Wednesday, March 10, 2010

18 Months for Police Brutality

Warning: Disturbing violence.

I've seen a lot of negative reaction to this week's sentencing of this police officer to 18 months in prison. Not only has he lost his job, but as a convicted felon he will no longer be able to use a firearm, not as a cop or as anything else. A commentator on Fox News pointed out that "this is not Rodney King," in that the beating that was administered was not as severe as the famous L. A. one.

I agree the sentence was surprising. Browsing through this web list of police brutality cases, I can't seem to find a non-lethal case that resulted in any prison time for the cop at all. It seems police who don't do anything worse that beating a manacled suspect generally get (if anything) "administrative duties" (desk job) after a period of "administrative leave" (paid vacation).

However, what this officer did was nonetheless brutal and completely inexcusable. He was not using excessive but otherwise justifiable force. He was not protecting anyone from danger of any sort. His drunken suspect could have tapped his toe on the window and asked to go to the bathroom (which is what he was actually doing) all night long with no one the worse for wear. (Though I am sure the seat would have eventually gotten wet.) If this case wasn't Rodney King as far as police reaction is concerned, it also failed to rise anywhere near Rodney King in terms of suspect provocation. Plus, by law, the judge could have given him three years.

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