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The Courts Books Canada Sci-Fi United States Politics

Writer Peter Watts Sentenced; No Jail Time 299

Posted by timothy
from the new-spirit-of-openness dept.
shadowbearer writes "SF writer Peter Watts, a Canadian citizen, whose story we have read about before in these pages, was sentenced three days ago in a Port Huron, MI court. There's not a lot of detail in the story, and although he is still being treated like a terrorist (cannot enter or pass through the US, DNA samples) he was not ordered to do any time in jail, was freed, and has returned home to his family. The judge in the case was, I believe, as sympathetic as the legal system would allow him to be."
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Writer Peter Watts Sentenced; No Jail Time

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  • What about the cops? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 30, 2010 @09:41PM (#32052982)

    I'm guessing that they can still taser a guy for not obeying two contradictory orders and wondering aloud at what's going on?

    I wish that tasers would get treated like guns, and that the cops would have to answer for each time they used them. They're less lethal, which is NOT the same as non-lethal. Even if one believes that they're safe when used properly, there are serious questions about whether they're being used properly some of the time.

    And that's a damn shame, because I have had the privilege of meeting some fine police officers who don't deserve to take the flak for the trigger happy folks from this story.

  • by shadowbearer (554144) on Friday April 30, 2010 @09:53PM (#32053080) Homepage Journal

      I didn't read the article thoroughly enough before I posted the submission; there is more detail on the case on a link from within the story [blogspot.com].

    (It was not with the intention of gaining karma; my karma has been peaked out for years, ceased to care about it even before that)

      A note on Slashdot's submission/moderation system; I had moderator points before I posted the story, and apparently have moderator points within the story. The editors may have their reasons for allowing it, but I don't feel that it's a good idea to allow story submitters to have moderation points within a story they post. Just sayin'

      I did find this bit to perhaps be an indication of the judge's real feelings:

      He told Peter that he was a puzzle to him; that he thought he would enjoy having a pint with Peter (Peter told him he would buy; Adair said he would get the next round);

      It does sound like the judge would like to know a little more about his side of the story than what he could glean from the courtroom proceedings.

      Oh, and thanks for the minor editing Timothy, it does read better that way.

      SB

  • by shadowbearer (554144) on Friday April 30, 2010 @10:26PM (#32053272) Homepage Journal

      About twenty years ago, I once called a police officer an asshole, to his face, in front of his immediate superior. It was justified - that man was behaving like a psychotic over a minor traffic issue (jaywalking) involving a friend of mine. The officer took out his baton and threatened to "beat me into submission", at which time his superior collared him and led him back to the squad car, came back and apologized to us. The first officer was suspended without pay and later dismissed from the force as being unfit to be a law enforcement official. My friend brought suit against the local PD - it scared her pretty badly - and although she wasn't awarded damages, the verdict by the judge contributed to the officer being dismissed from the force.

      At what point do citizens lose the right in this country to speak up when they are being harassed unfairly by an official of any kind, or when they see someone else being harassed unfairly?

      Watts never offered violence (according to other witnesses; the one border patrol officer who was required to be there at the sentencing and who claimed that Watts attacked him first, Mr. Andrew Beaudry, waived his right to a victim's statement during the sentencing; that and a few other things tell me that he was probably lying about the events.

      There are enough incidents such as this that go on to suggest that perhaps we need to start scrutinizing our border guard (and LE) hiring practices in a much more thorough manner, and disciplining them when they step out of line. Yes, it's a stressful job. Yes, it has the potential of danger. But anybody wearing the uniform who loses their head when there is no real physical threat to them simply does not belong in that job .

    SB

  • by jeko (179919) on Friday April 30, 2010 @10:41PM (#32053368)
    My Lai was a national disgrace. The Wikileaks/Reuters video depicts cold-blooded murder. You can hang them all as far as we're concerned. We don't want to share a uniform with filth like that.
  • by JWSmythe (446288) <jwsmythe@jwsmyth ... minus physicist> on Friday April 30, 2010 @11:20PM (#32053608) Homepage Journal

    I've questioned that action before. Basically, it's about control. It's pretty obvious if your detainee turns around in the vehicle to aim a gun. If you invite them out of the car first, it's pretty easy to get out with a gun in hand but still covered by the vehicle, and then someone's going to get dead.

    From what I remember of my training, in normal vehicle stops, you should keep complete control of the situation. This is for the officers safety. A non-combative detainee should have no problem complying.

    1) Instruct the driver verbally (in person or over your loudspeaker) to turn off the vehicle.

    2) Instruct them to put the keys on the dash, roof, or toss them out the window (as appropriate for the level of the stop).

    3) Instruct them to keep their hands on top of the steering wheel. This could be "keep your hands where I can see them", but to avoid confusion clear instructions are to be given.

    When then approaching the vehicle, it is typical to have your holster unsnapped (as appropriate) and your hand on your sidearm. As walking up to the vehicle, you pay attention to things in the vehicle by looking through the rear and side windows.

    You should not stand in front of the driver (like by the side view mirror), but stand at the B pillar (just behind the drivers head). Make them turn their head to look at you, which puts them off center for any sort of attacks. It's hard to draw a weapon and aim behind you very quickly.

    Once satisfied with the safety of the scene, you may step forward at the officers discretion. You are opening yourself up to an unsafe position, but it may be necessary.

    The detainee is to be verbally told not to proceed with any actions which could be dangerous. That includes reaching into pockets, or putting their hands into areas of the vehicle that can't be clearly seen (such as a console box).

    Not every officer follows this protocol, and occasionally it turns out badly.

    Since I opted to not follow that as my career path, I'm never on the more dangerous side of it. Instead, I do what I would expect to be told. In an average traffic stop, I:

    1) Put on my hazard lights for my safety, and to let the officer know that I am complying with his request to stop.
    2) Roll down the front windows for clear visibility into the vehicle.
    3) Stop the vehicle in the safest location possible (turn down a side street and stop immediately, rather than stop on a busy road.)
    4) Prepare my license, registration, and proof of insurance for inspection.
    5) Shut off the engine, and place the keys on the roof.
    6) Place my hands on the top of the steering wheel.

    When they approach, if I am carrying a weapon (as I have been licensed for in the past), notify the officer if there are any weapons in the vehicle. I haven't been stopped when a weapon was present, but I would request to be searched and transfered to the back of their vehicle.

    Any actions which may normally seem irrelevant I request explicit permission for. This includes reaching into my pockets, opening the console box for additional paperwork, or standing up out of the car.

    Everything said must be calm, polite, and most importantly not a confession of anything. "Do you know why I pulled you over" should never be responded to with an answer. You may have been speeding, but they only noticed your taillight was burnt out. That would add a speeding ticket on top of a petty fix-it ticket, based on your spontaneous confession. "No sir" is the appropriate response. Answer every question with "yes sir", "no sir". As any good defense attorney will tell you, the minute you said something that you didn't need to, you fucked up. The best answer to any question is still "I have nothing to say without my attorney present." It may be silly for a traffic stop, but how do you know that they didn't get a call about

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 01, 2010 @12:08AM (#32053894)

    Sorry but I don't recognise any kind of law that says a police officer can beat you just because they feel like it. If any cop tried to lay a hand on me for such reasons while I am going about my own business, I'll break their arm in self defense. If they really press me, they'll be dead before they hit the ground and if I happen to die in the process of killing someone like that, then my life will have been a complete success. It's better to die on your feet than to live on your knees.

    Just because some stranger says that I have to follow some specific code of conduct over a piece of OUR planet that they somehow have the right to "own" doesn't actually mean that I have to. I exist in this world too and I get to decide what is right and wrong for myself, no matter where I am. My personal code is simple: leave me alone and I'll leave you alone.

  • Re:Common Sense (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AK Marc (707885) on Saturday May 01, 2010 @12:12AM (#32053914)
    The sad fact is that if you are given two conflicting orders, asking which to obey is illegal. You must do both at the same time, and if impossible, you are guilty of obstructing justice (of, as they call it here, felony non-compliance). If you put your hands to your face while being hit, you are guilty of assault. CCTV doesn't help when the laws (and application thereof) are broken already.
  • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Saturday May 01, 2010 @12:42AM (#32054088)

    Watch Adam 12.

    Then compare it to police you've interacted with.

    Police have fallen a long way in only 40 years.

    I had a cousin who became a cop and he went from a nice boy to a bully telling "funny" stories about intimidating civilians (not criminals). It only took a couple years.

    I also know police go to hookers one day and then spend the next day arresting them. Policing used to be about the law- now it's about power.

    That's why I support mandatory 24x7 filming of all police activity. Sure- it protects them from false accusations. But the primary benefit is to keep them in line.

    The first controversy in my city when the red light cameras went in was about the police running red lights when they were not on a call.
    Even when called on it- they felt running reds was just a privilege of the job.

    Pathetic.

  • by jeko (179919) on Saturday May 01, 2010 @04:57AM (#32054904)

    The problem isn't corruption in itself, the problem is fear of harassment among the officers.

    Actually, that harrassment IS corruption. It's also a felony called witness tampering and intimidation.

  • by fantomas (94850) on Saturday May 01, 2010 @05:59AM (#32055084)

    I visited the US and drove around as a tourist once, got stopped by the police and did what folk in the UK do - I got out of the car to wait by the side of it to show the police that I wasn't going to do a runner. I didn't know that you sit inside the car until the police come to you in the USA, nobody told me this when I got my tourist visa stamped at immigration or when I picked up the hire car.

    Things escalated very fast and I found myself surrounding by two or three police cars with people shouting stuff and pointing guns at me. Very scary when you're not quite sure why this is all happening. Fair play to the police officers, after a couple of minutes of me putting my hands in the air and shouting "Sorry, I am a tourist, I don't know what I've done" things calmed down to the point that we could have a chat and sort things out pleasantly (we all shook hands at the end of it and the cops pointed out where a local hotel was, my mission of the moment).

    Not sure what the answer is, should foreign nationals have to read the local written driving test / read the handbooks before being allowed to drive a car in another country?

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