Police Knew About Rodger's "Disturbing" Videos; Didn't View Them

[Content Note: Violence; guns; self-harm; misogyny; racism; disablism.]

In the immediate aftermath of Elliot Rodger's violent spree, during which he killed six people and injured thirteen others before taking his own life, police spokesperson Kelly Hoover said that "the sheriff's office was not aware of any videos until after the shooting rampage occurred."

That was not true.
Law officers who visited Elliot Rodger three weeks before he killed six college students near a Santa Barbara university were aware that he had posted disturbing videos but didn't watch them, and they didn't know about his final video detailing his "Day of Retribution" until after the deadly rampage, officials said.

...The guns he used in the killings last Friday were stashed inside his apartment at the time, but police never searched the residence or conducted a check to determine if he owned firearms because they didn't consider him a threat.

The statement [issued Thursday] does not explain why the videos were not viewed or whether the deputies knew anything about the contents beyond a description of them being "disturbing."
But of course we already know why. The four deputies, police officer, and trainee dispatcher who spent 10 minutes at Rodger's residence interviewing him concluded he was a "perfectly polite, kind, and wonderful human."

That seems to be an assessment which might have changed, had they viewed any of Rodger's videos, which his mother told them were "disturbing" in requesting the safety check.

Instead, they simply asked Rodger about the videos, and he told them the videos were "merely a way of expressing himself."
Rodger wrote in the manifesto about the April 30 visit by the deputies and said it prompted him to remove most of his videos from YouTube. He re-posted at least some of them in the week leading up to the killings. He wrote that the deputies asked him if he had suicidal thoughts, but "I tactfully told them that it was all a misunderstanding and they finally left. If they had demanded to search my room that would have ended everything."
Over and over, we see that deference to armed authority by men who are not black is presumed to be indicative of decency, while even the most willfully misinterpreted "resistance" to armed authority by black men (Jonathan Ferrell, Oscar Grant, et. al.) is presumed to warrant deadly force. These are both deadly assumptions.

Rodger was a predator—and predators prey. They know how to evade detection by working the tropes of a patriarchal culture to their favor. They know that all it takes it looking like a nice guy in order for most people to assume that they are one.

This is a high-profile case, but lots of police routinely fail to bring charges against rapists or domestic abusers because they seem like nice guys.

A key part of the prevention of violence against women is police doing a thorough fucking job and not substituting for a real investigation their personal impressions of a dude who's been red-flagged.

In the earliest reports on Rodger's spree, Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown called Rodger "severely mentally disturbed." The "crazy gunman" stuff is not only a red herring to avoid addressing violent misogyny; it's also to avoid addressing accountability for the sort of police failures that abet violent misogyny.

Like believing a killer is a "wonderful human," because of his privilege.

[Related Reading: Feminism 101: Your Underdog Lovelorn Romantic May Be My Rapist.]

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UPDATE: For those who aren't on Twitter, some additional thoughts I shared on Twitter are Storified below the fold. Content Note for domestic violence, rape culture, rape apologia, murder, homophobia, police misconduct.

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