The Seattle Times this morning features an above the fold story on Rosie, the beloved family dog that was cruelly chased, tased, and shot dead by Des Moines police, with no apologies. It's a pretty awful tale, and I certainly wouldn't trust these officers to treat me humanely if this is how they treat a dog.
But there's nothing on the front page about the dash-cam video of Leo Etherly's police beating, which while certainly not, as Etherly's lawyer described it, "the worst video I’ve ever seen of police misconduct," is arguably yet another example of excessive use of force, and one that may have resulted in permanent injury to the victim.
So why the front page focus on police abuse of Rosie the dog rather than Leo the suspected hit-and-run perpetrator? I'm guessing because a black Newfie with a "sweet disposition" is a helluva lot more sympathetic than a Black man with rap sheet. And cuter. Just look at that picture.
One of these days a Seattle Police officer will beat the crap out of—or kill—the wrong victim. Instead of a young black man or a drunken Indian or an anarchist occupier or some bag of Mexican piss, they'll target a professional class "family man" who due to some strange confluence of circumstances is caught in the wrong place at the wrong time wearing the wrong clothes. Unaccustomed to the rules of engagement, perhaps this man will say the wrong thing, or instinctively flinch when the officer first comes at him, a motion that officers will interpret as aggressive or resisting arrest or whatever it is that they think gives them the license to repeatedly punch a suspect in the face while he is being helplessly restrained by two other officers.
And then, rather than just mulling over the "culture" of the SPD, or the political ramifications for Mayor Mike McGinn, perhaps the public will express a little genuine outrage.
When it comes to abusive police behavior, what I've seen in Seattle is nothing compared to what I saw in Philadelphia during the Frank Rizzo era and beyond. It can get a lot worse. And unless we address the SPD's pattern of recklessly escalating such incidents, it inevitably will.