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.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.
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.
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."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.
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.
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).
Labels: Mortal Decisions