Production Assistant on Tosh.0 Shot And Killed By Police In Case Of Mistaken Identity

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Production Assistant on 'Tosh.0' Shot And Killed By Police In Case Of Mistaken Identity

By Dustin Rowles | Miscellaneous | April 11, 2014 | Comments ()

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This story is just terrible, awful, no good and sad. A guy named Josh Winkler, a newly hired production assistance on Tosh.0 was trying to help some people who were being held at knifepoint in a neighbor’s apartment in a Los Angeles apartment complex. When deputies arrived on the scene, Winkler was being held hostage with two other men. When the suspect began to stab the hostages, Winkler and another man ran toward the police officers to escape, and — mistaking Winkler for the suspect — police shot and killed him.

From KTLA (via Jezebel):

The deputy-involved shooting occurred after a report of a “assault with a deadly weapon, man with a knife” at an apartment complex in the 900 block of Palm Avenue, a call that came in about 9:30 p.m. Monday, the news release stated. When deputies got to the apartment, Winkler came running out, “lunging at the back” of another man also fleeing, the release said.

[Winkler] rushed out of an apartment behind another victim who was bleeding profusely from the neck and covered in blood, when deputies fired on both men, according to a sheriff’s news release.

“Both ran directly at the deputies,” the release said. “Believing Winkler was the assailant and the assault was ongoing and he would attack the entry team; three deputies fired their duty weapons at him.” Both men were hit by gunfire. Winkler was a thin, white man wearing a black shirt and he matched a description of the stabber provided by witnesses, according to the release.

That is terrible, and obviously neither Winkler’s fault — who was trying to escape a stabbing suspect — or the police, who made an honest mistake in believing that a man lunging over the back of another man bleeding from the neck was the suspect.

Meanwhile, the stabbing suspect, Alexander McDonald, has been charged with murder, attempted murder, and torture.

Source: KTLA

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • God Of Bal-Sagoth

    It's not a problem with cops. It's a problem with Americans, full stop.

    There are too many guns, too much gun culture, too much gun worship in this country. Too much fear, too much paranoia. Too much profiling, generalizing, prejudice. Too much anger and bitterness and resentment.

    People are getting shot for doing nothing wrong every single day. EVERY SINGLE DAY. Some of the shooters are cops. They're bad cops, to be sure, but the problem isn't because they're cops. The problem is this country's adamant refusal to deal with its gun problem, or even accept its existence, for that matter. The shoot-first problem isn't restricted to cops, it's a problem with people, and some of those people happen to be cops. Should they know better? Of course they should.

    Everyone should. And yet, here we are.

  • Some Guy

    Sorry to be the one to tell you, but this post is doing exactly what it's arguing against. Despite all the guns and the gun culture and everything else you seek to blame, the violent crime rate has been dropping steadily for the last 25 years, and yelling about this "gun-culture" and its ills does nothing but perpetuate the fear.

    The odds of the average person getting shot in their life is statistically insignificant. Your child is just as likely if not more likely to drown in yours or your neighbors swimming pool than they are to accidentally shoot themselves with your or your neighbors gun.

    It's the police. The State. The Government, both federal and local, democrat and republican, that have been ramping up their quasi military police departments, purchasing armored vehicles that do nothing but drain tax payer dollars, military grade weapons and ammunition, and giving their unions unchecked power to ensure that the laws that apply to you and I and other ordinary citizens don't have to apply to them.

    Did you not watch the reaction to the Boston bombings last year, when Marshall Law was declared, streets, trains and airports were shut down and fully armed POLICE officers went door to door through neighborhoods in full, military grade riot gear, backed by armored vehicles, reportedly forcing their way inside, at gun point and without warrants, all to search for a teenager with a gun and a pipebomb?

    I'd be far more worried about that little abuse of power and display of the Might of the State than any yokel down the street with a hunting rifle and a penchant for .45s if I were you.

  • Andrew

    No, this isn't some honest mistake. It's a symptom of the police's shoot first, ask questions later policy.

    The real shame is that there will be no significant penalty for the officers who killed an innocent man. They may get some time off, maybe without pay, maybe with it, but no one will lose their job over this.

    It's both ironic and sad that if you want to get away with killing someone in this country, become a police officer.

    If anyone is interested in more examples of the out of control police and criminal justice system in this country, I'd suggest reading Radley Balko and Michelle Alexander.

  • $78742978

    Um, they also shot the stabbing victim, so no, not understandable at all. Scratch that, it IS understandable in a country where Fruitvale Station can happen, where they kill a homeless man, where they racially profile and arrest people in order to meet specs, where using swat team tactics is becoming normalized, where dog-shooting is such a problem that articles are written about it, where they kill people when shooting into crowds, and actually they seem to accidentally kill innocent people a lot and never seem to end up with lengthy prison terms. Also the BPD could have given one sweet fuck when I was attacked and had my nose broken by a man attempting to rape me. Tried to follow it up for a month and they never even called me back to take a report. All due respect to those officers who do their best to protect and serve, but the police force in this country has become a big motherfucking problem.

  • Lee

    I would think trained law enforcement professionals are paid NOT to shoot
    victims. Even if it means they are risking their own safety. When did
    the most important factor in any police incident become the safety of
    the officers above anyone else involved? The police a supposed to risk themselves to save other people, not shoot the place up and sift through the carnage once the smoke clears.

  • Some Guy

    But, see, that's where you're wrong. The Supreme Court decided in Warren V the District of Columbia that, by law, the police have NO obligation to protect you. They don't have to show up if you call them, they don't have to risk their lives, and they don't have to take responsibility should they shoot an innocent person.

  • Lee

    There is no way I am qualified to parse this particular decision, but I don't believe this case is relevant. I'm talking about a negligent action by a police officer, not an expectation of individual protection from the state. Someone smarter than me would be able to illustrate the point I'm sure.

  • I think it's also important to remember that this shit isn't rare. The only reason we're hearing so much about it is because it happened to a white dude in the entertainment industry. This exact same thing probably happened to three random black or hispanic dudes in Los Angeles since I started typing. It's not an isolated incident and it needs to be addressed.

  • Naye

    I think the most recent high profile case was that young black guy who had just moved to NC who was ina car accident and bloodied ando out of it. He knocked on someone's door for help, she called the police and reported an attempted robbery even though he was still in the background asking for help. When the police arrived he went towards then and an officer shot him 10 times. I can't do honest mistake anymore. The most I'm willing to take is extremely poor training, because it's stops making sense when you thinks if all the non lethal weapons police have at their disposal. That particular officer was charged I think. None of the other officers opened fire. There was another case a couple weeks before where a man was parked in his driveway and the neighbor called the police. He was shot to death in his own car at his own house.

    Last year in DC a woman suffering from mental disorder tried to drive her car into the barrier at the Capital building. The police approached the car and she took off. She wasn't going anywhere really but they opened fire on her with her baby in the backseat. The baby was thankfully unharmed, but seriously there have to be better methods than this

  • chanohack

    I don't know about most recent, but shit has been crazy in Albuquerque lately. :( Some of it actually is understandable mistakes, but added all together? Fuck. People are so furious that they marched onto the highway.

  • NateMan

    Ya notice how rarely cops in England kill the wrong person? Granted, there are a lot less guns in the country in general, and despite my wholehearted enjoyment of things that go bang and my belief in the 2nd Amendment I'm starting to think they have the right idea. But still, the modus operandi over there isn't to shoot anyone who looks scary. Most cops don't even carry guns.

    To be honest I'd like to focus on getting Americans, cops or otherwise, to stop fucking shooting each other over the slightest provocation. And to stop kids and incompetent gun owners from shooting themselves or others accidentally as often as they do. The percentage who do is astronomically small - and yet still way too goddamned high. I have no solution for it except to focus on personal responsibility. We're never ever going to get rid of the millions of guns in this country. And we wouldn't have to if people would just stop being so fucking stupid.

    Argh. Now I'm angry. I manage to clean my guns, shoot them, and hunt deer, geese, and turkeys several times a year without putting myself or anyone else in danger. And I'm a clumsy jackass. If I can accomplish it, why do so many other people have such a hard time with it?!

  • profession: none, or starlet

    Yeah, cops in the UK do not routinely carry guns (other than in N Ireland). Only 7% of the police force are specifically trained firearms officers who are, I believe, only called in for gun-related crime. And when civilians do die as a result of being shot by police, there is bloody well an *investigation* - a high-profile, national-news, questions-being-raised-in-Parliament one. One of the things that frankly horrifies me, as a Brit, about this incident is that the cop is not only not facing an investigation, but they've gone right ahead and charged the murder to McDonald. The hell?

    A lot of the US seems to be stuck in this mindset that if there's any risk whatsoever, the police HAVE to shoot. It is NOT the only way.

  • Yeah. This "honest mistake" bullshit puts me off. Here's the most important line in the story:

    “Believing Winkler was the assailant and the assault was ongoing and he would attack the entry team; three deputies fired their duty weapons at him.” Both men were hit by gunfire.

    So they thought HE was the bad guy, so they decided to shoot him AND his intended victim? How is that OK in any way? Sounds incredibly inept to me.

  • Lee

    My boss wouldn't want to hear "honest mistake" if I failed to fulfill a basic requirement of my job and a catastrophic incident was the result. But then again, am I being too harsh? Is not killing the wrong people a basic rule of thumb anymore?

  • NateMan

    Cops shoot all the damned time without hitting what they're aiming at. I don't fault them too much for terrible aim under the pressure of a violent attack. Hitting your target with a pistol isn't the easiest thing in the world under stress-free circumstances. And if you're ACTUALLY shooting at a suspect, that's at least understandable. It's when they then arrest the person they should have shot in the beginning, rather than the victims of the violent crime, that you gotta raise questions.

  • $78742978

    I believe one of the problems is that most police firearms have a heavy trigger to prevent accidental firing. The problem is it also gives you crap aim.

  • I don't buy it. If it's that hard to hit a target, then they DEFINITELY shouldn't have been opening fire with someone they believed to be innocent that close. I'm pretty sure the rule isn't "if you see the perp, start shooting regardless of who else is in the line of fire." THREE cops did this.

  • NateMan

    I'm not saying they did the right thing opening fire. Clearly they didn't. Unless you actually see a weapon you should never start shooting. That's where a lack of training and a lack of professional responsibility comes into play. I'm just saying when cops - or soldiers - do HAVE to shoot (again, this wasn't one of those times) you can't expect every bullet to hit what they're aiming at.

  • Yeah. I reread your comment after I responded and realized that I was only really addressing the first half of it. This cop stuff always gets me hot.

  • NateMan

    Me too. The fact that I'm a more responsible gun owner than many people who get paid to carry them depresses the hell out of me. But then, my guns are all trigger locked, unloaded, and stored in the basement atop a high shelf out of the reach of little fingers because I'm not a personal safety nut. I'd rather run the very minor risk of a violent loon breaking into my house than have my daughter kill herself.

  • Berry

    You're a good man, Nate.

  • NateMan

    Well, thanks. :) It's not a morality thing for me as much as it is playing the odds. The chances of being a victim of a violent crime are incredibly low. It happens, but they're low. And having a gun in the home raises the odds of accidental or deliberate shootings significantly. That's just the math. I love shooting and my daughter will learn how to safely handle a gun. I'm a firm believer no one should ever live in a house with any tool they don't know how to operate safely, from a chef's knife to a skill saw to a car. And if she then never wants to touch a gun again I'll be okay with it - though I hope she enjoys it. But I had gun safety ingrained in me from a very young age. My family's very old school about it. And we live in a very quiet area.

    Gah. I hate talking about this stuff. It always makes me edgy and depressed. How fucked up is it that there's the chances someone could just decide to kill you, rape you, invade your home? That should just be beyond the pale for any human being. But so long as the chances for accidental shootings are higher than the chances of violent people attacking me in my home, I'm going to continue focusing on basic safety rather than preparing for trouble.

  • Naye

    Please say that last part again.

  • JustOP

    I'm not interested in the debate over 'who the police serve'. But an innocent guy died last night at the hands of a policeman firing a gun. If that policeman was a regular civilian he'd be charged with manslaughter at the very least. I strongly doubt that policeman will be.

    I don't understand why the gun was the go-to in that situation. Do they really expect us to believe that there are no non-lethal alternatives? A tazer? There needs to stricter and more intelligent training, tighter and more rigorous regulations. Whatever the standards are for being allowed to become a police officer need to be raised. And there needs to be someone who actually 'police' the police, harshly. Due to their very nature, a police officer NEEDS to be held to a higher standard than the regular citizen.

  • Some Guy

    Yeah, well, good luck getting the police unions to go along with the whole "accepting responsibility for their grievous actions" thing.

    They are protected by law from responsibility and they like it that way.

  • Michelle

    Stuff like this is a shame and is unfortunately fueling a lot of anti-police mentality across the internet. Every time a story like this pops up, more and more I'm seeing the ACAB hashtag being employed and people just egging each other on to point out how our nation's police force isn't here to protect and serve any longer but rather brutalize everyone.

    I don't share that opinion, and it saddens me that many people do, and I think it's just yet another example of the fallacies of the internet and how it can sensationalize stories like this. I'm not saying that I don't believe there are people that abuse the power given to them - of course there are, just like in every other job - but I would still like to believe that on the whole these people are doing this stuff for the same reason that people join the armed forces or become a firefighter.

  • Jezzer

    "...I would still like to believe that on the whole these people are doing this stuff for the same reason that people join the armed forces or become a firefighter."

    A steady diet of action movies growing up? Adrenaline addiction?

  • Andrew

    I'm not against the concept of police, but the nearly unlimited power they are given with no consequences in this country is what bothers me.

    If you don't want people to feel like the police are not there to help the public then maybe they should face actual penalties when they screw up.

    Two officers who beat a mentally handicapped man to death just got acquitted at their trial. They'll soon be back on the job. Do I feel safe knowing they are on the force? Nope.

    It was just revealed that the LAPD officers had intentionally tampered with their squad car's monitoring system so they couldn't be recorded when going into primarily black neighborhoods. The administration decided not to investigate who was responsible because multiple officers had used those cars and it would be too big a hassle to determine who was behind it.

    The NYPD has a policy of searching black people on the street with no probably cause, despite the fact that 90% of these searches turn up nothing incriminating.

    John Pike the UC Davis officer who pepper-sprayed a bunch of non-violent protesters in the face got more money from his worker's comp (from all the complaints that were rightly leveled against him) than any of his victims got from their restitution.

    Finally here:

    is a story about a Florida cop who is incapable of being fired from the police force despite multiple felony charges and jail time. And yet the police officer union keeps appealing his firings.

    So, if there is a lot of anti-police mentality going around, maybe there's a good reason for that.

  • Some Guy

    From the sound of things, perhaps the ire should be pointed towards the unions protecting corrupt/criminal cops...

  • Andrew

    How do you know that it's not?

    And why can't my ire also be pointed at the police officers who don't stand up to this level of corruption because they don't want to make waves, or if they do stand up to it they become ostracized by their fellow officers, or they don't see anything wrong with this kind of behavior because they're police officers and they deserve special respect because of the service they provide the community?

  • $78742978

    Curious. Are you white? I don't think you can fault our black population for that opinion. Police-wise they are living in a different world.

  • Michelle

    I am white, but I'm curious why you think I was referring to the black population when I was saying that. To be honest, most of the folks I see throwing around ACAB are white. Now, to be fair, I do own a home and live in a predominantly black neighborhood in Boston, and some of my friends and neighbors certainly feel that way, but at least in my social media circles it's typically white men around my age or younger that are the most vocal against the police force.

  • Michelle

    And I don't mean I'm curious about it in an antagonistic way, I'm just genuinely curious; I think I've lived in my neighborhood and have been part of that community for so long that I'm naive and sometimes taken aback when race differentiation is still made in these conversations.

  • $78742978

    I didn't think you were referring to black people at all in your original comment. And I also hear lots of white people expressing a negative view of the police force. I am one of them. As for your opinion, to each his own, but there did seem to be a tone of, "Where is this negative view coming from? Probably news stories that aren't representative of the whole." I do think having a positive opinion of the police force is more likely to come from a white person. Wondering where the negative viewpoint comes from, and also the idea that it's news stories and not lived experience that is behind the negative viewpoint-- that seems definitely white, to me. I don't mean that to be offensive, I have also had opinions that I don't consider to be racially informed and then later I realize my lived white experience has a lot to do with that viewpoint.

  • Some Guy

    How many tens of thousands of cases of no-knock SWAT raids to serve minor warrants, mistaken shootings of innocent people, blatant abuse of police powers and local police departments buying military grade weapons and vehicles do you need to hear about before understanding that we live in a police state, one where, by law, they have no obligation to protect you, and no responsibility for their actions should they get it wrong.

    Bear in mind that all of this stuff is happening more and more often, despite the fact that the violent crime rates are at 20 to 30 year lows?

    I mean, did you see the Boston bombing reaction when a police state was declared to find two teenagers? If that's not a sign of things to come, then I don't know what it's going to take to persuade you that that we live in a police state, other than, god forbid, you live next to someone with a warrant and they get the address wrong and go to the wrong house. Again. For the thousandth time this year.

  • $78742978

    Oh, yeah I teach ESL and one of my 16 year old Saudi students ended up spending his 4th of July surrounded by a swat team with guns in his face because he brought his backpack to the Pops (we'd left posters around school warning students not to but his English was 102-level). Spent the night in jail. Second week in America. My Arab students were getting harassed so badly that we found a civil rights lawyer just in case and they all had my number in case they ended up in jail too.

  • NateMan

    I'd like to believe that too. But there are onlny so many times I can hear about cops shooting unarmed civilians - and pets - before I get fed up with it.

    They shot and killed an unarmed dude who was just traumatized. And another one besides. And THEN they arrested the assailant without killing him. Recent history demonstrates there will almost certainly be no disciplinary action taken against the shooters. There rarely is. I fully believe most cops are good or average people. But they're people with the power and authority to shoot you in the face for being in the wrong place. There needs to be a commensurate standard of responsibility to go with it. And there isn't.

  • Keg

    An honest mistake? How do police around the world handle these situations? American police officers are far too trigger happy and this innocent man has been gunned down by police because they feel they have the right to shoot members of the public. Crazy.

  • BAM

    I won't speak to your bigger point, but in this case: if you had a small chance of escape from a torturer, even though slightly wounded, and you took it, and he proceeded to chase you down outside the building, possibly stabbing you to death and ending your life, wouldn't you want someone to shoot him?

    Although, now that I write that, it's pretty terrible that they shot at BOTH men. Also: armed weapons + panic mechanisms + adrenalin = bad accidents.


  • annie

    I'd want them to shoot the person chasing me, but. They also hit the guy bleeding profusely that he was right behind? They couldn't, you know, tasered or tackled him? They just went straight for their guns.

  • Andrew

    I'd want him stopped, not killed. For some stupid reason police are trained to shoot to kill, not shoot to incapacitate.

  • NateMan

    Because it's really hard to hit a moving target with a bullet. Always aim for center mass.

  • Andrew

    Then maybe a gun isn't the best tool for cops to use.

  • Melissa D

    "Shoot to incapacitate" is a movie thing, not a real life thing. Do you know how hard it is to shoot a moving target? You don't shoot someone to slow them down, you shoot to kill. That's the purpose of shooting.

  • Andrew

    How about when the cops are shooting at you when you've done nothing wrong, or are the victim of a crime yourself?

    Do you still want them to be shooting to kill?

  • Melissa D

    You are A) deliberately missing the point; B) need to realize that TV and movies aren't real; and C) clearly never fired a weapon.

  • NateMan

    Shoot him? Yes. Shoot ME on the off chance I'm him, even though I don't have a weapon in my hand? Nuh uh.

    I'm a white middle class family man in my 30s without a criminal record (unless we count speeding tickets), who lives in a quiet area, and has several friends who are police and/or military. And yet I don't trust cops. At all. That's a sad state of affairs.

  • Jezzer

    "I'm a white middle class family man in my 30s without a criminal record (unless we count speeding tickets), who lives in a quiet area, and has several friends who are police and/or military. And yet I don't trust cops. At all. That's a sad state of affairs."

    I know it's not what you meant, but it's an even sadder state of affairs that you had to specify your race when it comes to whether or not you should be able to trust the police.

  • BAM

    In that split second where you burst out the doorway chasing another man, they have to assume the worst: that you're the assailant. They'd get the same shitstorm if they would've hesitated and the guy had stabbed you to death.

    Like I said, lose/lose.

    (fyi, I live in LA so I know how bad the LAPD can be. I hate generalizing, but generally, they are terrible)

  • JustOP

    I'd want someone to incapacitate him, without harming myself. A gun is not the only way to do that.

    Bad accidents? They're police officerers - this is what they are TRAINED to do, handle 'bad accidents'. Emergencies. Is this the best response they had? To open fire on multiple people?

  • BAM

    I'm with ya on the choice of weapon. Rubber bullets? I have no clue, I'm not a munitions expert.

  • Some Guy

    It's because legally they are protected from any sort of legal retribution. The police don't fear the law, so why should they obey it?

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