Social Question

Cruiser's avatar

Excessive force or not enough?

Asked by Cruiser (40401points) June 17th, 2010

Major topic of discussion this am on the radio about this Seattle cop who punches this girl in the face who was intervening in the arrest of her friend. Was this excessive force or did she get off easy?? Video here

long unedited version here

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71 Answers

chyna's avatar

This was for jay walking!
My first thought at seeing the video is yes, it was excessive force. But I wasn’t there and don’t really know what was going through the cops mind. Maybe he felt threatened, wanted to make sure he protected himself from the girl that could possibly have a knife or a gun.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@chyna Jaywalking is a serious offense :)

ragingloli's avatar

Why was he alone? Should pigs not always come in pairs? At least they do here.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I watched the long video. The friend should be arrested too. If the first one was standing still and not resisting this would not have happened. The officer is surrounded and has no idea what he is getting into. All that girl had to do was stand still, stop screaming, and act civil. This could have been averted. She resisted and he was obliged to escalate. The friend butt in and he had to escalate further.
For those of you who are against the cop. What should he have done when the friend started pushing him? Say ” Oh OK you two are obviously right. Have a good day.”? I am glad they have this on video from all sides. She can’t say he hit her first.

Tough job.

marinelife's avatar

The friend should be arrested. Their behavior was out of control. They were both essentially attacking the cop.

That said, it does not seem like punching a young girl in the face was the best action the cop should have taken.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Does anyone else wonder about his judgement? A corner with gang activity, three shootings in the past month (I think that was the report), and he jumps out of the car by himself to bust people for jay walking. I think he was lucky to walk away from that one. The law is extremely clear on resisting arrest. Cop says you’re under arrest stop and do nothing else. They were more than resisting.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I noticed only one bystander who actually helped the situation by taking #2 away. The rest were, at best, just watching. With all those cell phones out I wonder if anyone in the group called 911 and said officer needs help.

I watched the long video again. Clearly from this video I cannot tell why he stopped her. It is said the offense is jaywalking but I do not know that. I do know that she was resisting and thankfully it is all recorded. She is the one cursing and screaming. He is quietly saying do not resist. He did very well under pressure.

Cruiser's avatar

What I noticed was how the boyfriend stayed out of it! He knew better! Just the look on his face he knew what was coming next.

“girl…I told you to back off….chill out…don’t do it…”

LuckyGuy's avatar

@Cruiser I saw that too. He is the one bystander I referred to as doing something positive.

It will be interesting to see the comments as this is edited down to just the snippets. “The pig tried to rip her dress off.” “He punched an innocent bystander….”
Save this clip for the inevitable court case.

CMaz's avatar

Give an inch, take a foot.

The cop was being assaulted. So lets not see it as a big deal. A little out of control teenage behavior. Eventually, everyone will think it is ok to push an officer around, get in their face.
It is not.

They got on him and he needed to be clear of the situation as quickly as possible. In order to do his job.
With these girls on top of him, compromising him from doing his duties. That officer could have been disarmed.

His space was violated. Shit happens. Sorry it did. But that girl should have stepped back. Having the understand and respect that the police officer deserves.

Blackberry's avatar

The two women needed to be restrained, but straight up punching a woman in the face seems like an extreme action. I am sure he is stronger than both of them, a choke hold would have sufficed, as long as he tells her he is going to restrain her first. But those women should have had some class; and jaywalking is an example of useless laws that do nothing except make people give money away, how trivial.

That was a nice punch though too lol….

tinyfaery's avatar

Is punching a girl in the face standard procedure? I highly doubt it. Police are trained to handle these situations and I’m not sure how punching a woman in the face is standard procedure. I was trained to fend off attackers, surely this well-trained officer had other recourse.

And BTW, excessive force, by definition, is excessive—as in beyond what is needed in a situation.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@tinyfaery Would punching a guy in the face in the same situation be different?

tinyfaery's avatar

No. This is not about her being female, it’s about a supposedly trained officer who couldn’t handle the situation. They do always come in twos, like @ragingloli said. I don’t think procedure was high up on the list of things to do that day.

LuckyGuy's avatar

If they were men the officer would have Tazed them. Don’t you watch Cops? ;-)

Cruiser's avatar

I am not a cop, but I was a little disappointed in his ability to subdue the girl and handcuff her. I bet he is getting razzed big time for it by his buds. But again he knew he was being video taped by everyone there so it had to be a tough situation to be in.

casheroo's avatar

I saw it and don’t understand why they all weren’t arrested…I mean,m there was resisting arrest, assaulting a police office, and she was interrupting an arrest in process (not sure the name for that)
All those people video taping it make me sick.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I watched the short version of the video and said did you need to do that. I watched the long version and thought he’s lucky to get out alive. One punch to the face is nothing in that situation.

dpworkin's avatar

Is there anyone who believes that if a Black policeman were videotaped punching a 17-year-old White woman in the face in that fashion for any reason that there would not be a significant uproar?

Blackberry's avatar

@dpworkin There would be an uproar, just like there is probably an uproar in the black community right now. But people love to make things about race, and it shouldn’t have anything to do with it in this situation in my opinion, it just makes things more malicious.

dpworkin's avatar

I beg to disagree. I believe there is a racial component to this episode.

tinyfaery's avatar

@dpworkin Thank you, brother. I tend to agree. This would be a different situation if the races were reversed. But still, aren’t these people trained?

Blackberry's avatar

@dpworkin Well I think so too, but I guess I try to deny that situations like these involve racial tension lol.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@dpworkin Sad to say, but I think I agree with you.

john65pennington's avatar

First of all, i was not there and you were not there. all we are seeing is about a 10 second video, which apparently has been taken out of context. the officer was correct to enforce the law, thats his job. second, strictly from what i see, the friend assaulted the police officer and interfered with the arrest of her friend. this is an automatic arrest of the friend and the officer effected the arrest. he is one person, they are two people. based strictly on the 10 second video, it appears the officer was correct to defend himself and to effect the arrest of both girls. remember, none of this would have occured if the the girl had not violated the law in the first place. i have been in similar situtions. when an officer tells you that you are under arrest, this does not give a person the right to resist or be assaulted. based on the video, the officer was correct in defending himself, while effecting an arrest.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@john65pennington The long version of the video makes the situation much clearer.

tinyfaery's avatar

So you are trained to punch people in the face? Is that the first, second, fifth or one hundredth in your line of defense? Just curious. I was Pro-Act and TCI trained and never once do they mention punching someone in the face.

dpworkin's avatar

@john65pennington Is there no discretion as to charge when one applies violence, especially to a young person, in order to affect an arrest. If the two had been caught robbing a bank perhaps that right jab to the unprotected face may have been justified, but these were kids jaywalking, for Christ’s sake.

chyna's avatar

I just watched the long version. It does make it clearer, but I’m not sure why the girl kept on resisting. Drama queen.

john65pennington's avatar

When an officer is assaulted, he can take whatever action is necessary to defend himself and the public. this does not include deadly assault, unless he fears for his own life and the events are imperative.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@tinyfaery No, I don’t agree the punch was appropriate. My mother always said don’t punch people in the face. That was a bad situation compounded with poor judgement all around.

Cruiser's avatar

@chyna My take is this girl knew she was on camera and tried to play up the situation as much as she could. 2 weeks ago there was another cop vs black kid situation where they beat the snot out of him and tensions there in Seattle are tight to say the least.

john65pennington's avatar

Chazmaz, great answer.

chyna's avatar

@Cruiser That makes sense. The cop probably shouldn’t have been alone though, given that kind of tension.

tinyfaery's avatar

Scared for his life…hahahaha. This is why I have no trust or faith in the police. They are immune to rules the rest of us have to follow, lest we get punched in the face. Ugh. I’m outie before I start saying things I mean.

I and another small female were able to subdue a manic female with a razor blade, while 3 girls attempted to stop us. No punching involved. Arggh! This makes me so angry.

john65pennington's avatar

Remember, the officer was assaulted by a third party in this incident. she outright interfered with the officer and physically assaulted him. the officer was correct in the action he took, based on the video.

Jude's avatar

I think that arresting someone for jaywalking is ridiculous.

dpworkin's avatar

@ChazMaz The police have not earned the respect of every member of every community. Who respects the New Orleans Police Department which is now under Federal mandate to reorganize?

Who respects the officers of the Rampart District in Los Angeles over the last 70 years or so before they were forcibly cleaned up by an outside agency?

john65pennington's avatar

I just watched the long version of the video and there is a lot more information, compared to the 10 second out of context version. when the girl became out of control, the officer should have used pepper spray, after physical contact did not work. her girlfried attempted to interfere on several occasions with the arrest. if you will notice the male in the background, he also attempted to pull the girl in the pink away from the situation. she kept interferring with the officers arrest and the officer took the necessary steps to defend himself and effect the arrest. one other point, weapons. people carry all kinds of weapons on their person and in their pocketbooks. the officer knew this and quickly took control of this situation, just as he has been trained to do.

Cruiser's avatar

Self defense 101 dictates that when you are engaged in a situation with an opponent and you are attacked by a second person that you apply sufficient force to stun and or neutralize that second attacker before the first attacker re-engages you. A nice pop in the nose will do just that. If he was out for blood he could have brought out his baton and started cracking heads. Both these girls should have exercised better self control as this was a law enforcement officer and IMO the disrespect they showed this officer was appalling.

Fly's avatar

Obviously, the officer needed to retaliate in that situation. But there’s no way a punch in the face was necessary. After seeing the long version, the conflict went from just pushing and pulling to a punch right in her face. There are definitely less aggressive ways to have applied force to restrain that girl, especially for a highly trained officer. While I understand that he needed to defend himself and those girls were way out of line, there is pretty much no excuse for punching someone in the face as your first move at that relatively low level of violence.
Especially over freaking jaywalking.

Seaofclouds's avatar

I think the officer was justified. Perhaps he could have used pepper spray or a taser to gain control of the situation, but then people would have been complaining about that. In regards to the fact the the girl was a teenager, he had no way of knowing that since they were not cooperating and she looks as though she could be older (I was thinking early 20s by the video). From my understanding, he wanted to ask them questions first (probably for their ID) and that is when they began being uncooperative and resisting the officer. It’s a bad situation that spiraled downward and it’s a shame. From my understanding, jaywalking is regularly enforced in Seattle, and it wasn’t just some random thing. People may not agree with the jaywalking laws, but if these girls would have cooperated with the officer, I doubt it would have escalated that far (perhaps if they were respectful they could have gotten a warning if it was their first offense). I don’t think it’s was a racial thing either. I think people watching the video are trying to turn it into one though from what I’ve heard in other places. If it was my child in place of that girl, I would still be backing the officer. Plain and simple, that is not how you are supposed to react to an officer. You don’t resist arrest and assault an officer.

I just watched that extended video, the situation could have gotten a lot worse. The officer is lucky that the other people decided just to watch and record it instead of getting involved and if the one guy hadn’t pulled the girl in the pink off, the officer would have continued struggling with the two girls. Either the guy said something to her to get her to calm down or that punch made her realize she needed to stop because towards the end it shows her just standing there calmly. I honestly thing with the environment he was in (surrounded by people yelling and confronting him with 2 people resisting and assaulting him), he did the right thing.

CMaz's avatar

@dpworkin – “The police have not earned the respect of every member of every community. ”

Does not change the rules/laws. That is a personal problem. Having nothing to do with any right to interfere with the officers job.

Take it up with the county or state. Not the officer.

When I drive to work, I have to drive a mile down a road the has a 15 mile an hour speed limit.
It drives me crazy, I can easily go 50. But to do so, as much as I want to, would violate the rules of the road. Speeding will get me a ticket.

Telling the cop it is stupid, will still get me a ticket. Jumping on top of him will get me arrested.

Seaofclouds's avatar

@Fly and everyone else: How would you have felt if he used pepper spray or a taser to gain control instead of punching her?

CMaz's avatar

Maybe he should have called time out. Then they could have gone to lunch and decide what to do.

filmfann's avatar

I don’t know if it is true that she was jay walking, but it doesn’t really matter.
The cop is surrounded by unfriendlies. Someone tries to stop the arrest, she is interfering in a police matter. He was right to punch her, and arrest her.
It must be hard to be a cop, trying to arrest someone, with 20 cell phone cameras all going at once.

john65pennington's avatar

Clearly, the lady in the pink interfered with officer and pushed him with her hands. she made the first action toward the officer. not, in reverse. this is assault.

Blackberry's avatar

@ChazMaz Lol. @Seaofclouds A taser or pepper spray would seem more orderly. He would state ‘you need to calm down and stop resisting or I will have to use another level of force…..if you do not calm down I will be forced to use my taser…’ etc.

After watching the video repeated times again, it seems like the officer wasn’t being very verbal, or at least you couldn’t hear him, he should have raised his voice to increase his presence on the scene. When the woman pushed him, he just reacted instead like he was in a bar fight.

filmfann's avatar

Not all cops have tazers, and I didn’t see one on his belt.

john65pennington's avatar

Blackberry, you sometimes do not have time to sit down and explain procedure. in this case, the officer was dealing with two very disorderly females. if you listen to the audio on the video, you will hear the lady in black shouting in the officers face and clearly resisting arrest. the charge may have only been for jaywalking, but the fact is this: the officer had the right to be where he was, to enforce the law, and apprehend the offender(s). this is all the law requires for an officer to perform his job and he did.

Silhouette's avatar

Excessive, when she hit him he stepped back and he had time to get control of the situation from where he was but he lost his shit. He was angry and he struck back because he wanted to, you could see it in his face. Both girls should have been arrested for their actions and officer angry needs to spend sometime in anger management classes.

Blackberry's avatar

@john65pennington You are right, and I think both people (the cop and the women) were both wrong either way to some extent.

Buttonstc's avatar

I have spent some time working on the street, not as a police officer, but as an entertainer (get your minds out of the gutter, I was twisting balloons).

The one thing you don’t want is to be surrounded on all sides. It leaves you very vulnerable, mostly to being robbed.

But being surrounded is not a good situation ever, especially with a gun on your hip.

If I were a cop, I think the nightmare scenario in that type of chaos would have me overreacting before someone grabbed my gun.

Others mentioned the possibility of others being armed as well. You just can’t be getting up in a cop’s face like that.

Granted, they were being stupid teenagers, but their resistance was way too threatening. You can’t expect not to get a reaction. When you choose the behavior, you choose the consequences. These girls chose poorly. They could have just knocked off the drama, but they didn’t.

The punch to the face looks bad, but I don’t think tasering or macing her would have been any better received.

This is one of those damned if you do/damned if you don’t cases. But the fact remains, that at the end of the day, everyone involved came out of it alive. Had someone grabbed his gun while he had both hands occupied subduing her, it could have turned deadly in a split second.

From what I’ve read and heard, evidently Seattle takes jaywalking violations seriously. Those of us living in other areas view this as ridiculous. But they were local to that area, so it would be difficult to be unaware of this.

They felt they were above the law and found out the hard way that they’re not.

ItsAHabit's avatar

It did not look like excessive force to me. It’s always easy being a Monday morning quarterback, but the cop was being attacked by two very angry foul-mouthed people. He used force against fore to protect himself.

john65pennington's avatar

I watched the long video for a third time. the officer used remarkable restraint and repeatedly told the woman to stop resisting. she called him a MF. words do not hurt, but, when the other woman interferred and put her hands on the officer and pushed him, that changed the whole situation. a simply citation has now become a possible riot situation and the officer took charge of the situation. notice, that the officer never assaulted to the lady in the black shirt. he was simply attempting to overcome her force, without hurting her. the woman in the pink shirt borderlines ensighting a riot, due to the other people surrounding the officer and the comments made by the video camerman.

tinyfaery's avatar

Bullshit. Black people are scary.~

ItsAHabit's avatar

I know you mean no harm, but attempts at humor that target people based on gender, race, region of origin, etc.are not funny but inadvertently contribute to negative stereotypes. We’re all guilty so we all need to watch each other. :-)

Buttonstc's avatar

@TF

You’re going to have to trust me on this when I say that a bunch of unruly angry people are scary regardless of what color they are.

I’ve worked the Mummer’s parade in Philly (drunken white people the majority by far) and that’s just as scary.

I’ve worked the streets at both black, white and mixed festivals and ALWAYS made sure my back was to a wall.

Out of control is out of control and scary, regardless of color.

One of my best experiences was working the Afric-America Festival (now defunct) on the first weekend in May.

It was run by a group in cooperation with the Muslim Brotherhood and was one of the most well run, safest and most secure festivals every year. There was a ubiquitous and visible presence of numerous young men in black suits and ties keeping an eye on everything and missing nothing.

Those girls wouldn’t dream of giving THEM any crap as they knew it wouldn’t be tolerated and the same was true for any petty criminals loitering about.

So each year I looked forward to the safest of any of the other street fairs I worked, the one attended by the most black folks.

Scary is not related to color in my estimation. Any group that’s out of control with no respect for boundaries is scary. Period.

tinyfaery's avatar

@Buttonstc I used to work at a level 14 residential treatment facility for girls who cut on themselves and attempt suicide, among dozens of other diagnoses. If you read one of my above posts, I have been in situations where anywhere from 1–6 girls (sometimes up to 20, but other people were around) were around me. I was punched, kicked, bitten, had a clump of hair pulled out and someone once tried to push me down the stairs. I have dealt with manic girls with weapons. I was trained for these situations, but in no way close to what a cop is supposedly trained to do. I remained calm. I never punched a girl in the face. WTF was wrong with this guy? Power trip, that’s what.

I bet this guy wouldn’t have reacted so violently were these people white. Have you seen the show “What Would You Do?”? The racism in this country is ingrained in our subconscious and most never think twice about it.

Blackberry's avatar

I was surprised when a few people have told me that I looked intimidating/scary when I do not smile and just have a straight face. But everyone that knows me already doesn’t see me that way because they know I am a goofy, smiling bastard. It is similar to seeing a large biker guy with tattoos. Some people seem to have some ingrained fear of certain groups from their own bad experiences with a few people from that group and history and media. In my opinion.

aprilsimnel's avatar

All parties were acting like idiots, but I’m shocked the cop didn’t realize that teenagers are not going to think clearly W/R/T the 5–0. I mean, when I was a kid, my first instinct when a cop came near me was to run away – I don’t care what colour he was – and I hadn’t even broken the law. Is this not in their training that kids might overreact if they believe they’re in trouble? Do people magically forget once they’re over 25 that kids regularly turn minor shit into major drama, so it’s up to the adult to keep a clear head?

Buttonstc's avatar

@TF

I have watched the program you mentioned and I do agree with you that there is still a lot of both subliminal and institutionalized
racism in this country (after all, I did spend the majority of my teaching years in inner city schools which were about 98% black students) But I don’t think that it’s automatically a factor in EVERY interracial incident.

I think if a couple of white girls were acting that belligerent and crazy, getting up in his face like that and totally out of control, he could very well have done the exact same thing.

He was in a no-win situation all around. With all due respect to what you have endured, I think there is an essential difference in degree of weapons danger. A knife or razor can cut you up pretty bad but if someone makes a grab for the gun on your belt, people can end up dead.

It’s impossible to be in someone elses head, but I know that preventing someone from grabbing my gun while both my hands are busy subduing someone would be uppermost in my mind if I were a cop.

I’ve been surrounded before but the difference was I didn’t have a weapon to keep out of other’s reach. I suppose I could be wrong on this since I’m not a cop, but when dealing with a situation like that, that would be uppermost in my mind.

He had to get control of the situation soon. He tried reasoning with them to no avail. It’s clear that they escalated it into the physical.

I think he would have been widely criticized no matter what course of action he took. Not because they were black but because they were female.

I’m sure you can understand the fact that girls can be just as potentially dangerous as guys when out of control.

And as was previously mentioned, there was no way he could have known they were teens. If you look at the video honestly, most other people would assume them to be older.

In order to pronounce his actions as racist one would have to be able to crawl inside someone elses head. These girls were out of control and he isn’t a social worker, he’s a cop

They chose to escalate this into the physical. So they found out that’s a stupid thing to do with a cop (or anyone else for that matter)

jca's avatar

I think people have to learn that when you are out in public, there’s a certain way to behave. When you are confronted by a cop, whether or not you believe you are innocent, there’s a certain way to behave. You don’t jump on the cop, call him names, and struggle with him. You talk to him face to face like two humans. If you jump on him, struggle, and act like an animal you will be treated like one. The cop has a gun, and therefore, this escalates the situation in that he is very aware that being surrounded by people, and dealing with these two girls who are acting like animals is a dangerous situation where the gun can easily get taken away and he or someone else can get killed.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

Unfortunately, I think this was about race, too. Arresting people for jaywalking? Are you serious? That said, the girls were morons for putting their hands all over the cop, but the cop had no reason whatsoever to punch her in the face. He easily could have subdued her some other way.

Blackberry's avatar

As I’m reading these answers, I am seeing people stating that in these situations the gun could be taken away from the officer. Now…....I don’t know much about being a criminal, but if I was one, I definitely would not try to grab a cops gun in broad daylight, with a plethora of witnesses around, and shoot the cop already knowing it could be filmed. In this particular event, those two women were most likely not going to kill the cop over jaywalking. But maybe that’s just my thinking.

jca's avatar

I read that the area this happened in was a high traffic area, and there were several (many?) pedestrians hit by cars, so that’s why the police enforce the jaywalking law in that particular spot. i could just imagine these girls moseying across the street, taking their sweet-ass time. let’s not forget, if the girls did not break the law, there would have been no problem. if they did not resist the officer, there would have been no problem. would people be happier if the officer tasered the girl or hit her with his nightstick? i think he used restraint in just using his hands.

dpworkin's avatar

I think we should just set up a sniper post at the intersection, and execute a few jay-walkers. That oughta put a stop to it.

jca's avatar

how bout we just let them jaywalk and get hit by cars, and it would be between the drivers and the jaywalkers, and the cops can just look the other way?

ItsAHabit's avatar

I understand that the police in Seattle enforce the law against jaywalking, presumably because of numerous injuries and fatalities.

dpworkin's avatar

Because the jaywalkers are Breaking a Law! The poor automobile owners don’t deserve a messy car.

jca's avatar

maybe a better way to get rid of the jaywalkers would be to just let them get hit by cars.

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