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A Math Lesson

The Killing of Nicola Calipari

by ELI STEPHENS

It was reported a few days ago:

"U.S. soldiers reportedly have been cleared of wrongdoing in the shooting of an Italian journalist and an intelligence agent last month in Baghdad.

"The car was about 130 yards from a checkpoint when the soldiers flashed their lights to get it to stop. They fired warning shots when the car was within 90 yards of the checkpoint, but at 65 yards, they used deadly force. Calipari was killed and Sgrena wounded."

Sgrena has told CBS that the car she was in was going 30 mph. At 30 mph, a car is going 15 yards per second. So, according to the U.S. military, they fired warning shots within 2.7 seconds of flashing a warning light, and used "deadly force" 2.3 seconds after that. And actually, if the U.S. military story were true and the car were really travelling at "high speed", let’s be generous and call that only 45 mph, that’s 22 yards per second, meaning 1.8 seconds between warning lights and warning shots, and 1.6 seconds between warning shots and deadly shots.

Now, there are variables, but typical perception plus reaction times are of the order of 1.5 seconds, that is, the time it takes to perceive a problem (such as a warning signal) and move your foot to the brake. That means that, according to the military’s story, shots were fired at the vehicle less than 0.3 seconds after the vehicle could possibly have begun to slow down, even if they were paying close attention and they had immediately perceived that the alleged flashing light was meant as a signal to stop.

However that 0.3 second is actually overstated, because the gunman (or gunmen), attempting to perceive if the car was responding to their warning signal to slow down, have perception and reaction times of their own, so in fact, they were pulling the trigger before they could possibly have perceived if the car were slowing down. And likewise, if the so-called warning shots were supposed to have served any purpose whatsoever, once again the "deadly force" shots were being squeezed off well before the warning shots could possibly have had any effect.

And on that basis, the military has "exonerated itself" from any wrongdoing.

ELI STEPHENS writes the Left I on the News