Two Officers Punched a Man. Only One Should Be Suspended, Oversight Board Reports

Comments

2

Make sure you don't beat your kids (or citizens) when they react in the "heat of the moment."

3

I like how we give the benefit of the doubt to police when they make a human error, but if a citizen makes a similar mistake around jumpy folks in body armor it may cost them their lives or leave them with a permanent impairment or traumatic brain injury because apologists justify it with paragraphs of legal jargon.

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https://youtu.be/VFHpvPwq2i8?t=405

5

I'm not sure why it's a news story that one officer would be cleared in a use of force incident while another one in the same incident is found to have used excessive force. It happens.

I can't speak for Seattle, but punching was an approved defensive tactic for certain levels of resisting subjects (like this one) where I worked. It seems the same is true with Seattle.

So, if you resist arrest to the point of striking me with your hand, foot or whatever while I'm trying to make a lawful arrest (a different debate), and I use a couple of quick punches to stun you and gain compliance, that is likely acceptable force. Now, if another officer comes along and punches you several more times for good measure or to "teach your ass a lesson," that's not acceptable.

That sort of sequence of events isn't super uncommon, and it's the job of IAD units to make those distinctions. Not sure why it's newsworthy.

7

Cops love to play the resisting arrest charge, even though they are often at a loss to justify an actual arrest in the first place. Being a cop isn't even in the Top 10 dangerous jobs in the country. If the pigs are so scared all the time they should probably lay off the 'roids and find a line of work that doesn't involve interacting with people.

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@7 - It's not in the top 10 most deadly, not most dangerous...depending on how you define danger. And actually, it's not even in the top 20 most deadly anymore. However, by assaults resulting in injury, it probably leads. Over 50,000 yearly nationwide when I was a cop.

Anecdotally, I was slightly wounded by 1 bullet, had 7 broken bones and 4 instances of stitches all from various assaults over 30 years. 2 of the 7 and 1 of the stitches were from the same assault, tho. That doesn't count the too-many-to-count bruises, cuts, scratches, pulled hair (which really hurts!), strains and sprains. And I was considered pretty good at sweet-talking arrestees into cuffs, which means I certainly had less people resist per arrest than more bullying cops that enjoy fighting people into cuffs.

That injury tally over that time frame is not uncommon, either. People resist arrest allllll the time, far, far more than the public is certainly aware. I know it's a shock, but as it turns out, most people do not want to go to jail, and plenty of those are willing to fight you to prevent it.

I didn't watch the video, but the description makes me think the first cop's actions weren't unreasonable, just as I'm sure the second cop's were.

You would be surprised how difficult it can be to handcuff someone who simply does not want to be handcuffed. I tell people to, as an experiment, get a friend to refuse to let you get their hands behind their back at all costs, save either of you hitting, kicking or biting. You may well do it, but you'll be exhausted with the effort.

In any case, I was commenting more on the fact that The Stranger seems to think a finding of justified force for one officer and unjustified for another is some sort of sinister cover-up of breath-taking proportions or something...and it's not anything of the sort.

Force has to be justified for each officer who uses it. It's entirely possible for one officer to be justified and another officer not be, either due to timing of the force by the unjustified officer or severity of it, or both. It's not very common, but it does happen sometimes.

9

I would add that state patrol police might also be subject to cumulative injuries by using their vehicles to stop crazy or drunk drivers that threaten public safety, possibly sustaining partial or permanent injuries. My point is not that cops shouldn't use restraint, but that when people find themselves held down by many people, that is no justification to then use deadly or excessive force because they feel above accountability. Like Johannes Meserle pulling a gun on Oscar Grant and barely getting a slap on the wrist. Or the guys who yell for you to stop resisting as they beat you to a bloody pulp.

I admire your restraint, Morty, and appreciate that you took your duties so seriously, especially when they caused you harm. I recognize that when people feel threatened with death, some instinct realizes that it's all over unless they try to escape or fight, and a lot of preventable tragedies arise from that. People lose buddies or have other life issues that get in the way, or maybe it is just fear. But there needs to be more accountability for excessive force across the board or the lesson teachers will feel enabled when their peers face slaps on the wrists instead of consequences that promote systemic change.

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@11. So we're proles and praetorians, got it. All of us are equal under the law, but some are more equal than others.

14

The OPA has been a rubber stamp for the SPD for the last 15 years. Kate Olson, the former head "retired" from the OPA to work a 90k a year "consulting" job for the SPD. 3 of the 5 members have direct ties to law enforcement. Worst, they don't even have any teeth.

Can you think of another job where punching an unarmed nonaggressive person would be seen as "reasonable" because the job is "stressful"?

Nurses, teachers, Social Workers, Public Defendants, Librarians, even Security Guards would get fired on the spot for such behavior. But the blue badge is a free pass for violence. For any and no reason.

15

@12 Gotta love whataboutism.

"Seattle cops are abusive and needlessly aggressive with unarmed citizens"

:But whatabout Detroit/x-otherplacethatisntSeattle:

No wonder most of the public and the city council wants the SPD defunded, and the only people who disagree are angry, racist cishet white guys and cops themselves.

16

Getting in a scuffle in this type of atmosphere is like being suddenly plunged headlong into cold water. Police are not trained for this.

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@12 what type of math is that? We have 2.2 police officer per 1000 residents in the US. (Fewer here.). Is your point that police aren't quite 500 times more likely to kill someone?

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@9 - I could not agree more about accountability, and you would be surprised how many cops agree with that (at least in Dallas, where I worked). So many of these cops that end up in headline-producing use of force scandals, such as with George Floyd and Tamir Rice, had been in a lot of trouble before but were still employed in high-stress, public-contact positions. Police departments HATE firing people for some reason, even without the influence of unions.

I burn one too many hamburgers at McDonald's, and I can be fired on the spot. I hospitalize you because I lost control of my emotions, and I get an unpaid 20-day vacation...if even that long. That is crazy, and that's the number 1 thing that needs to change.

And people talk about a blue wall of silence, which does exist, but not to the degree people think (and that varies from department to another). Sure, we would never report an officer for occasionally riding a call or using a well-placed profanity but we did report abusive cops all the time. The department just moves them around.

So, you learn to do everything possible to steer clear of them. Even above what is wrong, there's the practical consideration that abusive officers involve other officers in unnecessary jeopardy, and officers know that. I thought it was telling that only rookie officers were around Chauvin while he was murdering Floyd.

So, it's accountability that's the problem, not training. Officers are actually trained pretty well. In the instances of misconduct and murder that we've seen it wasn't a lack of training that caused them, it was ignoring the training they received. The rookies suggesting to Chauvin to turn Floyd onto his side to avoid positional asphyxia proves they were properly trained. Chauvin just ignored it, and that gets back to accountability again. Same issue with Eric Garner.

Two exceptions to the training issue are not enough training in managing anger and too much on convincing cops they're "warriors" under constant threat of death from every person they encounter every minute of the day. The warrior shit didn't come along until my last few years as a cop. That needs to go.

I don't think people are protesting Floyd so much as that culture generally. The cops who murdered Floyd are in jail, so that's all that can be done with that. So, yes, it made people rightly furious, but I think the depth and extent of the protests have more to do with how these "warriors" treat people generally like shit on a day-to-day basis. Cops see you as the enemy. Seattle is Baghdad.

Secondly, it is easy to get pissed at uncooperative, verbally abusive and threatening people on the street, it just is. Any commenter here would feel it to varying degrees in the same role. I'm naturally pretty chill and was formally commended for being calm in chaotic situations...but sure, even I felt anger at times.

Yet, I don't recall ever getting any training on managing anger, to say nothing of effective training. I used to hammer into rookies I trained not to take shit personally. No one out there knows you; you're just a blue suit to them trying to deprive them of their freedom, or cost them money or ending their good times and so on.

Plus, if shit does go bad, it's far better to have your wits about you, so you can consciously think about what you're doing and how to accomplish your goal, such as getting this fighter into cuffs without getting hurt. Getting pissed actually increases your chances of getting hurt, to say nothing of getting into minor trouble for the effects of losing it.

So, get rid of the whole warrior bullshit and institute some training about managing anger, irritation and similar responses. Otherwise, training is fine; it's accountability that needs drastic improvement. And despite the last 6 months, I'm skeptical we'll see much improvement on that front.

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@10 - No violence in the 60's? Watts? Federal troops in the streets of Detroit and other cities? Dem Convention in Chicago in '68? What newsreels have you been watching?

Look, nobody is arguing that officers shouldn't be allowed to use force against people resisting arrest. The argument is about what level of force. Abusive cops and cop-apologists outside of police ranks seem to think that so much as instinctually pulling away warrants a free-for-all beatdown of Spanish Inquisition proportions.

When people resist arrest, cops are governed by a "force continuum" that is universal throughout policing. Different levels of resistance are to be met with no more than certain levels of force. Verbal commands are at the bottom of the continuum, and deadly force is at the top with varying responses to varying levels of resistance in between. When resistance ceases, so does the force.

Exceeding the bounds of that force continuum is considered excessive force, and for that there are consequences...or at least there should be.

This is a country of laws, civilian rule and oversight and constitutional rights, not a police state. You cannot have agents of the state losing their shit and beating the shit out of people simply because they were shoved.

It blows my mind when people who call themselves conservative and who distrust the state in so many other matters nonetheless cheerlead such levels of abuse by these particular agents of the state. I guess it depends on who is getting the shit beat out of them.

Oh, and cops are in no way equivalent to judges. A judge can order me to do any number of things in and out of the courtroom and can jail me for not complying. Aside from violating written law, the same is not true of cops with respect to judges.

Speaking of the law and along with the force continuum, the law does indeed say that cops can use force to overcome resisting people, but it also says that force must be reasonable and not excessive. If you attack me by kicking me or slapping me, and I whip out my gun and shoot you or even beat you into a coma with a baton, I damn sure can be found guilty for my actions...and I should be.

20

@18 Morty, You summarized that up just about perfectly. What we need is you on CNN explaining this stuff to people on both sides.

I totally get that people have "had it" with the police. I have had it with the police (and a lot of other things, LOL). And these comment sections are a "safe space" to vent about it.

However, at the end of the day, I want the police providing public safety.

But, there's also some things that just can't be tolerated anymore. They should have never been tolerated, but they have been. And it has to end. And we're not seeing change and we’re not seeing progress.

So where does that leave people who have been pushed around one too many times... What do people do when they’ve heard all the b.s. one too many times... What happens when the laws don't hold police accountable?

There’s civil unrest. If the police won’t be held accountable, why should we? When we see the courts supporting the police (“they’re just following the law”), then we lose trust in the courts. When the laws are perceived as unjust by the very public those laws are supposed to protect, we lose trust in the laws themselves. And the rule of law is a very tenuous thin blue line.

I don’t have the answers on how to fix the systems when the powers that be won’t do what needs to be done. But I can see where this is headed.

22

Thanks, although I don't think it's most CNN viewers that need to be told these things. That would be Fox viewers, of course. Even then, I'm not sure it would take with most of them. Past experience has taught me that cop apologists hang on every word a cop says...until that cop disputes their preconceived notions about LE, and then that cop is just another dirty commie libtard who is wrong.

I agree about where we're headed. I think LE management is going to be very slow to increase accountability, if they do at all in some cases. And despite the clear harm that the warrior-cop idea is doing, I haven't seen much evidence that LE is abandoning it.

Another thing most people aren't addressing is that cop recruitment has been sharply down for a while now, even before the Floyd protests. That decline has accelerated with the protests. That's bad, because LE has been having to accept recruits they would not have even in the recent past much less further back. We'll feel the effects of that moving forward, which of course makes accountability still more important than even without that factor.

Even defunding will have a couple of unintended consequences, which are increasing pressure on those cops left in departments and less officers to respond to combative subjects and situations. Assaults and consequent use of force increase when officers are by themselves, and both decline by an increasing degree with each additional officer present.

Moving away from the drug war will be one of the few things that actually will be helpful going forward.

As to those other issues, none of them bode well for the future, and I don't know how to address a few of them, either.

23

@10: "Philando Castile got killed when he began to draw his weapon after the officer specifically told him not to."

Is that the story they're telling down at the cop shop?

Castille told the officer he had a gun in the glove compartment and never made a motion for it. The officer panicked and shot him. There was a dashcam footage, so this is not exactly in debatable:

https://www.cnn.com/2017/06/20/us/philando-castile-shooting-dashcam/index.html

Your other examples are just as revisionist. This is why reform is impossible. Even when you have a situation like George Floyd, there appear to be officers out there who believe Derek Chavin was in the fight of his life and only killed George Floyd in a last ditch attempt at self defense. How do you reason with people who live in that type of fantasy word? You don't.

Your illusions about the "peaceful" civil rights movement is just as revisionist. You're kidding yourself if you imagine there was no violence. Martin Luther King was despised by the majority in his time and seen as the leader of a violent movement. You must be too young to remember that.

Still, the very notion of violent vs. non-violent protests misses the point. Don't think of the protests as good or bad, violent or non-violent, but as a symptom of a deeper illness within the body politic. After decades of the State using police violence to push for political ends against non-violent citizens involved in non-violent lifestyle crimes such as drugs and consensual adult sex work, the public has absorbed that violence and is responding in kind. The State will almost certainly over-react to this and their cure will be more poison. Expect for things to get worse.

You're correct that juries will never convict a police officer killing an attacker. The problem is that they will also never be found guilty of killing a black women peacefully sleeping in her bed. They will never be convicted because the medical examiners who work for the police officer will always find some other cause of death, because prosecutors and judges who run the system and the politicians who make the rules will never hold their enforcement arm accountable. They will lie for police, excuse police and take a dive for them in court when they pretend to act as proscutors. They will ensure grand juries never receive evidence that will lead to a conviction.

Meanwhile, prosectors will lie, steal, cheat and hide evidence (a Brady violation) to win a conviction because they must win at all costs and are even less accountable for their behavior than the police. Where the police have qualified immunity, prosecutors have ABSOLUTE immunity. Judges not only make all the rules for prosecutors and police, but also decide when the rules will be enforced against them, which is pretty much never. They will always cover for the prosecutor who covers for the cop. Your public defender will be more interested in maintaining his/her relationship with the prosecutor office than defending you. During your plea deal, you may overhear your public defender and prosecutor discussing their tee time for tomorrow morning after you have started your overly harsh long sentence because they want to "make an example of you." You will later read about how the prosecutors sister got milk, honey and 5 star rehabilitation spas for her crimes while you spent decades in jail to "set an example that crime doesn't pay."

This systemic lack of accountability for themselves and those close to them combined with super, super accountability for everyone outside their circle is a primary reason for people protesting in the streets. Expect the police to see themselves as innocent victims of all this and to respond in increasingly draconian methods. Expect prosecutors and judges to excuse their over reaction at your expense. This will not end well.

As far as your description of the police operating in a different rules than the rest of us, you are not describing a police department, but an occupying military force exercising command and control over a hostile population. Our endless wars abroad are finally coming home to roost. The police now see us the way the marines view the Taliban. That's not a good thing.

24

@23: Not especially relevant, but in the interest of full accuracy, the gun Castille had was not in the glove compartment, but in his cargo pocket. As the story points out based on the dash cam footage, Castille said he had a weapon, the officer asked him to get his ID and when he reached for his wallet, the policeman panicked and shot him.

An officer was on the other side of the car with his hands hooked to his vest and was surprised when the officer opened fire. There was absolutely no proof Castille was reaching for a gun and if he was I doubt he would have taken the time to tell the officer he had a weapon before hand. The officer justified all this on the following grounds:

"I thought ... if he has ... the guts and the audacity to smoke marijuana in front of the 5-year-old girl and risk her lungs and risk her life by giving her second-hand smoke and the front seat passenger doing the same thing then what, what care does he give about me," Yanez said.

Yep, if you smell marijuana, that's as good as proof of smoking in front of your 5 year old daughter and there's a strong correlation between exposing your daughter to second hand smoke and being a cold blooded cop killer. Nothing unreasonable there.

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@25: I second that.

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@11... Police Officers are NOT officers of the court. They are simply witnesses and nothing more. Whether they are viewed as more reliable or knowledgeable is in the eye of the beholder. I know officers who have zero credibility in local courts, and officers who walk on water, because judges know them and trust them.

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@29. What you wish on others you welcome upon yourself.

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The funny thing is if your argument starts off justifying cops killing compliant black people minding our own business, whatever the fuck you say afterwards can be written off as "typical racist white bullshit". No matter how many paragraphs it's made in.