Monday, October 28, 2013

"Qualified Immunity": A License to Commit Criminal Violence

Beaten twice, then arrested: Shannon Kanda displays handiwork of the cops who "protected and served" her.

Two times on the same night, Shannon Kanda was severely beaten by two male strangers. The first pair of assailants gave her a bloody lip and a few mild bruises. The second group, who arrived a few minutes later, shattered her skull against a metal staircase handrail. As a result of that attack, the victim was forced to undergo reconstructive surgery to replace broken ocular bones.

Kanda had done nothing to provoke either attack. The first group of assailants fled and were never captured. The second – Officers Gregory Moore and Jonathan Cantrell of the Coeur d’Alene, Idaho Police Department – actually filed a battery charge against their victim.
After the first beating, Kanda – who was very intoxicated -- went to a friend’s apartment and called the police, in the familiar and entirely mistaken belief that they would be of help. 

When Officers Moore and Cantrell arrived, they asked her to come down to the parking lot where the attack had taken place. Kanda later explained that she hesitated because “she feared for her safety and was not assured by the officers present.”

As the three of them left the apartment, Kanda allegedly brushed away Officer Cantrell’s hand. Offended by this defilement of his consecrated person, Cantrell snapped, “Hey, you don’t hit the police” – as if the action of batting away uninvited contact from a stranger were a form of criminal assault. 

Seconds later, according to the police account, Kanda “swung” at Officer Moore. She doesn’t remember doing anything of the kind. She admits that she was drunk and unsteady, and that the officers “misjudged [her] unsteadiness … as movements threatening to their security.” 

Whatever it was that Kanda did, Moore reacted by attempting a “brachial stun” – a pressure-point strike to a nerve cluster at the side of the neck – but missed, and wound up slugging her in the jaw. Cantrell jumped in and both cops threw the victim face-down on the stairwell landing, slamming her face into the iron handrail as they did so. As she was bleeding into the pavement, Kanda was handcuffed and told that she was under arrest for “battery on a police officer.” Significantly, however, that charge wasn’t formally filed until after she had initiated a lawsuit against the department and the City of Coeur d’Alene.

Cantrell and Moore responded to that suit by insisting that the two of them – armed, highly trained, intrepid defenders of the public weal – faced an imminent threat from a drunk and traumatized woman, and “feared for their safety.” They also suggested that Kanda’s eye injury might not have been their fault – that it may have been inflicted by the first pair of thugs to assault her that evening. This would mean, of course, that they slugged and body-slammed a woman who had already been beaten up so severely that she required major surgery on the following day. 
Militarized police activity in Coeur d'Alene
The last argument in the officers’ arsenal was the inexhaustibly useful doctrine of “qualified immunity,” the unfailing legal shield of uniformed abusers.  U.S. District Court Judge Edward Lodge granted their motion to dismiss the suit, ruling that the “takedown” was justified, and that the act of shattering Kanda’s skull against a handrail was “unintentional.” Therefore, according to Lodge, “a reasonable officer in the Defendant Officers’ position could have concluded that their actions were lawful.” 

Bereft of options and resources, Kanda was compelled to plead guilty to the battery charge. She also had to endure the self-pitying commentary of Police Chief Wayne Longo, who simpered that his officers often respond to “difficult situations” and find themselves “targets of meritless lawsuits.” 

If Kanda had won her lawsuit, neither the political clique ruling Coeur nor their costumed emissaries of violence would have personally paid the judgment. However, once the suit was dismissed on the grounds of “qualified immunity,” the municipal government informed Kanda that it would seek a court order requiring the victim to pay the city’s legal costs.
Fortunately, Kanda won her appeal to the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which quite sensibly observed that no “reasonable” officer could consider body-slamming an already traumatized woman’s head and driving her face into a steel railing to be “proportionate under the circumstances.” The District Court’s ruling was reversed and the case was sent down for further proceedings, which are still underway.

Shannon Kanda’s ordeal is both intensely infuriating and tremendously useful. It is difficult to conceive of a more compelling illustration of the fact that state-sanctioned criminal violence is dramatically worse than the private sector variety.

Rather than pursuing the thugs who had attacked Kanda, the police who had been summoned to “help” made it their priority to punish the victim for being insufficiently deferential to their “authority” by inflicting an even worse beating on her. The machinery of “justice” then punished her again when she sought redress for her injuries. To paraphrase the eternally relevant insight from Edmund Burke, Kanda found that the agents of the “policed society” in which she lives were of no use in protecting her, but ready and eager to complete her ruin when given the opportunity.

The violence inflicted on Kanda by Cantrell and Moore was incontestably criminal in nature, and should have been prosecuted as such. The most significant obstacle to prosecuting that crime – and similar ones committed under the color of state “authority” in Idaho, most likely every day – is found in 37 words added in 1997 to the section of the Idaho State Code dealing with assault and battery:

“No peace officer may be held criminally or civilly liable for actions or omissions in the performance of the duties of his office under this chapter, if the peace officer acts in good faith and without malice” (18-921).

There is no reason to believe that if Kanda had been slugged and body-slammed by two private citizens, her assailants would have been able to avoid prosecution by attesting to their own “good faith” and absence of “malice.” Neither would the armed functionaries called police, if they were authentic peace officers. Police, however, are part of a privileged criminal caste. They claim the right to violate the moral law by committing aggressive violence, and an exemption from prosecution for such criminal acts.

In his magisterial work For a New Liberty: The Libertarian Manifesto, Murray Rothbard observed that for a reasonably free society to exist, “police and the other authorities [must be subject] to the same law as everyone else….. [I]f everyone is supposed to be subject to the same criminal law, then exempting the authorities from that law gives them a legal license to commit continual aggression.”

That license is found in the abhorrent doctrine of “qualified immunity,” which the Idaho State Code condenses into 37 words. One immensely useful reform – pending the complete abolition of the coercive caste, of course – would be to delete that provision from the Idaho Code, and to do the same with similar measures in other states.

Police accused of “excessive force” often complain that it is difficult to calibrate the acceptable level of coercion, and insist that as long as they believe their actions are lawful, they can’t be questioned. Abolishing the spurious doctrine of “qualified immunity” would relieve police of that burden by requiring them to recognize that all aggressive violence is criminal, and will have individualized legal consequences.

“But if this principle is adopted, it could effectively end law enforcement as we understand it!” police apologists would protest. To which I would reply: “Oh, good – I see I’m not going too fast for you.”

 A quick note....

I have been invited to participate in a panel discussion entitled "Waging War on Americans: Is the Police State Here?" at the Treasure Valley Liberty Expo, which will take place November 9 at the Red Lion Downtowner in Boise. Go here for more information.

 Thank you, once again, for your generous -- and much-needed -- help to keep Pro Libertate on-line. God bless!

Dum spiro, pugno!  


Kent McManigal said...

Cops are cowards. Incidents like this illustrate that fact beyond any shadow of a doubt to reasonable people. But, worse than that, cops are also cruel and nasty cowards who rarely face the real-world consequences of their actions. This will end.

Keith said...

I'm just trying to get my head around what sort of male it is who's first reaction after an unsteady and drunk female has objected to him groping her, is attempt to launch a strike to her brachial plexus?

I'm a newb to fighting arts, I'm middle aged and somewhat overweight (perhaps less over weight than average for my age group, but that isn't saying much), but even from my low standards, I know that a half step either way will take me off the line and out of range of a punch or a kick.

simple distance is all that the cowardly bully of a cop (redundancy alert) needed to create.

if (big if), the girl still appeared to be attacking our chubby coward in costume, a joint lock is a lot easier to apply from the edge of a persons reach, than a strike to her neck is (that means going in close and personal, well inside their reach)

and with a joint lock it is a lot easier to modulate the amount of pain being applied.

The strike at her throat ended up as strikes always risks doing, getting the wrong place and with difficult to control force, in this case hitting a young woman hard, in her face.

What sort of male's first choice is to strike a woman with the aim of knocking her out?


Keith said...

That was an excellent post, thanks for the link, I really should visit your place more often.

I suppose this almost fits better with Will's previous piece about the brave puppy slayers (and if we count the BATFE, kitten stompers too).

While I'm sure that not every child that takes a sadistic interest in torturing animals and getting at people by damaging their property or hurting their loved ones - turns into a serial killer

It seems that a fair proportion of serial killers got started on animals.

A state and its institutions, including its cops, are based on a denial of reciprocity.

The individuals in the caste called "state" claim a right to take our property, our lives and to expect our obedience,

We are not supposed to be able to do more than peacefully petition, through the channels which the caste of state approve of.

I stressed in the comments to Will's last piece, that I do not believe that reciprocating the caste of state's violence with our own violence will result in good

bad means do not result in good ends.

I want to briefly explore what a reciprocation of the caste of state's violence looks like.

It looks like their wives, girlfriends and daughters being groped by strangers and if they dare to object, of having their faces punched and their skulls broken.

It looks like cowardly cruelty and killing of their pets

It looks like their toddlers being ordered around at gun point,

It looks like their children being shot or having corrosive chemicals thrown into their faces, or having electrodes stuck into their bodies - to send a message to the parents.

think of that creep in Norway, getting at the politicians by murdering their children? is that so different to behaviour which would be considered normal if a state did it to the children of productive individuals -

the creep in Norway didn't do it in front of the parents, and then prevent them from offering medical attention as their children died slowly - cops do that though.


Many thanks for another excellently researched and fantastically written post.

Anonymous said...

Everyone has a right to court justice. When a government negates that right, it deserves street justice. Don't be surprised or shocked if it happens.

Lemuel Gulliver said...

The studies of psychopathy, initiated by Andrej Lobaczewski, who called it "Political Ponerology," show that psychopathy is contagious. People who are subjected to the conscienceless oppression of an elite of psychopaths start to behave like psychopaths themselves, just in order to survive in what becomes a dog-eat-dog society. A vicious jungle, "red in tooth and claw."

Keith, your idealism is nice, but will not work. Eventually, and inevitably, the monster the elite psychopaths have created will devour them. It then takes at least a generation for society to recover, as normal people raise a new generation of normal children. As examples, look at the criminal societies in Russia, South Africa, the Ukraine, Nigeria, Belarus, and other countries, that resulted when the ruling psychopathic regimes were overthrown. These countries are still struggling with criminality, selfishness, and the psychopathic mindset. Change is coming, but only slowly.

Most likely, the same will eventually happen here. The criminality, violence, and enslavement of the masses will become so extreme that it destroys itself in a horrifying paroxysm of viciousness and violent retribution. These fat porcine men calling themselves "police" will be consumed like a mere handful of dry grass in a brush fire, gone, forgotten, and unlamented. Then, when it is all over, we will have to re-learn what civilization means.

It will not be pretty. But it will result in a healthier society. (For some time.) Then, the psychopaths will once again rise to the top of the power pyramid, and it will all begin again.

After all, "My Kingdom is not of this world." And "Satan took Him up into a high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world, and all the wealth, power and glory thereof, and said unto Him: All this will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me." What does that mean? It means, "if thou wilt become a psychopath, and become evil, all this will be yours, because all the kingdoms of this world belong to me, Satan, and are mine to bestow."

You may not subscribe to the Bible, but a greater collection of wisdom has never been written.

Get used to it.

Lemuel Gulliver said...

PS: Let me tell you some of the ways the handfuls of dry grass have been consumed:

In Russia in 1918, they would tie men hand and foot spreadeagled naked between two trees, then take two bricks and smash them together to crush their testicles. It would take them 3 days, or more, of constant agony before they died of inflammation of the bowel cavity.

In India in 1947, they would besiege a police station, pile brush around it and set it on fire. If the police stayed inside, they burned alive. If they came out, they were hacked into tiny pieces by literally hundreds or thousands of men with machetes. They could only shoot a handful of the mob, before they were overwhelmed, like cockroaches attacked by ants.

In Czechoslovakia in 1968, young men would leap on top of Russian tanks, pour gasoline into the gun ports, and set them on fire. When the trapdoors on top opened and the occupants tried to escape, Molotov cocktails were tossed inside, and all the occupants were cooked alive.

In Zimbabwe, then known as Rhodesia, they would cut around a man's face, peel the face off of the skull, and force his wife to fry it in a pan and feed it to his family.

Shall I go on?

The viciousness of mankind, pushed beyond animal endurance by the viciousness of the psychopathic elites, cannot be believed. This is what the police "officers" of America have to look forward to.

It is coming. Yes it is. Let those who have ears to hear, hear.

Mark said...

In your online article on October 28, 2013, “Qualified Immunity: A License to Commit Violence,” you incorrectly wrote that the “Idaho State Code condenses into 37 words” the “legal license to commit continual aggression” by police officers under a provision from the Idaho Code known as the doctrine of qualified immunity.

As underscored by Kanda’s civil rights claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in federal court, the doctrine of qualified immunity is a doctrine created by federal case law precedent, not state law (although many states grant state officials immunity for violations of state law).

Under the doctrine of qualified immunity, police officers sued in their individual capacities (and other government agents), qualify for personal immunity from suit if their conduct failed to violate clearly established rights under the U.S. Constitution. See Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 818 (1982). Qualified immunity protects government agents who acted in an objectively reasonable manner, although constitutional rights were violated. See Id. That the official violated clearly established state law is generally irrelevant. Davis v. Scherer, 468 U.S. 183, 191.

William N. Grigg said...

Repealing 18-921 is an imperative reform, but not a sufficient one.

First, the legislation repealing that measure should expressly remove the question of "qualified immunity" from the jurisdiction of trial courts and appellate courts below the Supreme Court (as provided in the Idaho State Constitution, Art. V Sec.2).

Second, that legislation should repudiate the specious "federal case law precedent" that created the patently un-American notion of "qualified immunity," invoking the reserved powers clause of the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The doctrine of "qualified immunity" rests on the assumption that the powers of "government agents" are taken as self-ratifying until and unless the government condescends to articulate "clearly established rights" on the part of the people from whom that government supposedly derives its power. Any way one slices that proposition, it is innately anti-American and entirely intolerable -- at least, to those of us who don't belong to the coercive caste.

Keith said...

Britain's coercive class at work:

Someday I might do a poster of that image with the caption
"Land of hope and glory, mother of the free you know the words; sing them!"

Anonymous said...

one day very very soon, they will face the wrath of the people they have abused and were sworn to protect and serve. The people that put food on their table, send their children to college, pay their mortgage and so on, will soon fight back, and when they do, you will find these cowards, thugs and traitors running and hiding. I can only hope that while the majority of police today fit the bad description, that the few good are somehow spared.

Anonymous said...

Cops are trash all of them, both men and women: they all deserve to be destroyed.

Anonymous said...

"Qualified Immunity" will not save you from a 5.56mm projectile moving at 3000fps. I think it best that LEOs stop pissing on a population that outnumbers them and outguns them by several orders of magnitude. Unlike them, we have morals. That's the only reason the bad apples are still alive. But our patience does have limits.

Anonymous said...

Lemuel Gulliver :

The things you wrote about are quite disturbing. I fear not that these things will happen to those who oppress us, but that they'll happen to us from our oppressors. Such cruelty has been done to keep their "subjects" in line. Just ask the Iraqis. People being thrown feet first into wood chippers, etc.

When I read about stuff like that, it makes me glad to be armed in some way. If being captured may someday mean having to endure such torment, then I'll choose to go out fighting beforehand.

MoT said...

Yet another example of how even in Idaho, a state you would think knew better, the cops run amok. Which only goes to show it has to be the same or far worse elsewhere.

Steveo Van Damm said...

Hey Will, another amazing piece... I have thoroughly enjoyed your work for years, and have been a consistent supporter... Although this is not the correct protocol, I have no other way of contacting you... I foolishly loaned a signed copy of "Global Gun Grab" to someone and now its lost... I am donating to Pro Libertate and if you have another copy, I would be very appreciative... If not, I understand... Thanks...

Anonymous said...

Hey William, would you mind doing a story on John Geer? Here's the link. Really juicy for you to wield your magic on.