I Just Attended My First LAPD Officer-Involved Shooting...

Yesterday, my mother-in-law went to good ole trusty UCLA Harbor Hospital.  She felt pains in her chest, and that she couldn't breathe. 

She was supposed to have surgery about a week ago but backed out last minute.  Now, since she hasn't had the surgery, she's been anxious about not having it.  To the emergency room, she went.

My wife happens to be the most available offspring.  The moment she stepped in, she took on translation duties for incoming nurses and doctors, explaining everything from commands to the implications of surgery.

We waited for hours.  There was talk about fears of surgery, reminiscing about our sons growth.  Things were OK.  After a restroom break, I found my father-in-law at the room.

What I was able to get was just pretty much audio and whatever my father-in-law told me, as he moved towards the action and witnessed it first hand.


My Account

A few resident cardiologists happened to be surveying her condition.  She was going to be moved to the cardiology section, when all of a sudden, I heard a really loud argument.

That couldn't be good.

There was screaming;  people scrambled every which way.  There were what sounded like shots (my father-in-law said they were tasers) and someone screaming.  It was unintelligible to me.  I was just hoping the action would not come our way.

My father-in-law and the two cardiologists walked towards the action, which made me want to see the action.  My wife yelled get away from the door.

Fearing the worst but also kind of curious, I compromised by staying by the door and kind of ducking down.  So all I could do was hear.

And then BOOM.  Even more screaming and scrambling! After recent events, I didn't know what the hell was going down.

All this time, my mother-in-law, a heart patient, was panicking and crying.  She was wondering why this was happening.  Her blood pressure rose to 150, which was a situation in itself.

My Father-in-Law's Account

My father-in-law said that a young, skinny, Hispanic-whitish tall man was tasered.  Twice to apparently no effect.

He then attempted to grab the TASER.

That's when the cops shot him.  How this suspect was positioned, I'm not 100% sure, but it sounded like the cops had him down, but that he was not complying.  Father-in-law said that they shot him in the back near the chest-area, and that was that.

In his conversation with me, he kept wondering why that guy would not listen to the officer's commands. 

Media Accounts

http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-officer-involved-shooting-20151219-story.html?145057780155310

http://ktla.com/2015/12/19/authorities-investigating-officer-involved-shooting-at-harbor-ucla-medical-center-in-torrance/

http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/shooting-harbor-ucla-medical-center-officer-involved-torrance-363043351.html

The Aftermath

The Hospital was under code triage.  I heard the nurses at the front desk call other law enforcement agencies informing them of the situation.

After the melee, which lasted about 30 seconds to a minute (VERY FAST), the resident cardiologists returned to our room and calmly took us into our room.  They continued surveying and coached her breathing to lower her blood pressure back to a more manageable level.

After they left, we were stuck in our room for about an hour or two.  It seems that we didn't talk much about the situation because we'd all seen how anxious it had made mother-in-law.  But I could tell that it was something my father-in-law was aching to talk about.

The code triage alert was canceled about 30 minutes or hour after the shooting.

Sometime afterward my father-in-law announced, "hey why don't we get hot chocolate and coffee?"  She still had coffee from my trip to In-N-Out.

We made our way to the cafeteria.  On the way there, immediately outside the door about 20 feet away was yellow tape blocking off a hallway, and cops in LAPD black milling about.  It was a crime scene, but there was an air of casualty about it as we took a look and walked towards the exit for the cafeteria.

A few of the workers at the cafeteria knew we were on alert but not the reason why.  Of course my father-in-law had all the information and he would share what he saw. 

We got our hot chocolates and coffee and attempted to get back into the emergency room.  We still had our nametags and assumed that we could get back in but they were not allowing any visitors to the Emergency Room.  We tried explaining that we were just there!  He had seen everything!  But to no effect. 

We waited for about 3-4 hours checking in with the receptionists often.  We won some sympathy, but that still did not get us in. 

My Father-in-Law kept wondering aloud to me why they needed so much space for the investigation.  To him, the case was over when they shot him.  The only place they would transfer him was the freezer.

My Interpretation of Events

Everything happened really quickly in rapid succession.

Part of the scariness of the situation is that I didn't know or see where anything came from.  I didn't know if it was multiple shooters, what other weapons were there.

I just thought and hoped it wasn't a San Bernardino situation.

Was the cop right to pull the trigger?

It's hard to make any credible comment without seeing the situation.

After hearing my father-in-law's account and reading the news reporting, I'm still kind of unsure, but my opinion will ultimately hinge on whether or not the guy was restrained.

IF they had him "restrained" after swinging the metal chair, but not complying, I'd say probably not because the cops probably are not fearing for their lives.  It seems like they shot him just because that was just the more efficient tool given a long day with him.

IF he was "unrestrained" this whole time and possibly out there to cause havoc on civilians, patients in an ER room, guests, and doctors, then I'd probably lean towards saying that some kind of use of force was definitely justified, but a deadly use of force questionable.




The Problem With "If You See Something, Say Something": The Inevitable Selective Application of It After The San Bernardino Shooting

First off, on the shootings in general. As the father to a 9-month old, I can't understand how anything could drive you to commit an action that would take you away from an offspring.  I don't care to judge, but all I'm saying is these actions are infathomable and overwhelmingly tragic.  But yeah.  Damn.  Fuck.

After the mass shooting in San Bernardino, law enforcement has aggressively encouraged the public with a sign I've seen at Disney Studios in Burbank "if you see something, say something."  I generally don't have a problem with that as a general idea applied to any situation. Its a constant reminder, and upon seeing it, people will always be on the look out in general.  

But the mass call by law enforcement in the context of just this shooting bugs me a little bit.

Only in this shooting, out of the 350 or so this year, have I seen/heard law enforcement, people more aggressively say, "if you see something, say something."  The more 'radicalized' conservative version of people commenting on this situation is people saying "I don't care if I offend Muslims, let's profile the crap out of them!"  Meanwhile, we'll still have about 348 of those other mass shootings. 

The fact that law enforcement is more vocal to "see something, say something" particularly around this shooting involving Muslims is that now your right-wing radical as well as your average moderate will wonder a lot more about the Arabic, Middle-Eastern-ish garb-wearing people for nothing other than the way they look and dress.  I say "Middle-Eastern-ish" because just as after 9/11 we saw idiots harrass Sikhs for the headscarf, they will probably do the same. 

The fact that the San Bernardino shooter has been constantly described as "quiet", that co-workers couldn't remember any conflicts, and that even his own family didn't suspect anything, gives those who want to "see something, say something" even more reason to scrutinize anything they associate to be "Muslim" to the exclusion of any other person who also may be doing something suspicious. 




Ralph's Closed in Compton, Yet Another Smart N Final Opened

On the evening drive home from working the more Eastern parts of the OC about a week ago, I was trying to get a cake to celebrate Mr. Boy's 9 months of life.

My mind was trying to imagine where I could get a super-market cake could be had.  I wasn't necessarily thinking cake from specialty shop ala 85 Degrees as the price could be a bit much, I was just thinking something from one of the more "middle-class" supermarkets that tend to have a wider selection of baked goods:  Ralphs, Vons, Albertsons.

The meaning of those supermarkets to us as a family is:  "fresh", ready-to-eat food. 

When I think of any of these, I think of donuts in the morning and chicken and potato wedges, or even salad.  I also think of their endless selections of baked goods.

Taking Artesia all the way from La Habra, I passed up a bunch of Stater Brothers.  Honestly, I didn't know enough about Stater Brothers to stop.  They are actually around Long Beach-ish areas, and their commercial jingle has been permanently branded into my cortex (from a childhood of being subject to their commercials), but I've only gone once inside their stores.

I was trying to imagine where in/around Compton I could get this cake. 

I know Food4Less, the lower-class subsidiary of Ralphs, might have some, but I've always been skeptical of the freshness of its baked goods and deli, which might be completely unfounded. 

Then a thought sprung, the Ralphs on Compton Blvd, near City Hall! (El Super briefly crossed my mind, but typically I'd only go there for fruits or "paisa" baked goods)

Yes!

Only when I turned left, going North on Santa Fe, I didn't see anything.

It appeared that where Ralphs was, a Smart N Final had taken its place.

I'd only heard about the Smart N Final taking the place of the Fresh N Easy on Rosecrans and Central, but not a word about this Ralphs silently closing down, which according to Yelp comments closed down sometime in the summer.

What does it mean to have a Smart N Final instead of a Ralphs?

Immediately, at that time and place of celebrating my son's 9 months with my wife on a weekday night, I couldn't really get a cake at the Smart N Final in Compton.

There is no bakery or deli at the Smart N Final.  They have baked goods, but not seeing any baked goods baking area, I kinda wondered where they got the limited selection of goods made.  I think the bachelorized, younger, more cost-conscious version of me would've picked something, anything from the store.  The married, still cost-conscious, but kind-of-aware-of-my-wife's-tastes led me out of the store.

Smart N Final isn't a bad store at all.  They have the fresh veggies and fruits, which is a heck of a lot more important long-term than whether or not they have cakes or food at a deli.  They're reasonably cheap on most things, though I haven't sat down to calculate exactly how much cheaper/expensive they are.

Ultimately, what it meant for me was a trip to another store, 4.5 Miles Westward into Gardena along Redondo Beach Blvd to Vons.  There I was able to pick up not only a cake but also a pound of crab salad and potato wedges for our bellies.  It also meant paying $3.99 for a kale salad kit that we could get much bigger at Costco for around $6-$7.  For us as a family, having that Smart N Final instead of Ralphs meant that there wasn't immediate physical access to as much fresh, ready-to-eat things from a supermarket.  Or at least catering to our middle-class-ish perceptions of what fresh, ready-to-eat is.

It's not that I'm making a demand, it's just, that's the way it is.

Yes, the LA Media Did/Has Ignored the Beirut Bombings

At least the media, I listened to and watched.

The media which I actually generally like and trust.

There's an article written on Vox, "Did the media ignore the Beirut bombings?  Or did the media?"

The author says that "the media has covered [the Beirut bombings] extensively."

That only true if you have access to the internet AND know/knew where to look.  The majority of what he cites are online publications, with the exception of CNN, which I don't have.

I wouldn't have had access to that knowledge if all I had was local FM radio and TV.

There are days when I'm on the internet all day, and get news really quickly thanks to Twitter, but that's not often.

On November 12 and November 13th, a Thursday and a Friday, I wasn't on the internet all day, so I was mostly getting news from radio and TV.

I was in the car listening to 89.3 KPCC around 1 PM, November 13th. 

The BBC Newshour just began reporting about the attacks on Paris.

The severity and importance of the attacks didn't hit me until the coverage of the attacks bled over onto the next news hour during The World, and then onto All Things Considered.  It was only after that continuous coverage that I got the idea, "oh shit, it's their 9/11."

Once I got home at around 6 PM, my wife was watching the KNBC News, incidentally KPCC's media partner. 

My wife, also a KPCC listener, asked me, "did something happen in France?"

I said something to the effect of :yes, a few shootings."  We watched NBC for more details.  It was all jarring.

Leading up to this day, on Thursday, also in the car, all I could recall on KPCC was talk about the protests happening on campuses and the Officer Involved shootings in LA County, both important issues here. 

But there was no continuous updating by the BBC nor The World nor All Things Considered.  It was just a normal day, KPCC bringing up very interesting issues, but no alarm bells ringing.

I didn't have awareness of the Beirut bombings that had actually preceded the Paris bombings until Sunday morning while browsing Twitter and being curious about what Muslims had to say about the Paris bombings.  I ended up re-tweeting what they said.

One of the Muslim Tweeters posted a link to the New York Times' story about the bombings in Beirut.

This past Monday, November 16th, I watched a little more of my local news on NBC.  They made mention about progress on the investigations of the bombers in Paris.  I go to the Today Show news website.  Still no mention of Beirut.  I go to the NBC News website, the World Section.  Plenty of articles pertaining to the Paris Terror Attacks.  Not one of Beirut.



How Is Bike Commuting Unreliable and Inconvenient in LA?

At any opportunity I get, I will usually bike.

But that has not been a lot lately.

My job has me traveling all over LA County and LA-OC Metropolitan area every single day.  Lancaster, Ojai, Tehachapi, the Third Street Promenade, Broadway in Downtown LA, Downtown Long Beach, Artesia.  I probably take the car 99.9% of the time nowadays now that I'm focused on singular projects in Orange County cities, compared to about 70-80% in previous years with lots of projects within a train/bike ride away.

I like biking, but in the very few times I have a close job, I often have to get up really early even if the job is relatively close (think Compton to Downtown LA).  Uncomfortably early.  Like drag myself up a 4:30 AM early, which sounds awesome at 10 PM at night and when I'm wide awake.  But after having woken up twice between 12 AM and 4 AM to help feed the baby, and still seeing the wife struggle, fuck that noise.  Gotta help wifey out, gotta thesis to write, gotta sleep, so my logic goes... 

My jobs generally last all day, or at least I have to be at a place late, in the darkness.  Do I really want to do this?

Having this kind of schedule combined with the wildly varied distances, and having mixed up my social circles so wildly in five years,  has allowed me to see how unreliable and inconvenient bike commuting in LA can be.

How can biking be unreliable and inconvenient?
  1. Even as a Angeleno who has lived here almost my entire life and travels quite a bit, I don't know the nuances of bike routes/infrastructure in every neighborhood.  On streets I don't know about, I've been stuck on some very bike unfriendly streets.  COUGH Sepulveda en route to and from LAX COUGH.    
  2. To be safe in neighborhoods I don't know, I usually just end up on the big avenues.  But half the time that means battling for lane space/hoping I don't get hit either on the street or biking really slow on sidewalks.  
  3. Map apps on the phones give you some really complicated directions.  I do map out where I have to go, and now the phone can tell me, but I have to listen really hard to her voice. Even for a 13-mile trip from the casa to LAX by bike is complicated.  I know that I can take a street like Compton Blvd/Redondo Beach Blvd or Rosecrans till I hit Sepulveda, but frankly I'm pretty scared of riding Sepulveda at the LAX area because of the density of traffic.
  4. Numerous mechanical problems with the bike.  I've had numerous mechanical problems from a flat tire, to the chain falling off, when I needed to be on time for a job.  It's a stark comparison to the car which :knock on wood: needs scheduled maintenance.  A few solutions for this:  that little piece of bike infrastructure that I blogged about, and/or Taxi Service for biking (ala UberPedal) to bail your freeloading biker ass out of there.
  5. For those who need to haul lots of cargo around.  I used to know a guy who biked with lots and lots of trailers.  He made biking with cargo work in his own way;  he was very motivated to show the world all the things he could do without a car and biking.  These days I'm around a lot of blue-collar-ish people with either families and/or work tools.  They make good use of either mini-vans or pick-up trucks.  Suggesting a bike would not make sense for them and their schedules taking them various places either. 
  6. Too Far of a Commute.  This is probably the main thing.  People just come from all over based on housing that they can afford.  A lot of people who come from my background are not going to want to live in Compton, but would rather tough out a commute from one of the Valleys.

Acknowledging the Unacknowledged on Veteran's Day in LA

Just as every year on TV, they appear to focus on white American Veteran stories (props to Google for their multi-colored Vet Day logo), my focus is on unacknowledged soldiers.



On this day every year, I remember Filipino American Veterans from World War II.  I have been for just about 10 or 11 years now.

'Unacknowledged', 'unrecognized,' are the operative adjectives.  Unacknowledged by major media outlets (and by proxy the American public), unrecognized by US government agency, until relatively recently.  

Basically, when we were at war with Japan, Roosevelt offered soldiers in the Phillippines the same rights and benefits conferred to American soldiers so that they could help in the US effort.  Then, as soon as we won the war, Harry Truman, signed the Rescission act of 1946.  The Rescission Act stripped them of any benefits that they were due to receive.

Just as Veterans from World War II die every year, Filipino veterans from that era die increasingly every year.  

They have been fighting for their rights since the 1960s, and have only won what little recognition and rights in piecemeal fashion.  

For the Fil-Am veterans living here in Los Angeles, a few in Historic Filipinotown, they've scored a few minor victories along the way, such as a little statue at Lake St. Park, installed in 2006.
 
Their largest, and most recent victory nationally was a one-time lump sum payment in 2009, which needed to be bundled under Obama's Stimulus Act from his first term.  But obviously that one-time lump sum payment was a compromise meant to address part of the injustice, and not the full extent of the injustice.

I just wonder what "could have been" if these Filipinos were able to build their lives here, with the benefits of home ownership, the GI Bill, etc.  

I mean, I'm here, I'm sort of successful, but maybe more capital could've been sent to the Philippines, and they'd be more well-off.  Its all been lost time now, but I don't think addressing the injustice is over.  

The group that I usually hang around with, Justice for Filipino American Veterans (JFAV) held a march today in Hollywood, and for more than 15 years have been focusing on getting WWII Veterans full recognition.  I didn't attend and I guess I should have, but the logistics of making it all happen today with all the responsibilities, and the fact that my main computer went down made that a non-reality.

Happy Veteran's Day, and till justice is served....

Election Results from that November 3 Election

About a week ago, I participated in my first Compton election.  A very small one, with only 2 things to vote on.

I know that Measure A passed.  That means my family and I are going to pay an extra $100 in property taxes in addition to the $3,300 we owe.  Woo.  I'm not sure what I'd want Compton High to look like after all that tax money, but I don't really have high expectations.  Shooting from the hip, I think there is an "infrastructure of corruption";  in about 5-10 years we'll find out that the money was misappropriated.  Sadly, I expect it, especially in our town with plenty of social capital but very little economic capital. 

Normally I'd a voted money for schools, but I guess I'm just sour about our property tax bill and adding yet another expense to our fragile economic situation.  But in reality, I guess $100 a year won't kill us either, I hope.

If I had not been looking past the LA Vote page, I didn't really understand who'd actually been elected to school board, except that incumbent Micah Ali was definitely in, as the leading vote-getter in the race.  He was specifically named by the woman who approached me last week on my way to the polls as the guy NOT to vote. 

It appears that a some people really did not like him.  It appears one of the searing issues was of teacher layoffs. Unheralded in any news coverage that I regularly watch (KPCC, NBC4, CBS [the morning show bleeds over because of Colbert]), apparently teachers called a "sick-out" the day after the election.

Besides Micah Ali, we were allowed to choose two others, so Charles Davis and Sandra Moss are also in.  Neither of these people I know about, thought I've learned through her Facebook campaign page, that Sandra Moss is one of the people who voted No on Measure A.  Woot.

I guess now that I know a few names, I'm going to start actually following these people.