- July 5, 2018
- Judicial System
Bad Cops Caught on Video
Police officers walk the thin blue line between social order and anarchy. Social order is commonly known as “obeying the law.” A richer definition comes from the American Journal of Sociology which describes social order not as some inevitable, distant, cosmic force, but as “historically developed ideas, beliefs, and patterns of conduct and of feeling which each culture has evolved as the guides to human conduct and the management of group activities.”
Societies create laws to set boundaries on socially acceptable and unacceptable behaviors with stated consequences (usually some type of punishment) of civil or criminal disobedience.
Anarchy is a lot easier to understand. It is the absence of laws and government to enforce them – chaos and complete disorder.
In the United States, we have laws at the federal, state, and local levels intended to maintain as much social order as possible. Police and sheriff department law enforcement personnel take oaths to serve and protect the members of their community while being tasked with finding and arresting people who break laws in defiance of the social order.
Once arrested by a law enforcement officer, the suspect then passes on through the legal system, often through incarceration (being locked up in a prison, jail, or other holding facility), and ultimately to a courtroom hearing or trial – unless a deal is made beforehand.
The American legal system of innocent-until-proven-guilty is one of the greatest gifts our Founders gave us. For the most part, law enforcement officials across this great land take their civic responsibilities very seriously, behave appropriately, and serve long careers without complaint or incident.
Out of more than 900,000 sworn law enforcement officers now serving in the U.S. – the highest figure ever – about 12 percent are female, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) estimated that 442,824 Violent Crimes occurred nationwide in its preliminary Uniform Crime Report from January to June 2016-2017. The beautiful and stately National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C., the nation’s capital, is a testament to and recognition of the valiant men and women who fought back against the anarchic elements among us. Currently, it has 21,541 names engraved on its walls.
Unfortunately, not all cops are “good,” as we all know. The problem with granting the authority to pursue, detain, and arrest to law enforcement representatives arises when we hear about “bad” cops – those who use excessive force or actually break the law in the zeal to bag the perps (perpetrators).
Thankfully, the majority of cops in the United States are fair-minded, honest, and honorable. But take a look at the following three cases that clearly show abuses of the power granted in order to combat anarchy:
- In Baltimore, Maryland, dozens of court cases were dismissed in January 2018 after a police officer (one of three on the scene) mistakenly revealed video from his own body camera showing him planting evidence – drugs inside an empty metal can – before returning to the scene seconds later, after turning on his camera’s audio, to “do a check here.” You can hear laughter from one of the other team members as the recording officer goes right to the same can and removes the drugs he planted there less than a minute before. His comment: “Yo!”
Kevin Davis, Baltimore Police Commissioner announced that the criminal officer was placed on suspension pending an “all boots on the ground” investigation.
Prevailing thinking among law enforcement officers is that if they catch you once rolling through a stop sign, you have probably committed that crimes dozens of other times. The same rationale can be applied here: this corrupt – and apparently stupid – officer needs an immediate and dishonorable discharge from his sworn duties.
- On May 31, 2017, Detroit resident D’Marco Craft used his cell phone to record this video which documents a foul-mouthed Detroit police officer who is first seen pinning a (black) guy named Michaele Jackson on the ground outside a gas station convenience store. At time marker 1:32, we see the same cop clearly walk up behind the same man, now making a purchase at the counter inside the store, grab him around the neck, and body slam him onto the floor and into a food display. The arresting officer forcibly knees one side of his helpless victim who is now lying on his stomach in the store.
Adding insult to injury, “the police report is clearly a fabrication and is in direct conflict with the footage from Mr. Craft’s cell phone,” attorney Solomon Radner said in a news release.
Actions have consequences, as Officer Richard Billingslea learned after he was charged in a federal lawsuit on multiple counts: assault with intent to do great bodily harm, aggravated assault, obstruction of justice, and assault and battery.
A jury will decide the fate of Billingslea and his fellow officer Hakeem Patterson, both of the Detroit police 5th Precinct, and the city of Detroit – all of whom were named as defendants in the suit.
- In October 2017, a Cobb County, Georgia police car dash-cam video shared an alarming conversation between investigating officer Greg Abbott and a nervous white woman who had pulled over in a DUI (driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs) stop. After she admitted being nervous about moving her hands – she feared getting shot – Abbott tells her, “But you’re not black. Remember, we only shoot black people. Yeah, we only kill black people, right?”
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution revealed that Abbott announced his retirement from the police force before his superiors had the chance to fire him.
These three cases represent some of the “bad apples” that are “rotting the barrel” of our social order. Thanks to the rise of video tech, on civilian cell phones as well as official body and dash-cams, the bad cops are finding it harder to hide their own criminal actions. And that’s a good thing.