Cops and cameras. Again. (5×8 – 8/30/12)

The Conway incident, things not to say to your public defender, the SEAL interview, cow dung and the drought in Wisconsin, and return of the eagle in Spooner.


One thing you do have to say for the Saint Paul police: They didn’t try to stop bystanders from filming police officers in action on Conway Street on Tuesday as cops in other cities often do.

After that, however, it gets a little mystifying. The video of the arrest of a man appeared on YouTube yesterday afternoon (language warning):

It “raised serious concerns about the use of force,” the city’s police chief said in an understatement.

“This cop was dealing with a very dangerous individual in a very dangerous situation,” the police union president told the Pioneer Press. “Back-up was not immediately available. And maybe our officials shouldn’t make comments about their concern until the investigation has run its course. This is a good cop.”

The man on the ground, Eric Hightower, has a criminal history of convictions for violating an order for protection, obstructing legal process and petty theft. He was also charged last year with fifth-degree drug possession and third-degree assault, and has pleaded guilty to both, the Pioneer Press reports.

In Minneapolis, the police have started filming themselves, allegedly to counter the videos that bystanders make.

Related: A similar situation in Los Angeles was also captured on tape. It’s described as “contempt of cop” by a CBS reporter. A commander has been demoted.

More Related: Minnesota West Community and Technical College program teaches law enforcement how to use the force. (Marshall Independent)


The anonymous Minnesota public defender who writes the blog, not for the monosyllabic, has made it easy on those who might someday need a public defender, publishing the list of things you shouldn’t say to your public defender.

For example:

“Marijuana should be legal.” Maybe it should, maybe it shouldn’t. But, it’s not. So, just because you don’t like the law doesn’t mean that’s going to get you out of the charges. Go talk to your legislators, get the law changed, and possess all the marijuana you want. In the meantime, it’s still illegal.

Good reading.


A Navy SEAL who wrote a book about the killing of Osama bin Laden has spilled the goods to 60 Minutes. Curiously, CBS still refers to him as Mark Owen, even though it’s well known that his real name is Matt Bissonnette.

The Washington Post reviews the book here.


There’s a crisis in the Wisconsin Cow Chip Throwing Contest. There isn’t enough quality cow dung and officials — cow dung officials? — are blaming the drought.

The hot, dry summer caused the grass to brown and cattle to stay near their barn for food and to keep coo, the Associated Press reports. “That means the manure in the pasture wasn’t able to dry and flatten in the sun,” it said.

“This is my 24th throw, and it’s never been this difficult to find chips,” said Marietta Reuter.


Last March, a juvenile bald eagle was caught in a leg hold trap along the Yellow River near Spooner, Wisconsin on land belonging to the St. Croix Tribe of Ojibway. The eagle was spotted and rescued by Wesley Bearheart and his brother. It’s back in the air. Steve Russell provides this video.

Bonus I: A Scottish skipper has set a new world record after finding a message in a bottle 98 years after it was released. (BBC)

Bonus II: The Pioneer Press says a Lake Elmo man set a new speed record, going almost 78.4 on an electric motorcycle. But that’s not really the fastest a person has gone on an electric motorcycle. That distinction belongs to Chip Yates, who went 190 mph last year.

I interviewed Yates at Oshkosh this year, after he set a record in an electric airplane. I’ve just posted that interview — as well as most of the others I did on my aviation talk show — on my aviation blog.

Bonus III: Every day, this man waves at his kid’s school bus. Every day. Dressed in a different costume. This is the third year he’s done it.

He started this school year with a tribute to Michael Phelps.



Some members of the Minnesota delegation to the Republican National Convention have complained about their treatment in Tampa. They say rules are being rigged against insurgent candidates like Ron Paul, who most of them voted for. Today’s Question: Is there enough room for dissent at political conventions?


Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: The direction of the Republican Party.

Second hour: Minnesota’s proposed system for measuring progress in school.

Third hour: Fall arts preview.

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): MPR political editor Mike Mulcahy hosts a US Senate debate at the MPR State Fair booth, featuring Democratic U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar and her Republican challenger, Rep. Kurt Bills.

Talk of the Nation (1-2 p.m.) – TBA

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – TBA

  • Robert Moffitt

    The United States wants to throw the book at Private Bradley Manning for releasing classified information without approval, but somehow Chief Bissonnette can do same and cash in on bin Laden’s death and it’s all okay? Even in retirement, a SEAL is expected to honor his pledge of secrecy.

  • As much as a criminal and provocateur that guy is in the video, the police still needs to be and act like a professionals. That is not apparent in the video.

  • Jim Shapiro

    SEALS are essentially highly trained hit men who work for the government.

    They are taught to kill without question, and in effect become psychopaths on command.

    Perhaps we might consider coming up with an alternative version of a hero.

  • David

    The police just need better branding.

    Being beaten should be re-branded to “Touched by the hand of Gods”

    Tasered? “Given an energy drink”

    Planted evidence? “Justice enhancers”

    If there is one union in this country that needs busting it is the police union. Bad cops don’t go away, they just get transferred. Wait, did I say bad cops?

    I meant “Freedom Lords”

  • Robert Moffitt

    Jim, I was also “taught to kill” by the military, as was my wife and most of my male family members. Should we also be considered “hit men” or “psychopaths on command?”

    Your unflattering description of what our special forces troops do, how they think and what they feel about their duties sounds to my ears both uninformed and rather insulting.

  • Tyler

    Is that ridiculous Super-PAC still claiming that the President released classified info when he announced the death of bin Laden? I can’t imagine that they’re still getting contributions.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Robert – What about my statement is “uninformed”?

    As for insulting, that was not my intention. I have deep compassion for the human beings whose bodies, minds or souls are damaged by their experiences as members of the military. As a military man from a military family, are you familiar with the writings of Smedley Butler ?

  • kennedy

    Re #4: Wisconsin is a swing state. While there may be a shortage in the fields, there is a plentiful supply being broadcast.

  • Bob Moffitt

    Jim, I think the terms “hit men” and “psychopaths” are rather inflamatory, no?

    As a person with empathy, you might understand why veterans such as myself bristle at broad-brush descriptions of military members (or veterans) being described as mindless killers.

    I consider myself fortunate that I (unlike Smedley Butler) never had to face battle in my days in uniform. Others in my family were not so fortunate. I don’t need to read a old book to see the scars of war — I’ve seen it in the faces of kin. The Moffitt name is on the Wall in D.C. It was in the POW roll call in Stalag 17-B. One day, it will join my brothers and sisters on the white tombstones at Ft. Snelling.

    Until the day comes, I will continue to celebrate life and our freedom — including your freedom to disagree with me. (g)

    Tip of the hat to you, Jim.

  • BJ

    OK @kennedy that was funny.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Bob Moffit- Well said.

    I understand that my choice of words can sometimes be inflammatory – accurate is open to debate.

    But more often than not they lead to an important, open discourse and at least a partial meeting of minds that would would not have occurred otherwise.

    I know from your contributions that you’re a solid, intelligent individual and I would not have engaged you thusly had I had any doubts therein.

    I have witnessed several wars and their effect on innocent civilians and warriors alike.

    My uncle fought on several fronts in WWII, my father chooses to be buried at Fort Snelling because he earned that right, and I have several friends currently in the military.

    We agree to disagree, and I too would defend with my life your right to be wrong 🙂