In short, consider this an exercise in both responsibility and accountability. Thank you.
I see many threads and read many posts by a variety of people discussing and planning for a “PAW” and how they plan on protecting their family and their property. The assumption is that some switch will be turned on and the rules of law will some how, at some point, be suspended. It will then be acceptable both morally and legally to do that which we individually deem "necessary" to ensure the “survival of our family and ourselves”.
The purpose of this thread is not to discount that likelihood or even the probability that a PAW environment can exist but rather it is to discuss the fact that a more probable event is one where there is significant disruption of law and order. However that ultimately this law and order will be restored. In such an environment you may be called to answer for your actions in what you perceived to be the PAW but in reality was not a PAW.
During the immediate aftermath of Katrina there was a widespread feeling in the GNO area that the world had indeed ended. That we were living in the PAW. Even I felt this way initially. It is easy to get into a mentality where you think you can do something, that no one will care and that you will not be held accountable for your actions. Fortunately I did not do anything that will get me in trouble but I was very aware that others did not believe this.
In my Katrina story I recounted an experience in which a Joe Friday LEO seemed to indicate to me that the LEOs had a Wild West mentality. In other words if someone gets shot by the LEOs they would simply ignore the whole event. There have been many stories most of them centered on the NOPD, however there is no reason to assume that others both LEO and civilian did not engage in similar activity.
Recently there has been intense federal scrutiny into the actions of various NOPD officers during the aftermath of the storm. These stories have been circulating for many years. They may or may not be true. That is for a court to decide, not me or others on this forum.
The other reason for this post is to understand that in each incident we may be on either end of the situation, either as a survivor, LEO/NG or homeowner. There are lessons to be learned for all in these incidents.
Finally I note that I am not picking on LEOs or even the NOPD. Also anyone who dismisses this as a GNO only phenomenon I would point out that this article deals only with the NOPD. Similar misdeeds have been reported for other federal and out of state agencies and are still under investigation.
I believe that we are all responsible for our own actions; especially where the use of firearms and lethal force is concerned. I believe in the right of self defense, but I also believe in the rule of law and personal accountability for individual actions. I think it is important for anyone who finds him or herself unexpectedly in a serious SHTF situation to recognize that you should assume at some point in time you will likely be held accountable for your actions. Life is not a video game and simply saying I was defending my self or my stuff may not be sufficient if lethal force is used. Remember this before you decide the rule of law is gone.
The local newspaper (N.O. Times Picayune) did an excellent article on several shooting deaths that occurred in the aftermath of Katrina. This series of article are my primary source since it is easily accessible via internet.
A link to an Overview PDF
The first incident details an incident witnessed by reporters in which they saw “the motionless body of a man at Religious and Richard streets in New Orleans on Sept. 1, 2005. After the photographer snapped this image from the window of a car, the police tried to confiscate the memory card that contained the photo, but took the card from a different camera instead. The former NOPD 6th District commander says although it’s possible the man lying on the ground was roughed up, the man was not dead.”
The photograph at the top tells the story.
Link to full story
I think the lesson to this story is that you should not be out for a casual stroll to see the sights in the aftermath of a disaster.
Matthew McDonald was out walking when “five officers were in a white GMC pickup driving down Burgundy Street in Faubourg Marigny on the afternoon of Sept. 3 when they saw McDonald".
In interviews with Sgt. Doug Eckert, the officers said they observed McDonald carrying a “handgun and a bottle containing an unknown liquid” in a white plastic bag. The report doesn’t explain how the police could tell the bag contained a gun.
According to the report, Lt. Bryant Wininger hopped out of the pickup armed with an assault rifle and commanded McDonald to drop the sack. McDonald ignored the order and “reached into the bag in an attempt to remove a handgun,’’ the report said.
Wininger, the report said, feared for his life and fired four shots in rapid sequence, the last two as McDonald lay on the ground. The officers said they then immediately rushed McDonald to West Jefferson Medical Center in Marrero”.
Link to Article
The lesson here like the one above regarding a casual stroll while obviously armed is not very smart. However the key lesson is if confronted by a LEO during said stroll, immediately put your hands where they can see them in a non-threatening manner. The comment I hear from LEOs about this is “In God we trust; everyone else keep your hands where we can see them” and it applies here.
The other lesson is that in a SHTF situation the LEOs may not be everywhere but they will be traveling in force, not alone. If you see one LEO or NG you should assume there are many others in very close proximity. Do not do anything stupid or even appear to do anything stupid. Do not resist or hesitate in any way. Obey their commands ASAP.
The final lesson is for those who claim they will stand up for their rights to be armed and resist being disarmed: In the above situation it would not be difficult to assume the man in question told the LEOs that he had rights and could walk where he wanted. In such a situation if you try to be a street attorney the best outcome you can expect is to get you butt kicked, weapon taken away, handcuffed and arrested. What happened to McDonald was a bad outcome, death, but at least they took him to the hospital. A worse outcome is that they leave you in the street to die.
“Danny Brumfield Sr. was among thousands of people gathered near the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center on Sept. 2, 2005. Inexplicably, the report said, he leaped onto the hood of a police car and made a “stabbing motion” through the passenger window while gripping a potentially lethal weapon — a pair of scissors. Fearing for his life, the officer in the passenger seat fired a single blast from his pistol-grip Mossberg shotgun, a personal weapon, killing Brumfield with a shot through his left shoulder, the report states.”
He was using the scissors to cut up boxes so his grandchildren did not have to sit on pavement and approached the vehicle with said scissors in his hand. The scissors are visible near the head of his corpse.
Link to article
This is an example of why you should stay the away for any LEO/NG during a SHTF situation. They are likely to be stressed and in a really bad mood. Any act of aggression on your part is likely to be misinterpreted and result in a very bad outcome for you. I said this in my Katrina article. In a SHTF situation you should not assume the LEO/NG are your friends or even on your side for that matter. Your best bet is to simply stay away from them.
“The tip came in on the morning of Thursday, Sept. 1, 2005, as disorder was spreading through the devastated city: Somebody had stolen a Kentwood Springs bottled water truck and was luring in thirsty flood victims with a promise of free water. As people approached the truck, they were being attacked and robbed.
Capt. Jeff Winn, then the commander of the New Orleans Police Department’s SWAT team, said the information had come from a fellow officer. “We heard that they had actually shot and hurt somebody and thrown ‘em off the Claiborne overpass,” Winn recalled later in a taped interview, adding that those involved “were actually raping women.”
Winn organized a strike force of SWAT cops and K-9 officers, according to police documents. Officers gathered at Paul B. Habans Elementary School on the West Bank, the SWAT team’s temporary headquarters after Katrina, and then headed to the tangle of highway onramps and exits near the Superdome.
He rolled out in a Ford Crown Victoria with Lt. Dwayne Scheuermann. At about 1 p.m., they found what they were looking for: several Kentwood Springs trucks parked on the overpass. Winn and Scheuermann drove onto a ramp and took up a position overlooking the road while other officers approached the trucks.
The two said they immediately spied trouble: a man with a handgun standing near the back of the trucks. Armed with assault rifles, Winn and Scheuermann fired a barrage of high-velocity rounds. They peppered the torso of Keenon McCann, 28, a tall, beefy 9th Ward native.
There was just one problem: When the officers apprehended McCann, they didn’t find a gun, according to NOPD records. The officer who later investigated the incident speculated that McCann threw his weapon off the overpass.”
Link to Article
This incident shows why looting is not smart. If you are even in close proximity to looters you are in danger either form the looters or anyone arriving on the scene. Someone arriving on the scene may or will assume you are a looter; regardless of your actions. Assuming the person in the picture was not doing anything but rather just an innocent bystander he was nevertheless targeted and shot. Not a good outcome. The lesson is simple: If it is not your property leave it alone and stay away from looters.
Henry Glover was shot on Sept. 2, William Tanner was on Seine Drive near Texas Drive, not far from his home, talking to a woman about where he might find gas for his car. Suddenly, out of the corner of his eye, he saw a man fall to the ground at the street's edge and he heard somebody exclaim, "Henry Glover got shot."
Tanner put Glover in his car along with the injured man's brother and another man and drove him to where the NOPD SWAT team had set up camp during the storm. Glover had apparently been shot by officers of this SWAT team while looting a nearby store and the LEOs assumed they were all looters and proceeded to rough them up.
At one point, an officer took Tanner's key chain, removed the key to his car and headed toward his Chevy Malibu, with flares sticking out of the front pocket of his cargo pants, Tanner recalled. The officer took off in the car, following other officers who were in a white truck, he said.
Eventually, a police officer recognized Tanner as someone from the area who had helped her on an earlier day. She intervened with the other officers at the school and they agreed to let Tanner go, he said. The other men were also eventually released.
Tanner grabbed his house keys and walked home, calling his wife to ask her to drive back to New Orleans to pick him up.
The car along with Glover’s body was eventually found several months later in the torched remains of Tanner’s car.
Link to story
The lesson to learn here is that if you assume no one will care what you do and that the PAW is upon you; you should also keep in mind that you may have federal agents investigating your actions several years later. DO not fall into the mindset that you are not accountable for your actions. These LEOs clearly made that mistake.
Glover also made a mistake by going to a store to get "things". He was shot for his trouble. Tanner almost went to jail for being a good citizen. If he had stayed home this would not have happened. Once again strolling around after a disaster is not smart.
This incident and the recent legal developments are what precipitated this thread. An NOPD officer was recently indicted and will likely plead guilty to the following felony indictment.
Link to Indictment
This incident actually made national news the day it happened. A truck load of NOPD officers got in a shoot out with some bad guys. The problem is that the people shot and killed by the LEOs were not armed and they were simply survivors walking over a bridge. They were in fact running from another groups of armed people and simple were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The NOPD then actively covered up their actions. They are now about the pay the price for their lack of responsibility.
Link to Story
The lesson to this should be clear to everyone by now. Walking around in a disaster zone is dangerous. If these people had been dressed in cammies and had other mall ninja gear it is likely everyone would have been targeted and killed without question. In such a case the LEOs would likely have been praised for killing gang bangers/snipers/vigilante/pick you own bad guy. Carrying weapons openly and dressing in cammies (even if legal in the area) will get you killed in a SHTF situation.
The other lesson is don’t stay in a disaster zone if you can avoid it. This group of people had the means (car & money) to leave before the storm and they chose to stay. They were not adequately prepared. They chose to leave their apartment to go to another more secure location. If you choose to bug in, chose you bug in location carefully and be prepared to deal with the likely threat for several weeks and stay bugged in during this time.
The final lesson is that I am sure all of the LEOs involved here, assumed no one would find out about their mistake; after all the world had ended. Right? That said, several years later they are now being asked hard questions for which the answers are difficult for all involved. Do not assume just because TSHTF you are absolved of your legal obligations when you act.
As a post script, Phil posted this comment before this thread was posted publicly. This is exactly the situation you will face in a SHTF situation. Be careful who you chose as a target or chose to disobey.
Edited to add disclaimer:phil_in_cs wrote: I'd note too in your first link, 3rd photo, officer Fath: There's no way to know he is an officer from that photo. Wearing a 'wife beater' undershirt, shorts, camo hunting shotgun, holstered pistol.
His buddies know he's an officer though, and if you think he's a common looter or miscreant and treat him as such, your world is about to end.
I have no personal knowledge of these incidents beyond the published reports. I was not at the scene of any of these incidents and was not a participant in any way.