Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Real "Ferguson Effect": Increased Police Lethality, Expanded Prosecutorial Deference

Yes, only shamefully "ungrateful" Mundanes object when police kill the innocent without accountability.

Joshua Jenkins killed thirty-three-year-old Jennifer Chauvin by slamming his vehicle into her sedan at an intersection near AuSable, New York. According to police investigators, Jenkins failed to yield the right-of-way to Chauvin at an intersection. 

Chauvin’s children, six-year-old Caleb and three-year-old Riley, had to be extracted from the backseat using the Jaws of Life, but they survived.
Her killer is still on the payroll.
Jenkins was entirely at fault for the fatal crash. Under Section 125.10 of New York State law, his actions constituted criminally negligent homicide, a class E felony.  His punishment for killing a mother of two who had just put herself through college was a ticket for running a stop sign. 

Under the careful guidance of a strangely solicitous prosecutor, a Clinton County, New York grand jury declined to indict Jenkins, who – as anyone burdened with even a modest awareness of current affairs should have guessed by now – is a police officer. 

A ten-year veteran of the New York State Police, Jenkins was on routine patrol on the morning of October 29, 2014 when he negligently ended Chauvin’s life and destroyed her family. He was not responding to an emergency or pursuing a suspect, which means that he cannot invoke exigent circumstances to justify a fatal accident that resulted from his own culpable inattention. 

Apart from the trivial citation, and whatever price his conscience might impose on him, Jenkins has suffered nothing: He remains employed as an armed tax-gatherer with Zone 3 of Troop B of the State Police, afflicting people residing in Essex, Franklin, and Hamilton counties. 

If the roles had been reversed – if Chauvin had induced an accident in which Jenkins had died – she would almost certainly have faced an immediate criminal indictment, and the victim would have been buried with the familiar Soviet-grade solemnity that attends all police funerals. Simply and entirely because of the professional identity of the perpetrator, however, the special prosecutor Tony Jordan conducted a detailed investigation and made an elaborate presentation to the grand jury.

When a prosecutor is motivated to obtain an indictment, he will present evidence of “probable cause” to a grand jury, which will routinely deliver the intended result. When a police officer faces potential criminal charges, however, prosecutors will often serve double duty as the de facto defense counsel for the accused, presenting both inculpatory and exculpatory arguments in the transparent hope that the grand jury will, in effect, acquit the officer before the case is actually examined in an adversarial proceeding.

At that point, the prosecutor will convene a press conference at which he will emit a handful of insipid platitudes about the need to respect the “process” through which police impunity is sanctified. Washington County District Attorney Tony Jordan, who was appointed special prosecutor in the Jennifer Chauvin case, followed that formula perfectly, reciting all of the appropriate lines on cue and with precisely the right flavor of civic sanctimony. 
He played his role: Prosecutor Jordan.
“A thorough presentation was made, the grand jury was deliberate and involved, and ultimate a [traffic] ticket is the only charge forthcoming,” Jordan told the Plattsburgh Press-Republican as he consummated the ritual of official exoneration.

That announcement came just days after a grand jury in Cleveland produced the same result in case of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was gunned down by Officer Timothy Loehmann about a month after Trooper Jenkins killed Jennifer Chauvin. 

Rice, who had been seen carrying a plastic replica of a gun, was shot less than two seconds after Loehman and his trainer, Officer Frank Garmback, pulled up in a police cruiser. When Rice’s horrified sister arrived on the scene, the officers cuffed and stuffed her into a police cruiser while allowing the twelve-year-old to bleed to death. 

Prosecutor Tim McGinty, who had already ruled that the killing of Rice was “justified,” followed the same game plan that Tony Jordan had employed in arranging the exoneration of Trooper Jenkins: Rather than presenting a case for probable cause, McGinty offered an elaborate defense that focused on the fearful state of Officer Loehman, whose employment history depicts an incorrigible coward who is unsuitable to be entrusted with firearms, let alone the supposed authority of discretionary killing.

Scary: Tamir Rice.
McGinty also focused heavily on the now-standard defense that the youngster – who, once again, was carrying a pellet gun in a state where open carry of actual firearms is legal – made a “furtive” movement that exacerbated Loehman’s innate cowardice. 

“It is likely that Tamir, whose size made him look much older and who had been warned his pellet gun might get him into trouble that day, either intended to hand it over to the officers or show them it wasn’t a real gun,” McGinty recited during his press conference. This would mean that the child (the appropriate term to describe a 12-year-old) was killed while trying to cooperate. Yet even this merely accentuates the case for killing him, from McGinty’s perspective, since “there was no way for the officers to know that [Rice was trying to cooperate], because they saw the events rapidly unfolding in front of them from a very different perspective.”

The “perspective” to which McGinty referred is that of the proverbial “reasonable” officer – a figure invested with open-ended permission to take a life, and devoid of any responsibility to confront personal risk.

Ron Frashour, a once and future officer with the Portland, Oregon Police Bureau, acted “reasonably” when he fatally shot and unarmed and surrendering Aaron Campbell in the back in January 2010. Campbell, despondent over the death of his brother from heart and renal failure, triggered an urgent 911 call from his girlfriend, who was concerned that he might be suicidal. In keeping with long-established tradition, the police were eager to help the agitated man end his life. 

In this case, the prosecutor presented lengthy and detailed “expert” testimony by Ken Katsaris of a police union front group called Americans for Efficiency in Law Enforcement. To provide the panel with an excuse to perform as the prosecutor clearly intended them to. Katsaris, a former Florida sheriff, drew from the law enforcement lexicon of self-justification and wove a seamless tapestry of buzzwords.

“Officer Frashour comported with the training that was offered in terms of the reasonableness of his decision and what it was based on,” Katsaris lectured the panel, insistently if less than comprehensibly. “And I concluded that it was reasonable, and objectively [sic], because it is an objective rather than a subjective analysis.” 

Yes, Campbell – who had emerged with his hands on his head – was unarmed and had his back turned when Frashour killed him; yes, his own police chief testified that Campbell posed no threat, and Frashour had no legal right to kill him. However, the only “objective” considerations are the subjective impressions of a public official who is granted permission to kill and constantly catechized about the pervasive dangers he supposedly faces, and how his life is incomparably more valuable than those of the public he supposedly serves. 

Thus Frashour’s decision to shoot was justified by the perceptions of that officer at that time, in the shoes of that officer, given the totality of circumstances that are presented to him at the moment that he makes that decision,” Katsaris intoned. In fact, the officer was actually peripheral to the decision to use lethal force, since he was “part of the plan but not the planner” – a statement underscoring the wisdom of Voltaire’s advice that people avoid letting the rhyme dictate the reason. 
Back on the streets: Killer Cop Ron Frashour.
Katsaris is routinely paid handsome sums to perform such glossolalia on behalf of the defense in civil trials emerging from excessive force lawsuits. In this case, a prosecutor retained his services as a defense witness during his own grand jury presentation

Prosecutorial solicitude of this kind is a gift offered only to police officers and similar privileged members of the punitive class. That practice earned national notoriety in the case of Darren Wilson and Michael Brown, in which a District Attorney notorious for his refusal to investigate police abuse used the grand jury proceeding to try the decedent, rather than the shooter

Had the circumstances of that shooting been identical except for one detail – the shooter’s occupation – the matter would almost certainly have resulted in a criminal prosecution. It’s quite likely, if not probable, that a citizen Darren Wilson would have been acquitted. Officer Darren Wilson was never seriously at risk of going to trial. 

Over the past year, police union-generated media alarmism over the so-called “War on Police” and its kindred “Ferguson Effect” has reached saturation levels. The latter phenomenon supposedly consists of a spike in violent crime on account of the reluctance of police to risk their careers by being “pro-active” in enforcing the law.

Leaving aside the fact that “pro-active” law enforcement is something no sensible person can support (do firemen aggressively look for fires to extinguish, or do they react when an emergency occurs?), the idea that police have been reduced to petulant paralysis because of public criticism is a telling institutional indictment of the profession. Assuming this to be true, we’re left with the fact that there is no measurable national increase in violent crime.
We shouldn’t expect police apologists to recognize this fact and adjust their opinions accordingly: They are as irrationally invested in the “Ferguson Effect” other collectivists of a slightly different school are attached to the idea of anthropocentric climate change. Perhaps under the authoritarian  administration likely to be enthroned in 2017 we will see prosecutions of people accused of “Ferguson Effect Denial.”
As 2015 expires, the year that supposedly found police under siege ends with fewer on-duty violent officer deaths than the previous year, a greater number of citizens killed by police during the same period, and expanded efforts on the part of prosecutors to preserve police impunity. Taken together, those trends constitute the real “Ferguson Effect.”

This week's Freedom Zealot Podcast: Clarence Moses-El had nearly thirty years stolen from him after being convicted on the basis of what the Salem Witch Trial called "spectral evidence" --

 Dum spiro, pugno!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Rwanda and the Evils of Politicized Christianity


“What does it tell us about the UN that not a single official thought fit to resign over the first indisputable genocide since the UN Charter was signed?” asked human rights activist Alex de Waal following the 100-day orgy of mass murder in Rwanda that claimed up to 1.1 million lives.

An equally valid and little-considered question is: What does it say about the church (in the broadest sense of the term) that this genocide occurred in a nation in which 90 percent of the population identified themselves as Christians?

Here is yet another, perhaps even more poignant question Christians should consider: What moral lessons are suggested by the fact that when church buildings were being used as slaughter pens, Christians from the Tutsi ethnic group had to seek sanctuary in mosques?
The United Nations had a small “peacekeeping” force on the ground in Rwanda to administer a cease-fire agreement between the Hutu-dominated government and a Tutsi-led rebel group operating across the border in Burundi. That accord required the disarmament of all Rwandan citizens other than the central government, its military and police forces, and government-aligned militias. 

When the section of Africa now known as Rwanda and Burundi was colonized by Belgium, Germany, and France in the late 19th century, European officials placed the Tutsis – who tend to be taller, more slender, and have more “European” features than the Hutus – in favored administrative positions. For decades, the predictable resentments rooted in ethnic nationalism erupted in incidents of inter-communal mass murder.

In 1959, people claiming to act on behalf of the Hutus seized power. Tutsi nationalists, not content to be the “whom” rather than the “who,” organized a guerilla insurrection. This, in turn, gave the “Hutu Power” regime that most valuable of things – a self-sustaining external enemy it could invoke for the purpose of social control. 
Haunted: Dallaire returns to Rwanda.
Romeo Dallaire, the Canadian Colonel in command of the UN military force, learned in late 1993 of a plot within the Hutu-dominated government of President Juvenal Habyarimana to exterminate the Tutsi population, along with any Hutus suspected of insufficient loyalty to the ethnic collective.

In early 1994, Dallaire contacted his superior at UN Headquarters and sought authorization to raid government arms caches that were to be used in the assault. The head of UN Peacekeeping, future Secretary General Kofi Annan, instead directed Dallaire to share his intelligence with the same government that was planning the massacres. The assassination of President Habyarimana – apparently by Hutu Power radicals – in April 1994 was the signal for the genocide to begin.

"They have guns and knives and machetes, the people from the Government party, so we can't fight back," Jeanne Niwemutesi, a Tutsi refugee, later explained. "We don't have any arms."

The Rwandan victims had been urged to place their faith in the UN and its doctrine of “collective security,” as taught and administered by its “peacekeepers.”

As Australian attorney Michael Hourigan concluded in his 2000 inquiry regarding the UN's official actions during the genocide, "peacekeepers sent to protect [potential victims] ... either handed them over to the rampaging militants or ran way when fighting broke out." It is important to emphasize that Colonel Dallaire, whom I interviewed several years ago, was never accused of displaying such cowardice; the trauma of seeing hundreds of people – including soldiers under his command – hacked to pieces drove him into severe depression, alcoholism, and nearly to suicide. (Now a Canadian senator, Dallaire continues to struggle with the trauma he experienced in Rwanda.

Where many UN “peacekeepers” elected not to kill and die on behalf of strangers in a foreign country, many nominally Christian Rwandans actively participated in the slaughter of neighbors on the basis of a government-assigned ethnic identity. They were "Romans 13 Christians" par excellence.

 Colonial administrators “eliminated Hutu chiefs and autonomous Hutu kingdoms, effectively excluded Hutu from political opportunity. While listing of ethnic labels on identity cards issue to all residents served to eliminate previous flexibility in identity,” writes Timothy Longman of Vassar College in the Journal of Religion in Africa. By the early 1990s, Rwandan Christianity had become fatally tainted by the politics of ethnic collectivism.

“Church leaders were prominent public figures with considerable influence in the political arena, from the national to the local level,” Longman explains. “The leaders of the Catholic, Anglican, Presbyterian, and Baptist churches were all close associates of President Habyarimana and his government, and local pastors and priests were often closely allied with local burgomasters and communal councilors.”

Church leaders in Rwanda were not guilty merely of silent complicity in the slaughter; they “helped make genocide possible by making ethnic violence understandable and acceptable to the population,” continues Longman. This was “not simply because church leaders hoped to avoid opposing their governmental allies but because ethnic conflict was itself an integral part of Christianity in Rwanda. Christians could kill without obvious qualms of conscience, even in the church, because Christianity as they had always known it had been a religion defined by struggles for power, and ethnicity had always been at the base of those struggles.” (Emphasis added.)

This was why machete-wielding death squads “attended mass before going out to kill,” or, if the victims had been cattle-penned in a church, the killers would pause “during the massacres to pray at the altar.” Like the Aztec priests who personally slaughtered an estimated 30,000 victims during the 1487 dedication of a temple to Huitzilopochtli, the devout murderers in Rwanda “felt their work was consistent with church teachings.”

In Leave None to Tell the Story, the late Dr. Alison Des Forges, an historian and individual rights activist, points out that what happened in Rwanda was not “an uncontrollable outburst of rage by a people consumed by `ancient tribal hatreds,’” but rather the result of “the deliberate choice of a modern elite to foster hatred and fear to keep itself in power.”

Acting as palace prophets on behalf of the political elite, Rwanda’s churches made the slaughter “morally permissible,” Longman notes. Some individual congregants and clergy “took courageous stands, even risking their lives to save those threatened, but the majority of people in the churches gave tacit or even open support to the genocide. Church officials lent credibility to those organizing the genocide by calling on their members to support the new government.”

Some clergy “lured people into churches knowing they would be killed, turned over Tutsi to be killed, and themselves participated in or even led the security patrols that served as death squads,” continues Longman’s unbearable narration. “Many clergy did not participate directly in the violence but took part in the local and regional security committees that were set up to organize roadblocks and militia patrols.”

We have a distantly related program here in the United States: The Department of Homeland Security’s “Clergy Response Teams.”

Jean-Pierre Sagahutu, a Tutsi who saw his father and nine members of his family butchered by fellow Christians, was offered refuge by a Hutu Muslim family.

“I know people in America think Muslims are terrorists, but for Rwandans they were our freedom fighters during the genocide,” Sagahutu told a Washington Post reporter in 2002. “If it weren’t for the Muslims, my whole family would be dead,” insists Aisha Umwimbabazi, who – like Sagahutu – converted to that religion not only because of post-genocide disillusionment with the church in which they were raised but because there were no ethnic divisions among Rwandan Muslims.
"Dry run" for a pogrom? A "Christian Patriot" outside a Texas Mosque.
As a believer in the Christian gospel I don’t accept the truth-claims made by followers of the Islamic religion. We hear a great deal about the supposedly unique evils of "political Islam." Rwanda is an outstanding, but hardly unique, illustration of the evils of politicized Christianity.

I have come to the conclusion that the Creator gave us the gifts of freedom, faith, and fellowship, and that from those gifts men have forged the fetters of religion – apart from the only “pure” variety, which consists of serving the needy and afflicted (James 1:27).

The deadliest affliction in human history is what Arnold Toynbee called “the fanatical worship of collective human power.” Rwanda’s Christian church was thoroughly infiltrated by that deadly heresy. American Christianity enjoys no happy immunity to that infection – and at least some parts of the body are exhibiting very troublesome symptoms.

This week's Freedom Zealot Podcast deals with the real American Jihad:

Dum spiro, pugno!

Monday, December 14, 2015

When "Rescuers" Become a Death Squad: The Killing of Michael Funk

Biker, veteran, grandfather, plaintiff-- police victim: Michael Funk, RIP.

Funk and Steve Erato were co-owners of Eagle Nation Cycles in Neenah, the scene of a hostage situation that developed out of a drunken rampage by local resident Brian Flatoff. After SWAT teams converged on the scene, someone inside the building fired a single gunshot that hit one of the officers in the helmet. Funk, who had a concealed carry permit, fled from the building holding a handgun. The official story is that Funk was fatally shot for not complying with police orders to drop the weapon. 

Former Neenah Police Officer Dan Dringoli believes that Funk’s violent death at the hands his supposed protectors may be the product of something other than simple misfortune or miscommunication.
“I think they may have just taken the opportunity, and erred on the side of `Let’s eliminate this problem,’” Dringoli told me in a telephone interview shortly after the incident. Currently working as a licensed private investigator in Neenah, Dringoli spent 15 years with the Neenah PD. That includes a brief stint with the SWAT team that ended when Dringoli complained about the misconduct of some SWAT operators during a tax-paid training trip to Florida

Dringoli is also well-acquainted with Steve Erato, the surviving co-owner of Eagle Nation Cycles.

“When I was a detective at the Neenah PD, Steve volunteered to be a liaison between the police and the `biker community,’” Dringoli explained to me. “He wanted to keep lines of communication open and prevent misunderstandings, and he helped us on a number of occasions.”

"Rather than coming here and breaking down my doors and having 20 cops and guns and SWAT teams and all of the other crazy stuff, they knew they could wake me up at 2 o'clock in the morning and I would take them to any part of the building," Erato explained several years ago in what now seems like ominous foreshadowing of subsequent developments. 

Neenah SWAT raid, December 5.
After Dringoli “crossed the Blue Line” by reporting misconduct by SWAT operators, he faced a retaliatory charge of “fixing” a ticket for Erato – in this case a citation for “disorderly” conduct. Dringoli’s supervisor agreed to dismiss the citation. For his part, Erato insists that he never asked for consideration, and was willing to fight the citation in court:  "I never would have wanted [Dringoli] to do anything. I would have rather pled not guilty and said my story." 

As Dringoli pointed out to me, it was clear that both police and the District Attorney’s Office “had a boner for this guy” (an expression reflecting a desire to harass him, rather than to exploit him for other carnal purposes).

Ten years ago, Erato’s ex-wife Merica Kabke was convicted of felony charges in the accidental death of their son, Vincent, in a traffic accident that occurred while Kabke was under the influence of a controlled substance. Despite his understandable sorrow and rage over the death of their child, Erato – who had officially been designated a “victim” of the offense -- sought to testify on behalf of his wife during the sentencing phase of the trial before Judge Scott C. Woldt.

“As the victim of the crime … Erato had planned on making an impassioned plea on behalf of Kabke and the fact that she had made a mistake in driving,” explains the lawsuit filed following the September 2012 SWAT raid on his business. “Part of his statement was to include the fact that both Judge Woldt and [District Attorney William] Lennon had checkered histories. His statement regarding Woldt was to highlight the fact that Woldt had killed a passenger on a motorcycle while drunk at the age of 18. His statement regarding Lennon was to point out that Lennon also had a history of drug abuse, as he had previously admitted to using cocaine.”
Scott Woldt.

The purpose of that statement, which Erato was legally entitled to offer, “was not to shame or harm the judge or the District Attorney, but rather, to illustrate that we all make mistakes – even judges and prosecutors – and that punishing Kabke harshly would be hypocritical for both of them.”

“Judge Woldt refused to allow Steve to testify, even though he had every right to do so,” Dringoli recounted to me. “He had two sheriff’s deputies flank him in the courtroom, prepared to drag him away to jail as if he were a convicted criminal, rather than a designated victim in this case.”

Erato filed a complaint against Woldt and Lennon with the Wisconsin Crime Victim’s Rights Board, which censured them for their “willful neglect” of his rights. 

This did nothing to endear Erato with the powerful people who later sicced a SWAT team on his business. 

“At the time Erato filed that complaint [with the WCVRB], Judge Woldt was being considered for a federal appointment,” pointed out attorney Cole White, who is representing Erato in his lawsuit, in a telephone interview. “That never happened, and this business probably has a lot to do with that fact.”

Whether or not Erato’s complaint against Woldt injured the judge’s career prospects, it unambiguously played a role in precipitating the September 24, 2012 SWAT raid on his business. 

Pusillanimous poseurs: The MEG
The Lake Winnebago Area Metropolitan Enforcement Group (hereafter MEG) claimed to have witnessed a drug transaction take place in an alley behind a building on the 200 block of Neenah’s main street that Eagle Cycles shares with several other businesses. The MEG’s second-in-command is Winnebago County Sheriff’s Deputy Randy Woldt, Judge Woldt’s brother. The search warrant affidavit filed by the MEG alleged the existence of “a complex drug manufacturing and distribution operation [at Eagle Cycles] in conjunction with the Hells Lovers motorcycle gang” and described the site as if it were involved in “an episode of the television series Sons of Anarchy,” recalls the lawsuit

Despite his obvious conflict of interest in the matter, and the abundant defects in the affidavit, Woldt blithely approved the MEG’s application for a search warrant on September 20. 

During the raid, “The hyper-militarized force parked an armored tank-like vehicle outside of Eagle Nation, stormed the building, bombarding the occupants with assault weapons drawn, screaming profanities and abuse, all while wearing plainclothes ... and face masks,” narrates the lawsuit. For several hours the invaders ransacked the building, finding no evidence of heroin, meth, cocaine, or any controlled substances.

After moving into Erato’s office, the raiders “found” a minuscule amount – roughly eight-tenths of a gram – of marijuana. The facility’s security camera “cuts out following the police entry in the room and then resumes only after the alleged discovery,” points out the lawsuit. “The video equipment was seized by SWAT officers, and was not returned for several months.”

Neenah officers are equipped with body cameras. None of those cameras was activated during the September 21, 2012 raid. 

“If you look at the security camera footage of the raid, you’ll see that the SWAT operators completely trashed the business, tearing rooms apart in search of drugs,” Attorney Cole White pointed out to me. “In contrast, the officers ‘found’ the pot in the office in the first place they supposedly looked – and then they stopped looking. This makes no sense if they were actually trying to find evidence of a massive drug operation, but it makes perfect sense if they were simply trying to manufacture a cover charge to justify the raid.” 

Erato was arrested and caged for eight days after the raid, during which time he was denied his prescription medications.  While Erato was in jail, Neenah Police Chief Kevin Wilkinson – who had commanded the SWAT raid -- led a team of municipal officials on an "inspection" of the building in search of additional pretexts to harass the owners and confiscate the property.

Neenah PD Chief Wilkinson.
No evidence of drug manufacturing or narcotics dealing was ever found, but Erato was slapped with fifteen felony charges, all but one dealing with the discovery of firearms in a locked safe in the basement of the property. Those charges were all dismissed except for the single count of misdemeanor marijuana possession arising from the “discovery” of what was almost certainly planted evidence.

Understandably, Erato and Funk were left traumatized and fearful as a result of the raid. Erato’s second marriage was a casualty of the incident as well; his wife filed for divorce, “citing the psychological and emotional trauma Steve Erato suffered as having so damaged and changed him to such an extensive degree as to render their marriage irredeemably damaged.”

Significantly, the raid also destroyed the career of the only officer on the scene who expressed misgivings about it – Officer Renee Porter (who at the time was Renee Dubinski), who was ordered to arrest Erato.

“Following the search, several senior police officers stood and openly discussed what charges to manufacture against Erato,” recalls the suit. When Dubinski was told to take Erato into custody, she “openly questioned if the charges proferred were even appropriate” and later acknowledged that there was no probable cause to justify the arrest.

And ... she's gone, too: Officer Dubinski.
Three days later, as something other than luck would have it, the Neenah Police Department received what it described as “an external complaint” alleging that Dubinski, a probationary officer who had been hired about a year earlier, “was dating a known drug dealer by the name of Andrew Erspamer … and that Officer Dubinski did not want the Department to know about her relationship with Erspamer because if know, she would be fired from the Department.”

Many years earlier, Erspamer had been convicted of “illegal possession of controlled substances” – specifically, steroids. Like Dubinski, Erspamer is an amateur bodybuilder. At the time they were training partners and, as Dubinski grudgingly admitted, were having an affair. The complaint against Dubinski was most likely made by another of Erspamer’s girlfriends, and it was eagerly acted upon by a police department looking for a way to be rid of an officer who displayed the first worrisome symptoms of a conscience.

The September 2012 raid from which all of this ugliness sprouted was intended to close down the motorcycle shop and forfeit the property, according to the lawsuit. “Eagle Cycles and its neighboring businesses are holdouts in Neenah’s multi-million-dollar downtown renovation project,” attorney Cole White told me.

Significantly, on December 1 – just days before the hostage stand-off and the police killing of Michael Funk – the City of Neenah had filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, claiming that the plaintiffs had neglect to respond a procedural ruling. “They sent notice of that earlier motion to the wrong address, and by the time it had arrived at my current business address the deadline to respond had passed,” White explained, referring to this as “a pretty familiar legal dirty trick.”

Dan Dringoli, who has worked with White in investigating the raid, believes that there’s even dirtier business involved in Michael Funk’s death at the hands of a police department he had sued.

“Does it sound right that a `hostage’ would run away from someone threatening to kill him, and then point a gun at a SWAT team?” asks the former Neenah police officer. “Why would they be confused as to whether Michael was a hostage, or a suspect? Steve was texting updates to the police during the hostage situation. And where is the footage from the body cameras and the surveillance footage?”

Playing the expected role in a very familiar script, Neenah Mayor Dean Kaufert has appealed for “patience” as the official “investigation” seeks for an acceptable reason to rule that the killing of Funk was justified.

Six months ago, Kaufert defended the Neenah PD’s acquisition of a $770,000 “Peacekeeper” armored vehicle through through the Pentagon’s notorious 1033 “surplus property” program. In his view, procuring this battlefield-grade vehicle was necessary to  protect the city’s enforcement caste: “The one thing I don’t want to do during my tenure as mayor is … to go to a policeman’s funeral. And so if this vehicle can protect them I’m willing to accept that.”

Honors: Bikers and veterans at Funk's funeral.
The “Peacekeeper,” which was deployed during the December 5 hostage stand-off, did nothing to protect Michael Funk, whom the Neenah Police supposedly set out to rescue. His death could be the product of either incomprehensible misfortune or uncanny – and malicious – marksmanship on the part of a police department that institutionally had cause to resent him.

Funk, an Air Force veteran, was buried yesterday (December 13) in a ceremony attended by members of motorcycle clubs from across the Midwest. Kaufert, according to media reports, was apparently not in attendance. 

Given what Funk’s lawsuit reveals about the operations of his city's government, and the police department that afflicts it, Mayor Kaufert’s presence would have been inappropriate, even if he had been inclined to attend.

This week's Freedom Zealot Podcast: Barack Obama wants to take your guns; Donald Trump wants to execute you for using those guns to defend yourself against criminal violence by the police: 

Dum spiro, pugno!