Shit You Can’t Make Up (But if you did you’d be a sociopath)


When Jameel Harrison, a suspected drug dealer, attempted to escape from F.B.I agents trying to arrest him near a Baltimore shopping center two years ago, agents opened fire. Two bullets hit his Infiniti FX37’s left front tire. Six bullets struck him in the head and neck, killing him.

After investigating the case, a state prosecutor and the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division declined to prosecute the agents. That left the F.B.I.’s shooting incident review group, a panel of officials who decide whether shootings comply with bureau policy on the use of lethal force and that rarely punishes agents. In 2013, The New York Times reported that of more than 150 episodes in which an agent shot another person dating back at least two decades, the group deemed every one justified.

In the case of the Baltimore shooting, however, the bureau took the unusual step of deeming part of that case a “bad shoot” in agents’ parlance. But the group did not fault the two agents who killed Mr. Harrison. Instead, it chastised only the agent who shot the tire, recommending that the agent be suspended for a day without pay, according to documents obtained by The Times in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.

The review group’s reasoning was that the bureau’s policy on using lethal force forbids firing a gun to disable a vehicle, and it concluded that this had been the agent’s motive in shooting the tire. But the same policy permits firing a gun to protect people from danger, and the panel decided that the two agents who shot Mr. Harrison were trying to keep him from driving into bystanders.

Tires are more protected from the police than black men. We need to deal with the FBI before we can deal with city and state police.

86 replies
  1. 1
    chopper says:

    what a country.

  2. 2
    scav says:

    They’ve got their heads firmly wrapped around the critical difference in protecting bystanders from a careening car — a dead driver or a flat tire.

    ETA: Wait a minute. Weren’t the officers in the Finicum shooting also investigated about covering up the non-fatal, car-wounding shots? No wonder they attempted to lied, the FBI is apparently hyper vigilant against such actions.

  3. 3
    rikyrah says:

    That is who they are.
    I have always, since the beginning of this case, believed that the central question to be answered was:
    How did this obviously unqualified man become an officer on the Cleveland Police Department
    The answer to that, I felt, would cost a lot of people their job.
    Ohio is an Open Carry State-why was Tamir not asked for his permit?
    Sorry Cole-I thought that you were talking about the Tamir Rice settlement.
    Could you add to your post about the heinous actions of the Police Union in the settlement? Has disturbed my soul since I read about it this morning.

  4. 4
    rikyrah says:

    Sigh 😔
    Read the post.
    Police -not held accountable.

  5. 5
    Mnemosyne says:

    Wait, there’s a policy against disabling vehicles but not against killing people? WTFF?

  6. 6
    Baud says:


    I skimmed the underlying documents and apparently that is the policy. From what I can tell, shooting to disable a vehicle is considered ineffective (and potentially more harmful to bystanders) and simply should not be done. Someone more expert in the field will have to opine on the reasonableness of that policy.

  7. 7
    Villago Delenda Est says:


  8. 8
    Gin & Tonic says:

    My Google News feed is divided into sections: “Top Stories,” “World,” “U.S.,” “Sports,” etc. Right now the US section has four headline stories. All have to do with people being shot or the aftermath of people being shot. Four out of four.

    Thanks, NRA.

  9. 9
    shomi says:

    Wrong way Cole has found a new cause. Defending drug dealers against law enforcement.

  10. 10
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @shomi: Oh, look! A new pet troll! Here, boy, go chase this stick!

  11. 11
    redshirt says:

    @efgoldman: Vermont highways seem far more dangerous than other highways too. Take it slow and safe.

  12. 12
    maya says:

    Were the tires white walls?

  13. 13
    jsrtheta says:

    Well, dealing with the FBI first makes sense, I guess, if your focus is what’s easiest to do, and what has the least impact.

    The overwhelming number of encounters between cops and suspects occur at the state and local law enforcement level. Especially the local law enforcement level.

    You average Chicago or New York street cop will probably have encounters with more suspects in a month than the average FBI agent has over an entire career.

  14. 14
    smith says:

    When I was a kid during the Cold War, we were taught to hate and fear the Soviet Union because it was a “police state.” Between the widespread, unbridled cop violence with no consequences and the robbery-by-cop of civil forfeiture, I’m wondering if we did indeed win the Cold War.

  15. 15
    david10 says:

    @efgoldman: Are you taking Bernie with you? Just asking.

  16. 16
    LAO says:

    @jsrtheta: I agree with you, but I think Cole’s point was how do we rely on the DOJ to deal with state and local policing, when it appears that the FBI has a similar problematic approach as those state and local police agencies.

  17. 17
    scav says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Well, shomi knows that bystanders killed by out of control cars where the driver has been shot are accepable collateral damage, as are bystanders killed by bullets so long as the bullets were aimed at the drivers head, whereas bystanders killed by out of control cars because of damaged tires are an abomination and not to be tolerated! To suggest fewer bullets is to support unbridled drug use!

  18. 18
    LAO says:

    @efgoldman: damn you. You got there first.

  19. 19
    redshirt says:

    @smith: Indeed.

    I fear the police far, far, far more than I do terrorists or communists or any other “-ists”.

  20. 20
    max says:

    @smith: When I was a kid during the Cold War, we were taught to hate and fear the Soviet Union because it was a “police state.” Between the widespread, unbridled cop violence with no consequences and the robbery-by-cop of civil forfeiture, I’m wondering if we did indeed win the Cold War.

    The theory after the Communists folded up was that we had to be bigger and better in every way, and that included winning the gulag race.

    [‘We had a prison gap!’]

  21. 21
    aimai says:

    @efgoldman: I am so sorry for all you are going through ef. Just so sorry. Try to take it easy and slow on the drive.

  22. 22
    seaboogie says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Not a new pet troll, used to operate under a different nym, but the signature “wrong way Cole” is consistent, because that’s the most genius slam evarrrrrrr!

  23. 23
    LAO says:

    @efgoldman: Seriously, best of luck tomorrow and over the next few days.

    ETA: I was busy defending Cole. It was quite awkward.

  24. 24
    shomi says:

    @efgoldman: Ha….like that makes it ok. However, because he’s black it’s totally ok to automatically suspect that was the reason he was shot.

    Lol….you people crack me up.

  25. 25
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Mnemosyne: The FBI’s rules for engagement were reconceptualized as a result of the 1986 shootout that led to the deaths of several special agents in Miami.

    The lives of the agents and the public have always been given priority over that of the alleged perpetrators. Since the Miami shootout even more so. It was so institutionally traumatic that it led the FBI to throw itself into ballistic engineering and the physics of bullet impact, as well as its biological impact leading to the development of a set of testing standards and the development of a brand new handgun cartridge from the ground up: the .40 Smith & Wesson.

    This doesn’t justify why the FBI’s internal review came to the conclusions it did, but it is the context in which the FBI approaches the use of deadly force and establishes its rules of engagement.

  26. 26
    BillinGlendaleCA says:

    @LAO: Rachel’s been talking about FBI shootings for a while and my question, to myself, has been; who’d look into these shootings. A Congressional committee? A Judicial panel? That seems to be the problem, I guess Constitutionally it falls under Congressional oversight of the Executive, but can rely on this Congress to do ANYTHING?

  27. 27
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @efgoldman: They have their own black SUV.

  28. 28
    BillinGlendaleCA says:


    Do trolls need to be paper trained? Crated?

    Nothing works with trolls, the drool and shit over everything.

  29. 29
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @BillinGlendaleCA: I can rely on them to go on vacation, try to raise money, and run to the closest microphone and/or camera to demagogue and fear monger. Unfortunately none of those things are actually in their job descriptions.

  30. 30
    seaboogie says:


    I don’t do pets, but I think I’d rather have a puppy. Do trolls need to be paper trained? Crated?

    I’d much rather have a puppy again too. Maybe we can open negotiations with Korea N and S, and offer our trolls up in exchange for the hapless pups in their meat enterprise. Troll-long-pig Bulgogi, anyone?

  31. 31
    LAO says:

    @BillinGlendaleCA: that’s really an excellent question and one that I don’t know the answer to. In my 19 years of practice, I’ve never been involved in a prosecution where an agent discharged a weapon.

    I personally know a federal agent who discharged his weapon in the line of duty. (He missed). The shoot was reviewed by an internal agency committee.

    I think the FBI relies solely on an internal agency review. Someone here will correct me if I’m (most certainly) wrong.

  32. 32
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @efgoldman: I’m suggesting you all pile into their SUV and let them drive. That way you can just relax the whole way.

  33. 33
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @LAO: Knowing the people here, some will correct you even if you’re right.

  34. 34
  35. 35
    LAO says:

    The Blues have come out strong tonight.

  36. 36
    Miss Bianca says:

    @efgoldman: Oh, no! I hope you have some good tires!

    ETA: I have now read Cole’s post twice and it still doesn’t make sense to me. (Not Cole’s post – the FBI action.) Shooting a tire might make a car go out of control, but shooting a driver in the head *isn’t* going to make the car go out of control?

  37. 37
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @LAO: Yes, I am displeased.

  38. 38
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @LAO: But Marion Hossa has decreased my displeasure.

  39. 39
    LAO says:

    @Adam L Silverman: cheer up. Only down by 1 now.

    ETA: I feel like I should yell “jinx”

  40. 40
    PurpleGirl says:

    efgoldman: I hope the drive tomorrow goes well. The next few days after you get to Vermont I expect will be hard; I hope every one is able to get through the days. {Hugs} to you, Mrs efg and her mother.

    ETA: If you need rant about anything, you know we’ll be here for you.

  41. 41
    Amaranthine RBG says:

    Like most other commenters, I know nothing about this incident, so let me ask:
    1) if someone is in a car fleeing arrest and
    2) if the agents reasonably believed the driver was about to hit bystanders,

    Is it wrong for the agents to shoot the driver in the head?

  42. 42
    scav says:

    @Amaranthine RBG: Explain the magic step where out of control cars with suitably shot drivers are suddenly incapable of harming the people they are hypothesized (congratulations on that balletic long jump, by the by) to be aiming at.

  43. 43
    Miss Bianca says:

    @Amaranthine RBG: I was thinking that shooting the driver of a moving car might easily *cause* a situation where bystanders got hurt.

  44. 44
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @scav: @Miss Bianca: Driverless moving vehicles are totes safe.

  45. 45
    LAO says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: hey. Do you know the answer to Bill’s question in comment 31? I’m curious but apparently to lazy to engage in any Google-fu.

  46. 46
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    I actually pretty much get shooting the driver. I don’t get making the penalty so high for shooting the tire that you basically create a disincentive for disabling the car while you continue to shoot at it. That seems like throwing the baby out with the bathwater and potentially endangering civilians AND agents who might be in the path of the car. As others have pointed out, a car doesn’t always magically stop in its tracks just because the driver is dead.

  47. 47
    Central Planning says:


    I skimmed the underlying documents and apparently that is the policy. From what I can tell, shooting to disable a vehicle is considered ineffective (and potentially more harmful to bystanders) and simply should not be done. Someone more expert in the field will have to opine on the reasonableness of that policy.

    Doesn’t shooting the driver disable the vehicle?

  48. 48
  49. 49
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @LAO: The FBI falls under the DoJ, yes?

  50. 50
    Miss Bianca says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Are you speaking as an expert witness, M. l’Avocat? : )

  51. 51
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Mnemosyne: Nor does it magically stop if you hit the tire. I’m not defending the FBI’s rules of engagement. I have only the most basic understanding of what they are and don’t have time to read the document I linked to in comment 55 right now. I only know that how the FBI responds was radically affected by the Miami shootout.

  52. 52
  53. 53
    Baud says:

    @Central Planning:

    Like I said, someone else will have to explain why that policy is reasonable.

  54. 54
    Amaranthine RBG says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Oh, I’ve looked through those guidelines a time or two in the past.

    I am just trying to get a sense of whether folks think it can _ever_ be appropriate to shoot a driver in the head.

  55. 55
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @LAO: The IG division of the DOJ is a likely place to start, but I am also too lazy to look it up.

  56. 56
    LAO says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Blackhawks power play!

    ETA: that didn’t take long. Lol

  57. 57
    Baud says:

    @Amaranthine RBG:

    If you are shooting at a driver in a car, you’ll probably be shooting at the head.

  58. 58
  59. 59
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    I would think that combining the two things would have a better chance of success than relying solely on one action, but I’m not in law enforcement. I guess there will need to be another traumatic situation where agents die because they only shot the driver but the car continued on its path before they change the policy.

  60. 60
    Amaranthine RBG says:

    @Miss Bianca: @Omnes Omnibus:

    Given the dangers you all perceive being presented shooting driver of moving vehicles, would you be in favor of a rule that bars police officers from ever firing at drivers of moving vehicles?

  61. 61

    […] of this as a bookend to John’ Coles post at Balloon Juice.  This isn’t a problem of a few bad apples.  Police violence against people […]

  62. 62
    redshirt says:

    @Baud: I’ve seen enough movies to know you only have to shoot out a tire to get the car to flip and explode.

  63. 63
    Miss Bianca says:

    @Amaranthine RBG: I’m not actually interested in arguing the point with you, strangely. O2 may feel differently.

  64. 64
    Amaranthine RBG says:

    @Miss Bianca: fair enough.

  65. 65
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Amaranthine RBG: Rather Manichean of you, isn’t it?

  66. 66
    Miss Bianca says:

    @Mnemosyne: Actually, the more I read about horrific shoot-outs where LEOs are killed, the more surprising I find it that more LEOs aren’t speaking up in support of gun legislation.

  67. 67
    Amaranthine RBG says:

    Several commenters up thread are outraged, outraged I tells ya, about this shooting. I suspect it is NOT because they are big advocates of tire shooting. I could be wrong about that of course.

    But the Manichean Candidate is one of my favorite movies.

  68. 68
    Miss Bianca says:

    @Amaranthine RBG: You know, part of the reason I’m not interested in getting into it with you is I’m really not sure what the hell you think you are trying to prove.

  69. 69
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @efgoldman: I think it requires a troika.

  70. 70
    Amaranthine RBG says:

    @Miss Bianca: thank you for letting me know why you do not want to respond to my questions.

  71. 71
    Miss Bianca says:

    @Amaranthine RBG: You’re welcome. The feeding of trolls is a nauseous activity unless there’s some amusement factor involved, and your tricks just aren’t pretty enough to warrant any treats.

  72. 72
    LAO says:

    @efgoldman: I’m operating under a restraining order. Dr Silverman has grown weary of my nonstop emailing of articles and court documents.

    But I’d be happy to chat with you about it. Please, I’m begging. Lol 😜

  73. 73
    Miss Bianca says:

    @efgoldman: Ah…I guess I must be too used to CO, where all the sheriffs go he-manly and huff and puff about 2nd Amendment rights.

  74. 74
    scav says:

    It’s the artificial line between the amount of possible damage done between the source of an out of control car that pisses me off. Because they’ll feel probably pride themselves on self-policing on the strength of it. Seems utterly kabuki theater.

  75. 75
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Miss Bianca:

    I honestly don’t get it either. If the problem is that criminals are potentially heavily armed because anyone can buy a gun, shouldn’t we be trying to reduce the number of arms in private hands rather than ramping up the firepower even more?

  76. 76
    LAO says:

    @efgoldman: my team got knocked out but I’m really enjoying this game and the rest of the playoffs. The Stanley cup playoffs are my favorite professional championship. I say this as a huge baseball fan.

  77. 77
    polyorchnid octopunch says:

    @seaboogie: I always find it amazing that the freedumb-loving RWNJ trolls are always such boot lickers.

  78. 78

    Shooting at tires increases the chance of ricochets from the pavement to innocent bystanders, esp. if the car is moving & the LEOs are as incompetent at shooting as they are at the rest of their duties.

    (Just kidding: No one is innocent!)

  79. 79
    Amaranthine RBG says:

    Okay, nobody here is willing to argue that it is always wrong to shoot potentially dangerous drivers in the head, so is there anything about this incident that suggest that the agents did something wrong?

  80. 80
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Amaranthine RBG: Binary again.

  81. 81
    Keith G says:

    Better if moving vehicles are not shot at unless exceptional circumstances.

    Real life ain’t like the movies. Officers shooting at tires especially with short barreled arms will miss a lot of the time. Those errant rounds will be banking off metal and/or cement. That is why many jurisdictions discourage such action. So does the FBI, it seems.

    Explain the magic step where out of control cars with suitably shot drivers are suddenly incapable of harming the people they are hypothesized (congratulations on that balletic long jump, by the by) to be aiming at.

    I donno, but maybe it is possible that the car with the then disabled driver was likely to do less damage than that car being under the control of a fully able driver who was operating with malicious intent.

    But I was not there. I do wonder if this “Tires are more protected from the police than black men” is a valid conclusion from this incident.

  82. 82
    Amaranthine RBG says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: You might want to look up that word before you try to use it in a sentence.

  83. 83
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @efgoldman: @LAO: Sorry, right as you inquired I started doing a bunch of work required paperwork online through a portal. And they’ve changed the portal since the last time, so I had to go back in and clarify and expand upon information that had previously been entered, and which I’m sure now contradicts past information I’d entered and certified the last time I had to do this. It took about three and a half hours and I’m getting ready to crash out for the evening.

  84. 84
    Paul in KY says:

    @scav: All should have been cited, but shooting at tire will usually make a ricochet, which can go anywhere.

  85. 85
    Stan says:

    Agreed, shooting at a tire will almost always produce misses that can go anywhere, including into bystanders.

    Shooting into the vehicle in an attempt to kill the driver is equally likely to miss the (relatively small) target of the driver but is also much more likely to be contained within the vehicle, so at least no one else is nearly as likely to get hurt.

    Pistols are hard to shoot accurately. Golly, maybe we should shoot them less often.

  86. 86
    Ol'Froth says:

    My department’s policy forbids shooting at moving vehicles or its occupants unless said vehicle is being used as a weapon directed at the public or officers. In other words, the driver has to be placing others in danger of death or serious bodily injury to justify the discharge of a weapon at the vehicle or driver.

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