The ACLU of Colorado last week posted the above video of an Aurora, Colorado police encounter with two black citizens last February.
The sequence, drawn from one of the officers’ body camera, shows Darsean Kelley and another man being stopped by police after they had received a call about a man allegedly pointing a gun on a child, but with no description of the man. Kelley and his companion were standing on the sidewalk in the vicinity of the alleged incident. Police asked the men to sit down, which Kelley said was impossible to do because he had a groin injury. Officers then told both men to put their hands behind their heads and turn around. As his friend remained silent and apparently compliant, Kelley kept his hands raised and asked why he was being detained. Immediately after he said, “I know my rights!” one of the officers shot him in the back with a stun gun. He fell backwards into the street.
The police then arrested Kelley on a charge of disorderly conduct for failing to obey a lawful order. In his report, the officer wrote that he thought he might be reaching for a weapon. The ACLU of Colorado then filed a motion to dismiss the case arguing that Kelley was unlawfully detained and arrested without probable cause or reasonable suspicion.
1. Kelley and the other man were unlawfully detained and arrested. Were they unlawfully stopped? No. The police could stop men in the vicinity of a complaint like the one they had received in order to investigate it. When people become belligerent or uncooperative during such legal stops, cops sometimes become suspicious, or decide to use their power to stick it to an individual who shows hostility when the officers feel they are just doing their jobs, or trying to. This is when such situations escalate.
I’m sure the officers regarded the “I can’t sit down” claim as suspicious and provocative. I would. Note that no harm befell the other man, who remained quiet and followed the officers’ instructions. This is the correct way to respond.
2. I’m sure Kelley felt that he was being “stopped for being black.” I would if I were him. How are police officers today supposed to allay this suspicion at the outset of a legitimate stop? (Or maybe they WERE stopped for being black…)
3. What is the policy for tasing? The typical hierarchy for the use of force in police departments used to be this:
|Table 1: Use-of-Force Continuum|
|Suspect resistance||Officer use of force|
|1. No resistance||1. Officer presence|
|2. Verbal noncompliance||2. Verbal commands|
|3. Passive resistance||3. Hands-on tactics, chemical spray|
|4. Active resistance||4. Intermediate weapons: baton, Taser, strikes, nondeadly force|
|5. Aggressive resistance||5. Intermediate weapons, intensified techniques, nondeadly force|
|6. Deadly-force resistance||6. Deadly force|
|(Adapted from the Orlando, Florida Police Department’s Resistance and Response Continuum)
After the introduction of more powerful electronic control devices, many departments changed their use-of-force directives for handling suspects who were only passively resisting the lawful orders of the officer, and increased the required level of resistance by suspects to warrant use of stun guns or tasers from passive resistance to active, physical resistance.
Table 2: Levels of Resistance Defined
|Passive Resistance||The subject fails to obey verbal direction, preventing the officer from taking lawful action.|
|Active Resistance||The subject’s actions are intended to facilitate an escape or prevent an arrest. The action is not likely to cause injury.|
|Aggressive Resistance||The subject has battered or is about to batter an officer, and the subject’s action is likely to cause injury.|
|Deadly-Force Resistance||The subject’s actions are likely to cause death or significant bodily harm to the officer or another person.|
|Adapted from the Orlando, Florida, Police Department’s Resistance and Response Continuum|
I don’t know what the Aurora police policy is, but certainly under the kinder, gentler, saner revised standards above, stunning Kelley was excessive. Police brutality is not an unfair description of what he experienced.
4. When Kelley reminded one of the officers that there were witnesses, the officer said, “It’s all on video, sweetheart.” Think about that. The officer either was certain that his actions were justified, or felt that he would not receive any sanctions for even if they were not. Or, in the alternative, he’s an idiot.
One way or the other, there is a training failure here.
5. It is troubling that even with this video, the officer still said that he fired the taser because he thought Kelley might have been going for a weapon. This is apparently the default “the dog ate my homework excuse”—or perhaps the “shot while trying to escape” line from prison movies is more apt— for police who know their use of force will be questioned. As a result, police who really did reasonable fear that they were in a life-threatening situation are assumed to be lying too.
6. Why is the ACLU intentionally escalating divisiveness and rhetoric with the snotty caption on the video, “Knew his rights, got tased anyway”? That tone is inappropriate, and impugns police generally by innuendo. That’s not professional, and it’s not helpful.
7. What are officers supposed to do when there is a report of a potentially dangerous man with a gun, and no description of him? This seems to me as exactly the kind of scenario that leads to the Ferguson effect, and passive policing. Why try to question anyone when the likelihood that any blacks stopped are going to be hostile and suspicious, and perhaps provoke an incident like this one? From the New York Times:
“Murder rates rose significantly in 25 of the nation’s 100 largest cities last year, according to an analysis by The New York Times of new data compiled from individual police departments.
The findings confirm a trend that was tracked recently in a study published by the National Institute of Justice. “The homicide increase in the nation’s large cities was real and nearly unprecedented,” wrote the study’s author, Richard Rosenfeld, a criminology professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis who explored homicide data in 56 large American cities.”
The Times went to great lengths not to attribute the increase to “passive policing,” while conservative sources saw confirmation of the theory that the nationwide vilification of police and presumption of misconduct and racism. Colin Kaepernick, recall, is protesting the National Anthem in part because he thinks the fact that police involved in shootings should be suspended without pay before any findings of malice or wrongdoing.
8. Does this seven-months-old episode from one city in Colorado with a peculiar set of circumstances prove that the country, as that renowned social critic and justice system expert asserts, “oppresses black people and people of color”?
Source: Police Chief Magazine, Colorlines
52 thoughts on “Observations On A Bad Police Stop”
I generally support the PD but all the officer had to do is explain that he had a report of a man with a gun in the vicinity an they are investigating . Just say we need you to comply for everyones safety.
That was what the tased guy was demanding and they have a right to know why they are being detained. Technically if they were prohibited from leaving they were under arrest. The ACLU is actually doing what they are supposed to do and challenge overzealous govrrnment intrusions.
The use of the condescending term sweatheart should be enough to warrant a suspension.. I am not suggesting that you challenge a police directive but the officer must advise the individual the purpose of the stop or be prepared to defend themselves later in court or at least in the court of public opinion
This is really pretty simple. By being belligerent and saying I know my rights to an officer who is giving you a lawful order instead of complying, you are asking for it. Tasing somebody is going too far. However, the officer is perfectly in his/her right to order you to comply or to possibly restrain you/use pepper spray.
Wayne. He asked the officer why he was being detained. There is no probable cause to detain them. The police do not have the right to prevent you from leaving without probable cause. That is the standard by which the police order becomrs lawful.
I am by no means a bleeding heart liberal. You cannot simply say that every order given by a police officer is a lawful one. Furthermore calling a citizen sweetheart is unprofessional. What if you called a female co worker sweetheart do you think your butt could be in a sling with the law.
What about the disorderly conduct charge? Totally bogus to cover his ass. The officers own body cam blows the claim that he was going for a weapon and destroys any credibility this officer may have had. This officers behavior and attitude toward the citizen hurts police /citizen relations and he shoulfd find a new line of work. If I had an employee treat a customer with such disrespect that employee would be looking for work.
I believe in the rule of law but when those who are charged with enforcing it seem to think they are above the citizenry I will callthem out every time.
An order in the context of justifiable police work is a justified and reasonable order.
While a stop is taking place there must be a reasonable amount of time where holding that person, though not under arrest, is reasonable. That is what it looked like in the video. Trying to get them to cooperate so that they could be ID’d.
Your argument is invalid in my opinion because it assumes that the officers were acting in the “context of justifiable police work”.
Where exactly did the reasonable suspicion arise that gave the police officer reasonable suspicion that the two men had or may be in the process of committing a crime. Thus the stop should have begun with a consensual stop first. If after some limited engagement the officers suspicions are aroused then it can be a detention but not an arrest coupled with an ID demand. This situation was not justifiable police work if the only rationale for the suspicion was that these were in the vicinity at the time the officers arrived on the scene. Where was the child referenced in the call and why didn’t the call say 2 men were involved? Given that the officer wrote in his report that he thought Kelly was reaching for a weapon destroys all credibility with me when he tries to justify his suspicions.
The facts show that officers went immediately into arrest mode when asked a simple question by Kelly. The officers acted outside the scope of their authority and should have engaged in a consensual stop first.
From the Colorado statutes
16-3-103. Stopping of suspect
(1) A peace officer may stop any person who he reasonably suspects is committing, has committed, or is about to commit a crime and may require him to give his name and address, identification if available, and an explanation of his actions. A peace officer shall not require any person who is stopped pursuant to this section to produce or divulge such person’s social security number. The stopping shall not constitute an arrest.
(2) When a peace officer has stopped a person for questioning pursuant to this section and reasonably suspects that his personal safety requires it, he may conduct a pat-down search of that person for weapons.
HISTORY: Source: L. 72: R&RE, p. 198, § 1. C.R.S. 1963: § 39-3-103.L. 83: (1) amended, p. 663, § 2, effective July 1. L. 2001: (1) amended, p. 941, § 9, effective July 1.
From a practical matter I understand that compliance in such situation is the better part of valor. However, I disagree with Jack’s premise that we must simply be compliant all the time unless there is an effective and low cost civil means to contest and impose sanctions on inappropriate police behavior. Dismissal of charges when challenged by an equal power is insufficient to dissuade improper behavior. If the PD lost budget funds to offset financial claims for improper behavior it might just bring about getting unprofessional officers off the force.
Hello there Chris M. You wrote: “Where exactly did the reasonable suspicion arise that gave the police officer reasonable suspicion that the two men had or may be in the process of committing a crime[?]”
Obviously we would both enter into speculation to try to guess what the police saw and what they reacted to. I guess that is the downside of our ethical analysis: it is abstract and speculative to the *real* situation.
I acknowledge your concerns and to some extent share them. I am sure there are abuses of police power. In fact I know that it happens all the time, and every day.
But I suggest that in the pursuit of a general, societal well-being, that the police generally operate for the greater good. And they do so nearly always against a criminal and devious element. That is basically the sum of my argument.
If the police were some sort of National Police and invading homes and businesses and committing espionage, I would see it in a different way and as a constitutional threat.
Since I would be less zealous in these street-situations, and inclined to overlook *minor* or routine abuses, perhaps I should be condemned? But I do think that the ACLU and other organizations have their role — perhaps this is one? — though I am inclined, today, to see them as being politically opportunistic and ‘making hay while the sun is shining’ of a current anti-police social attitude.
Thanks for your various thoughtful replies.
How lame! Saying “It’s all on the tape sweetheart.” possibly hurt Kelley’s feelings and was a bit sarcastic. Your comparison to a a guy calling a female co-worker “sweetheart” once is bogus and I don’t think it would meet the criteria for sexual harassment. Maybe as a microagression on some university campus but that’s another world.
Wayne and Alizia:
Let me suggest to you that it does not matter if Kelly’s feelings were hurt or not it is the language and tone that represents the condescension. Actually, their is little difference in calling someone sweetheart if the intent is to establish a position of superiority and power over the other person. Take for example this statement to a female. “I make more than you do just get over it sweetheart”. It may not make it to the level of sexual harassment but it is a strong indicator of the speaker’s bigotry or willingness to assert dominance over the other for reasons other than aptitude, capabilities or skill sets.
Let me point out Jack’s statement. ” Kelley and the other man were unlawfully detained and arrested. Were they unlawfully stopped? No. The police could stop men in the vicinity of a complaint like the one they had received in order to investigate it.”
Yes the policeman have the right to stop a person and ask a question but that is not what happened and the video proves it. The patrol officer immediately commanded the individual to sit down on the pavement. At that point they are under arrest for no reason – they have been deprived of their liberty to move freely. “An arrest is using legal authority to deprive a person of his or her freedom of movement.” (WEX Cornell University School of Law)
That goes way beyond the routine investigative questioning an individual who the officer has no reason to suspect other than he is in the vicinity – not enough to rise to reasonable suspicion. There is no legitimate reason to force people to the ground to ask them questions unless you have a reasonable suspicion that they may have committed the crime, may be in the process of committing a crime or pose a threat to you. Simply walking down the street does not create reasonable suspicion. Nor should asking why they are being stopped and detained. I would ask the same question.
How hard would it be to say “Sir, I would like to ask you some questions. We’re investigating a call and thought you might be able help us”. Instead he immediately ordered the man to the ground. If that is SOP it must also be done if the person appears affluent, white, female, or even the POTUS; their can be no deviation without running the risk of not treating everyone equally under the law. Irrespective of whether it’s approved SOP or not its learned behavior either through official or unofficial training. How often do you think professional looking men and women are commanded to sit on the dirty sidewalk when a policeman wants to do a preliminary investigation? Never, most likely.
I will be the first one to call out PC wherever I see it and I have no sympathy for lawbreakers, liars, cheats and thieves. But, I will also call out uncivil behavior. Respect is a two way street. The police officer had an explicit and sworn duty respect the rights of the public. And, the way to do that is to not immediately assume they had the bad guys but to inform the men why they were being stopped.
Every time someone tries to condone or explain away excessive or unnecessary use of force in police departments it adds fuel to the fire of claims of systemic racism. We must be objective in our analysis of police behavior. Some cops need to find different work. Unfortunately, when self proclaimed “law abiding” citizens are unwilling to admit this and accept tough guy behavior in our police forces because they want to get tough on criminals and also think they are immune to the excesses of certain officers then the behavior we want to curtail will go on unabated. If we continue to assume that everyone who lives in lower socioeconomic conditions should be considered a criminal suspect because they lack a job, education or other asset available to middle and upper income groups and we treat them as such then prepare for more rage from BLM, civil disobedience, and possibly the rise of a police state. The Constitution apply to all.
That was a very thorough response. I apply to the situation I saw in the video a certain reductionism by applying a specific lens. First, I see the police activity as good and necessary and desired by the upright and reposnible people of that community. It is good and necessary for the police to seek out a criminal who brandished a weapono against a child’s head. Therefor, I support the police in their work and I also understand that, from time to time, they will exceed the strict constitutionally-limited power given to them. I suppose that you and I, and others, may differ on this.
It is in my view normal to ask a stopped person to sit down. I have seen it often and, again, I support the police in doing this. They do it to put the stopped person in a disadvantaged position. So that they cannot run, or assault the officer, and to better control them while the stop is on-going. Given that there are many many guns out there it seems reasonable to me for the police to be allowed to take extra precautions when stopping people, and yes, also in a Black neighborhood with a higher incidence of crime. Especially if the stopped person is *belligerant* or difficult — which sends up necessary red flags — the police must be given power to control the stopped ones actions.
I also do not see the result of the stop (Tasing) as being excessive. Put another way I can say that I can see why some might see it as such, if they desire to take the side of the stopped person, but since I do not desire to do so (my will is focussed on other ends and a ‘greater good’), I accept that with his abrupt movements to have been tased was an acceptable choice. Better that than shot in any case.
You have no other information about these police officers, or that particular man — who they might have known and had interactions with — nor the surrounding people (there are voices yelling things I think) and thus you are speculating and all in favor of your position, which is that this sort of thing should not happen.
I used to be of this opinion. Actually, when I was working on a photography project in Denver I had many occassions to witness police *excesses* as you might call them, and they *disturbed* me. But when I came to understand that the police are not oppressing upstanding citizens but are attempting to attack and weaken a criminal and lawless element, I felt I sobered up.
The police are an interface between law-abiding society and that element which does not abide by the law. I do not see police oppressing journalists, or busting into homes of people eating Christmas dinner to harm them and hurt them and snatch away their *papers* and such. This policing we see is not criminal oppression by the state to seize papers and such. It is fighting against a common criminal element. For that reason it is different and though I appreciate the ACLU and constitutionally-minded arguments, I have to say that I see this concern here as misplaced.
“At that point they are under arrest for no reason – they have been deprived of their liberty to move freely. “An arrest is using legal authority to deprive a person of his or her freedom of movement.” (WEX Cornell University School of Law)”
“A terry stop is another name for stop and frisk; the name was generated from the U.S Supreme Court case Terry v. Ohio. When a police officer has a reasonable suspicion that an individual is armed, engaged, or about to be engaged, in criminal conduct, the officer may briefly stop and detain an individual for a pat-down search of outer clothing. A Terry stop is a seizure within the meaning of Fourth Amendment.”
But more, this idea that every time you can’t walk away, you’re being arrested is obviously wrong, so obvious I question the intelligence of anyone attempting to make the argument… Think about when a traffic cop pulls you over for speeding to issue you a citation… Can you drive away? No. Are you under arrest? No.
You’re affirming the consequent…. Not all detentions are arrests but all arrests are detentions, and so the definition of Arrest MUST include a detention. This isn’t complicated!
Chris Marchner wrote: “Every time someone tries to condone or explain away excessive or unnecessary use of force in police departments it adds fuel to the fire of claims of systemic racism. We must be objective in our analysis of police behavior. Some cops need to find different work. Unfortunately, when self proclaimed “law abiding” citizens are unwilling to admit this and accept tough guy behavior in our police forces because they want to get tough on criminals and also think they are immune to the excesses of certain officers then the behavior we want to curtail will go on unabated. If we continue to assume that everyone who lives in lower socioeconomic conditions should be considered a criminal suspect because they lack a job, education or other asset available to middle and upper income groups and we treat them as such then prepare for more rage from BLM, civil disobedience, and possibly the rise of a police state. The Constitution apply to all.”
Please don’t misinterpret my coment, but this seems like a nice speech to me but I am not moved by it. I am not moved by it because I believe that the police, those who have experience in their areas, know pretty well what and who they are dealing with. Again, I can refer to my own experience as photographic assistant on a Denver photography project (street kids and runaways).
When people in *that sort of neighborhood* address the social problems that plague them then those neighborhoods will no longer be problem neighborhoods and the police will not be hovering about. The specific analysis as to whether they have those problems because of their race or income level is one for sociologists, not for the police who are instructed and paid to curtain crime. It is simple.
I think not that these police need to find other work but that commentaters need to find other subjects for their comments. I am trying to be a little sarcastic here. Please see it as such and don’t take any offense. I think that the cry of ‘oppression of the black community’ is exaggerated. The black community (and other communities) have tangible, known and real problems that require policing. It is as simple as that. To put some other spin on it does not convince me (though it seems to convince others).
The police, nowadays, meet regularly with leaders in the policed communities. They often make extraordinary efforts to establish trust and rapport. And they police ON BEHALF of families, families with children, children who are tempted to get involved in crime and drugs, and everything else you and I know. There is a certain amount that you do not seem to take into consideration here.
If a ‘police state’ is arising, and it might well be, this situation is not the evidence of it that would greatly disturb me. I would have more fear of national surveliance organizations, electronic interception, and the getting into people’s ‘papers and effects’ and also into analysis of their opinions and ideas — say for example in respect to a hyper-liberal government!
It seems misaplication to associate police stops of likely criminals (I may be wrong but I’ll bet those two had such records, and the silent one outstanding warrants…) as evidence of a fascistic, intrusive police force.
There is nothing more conservative than calling out jack-booting public servants who bully the public they are supposed to serve.
This sort of statement always fascinates me. Because it is loaded and overflowing with unstated signification. Those *signs* can be unpacked and doing so is an interesting foray into analyses of liberal ideology. And ideological it is. Statements like this are a semantics behind which whole other structures of ideas move. But mostly what I notice, or think I notice, is how the sentiment here does not illumine but rather obfuscates. You do not follow these *signs* to arrive at a Truth nor often even any specific utilitarian facts. These sentiments carry one into a zone where perception is warped and one sees one’s projections, not *what is*.
When considering Antonio Gramsci’s ‘prison letters’ — this man who set in motion the strategies that have come to inform the Left’s general tactics through processes of cultural undermining; that is, undermining established values or jamming them with contrary discourse — I begin to notice that one strategy, which is powerful, is to ‘reframe’ an event, an activity, a social tendency, and to cause people to see it differently: critically. (Gramsci: https://en.m.wikiquote.org/wiki/Antonio_Gramsci)
I began to ask myself: Well, since the ‘jack-boot’ is pretty obviously a projection, and projections are said to be the externalization of unconscious inner material, then where are we to find the real ‘jack-boot’? I suggest that the ‘jack-boot’ — the jack-boot that we should pay attention to, and the one that should really concern us — is that *boot* which lunges out and crushes ideas that it does not like, that it feels are morally reprehensible’, and most importantly those which it feel morally justified in squishing. Therefor, now and in our present, a far more dangerous jack boot is to be noticed and it is one that operates in the realm of ideas.
So, it is not necessarily that it is the police doing police work on the streets that we have to fear, but the narratives that get spun into jamming tools which challenge the morality of the police function. Is it possible to say that, generally, the people who get behind Black Lives Matter (to use a general indicator of a present phenomenon) are employing a Gramscian tactic? And if so what exactly are they attempting to accomplish? What in the end do they serve? It seems that a deeper consideration of the question is necessary. The superficial one doesn’t reveal much information.
“Jack-boots” refers to enforcers of the law who abuse power and bully people. Police officers are individual moral agents. Some of them choose to abuse their power. Political conservatives are, in principle, against government overreach. Thus, when a police officer abuses his station, it is a very conservative thing to be opposed to that. That’s it.
There, I unraveled the mystery for you. You so, so badly need to welcome Occam’s Razor into your life.
“There is nothing more conservative than calling out jack-booting public servants who bully the public they are supposed to serve.”
It would be hard not to concede that in many situations, more especially those that pertain to empiricism and science, that it is advisable and necessary to peel away interpretive layers in order to arrive at a simple and elegant core which operates as *explanation*.
But I would suggest that in the above-comment you are employing a seemingly simple reduction — a simple statement — which when examined more closely 1) is in fact not really simple and 2) obfuscates what we are seeing. Or rather it adds interpretive layers (jackboots and the abusive state and perhaps a whole *political metaphysics*) to a situation which, as you say, might be more amenable to a simpler and potentionally more illuminating interpretation.
As with many and perhaps most of the situations used on this blog to provoke thought about ethics we take the situation at face value and as it is given. However, there is a good deal about the situation that we do not know, and perhaps we cannot even know.
I suppose that seen as a clip and presented in a certain context that an audience might make the interpretation you seem to have made. It depends on how they have been primed though, don’t you think? It might depend on who is seeing it, what sort of general conclusions they have made about society or the present (and about police). I cannot say that I am free of a personal situation and orientation.
Yet I am inclined at this point to think that your Occam’s Razon reduction cannot work because, in fact, when it comes to sociological and psychological issues, not to say political issues and issues of the management of difficult populations in difficult areas, that a simplistic reduction, or an apparently simplistic one, might easily fall into the hands of emotional conclusions, and ones fired by general resentment of police. In this sense I suggested that your reduction contains some of the stuff that Occam’s Razor would need cut away in order to be able to *see* this situation.
But in fact we are not speaking about some metaphysic that is described as the cause of what we see, and thus there is not a false attribution to cut away, but rather the imposition of a specific interpretation which, from the look of it, is highly politicized, highly charged, and dove-tails with radical and rebellious interpretations of the present and of police work. In this sense we as interpreters carry within us *an entire metaphysics*.
So, have a committed an error in interpretation when I *see* this situation as I have? Not as part of grand conspiratorial machinations of devilish entities projecting themselves through the actions of these police in terrifying incidents of cruelty and abuse, but a result of more simple causes? In this sense I have applied the Razor.
Having an agent of the state come by, take your liberty and demand you follow any and all instructions on pain of violence for as long as they care to hold you is no harm?
And is merely being in the area really reasonable suspicion of having pointed a gun at a child especially when there was no evidence that anyone had actually done so? What’s the population density in Aurora Colorado? How many people were in the area?
When people become belligerent or uncooperative during such legal stops, cops sometimes become suspicious, or decide to use their power to stick it to an individual who shows hostility when the officers feel they are just doing their jobs, or trying to. This is when such situations escalate.
And the fault for that lies with the cops. They’ve been given special powers, they’re obligated to behave professionally not emotionally as opposed to the person who was stopped and has every right to become emotional over the threat to their person that the station creates. After all, the perosn with the gun can always claim ‘I thought they were reaching for a weapon’ and escape consequences.
It may not be possible but I can think of a few things that would help. It requires complete retraining. Command presence is threatening, it’s supposed to be, you make someone think you’re in control and make them afraid to oppose you. Attempting to cow people may work, for some people but the first time you hit a resentful person you have a big problem.
Stop teaching cops that any situation that don’t control is an inherent threat to their persons. It’s a self fulfilling prophecy. If you’re taught to dominate then someone’s going to come along and want to knock you down under the assumption that’s the only way to stop being dominated.
Instead try to diffuse the situation, understand that people who’ve been unfairly stopped will be angry, understand police do not have a good reputation and healing it will take years (and major turnover). Stop being the stereotypical southron trooper who breaks the taillight and then tickets for a broken taillight and be sheriff Andy.
Huh? What? What is this all about? Why? *Bzzzzzzzzzzzt*
Yeah, bad idea. Normal Americans want an explanation of what the hell is going on. If questioning or anything less than immediate total obediance is considered passive resistance then the cops can justify force against pretty much everyone.
What would go wrong?
Were there sanctions?
Seems they way things played out justify that assumption, non?
Active policing is a new idea and not one I’m personally fond of. In colonial American constables came when summoned, they didn’t patrol the streets looking for miscreants. Add in the fact that there’s no clear line of obligation to investigate or protect and you end up with people who can police where and when they want, choose their targets, if you will. That’s begging for abuse.
This has to go beyond handbooks and regulations. Police can’t be allowed to set their own policies. It may not work any better, but if policy were set by elected representatives then at least there’d be a clear accountable path of redress. I can complain at the police department till I’m blue in the face and they do nothing because they are not in any way accountable to me. My representatives are.
How many episodes will it take? When does an incident become a pattern? A pattern become a system? Will anything convince you or will it be as long as you can think one cop is good then the system is good?
What? They weren’t under arrest. That was a lawful stop for investigation purposes. The officers botched it, but this “agents of the state” crap.
The comment is pure, irrational, anti-law enforcement bigotry and hysteria.
And pro-active policing is not new, and more important now, and more important to protect minority communities than others.
Jack were the subjects liberty restrained to the point that they could not just walk away? If they cant leave they are under arrest.
An investigative stop does not immediately require them to put their hands up or sit down by order of a police officer.
The problem becomes that walking away in that setting raises “reasonable suspicion.” But they weren’t in custody until the tased guy was arrested—and as far as I can find out, the second guy was free to go.
What? They could walk away but if they walked away then it would be okay to hold them?
That makes zero sense.
Running away is automatically suspicious. Walking away? It depends on the other circumstances. I don’t advise it.
Byron White seemed to think it was just fine. From his Terry concurrence…
Now… Why don’t you advise it? Because the police will react improperly?
I know Terry. The police are allowed to include everything and anything in their ultimate decision as to whether there is probable cause for an arrest. If the individual chooses to exercise their right to leave by sprinting away screaming, “You’ll never get me, pig!”—First Amendment speech!—I’d say that raises suspicion to a probable cause level. It’s a spectrum. How about walking away quickly shouting, “You can’t arrest me without PROOF!”?
I don’t advise it in part because it’s lousy citizenship, and there’s no reason for it. Cooperating with police is a civic duty.
Because the subject doesn’t inherently have the information to know whether or not the situation hits the level of appropriateness for a Terry Stop. The proper circumstances in this case were that a person had been pointing a gun at another person, had someone who could be a suspect fled from police, even slowly on foot, they could be legitimately tased without ever knowing why. So yes, walking away is stupid.
That has nothing to do with the question. If it’s a Terry stop then the person already isn’t free to go.
If a person is free to go how can you use their choice to leave rather than stand around and answer questions as a cause for arrest?
Look at it this way. If the cops are walking around asking questions and you’re free to go then it’s a social interaction. They’re not using any of their powers, ‘have you seen this guy?’ ‘heard any loud noises?’ ‘know a good pizza place near here?’ all carry the same weight, they have no power over you. You can choose to ignore and walk away from anyone asking those questions. That they happen to have a uniform and a badge doesn’t make them special in those circumstances.
If they command you to stop then they become cops, wielding powers granted to them by and in the name of the government. Being a free country, we require certain justifications before this is allowed.
Since when is not wanting to talk to a stranger justification to arrest someone?
vg: “Stopped and not free to go is under arrest”
HT: “That definition is neither a legal definition, or common vernacular, it is the desperate spinning of someone who wants to redefine a word to suit their argument and you need to stop.”
So… I’m right then? You apparently know enough to know that a Terry Stop isn’t an arrest, and you also know that in the situation of a Terry Stop, a suspect is not allowed to walk away. So not every situation where a citizen is not free to walk away is an arrest then, is it?
But to the response at hand, police don’t announce that they are conducting a Terry Stop, they just make the stop. A Terry Stop is not predicated on the detainees state of mind, and so a person could in theory not know they’re being detained. Because of the consequences of walking away from a Stop, perhaps it would be better advise to ask if they’re being Stopped, rather than assuming otherwise and risking a tasering.
All of which is completely irrelevant to this situation, the officer had obviously told the suspect to stop.
A Terry stop is an arrest. Every situation where the subject is not permitted to walk away is an arrest.
Arrest means stop. You’re Canadian, you must have picked up some French.
Stupid nesting thingydoodle…. See below.
vakygrrl: Please don’t interpret this as weighing in on the side of a mostly admired delicado candiense, but I thought to take this to an etymological level just for the heck of it. Instead of an arrest, which is a stop as you say:
[Middle English aresten, from Old French arester, from Vulgar Latin *arrestāre : Latin ad-, ad- + Latin restāre, to stand still (re-, re- + stāre, to stand; see stā- in Indo-European roots).]
What about a detainment? Not an arrest exactly, but a temporary delay.
1. To keep from proceeding; delay or retard: ‘Our friends were detained by heavy traffic’.
2. To keep in custody or confinement: ‘The police detained several suspects for questioning’.
3. Archaic To retain or withhold (payment or property, for example).
[Middle English deteinen, from Old French detenir, from Vulgar Latin *dētenīre, from Latin dētinēre : dē-, de- + tenēre, to hold; see ten- in Indo-European roots.]
It seems to be a question of being brought to a momentary stop for some reason or purpose in contrast with a full stop, an absolute stop.
“Detention Short of Arrest: Stop-and-Frisk. – Arrests are subject to the requirements of the Fourth Amendment, but the courts have followed the common law in upholding the right of police officers to take a person into custody without a warrant if they have probable cause to believe that the person to be arrested has committed a felony or a misdemeanor in their presence.The probable cause is, of course, the same standard required to be met in the issuance of an arrest warrant, and must be satisfied by conditions existing prior to the policeman’s stop, what is discovered thereafter not sufficing to establish retroactively reasonable cause. There are, however, instances when a policeman’s suspicions will have been aroused by someone’s conduct or manner, but probable cause for placing such a person under arrest will be lacking.In Terry v. Ohio, the Court almost unanimously approved an on-the-street investigation by a police officer which involved “patting down” the subject of the investigation for weapons.”
A Terry Stop is explicitly NOT an arrest, and you saying it is doesn’t make it true.
Of course it’s new, late Nineteenth Century in the US. The system wasn’t designed to support it. The idea of armed officers stopping people and questioning them then using force on anyone who was insufficiently submissive? That’s not an American tradition.
And of course they were under arrest. Arrest means stop. They were stopped, they were not free to go, that’s arrest. And what’s crap about agents of the state? They’re not acting as citizens. Police act in the name of, with the consent of, and wit the authority of the government. They are agents, the state is who they act for, they are agents of the state.
They were not under arrest. The second guy wasn’t arrested, wasn’t tased. They had no basis to arrest the hand-raiser either, but if he had just answer a few questions, he would not have been arrested. This began as a simple stop.
Were they or were they not free to go?
I’d say that in the process of a reasonable stop, as it seemed to have been (though others differ), there is a period of time where an officer is investigating, and while doing that you must remain until he or she has 1) secured the situation and determined you have no weapon (that was why he was told to sit down), and 2) ID’d you while also questioning you.
In that period of time one is in a netherzone. Stopped, being investigated, but not ‘under arrest’ and subject to being taken to jail.
It is quite reasonable that such a reasonable stop-period must exist. And it is reasonable that reasonable people respect it.
Stopped and not free to go is under arrest. Arrest happens the moment a person is no longer at liberty.
And now you’re giving them more powers/ ID you? You know that no one is obligated to carry ID when they’re on foot and that stop and identify laws require some justification, not just wanting to ask questions.
You want to read through Terry v Ohio. Don’t forget to read Justice White’s concurrence.
I certainly see your point. What you argue, if I am not mistaken, is that police power and intrusion has increased to levels which, if argued ‘constitutionally’, would be seen as over-extensions. According to your view, and what I surmise you advocate for, and also what Kelly was advocating for, is for the police to observe more strict interpretations of the law and only intervene and insert themselves only where it is clear a law has been broken. I think you have solid grounds for that case if looked at strictly ‘constitutionally’.
I came to look at these things somewhat differently myself. The way police operate is an expression of the municipal will and the municipal government that hires and directs them. They are instructed to police more aggressively in *certain areas* and they do this as a response to a larger social will. I know Denver to some extent (Aurora is a suburb to the east of Denver) and I can visualize those housing complexes I saw in the video. As out on East Colfax these areas have high concentrations of Blacks, Latinos and Asians (immigrants mostly). So, there is no doubt at all that the police police there more aggressively because, quite obviously, there is a higher concentration of criminal activity. Compared for example to an area not 2-3 miles away which is wealthy and white.
Taken down to a basic level what you are pointing out, and what you are advocating, is a withdrawl of police from these trouble neighborhoods. That means allowing the criminal element to operate there more freely, with less constraint and pressure from the municipal authority (the mayor’s office which gives overall orders). Now, what will happen is that the criminal element will be more free to carry on its operations, and that element will feel more free to expand its operations. And that is, of course, how such ‘blight’ grown and extends itself.
If you are conscious of those ramifications, and if you advocate for them, you can do this in a fairly high-minded way by sticking closely to constitutional guidelines.
I believe — because I notice how it happens, and why — that people in a given community, consciously or unconsciously, cede their ‘constitutional rights’ to a certain and a reasonable degree when it happens that a social and criminal blight takes root among them. In order to enforce their will (a will to live free of that blight and its bad consequences) they agree to allow the police power to have more authority — to bend the rules in their favor essentially — in order to secure a specific, and a reasonable, end.
However, if in a given community they feel resentment, fear and hatred of the police presence, they will advocate against it, protest, complain and also obstruct this police effort until they achieve their wil. And that will mean the withdrawl of police from those neighborhoods.
I see this as a question of will and desire. For this reason I see in general ‘Black Lives Matter’ (to use this as a general term for a culture-wide phenomenon) as a manifestation of a will toward lawlessness. It is not the so-called ‘upright’ and responsible element within the culture which is clamoring for relief, but a side of the social body which is ‘the criminal element’. In this sense what is now happening — this activism — is an extension of the rap culture of violence and lawlessness that was (very certainly, very obviously, and with extra-constitutional measures) pushed down over the last 20 years.
So, one just has to be clear what essentially one is advocating for: If you demand that the police pull back from these sorts of neighborhoods you will achieve a greater freedom not for the *good* citizens who just want to walk out in perambulators with thei babies and suffer no assault, but the criminal element which is held in check by a political, municipal and social will that operates — concertedly — against it.
Additional note: My understanding of ‘constitutional guarantees’ is that they were conceived and designed to protect the rights of the just, not to help a non-just or criminal element to get ahead. Their purpose is to establish limits against an intrusive, oppressive and tyrranical government and to protect those conducting the good business of a normal, ethical and upright citizen. One has to start from this understanding first, doesn’t one?
Yet it is clear that an *element* which is not good or just or ethically conscious can scam the system so to speak and get around the rules in order to achieve its will.
You are surely aware of COINTELPRO which was, in essence, an extra-constitutional (essentially paramilitary) operation against revolutionary organizations of a Marxist type back in the 60s and 70s.That is, against the Black Panthers, the BLA (Black Liveration Army, a prison-based group), and many other groups advocating for armed revolutionary struggle. What might have happened had those groups been allowed to grow and operate with no intervention? (They were effectively destroyed).
It becomes a very complex question. It is highly relevant for me because I come from a country which allowed itself to be taken over, basically, by a similar expression of social power as that of ‘BLM’ (if you accept, as I do, what *stands behind it*). I came to believe that, with no hesitation, I would have advocated (had I been old enough to do so) for a thorough resistance to the coup forces in 1992 and what occurred between ’92 and ’98 (the construction of a political movement that rbought Hugo Chavez to power).
When I realized that that was the case — that I would advocate for paramilitary intervention — I had to restructure my views of the counter-revolutionary movements of Latin America, and especially that of Allende’s Chile. That is how I joined up with the ‘forces of reaction’!
Therefor, I apply a similar logic when I look at, feel and understand, the *lawless element* which the police are fighting at the behest of the general population.
It took you 1000 words just to say screw constitutional protections because the ends justify the means.
You managed to use 13 and 28, and hinted at 22 and 31
Actually, I think that some fault here may fall to you. You say I write too much on an important theme. I respond and say that what I am doing is opening up the issue to the full examination it requires to understand it in all its dimension. Your fault is that you do not seem to be interested in thinking through things.
It is a trusim, and a necessary one in terrestrial life, that our ends have to be clearly defined before we can structre a means to get to them. If this is true then some discussion about *what ends are desired* seems important. If we had a Grand System of ‘means’ which did not conduce to valued ‘ends’, we would surely have to reexamine those means.
A Constitution, and specifically *our Constitution* can only function when the people who are constituted agree, in general, about what is right, proper and good. When their ends (their vision of the Good) do not coincide, the contract is strained. As it is today.
I am not to be faulted for seeing a larger picture. In the post-war era the USA — the great constitutional leader — has presided over a giant police operation, a paramilitary operation, in the hemisphere. If you think that domestically you are outside of this, and if you cannot speak to the larger picture, then I think a fault accrues to you.
Also, if you think I do not see and understands what is problematic here, you are wrong.
I do not understand what 13 and 28 or 22 and 31 are. Can you elaborate?
Here by the way is the case you mentioned: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terry_v._Ohio
And a NYTs article on Stop and Frisk from 2010: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/12/nyregion/12frisk.html?smprod=nytcore-ipad&smid=nytcore-ipad-share
With this comment, which seems apropos:
“I grew up in Brownsville [Brooklyn] until my mid teens (1980s). This was during the crack era. Police patrol of the neighborhood was unheard of. The only time you witnessed police patrolling an area is after a crime was committed. Preventive measures did not exist back then. You/your family had to protect one another. Relying of the police for help was not an option. Majority of the police officers were white males who adopted the approach of their fellow officers, “guilty until proven innocent.” They figured if you live in this neighborhood the chances of you being a criminal in very high. I have to say though, I lost a lot childhood friends to various criminal activities. There were very limited resources for us back then and I was thankful for having are large family/strong parents (I was the youngest of 9). Criminal life is very tempting for kids whose parent(s) are struggling to feed, cloth and keep a roof over their heads. This is not an excuse or validating criminal activity but from witnessing certain living conditions, I sort of understand. I do think that these police stops are necessary to keep the neighborhood manageable. I also think this should have been done a very long time ago. In my opinon the issue seems to evolve around the actual police officers’tactics – being disrespectful and condescending. The approach by some police officers tends to lead to unnecessary death or violence. Although there is not a simple solution to this, we have to start somewhere.”
Now, the police operate in concert with ‘community leaders’ and other organizations as part of a total effort to make crime more difficult.
“Stopped and not free to go is under arrest”
I’m actually going to defend the ACLU on this topic… But you’ve been looking at this from several very stupid perspectives. That definition is neither a legal definition, or common vernacular, it is the desperate spinning of someone who wants to redefine a word to suit their argument and you need to stop.
It depends on how often this happens in Aurora, Colorado, and the degree of involvement of the senior leadership.
No detainee should have to challenge an officer to discover the reason he or she is being stopped. This information should immediately follow a respectful greeting and the officer or officers identifying themselves. As a retired officer and current law enforcement trainer and consultant I, too, find the “sweetheart” term of address unprofessional and profoundly disrespectful. I’ll bet his training told him to act better than that.
Being safe and “tactical” and being professional and respectful are not mutually exclusive.
Ugh. I meant to add the sweetie comment: thanks.
Walking is not running and the guy was walking backward at the time asking what they wanted. I can also argue that in light of current beliefs in that community the two men wanted to keep some distance between them and the officers until they knew why they were being stopped. Why is reasonable suspicion of police brutality is going through their mind unjustified but not the officers suspicions. Both suspicions are developed through learning not matter how wrong those suspicions turn out to be.
What is wrong with starting with a consensual stop first? That is the issue at hand. It might just go a long way at reducing crime and perceived injustice.
Keep in mind this opinion is coming from a “privileged” conservative white guy who therefore must be a deplorable racist”, “xenophobic”, “misogynistic”, “islamaphobic” and a certified acrophobe – did I miss any types- that believes in the Constitution and its protections from misuse of citizen derived power by elected leaders and other sworn officials.
The general consensus is that he was ‘doing nothing wrong’. But I suggest that he got that treatment because he WAS doing something wrong: he was not obeying the police who were attempting a stop for legitimate reasons. The motion he made when he dropped his hands could have led to another movement that could have revealed a gun. I have seen plenty of police vids and such things do happen.
If one begins from the premise that the police were attempting to do the job they are hired to do, and that what they do is necessary and desired by most residents, then his belligerency was not only unnecessary but unwarranted, and finally plain stupid.
If one operates from the concept that the police are oppressors and seek out Blacks to harrass and torture, then one’s conclusions will reflect that a priori.
My read would be that he is doing there what lots are doing: Pushing back against the police, taunting police, aggravating the police and attemtping to provoke incidents. Like Korryn Gaines whose video encounter with the police illustrates the *tone* and the intention.
The ACLU (which I support with a small donation every month automatically withdrawn) is hard on the case looking for ‘police brutality’. Though the charges were dropped, and thus there are no charges of wrongdoing, in the context of the encounter I would weigh on the side of police.
ACLU describes it:
“Darsean Kelley, one of the men, followed the officers’ orders to hold his hands above his head and turn around. His repeated requests for an explanation as to why they had been detained went unanswered. Even though it was clear he had no weapons and he was no threat to the officers, Darsean was tased in the back just as he said, “I know my rights.” Darsean fell backwards and hit his head on the pavement.
“The officers had no reason to detain them. They had done nothing wrong. When Darsean asked to talk to the officer’s boss, noting that there were witnesses to the tasing, the officer responded, “Hey, look right here. It’s all on video, sweetheart.”
I’d say that at that moment he had no business interrogating the police. Had he sat down and cooperated, then asked, he likey would have gotten some sort of an answer. And it would be a reasonable answer: We are looking for a man who brandished a gun to a child. Those men should have concern for such a thing and should have understood.
The area in Aurora is a mostly Black housing project, and though there was no description of the suspect I am reasonably sure the officers know into what area they were going. Therefor, not unreasonable to have stopped those two persons.
6. Why is the ACLU intentionally escalating divisiveness and rhetoric with the snotty caption on the video, “Knew his rights, got tased anyway”? That tone is inappropriate, and impugns police generally by innuendo. That’s not professional, and it’s not helpful.
But it is accurate. We have to be consistent here; we can decry the lies of “hands up don’t shoot” or “shot for wearing a hoodie” because they were lies and obviously so. But we have to get behind the cases of real abuse because otherwise we approach the level of hacks. This happened, it happened on camera, it’s obvious what happened. I’ve been saying for more than a year now that black lives matter had to choose it’s subjects better, because there were invariably going to be instances of police abuse that were a much clearer case study than the garbage they had previously wheeled out. Apparently BLM didn’t get the memo but the ACLU did.
You want to get hung up on the phrasing? Ok: Subject knew his rights, exercised them, and was tased for doing so by an officer who did not follow the guidelines for that use of force.
3. Passive resistance
3. Hands-on tactics, chemical spray
4. Active resistance
4. Intermediate weapons: baton, Taser, strikes, nondeadly force
Passive Resistance The subject fails to obey verbal direction, preventing the officer from taking lawful action.
Active Resistance The subject’s actions are intended to facilitate an escape or prevent an arrest. The action is not likely to cause injury.
We can spin this however we want, but there’s no universe where the actions of the officer were appropriate. I know that officers are just people, I know that every morning they wake up, they scratch themselves, and they do a dangerous job. I know that it’s often thankless, and also often doing their job might get them societal blow back. But at the end of the day these are civil servants tasked with not only enforcing the laws, but also protecting our rights. Violating this person’s fourth amendment rights is completely and utterly counter to what the officer should have been doing on a fundamental level.
If a burger flipper at McDonald’s told you to make your own damn burger, or ate your order in front of you, you’d expect them to be disciplined. I don’t understand the level of protectionism that police officers get for explicitly not doing their jobs.
Is this a condemnation of the entire force? It shouldn’t be. It wouldn’t be, except that the force has a really shitty history of standing by their own even in cases of obvious abuse. I’d love for the expectation to be that police are generally good, and we just have to do something about the bad, or badly trained element within the group, but I don’t know if I trust the police as a whole to do that independently.
7. What are officers supposed to do when there is a report of a potentially dangerous man with a gun, and no description of him? This seems to me as exactly the kind of scenario that leads to the Ferguson effect, and passive policing.
The guy had his hands up and was demanding to know the reason for his detention. What should the police have done? Not tased him and told him.
Look, you just used a whole load of E-ink saying that Gary Johnson had to play Ceasar’s wife, and the expectations on him were higher that the candidates from the other parties. I’d love to know why you don’t think that logic is at work here. Do you really think there’s a policeman in America that doesn’t realise the kind of situation they’re in?
This guy had a camera on him, knew he had a camera on him, and thought what he did was right. There’s a problem here, and making defences for the officer because the citizen wasn’t the ideal detainee is just sideways.
But the ACLU’s taunting is still not professional or helpful.
Police officer stuns detainee with hand raised as he says “I know my rights” is factual and informative without the snark that says “Typical!”
That’s a whole lot of skipped words.
Not professional? Why not? Not helpful? By what metric?
A guy was tasted and taunted by an officer, and you’re hung up on some perceived snark? I think you’re failing to see the forest for the trees here, or maybe I’ve built up a tolerance for snark…. But especially the idea that this isn’t helpful…. This is the definition of helpful; an example of real, clear, easily digestible police brutality brought front and centre. I’m tired of trying to defend a force that I know doesn’t always deserve my defence because I take principled position in favour of logic, reason and proof. This is only “not useful” if your entrenched in a position of police protectionism. “Not useful” was doing nothing for generations while the police force militarised. “Not useful” was ignoring a culture of corruption for decades. “Not useful” was believing the cops every time they said their use of force was because the suspect was grabbing for his nonexistent gun. Does this make policing in 2016 harder? Sure does. Blame the last 50 years of policing.
“The officer either was certain that his actions were justified, or felt that he would not receive any sanctions for even if they were not. ”
Was the charge of disorderly conduct plausible?
Was it reasonable to believe the suspect was reaching for a gun?
The officer hasn’t received any sanctions, right? This is entirely predictable. Bring a bogus charge, lie to justify an assault. It’s expected now. Taken for granted, it’s what police as a whole do, even if many are honest. Of course they don’t get sanctioned, it’s part of the job, keeping the peace.