Undersheriff McMahill touted the restraint of the officers for the media. “He tells us he’s going to commit ‘suicide by cop,’ then he fires three to five more rounds from his rifle,” McMahill explained. But negotiations continued.
For the next 50 minutes — “that’s five-zero minutes,” McMahill said — officers kept talking to Spivey (the AF veteran), trying to calm him and de-escalate the situation.
“A number of years ago we put an emphasis on the sanctity of life,” McMahill said, referring to changes the department made to reduce officer-involved shootings after widespread criticism and a review by the U.S. Department of Justice. “The fatal shot came one hour and 59 minutes after officers first arrived, when Spivey began shooting into a nearby apartment.”
I wasn’t aware that this shooting was even controversial, but in ‘classic’ Metro style the mouthpiece aggressively defends the Metro PD. News flash to McMahill — don’t try this when the LVMPD has a Ferguson, Missouri or a Madison, Wisconsin occurance. Oh, that’s right — there have already been plenty of those incidents (shooting when the subject is not armed with a firearm)! The acceptance of questionable shootings has changed and if you have the racial component (white shooter and black suspect) at play, browbeating the media will make you come across like a buffoon.
Metro could take a lesson from how Madison police chief Mike Koval is handling the recent shooting in the Wisconsin state capital. He immediately released the name of the officer and even noted that he had been in a prior fatal shooting. The officer had received a commendation from a 2007 shooting (which is obviously poor discretion after a life is lost) — I just wrote about that two weeks ago. Koval did NOT vilify the shooting victim by blasting his prior arrest record out to the media with the velocity of a canon. Koval expressed his condolences to the family members that he would reach and has
apologized for the incident. That is NOT accepting blame, by the way!
Koval was even supported by the police union (WPPA) — I had lots of fun with them, but times are changing.
When I was a new chief of police in Shawano, Wisconsin two of my officers fired over a dozen rounds at a fleeing vehicle that was driven by an 18-year-old who had his small child in a car seat behind him. A bullet went through the foot of the child. I also apologized because we certainly should not ‘intend’ that this happen when we use deadly force. Get it? You can use deadly force to stop the threat (if justified), but if an innocent bystander like a child is struck, an APOLOGY and expression of concern is true leadership. I was grateful the child was not killed. Too many meat-heads in the world will say, “If the kid didn’t have such a loser for a parent then it wouldn’t have happened.” The police are the trained professionals and my officers should have never been firing at a fleeing vehicle under the circumstances. C’mon, trying to
stop a car from backing out of a driveway because the teen (Native American) had traffic warrants — and this justifies deadly force? One officer reportedly even acknowledged the child in the car seat by tapping on the roof of the car and saying, “Hi, baby”… yet that story didn’t come out during the investigation.
I called in the Wisconsin DCI (Division of Criminal Investigation) to conduct an independent investigation. This is now a requirement after fatal police shootings in Wisconsin. Long story short, the investigator†‘justified’ the shooting and even testified at a court proceeding that the shooting was within policy. I convened an outside board of review consisting of three police chiefs and they concluded, bad shooting, bad pursuit, bad supervision. I called the DCI investigator on the phone and he said, “I’m not going to say something that is going to allow a criminal to go free.” I just about lost it. I
publicly called him out later and didn’t win any popularity contests.
If you are going to do our investigation… do it right. So Undersheriff McMahill lets us know that a few years ago we started valuing human life? I agree that SANCTITY OF HUMAN LIFE is the most sacred policy: Protect lives (police officers #1, citizens #2, and law violators last in line).
Next is TRUTHFULNESS, right? I support a truthfulness policy but one that is not subjective and with a high standard of proof. Clear and convincing evidence (Metro’s current burden of proof, even if they forget their own requirements like they did on my case) is just too weak to take away a career and destroy a life based on semantics and malicious internal politics (right, Lt. Kelly McMahill and Captain Chris Tomaino?).
Last in the top three? The sacred policy of NON-DISCRIMINATION (no harassment, and no retaliation) has been around the LVMPD for a very long time — at least 20 years since Lois Roethel and Jerry Keller took a stand. The policies and investigations have been obliterated by the last two regimes. There are literally dozens of stories where
employees have brought forward complaints and have been ignored. After each of my discrimination reports I received discipline. Charles Hank and others taught me how much things had changed at the LVMPD, but they didn’t change in a positive way.
The Madison officer may lose his job. Why? Waiting for backup and not forcing entry will be issues. We all took an oath prior to wearing our badges… we must elevate that standard of excellence, save LIVES, and quit making excuses and losing trust.