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  • Writer's pictureWes Hazard

Oppressive Systems Are Hungry Systems

Here's another recent entry in the endless march of police murders committed against unarmed individuals. On December 29 Trevor Seever was murdered by Officer Joseph Lamantia in Modesto, CA. The police were called by the victim's sister who was concerned because her brother had said he had a gun and was intending to hurt police officers. So yes, I clearly understand why the cops would have their guard up upon encountering him, but that in no way justifies what goes down here, as is expertly explained in the video above. In addition to the video I've included an article below that provides more background including the highly concerning career of the officer up until this encounter (this was his 4th deadly shooting and his 5th shooting overall).

In this instance both the victim and officer were white and we can never forget that while the systems of white supremacy are of course most devastatingly arrayed against people of color no one is safe. Just as with global capitalism and fascism and any other violent/expansive power-aggregating system it is a *hungry* beast and it will always end up swallowing greater and greater numbers of vulnerable people no matter what they look like or how much money they make. No one is safe in a carceral state where militarized police with no meaningful checks on their power are allowed to use deadly force at the slightest perception of a potential threat.

Tactical/ threat-analysis/ self-defense/ weapon readiness/ military appreciation YouTube is a very weird but often fascinating place. The dominant worldview in that realm is not my jam in the least, but there's some solid content if you're curious and it's wild to see how deep and wide the rabbit hole is. (It's also helpful/sobering to realize just how many people in America are very enthusiastic and extremely prepared for the coming civil war). Case in point: The Active Self Protection channel offers a steady stream of detailed analysis of real-life violent encounters and near misses caught on camera. A personal security professional narrates what's happening and provides feedback on what was done well, what was done poorly, and how it might have been improved upon. There are acronyms and axioms and jargon galore and a wide variety of scenarios are available for your viewing from how to escape a potential cartel carjacking in Mexico or dealing with a snack-stand robber with a less-than-deadly gun. The presenter here is a self-defense/personal combat expert and he is a huge supporter of law enforcement. But he's also very scientific/analytical in his analysis and calls it likes he sees it and even he judges this shooting to be unjustified, reckless, and poorly executed.


Police respond to active violent/serious crime very rarely. Most of the time they arrive after such incidents have already occurred. The vast majority of all arrests are for drug possession, vagrancy, and driving on a suspended license. Most cops will make it through their careers without drawing their guns, and most who do take out their weapon will never shoot it. So for one (relatively young) officer to have been involved in FIVE different shootings, where 4 people have died is, at best, statistically improbable and at worst is evidence that a gun, a badge, and near legal immunity have been given to murderous psychopath. He is not the only one.

The Dec. 29 encounter was not the first time Officer Lamantia was involved in a fatal shooting.

According to Ms. Bear, in 2010, Officer Lamantia and one other officer shot and killed Francisco Moran, 45, after the police received reports that Mr. Moran was intoxicated and armed with a knife. He was carrying a metal spatula.

In 2016, Officer Lamantia was also involved in the fatal shooting of Omar Villagomez, a suspect in a drug bust in Turlock, Calif. The police said that Mr. Villagomez rammed an undercover vehicle while trying to escape. The episode was investigated by the Turlock Police Department and found to be justified.

Also in 2016, Officer Lamantia was involved in the fatal shooting of Kim Jackson, a woman who officers said charged at them with knives.

The District Attorney’s Office found the shootings of Mr. Moran and Ms. Jackson to be justified, Ms. Bear said.


Officer Lamantia was involved in another encounter in 2016, in which several officers subdued and arrested a man using control holds, beanbag guns and a Taser. The man died a few days later.

And last October, Officer Lamantia was also involved in the shooting in Stockton of a man, David Cummings Jr., who was wanted in a double homicide near downtown Modesto.

The Stockton Police Department and the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department are investigating that shooting.

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