Concerning Devin Brown

OK, so now that the details have been cleared up and there’s no more question about what happend let me just recap for a second. Devin Brown, 13, decides it’s a good idea to steal a car and swipes on. Perhaps because he was 13 and didn’t know how to drive a car properly or wasn’t grown enough to actually handle the vehicle he ended up driving a bit erradically. So much so that at almost 4am when LAPD Officer Dana Grant saw him and thought he was drunk and tried to pull him over. Rather than pulling over like he should have, Devin ran into a fence. OK, so at this point the stolen car being driven by a 13 year old is crashed into a fence, and there’s a police car parked behind him. Officer Steve Garcia, Officer Grant’s partner, got out of the patrol car and yelled some commands at the stolen car. Probably something like “get out of the car with your hands on your head” or something like that – I’m just guessing from watching COPS, the reports don’t say exactly. But, rather than getting out, Devin puts the car into reverse and backs up into the police car, and yes he actually hit it. Officer Garcia then fired 10 shots into the car killing the driver, Devin, who once again was 13. So, maybe I’m just jumping to conclutions, but 10 shots into a car to kill a 13 year old seems a bit rough to me. And then there’s this:

“The Times noted that the shooting occurred about a year after LAPD officers killed another fleeing motorist who backed his car toward police at the end of a televised, 90-minute chase near Santa Monica High School.

That shooting prompted Bratton to announce last March that the department should create new rules on when officers can shoot at moving vehicles.

Bratton said such a policy should prohibit officers from shooting “unless the officer or other person are threatened by deadly force, other than the moving vehicle,” according to The Times.”

So more than a year ago it was noted that there was a problem with the policy and it needed to be changed to something more realistic, yet this kind of thing is still allowed to happen? I mean, come on, 10 shots?

UPDATE: OK, this is sketchy but I just heard on KFWB AM 980 that durring a gathering near the scene of the shooting tonight it was announced to the press that there are eye whitnesses and a video tape of the shooting that contradicts the offical police report, and that claim/show that shots were fired into the car while it was stopped against the fence before it was put into reverse and hit the police car. They also said the tape would be handed over to the press shortly. Again, I just heard that on the radio and don’t have any more news other than that.

33 thoughts on “Concerning Devin Brown”

  1. tragic, yeah. am i a cop apologist, NFW. but sean, the only thing i can take from this is that you could have done the job with one shot.

    look, a car is a weapon. if you were in the situation at 4:00 am with a car backing up at you, you damn well would have shot at him. remember: “the criminals know you’re armed too…” that’s the point, right?

    bratton can say all he wants monday morning in broad daylight to the times. i doubt anyone new the driver was a 13 year old kid. is sucks anyway you look at it.

  2. I don’t know what I’m trying to say, just kind of thinking out loud actually. I’m not saying I could have done the job in one shot, I’m questing if the job should have been done at all. Maybe it should and I should just shut up. I know being a cop is a hard job, and a dangerous one, but no one signs on to the position not knowing that as well. We give these people authority over us because we trust they are looking out for our bust interest and are trust worthy to do the job correctly. I’m having a hard time wraping my head around why a car that was stuck between a fence and a patrol car required 10 shots to handle, moving or not. I mean, really, 10 shots is a lot of bullets being fired. I don’t know how many hit the kid, and I’d be curious to find that out. The deal is the police car had it’s headlights, and probably it’s spotlight on the car, I’m not going to say the officer shouldn’t have shot the car, perhaps he felt it was required and that’s probably good enough. But I’m guessing with the lights, and with a warning shot or two it could have been determined that the kid was unarmed. Did a 13 year old kid have to die over this? I’m not convinced. Additionally, that quote from Bratton is from last year, so that’s why I bring it up -a year ago he said this shouldn’t happen this way – so why is it still happening?

    I just don’t like the idea of unarmed people being killed by police officers out of precaution. A cops job is to protect people, including the suspect.

  3. no, the one shot bit was sarcasm. you know that, and on many levels i agree with you completely. but a year ago what bratton said was still monday morning quarterbacking. and while i’m pretty disillusioned about cops in general, i don’t have a lot of sympathy for people who do stupid shit and end up paying for it, though i don’t quite know where to draw that line of what is appropriate.

    please, think out loud about it. i respect your thought process, even though that concept is currently regarded as un-american.

  4. And at the point the shots were fired, do the cops know the driver is a 13-year old boy? No, they do not – they know that someone is possibly drunk, possibly belligerent and attempting to ram them with a car in a usually hostile part of the city.

  5. I still think there could have been other options. Last time I checked being drunk, belligerent, and even attempting to ram a car into another car weren’t death penalty offences, regardless of what part of the city you are in. What I’m saying is 10 shots is a lot.

  6. Maybe if the kid was smart enough to: A. Not steal a car B. Do what he is told C. Be in bed at 4am or getting ready to go to school; then he might be playing with his friends right now and not in the city morgue. Where were the parents at 4am when he decided to steal the car?!?!

  7. If the objective is to stop the driver, what difference does it make how many shots are fired? If he wasn’t sure he was safe after firing ten, I think he should have fired even more.

    This is L.A. – if someone throws their car in reverse and aims it towards a cruiser, its perfectly reasonable to believe that the individual was out to kill a cop.

    Just sucks that the kid was black, because what should be an issue of a poorly disciplined kid is now an issue of race.

  8. Jaymes – I’m not arguing that this was some perfect kid or anything like that – I just don’t think what he did was bad enough to be shot to death on the street.

    Unsom – Then where is the line? If what you say is true how come all cops don’t just shoot to kill anyone they have any suspicion of? You are also the first person to mention the race so I don’t know how much of an issue it is.

  9. Did UnSom actually just comment that Devin’s color sucks more than his death? Fuck, I hope note.

  10. Race does matter in this case because the question becomes: if the childe was white would he be dead now?

    Since, as Police Officer Advocacy Groups often note there isn’t press when officers don’t use deadly force to end a situation, why is it so often the case that when one of these questionable cases occur, the person dead is someone of color…and usually black?

    And the question of using deadly force to stop the vehicle becomes a question of the investigation. If the driver wasn’t threatening the officer in some other overt way, why shoot to kill the driver and not to disable the car? How fast was the car going in reverse? Do we know whether or not the kid merely didn’t operate the vehicle correctly in what had become a crazy situation? Where was the second officer?

    Lots to think about…

  11. Sean raises a good point – any crime can become a death penalty crime as long as the cops “feel” threatened, whether or not they are. While I don’t have a good solution for this (other than replacing guns with non-lethal weapons for most situations – something that’ll stop you, but not kill you), it’s pretty fucked up that it’s so easy to be killed by the police.

  12. Jason said: “And the question of using deadly force to stop the vehicle becomes a question of the investigation.”

    Exactly right. There are obviously many questions not answered in the article. Was the car inching backward at engine-idle pace, or had the kid put his foot to the floor, with smoke pouring off the spinning tires? Were the car windows tinted (like mine?) Could the officer see that it was a 13-year-old boy? And, many more…

    Was firing 10 rounds excessive? From this vantage point it seems so, but again, we weren’t there. I’ve got friends on the job at LAPD, and they’ve told me stories of being truly scared for their lives. In the heat of that moment, I think I might be able to squeeze off 10 rounds.

    Finally, the Times quoted Bratton saying: such a policy should prohibit officers from shooting “unless the officer or other person are threatened by deadly force, *other than* the moving vehicle.”

    That’s the most ridiculous statement I can imagine. A vehicle can be a deadly weapon. To prevent an officer from responding to a threat of deadly force unless a second threat is present is absolutely ludicrous. My hope is that our police are trained well enough to recognize a genuine threat, and not overreact to a situation that can be handled less drastically.

  13. The whole thing just sucks. No way around it. And a child died because a police officer got filled with fear and instead of thinking of taking out the tires or anything else….he opened fire on the person. It just points to the extreme lack of training on how to handle a situation under stress. these poor guys (the cops) are so reactive that the easiest thing to do is shoot to kill. But there’s got to be a better way and as I see it, it’s educating, educating, educating. I know there isn’t a lot of time to remain calm in these instances….especially at 4am….but my god. If we spent half as much $$$ on training these guys to handle stressful situations as we do to rely on their guns, so much tragedy could be avoided.

  14. I understand what your saying Tammara, but I’m reserving judgment against any alleged lack of training the cops receive. I think whatever they may or may not learn in the academy they get from the streets. And the unfortunate lesson the streets teach far too often is Kill Or Be Killed.

    Does that resolve such drastic and deadly force? Of course not. But whatever caused the officer to pull the trigger a nightmarish 10 times, I can’t say I wouldn’t do the same thing under the same circumstances.

    So instead of hindsighting what the officer should have or could have done to prevent the boy’s death, I’m much more interested in looking at the parent(s) or guardian(s) and what they could have or should have done to prevent the child from accessing a lifestyle that allowed stealing a car in the dead of night.

    To me, an officer is responsible for upholding the law and coming off-shift alive. Those truly responsible for Devin’s death are the ones who were irresponsible with his life.

  15. i can’t even imagine how much training it would take to shoot out the back tires of a vehicle backing up from a short distance away at me. also i’m pretty damn sure that if you DID hit the tires the car wouldn’t stop.

    also, do you dive out of the way and not shoot and then deal with the fallout if the criminal drives away and hits and kills some civilian because you didn’t shoot to stop them????

    regardless of fault, circumstances, laws or anything, it’s a fucked up shame that things like this happen.

  16. I don’t know. I agree that it’s ultimately the parents fault. But clearly his parents or guardians aren’t (weren’t) present enough to take care of him. god knows what fucked up story is behind him being out at 4am in a stolen vehicle. I know the car wouldn’t have STOPPED but it wouldn’t have gone far without the tires inflated. Clearly TEN shots was overkill (ha!) and I’m sure the officer was simply reacting in fear. I’m just saying that if there is a lot of training to control reactive impulses (shooting (10) times), there might be less of these scenarios where everyone clucks and sighs, what a shame!

  17. I remember seeing the shooting from a year ago on live TV. Later in replaying it, they cut away before the shots were fired. The car was going pretty slow, kind of a fender bender into the police car, but I can definitely understand the fear of the officers and the adrenaline. Once again I find myself agreeing with Will. It’s so sad that this young man started down a path that night that lead to this conclusion. There were a lot of mistakes and bad choices along the way. Finally, don’t “pretend” to threaten people with guns – they can shoot you.

  18. Wow, do we live in Deadwood? Since when would it be ok for a policeman to fire 10 shots into a car at all unless someone is shooting at them? The reason you don’t do that is because, oh, well, I don’t know, maybe a 13 year old boy is inside. And if they thought the person was drunk, then wouldn’t they have thought that the backing up wasn’t malicious, just drunk behavior. It’s ridiculous. And I seriously don’t want to hear that none of you ever were out late when you weren’t supposed to be or “borrowed” your parents car. And, regardless, even if you didn’t, this kid didn’t deserve to be shot because his parents didn’t do a good enough job of keeping him home.

  19. ok, i was trying to be cool, but caryn, if someone is driving a fucking car at you, you should get off as many bullets as you can at them. period.

  20. Slap – The officer was next to the car (according to eye whitness reports) and the stopped car was about 5 feet in front of the car when it was put into reverse so to say that he was “driving a car at someone” is a bit of a stretch at this point. Also, see the update to the original post as there’s new questions about when the shots were fired.

  21. Shit Slap, I didn’t realize that’s what you were supposed to do when a car comes at you. I always thought you were to get out of the fucking way. I’ll make a note of that next time someone gets in my lane on the freeway or comes at me in a parking lot. I wish I knew about that rule when I lived in Chicago. To be less sarcastic, the car wasn’t being driven at the cop and we don’t live in the wild west anymore. Cops aren’t civilians, if a car is backing up towards one of them, then they need to get out of the fucking way or shoot the tires. They know their job is about risks. This guy was either scared or feeling full of himself. I’m sorry but wasting people is the wrong way to go about an out-of-control car. Sorry.

  22. Caryn, if you construed any of what I posted to mean that I felt the child deserved to be shot, then I need to enroll in remedial communication or you need to enroll in remedial interpretation.

    As to my being a kid once and doing “bad” things, I’ll confess that a long long time ago before email and after Jimmy Carter, I did some stupid things and got away with some even stupider things. But I also had a mom I respected a lot and feared a little, and it’s a crying shame if Devin didn’t have that type of guardian raising him.

  23. (Will, I made no such comment that it sucked more that the kid was black than that he was killed – if anything, I was just alluding to that the issue of potentially excessive force or irresponsible police tactics will be outweighed by the issue of race. And as you know, when race becomes a factor in police investigations, very bad things can happen to the city as a whole.)

  24. shoot out the tires? are you people serious?

    i’m not taking a stand either way, but SHOOT OUT THE TIRES?!

    Have you ever shot a gun before? Or even better, have you ever felt that you were in danger, had shot a gun AND tried to shoot something the that size?

    And really, if the cop felt it was okay to shoot once, what difference does it make if it was once, twice or ten times? One bullet can kill just as effectively as ten can. It’s silly to think that there are situations where shooting once is okay, but not, say, five times. If someone decides to shoot, they need to shoot til they’re safe.

  25. sorry this is a day old, but shit cary, you’re fucking clueless. (sorry sean) did you see that car chase where a guy drove from simi to oxnard on his rims because the spike strip only blew out the tires. and i’m sure you looked at the paper this morning, but dude apparently backed up, hit the cop car, then forward and hit it again. pretty damn threatening i’d guess. and save your sanctimony.

    and use my name. slappin is pretty damn close, shortening it is insulting. will can respect that, maybe you can too.

  26. sorry. i just think that blaming the cops out of hand is cheap and easy. maybe they were wrong, maybe not, but does anyone think that we’ll all be happy with however this turns out? ten shots, one shot, whatever.

  27. Oh, and what’s s0 righteous about questiong a cop that shoots one, two, ten bullets into a car? Maybe the tires thing was a dumb thing to say but, jesus, fucking chill out.

  28. Time for police cruisers to have cameras. Now. On another note…first time poster(who usually lurks) who is also one of Devin’s former teachers @ the “dreaded” Audubon M.S.. Devin was a sweet kid …not very studious but a sweetheart nonetheless. In no way, shape, or form would I believe he was trying to RAM that police car. He was probably frightened and simply trying to back up and get out of there.

    With that said, I can’t believe what I’m reading. It’s OKAY (unfortunate, but nevertheless OKAY) to shoot at a car 10 times even when, as the officer on the scene, you’re not even IN said police car. We have witnessed hundreds of police chases, some of which began with the police KNOWING that the suspect had a gun and actually FIRED it at them, and they’ve waited it out. Or smashed a car window, opened the door and dragged the suspect out by his hind legs. WHY WAS THIS DIFFERENT?

    The policy that led to the shooting of that man in Santa Monica last year (did you actually see how slow THAT car was moving…it practically moved in slow motion) and Devin last week is JUST PLAIN WRONG.

    Finally, Devin was wrong for being in that car at that time of night whether he started out driving, or was just a passenger.But did that child deserve to be shot 10 times? Would your child?

  29. Audubon, thanks for posting. As tragic as Devin’s death is I can only imagine how much moreso it is for you having personally known him. I am equally incredulous at the officer’s actions, but trying to keep my judgment in check in the (perhaps naive) hope that a thorough investigation will be conducted and a just decision returned.

    It should be noted that the shooting you referenced last year in Santa Monica was reported yesterday in the L.A. Times as having been ruled to be “out of policy.”

  30. Former resident of SoCal here. I can only sit and wonder what some of you guys are smokin’ out there. This 13 year old stole a car. At 4 in the morning. And tried to kill a police officer by ramming him with it. The police officer shot back at him and killed him. With all due respect to Audubon, who described the victim as a “sweetheart” — and I’m sorry, but a sweetheart does not steal cars. Period. — I am not crying over this young thug’s death. And I can’t believe that anyone else is.

    Here is an easy way to avoid being shot by police — don’t commit a crime. Don’t steal cars. Don’t burglarize people’s homes. Don’t run from cops. Don’t threaten anyone. Don’t mug anyone. Respect others as well as yourself.

    The only person ultimately responsible for Devin Brown’s death is Devin Brown. Not his parents, though their irresponsibility certainly conributed to it, and not the police. Devin, through his own stupid, selfish, dangerous, criminal and predatory behavior is responsible for his own death.

    The sooner people grasp that simple fact in this and other similar cases around the country, the sooner police will be able to get a handle on crime in lawless areas like South Central.

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