Thursday, June 28, 2007
The Reign of the Bullies (IMPORTANT UPDATE; see bottom of page)
Kevin Bearly became a Los Angeles policeman for an eminently commendable reason: An idealistic young man with a deep streak of Irish pugnacity, Kevin couldn't countenance lawless bullies, and during his years on the LAPD he dealt with more than a few of them.
A few weeks ago, Kevin described an incident from early in his police career in which he learned how easily police officers can become street bullies.
Shortly after hitting the streets as a rookie police officer, Kevin and his partner -- a veteran officer -- visited the local skid row. One by one, the drunks were loaded onto a van. At one point, Kevin made a disparaging remark about one of them, an unkempt middle-aged man. The target of the ill-considered jibe fixed Kevin with an outraged look and then "hit me square in the face, knocking me flat on my back," he recalled.
Knocking Kevin down, I hasten to point out, is not easily or frequently done by anyone of any size.
Understandably, Kevin was infuriated, not just because nobody likes to be knocked down, but also because slugging a police officer was, and is, considered a serious criminal offense. His partner intervened, made sure that everyone was securely in the van, and then he took Kevin aside to impart some necessary wisdom, beginning with this unexpected assessment: "You got exactly what you deserved."
The officer went on to explain how the man who had made Kevin get his back dirty was a World War II veteran who had lived a good and decent life until a series of misfortunes had deposited him on skid row. He had been a man of accomplishment, and despite the weakness that left him on the streets, he still had a sense of dignity and self-worth. These are the kind of things that every Beat Cop needed to learn about the people in his patrol area, Kevin was told.
And his partner italicized another important principle:
"We have to treat everybody with respect. It doesn't matter whether we like them or not, or what their attitude toward us may be. We owe them respect."
This was the perspective of many law peace officers as recently as the 1970s. A residue of that honorable attitude can be found today: Even now, there are police officers who comport themselves with dignity and discipline, and see their role as that of protecting the rights of the innocent, rather than making the public submit to the power of the State.
Although it was probably never a good idea for the U.S. to import Robert Peel's system of "professional" police, this much can be said: Peace Officers like Kevin and his partner (I've been blessed to know a few, and correspond with many more) are more valuable than platinum, and they will be extinct within the next generation.
Their places will be filled by the likes of Joey Williams of the Hot Springs Police Department, the wretched skinhead in uniform who plays the starring role in this video:
Look particularly at what happens between 2:13 and about 2:00 in the video as the heroic Officer Williams places a chokehold on a 12-year-old girl, and then does the same thing to a male youngster of about the same age who came to her defense. The girl escaped, but the boy was taken down and cuffed -- after Officer Joey got some help from one of his buddies.
That's right, Joey: That kid you took down, with some help from another tax-guzzler, was more of a man than you will ever be (but then again, since you were named after a baby kangaroo I suppose you started out at a disadvantage). He came to the rescue of a girl being attacked by a lawless bully
"If you resist, then that's what happens," wheezed the carbohydrate sculpture in uniform, winded but triumphant after his mano-a-mano with an underfed 12-year-old girl, after one of the kids criticized Officer Joey for throwing her defender to the ground. "She wasn't too damn worried about it when she wanted to fight," added Joey, his words delivered with the kind of chest-thumping bravado one would expect had the subdued suspect been 6'5" of streaming steel, rather than a skinny kid barely into adolescence.
During this entire incident, that bald, corpulent sack of malice is heard sputtering about the skateboarders being in "violation of a city ordinance," and then listing all of the various offenses for which they were being arrested: "Fleeing," "disorderly conduct," "resisting arrest," and so
"See that blow on my knee?" he complains at one point. "That's battery."
Well, Officer Joey -- embodiment of the Thin (make that "chunky") Blue Line and retromingent enforcer of petty municipal ordinances -- putting a chokehold on an unarmed and unresisting 12-year-old girl is felony assault; it could be considered attempted homicide. More importantly, it is a violation of something that should be encoded on the DNA of every male, and reinforced by the social mores of the Old South: You don't commit acts of violence against young women.
Once again, it was the kid handcuffed on the street who lived up to that ideal, not the bully with a badge who put him there.
I don't care what costume you wear, what cheap jewelry you can flash in somebody's face, or who cuts your paycheck -- you don't lay your hands on somebody's daughter, much less wrap your arm around her throat and try (unsuccessfully, Joey: she got away from you) throw her to the ground.
Joey is on "administrative leave." This almost certainly means he'll be reinstated and given different duties as soon as the Hot Springs PD can find some way to justify the pre-ordained conclusion that his behavior was "in compliance with department guidelines." In fact, the Department is already working on a revised storyline.
"If a subject becomes confrontational, the officer has a right to defend himself," insists Department spokesperson McCrary Means. "There are certain steps: first of all a verbal command. Like I said, if that subject becomes combative, that officer needs to do all he can do to get that subject under control."
Really? A State-employed armed thug is entitled to "do all he can do" to ensure submission, even when the supposed offense is the equivalent of spitting on the sidewalk? Even when the "combative" subjects are unarmed, non-violent youngsters, including pre-teens?
Officer Joey, seen here strangling two unarmed adolescents.
In principle, "all he can do" means that a police officer can employ potentially deadly force, such as putting a chokehold on a 12-year-old girl; wouldn't that also mean that the same officer can pull his gun and shoot skateboarders, if he fails to make them submit to his commands?
This is why I refer to every law or ordinance -- however trivial it may seem -- as a potential death sentence.
Not only should Joey be cashiered from the force and prosecuted for several kinds of assault and battery, he should be locked in a room with that girl's male relatives for about an hour, during which time he would have every opportunity to justify his unearned swagger by displaying the martial prowess that gave him the upper hand in a fierce street struggle with a 12-year-old girl.
In case you're interested in expressing your admiration for the work of Officer Joey and the intrepid force he serves here's the contact information:
Phone: (501) 321-6789
Fax: (501) 321-6708
Chief of Police, Bobby Southard
641 Malvern Avenue,
Hot Springs, Arkansas 71901
Keith Graff, seen here with his father, Terry, before his life fell apart.
Something tells me I'm going to have a lot to say about this case, in which 24-year-old Glendale, Arizona man Keith Graff, a former US Army Paratrooper, who was murdered by a Officer Charles Anderson III in apparent retaliation for "assaulting" another officer -- Carla Williams, a She-Police with whom the first police officer was romantically involved. The murder weapon of choice was a "non-lethal" Taser gun.
A few weeks before he was killed, Graff -- who was the subject of a felony arrest warrant for meth use -- had a run-in with "Officer" Williams. As she tried to arrest him, Graff shoved her aside and escaped on foot. This was the second time Carla Williams, who had no business being a police officer, had let a suspect escape. The implications for her career were pretty ominous, and this might have been why her bed-mate, Officer Anderson, decided to track down Graff and punish him.
Anderson found Graff in a Phoenix apartment on May 3, 2005. Graff once again fled, but this time Anderson caught him and used his Taser to "subdue" Graff, who was uncooperative but non-violent.
The face of a killer: Charles Anderson, the policeman who tracked down Keith Graff and electrocuted him as his bed-mate, Carla Williams (right, below) urged him on.
For "subdue" we should read "kill": Anderson fired the Taser into Graff's chest at point-blank range for 84 seconds, while Carla Williams (according to a witness) to "keep `it' on" him.
Four police officers were involved in the incident -- Anderson and Williams, and two other male officers who, one assumes, weren't sleeping together. One of them, Detective Carl Caruso, told a review panel that "after five or 10 seconds, the suspect stopped resisting." At that point, one of the officers should have cuffed Graff.
Yet Anderson kept pumping electricity into the prone, helpless, and dying 24-year-old man.
The Department's internal review of the incident...
Wait for it ... wait for it ...
"Cleared Anderson of any wrongdoing" in the matter, claiming that he had acted "in accordance with policy."
"Our use-of-force people concluded that the officers were within the policies we had in place," insists Phoenix PD spokesliar Lt. Dave Kelly, "and that's just the way it is."
Former LAPD SWAT Commander Ron McCarthy, who reviewed the same evidence, came to a markedly different conclusion:
"Anderson was punishing Graff with the Taser.... The fact that he held down the trigger for 84 seconds and at no time lifted the pressure of his finger to allow Graff to comply, when obviously he could have done so, is brutality."
It was also, whether prosecuted as such or not, second-degree murder, at the very least. And given the avidity with which Anderson tracked Graff down, premeditation has to be assumed. Furthermore, Williams would have to be seen as an accomplice, as would the other two officers who refused to intervene. A case can be made that the review board that didn't discipline Anderson in any way are accessories to the crime, as well.
Be sure to check out the Liberty Minute archive (today's installment is particularly relevant to the topic discussed above) -- and to visit The Right Source.