A Picture Worth 1,000 Anytime Minutes

…or, The Birth and Death of a Spinoff Web Site

Sure: a picture is “worth 1,000 words.” Sometimes it’s worth 1,000 minutes on your cell phone plan, as in this case. The story, from True’s 27 December 2009 issue:

You Ought to Be in Pictures

A woman was robbed at gunpoint in Philadelphia, Penn. One of the things taken was her cell phone, and the robber allegedly used it to take a snapshot of himself — holding his gun to his own head. The phone was programmed to upload all photos to the woman’s computer, and she forwarded it to detectives. “We really appreciate him taking a picture of himself,” a police spokesman said as it was released to the media. The photo got so much coverage in local media that Kadeem Cook, 18, turned himself in; he has been charged with robbery. (Philadelphia Daily News, Philadelphia Inquirer) …Hey, if he wants a cell so bad, the state is ready to give him one — for 3-5 years.

And the photo:

His gun was THIS BIG: Taking a photo of yourself to provide to your victim might be considered career suicide for a robber. The pistol turned out to be a pellet gun. (Photo: Philadelphia Police Dept.)

Which Led To…

The popularity of this photo led to the creation of a new web site, Mug Shot Museum — which sure enough had amazing traffic: it quickly ramped up to the Top 45,000 web sites in the country!

Yet “no one” clicked the ads, which meant the huge traffic load wasn’t paid for, let alone the time and effort to create the pages.

Plus, other mug shot sites quickly followed on, and they solved the income problem this way: by demanding payment from the perpetrators to remove their photo. I had no intention of playing that slimy game, so I pulled the plug.

Story Update

The victim who cracked the case was just one of four in Cook’s robbery spree; one included an unsuccessful carjacking. All were apparently able to pick Cook out of a lineup. He was convicted of three counts of robbery, two counts of aggravated assault, one count of attempted robbery of a motor vehicle, and three counts of possessing an instrument of crime. In January 2011, he was sentenced to 8–20 years in prison; more than I predicted, probably in part because I didn’t know about the other robberies.

Still, Cook appealed. The appeals court upheld the ruling. In a second appeal, saying his lawyer was ineffective because he failed to establish an alibi, was also rejected. In that 2014 ruling, the court noted that even in his appeals, Cook didn’t provide an alibi, let alone four of them. Plus, the evidence of guilt was “overwhelming” — not the least of which was the photo uploaded by victim Danielle Dickson’s phone. It upheld the conviction and sentence again.

Cook was released in February 2019 after serving approximately the minimum of his sentence, and is on parole. I hope to never have the need to write about him again.

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20 Comments on “A Picture Worth 1,000 Anytime Minutes

  1. Violation of Rule 1 (not treating it as if loaded); Rule 2 (pointing it somewhere he presumably didn’t want to make a hole); and Rule 3 (keep the booger-hook off the bang-switch until ready to fire).

  2. Dexter: I don’t think rule 2 applies here, if you’re going to be that stupid, you better want to make a hole there.

    I bet that his defense attorney is going to plea: desperate cry for attention, he didn’t mean to hurt a fly but has been repressed since childhood.

    Our only hope is that he talked to the cops before his attorney got to him. (see: https://thisistrue.com/dont_talk_to_the_cops/ )

  3. That’s actually a Sheridan pellet gun. If the guy wanted to look “gangster”, you’d think he could have at least used a real gun. Anyone who’s familiar with older airguns or even classic paintball guns will recognize it instantly for what it is, and anyone familiar with firearms will recognize something’s not right. Of course, given how bright this guy was, it should serve as no surprise that he couldn’t even get a real gun.

    Of course, he was depending on his victims only seeing “big gun!” and being scared enough to comply with his demands. -rc

  4. Dexter’s comment for rule 3 had me laughing on the floor! It fits the guy in the story perfectly!

    Thank you for making my day. You too, Randy!

  5. I’m interested in how the “phone was programmed to upload all photos to the woman’s computer”. Seems a clever idea and avoids the Bluetooth grief I go through every time I try and get a photo off my BlackBerry and onto my puter.

    I assume it’s a function of some specific phone/carrier combinations. I’ve heard of it before. -rc

  6. The stupidity of the humanity is only exacerbated by the fact that morons are not culled out by predators; and stupid people breed like rabbits.

  7. This moron, has a single shot air pistol. Despite being dumber than a bucket of dirt, I hope they put him away for 5 to 20 years for armed robbery. Beauty is skin deep, but stupid is to the bone!

  8. The smart thing he should have done was to pull the trigger, and eliminate one more ID10T’s DNA from polluting the gene pool!

  9. “The pistol turned out to be a pellet gun” – I could tell that just by the look of it – too bad more folks don’t, but it does allow for some comedic possibilities when punks try to use them in an ‘armed’ robbery; if the intended victim recognizes the gun for what it is, and takes it away from him and whips his butt, or replies with a REAL gun.

    It has definitely happened that the victim realizes a gun isn’t real. It’s one of the risks of the profession, I guess. I’m sure there are people out there who would really enjoy feeding that weapon to him, via one orifice or another…. -rc

  10. I wonder if there is some way this picture could be circulated along with some phony story to suggest that this is very manly and tough and what a great thing it is to do this. For one thing, some dumb criminals will use that kind of far less harmful gun, maybe saving some lives. More desirably, maybe some will use a real gun and accidentally pull the trigger.

  11. Probably couldn’t afford real ammo until the welfare cheque came in.

    “Kadeem”; isn’t that Swazi for “North end of a southbound zebra”?

  12. As one who’s looked into a muzzle more than once, I can tell you exactly what goes through a victim’s mind. It looks fake. BUT… is today the day I want to find out I’m wrong?

    While small calibers may not be AS lethal, I can also tell you they hurt. And a lucky shot can still kill. Brandon Lee (son of Bruce Lee and star in the movie, “The Crow”) died from shooting a BLANK at his head. Many airguns/pellet guns are just as lethal as some small caliber firearms.

    I can disarm a man holding a pistol as long as he’s within arm’s reach, but any further away, I assume the worst. Never underestimate the lethal potential of any firearm, real or fake. Darwinian selection works both ways.

  13. How I wish all the criminals were this stupid. This guy is definitely a poster boy for the argument that we need a law that will legislate against breeding if you are that stupid. I am sure there is a pyschiatrist out there who will argue that his mamma did not hug him enough, hence he needs attention.

  14. Dexter are you implying that idiots like this know the rules to handling firearms? Tis a shame Darwin doesn’t always prevail.

  15. A guy on my block says — Some people like prison: plenty of food and plenty of sex. Jesse Jackson once said — prison is a step up the social ladder for some of my folks. Turn himself in? This kid got the message.

  16. For a change some of these comments actually made me laugh lol (“North end of a southbound zebra”!), but Neli Kubheka’s did provoke some thought: so called ‘stupidity’ may be a function of fundamental ignorance which ‘compulsory’ ‘education’ did nothing to alleviate. He would have been better informed on the street.


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