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At the beginning of his press conference yesterday Sheriff Shannon Dicus of San Bernadino County introduced himself to reporters. Considering how often cops lie I’m not sure I even trust him on the spelling of his own name. He then went on to explain the preliminary version of events police have scrambled to put together to cover their own asses in what appears to be a massive murderous fuck up. There was an “officer involved shooting” as he called it and as the stenographers in the press always agree to call these things on behalf of the police.
Here are some things about this story we can reasonably assume are true: On Monday of this week a woman named Tracy Martinez of Fontana, California was apparently shot dead by her estranged husband Anthony Graziano. After killing her mother Graziano took off with their fifteen year old daughter Savanna and an Amber Alert was sent out around the area for the kidnapped girl. On Tuesday Graziano’s truck was spotted and a police chase along the highway ensued. Police say that someone inside of the truck was shooting back at them. When the truck eventually came to a stop a person came out of the passenger side and rushed toward police and so they shot her dead. It was the very kidnapping victim they were ostensibly trying to save.
Dicus said there was only one rifle recovered inside of the truck and I can guarantee if there was another one they could plausibly place in the vicinity of the dead girl we’d know about it already. In the absence of a second gun they had to come up with something to make her seem suspicious. Here’s how he described what happened.
“During that firefight the suspect vehicle comes to rest, at which time a subject exits the passenger side of the vehicle wearing tactical gear. That subject starts to run toward Sheriff’s Deputies and during the gun fight goes down…They contact the subject wearing the tactical gear, and we believe that both the suspect in the vehicle and the person that's contacted with the tactical gear, that that person is our 15-year-old juvenile, Savannah. The suspect we believe is Graziano inside the car."
He goes on to repeat that line about tactical gear over and over again throughout the press conference. It’s a detail that was picked up and shared immediately by local and national press.
Here’s CBS News LA:
Deputies also revealed that Savannah Graziano, the 15-year-old girl at the center of Monday's Amber Alert was also fatally shot during Tuesday's shootout, where she was allegedly wearing tactical gear. They reported that she charged at the deputies in the middle of the firefight, and that she was possibly firing at them with her father.
Here’s the Washington Post:
Throughout the chase, Graziano — and possibly his daughter as well — was “constantly shooting back at the deputies” through the truck’s rear window, Dicus said. ...
Dicus said the girl was wearing tactical gear as she exited a truck’s passenger side and ran toward the sheriff’s deputies. She fell to the ground amid the gunfire. The deputies did not initially realize it was the girl who was running toward them, Dicus said, because she was wearing a helmet and a military-style vest that can hold armored plates.
This was all in broad daylight by the way.
“She fell to the ground amid the gunfire” is great. Fucking great. And the bit about the vest that “can” hold armored plates. No one has said that it did just that it can.
Nonetheless just like that this kernel of doubt about whether or not this girl had her death coming has been introduced to poison the well in the news and on social media. Here are a couple assholes I picked at random among many as an example. There will be a lot more of this type of thing as there always is when the cops kill someone.
Why was she wearing tactical gear? the cop kissers are already asking. Why would she run at the police?
As to the first question: WHO GIVES A SHIT? Tactical gear? We're talking about tactical gear here? What even is that? Is that a thing we're all automatically supposed to be familiar with and scared of now? And besides how powerful and protective could this girl's alleged tactical gear even be if they still were able to mow her down almost instantly?
As for the second question I have a pretty good guess why a kidnapped girl might run toward the police.
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.
In the Amber Alert Savanna had been described as having brown hair and brown eyes and being 5-foot-2 and 110 pounds.
"After a pursuit and shooting, the California Highway Patrol canceled the Amber Alert," the CBS LA story helpfully explained. That makes sense. I guess the cops found her alright.
Quick update: Yareni Rios Gonzalez the woman I wrote about the other day who cops in Colorado locked up inside of a cruiser they left parked on train tracks which was then struck by a train has been released from the hospital. According to her lawyer she is bedridden in a lot of pain.
Elsewhere here's some great reporting by Tori Bedford at GBH about another topic we've covered in here recently.
Boston police officers logged nearly $4 million in overtime pay between 2019 and 2020 for work at Massachusetts Avenue and Melnea Cass Boulevard, or Mass. and Cass, an area marked by a seemingly unending cycle of homelessness, crime, substance use and poverty.
Homeless advocates, mental health professionals and public policy experts said the millions used for policing during that period could have been better spent on health and recovery services.
“There would be so much scrutiny on $4 million if it were used transparently for services and couldn’t be as easily dismissed as a line item in a police department budget,” said Maggie Sullivan, a nurse practitioner at Boston Health Care for the Homeless. “That much money could make a really significant dent at Mass. and Cass. Who should ever wait for a detox bed if there’s $4 million to spare?”
As I was saying the other day in this discussion about how the city of Los Angeles addresses homelessness:
Another thing I wanted to mention regarding the sweeps is the amount that they're spending on the trucks, and all the cops standing around, probably on overtime, and all that type of shit. Again, just give that fucking money to the people instead of spending it on this theater that makes the mayors look like they're cleaning up the streets.
The waste is incredible. A lot of the problems that people have with seeing unhoused people could be solved with effective investment in public infrastructure. We don't like to see human waste on the ground. Okay. Well, Los Angeles doesn't have any public bathrooms. You literally cannot find a bathroom for miles if you're not a paying customer.
Similar in Boston.
I don't like seeing needles on the ground. Okay. Well, there should be trash cans around. There's no trash cans within like six blocks of me. I was walking my dog on a really long walk, and it hit me one day, like, wow, I can't throw the poop away because I can’t find a single fucking trash can. Imagine being unhoused, and you're an addict, and you're using needles, and you have to walk two miles to drop off a needle in the public trash can. That's unrealistic. If you're tired of seeing people in tents, then put them in a house, put them in an apartment.
People on the left and right agree that it's a problem people are living on the street perhaps using drugs in public and so on. There is money being spent to address this. The difference is on whether that money should be spent to help or to punish. We do a lot of the latter now and strangely it doesn't seem to be working. Maybe we just need to give the cops a little more money and they'll finally figure it out.
Ok that's all for today. Subscribe if you're able to please and thanks.