I try to keep this blog on topic, but this evening I was struck by a video on CNN demonstrating a case of police brutality. The video shows an unarmed man “talking back” to police officers. The five officers respond by tackling the man, successfully subduing him, then proceeding to beat him with a baton, even calling in a K9 unit and releasing the dog to attack his head and neck area. There were five police officers and one unarmed man. Was a baton and attack dog even remotely necessary in subduing this man? The portion of the video where the dog is biting and mauling the defenseless individual’s head is especially disturbing as there was a very real threat to his life made by police officers. You can see the video HERE
Disgusted, outraged, dismayed- if you don’t feel those emotions after watching this video then I really don’t know what to say to you. I have the utmost respect for the people that serve and protect the public. The job of a police officer is a thankless one; so much time is spent dealing with people that nobody else wants to. It’s a tough job and I get that. But I believe there are lines that should not be crossed, and when they are it should make no difference if you are a cop or not, the full weight of the law should come down upon you. So who was charged criminally following this incident? The young man who was brutally attacked then mauled by a police attack dog while lying defenseless on his stomach.
There are so many disturbing elements to this story. The police officer who released the dog to attack this young man had around 15 previous complaints filed against him for use of excessive force! In many of those incidents he was exonerated. Think about that for a second…. What do you think occurred in those incidents? There is a very very very high likelihood that this cop was one nasty individual that consistently used the power and authority granted to him by the public to physically harm defenseless individuals.
Sadly, the problem doesn’t stop there. Once you get beyond the horror of the video and think for a minute about the implications of this, a more sinister and disturbing thought comes to mind. What is so screwed up about police culture that allows dangerous police predators to frequently exercise police brutality and get away with it? I am also going to stop using the term “police brutality” and start describing it for what it is, a savage criminal act. So how do police consistently get away with committing savage criminal acts? The answer is simple blue protect blue. In the same way that family members protect family members. The bond between these individuals is incredibly strong, and this is understandably the case considering the difficult nature of their job and the hours spent bonding together.
There is a reason that in criminal justice systems around the world courts do not accept the testimony of family members as legitimate alibis. Why? Because family will lie to protect family…. Yet, for some really strange and twisted reason we give an incredible amount of respect and assume truthfulness from police officers testifying about their fellow officers. Is it because they are often the only ones at the scene to provide eye witness testimony? Perhaps, but as I said before this is no more legitimate than if a brother or family member corroborates the story police brutality. Bottom line, the brotherhood of police officers is very strong and comparable to that of family, and their testimony should be weighted accordingly
Toward the end of this video, CNN interviews a “Law Enforcement Expert” about whether or not this was indeed a case of police brutality. His conclusion is that this was not… and that the incident with the dog is “gray.” It is disgusting to me that he would even say that. There are 5 police officers that have a young man on the ground with his hands behind his back and the K9 officer releases the dog to viciously attack his neck and face (leading to over 200 stitches being required) and you call that gray? What the hell is wrong with you? I wish the reporter would have confronted him in that moment and asked him exactly that.
Clearly, this young man was acting in a drunk and disorderly manner. There is no disputing that either, but I have news for all of you law enforcement people out there. That is not justification for 5 police officers gang tackling, beating with a baton, subduing, and then viciously mauling with a dog. Make no mistake about it, the actions of these police officers were vicious and should be considered criminal. Yet, the police chief “stands by his officers pending an internal investigation.” That’s not good enough for me. These officers should be in jail. Period. Not tomorrow or the next day or at home getting paid pending an investigation. If any other person in the US goes and jumps somebody on the street in front of a video camera, savagely beats and then threatens their life with a vicious animal, they get criminally prosecuted immediately! It should be no different when cops abuse their powers.
Lets talk a little more about this “internal investigation” business. I believe it’s time for fewer “internal investigations” and more external investigations. Just like the former law enforcement officer on CNN who said this was a “gray” area, many investigators in the field are too heavily involved to see what should be a blatantly obvious savage criminal attack staring them in the face. So long as police are policing police, we will continue to have these kinds of savage criminal acts by police officers occurring. The link between police and prosecutors is also incredibly strong and the only solution is to have special police prosecutors and special police investigators that do not have a strong link with law enforcement. Perhaps panels/committees made up of non-police civilians could be established to monitor and protect society from police brutality. These panels and investigators would have the power to prosecute and investigate criminal acts by police. Also, testimony from other police officers would be weighted in a similar manner to that of family members during criminal trials (very little credibility).
Some of you may say that when it’s a police officer it is different. You are correct! It is different, because police officers are given special powers in our society, and when you are granted powers you are also burdened with greater responsibility. Self-defense allows citizens to protect themselves against brutal attacks like this in whatever manner possible against everyone… except police. If this young man pulled a gun out he would have been shot to death. If he killed all of the police officers he would have certainly been charged with first degree murder and possibly executed depending on the state he is in. However, this young man could have been killed by the dog attack to the head and neck, with absolutely no consequences to the officer releasing the dog. Police officers have a great deal of power over a regular civilian, and as a result, they have a special burden to be judicious in the use of force regardless of how hard it may be. Police officers are professionals who are trained to serve and protect, and that dog attack accomplished neither.
This post got long in a hurry, but the words flowed rather quickly after watching this really disturbing video. I hope that you share my outrage… Back to poker next time