Wednesday, November 16, 2005

"Police Murdered My Son"

I remember this story breaking last April. I remember the righteous indignation of the parents as they accused the SDPD officers of "murdering" their son. I was working downtown an I remember the memorials and the banner, confidently proclaiming the PD was guilty of murder. Details were sketchy as to the shooting, and a full investigation was conducted. Eventually, the story faded from public view and I stopped working downtown, so I forgot about it. But the investigation was ongoing. The family and the PD hadn't forgotten.

The result?

The officer who fired was "not required to wait and see if Mr. Faust would shoot," Dumanis said in the report sent to San Diego Police Chief William Lansdowne on Nov. 7.

Faust's family could not be reached for comment last night.

In the days and weeks after the shooting, Faust's parents and friends organized a memorial fund and held public events to question the officers' version of events.

As Dumanis described the incident, the 1:23 a.m. traffic stop by Officer Brian Keaton was going badly. Faust was irate and playing his radio loudly while Keaton wrote the citation.

Keaton asked a passing officer, Stephen Holliday, to stop and help because Faust was "being a jerk."

When Holliday spotted the gun in a cargo pocket behind the front passenger seat, the officers ordered Faust out of the van. He physically resisted.

Keaton later told investigators he heard Faust say, "Well that's just a toy gun." Dumanis' report does not say whether Holliday heard the comment.

Both officers saw Faust reach behind the front seat. Keaton pepper-sprayed him. Then Holliday saw Faust start to raise the gun over the front seat.

"Officer Holliday said he fired because he thought Officer Keaton was going to be shot," Dumanis said.

Holliday fired three times, wounding Faust in the neck, back and left arm. Faust died of the wounds about 45 minutes later at a hospital. A toxicology exam showed the presence of marijuana and a blood-alcohol level of .06 percent.

I wonder what the family will say, now that the results are public. The officers were justified because their son resisted their order to dismount his vehicle, reached for what appeared to be a gun and continued, after being pepper sprayed, to bring the gun to bear. The fact that it was fake is irrelevant, and the investigation reinforces that - police are not required to be fired upon before firing on a suspect.

Recognizing that the "professionals" are not always professional, it is nice to once in a while see an officer do the right thing and have it recognized. Was it tragic that Faust had to die? Certainly. However, you can more easily chalk that up to his inebriation than to officer misconduct.
"Our best assessment of the situation," Dumanis said, "is that Mr. Faust was probably reaching for the replica gun to show or give it to the officers so they could see that it was not a real gun and therefore should not order him out of his vehicle."
I hear the Darwin Awards are nice this time of year...

Alphecca has another story along the same vein.

Brings to mind a quote from "Snatch"
The fact that you've got "Replica" written down the side of your gun. (withdraws his gun) And the fact that I've got "Desert Eagle point five O" written on the side of mine, should precipitate your balls into shrinking, along with your presence. Now... Fuck off.