Whether they mishandle fireworks or shoot a dog, cops can always find someone else to take the fall for their mistakes.
Hi everyone! Flaming hot scoop coming at you right from the top:
No housekeeping today—it’s summer, I’m trying my hardest to do the least amount possible, and I encourage you all to do the same thing. Nonetheless, a nasty little pattern has come to my attention in a trio of news stories, two new and one we’ve talked about before. The common thread: Police officers make huge mistakes and totally evade the blame.
Cops fuck up all the time. I know this isn’t news to any of the worldly and enlightened people reading this, but it bears repeating: cops fuck up all the time and it cannot be overstated how much cop status can act as a Get Out of Jail Free card. Sometimes, this ability to duck consequences looks like the boundless justification power of police discretion; sometimes it looks like PBA cards, which literally get people out of jail free; and sometimes, it looks like criminal action carried out by cops and blamed on a third party.
This summer, cops have blamed high-profile, spectacular violence on other people, two separate times, on opposite coasts.
On June 30th, the Los Angeles Police Department shat the bed on a planned detonation of thousands of pounds of illegal fireworks, injuring 17 people.
(The footage of the explosion is kind of sick. Sorry! I’m not a perfect person.)
LAPD officers have since tried to “How could this happen?” the explosion away—directly contradicting the experience of the multiple reporters on the scene, who were told they were attending a preplanned detonation. Per a report from CBSLA:
Reporters on the scene said immediately before the explosion, officers moved them away from the vehicle and yelled, “Fire in the hole,” multiple times.
“When we got over the scene here, we were kind of expecting just some routine thing and to kind of get the shot that was gonna be the bookend to this story of basically this armored canister probably shaking a little bit and smoke coming out at the end of it,” Sky9 reporter Desmond Shaw said. “And then it just went catastrophically wrong. After it happened, we felt the blast up here, and it just kind of shook up my head a little bit.”
Luckily, no one died (although cops did fail to evacuate residents from the area). And luckily for the cops, another man has been charged “in connection” with the massive fireworks explosion: Arturo Ceja III, the man whose illegal fireworks the LAPD seized and then fumbled. It’s worth noting this sequence of events: When Ceja was arrested on the afternoon of July 30th facing state charges related to his illegal fireworks; that night, the LAPD detonated the fireworks and injured 17 people, including nine LAPD officers and one ATF agent; the next day, Ceja posted $500,000 bail; and two days later, on July 3, he was taken into federal custody and is now charged with the federal crime illegally transporting the explosives without a license. If sentenced on that charge alone, Ceja could face up to ten years in federal prison.
On June 8, three weeks earlier, an anonymous, retired corrections officer and retired NYPD officer Thomas Marrinan got into an altercation with a man named Michael Soto in Brooklyn after they attempted to intervene in a conflict between Soto and an elderly man, later ID’ed the correction officer’s father. Eventually, the corrections officer pulled out his gun, started shooting, and ended up wounding Soto—and accidentally killing Marrinan. Guess who was arrested and charged with assault, manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide one day later? Soto, who by all accounts was not even carrying a gun.
While neither man has been sentenced yet, the message is clear: Not only do the rules not apply to law enforcement officers, but guilt can be transferred wholesale if you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time—the kind of random violence policing purports to protect us from.
I know, I know. That shit sucks! “Sucks” is a massive understatement! But here’s the punchline: We remember K9 Arlo, the TikTok famous German Shepherd shot multiple times in January 2021 during a car chase, right? In the aftermath of the shooting, Arlo’s handler Tyler Turpin and other officers with the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office heavily implied on social media that the man apprehended in the chase was the one who shot Arlo—despite the fact that the suspect, Victor Hugo Ortiz Bucio, did not fire a single shot during the encounter (probably because his gun didn’t have any bullets in it). That misconception was one the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office did absolutely nothing to correct when it raised $73,000 for Arlo, before finally ‘fessing up to the fact that he was a victim of friendly fire.
Of course, the sheriff’s office never apologized. Of course, there have since been issues actually distributing the crowdfunded money—especially because as of April, Arlo has “largely recovered” and, duh, retired. (Ortiz Bucio has been charged in connection to his relationship with a 14-year-old girl, along with four counts of second-degree assault and attempting to elude a pursuing police vehicle.)
But one law enforcement officer actually did face consequences as a result of the whole affair: Turpin, Arlo’s handler, left the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office in June because he was under investigation for failing to disclose funds made from his @K9Arlo TikTok account, or his associated apparel company, or any of his other social media ventures.
According to a piece fromThe Chronicle on Turpin’s exit:
The department ultimately struggled to get Turpin to follow social media guidelines. He also failed to turn over financial documents relevant to the investigation prior to his decision to leave, and Turpin’s business dealings that developed in the wake of the shooting and rising social media fame raised eyebrows and additional questions of broken policies.
Again, per The Chronicle:
“Tyler said that this is so important to him that he is willing to lose his job to keep his account. Tyler did not seem sensible and I chalked it up to being in a critical incident, his partner being shot, staying at home to take care of his partner, rumors of drinking and majority of support from millions of fans,” read a Feb. 18 memorandum written by an investigating lieutenant.
It’s funny, but it’s also fucking depressing: The best way to get a cop to face consequences isn’t to go through any of the systems of accountability in place to rein him in. It isn’t to rely on the law. It’s to get him so addicted to TikTok that he’ll pick posting over policing.
Blocked and Reported
Here are the latest officers felled by their own insatiable need to post.
On June 22, a Warren, Michigan cop IDed only as “Khan” was fired for being racist on Facebook, posting that “all Black people are racist; that Black men don’t take care of their children; that Black on Black crime is beyond repair; and that he was glad he wasn’t born Black or he would kill himself” in reaction to an incident Khan experienced on a plane. (???)
On June 29, Bexar County Sheriff's Lieutenant Roxanne Mathai went public with allegations that she was wrongfully terminated for participating in the Capitol riot on January 6—because she didn’t actually go inside the Capitol. "I was a fantastic lieutenant," Mathai told San Antonio CBS affiliate KENS5. "I definitely want my job back. I have a passion for my job.” I bet she does.
On July 6, a Los Angeles disciplinary board cleared the anonymous cop who shared the disgusting “George Floyd Valentine” of any wrongdoing—because, upon investigation, he was just showing it to his superior because he thought it was so offensive. Sorry, but yeah fucking right?
Questions, comments, corrections? (“You don’t know what it’s like to be a police officer” is not a correction.) Shoot me an email at email@example.com, send “business” “inquiries” to firstname.lastname@example.org, or DM me on Twitter.