Friday, September 08, 2006

Seeking Reality in the Shooting of a San Diego Footballer

San Diego Charger linebacker Steve Foley was shot in front of his home by an off-duty police officer last weekend. That is the undisputed fact. But what caused the confrontation? What really happened?

The Policeman's Story
The twenty-three year-old Coronado policeman was driving home after work at 3 am last Sunday out of uniform and in his personal car. He saw a car driving recklessly, he followed at speeds up to 90 miles-per-hour, and he tried and failed to pull the car over three times. When Foley stopped in front of his house, the officer felt threatened by Foley and his female companion who had moved into the driver's seat of the car. As Foley approached the officer, the policeman fired a warning shot. This caused the woman to drive the car towards the officer. The policeman shot at the woman in the car. This caused Foley to run towards the officer. And, this caused the officer to shoot Foley.

The Linebacker's Story
At 3 am, someone they suspected to be a carjacker or obsessed fan began following Foley and his companion. Foley drove slower then faster, trying to get away. Three times this suspicious person tried to pull them over. When they got to Foley's home, Foley started walking towards the unidentified man while the man was still in his car. The man now obviously scared got out of his car, said he was a cop, pulled a gun, and fired it. Trying to protect Foley, the woman drove Foley's car towards the unidentified man. The man then shot at the car and Foley.

Some Perspective
  • Steve Foley was unarmed.
  • The policeman was in civilian clothes driving a civilian car. There was nothing to indicated he was a cop.
  • Foley is big (6 foot-4 inches, 265 pounds), black, and as any NFL running back will tell you, scary.
  • The policeman was just a kid, 23 years old. Veteran officers will tell you that young cops run out of confidence quickly. They get scared and pull their guns where a veteran wouldn't.
  • Foley has been in trouble before. He had drinking problems in the past and was accused of battery on a police officer this April although no charges where filed.
Other Facts Worth Noting
San Diego has a history of excessive police officers shootings. In the past, police have shot people "armed" with rocks, bottles, bricks, sticks, tree branches, and a pen. One naked guy who was caught masturbating by a bikepath was shot while armed with his wanker. Several years ago police shot and killed another NFL player, Demetrius DuBose, who had allegedly taken a policeman's nunchukas but was otherwise unarmed. I don't remember the last time San Diego police shot someone who actually had a gun.

Coronado, where the young policeman works, is populated mostly by old, white retired naval officers. Stuck out on an island (well pennisula), there is only bridge and causeway access, it is isolated from the rest of San Diego. It is not a place where young, hip, black folk are seen.

Driving While Black has long been a crime in San Diego. There was a classic case where police were looking for a stolen Honda and arrested Charger football player Shawn Lee for the crime; he was driving a Jeep Cherokee. Add together Driving While Black with black guy driving nice car, black guy with white woman in the passenger seat, and black guy in an upscale neighborhood. Steve Foley broke at least four unwritten laws that get people arrested in San Diego.

So, What Do I Think Happened
Foley was probably driving drunk. He's done it before. The policeman looked like some college kid stalker; the kind of guy NFL player are always getting harrassed by. Some kid saying "I'm a cop" in a frightened tremolo is not going to cut it. When Foley stopped in front of his house the wise move for the policeman would have been to wait until a uniformed officer arrived. But this young cop was angry. Here was some black guy dissing him. He was with a white chick in a nicer car in a nicer neighborhood than the cop had. He was going to teach that nigger a lesson. But the cop got scared, scared shitless real fast. How do I know the cop was scared? Foley was shot once in the hand and twice in the leg. Police are taught to shot the torso. That gun was waving around like it was at the end of a willow branch.

I'll be interested whether the truth comes out but the early money is against it. San Diego district attorneys always cover for trigger happy cops. Foley will probably not be charged. He survived the shooting, that is usually considered enough punishment. The one who will get screwed is Foley's companion. She has been charged with assault on a police officer for driving her car towards the crazy kid with the gun. She broke another unwritten San Diego law, it is still taboo here for white women to date black men.


New Years Afternoon said...

Thanks for posting. I agree that the off-duty cop was way out of line.
Even if he suspected drunk driving, there was no need to confront or draw on the couple.

El Mas Chingón said...

Not to mention the off-duty officer never showed Foley his badge. That probably would have avoided this whole mess.

DWB is a problem in San Diego. I've had a Driving While Brown before. Not fun when it happens in front of your friends.