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What Happened To Fouad Kaady: the state of mind of kaady's killers

Sunday, May 27, 2007

the state of mind of kaady's killers

author: global roaming - published in Portland IndyMedia

Fouad Kaady was killed on September 8 2005, by a Clackamas County Sherriff's deputy named David Willard and Sandy police officer William Bergin, despite being unarmed and seriously injured from burns. He had evidently torn his clothes off to escape the flames of a fire in his motor vehicle.

The basic scenario is so outrageous that it has left many people completely appalled. But one thing that hasn't been talked about much is the state of mind of the cops who killed Kaady.

Fouad Kaady was killed on September 8 2005, by a Clackamas County Sherriff's deputy named David Willard and a City of Sandy police officer named William Bergin, despite being unarmed and seriously injured from burns. He had evidently torn his clothes off to escape the flames of a fire in his motor vehicle.

The basic scenario is so outrageous that it has left many people completely appalled. But one thing that hasn't been talked about much is the state of mind of the cops who killed Kaady.

The officers responded to a series of calls reporting a vehicle fire and a number of ensuing hit-and-run collisions, and reports of an irrational, severely injured burn victim running naked from the scene. (See http://www.sandypost.com/news/story.php?story_id=115654635282841200)

Officers chose to focus on suggestions that the man was "irrational" and -- they surmised -- "on drugs," as a catchall to explain "irrational" behavior, and chose to react by treating Kaady as a "suspect" instead of a citizen in need of urgent assistance.

This initial choice on their part proved disastrous. Even though they observed, by their own admission, that the man was in a "catatonic" state and incapable of following their orders, they proceeded to bark a series of senseless orders at him, including trying to force him to lie on the ground, a totally illogical demand in view of Kaady's burn injuries. When he refused to heed these commands, they immediately escalated to "less lethal" weapons (tasers), and finally, when Kaady attempted to flee, they shot him to death, citing his proximity to an unattended weapon they had left on the hood of their squad car as the reason.

It seems clear that the reports the officers received from witnesses of Kaady's behavior prior to their confrontation with him completely framed their own eventual interactions with him. Over and over again, they cited their fear of coming into physical contact with him, emphasizing that he was "covered in blood." They explicitly described their fear of contracting blood-borne pathogens, which risk they thought was heightened by their assumption that the man "must be a drug user." This fear of coming into physical contact with the man they killed helps explain their rapid escalation to force, and finally lethal force.

When the officers were asked if they could have or should have handled the situation differently or better, they responded "no."

Despite the appalling mistakes committed by the officers, it seems patently unlikely that they were motivated by bloodlust, and wholly believable that they were in fact "afraid," afraid of fantasies concocted in their own imaginations on the strength of partial and partially digested reports from previous eyewitnesses. Out of these reports they concocted a scenario of a "bloody, deranged drug addict," possibly infected with hepatitis or HIV, against whom they had to protect themselves. All of these notions turned out to be totally false.

Based on what we know so far, it would probably be a mistake to paint the officers involved in the killing as being far outside the norm. It is not at all hard to believe that many if not most other officers, faced with the same circumstances, would make the same or similarly appalling errors in judgment. Hence the quick decision by the Grand Jury not to prosecute them. Of course, however, all of this makes the situation MORE APPALLING, not less. Because the odds are that, even were Willard and Bergin cashiered, even prosecuted, the underlying social and cultural assumptions that led the officers to behave as they did would persist unaltered amongst the rest of their colleagues.

Thus, it could be useful for those who know more about the case to explore the ramifications of the state of mind of the officers, their cultural and social backgrounds and assumptions, and how prevalent the same assumptions are amongst their colleagues. Because unless these underlying mental dynamics are challenged and altered, it is inevitable that tragedies like the one that befell Kaady will happen again, if not at the hands of these officers, then by their colleagues.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

I really appreciate all of the work that you have done on this blog. It shows a great deal of sensitivity and caring on your part.
I must disagree in part, concerning the actions of the officers: In my years as a police officer, we were continually trained. One criterion (the only one) for the use of lethal force was stressed. The "reasonable man rule" (no sexism here). If a reasonable person, given the totality of the circumstances at the time and place of the event, would find it reasonable to use reasonable force, then the officer is justified. Now, I don't know about the rest of the folks involved, but I consider myself to be reasonable, and there is no way on the goddesses earth that I could have, or would have, used "less lethal" OR lethal force on this man. In fact, to use a taser on an injured dog, horse, or other animal so injured would have brought down the wrath of the ASPCA faster than you can spell it. No, these guys were wrong, wrong, WRONG. No way to paint them otherwise, despite the failure of the District Attorney, and the grand jury to see all of the facts.

Anonymous said...

The "28 seconds" video is a compelling documentary, but what I noticed most was that it was not 28 seconds. When I copied out the entire script the officers testified they said - excising redundancies - and read it out loud, it took me a full minute to read, and that's not counting the five second electrocutions and weapon switching and head shaking and running and jumping up and down and so on that they claimed happened.

The use of tasers was supposedly introduced as an alternative to lethal force, but can a cop shoot somebody for sitting in the road? In reality it seems to have been the EXCUSE for lethal force, because when you start attacking a severely injured person they might not stay perfectly still.

It should come as no surprise the tasers were less effective on Kaady, because severe burns (severe pain) triggers compensatory mechanisms in the brain (endogenous opiates) that reduce the pain. Once that happens, electric shock will not be as effective as on a healthy person. These naturally occurring pain-killers are the mythical "drugs" postulated to be responsible for Kaady's resistance, but instead of being used to dehumanize him they should underscore that a severely injured person deserves special compassion and consideration.

Anonymous said...

I think it's really wrong that you people make Mr Bergen sound like such an awful person. From my point of view it sounds like he was a young officer that was doing his job alongside another officer that had been working as one for many many years. It's obvious that he does feel bad about it because of what he said, but you people just make it worse and worse for him. Get off his back! Geez!!

joanne said...

"Get off his back! Geez!!"

Oh yes, leave the poor guy alone. WAKE UP. He has a criminal record that verifies a tendency to abuse drugs (alcohol), lie to the police, and act irrationally and abusively. He falsely attributed these same characteristics to an unarmed accident victim in order to justify his murder. He was a police officer called to the scene of a horrific accident. In such cases it is customary for the police to help the victims, not shoot them because they don't want to get any icky blood on them. How dare victims of violent crime and accidents get so bloody and mangled, I mean if they don't want to be repeatedly tazered and shot by two officers they shouldn't get themselves into accidents. They could at least have the decency not to bleed so profusely. And while they're at it they could try not to go into shock . The cheek of them trying to use extensive and incredibly severe injuries as an excuse not to comply to a police officer's every irrational whim. I mean it's not as if forcing a burn victim to lie on the ground would cause mind bending agony or exponentially increase his risk of septicemia. So get off his back, he could have been infected with an imaginary pathogen! He had to look out for Number 1. "Protect and Serve" is after all just a suggestion.

Anonymous said...

Get off his back? Yes that is a statement that should be directed at the officer who tazed an injured victim in the back while he was sitting on the ground defenseless. A cowardly and unforgivable act! You and every individual involved in this discusting display of cover-up and injustice should suffer the same justice. Hope its those officers who arrive at your car crash. Which a likely scenerio to a car accident you could be involved in would be result to a drunk driving cop. My sincere apologies and sympathies to Fouad Kaady's family... and the rest of America.