Thursday, June 17, 2010

Boom Boom Pow

Chances are by now you've all seen the above video. It was shot by a concerned citizen (as opposed to one member of a gathering and potentially threatening crowd) as a Seattle cop attempted to arrest a girl who, shall we say, wasn't going quietly. All of 30 seconds into the clip, you see the girl's friend step in and try stop the arrest by shoving the cop; he responds by clocking her in the face. As the punchee is, in fact, female, seventeen years old, and black -- oh, you can imagine the outraged cries of racism, sexism, police brutality, what-have-you.

And yet as I watch the video, just one thing comes to mind...


Ref said...

Don't tell me, was it a local "Libertarian Activist" with the camera? How about getting on your fucking phone to 911 and calling in some help that might result in less damage all around?

Vermillion said...

Can't really argue too much with you there.

In my admittedly short time alive, I have learned that police officers are either a) good people doing an often thankless job the best they can, or b) douchebags on a power trip looking for an excuse. In either case, the last thing you should do is resist. Especially since it is considered a crime (and both her and her non-punched friend were resisting). I can't wait to see what twisting logic folks will use on this.

Thing is, this is similar to the "Jersey Shore Punch" debacle. And again I say: if you are in a (ugh) situation where a punch is POSSIBLE, don't act like when it does happen, that it is all out of the blue.

Was the cop right for punching her? Honestly can't say. But getting between a cop and the person resisting arrest? That is a pretty good place to pick up a black eye, is all I'm saying.

There's a legal system for a reason, people. It is there for you to address any accusations in court, not on the street.

Seriously people, Chris Rock is right. It ain't worth the beatdown.

Vermillion said...

Holy crap...the crazy dude in the video is Crab Man from My Name Is Earl! Awesome!

Well...awesome to me...

Ironic said...

There are some cardinal rules that everyone (with a brain) is to follow when confronted by a police officer. Here are a couple:

#1. Listen to what he/she says. Simple orders like "Come here for a second," should simply be followed.

#2. Don't put your hands on him/her under any circumstance.

The punchee's friend broke Rule #1. And the punchee broke Rule #2, so she got punched in the face. End of story.

J. Dack said...

That cop was completely and utterly out of line.

Let's leave aside for a moment the fact that this entire incident started over fucking jaywalking.

She barely even touched him. She shoved at him. Oh no!

Was it smart to physically touch a cop, especially an already agitated one? No.

Did he have the right to sock her in the face for that? Not a chance in hell.

I hope he loses his fucking badge.

(I don't care if it was racially motivated or not, these assholes are supposed to protect us not assault us.)

Chez said...

You know I like you, J, but holy hell are you wrong on this.

becky said...

teenagers are the worst

liquidlen said...

Personally, I think he showed incredible restraint. Or he didn't have a taser. Because some cops tase like other people shake hands.

And yeah, jaywalking? Being run in for jaywalking is a helluva lot better story than resisting arrest over jaywalking and getting punched in the face, or worse.

Kevin M. Hagerman

Alanna said...

this was over jaywalking? What is this fucking LA? Who tickets people for jaywalking? they shoudl have punched the cop for attempting such a lame-ass ticket.

Regardless, so much commotion. If I was the cop, I'd probably have lost my cool 10 seconds into attempting to make that arrest. But this is what you get when lowest common denominator is the accepted norm. Sorry, but true.

VOTAR said...

Resisting arrest. Plain and simple.

Props to that officer for staying as composed as he did, as he was slowly being surrounded, and decidedly outnumbered, by the... natives.

Milton said...

really Chez? you think Chris Rock is condemning black people for "misbehaving", for not having common sense, for not bringing along a white friend and for driving around with a crazy black bitch? you see no sarcasm at all in that? despite all the history of police violence towards blacks (and minorities in general), plus the fact that Chris Rock is a very racially conscious comedian, you really don't see the sarcasm in that? and arresting someone for jaywalking? and punching a 17 year old black girl for touching (oooohhhh!!) a white uniformed man? really??? wtf???!!!

Donal said...

Different city, but I recommend reading the Village Voice's NYPD tapes, part two especially, to get an idea of how city cops are being directed to deal with citizens these days.

Chez said...

If you say so, Milton. Actually, like most of Rock's humor, the bit makes a joke about something based in honesty; remember that he's the guy who did the infamous "difference between black people and 'niggas' routine." Rock's complained before about the "ignant" behavior of some of those in the black community and how it really screws things up for everybody.

But look, of course I'm not going to pretend that I have some kind of liberal-intelligentsia understanding of every fucking piece of comedy Chris Rock has ever done and what points he was absolutely trying to make. The only thing I can do is go by what I'm seeing in the video (and, incidentally, what I'm not seeing, since the video begins after the initial stop).

First of all, I couldn't give a crap about the fact that she was busted for jaywalking. Is it ridiculous? Sure, but I lived in LA for a long time and the cops there are sticklers for handing out tickets for jaywalking too, given that pedestrians always have the right of way as long as they follow the rules -- therefore when they don't, they get a ticket. The infraction is irrelevant. She broke the law and the guy was doing his job and writing her up for it. Now, according to what I've read, when he radioed it in, he found out that they both had a couple of priors for assault, which means that as a cop he's absolutely entitled to take that into consideration in his dealings with her -- and absolutely as the two of them begin, you guessed it, assaulting him.

Then there's the crowd. I'm not painting racial stereotypes here, just stating a fact: he's one cop against a gathering crowd that doesn't much like him; he's outnumbered. So as he's trying to arrest this woman -- who's obviously resisting; who likely escalated what should've been a minor pop for jaywalking into a fucking serious offense -- an unknown threat, her friend, moves in on him and gets in his way. She gets in his face, shoves him, gets the crowd riled up and puts herself in a place where she could easily get his weapon, what-have-you.

So he hits her -- hard. Because one of the things you're taught as a police officer, that all those people who always claim excessive force -- who feel like the cops have ten minutes to size-up a potentially life-and-death decision and behave like a Care Bear -- forget is this: you eliminate the threat. You try to put it down before completely before it puts your life or the lives of others in danger. Was part of the reason he hit her because he was pissed? Probably. But cops aren't robots. Wouldn't you be angry dealing with this kind of crap? In the great scheme of things he used quite a bit of restraint -- not tasering her, not, God freaking forbid, drawing his weapon and firing it.

It's an unfortunate incident, but it's not one started or escalated by the arresting officer.

And as another comedian, Patrice O'Neal (yes, Milt, he's also black) said so well: at least this woman now has a "reference point" should she ever think about not obeying the commands of a police officer again.

There are plenty of bad cops out there. I don't think this guy is one of them.

Vermillion said...

What Chez said.

Hindsight is always 50/50. People can come up with a million and one different responses the cop could have done. But they weren't there, in that moment, as that cop. He reacted with instinct and training. He did what he thought was best at the time. I, for one, am not going to crucify him just because the person he was dealing with happened to have a vagina.

To paraphrase Huey Freeman, not every black person arrested is Nelson Mandela. Or to be more appropriate, neither of these women were not Rosa Parks.

Vermillion said...

Umm...edit out that last "not" in my previous post.

The Bacon said...


I don't think the skin color of the girl or the officer has anything to do with anything.

You assault a police officer, you get clocked in the face.

By the way, the sarcasm in Rock's bit is that he shouldn't have to say these things because even the dumbest amongst us should know already.

slouchmonkey said...

"Smokey, this isn't Nam. This is bowling. There are rules."

J. Dack said...

You know I like you, J, but holy hell are you wrong on this.

Well, I respectfully disagree, but there's probably no point in arguing. I have a serious problem with cops, so I can neither be moved, nor objective about this.

And I don't wanna go trolling in your house.

Vermillion said...

I have a serious problem with cops, so I can neither be moved, nor objective about this.

So, in other words, nobody give a ride to J.Dack. Just...leave it alone and go on your merry way.

Demonspawn said...

I, for one, am not going to crucify him just because the person he was dealing with happened to have a vagina.

Aye, imagine if the two involved were young men... black, white, or any other ethnicity.

Anonymous said...

The officer was wrong. His use of force was excessive for a jaywalking stop that got out of control. If you cannot control a situation you need to call in backup not go on the attack. There were no weapons present or any signs that escalation was appropriate. You state that he knew who these girls were having already run their names so he clearly could have continued to cite them and had them picked up later if he was unable to detain them before backup arrived.

The important thing for an officer of the peace to do is keep the peace. Do not escalate a situation needlessly. Violent cops who resort to face punches in simple altercations are not good protection for any of us.

Chez said...

He should've called for backup. That's the only thing you're correct about.

The rest of your suggestions? That's just not the way police procedure works in most departments.

Once again, it's so easy to armchair quarterback and second guess the actions of a cop faced with a difficult situation.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry Chez but you are incorrect here. Community policing principles set forth by the Department of Justice demonstrate that conflict management and not escalation is to be the best model for police to follow. That other departments fail to follow appropriate procedure is not an excuse.

Insufficiently trained officers who fail to adhere to these standards frequently escalate situations and the officer in this video clearly is not well trained. Please do more research on the topic, I'd recommend starting here:

Lastly, I have worked in a prison and in other settings that lead to frequent conflicts. My "armchair quarterbacking" comes from experience. There are many ways he could have handled this and he chose one of the least appropriate.

Jeremy said...

I thought that J, just reading about it and hearing about it. Watching it though, the lady who was punched clearly tried to interfere in the arrest.

Sure they were just jaywalking. What you do in that situation is take your ticket and then contest it in court (90% of the time, for something stupid like that, the cop won't even show up and it gets thrown out).

Honestly, watching that scuffle and the two of them pushing and wrestling with the cop against the car, they're lucky they weren't both tazed. (When I watched it I thought to myself "in a melodrama, this would be wear the cops gun gets grabbed, or falls out and goes off injuring someone.")

I have as much beef with bully cops as anyone, but the lady (and I use that term lightly) was wrong to grab at and interfere with the officer.

Anonymous said...

Many of the comments also ignore the fact that the officer was there specifically targeting jaywalkers because of problems with and repeated reports of dangerous jaywalking on this stretch of street.

CNNfan said...

No disrepect to the Police in any way. Sorry, I just don't feel grown men should punch our kids in the face for walking outside a crosswalk in America.

I feel sorry for that young girl, who may be still be suffering from that injury. With a video cameras everwhere, why not just send the summons to her parents, and that's it?

I don't think even illegal aliens get punched in the face for illegal alien border crossings, "jaywalking" across our border?

kanye said...

I know that you don't do guest posts but, any chance you could get the old man to dust off the Selectric and chime in?

It'd be interesting to hear your father's take on this.

Chez said...

Of course the perfect scenario involves deescalation, Anonymous 6:19 -- but it just ain't always possible. Regardless of your professed experience, you seem to have an Ivory Tower way of looking at the life of a street cop. There are plenty of times when the path of least resistance wouldn't involve actually upholding the law.

But, with respect because you're obviously an intelligent person, your points are largely irrelevant anyway for two reasons: 1) we're not seeing the beginning of the incident in the video, and 2) the minute she screamed, resisted, punched, kicked, fought back in any way, she was wrong and the blame for what eventually happened moved fully onto her. The officer had every right to do what he did -- meaning to stop her for jaywalking, as silly as it might seem; she had no right to turn it into a melee.

Anonymous said...

No. Cops are psychologically tested to not get emotionally involved or take things personally while in uniform, this guy is a rogue cop who went way over the line. If he felt threatened he should have let the fucking ticket go and got out of the area.

In the bigger picture, men are NEVER to hit women under any circumstances.

This asshole cop only wanted to be a big man and get that ticket quota for the day. He needs to lose his job.

Chez said...

I'm sure it's lovely living in Fantasyland.

Anonymous said...

"The officer had every right to do what he did -- meaning to stop her for jaywalking, as silly as it might seem; she had no right to turn it into a melee." That's the bottom line folks. She resisted arrest and then her friend assaulted the cop. Any claim regarding her being 17 is moot: assault is assault and the assaulted has every legal right to respond with force. Assault isn’t only a crime if you’re over 18.
As for the jaywalking charge, yeah, it sounds like BS. But – and here’s the problem with so many of these filmed encounters – we don’t know what happened before the camera was turned on. Care to bet the jaywalking involved forcing a car with the right of way to stop or swerve? A city cop ain’t gonna stop someone for jaywalking because they love paperwork.
I see no heroes here - but I don't see the cop as the bad guy.