Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

“The New Deal began, like the Salvation Army, by promising to save humanity. It ended, again like the Salvation Army, by running flop-houses and disturbing the peace.”     H. L. Mencken

May 8, 2008

More News From The Police Watch Front

by Doug Mataconis

This time, it’s the Philadelphia Police Department that’s under scrutiny:

PHILADELPHIA — A half-dozen police officers kicked and beat three suspects pulled from a car during a traffic stop as a TV helicopter taped the confrontation, and the city’s police commissioner said “it certainly does not look good.”

The video, shot by WTXF-TV, shows three police cars stopping a car on a city street on Monday, two days after a city officer responding to a bank robbery was fatally shot.

The tape shows about a dozen officers gathering around the vehicle and pulling three men out. About a half-dozen officers hold two of the men on the ground. Both are kicked repeatedly, while one is seen being punched; one also appears to be struck with a baton.

The third man is also kicked and ends up on the ground.

“On the surface it certainly does not look good in terms of the amount of force that was used,” Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said. “But we don’t want to rush to judgment.”

Yea, cause you know there are so many ways that something like this can be interpreted:

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10 Comments

  1. Doug, just to be more informed, apparently the police had observed those men shooting into a crowd a few minutes earlier and had them under constant surveillance from the shooting incident until the arrest.

    That would justify storming the car and violently yanking them out of it and subduing them as one way to take them into custody. However, once the police were in physical control of the suspects, kicking and stomping them was not really needed to effect the arrest, and the whole affair became a nasty case of aggravated assault.

    There were of course, less violent ways to apprehend them. For example they could have drawn their weapons on the people in the car and then ordered them out one at a time, which is pretty standard doctrine for stopping and arresting people believed to be armed and dangerous.

    Comment by tarran — May 8, 2008 @ 12:09 pm
  2. this definitely isn’t a bright spot for police procedure and all the implications it entails. personally though i can’t help but sympathize with police if the information about the men shooting into a crowd is true, and the death of a fellow cop two days ealier. that doesn’t absolve anything about this miscarraige, but i probably would have beat the shit out of these people too, or worse.
    cases like this will probably become more and more commonplace as the country gets poorer and its declining metro areas fall into more violent crime. mutual trust and respect between between police and the rest of the citizenry will be quite impossible.

    Comment by oilnwater — May 8, 2008 @ 12:40 pm
  3. I watched the news coverage of this (MSNBC) and apparently the men had not been accused of the shooting, and although the police said that the men had been “purused”, the police simply followed them and then when the men realized the police were behind them voulantarily pulled over. (this according to their attorney). Also apparently it was NEF agents, not your standard police who arrested and beat the men. According to the report I saw one man was beaten so badly that he was taken to the hospital then to jail and then back twice while in custody… Hopefully the Papers will continue covering this.

    Comment by NA — May 8, 2008 @ 3:57 pm
  4. In the 1830s and 40s, Philadelphia endured a series of race riots that would eventually lead to the modern boundaries of the city. Today, a black guy kills a white cop in the line of duty, and a group of white cops beat a couple of black suspects into the hospital.

    Plus ça change, plus c’est le même chose…

    Comment by Joshua Holmes — May 8, 2008 @ 9:30 pm
  5. are you blaming white people, cops, or white cops here?

    Comment by oilnwater — May 8, 2008 @ 10:06 pm
  6. I am outraged, horrified, and a bit scared. This is happening too often by too many cops on a power trip over poor folk of any race! When will the people of this country realize that we are no longer living in a free nation? And now that we’ve been backed into a corner, how will we become free again?

    I hope and pray for justice in this recent event, but I am not expecting it. Too often do police officers get away with murder (or attempted murder in this case) simply because everyone is willing to believe that they are just doing their jobs.

    Comment by WSG — May 9, 2008 @ 12:41 am
  7. I think the affair makes more sense if you think of the police as just another street gang, but one that refuses to acknowledge the territorial claims of the other gangs.

    The big difference between the police and the other gangs; the police try to halt quite a bit of legitimate commerce such as prostitution, gambling, gun-running, hair-dressing without a license, and drug dealing while the other street gangs merely demand a cut of the action. However the police tend to be more restrained in their use of violence than the other street gangs. This explains why they are often less tolerated than the gangs; when the police begin acting as violently as their competitors, they lose the one area where they are better than their competitors.

    Comment by tarran — May 9, 2008 @ 3:56 am
  8. what about legitimate bank robberies? i think some people lean too heavily on denigrating cops at times. and no that doesnt make beating the shit out of people okay, but then again the whole shooting incident isnt proven either way as of yet.

    Comment by oilnwater — May 9, 2008 @ 7:48 am
  9. I did some research on this kind of thing about a year after the Rodney King incident. I concluded that brutality like this occurs on average about every 10 days in the US. You don’t hear about most of the cases because they’re not on video, or happened in a small town, or just weren’t interesting enough to go national. Scary.

    Comment by tfr — May 9, 2008 @ 9:01 am
  10. Doug,

    It’s all in how you look at the tape.

    For example, if you were to show the tape in reverse, you’d see the officers helping the suspects up from the ground and sending them on their way :)

    Comment by UCrawford — May 9, 2008 @ 11:42 am

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