Those of you who have not yet assumed internships in the Combat! office might not know my deadline schedule. My practice as a writer is governed by strict adherence to the aesthetic principle of whatever anyone will pay me to do, so my week is planned in advance. For example, I submit my weekly Indy column on Monday for Thursday publication. This Monday, I wrote about the Missoula Police Department’s application for a grant from the Department of Homeland Security, in which they cited the Rainbow Gathering as an “extremist hazard.” Yesterday evening, the Missoulian announced that MPD had withdrawn its application and apologized to the Rainbow Family. The Rainbow Family accepted the police’s apology, offered them a joint and was arrested immediately.
Props to my girl Kathryn Haake for starting this report on the two police shootings that occurred in Missoula last week with “No new information has been released in the investigations of two officer-involved shootings that left a Missoula man dead and an Evaro man injured last week.” I can hear the editorial decision in that sentence. Although we may not have more information, we got a lot more conjecture yesterday, when attorney Terance Perry told the Missoulian that Kaileb Williams had been shot “execution style” by the MCPD. Perry also says that Williams’s mother was initially told that Williams committed suicide. His obituary, which ran in the same issue of the paper as the article announcing his shooting, says he “passed away suddenly.”
As details emerge from the grand jury investigation into Darren Wilson’s fatal shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown, commentators are crying foul. The New York Times editorial board issued a scathing indictment of the decision not to indict, saying that prosecutor Robert McCulloch—“widely viewed in the minority community as being in the pockets of the police”—handled the proceedings “in the worst possible way.” The National Bar Association issued a press release “questioning how the grand jury, considering the evidence before them, could reach the conclusion that Darren Wilson should not be indicted” and called for federal charges. Meanwhile, at Vox, Ezra Klein has called Wilson’s account of the shooting “literally unbelievable.”
According to the Times, the police department of Rialto, California randomly required half of its patrol officers to wear body cameras each week of last year. During that period, officers used force 25 times, as opposed to 61 times during the previous year. Officers wearing cameras accounted for only eight uses of force. Knowing someone is (or will be) watching appears to make interactions between police and civilians less violent. I don’t want to draw any unfounded conclusions, but it’s possible that public scrutiny encourages law enforcement to adhere to its own rules. In unrelated news, a secret federal ruling from 2011 rebuked the NSA for repeatedly misrepresenting its domestic surveillance operations to the FISA courts.