Cops: No Accountability

If you don’t resist, cops can provoke you to resist.

This innocent man was assaulted by cops who claim to have mistaken him for another person with an open arrest warrant. Although he is clearly trying to comply with their chaotic commands, one of the cops shoots him in the back with a taser. The man flinches but the taser malfunctions. The cop then jump-kicks the man in the back. The man turns in disbelief and then is tackled by three deputies, who subsequently charge the innocent man with “resisting arrest.” (See details and more of the video, recorded by the man’s sister before another deputy assaults her.)

Months later the Sheriff released the following statement regarding the incident:

The Sheriff’s Office conducted an administrative investigation, the allegations were sustained against the deputy, and appropriate action has been taken. Specifics regarding discipline are part of a peace officer’s confidential personnel file, which we are prevented from disclosing under the law.

Accountability? We have nothing but the Sheriff’s word that “appropriate action was taken.” When? By whom? And what did it consist of? For all we know the cop who attacked and provoked the peaceful citizen got a pat on the back.

Police Homicide of the Day

This happens hundreds of times a year: Cop kills someone. Cop gets “administrative leave” (paid vacation). Law enforcement promises to “investigate” the shooting while demanding victims and the public be patient. In this case, as a typical example, the Sheriff says:

Deputies are often forced to make split-second decisions. Second-guessing those decisions, especially when the facts are still unclear, is dangerous and unfair.

Lonoke County, AR, Sheriff John Staley

Hey Sheriff, know what else is unfair?* Giving cops deference not afforded other citizens in the use of force. Know what else is dangerous? Giving cops lethal weapons and a license to kill any time they “fear for their life.”

Guess what happens when a regular citizen produces a gun for self-defense – even without killing anyone? Arrested and held (without pay) in jail. Further, at the whim of local prosecutors: Often held for criminal trial, which can personally cost the citizen many tens of thousands of dollars to defend and put their life on hold for years. In contrast: Cops enjoy broad (“qualified“) legal immunity, plus customary exemption from arrest and criminal charges by other law enforcement officers (including prosecutors). When a cop is tried for violating another citizen’s civil rights, the cop’s civil defense – and any judgment – is billed to taxpayers. The cop’s union ensures that he loses neither wage nor public pension.

* Leaving aside the obvious question of whether it’s “fair” to kill a 17-year-old boy.

Consumer arbitration

I wasn’t surprised to see Amazon roll back its mandatory arbitration clauses – they are actually quite beneficial to consumers with who can advance their own small claims: The companies who impose the clauses have to pay the arbitration fees, which can run into four figures, as well as lawyers to deal with them. A few years ago I caught Verizon’s FIOS service failing to honor its own terms for customers who “purchase” online movies. I wrote them a letter threatening to take the matter to arbitration, and someone in their legal department quickly agreed to settle with me for a statement credit of $500. (I probably wouldn’t have bothered if I had to pay filing fees in either arbitration or court.)