In Union City police shooting, truth still at issue

From left, Lt. Chris McElroy of the Union City Police Department; Ariston Waiters, 19; Luther Lewis, formerly of the Union City Police Department

From left, Lt. Chris McElroy of the Union City Police Department; Ariston Waiters, 19; Luther Lewis, formerly of the Union City Police Department

Ariston Waiters was shot and killed almost four years ago, more than long enough for his death at the hands of a Union City police officer to fade into obscurity. That’s particularly true given that the case had been presented three years ago to a Fulton County grand jury, which heard the available evidence and declined to indict, accepting the officer’s claim of self-defense.

Just another tragic story in the big city.

Earlier this week, though, the Waiters case was reopened by the Fulton County district attorney’s office. Part of that has to do with the basic facts of the case, which remain troubling even after all this time. Waiters, 19, had been unarmed and was apparently guilty of nothing more than running away from police who had arrived to break up a fight. Yet somehow, after he ceased fleeing, Waiters was shot twice, in the back, while he lay on the ground.

Furthermore, a new investigation by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel Two Action News has uncovered potentially crucial information that the grand jury was not allowed to hear.

For example, there is evidence that the personnel file of the officer involved may have been cleansed of potentially troubling information by Union City officials before it was turned over to the district attorney’s office. In addition, the grand jury somehow never heard testimony from a Union City police supervisor, Lt. Chris McElroy, who warned investigators at the time that Luther Lewis, the officer who shot Waiters, had changed his story significantly.

When McIlroy arrived at the scene of the shooting and questioned Lewis, he says, the officer said nothing about Waiters trying to grab his police firearm, a claim that would prove central to Lewis’ self-defense narrative. According to McElroy, that crucial addition to the story came after Lewis had a private discussion about the case with Union City Police Chief Chuck Odum.

“I think Mr. Waiters died senselessly and his family deserves some closure,” McElroy said. “I just don’t think it’s right. It’s not sat right with me from the very first time I arrived on the scene.”

We should also acknowledge two other points:

1.) A changed national environment contributed to the reopening of the Waiters case. Videos documenting what appear to be clear cases of police misconduct have given new credibility to allegations that police have at times been too eager to resort to deadly force, either out of gross incompetence or callous disregard for the lives of those in their custody.

2.) Given the ready availability of firearms, police officers have every cause to be wary, as the bizarre biker shootout in Texas over the weekend demonstrated. In many if not most cases of police shootings, evidence demonstrates that officers have had little or no choice but to shoot to protect their own lives or those of others.

The question is, how do you distinguish between a justified police shooting and an unjustified shooting? And who should be entrusted to make such a judgment? Victims of such shootings, particularly in minority communities, have long argued that law enforcement agencies are more interested in protecting themselves from scrutiny than in pursuing the truth.

The allegations in the Waiters death reflect the problem perfectly. If proved in a court of law, they constitute a conspiracy by law enforcement itself to cover up what really happened on the evening of Dec. 14, 2011. And that’s the heart of the mistrust that continues to degrade trust between law enforcement and those they are sworn to protect.

Reader Comments 0

339 comments
OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@ Josef.

Below, I've read your umpteenth post about Gotalife as calling for your deportation as a Jew.  At the risk of drawing down your lightning on my head, I want to say that I read the original blog exchange where he suggested deporting, and think he was rather ironically referring to Romney's suggestion that Latino immigrants self-deport. It really did not seem anti-Semitically directed at you.


Maybe I should add that I was brought up in NYC in the late 40s-50s, in an immigrant neighborhood with many Jewish refugees from the camps. One of my earliest memories is of an older woman, always with an older man supporting her, who silently showed me her forearm with blue numbers tattooed on it. I remember when details about the camps became known, and my mother told me about the soap and the lampshades made of human skin. And in my school we sang the Jewish national anthem as well as the American one, and I can still remember it: "Let the tears no longer fall, Joy shall surround from every wall...."

Corey
Corey

Police are to arrest. Courts are to try and convict or not convict. Jails and prisons are to detain and punish. Some of you seem to want a one legged stool as our criminal justice system, just cops, deciding guilt and punishment even if it means killing a suspect on the spot. And that is primarily because of your perception of all, young black men from the wrong zip codes. Stop viewing the world through suburban, white middle class lenses if that's possible for one moment and try a little moral imagination. When Ms. Johnston (90 yrs. old) was shot in her home by cops some of you probably believed she really was a "ghetto grandmother" selling crack because she lived in the Bluff. 

TomGaff
TomGaff

@Corey Good post Corey!! But until people stop runnning and fighting officers to avoid arrest, there seems to be no solution. OFFICER SURVIVAL is the number one concern they have each and every day they are out there dealing with citizen calls for service. Unless, like some liberals think, if they run or fight just let them get away to avoid a conflict?. Yes, in Ms Johnson's case, they screwed up with bad info on a drug raid and tried to cover it up with planting drugs in her house. All officers involved in that case got prison time for it. Just imagine a cop going to prison, that would be harsher on them than other criminals! But they deserved it in that case!! Most cops know this and live by it - I'd rather be tried by 12 people than carried by 6.!!!!

EliasDenny
EliasDenny

When police stop you for no other reason than they are bored, which happened to me recently, there has to be a problem with training. This happened in a rural county that I was driving through at night and even though no ticket was issued my wife and I sat on the side of the road for several minutes while I was checked out. In my younger days I shared an apartment with two policemen and some of the stories they told were very disturbing. I don't think attitudes have changed very much in the intervening years.

fiftythreepercenter
fiftythreepercenter

"I don't care if they're charged with bringing down the Russian Czars, Wall Street and VHS videotape.  Unless they're charged with a capital crime, death by cop shouldn't be happening as frequently as it does."

You should try walking a mile in their shoes before you throw too many stones.

TomGaff
TomGaff

I don't know much about the Union City shooting, but the key question should be, was the young suspect's DNA on the officer's firearm? If it was, his version is perhaps the most credible story. Do not forget officers are excited and sometimes fearful after being involved in a shooting, that may explain his version of those events somewhat differing at times. They are not robots and calm in all instances, as some would like you to believe. I know most of you liberal Bookman groupies jump on the bandwagon to accuse the police every chance you get. I know you don't care about the six officers who were killed in the line of duty in NY, Philly, and Mississippi recently. It is a war out here trying to deal with the predators of society on a daily basis!! Not all cops are perfect, sometimes they may over react to perceived hostility? Perhaps they should just let those who would run or fight to escape arrest, get away and not go after them? Only arrest those who raise their hands and give up without a conflict. Those that got away would probably at some point get shot by a home owner/victim(which is fine by the public) later when they commit more crimes. You people have no idea what would happen if that thin blue line was not there to protect you from the thugs/predators of society. Yes. I am retired military/law enforcement from 70's, 80's, and early 90's! I worked the mean streets of ATL and Dekalb County, survived a couple close calls and very happy to be retired. Only shot at a person once in 30+ years, most of the time I could wrestle them to the ground for the arrest. Shot a rapist with a knife, wearing a stocking cap over his head and face, who was chasing a naked woman around in her apt at 2am in the morning. He cut her window with a knife and entered, was was going to rape her. An elderly lady across street, saw him cut screen window and enter ladies apt, she then called police. He tried to stab two officers(including me) to escape, he was shot and killed! One officer had stab wounds but survived. The elderly lady who called, said police had no choice but to shoot. By the way all folks involved just happened to be black! I was very nervous after the shooting and almost stunned to a degree. I did not feel good about it and still do not to this day. Later detectives said the dead rapist had commit approx 8 previous rapes in the area before we shot and killed him. The fact that he was a serial rapist did not make me feel any better about what was necessary to do though. It is really a WAR, whose side are you on?

GaGirl53171875
GaGirl53171875

And how are we to know if the officer put the dead man's DNA on the gun? The policeman who shot Freddie Gray was videotaped tampering with the scene.

josef
josef

@Visual_Cortex 

An interesting read and, for many, a new perspective, eh.  Thanks for giving it some attention.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@josef @Visual_Cortex 

a new perspective, eh

What brought it home to me was the author's bit about how for so much of the time, she really didn't have to "see color," she was able to go about everyday life without really thinking about it.

In her case it was location, location, location...

/headin' upstairs.

fedup52
fedup52

Okay, Peaches wants to knock me back a step or two because I’m a country boy.Well, guess what, this little old country boy is already three steps ahead of him and out of reach.

++++

Joseph:

I can understand that.  

josef
josef

@fedup52 

Wanting to knock me back a step or two?   Get in line.   LOL 

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

Four years ago?

Where was Obama and Holder? Al Sharpton? The AJC?

Sounds like the Fulton County DA's office did the right thing by reopening the case.

josef
josef

"Race" is run, fresh SHEEETZ...

fiftythreepercenter
fiftythreepercenter

From below..


"Oh, so it's the "thug community" vs. white people, huh?"


You go on pretending the cases you libs keep making an issue of aren't all black victims and white cops, Bookman.  I guess when the black cop shoots the black or white perp it doesn't sell enough papers for the likes of the AJC so nobody cares.  Including you.  You have a serious problem being consistent in your poutrage over these issues.  


And if you want to go on pretending nearly all of the dead guys don't have rap sheets 31 deep, you have that right too, but please stop posting pictures from when they were 12 and pretending they're mommy's little angels.

LeninTime
LeninTime

@fiftythreepercenter 

 I guess when the black cop shoots the black or white perp it doesn't sell enough papers for the likes of the AJC so nobody cares.

**

A couple of the cops in Baltimore charged were black.

Tuna Meowt
Tuna Meowt

@fiftythreepercenter "And if you want to go on pretending nearly all of the dead guys don't have rap sheets 31 deep"


I don't care if they're charged with bringing down the Russian Czars, Wall Street and VHS videotape.  Unless they're charged with a capital crime, death by cop shouldn't be happening as frequently as it does.


Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

Just one more quote from that Cracked piece for this afternoon, promise.


Why Can't We Just Put This Stupid S--- Aside And Treat Each Other Like Human Beings?

"I might be a white dude, but the one-room apartment I live in bears a lot closer resemblance to the ghetto than the mansion Flavor Flav lives in. If you don't want me judging people based on the color of their skin, why are you judging me on mine? To say I have 'white privilege' is a cruel joke, considering that for lunch I ate a 'hamburger' that was a wad of ramen noodles between two slices of bread."

In other words, why can't we start treating each other like individuals based on our position in life, and just drop all of this race/gender stuff that just clouds the issue? Wouldn't that be the fastest way to make things better for everyone?

Sure, and we could totally do that, if we were merely people. The problem is that we can't just collectively agree to make the context of history go away, any more than a bunch of leaves can get together and decide that there is no tree; the roots of history are still feeding us. Blacks are still stuck in neighborhoods with terrible schools and no job opportunities where they're being groomed for a lifetime in the corrections system. Women who want to get jobs as software engineers will find themselves in offices that are 84 percent male.

So, while race is a social construct as are lots of gender roles*, that doesn't mean they're not real -- the systems we're living under today were all built with them in mind.

GaGirl53171875
GaGirl53171875

Let's talk about freedoms and who's taking them away.

The Texas Gov will sign today legislation that bans Texas cities from banning fracking in their towns. Freedom of the people?

A Georgia city has made it law that all citizens must own a gun, Freedom?

Georgia has banned cities from banning plastic bags. freedom?

Protestors and even journalists are arrested at GOP events on a consistent basis. Freedom?

Corporations are people. Freedom?

You can be jailed for notifying authorities of toxic spills on public lands. OUR public lands. Freedom?

The Patriot Act will be re upped this week by Mitch MCConnell and Boehnor. Freedom?

Republicans say Obama is taking away our freedom, breaking laws and stomping on the Constitution and, yet, they can never give a specific example and Congress hasn't tried to impeach.

Republicans are taking away US citizens freedoms and you all don't even notice.

InTheMiddle2
InTheMiddle2

@GaGirl53171875 As a tenneager I remember looking over the Berlin wall (checkpoint charlie) and seeing life on the other side. Yes freedom. You have lived a pampered lifestyle and now you take far too much for granted,

alexander2
alexander2

@GaGirl53171875 Corporations are people. Freedom......arrested at GOP events on a consistent basis. Freedom....Biased and prejudiced against GOP and FREE to be....

gotalife
gotalife

@GaGirl53171875  Oh we noticed. I have been screaming that since w stole American freedoms. You see, our rw cower easily and happily gave up our freedoms and we don't get them back. They still cower and would happily give government all of our freedoms. It is what they do, cower.

gotalife
gotalife

Frankly, cops have been slaughtering blacks for decades but cell phones just started filming them. Then you have some black kids that gave up and will shoot cops. Changing both cultures will require change in policies in the failed drug war like prison reform. The problem here is the gop are too incompetent to do real reform. They will fight for their ideology and not real reform. This is the case on all government reform and most of it needs reform ASAP not 50 years later.

fedup52
fedup52

Read yesterday:

Some body called Bartlett who worked for RR and Bush 1 said Fox is doing a disservice to the GOP.  His opinion is the FOX bots known less than people who who don't watch TV news.  Now that is funny.

barkingfrog
barkingfrog

It takes a village to raise a child. Any town can raise a drunk.

GaGirl53171875
GaGirl53171875

Folks on here have told me to broaden my horizons. I've travelled widely, I've lived in multiple cities and I read a lot. I know history and history says that the South has always been a hot bed of discrimination against blacks and now Hispanics.

Like I have said here before. There are a lot of folks on this sight who are so self-righteous and smug. thats how the GOP wants you. That way you'll never do any research for yourself.

InTheMiddle2
InTheMiddle2

@GaGirl53171875 The South is a place. A person discriminates, not a rock. If you were to say Southerners discriminate it probably would have been a more accurate representation of your ideas. But the next quetion is, white southerners only? or can black southerners also discriminate. How about somebody from the north that just moved south?

josef
josef

@GaGirl53171875 

If that is in relation to what I posted below, I used the word "perspective," not "horizon."  There's a whale of a difference there.  You can go from one end of the planet to the other, eyes on the horizon, but the experience will still be put up against your perspective.  

 

alexander2
alexander2

@GaGirl53171875 You can travel all you want , but if you go into any place or enviroment with bias and prejudice, you will likely not see any place objectively. Clearly you have done that by stereotyping the GOP. Perhaps you have done that with your geographical traveling......

barkingfrog
barkingfrog

Scared cops equal dead citizens. Gun proliferation equals scared cops or at least the excuse.

No solution in sight.

fedup52
fedup52

@barkingfrog I get a sense the cops are saying muzzle this 1st Amendment rights business.

gotalife
gotalife

Lets get real, the President and police are trying to stop the slaughter of unarmed young black men and police. It is just starting and will not be easy and will take decades to repair.

gotalife
gotalife

Yeah, gay con Jews have it so bad  the police are slaughtering you in the streets.

josef
josef

@gotalife 

Nyanh, they leave it to you neo-Nazis drawing up deportation lists...it's cleaner.and more effective...

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@gotalife

gay con Jews have it so bad  the police are slaughtering you in the streets

gota, have you ever considered, you know, not writing totally stupid stuff like this and posting it?

gotalife
gotalife

BUSTED!


Use the rico act on the banking mafia.


Thug criminals.


josef
josef

Semi related to below.

I always say thatG-d was in a festive mood when H- packed my cultural baggage for this life’s journey, making sure it was plastered with enough labels to keep me busy trying to figure it all out, and then, just for the fun of it, H- made sure plenty of them were contradictory in the hierarchical order of things.

When Granddaddy set me down as a wee sprout to guide my first steps on that journey, one of his first lessons was to take what some would consider a disadvantage and see the advantage in it.

So, you’re a Jew, you’ll have to take three steps to get where a non Jew gets in one.So, you’re a Southerner, you’ll have to take three steps to get where a non Southerner gets in one.So, you’re a pretty boy….etc.Well take those three steps.Sometimes, not all the time, but sometimes, you’ll get three steps ahead to their one.

Okay, Peaches wants to knock me back a step or two because I’m a country boy.Well, guess what, this little old country boy is already three steps ahead of him and out of reach.

 

SFM_Scootter
SFM_Scootter

@josef Some of us rednecks are too.I even throw my beer cans behind the seat of my truck instead of out the window!  LOL

Tuna Meowt
Tuna Meowt

@SFM_Scootter @josef "Some of us rednecks are too.I even throw my beer cans behind the seat of my truck instead of out the window!  LOL"


Somehow, I imagine that Scootter looks like Jerry Reed in Smokey and the Bandit.  XD


Scootter, do you have a Basset Hound named Fred?  If not, then I think you should getcherself one.


KUTGF
KUTGF

@josef  Are you playing the hokey pokey? 

josef
josef

@TetoLeo @josef 

"It's the bottom of the ninth and the Jews and Indians are tied."

--Sherman Alexie

 

Tuna Meowt
Tuna Meowt

@SFM_Scootter @Tuna Meowt @josef I have always been of the opinion that one-syllable names are best for Bassets.


Joe

Bob

Mike

Or other similar 'guy' names


Spot

Spud

Lump

Or other similar names


'Duke' is a good name if you want to give a Basset a swelled head.   :D

TetoLeo
TetoLeo

@josef that's a good quote. Depends on who the home team is as far as an advantage to be had there

TetoLeo
TetoLeo

@josef thanks for sharing that.

Also correct me if I'm wrong but was it not the Jews who are one of histories most discriminated against groups in history? Victim to not only slavery and discrimination laws, but also genocide?