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Police State 2011: Brian Reed Shot by MPD as Jesse Watson's Family Launches Wrongful Death
by Modesto Anarcho
Saturday Jan 1st, 2011 7:32 PM
Police Brutality Continues in Modesto...
Police State 2011: Brian Reed Shot by MPD as Jesse Watson's Family Launches Wrongful Death Suit


As the clock ticked away at the seconds left to 2010 and a crew of us walked the streets of Downtown Modesto, many of us tonight involved with this project found it hard to enjoy ourselves. Because, as we walked, hoping to enjoy our buzz and being around so many Modestans, we knew that one person lay in the ground cold and another lay in the hospital. Because of the police.

The family of Jesse Eugene Watson announced in the December 29th edition of the Modesto Bee that the would be filling a wrongful death suit against the Modesto Police Department. Watson was chased by police because Watson's car "fit the description of a vehicle involved in a suspected break-in at Burnside Body Shop on North Franklin Street." Burnside Body Shop is owned by a member of the City Council. Police then chased Watson for seven miles, after which Watson crashed after being hit by a police car from behind, and then according to police, he then backed up toward them. 'Fearing for their lives,' the police open fired. In doing so, the police not only killed Watson, but also pumped his girlfriend with lead four times, injuring her critically. According to a police insider, "Blue Baton," police also managed to hit a parked police car, as well as a vehicle containing a woman and her young daughter, although they were luckily unharmed. According to the Modesto Bee, Watson's mother "has hired an attorney and plans to file a wrongful death lawsuit."

The Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department is 'investigating' the latest killing.

Another person shot dead for what? For matching a description? For daring to run from a police department that so many on these streets knows kills and murders at will? For fearing to be arrested by a corrupt police department and locked inside a jail where 6 people have brutally died in the last year for what would amount to a misdemeanor? Those that cheer on the cops in their latest act of brazen brutality support a department that stands on the bodies of scores of victims and behind a blue code of silence, murder, and deceit.

But as Modesto residents were just coming to grips with this latest murder, and as the Bee does backflips to avoid calling Watson a 'victim' and pat the police on the back, on the last day of 2010, the police shot their 8th victim in a year's time in Northeast Modesto (and the 14th in 3 years). The victim was Brian Reed, 41, who police shot after responding to a call of a man threating to commit suicide. This latest shooting mirrors the recent police murder of Francisco Moran in September of 2010, when police officer shot him in his East Modesto home armed only with a spatchula.

According to witnesses, two Modesto police officers entered Reed's home and found him with a knife. Police are not releasing information on the size or nature of Reed's knife, or if he even made threatening moves towards them with the knife (remember they were there on a call to HELP Reed because he was suicidal). Police then were reported to have asked the distraught Reed to "drop the knife" several times, after which he was shot at 6-8 times, according to neighbors who witnessed the attack. Soon after, Reed's wife and two children ran out of the home crying, "They just shot my dad." When police were asked by residents why they didn't use a taser to subdue Reed, they replied that, "Sometimes, tasers don't work."

In 2010, police shot dead Elizabeth Catherine Kropp, 43, in Modesto, after the mentally disturbed woman appeared on a school grounds cutting herself with a knife. After officers orders to stop fell on deaf ears, as the police responded in their most compassionate way possible - shooting Kropp to death. In January of 2009, Richie Robles, a 45 year old man with a samurai sword was also shot dead in Downtown Modesto in a similar circumstance.

It is clear that the police are not capable, willing, or even able to solve problems and help us - only in dishing out repression, control, and murder. We cannot count on them to tell the truth, only to lie and cover their own tracks. Nor can we count on the local government to absolve them, or the media to hold the accountable.

This is the second police involved shooting in Modesto since an attorney from Palo Alto began an 'investigation' into the police for brutality and corruption and we can be sure that their recent actions show that they indeed fear no reprimand from higher ups or from the government.

Only the people can bring justice. Only we can begin to come together and resist police murder and terror and begin to rely on each other to resolve conflicts and help one another. An investigation by outsiders of our community will only show what so many already no to be painfully true - the police are a murderous gang of thugs.

The following report on the Reed shooting comes from a community member of Hagstrom Court in Northeast Modesto, the area in which Reed was shot. It is painful and hard to read at times, as we come to realize that the police responding to the scene endangered the lives of many more than just Reed when they arrived that night, but also his family and community members. Rest in Peace to Jesse Watson. Rest in Peace to Brian Reed. Let 2011 be the year when we start to push back against our enemies in blue. Happy new year.

Eyewitness Account of Officer-Involved Shooting on Hagstrom Ct. Last Night: Neighborhood Considers Response Questionable

Neighbors of the man shot last night on Hagstrom Ct. last night are questioning the manner in which responding officers handled the difficult situation. The wife or domestic partner of the man shot reportedly called the police because her husband was disturbed and behaving erratically. As people were outside in the street, police vehicles entered the court at a high rate of speed, with one neighbor upset that his child was uncomfortably close to being hit by one of the cars. One police vehicle was travelling at such a high rate of speed that it overshot the house by eight houses after turning the corner before coming to a stop.

One eyewitness to the events said that after the police arrived, they heard them shouting for the individual to come out of the house. After the door opened, the officers observed that the individual was holding a knife, and ordered him to "Drop the knife" five times. At this time, the individual, who was said to be despondent and under the influence of inhalants, began moving toward the officers, at which time six shots were fired, with three hitting the individual.

At that point, the wife who had called ran out of the house screaming "Why did I call the police", and the couple's young daughter (around 10 years of age), ran to a neighbor's house shouting "They shot him, they shot him". When asked if it was her teen-aged brother, who has had contact with the law and has been on probation in the past (it was not stated if he is currently on probation), she cried out that "No, they shot my Dad". One of the neighbors heard a member of law enforcement later say that "He committed suicide by cop".

Neighbors who witnessed the shooting and its aftermath are understandably upset and emotional about the shooting. While the house had been known by neighbors for police and probation officers stopping by to make contact and to do thorough probation-related searches of the house because of the man's teenaged step-son's contact with the law (the details of which are not known to the neighbors), the man who was shot maintained fairly civil relations with his neighbors, and though the regular police presence was not appreciated by those in the neighborhood, neighbors were not aware of the step-father of the teenager (and father of the little girl), having been involved with the law.

The general consensus among the neighbors who witnessed the shooting and its aftermath seems to be that between the initial contact with the man who was shot and the moment of the shooting, there was sufficient time to set up around the house and try tasing or other means of incapacitating the individual before outright shooting him.

When one of the officers was asked by one of the neighbors why they didn't try tasing him or using mace or capsicum spray before shooting the man, the officer responded " because tasing doesn't always work".

Another issue raised by the neighbors was that the ambulance had to park a distance from the scene, leading to the the paramedics having to to roll the stretcher from the ambulance to the scene, load the resident who was shot onto the stretcher, and then roll him back to the ambulance, rather than pulling right up to the scene, loading the individual onto the stretcher, and driving directly from the scene. The concern is that the time it took to roll the stretcher to and from the scene could be crucial in whether or not the individual survives the shooting or not.
The neighbors are now expressing not just shock at the shooting itself, but anger and fear at the immediacy of the shooting rather than attempting to subdue their neighbor with less-than-lethal means before shooting to kill. Could officers have positioned themselves so as to permit the use of the taser or other means and then shoot him if those methods didn't incapacitate him so that the officers could safely secure him?

Another issue raised by the neighbors was the youth of the officers present. Is this a factor to be considered when dealing with lethal situations? The impression in the neighborhood is that most of these officers were very young, and that possibly this was a factor in what is being viewed by many in the neighborhood as having jumped the gun in shooting him rather than opting for a non-lethal or less-lethal approach.

The question is, when faced with someone who is obviously disturbed and/or under the influence, what can be done to reduce the number of fatalities do to officer-involved shootings? This was a man of the home, a family man, and although the family had issues (how many of our families don't?), people in that small slice of Modesto are seeing themselves in him, and asking themselves at what point are they now able to call the police in the belief that the police will not only protect and serve those who have not committed crimes, but also, when necessary, protect and serve those in the community who need to be protected from themselves without paying the ultimate price?