Oh the wailing and gnashing of teeth of police brutality — and I quote — “all of this over a noise complaint.” While I normally tell people to watch the video with the sound off for the first time, on this go ahead with the sound. I want you to get the full effect. Get the feelz and the violations of everyone’s ‘rights.’
I was asked about this use of force. Specifically I was asked “Was all this necessary from the police?” My answer — which isn’t simple — is below. However, after I wrote it I realized the honkyesque nature of the people getting arrested by the cops ruled out any claims of racism by the police or white privilege (because a few people ended up on the ground getting cuffed). I have an important news flash for people. A super majority of the people who are killed or roughed up by the cops DO HAVE a common trait. It’s not skin color. It’s not socio-economic status. It’s not religion. It’s…. drum roll….. How they were behaving.
That is the most reliable measure there is. With that in mind, the best advice I have ever heard directly from the mouth of a cop is “Do not fail the personality test.” Do not fail it overtly. Do not fail it subtly. Know what non-compliance is and don’t try to slick about it — especially thinking that it’s going to keep you from getting arrested. You’ll still get arrested but also have your ass slammed too. But most of all, do not disobey lawful orders from a cop in the execution of his duty and pretend that isn’t what you’re doing. **** I’m going to start with a distinction that Rory Miller first made. That is there are two ‘bad’ uses of force. One is excessive force. (Think Rodney King.) The other is unnecessary. One can make an argument that this was unnecessary. Now before anybody’s panties get wet over the idea, let’s get somethings straight.
First off there’s an important distinction to be made between police brutality and force used to effect arrest against a resisting suspect. In the old days a simple rule of thumb is police brutality was the beating you took AFTER the cops got the cuffs on. These days it’s been expanded to landing on someone who is not resisting (keep that in mind because there’s some important details we’ll come back to). I mention this because if you are not familiar with violence and of the opinion that cops are violent abusive tools of the oppressors, it ALL looks like brutality. But keeping an eye on when the cops stop using force in relationship to when the person (reliably) stops resisting is one important measure of if the force was excessive.
‘Unnecessary’ force is — technically speaking — legal and justified under use of force policies. It is however, a public relations nightmare.
It’s the stuff where you get cops tasering 11 year-olds or slamming grannies to the ground. There is a weird blend of equality for all until we want there to be an exception made. Like not tasering an out of control 11 y.o. or not slamming a granny for disobeying a direct and lawful order. We want equal, but you know, not that equal. Thing is whether the use of force is technically allowable or not, it still hits a raw nerve when it happens.
I said this was arguably ‘unnecessary.’ The problem is many people have a very subjective interpretation of necessary – especially those who believe they don’t deserve physical force in response to their words. (That’s a can of worms I’m not going to open.) However, getting beyond all the ‘shoulds’ and ‘feelz,’ things take on a different significance when you understand ‘resistance.’
There are different levels of resistance, but is also equally important is an established pattern of non-compliance. That means how long resistance goes on. Think of a graph with x and y axis. You can have low level, passive resistance that goes on for a long time. (Say a sit in.) This is a point far out the base (x) line. You can have intense resistance that can happens for a very short period of time. (Like a drunk who is quickly overcome by a group of cops.) This is high up, but close to the vertical (y) line. Or you can have intense resistance that goes on for a long time. (Like a single person and single cop). This is somewhere out in the upper right hand corner.
Now often you can cut short any level of resistance by applying a higher level of force (such as multiple officers piling on). This creates a spike near the vertical y line. This keeps it from both escalating uncontrollably and being extended in time (floating out into the upper right hand corner). The faster and higher level of force to effect arrest (or cell extraction) is actually safer for everyone involved and less likely to result in injury of anybody and everybody involved. The key word here is injury. I’m not talking pain. I’m even past owies and boo-boos. I’m talking about going to the hospital or morgue. Hence, ‘less likely to result in…’ is a really important standard.
To put this in perspective I’d like to quote Gen George Patton. “In battle, casualties vary directly with the time you are exposed to effective fire. Your own fire reduces the effectiveness and volume of the enemy’s fire, while rapidity of attack shortens the time of exposure. ” (This is a variation of another about ‘death in battle is matter of time, the longer under fire,the more die — and getting men out from under it’ ASAP is critical.) Thing is the longer something goes on and the more it escalates, the more likely injury is for both the suspect and the officers. Again, put it on a graph, but this time paint the top and upper-right hand corner red and shade it to pink before you get to the center. That gives you a nice idea of red zone and how things can go bad if it isn’t ended quick.
Now we can go to passive and active resistance. Think of a sit in where the protesters chain themselves together, and refuse to move. Now even though they are not actively resisting a lawful order (fighting or refusing to be cuffed) they are passively resisting (refusing to move). Laying on the ground with your hands under you refusing to be cuffed is also passive resistance. Active resistance is you are struggling against being cuffed. Or you are outright fighting the cop. The last is when people think police are only justified to use force. It’s not. Use of force is allowed against all resistance. The question is how much. It’s much harder to understand use of force on passive resisters because hey, they aren’t resisting. Or at least what the public think of as resistance. That’s why it’s easier to think of it in terms of non-compliance.
One of the most subtle forms of non-compliance is stalling by repeatedly asking why questions and demanding explanation after you’ve been told. It’s passive resistance. It’s also well known dodge that is given extra credibility if the person is pretending to be polite.
Now, here’s where what people don’t get. Once an officer says ‘You are under arrest’ an official ball has been rolled. A comparison can be made here to you signing your name to a contract. But it’s a verbal contract. Think of saying “I do” when the minister asks “do you take…” except the one saying the official words is the cop.
The situation has moved into 3 N’s “Not here. Not now. Not you” There’s nothing more for you to do. Your case is now in the hands of your lawyer. Any further action on your part is only going to make it worse — and this includes not cooperating.
Here is a flat out statement of fact. You do NOT have the right to disobey a lawful order by a police officer in the execution of his duties. You ESPECIALLY don’t have the right to resist arrest.
The reason I came up with the 3N’s is in response to all the civil disobedience, ‘peaceful protestors’ and street corner lawyers who don’t realize, civil disobedience doesn’t mean what they think it means. Starting with it being a planned action to challenge unjust laws from within the system. (Rosa Parks WASN’T named in Browder vs. Gale, but she was a deliberate icon for the bus strike.) You being an asshole is not civil disobedience. You refusing to obey lawful orders is not civil disobedience, it’s you refusing to obey lawful order and stepping on your dick at the same time.
(But what about if it’s not a lawful order? </ whine> Not here. Not now. Not YOU! )
Now that that’s established, let’s look at something cops do and it stands up in court. That is they establish a pattern of non-compliance. This is ESPECIALLY effective against nitwits like the guy in the doorway of the video. The pattern is “Ask, Tell, Order”
Know it. Learn it. Live it. Because challenging it has consequences. This also has the added benefit of you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. “Sir, could you please step out of the car?”
Nice, polite, and professional right? It’s also a legal order.
“Why?” Now, if you ask this question while you are getting out of the car, there’s no problem because you are complying. If you ask this question while sitting still, you have potentially engaged in non-compliance. But one data point does not make a pattern. You may think you’re entitled to an explanation but you can get it AS you’re getting out of the car. Not getting out brings something else into play.
“Sir, step out of the car” We’ve moved from asking to telling. THIS is an escalation of force, but it is direct response to your non-compliance. The clear message removes any doubt of miscommunication or — given your response — that you are now engaging in non-compliance.
“I said why!” You’ve already stepped on your dick. Now you’ve just started pogosticking on it because you too have raised the level of your resistance. There is no chance that you don’t know you’re not complying.
Here’s the thing, odds are you’re operating out of another part of your brain if you’re doing this. The Monkey is driving the bus and, for the record, the Monkey SUCKS as a lawyer. It thinks it’s doing a fine job skillfully putting this upstart civil servant in his place, when in fact, it’s having you commit a crime and giving the cop reason to use physical force on your self-righteous ass.
“I’m ordering you to step out of the car NOW!” The officer has now legally established a pattern of non-compliance and this is the like the official contract I spoke of. It didn’t come out of nowhere. You escalated it to this point and now it’s gone into formal register speech. Oh yeah, and odds are, you’re being filmed. IF you continue to engage in non-compliance active or passive the cop is legally justified to go hands on with you — because of YOUR actions.
The commentary on the clip says this happened AFTER the cop told told the kid, you’re under arrest. That’s it. Done. Over. You’re going to jail kid. It’s the 3Ns for junior. “Please let go” and “you are illegally entering” is wrong. The officer, because of the kids resistance and non-complaince is now legally authorized to use higher force. (Oh and the fact that a bunch of other cops magically appear tells us that this situation had been going on for a bit.)
Who knew a simple question had such a complicated answer?
WELCOME TO THE PARTY PAL! </ John Mclean voice>
“All of this over a noise complaint.” No. The noise complaint was the original reason this group of individuals volunteered to have cops enter their lives. All the stuff that lead up to the officer saying “You’re under arrest’ and THEN the further resistance/non-compliance is why it happened. No matter how polite, civilized and verbal it was, resistance is what resulted in the take downs. The fact that it turned from passive resistance to active included the kid putting his hand against the door frame and pulling back. Get a stop watch and time how long the cop was holding his shirt and STILL talking.
Interfering with an officer in the performance of his duties also happened, the other people trying to pull him out of the cop’s grip and trying to shut the door on the cop.
Was the original arrest something that Junior could have beat in court? Yes. Most likely. Are the charges that are going to be stacked on him something he can beat? Not only no, but HELL no. This video isn’t proof of police brutality, it’s proof that nitwit resisted arrest and his friends will be found guilty of interfering with police.
All of it legal and technically within use of force policies.
So why did I say it could be argued that it was a bad use of force — specifically unnecessary? Remember that a bad use of force is a PR nightmare. You have a bunch of people screaming that the kid wasn’t doing anything and the cops just went postal on him and his friends.
Could it have been handled differently? Yes probably. But at the same time recognize how much manpower ended up there. There are at least eight cops that had to stop being somewhere else and be there. That’s a lot of manpower, money and not providing service somewhere else. So are we supposed to say that they shouldn’t have gone hands on? That they should spend the next hour trying to talk this guy out the door.
And by what metric do we say enough is enough? How far do we allow someone to decide their right to resist vs. saying ‘no that’s enough?” This especially when it comes to active and passive non-compliance?
Flip that coin over, where do we limit and control police use of force? What are those metrics? Where is the accountability? Should we allow police to be used as revenue generators? To enforce revenue generation? ALL of these are important issues that we really do need to address. At the same time… not here, not now, not you … the place to argue them isn’t with the cop.
See whether this use of force was necessary or unnecessary is not that simple.
Now we come to the issue that there IS a way to talk to the cops and not get arrested. There’s a whole complicated dance you can go through that can — and will — keep you from getting arrested over minor stuff.
Having said that, it’s way beyond anything you can learn on the internet or can be contained in a soundbite, so don’t even think you can do it because of something you read or watched a youtube clip about (which apparently these yo-yos had.) Here’s a hint, it wasn’t what dipfuck was doing.
It’s mostly answering questions a certain way and knowing what NOT to say. You can do this while complying. Hell, I’ve talked myself out of being arrested while standing on the street corner in handcuffs. If talking is going to work, it’s going to work in conjunction with compliance. If you don’t, then your non-compliance trumps anything you can say.
Oh BTW, here’s a free tip, this strategy of talking doesn’t involve you telling the cops what your rights are and what he can or can’t do. It’s knowing to say no to certain requests and being careful about how you answer certain questions. For example “Can I come in?” “No, we’ll talk out here.” (Stepping out on the porch and closing the door behind you.) It’s knowing how cops build cases and how to deny them their common strategies.
While this starts with knowing how to answer certain questions, it also includes setting it up so if they break the rules, you attorney can get the case thrown out (Not here. Not Now. Not you) It’s also knowing that cops, until they speak those magic words can lie their asses off to you. Don’t get your knickers in a knot if that happens because if you do you’re going to step on your dick. For example, “Really, there was a call about a fight going on inside? Well someone must have misheard. There was no disturbance here … I understand you want to see if everyone is okay. How about I call everyone out one at a time and you can speak to them out here?”
This is all predicated on something that a lot of people don’t seem to understand. YOU DO NOT HAVE THE RIGHT TO BREAK THE LAW! While we’re at it: A law is not irrelevant just because you think it’s stupid. It is still the law. Let’s also add: Your fun does not trump the law — especially if you’re causing disturbances, nuisances or safety issues.
If you break the law it is incumbent on you to get away with it. That means do NOT just assume that because you think the law is stupid, you don’t have to follow it. If you’re going to break laws be smart about it, because you’re going up against professionals who are way better at nailing you and covering themselves by putting up with your shit long enough to articulate (or show film) of your continuing pattern of non-compliance. Always remember, the cop has the pen. If you are stupid about it — like these folks were — you can escalate a noise complaint to charges of assaulting officers, resisting arrest and interfering with an officer with your street corner lawyer bullshit. That is a LOT of money — like 10 to $20,000 that you’re going to spend either beating it (good luck) or paying fines. Oh yeah, and there’s also the whole idea of just turning down the stereo (and telling your friends to cool it) when the cop tells you to.