Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Friday, February 10, 2012 8:50 pm

Cops gone wild

One days in the mid-1980s, my brother Frank, then finishing college at N.C. State and a newly diagnosed Type 1 diabetic, went into insulin shock while driving home. As he described it later, he could see his field of vision being constricted by darkness, which must be scary as hell if you’re sitting in your living room or lying in bed, let alone behind the wheel of a moving car in afternoon rush-hour traffic.

He had no sweets with him, so he sped toward home. And got pulled for speeding.

I’m not sure whether the Raleigh police officer let him go on the spot or the charge (speeding was then a criminal misdemeanor in N.C.; it’s now a civil infraction) was later dropped, but the point is that nothing like this happened:

A Highway Patrol trooper enters the scene first, gun drawn, and kicks the driver’s window of Greene’s four-door sedan. After several moments, the trooper opens the door.

The trooper, his gun still raised, then gives Greene conflicting commands. He first tells him not to move, then tells him to come forward.

A second trooper quickly cuffs Greene’s wrist and pulls him from the car, which rolls forward until an officer stops it.

Greene flops to the ground, clearly dazed as five officers rush him. A sixth officer, with Henderson police, enters the frame late and delivers five well-placed kicks to Greene’s face.

“Stop resisting mother (expletive)!” one officer yells.

Greene doesn’t scream until a second Henderson officer knees him in the midsection — and then does it three more times. Greene was later treated for fractured ribs.

Police suspected Greene was intoxicated as he weaved among lanes about 4 a.m. on Oct. 29, 2010, and finally stopped his car near Lake Mead Parkway and Boulder Highway in Henderson.

But that wasn’t the case, which they soon discovered after they searched Greene.

“Call in medical,” one officer says in the video. “We found some insulin in his pocket. … He’s semiconscious.”

“Let’s get medical out here. He’s a diabetic, he’s probably in shock,” the officer later tells dispatch.

Click the link and watch the video (cops’ language NSFW). It’s chilling. And all I could think was, “That could be one of my brothers.”

Some of my friends say I complain too much about excessive use of force* by law enforcement (or, as they called it when I was a kid, police bruality). I politely invite them to get bent. This is a symptom of lazy or incompetent training and leadership, pure and simple, and it needs to be torn out of our law enforcement root and branch. I have too much respect for good cops to have any respect for bad ones, and I’m not alone. John Cole comments:

I’m not really sure what my favorite part of this video is — first, the warning for offensive language. Actually, [offensive language doesn’t] bother me anywhere near as much as watching some douchebag cop run in and kick a man in the neck when he is clearly restrained and not resisting. Check out that real tough guy with a badge at 45 seconds in. Any chief that keeps that guy on the force is part of the damned problem.

My next favorite part is when these morons start asking each other if they are ok. What could they hurt? Their toes on the guy’s head?

And then, of course, the laughter afterwards, when instead they should be shaken up by how bad they screwed the pooch and how poorly they handled the situation.

If you’ll notice, the [driver] has done what you are supposed to do when you get pulled over, doing so even in a diabetic shock. He’s stopped the car, his hands are on the wheel, and he waits for instruction. Yet our Rockette Rambo has to go over guns drawn, kicking the window, acting like a maniac. I always thought the point of police was to defuse a situation, not escalate it.

At this point, though, with our politicians and courts bending over backwards to negate our rights and to look the other way when cops misbehave, I suppose we should all be happy they didn’t just execute the guy on the spot. Thank god there was no dog in the car.

And by the way, in my near ten years in the military, with all the exhaustive weapon training I received on a number of firearms, never once did an instructor inform me that the proper thing to do with a drawn and loaded weapon was to kick one foot up into the air. If you did that … on any range in the world, they would kick you out and might possibly give you an article 15 [nonjudicial punishment in the military — Lex]. What would happen if his foot slipped and he discharged? What if he shot the guy because of that? Or himself? Would the other cops think he had been shot when they heard the discharge and saw him on the ground and then unload into the driver? Just terrible [expletive] policework.

My delight at the phrase “Rockette Rambo” pales in comparison to my anger at the cops, the people who trained and supervise them, and anyone who thinks this is in any way OK. It’s not. It’s not constitutional, not legal, not moral, and even, as Cole observes, not safe for the cops.

Police culture is insular, and cops tend to close ranks to defend their own. Frequently it’s admirable. In the case of brutality such as this, it’s illegal, unconstitutional and despicable, and Cole is correct: Any chief who would defend this behavior with anything short of termination is, indeed, part of the problem and needs to find another line of work before he or his minions kill someone.

And politicians who support police who engage in this type of behavior need to be flushed out of office.

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