said...

A relevant discussion with legal citations on resistance against cops.

1:28 PM  
Blogger HypothermiaDreams said...

Attacking and killing an innocent person is murder. These cops should face trial for murder and have at least the same consequences as would be almost certain if the civilian had successfully defended himself. Though in that case, he would have been justified and therefor not a murderer.
Last I checked, cops were supposed to "Protect and Serve" and to consider everyone "Innocent Until Proven Guilty".
These cops did not do all they could have reasonably and safely done to preserve the life of this innocent victim, so they are murderers.

2:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Attacking and killing an innocent person is murder. These cops should face trial for murder and have at least the same consequences as would be almost certain if the civilian had successfully defended himself."
HypothermiaDreams has it exactly right. When a large majority of cops really, as in "not theoretically", face the same legal risks for their mistakes as the rest of us, we will see far fewer shootings of innocent people.
That guy could have been me.
Daniel K. Day
Verification word: "reves", French for "dreams", as in "Dream on!" Heh.

7:45 PM  
Blogger JimB said...

I have a friend who is a NYC cop. He works in internal affairs ina group who specializes in Police Impersonators. This is a big enough problem for NYPD to have a special taskk force to combat it.

7:01 AM  
Blogger Jack said...

There's been some interesting comments and discussion here, as well as the all too typical anti-police trolls who have already decided the cops murdered this guy for no reason.

Fact is, none of us were there and none of us really know what happened. There are a whole host of questions yet to be answered.

I'm all about asking those questions...no complaint there...but let's not jump to conclusions. Calling this a murder is not only premature, it's simply knee-jerk and stupid. If that offends someone, well, too bad.

Undercover operations are by their very nature dangerous and fast paced. Unless you've done that type of work (I have, by the way, for years) you probably won't really understand how it differs from uniformed patrol functions.

Were procedures ignored? Did those cops fail to identify themselves? Did "sympathetic fire" lead to them shooting 48 times? Was the report altered or did one officer see something the other didn't? Was Grimes drunk? High? Does it matter if he was? Did he have warrants? Was he engaging in some other criminal activity that might cause him to resist police?

We just don't know, do we? What we do know is a young man is dead, and the rush to judgement has commenced.

7:10 AM  
Blogger J.R.Shirley said...

Rushing to judgement is ill-advised, but if shots were fired- as another commenter already noted- that WOULD have been in the initial report.

2:00 PM  
Blogger Tanner said...

I have to join Jack in asking everyone to slow down a bit. I think it is totally excessive to call these officers murders while having just a brief glimpse of the facts. I would like to make a few points.

These officers were trying to apprehend a violent criminal. A violent criminal who was driving a vehicle described to be similar to the one Grimes was driving. This wasn’t a case of cops looking to shake someone down or cops committing criminal behavior. They were trying to do their job.

Intent has a lot to do with how we classify murder as opposed to manslaughter. Nothing in these articles indicates that the officers were doing anything other than trying to arrest a violent criminal.

Were there errors in tactics made which lead to an innocent person dying? Judging only from what we read, that looks likely, but that doesn't even come close to justify calling the officers murderers.

Another point, if he was shot 12 times in the back, it was highly unlikely that he was seated in the car. Most police duty handgun ammo will not effectively penetrate the outer layer of a car and then through the driver's seat. In fact, sometimes rounds don't make it through the headrest.

I don't understand the issue with the round count being fired either. 48 rounds sounds like a lot, but there were 9 officers firing. Xavier made a post a few days later detailing how it took several hits for a citizen to take out a man beating a police officer. So to say that on average each officer shot 5 times isn’t excessive on its face, if you understand what is going on during a gunfight.

Also, there is no easy answer for this problem. Waiting for uniformed officers isn't always an option. You can't make a bright line distinction and require that. A person who goes to the trouble to buy a POLICE shirt and a fake badge can very easily spring for uniform pants and a shirt just as easily.

This was a tragic incident. One that should be fully investigated and made fully public. If police reports have been falsified to make the shoot look better, then those officers should be prosecuted to the fullest extent. A good investigation should bring any attempt at a cover up to light. By opening the investigation up to the feds, it looks like they are trying to be as transparent as possible, which is a good thing.

Lessons should be learned from this tragedy. Both by the police and also by armed citizens.

I fail to see the value though in demonizing law enforcement for trying to do their jobs. I personally make a distinction between errors made during the heat of battle as opposed to corruption. Until we have evidence to the contrary, these officers deserve the benefit of the doubt, not our scorn or ridicule.

2:46 PM  
Blogger SpeakerTweaker said...

Anonymous,

Last time I checked, ALL of Louisiana - even the crime-ridden parts of New Orleans - were still part of the United States of America, where the citizens do not have to have a reason to be anywhere at any time. If I want to be in the worst part of any city, then that is where I will be. I had better not have to worry about some bunch of plain-clothes cops ASSuming that I'm there for drugs, hookers, UFO landings, etc.

If a gang of thugs with badges (which I'm sure is what the victim saw them as while drawing his last breath) thinks a guy might be there for drugs, there's no reason a uniformed officer in a squad car can't be called in for the occasion. Then the plain-clothes guys are already there to back him up as things go south.

Innocent or not, "he shouldn't have been there" is NEVER, EVER an excuse. Period.



tweaker

10:12 PM  

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