So I'm reading about the prosecution of a Virginia police officer, Stephen Rankin, on the alleged murder of a black 18yr old male, William Chapman.
I'm not sure how, if ever, an 18year old gets shot for shoplifting - as far as I know, nothing like this has ever happened in Australia. But if I were the prosecutor, I would get get the defendant to run one roleplay rehersal of what happened, and get a random person to do another...both of alleged events:
He testified that after he told Chapman: “I suppose you know why I’m here.” Chapman walked away briskly and allegedly put his left hand in his pocket. “I think he’s reaching for something and I need to detain him,” claimed Rankin.
This line causes me know end of issues.
If I were a prosecutor, I would have Rankin roleplay out this incident (if such things are allowed). Why?
It generally takes in the vicinity of 2-4 seconds
to 'reach for something' and get it, and bring it out. Of course it is different if the object gets stuck.
- Reaction time is generally 0.75s. So he would usually have 1.25-3.25s
- For something in your jacket (the shortest timeframe needed), he has absolutely minimal reaction time
- But while reaction time is generally 0.75s, because the starting movement of letting your arms fall by your side is almost the same as the starting movement of reaching into your trouser pockets (the longest time frame needed in the 1-4 seconds) the reaction time is much longer - likely only just before they reach into their trouser pocket - maybe at the 1s mark (giving 3 seconds to something out)
So, my issue?
I 'think' he's reaching for something
- by the time he started talking on his phone or radio (presuming it is radio and recorded), he would already have known if he was reaching for something
- it takes 2.1+s to say "I think he's reaching for something and I need to detain him". So we have reaction time 0.75-1.25s+ reach for radio .5s (tot 1.25-1.75s) + 2.1+s (tot 3.35-3.75s)
- to be clear, in the above, it takes around .8-1.5s to reach for something (1.5 if you're really slow). Reaction time 0.75-1.25+reach for radio time puts a transmission time at 1.25-1.75 seconds.
Ie. In almost all cases he would know prior to the radio transmission if the kid was reaching for something, and in virtually all cases he would know prior to finishing his radio transmission if the kid was reaching for something.
Anyone could run this scenario out for themselves to see if they could what Rankin claims he did (though don't forget if you're expecting it, your reaction time is slightly faster - but I still don't think anyone could do this, even knowing it was coming)
The above to me screams that this was premeditated.
Then there's the idiocy of
"Take your hands out of your pocket or I'm going to tase you".
This isn't the second roleplay - it's related to the above and leads into the second roleplay. The quote appears this was said for the benefit of the taser recording device:
- for an unfathomable reason (read dodgy story), this kid reaches into his pocket 'for something'....then allegedly leaves his hand in there (I mean seriously)
- then allegedly refuses to take his hand out (I mean seriously, with black americans knowing they get shot)
...but this isn't the end of the timing issue - the kid was walking away. It would have taken a few seconds to catch up. And while briskly walking, he left his hands in his pockets...
ROLEPLAY 2: Walk briskly with one hand in your pocket.
After doing so, ask yourself if you have ever seen anyone do that (other than very specifically - on freezing days while on a phone call, and running for shelter/transport). There's a reason no one voluntarily does it - you're unbalanced, it can throw you off balance, and feels ungainly.
Then there's the taser footage he says the above in, where:
- he's got one hand on the taser (obviously having activated it)
- but it's moving all over the place, including at one time pointing up towards Rankins face (indicating almost certainly a struggle)
- except the kid is turned side on the Rankin on both occassions it captures him; and
- Rankins face is utterly calm (try struggling with anyone and have a photo taken of you)
- and if Rankin wasn't struggling, then why was the taser moving all over the place?
commonwealth’s attorney Stephanie Morales played to jurors a video clip recorded by Rankin’s Taser in which she said Chapman could be heard asking: “You’re going to tase me when I didn’t do nothing to you?”
This too fits in more with having done nothing to deserve the threat of tasering than it does with someone with their hand in their pocket.
Rankin looks to me to be rather special...but that isn't reason to doubt his word. My reason for doubting his version is based in timings...which are then supported by an almost irrational story, with highly unusual (read improbable) behavioural claims, and recordings that support that the kid wasn't doing anything that deserved being tasered (which lead to the shooting, which itself is in dispute).
As addons only:
- the officer had trained in Mixed martial arts in the Navy
- there are allegations he fanatasised about shooting people
- he had shot someone previously
In case it isn't clear - I am a big supporter of police, who generally do a really good job under very difficult circumstances. What constantly surprises me about these sort of stories is the minimal nature of allegation that it takes to get yourself shot (at least if you are black). This one was, paraphrased "he was unarmed, but I feared for my life"
The last police officer (here in Australia) I remember shooting someone for assaulting him was maybe 15 years ago - he had his baton taken off him, and had been hit around the head multiple times before shooting the offender. His face was black and blue with blood everywhere. Of course there have been any number of shootings where police have been attacked with knives, swords, and guns...but that is the only shooting I remember from an assault.
The standard here is that they fear for their lives or someone elses. I don't think anyone here would by such from assault that hadn't even occurred yet (or at all).