NEW YORK: In the wake of the acquittal of four New York City policeman who fired 41 shots at Amadou Diallo (19 of which hit him), numerous questions have been raised.

The first, was why did the police miss on 22 occasions? In many cities, the officers would have been subjected to at least a week without pay for missing so many times.

The second, and most important to those likely to be stopped by the police, is how to avoid being shot.

Diallo was reaching for what turned out to be his wallet when he was gunned down in a fusillade of bullets.

When police stop people, they assume the people are armed and dangerous. They fear that if they let the subject get the drop on them, they will be shot. Thus, they approach the subject ready to fast draw and shoot.

Citizens of lower income neighborhoods generally are more experienced with dealing with hair trigger police, since they are more likely to be stopped repeatedly. This is not, however called "profiling" by the police, who explain "if 90% of the people in the neighborhood are Black, then 90% of the people we confront are likely to be Black." This does not, however explain the high probability that a Black person will also be accosted in a 99% while neighborhood. "In that event, the person doesn't fit," said one cop.

But, in the event you are stopped by the police, and are unfamiliar with the rules of police encounters, The Frumious Bandersnatch has the following advice (learned years ago when we used to be followed around by the FBI):

(1) When a cop says "Get Out Of Your Car!" He means NOW! Do not ask "why?" Just comply immediately. Failure to immediately submit to Authority raises the suspicion that you are holding a machine gun in your lap.

(2) Never, ever move suddenly in the presence of a police officer. They will think you are reaching for a gun.

(3) If stopped in a vehicle, keep your hands in plain sight. Don't reach under your seat or into the glove compartment, because these are known places guns are hidden.

(4) When standing up, never reach into your pockets for anything. Even your wallet. In one infamous occasion, the police stopped an undercover agent, who tried to reach inside his coat to get his badge. He's dead, of course.

(5) If the cops say "Hands Up!" reach for the sky. If they say "Down on the Ground" dig in fast. The slightest hesitation will likely result in them knocking you to the ground.

(6) Don't say very much. A simple "yes sir" and "no sir" will do. Cops don't like smart asses. The more you mouth off, the more trouble you'll be in. A lot of times a simple stop will escalate into a serious problem for you due to your mouthing off.

(7) If you suspect your civil rights are being violated, don't try your case on the street. Cops are not judges. Your primary goal is to survive the encounter so you can hire a lawyer and let him do the court.

Remember, the rule of the street is that if a cop feels his life is in danger, he can shoot and get away with it.


A parody self-help book that will teach you how to avoid being killed by the cops, how to live on 1/10th your income, how to wreck your life, and much more. Only $15.95 at


Copyright 1998-2006 by Hugh Holub