‘Officer involved’ shootings, described in ‘past exonerative’


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Killeen ‘Daily Herald’ news photo, stolen fair and square

Bell County, Texas – Fear stalks this quiet street. Death follows close behind, and both have been very busy throughout the communities of this decent, law-abiding and very progressive, conservative area of the world.

In a pleasant hilltop neighborhood of oak-studded lots, 120 Bremond is unremarkable, doesn’t draw any extra attention, but neighbors say it had in the recent past been the scene of repeated “domestic disturbances.”

Folks remember that Allen Jay Foste, 49, a former soldier, suffered from the combat-related condition of post-traumatic stress disorder, that in recent memory, he often drew the attention of police officers summoned to quell unpleasant happenings at his house.

No one said they didn’t like Foste. People say he was a nice guy. But he was jumpy. Loud noises got on his nerves.

Last Thursday, July 17, five squad cars bearing Bell County Sheriff’s Deputies converged on the modular home, where they found Foste standing behind a cypress privacy fence with a shotgun in his hands.

He had reportedly threatened suicide.

From that point on, published reports begin to display a lot of fuzz tone around the edges, a rendition of the b-flat blues with pronounced alarums of feedback, something that would have put Jimi Hendrix to shame in his feeble attempt to improvise on “The Star-Spangled Banner,” the national anthem, at Woodstock.

It’s a problem that has drawn the attention of Radley Balko – an intrepid blogger at “The Washington Post” who recently took on McLennan County for its aggressive policy of investigating applicants for indigent legal representation in court. Balko, who seems to be all over the lot, got in the act, in an indirect way.

Still reeling from the conservative comeuppance dealt him over his pointy-headed liberalities in defense of poor, down-and-out offenders who need a lawyer, but balk at letting an investigator come in the house to investigate their claim of indigence, Balko admitted his grammatical ignorance in describing police press release semantics as couched in the “passive” voice, when in truth they are actually couched in terms of the verb intransitive. Thus corrected, he said he will settle for what the grammarian Geoffery K. Pullum “playfully” calls “past exonerative.”

Fair enough, but let’s be clear. The folks back east are sitting up and taking notice of the fact that there seems to be a wave of shootings – and killings – by police officers and of police officers nationwide when they were just – well – forced to turn the “subject” into a Swiss cheese-inspired caricature of Fearless Fosdick.

The bare facts that are available are definitely described in ceramics in the dialect of high glaze. According to Lt. Donnie Adams, the call went out a 6:20 p.m. that the man had a gun and had threatened suicide. When officers arrived, according to his release, reporters have reported that he “engaged” the officers, or, alternately, that the cops “encountered” the shotgun-wielding ex-soldier and “shots were fired.” That’s what they printed in the Austin American-Statesman, and it’s very similar to what TV station KEYE broadcast.

And then there’s the report in the Killeen Daily Herald, which boldly states that, “When they arrived, they were confronted by a man armed with a shotgun, Adams said. Shots were exchanged between the deputies and Foste, who was killed. No deputies were injured…”

Touché. En garde. Engage.

Not to be outdone, station KWTX reported in its blog that, “When they arrived, they found Foste holding a shotgun, Adams said. The subject engaged the deputies and shots were fired,’ Adams said.”

Get a load of what they broadcast. We wish to make it understood that the repetitive statements in the recording were dubbed -purposely.

All that and a bag of chips, folks, and the matter is still under the ever-loving, ubiquitous, and sanctified aegis of “investigation.”  No further details available, nothing to see here, let’s move along.

The funny thing is this. People get in touch. They tell you they are afraid, that they go way back with the powers-that-be, and it’s never been what you might call a picnic. Don’t want to be quoted for attribution, will make no statement on-mike or appear on-camera, but the truth is. the minute the cops got out of the squad cars, all five of them started shooting. Right now.

“Residents said Friday they heard at least 10 gunshots,” according to the broadcast..

The ones we talked to said they never heard a shotgun blast. And they said they are afraid. Very afraid.

It’s a fair question, one would think, that if Foste fired from the point blank range displayed in the excellent news photo we so cheerfully stole from the Killeen Daily Herald, then the pellets had to wind up somewhere. Did they document the trajectory of the blast?

No officers were injured. Thank the Lord for small favors.

It’s the fourth ‘officer involved’ shooting – and killing – to have taken place this year in Bell County. Two of the four thus killed were police officers.

They definitely aren’t shooting blanks out there. And that’s a cold shot. We just have to find a way to do better. Sure as shooting.

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