Maybe they thought the world would shrug and move on

Maybe they thought the world would shrug and move on

Seeing atrocities committed every day for months now is seriously fucking me up. Lucky me safe at home. Worse is seeing so many people, including our government and media, either denying that it's happening or saying that it's good that it is. Or necessary. Some might go so far as to say it's all very sad... but...necessary. No matter how many of us cry out that it has to stop they won't do anything.

I can almost understand why some people don't bother paying attention in the first place. Or tune out. Become numb. What does bearing witness amount to at long last?

What was it I said a few weeks ago?

I don't think I know how to live correctly. If there is a correct way. What does a person do?

Before we get going in earnest today with a great piece of reporting on a more American flavored style of daily atrocity I want to share something that made me fall out of my seat when I saw it this morning. My old buddy Kevin Patey, who I used to see a lot back in the days when I spent like five nights a week in the T.T. the Bears bathroom – god awful even by rock club bathroom standards, especially for my purposes at the time – was rummaging around through some old shit in his house when he came across a goddamn treasure. It should be in a museum.

Here's what he posted about it:

"When I first dated my ex wife Mary Lou Lord she had a buddy that used to sleep on the couch when they were touring together. Great guy that I had a lot of fun times with… anyhoo he used to give her songs he wasn’t sure about. I remember her getting these lyrics with a cassette tape. He wasn’t sure if the song was any good, told her she should maybe take it. Today these were found inside a book at my house. Original typewritten lyrics (on a typewriter) with handwritten notes. Elliott Smiths original lyrics to Miss Misery that ended up getting him nominated for an Oscar. Miss my old drinking buddy Elliott…"

What a thing to have. What a thing to exist in the first place.

Obligatory re-share of this one.

Having had enough of it all
The top 5 Elliott Smith songs ever

Check out Kevin's rockabilly act Jittery Jack by the way they're a lot of fun.

Mary Lou is of course amazing as well. Here's one of Elliott's songs she made her own.

Today we have a piece by Joey Scott, an independent investigative journalist and documentary photographer based in Los Angeles who covers protests, policing, surveillance, and prisons. Scott has spent the past two years trying to get the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department to release footage of themselves killing a 15-year-old girl named Savannah Graziano and her father Anthony Granziano. The girl had been kidnapped by her father and was shot by police as she was walking toward them to "safety." As they had instructed her to do.

Whether or not this girl had her death coming
Thanks for reading as always. The next issue will be paid-only so subscribe to make sure you get it as well as access to everything in the archives. SUPPORT THIS NEWSLETTER At the beginning of his press conference yesterday Sheriff Shannon Dicus of San Bernadino County introduced himself to reporters.

You may remember I covered this story back in 2022. I wrote about what, at the time, we could only assume were lies from the cops about what really happened.

Obviously I do not know exactly what happened here. None of us will until we see a heavily edited video that does as much as technically feasible to absolve the cops of blame at some point down the line once people have largely moved on from this story. So is it technically possible that this fifteen year old girl who just saw her mother shot to death by her father decided to willingly go along with him on a high speed shootout against the police and when their truck was finally stopped she made one last mad unarmed dash at the cops to try to fight them like Wolverine? I suppose that is technically within the realm of possibility. Although I'd say it's maybe more likely that a terrified kidnapped child saw her opportunity to run away from her violent father into the arms of the police who she must have assumed were there to save her. And then the cops valuing nothing but their own cowardly lives got scared of the girl and her scary army vest and murdered her.

Can you imagine the relief and then immediate confused fear she must have felt before she was killed if she even had time to think of anything? Wait why are they shooting at me? This poor fucking girl.

As it turns out much of what we all assumed happened here initially was in fact what happened. We only know this thanks to Scott being a pain in the department's asshole and finally getting them to release the footage (in the raw footage sent to Scott on Friday, which he has made available for any news outlet to use via downloading the file here, and in a highly edited and strangely narrated video here, released yesterday).

"I hope that this video will be watched in its entirety and provide insight into the unfortunate events that unfolded that day,” Sheriff Shannon Dicus said this week in a statement. “There has been speculation and misrepresentations about this case, and I would ask the public to allow the DOJ to complete its independent investigation before reaching a conclusion.”

Ok man let's all do that. Let's wait a little while longer.

As always it costs money to pay for great work like this so if you can support the newsletter with a subscription it would be appreciated. Hell World pays freelancers about as much as 1000 times bigger websites and it's just me some guy and not a whole fucking corporation.

Stop shooting her

by Joey Scott

On Friday morning the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department released video footage of the 2022 shooting of 15-year-old Savannah Graziano and her father Anthony Graziano. The videos came after two years of police controlling the narrative of what happened that day. This is despite, or more likely because of significant public concerns over why the younger Graziano, who they were ostensibly trying to rescue, had to be shot to death. 

For two years I fought for the release of this footage via FOIA requests. For two years they dragged their feet, claiming, as police often do, that it would compromise an ongoing investigation. Finally sharing the videos before the start of the Easter weekend then was a telegraphed choice. Maybe they thought the world would shrug and move on, perhaps direct their focus to another, more recent, state-sponsored killing. There is certainly no shortage of them. For example, the same department killed 15-year-old autistic boy Ryan Gainer seconds after encountering him during a mental health episode a few weeks ago. 

As many of us suspected, the footage made clear the horrible reality of what happened leading up to the shootings, and, what’s worse, that the police have known all of this all along. They knew that they had killed an unarmed teenage girl walking toward them for help and they sat on it for two years.

Savannah was reported abducted by her father in September 2022, after police found her mother, his estranged wife, Tracy Martinez, shot dead in the driveway of their home in the city of Fontana. Anthony also shot at a parent and their child outside of a nearby school before taking off. An Amber Alert was sent out, and a day later a gas station worker spotted them and alerted police to their possible location. 

When police eventually caught up to them, he took deputies on a 70-mile pursuit on I-15, shooting back at them on the busy freeway. In an attempt to turn around by going the wrong way on an off-ramp, he drove up an embankment and stalled. In the video footage, his truck can be seen rolling backwards towards deputies, with dirt being kicked up from police gunfire missing the truck and hitting the ground all around it. 

It was assumed at the time by police that Savannah was still in the truck, but nonetheless, the scared deputies pumped full of adrenaline, fired entire clips of ammunition toward it. 

“Come. Come. Come. Come. Walk. Walk. Walk” one of them can be heard saying in audio taken from a deputy’s belt. They’re talking to the girl here. In a separate video from a police helicopter, Savannah can be seen at the time walking out of the truck hesitantly and lying on the ground. The helicopter calls out that the daughter is out, and deputies surround the truck, firing from both sides, with others on an elevated off-ramp firing toward traffic on the freeway. 

Their cascading sounds of gunfire can be heard in the background as a deputy yells “Walk. Walk. Walk.” Then suddenly “Stop. Stop shooting her!”

“Oh no,” the helicopter pilot says next in the aerial video as the girl instantly becomes a blurred image edited in over her body by the police. The blurring is meant to obstruct viewers from the sight of a teenage girl being shot by the very people meant to rescue her on the video, but serves as a metaphor for the entire way they’ve handled this case. 

Soon after deputies attempted to administer aid as she lay on the freeway shoulder. She would later die at the hospital. 

It’s still at this point unclear how many times she was shot, the names of the deputies who shot her, or if the department has internally punished anyone for the handling of the shooting. Neither the department nor the California Attorney General have offered any follow-up on the shooting since 2022. 

In the critical incident video compiled and edited by the department, a slide reads:

“...but it was too late” is as close to an admission of fault as you’ll ever see from a police department. 

There are plenty of criticisms to be made of body cams. Edited body cam footage and studio-produced critical incident videos exist for police departments’ benefit to exonerate cops. Rarely do they lead to the police accountability that liberals have tried to sell as a compromise to defund activists and abolitionists each time a person is killed by police. But no matter how imperfect they may be, without the release of such videos, all we would ever have are the cops’ words. 

After killing Savannah and Anthony, the department and Sheriff Shannon Dicus tried to sell several different scenarios to the news, who were happy to carry the department’s water. “She ran at the officers,” was one lie. Other tales they told played up the girl’s potential involvement, insinuating that she had been the one shooting at deputies from the pickup truck. In press conferences after the shootings, Dicus and others repeated multiple times that she was wearing tactical gear, as if to imply some nefarious intent on her behalf. 

As if any of these situations would have justified killing her. 

Cops lie. We all know this. It’s baked into their culture. Looking back at how they handled this case you can see just how reflexive and easily lying comes to them. And what the department didn’t directly lie about here, they mischaracterized. She was not in fact running. She was unarmed. There is no clear evidence, even in the videos provided, that she fired at police. The only evidence of the so-called tactical gear is a photo of a helmet on the side of the highway where Savannah lay. 

The videos lay bare the gulf between the truth of what happened and the initial lies the police told in the immediate aftermath, hoping those would comprise the story that stuck for the public.

Like their deputy gang-laden Los Angeles counterparts, or the Riverside County Sheriff's Department, which is run by a former Oath Keeper runs, San Bernardino Sheriffs are their toxic police force. One only has to go to last week for an example. Deputies were caught kneeing and punching a person’s head during an arrest. The Sheriff quickly went to work muddying the waters, implying the suspect had a gang affiliation, a claim his friends outright deny.  

Worse yet, several days before the beating of that suspect, the San Bernardino Sheriff's deputies killed Ryan Gainer, the 15-year-old in crisis I mentioned above. Deputies claimed he was armed with a sharp-bladed tool, which later turned out to be a gardening hoe. Since-released body cam footage showed that this time, once again, the inaccuracies between the police claims of fearing for their lives in the face of “extreme violence” and the reality of the situation, which was a scared kid who needed help, not to be killed. 

In 2021 a law called the Deadly Force Accountability Act (AB 1506) was created to give the Attorney General authority to investigate any “officer-involved shootings resulting in the death of unarmed civilians.” (The exonerative tense is already going to work there to absolve any cops of fault.) 

As such the investigation into Savannah’s death is now in the hands of the AG, where it sits among 40-plus other open cases of police shootings of unarmed people. 

It’s hard not to feel sure and sickened about the inevitable outcome. Police killings are the highest they have ever been, with little to no consequences for the ones doing the shooting. The disparity in consequences is a feature not a bug in our political system. 

Since AB 1506 was passed, four cases, including Savannah’s, have involved the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department. Only six investigations statewide have been closed by the AG. The outcome of those cases in question is about what you’d expect: not a single charge has been filed against the police.

A clip from a gas station surveillance camera was included in the video release. It was the last place Savannah and her father were seen before someone spotted them and called 911. Savannah is waiting to buy two bottles of water from the cashier. She’s wearing an oversized t-shirt with Jesus in big letters written across it with a hooded sweatshirt underneath. The tactical gear all along was a Jesus t-shirt, worn by the girl they were meant to save, who died at the hands of the state. 

Joey Scott is an independent investigative journalist and documentary photographer based in Los Angeles.