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Three Years After The Big Lie

Three Years After The Big Lie

We just passed the three year anniversary of the Ferguson Incident and unless you have been living under a rock, you know exactly what I’m talking about.  As I reflect back on the last three years, what Ferguson represents for law enforcement and every police officer, is a scary thing to think about.

The shooting of Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson became the biggest lie ever told in American Law Enforcement and served as a backdrop for many lies told ever since, not only in that case but many others.

Admittedly, I have been hesitant to speak here at Law Officer about Ferguson.  While I speak at length about it in the Courageous Leadership Seminar, I spoke about it one time here and was summarily attacked by some in my own community where I work.

Just the idea that “hands up…don’t shoot” didn’t happen sent a few nefarious characters into a tailspin.  No explanation of the facts would do and the pressure to be silenced was immense.

Three years after the incident, I once again read the Department of Justice Report and decided that I will be silenced no longer.  It is evil to continue to perpetuate the “Lie of Ferguson” and I am disappointed in myself that I let evil keep me quiet.

I will no longer be quiet.

Officer Darren Wilson suffered mightily and will feel the repercussions of the cop haters, liars and evil doers for the rest of his life.  The least that I owe him is to continue to tell the truth.

The impact of this lie struck me to the core at a recent lunch conversation with an intelligent, professional business person.  In passing, the issue of Ferguson came up and when I told him that the Department of Justice had determined that “hands up…don’t shoot” never happened, he looked at me strangely and refuted it.

He told me that he “assumed” it happened because the “city was being burned down.”  Then it hit me.  If an intelligent guy that is supportive of law enforcement believes the lie then it must be one of the biggest lies ever told.  He had no agenda, he did not hate cops and he just believed it.

Courtesy: YouTube

That is the power of the media and when something is repeated over and over, to most it just becomes the truth.

Of course the lies are held on to for a reason.  They form the basis of every racist police argument out there and entire organizations thrive on the lies.  The facts and data behind police shootings do not support anything close to institutional racism within law enforcement but take a few high profile incidents and put them on the news every night, the “lie of Ferguson” becomes proof positive that police are racist.

If you made it this far in the article, just like my friend, you may be questioning my statements on Ferguson.  Here are some facts straight from the Department of Justice Report and if you think the DOJ went to Ferguson to “help and hide” the truth, remember, they sent representatives to Micahel Brown’s funeral.  The same Michael Brown that committed a robbery by force just before attacking Officer Wilson.

Facts from the Department of Justice regarding the shooting investigation of the shooting death of Michael Brown are below:

  1. “The encounter between Wilson and Brown took place over an approximately two-minute period of time at about noon on August 9, 2014.”
  2. Surveillance footage of a convenient store shows Brown stealing several packages of cigarillos. When the store clerk tried to stop Brown, “Brown used his physical size to stand over him and forcefully shove him away.” Dispatch put the call out of the incident, Officer Wilson heard that call, and he stopped Brown because he met the description of the suspect.
  3. Officer Wilson saw the cigarillos in Brown’s hands and he immediately called for backup prior to stopping him.
  4. Wilson attempted to open his car door when Brown pushed it shut, reached in and started “punching and grabbing” Wilson.
  5. Brown also grabbed Officer Wilson’s gun and attempted to gain control of it.  During the struggle for the weapon, Officer Wilson fired one round and it struck Brown’s hand.  He then fled the scene.
  6. Witnesses observed Brown inside the car fighting with Officer Wilson.  Injuries on Wilson also support this and Brown’s DNA was on Wilson’s weapon, proving that he did indeed grab it.
  7. “The autopsy results confirm that Wilson did not shoot Brown in the back as he was running away because there were no entrance wounds to Brown’s back.”
  8. Brown ran approximately 180 feet with Officer Wilson in pursuit until he turned around and ran towards Wilson, at which time he was fatally shot.
  9. “….several witnesses stated that Brown appeared to pose a physical threat to Wilson as he moved toward Wilson. According to these witnesses, who are corroborated by blood evidence in the roadway, as Brown continued to move toward Wilson, Wilson fired at Brown in what appeared to be self-defense and stopped firing once Brown fell to the ground.
  10. “Brown tested positive for the presence of cannabinoids, the hallucinogenic substances associated with marijuana use.”

From the autopsy to the DNA to witness accounts, there is no question that Michael Brown posed a significant threat to Officer Wilson.  The witnesses in the case attack the  media account and you likely have never heard what they had to say.

“Witness 102” saw Wilson bent over in the police car and fighting with Officer Wilson.  When he heard the gunshot, he said that he “thought that he had just witnessed the murder of a police officer.”  He went on to say that “Wilson then chased Brown with his gun drawn, but not pointed at Brown, until Brown abruptly turned around at a nearby driveway. Witness 102 explained that it made no sense to him why Brown turned around. Brown did not get on the ground or put his hands up in surrender.”

Not all of the witnesses were friendly towards the police. “Witness 103 is a convicted felon who served time in federal prison, and has a son who was shot and injured by law enforcement during the commission of a robbery. Witness 103 expressed concerns because there were signs in the neighborhood of Canfield Drive stating, “snitches get stitches.”

Witness 103 saw Brown punching Wilson in the car and he saw Officer Wilson give chase “with his gun held low. Witness 103 saw Brown turn around with his hands to his side (not up) and he then saw Brown “move fast” towards Wilson before he fired shots.

I could continue but I won’t.  I will encourage you to read the complete report. 

It contains information that you have likely never heard and I hope it does what it did to me.  I hope it shows you just how dangerous the lies have been.  Ferguson has been used as a backdrop by activist groups, policy makers and politicians to prove that law enforcement is racist and out of control but the real proof is in the actual facts of the investigation.  An investigation conducted by local authorities, the FBI and a Grand Jury.

I am ashamed that I have been so silent but those that pushed this lie and continue to push it are evil and enemies of this great country.  They are using lies to attack the very men and women tasked with keeping communities safe and it has had an impact.

That impact has been the lack of police recruits, increased dangers to law enforcement and police morale at an all time low.

What continues to happen “post-Ferguson” does not have to be but it will take extreme courage to stand up for the truths in law enforcement.  I’m encouraged that some are currently standing up.  Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn recently stood up for his officers when they were attacked for being racist and others are doing what has to be done.

Standing up for the truth does not get in the way of law enforcement continuing to reform in order to be as professional as possible but without honesty, actual reform will never occur.  Those that continue to lie about Ferguson actually hurt the cause of police reform.

It is my hope that law enforcement learns from Ferguson but not in the way some would have us learn.

We should learn that the truth matters and standing up for our officers, when they do nothing but protect their life from a violent criminal, matters.



You can find out more about the Courageous Leadership Seminar and the upcoming book here.

About The Author

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Travis Yates is a writer and editor at Law Officer. His Seminars in Risk Management & Officer Safety have been taught across the United States & Canada. Major Yates has a Master of Science Degree in Criminal Justice and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy. He is the Director of Training for SAFETAC Training.

  • bacchys

    Calling Ferguson the “biggest lie in Law Enforcement” is specious nonsense, and it’s based on a lie.

  • ahaz

    While many in conservative and LE circle focus on “the big lie” as a means to claim that this was the moment where the so-called “anti-cop” movement began. It’s actually a classic “Not seeing the forest because of the trees” scenario. What the events of Ferguson exposed for the world to see was the militarization of the US police forces. Scenes of polices officers pointing deadly weapons at protesters for excising their free speech rights. Scenes where police forces looked like invading armies, not the type of officers romanticized by Andy Taylor or Adman-12. Reporters being arrested and charged for doing nothing more than their jobs of reporting facts on the ground. America saw, for the first time, what we had allowed our police to become. And it wasn’t pretty. And more importantly, the Mike Brown incident exposed how Ferguson political leadership used a compliant police force to systematically target the minority community for revenue purposes. It wasn’t one-off behavior, it was institutional and systematic. Blacks accounted for over 85% of traffic stops, 90% of tickets written, 93% of arrests and 95% of discretionary arrests such as jaywalking. What was happening was racist and blatant. As I’ve said before, the protest and the riots that occurred weren’t solely because of Mike Brown, but rather the predatory policing done in the community. That is what happened in Ferguson…not the so-called “Big Lie”.

    Despite claims that Law Officer may make, there is a significant problem with use of force and particularly deadly force by law enforcement nationwide. And every metric confirms that the minority population is most at risk when encountering law enforcement. While I don’t personally subscribe to the systematic racism theory with this issue, it clearly demonstrates a problem with police training and the latitude given to officers to exercise deadly force. A latitude not given to any other professional police force in the westernized world. The public is correct to scrutinize police actions in use of force scenarios. The public is right to demand accountability. The public is right to demand policy and law changes to prevent the deaths of hundreds on unarmed citizens every year at the hand of police.

    Instead of LE complaining about this new founded and justified scrutiny, they should work with thee public to improve trust between police and communities. I’ve said it a hundred times, “It offends that I’m unable trust a police officer”. We give cops 19 weeks on training and a gun and expect them to be able to exercise the proper judgement as to when to use it. Past and recent events have proven otherwise. Unfortunately, public trust won’t change until real accountability exist and that LE admit there are problems in our local police.

    • Law Officer

      We’ve missed you AHAZ.

      • LegalBeagle

        Masochistic much?

    • LegalBeagle

      Where to start with your ignorance … a tough choice. You, like many others, have bought in to the drivel from the lunatics who can’t see the truth for their polyps.

      “Militarization”: Mr. Balko has no knowledge of history, or of anything else relevant. None, period. He should be given no more attention or credence than I should be given with regard to NASA flight operations. American LE is not nearly as close to the military mode as it was 100 years or so ago. I’ve seen photos taken during and after WW I that show formations of cops, mostly on motorcycles but some in cars, with water cooled belt-fed machine guns. Not semi-auto carbines or even their select fire or full-auto versions (AR family of weapons), but honest to goodness medium machine guns. Attire is finally moving toward function and comfort, rather than the silly parade ground look (wearing a hat, other than protective or foul weather gear, is unsafe and should be a discipline issue).

      What you refer to as protesters was largely a collection of violent rioters; I’ve seen AARs from personnel on the scene, including MHP (not that Captain, a disgusting shill for the rioters) about the damage done by the rioters to the property of others, the risk they presented to other residents of the community and to the actual protestors. The reporting on what was going on there was completely unsound, much of it biased based on the idea that the protesters had a legitimate beef about the attempt to kill Darren Wilson. (And that was a lie from the start – “hands up don’t shoot” was an utter fabrication, and was known as such within HOURS … had any of the “aggrieved” bothered to listen.) While there may have been overreactions to some reporters, there were also some who were not only interfering, but actively agitating the rioters.

      Were there structural flaws in Ferguson and other similar suburbs? yes. I have heard of a presentation about that (from, hold your shock, a SL County PD command officer) that really gets into and critiques that history. I am not surprised to hear that, having lived within a couple hundred miles for 14 years (see my avatar). However, as with the 350-ish year history of shameful societal treatment of African-Americans, today’s cops did not do that, have no responsibility for it, and can do nothing to address remediation. Cops are stuck with the behavior they see and are not only empowered, but mandated to address. Research from various places (my recollection of the studies from Washington State U. is the best) shows that cops show less bias in their actions than private citizens, and actually delay too long in using force on African-Americans, to the detriment of their safety. African-Americans are disproportionately represented in arrests, uses of force, etc., until one considers their representation in crime (as both offenders and VICTIMS, an issue almost never addressed in the focus on offender experiences), and the percentage of African-Americans killed by cops is almost identical to the percentage involved as cop killers. Part of the problem is poor data and communication (and yes, I blame LE command for this; many are complete buffoons) – we don’t get the reality out there, so the false claims of places like PERF, BLM, and other apologists for the criminally feral get the attention. In discussing this with others who actually do this stuff for real, we believe that the truth is that the least important variable among offenders against whom force is used is pigment. Other than that, most of them have a lot in common, none of which is subject to be impacted by the police.

      The standard discourse that there is a systemic problem with force is simply not true. Are there some cops, and even some agencies, that are or have been AFU? Oh yeah. Want to see me go full raging potty mouth? There is a case from the First Circuit about a year ago that just boggles my mind – the cop should have been fired and probably prosecuted, and instead, the City defended him. Disgusting conduct, and the lawyers are no more of my tribe than the filth in Baltimore, Tulsa, Cincinnati, etc . who bring shame to prosecution. However, there have been more frivolous and malicious prosecutions of cops in recent history than there has been LE misconduct. Mosby ALONE probably “wins” that “prize, and she, like her counterpart in Tulsa, deserves the Bar complaints they have received. They did not and could never have had a basis for the charges, and lied to support their actions.

      There are problems, but most of them relate to violent criminals being violent criminals, unlawfully and violently resisting to the predictable outcome (Garner, Brown, etc.), and not being reviled as the violent criminals they were.

      • bacchys

        You’re ignorant. Balko’s been studying these issues for years. He’s well aware of the history, and I don’t doubt he’s more versed on it than you are.
        The overwhelming majority of protestors in Ferguson were just that: protestors. You’re quick to broad-brush other people, but I bet you’re equally quick to whine about “all cops being blamed” when someone criticizes a cop.
        Ferguson is the place where a man named Henry Davis was stopped by police, arrested in a case of mistaken identity, then beaten by those officers because he wasn’t the man with a warrant. He sued, only to lose (because we hold law enforcement to lower standards). During the course of that civil suit, the Ferguson PD chief admitted they didn’t keep complaints or the results of investigations in officers’ personnel files. When they said someone had a “clean record” with respect to complaints, that was basically meaningless, in other words.
        There are problems in our law enforcement institutions that have nothing to do with violent criminals outside of law enforcement.

        • LegalBeagle

          You are wrong, and don’t know what you don’t know.

          LE is not perfect by a long shot – we recruit from the community and there is always the risk of getting some real turds, just as in any other profession. I’ve seen and them, and been part of getting them fired; advocated for prosecutions and civil RICO actions as to one state agency because they are so FUBAR (and seen another that needs the same). I’ve also met and dealt with plenty of turds who have law licenses for reasons that are just incomprehensible, and likewise, commercial drivers. (I use these examples as I have been all three.) That said, the vast majority of cops are honorable and at least as angered by bad conduct as the rest of the community – maybe more because it is our world getting crapped on.

          Balko is not qualified by any stretch of the imagination. He has written a lot, but it is all opinion based on ignorance. He has never served in the military (nor have I – Uncle Sam had more sense) or been a cop. He thus has no real understanding of the differences between the two. I know a good number of people who have been/are veterans of both, and they all agree that there is little in common and that claims such as Balko’s are not sound. Balko is not a scholar in any sense; he has no advanced degree, and almost certainly thus no training in rigorous research. A BA/BS in Journalism is not exactly a program dedicated to rigorous research and writing; I’ve seen plenty of those programs and their products (I deal with reporters at work on a regular basis, and the extent of their ignorance of the law and criminal justice is at least as great as that of the general public).

          Could there have been errors in Ferguson? Yes. Were the vast majority of the “protesters” there not protesters at all, but rioters? Yes. There was ample information provided to LE about the real events there from cops and troopers on the ground (not that buffoon of a Captain) that the media generally did not care to provide. Not being familiar with the incident you name, I can’t comment, but if he resisted, the resistance had to be overcome. (And I get really angry with warrant errors – most of them are dumb and should not happen.) Ferguson as a city, like many others in that vicinity, was a ill-run farce at best, and that Chief was from everything I have seen, unqualified to be a parking meter collector.

          • bacchys

            He’s not wrong, and you’re just biased to the point of blindness. I wonder if you’ve actually read his work or just read that he’s critical of police.

            I’m in the military. Currently deployed, as a matter of fact. That’s not particularly relevant, so I’m not sure why you brought it up. Your ad hominem attack on Balko is long on nonsense and short on factual criticism.

            The vast majority of protestors in Fergusion were protestors, not rioters. There’s ample evidence that a militarized police response provokes a violent response from protestors, moreover, though you’d have to be willing to read outside your bubble to be aware of that.

            There were innumerable errors in Ferguson.

            The “most cops are good cops” schtick is irrelevant and rather specious given your willingness to tar other people with the actions of a few. Yes, I agree: most cops are good people doing a difficult job. That doesn’t excuse those who aren’t good people and it doesn’t excuse the good people when they make a serious mistake that violates the law. You say the “good cops” are angered by the bad ones, but that anger seems to be more in theory than in practice- the Joe Chrystals of the world and the cops who stood around watching Jeff Payne make an unlawful arrest and didn’t report it later, either- argue that the “anger” isn’t something they think worth acting on.

          • LegalBeagle

            I tried to read it. I started in at the library; it was so bad I felt like the grader in Billy Madison. My critique of his credentials is not ad hominem; it reflects his complete lack of qualification for the topic about which he writes. He was not born or was very young in the time period during which a lot of the worst of American violent crime was occurring (read Days of Rage, or look in to the history of the drug trade in S. Florida), and Mayberry never existed.

            As for provoking responses, it only does so with the criminally feral (antifa et al)and their apologists (BLM, et al). The AARs from officers on the scene reflect very few protesters (who were protesting a non-event), and a staggering number of violent rioters. As we saw with the rioters in Charleston, the failure of the police to be deployed in appropriate protective gear was a substantial issue.

          • bacchys

            Ad hominem is “to the man.” Criticizing someone’s credentials instead of their arguments is very much ad hominem.

            He’s studied the issue for well over a decade, first at the Cato Organization, then Reason.com, then Huffington Post, and nowadays at the Washington Post. People who do have the credentials you say he lacks have praised his work, including former Baltimore cop-turned-sociologist Peter Moskos. Another is (also) former Baltimore cop Michael Wood, who has become an advocate for police reform.

            His “Rise of the Warrior Cop” is heavily footnoted: you can check out his source material for yourself. The data isn’t inaccurate. When he points out we’ve gone from about 2,000 paramilitary raids by law enforcement in 1980 to well over 50,000 a year (no one knows how many) in recent years, he’s correct.

            On protests, there are several studies out there which suggest that militarized police responses to protests provoke riots (http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2014/08/how-militarizing-police-can-increase-violence.html). No, it’s not just Antifa-type anarchists who are provoked, either. In this article (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-watch/wp/2014/08/14/after-ferguson-how-should-police-respond-to-protests/?utm_term=.8661c83e1a2a) Balko talks to former Chiefs of Police Jerry Wilson (D.C.) and Norm Stamper (Seattle) about the issue.

            More particularly with Ferguson, it wasn’t antifa rioters that one St. Louis County cop- a Lieutenant, no less- was pointing his AR-15 at: it was some white college kids there to protest. He ultimately resigned (https://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/michael-brown-shooting/missouri-cop-resigns-after-pointing-rifle-ferguson-protesters-n191751).

          • LegalBeagle

            I am well aware of Norm Stamper, and he is not credible about much of anything pertaining to police work. He is a nice guy, but that is not relevant. Most of his successors, like Kerlikowske and O’Toole, have been unmitigated disasters, and Seattle PD’s long history of complacency, driven by the City structure in general, is well known. Entering that consent decree based on knowing fabrications from DOJ/OCR was misconduct. (As was the SL County Lt.’s behavior, as far as I have ever seen.)

            A mere increase in the number of SWAT personnel doing raids is not indicative; it could simply mean that the long term history of complacency in policing (“Officer Down, Code 3”, published over 40 years ago, showed that, and most of the well proven lessons of that book have still not be applied) that resulted in officers deaths and injuries was being addressed. LE must always be more prepared and more able to deliver controlling force than the opposing criminals, regardless of the circumstances.

            The fact that persons prone to violent criminality are provoked by LE personnel who are properly dressed for addressing violent riots is merely a reflection that they are prone to violent criminality. The failure of Charleston PD to have their personnel prepared to respond to a collection of oxygen thieves (both sides) is an example – that Chief needs to be fired. I work in a state in which the state analog to OSHA has hammered agencies for not protecting their personnel with appropriate gear. Our state agency, which at the top is a lawless dysfunctional adhocracy, got hit 4 times in a couple of years. I am aware of a PUBLIC DEFENDER office that got hammered for prohibiting their investigators from being armed due to the exposure they had – and they are not even LE.

          • bacchys

            So now a former police chief isn’t qualified, either? It seems only other cops who agree with you meet your exacting criteria.
            The increase in the number of SWAT raids does show us that police are relying more on paramiltary tactics. You waving that away doesn’t alter that. When Sal Culosi was gunned down by a SWAT team in ’02, they were there to serve a warrant for a minor gambling charge. He had placed bets: he wasn’t a bookie. But they showed up in full battle rattle and he was killed when a SWAT officer “accidentally” fired a round through his heart. That’s not coming more prepared: it’s overkill. SWAT teams get justified for one thing, then they get used for basic warrant service. Throw in poor pre-raid intelligence, poor investigation, and a lack of accountability and you get a flash-bang thrown into a baby’s crib.
            You basically argue it’s reasonable for the police to view every person who isn’t law enforcement as a deranged lunatic looking to commit suicide by cop, but if someone argued that the rest of us should view police that way I doubt you’d think that reasonable. But the raw math shows it’s far more likely a cop will kill someone than a cop will be killed by someone.
            You use the word “fact” in your last paragraph, but you provide no evidence to support that it’s a fact. It looks more like a self-justifying assumption: anyone who become violent was “prone” to it. It’s not possible that law enforcement could provoke a violent response regardless of what they do, right?

          • LegalBeagle

            As a matter of law, no. The law is clear that in all non-consensual encounters, LE gets to exercise “unquestioned control”. That’s not me – that SCOTUS. As to the use of the word “fact”, I was accepting as fact the assertion made that some might be provoked – you provided that position.

            There are plenty of examples of LE doing dumb things that should have gotten people fired or worse. I can’t think of any good reason for address errors in warrant service, for example. However, American LE does not kill very many people as either a real number, or as a percentage of the number it could (and by necessary implication, should), which is roughly 5%. Of that number, only in very few cases are there true examples of misconduct. There have been far more malicious prosecutions of cops in the last 2 to 3 years than there have been misconduct in use of force.

            Police Chiefs being unqualified to assess use of force (and plenty of other things) is nothing new. As a group, they are far less qualified than most other sworn positions.

          • bacchys

            I’ve been puzzling over your response for a bit, but I’m not sure how it’s…well, responsive.
            Police do have the authority to control those situations where they have authority. That sounds like a tautology, but it’s not quite. A cop working a protest doesn’t have “unquestioned control” to point his rifle at people who are engaged in peacable, lawful protest. He doesn’t have “unquestioned control” to pepper spray four women who aren’t ignoring police orders and, again, engaged in peacable, lawful, First Amendment-protected activity. If police at a protest order people into the road and then arrest them for being in the road, that exceeds their writ of authority. Unfortunately, we don’t hold officers who do that accountable for their actions. Instead, we pretend “justice was served” when those whose rights were violated aren’t convicted of a crime.
            There are plenty of examples of LE doing things that no only should get them fired, but should have them criminally charged. But they aren’t. That’s why we have a problem. The problem isn’t that “cops are bad.” Most aren’t. The overwhelming number of cops aren’t bad cops. The problem is institutional corruption means far too often “bad cops” and cops who’ve had a bad day aren’t held accountable for their actions.
            Your ad hominem on police chiefs just seems to underscore what I pointed out upthread: you see anyone who disagrees with you as unqualified.
            I do want to add I’m enjoying the discussion. Thank you for a civil and informative debate.

          • LegalBeagle

            My background is such that I have written and taught on the search and seizure issues. I’ve litigated use of force cases, and I have seen purported “experts” who are retired executive level officers who are roughly as unqualified to speak on use of force as I am on making wine. (That is, I know that grapes are involved and they get crushed, and then stuff happens.) I am dealing with such a matter now. The “expert” simply is not one, appears to have lied about important issues, and has come to conclusions that simply are not tenable. The plaintiff’s Bar in 1983 actions lies. A lot. The example in Scott v. Harris, in which claims were made that are shown to be utter BS by the video, is not unusual. The case to which I refer above has a staggering number of falsehoods in its allegations, most of which plaintiff has known for years to be false, and they have not been corrected, which is a breach of the duty of candor to the tribunal, among other problems.

            I have had regular dealing with an agency in this state that has a great public image with all except their officer/Sergeant ranks, who know that the bosses are as crooked as a DNA strand. (To the extent that a civil RICO case is not unforeseeable.) These executive level officers don’t know the law and don’t follow it, and don’t care. A now retired Lt. friend of mine was not offended when I asked how many of their executive (Capt. and above) personnel could pass a background – he immediately responded “maybe half”. That’s disheartening, to say the least. So is the fact that the majority of their retirees leave as soon as they can, and that most of the personnel refuse to assist in recruiting efforts because of they are ashamed of the place and how they are abused. I also have seen some of the legal advice they have gotten, and to call it malpractice is generous.

            Your examples are valid, but not on point to the legal issue to which I speak. Of course it is improper to direct people from point A to point B and then arrest them for being at point B. However, I have seen many examples of people not actually doing what they were told (“stop blocking the sidewalk” is not “get into the street”) but claiming that they did. (Not saying that it what happened in the situation you described – not familiar with it.) The related problem I do see is people claiming that LE cannot give them such direction, when the law is simply the opposite. Example: on a vehicle stop, which is definitionally a “Terry” encounter even it is just for minor traffic offenses, if the officer tells an occupant that they can’t smoke, that’s the end of the discussion. Anything other than prompt compliance is a crime. (Yeah, I am referring to the Texas case.) When told to remain in the car or to get out, as the officer determines – that’s the end of it. Period.

          • bacchys

            In the Texas case, the traffic stop was essentially over. He’d written the citation. He was extending the traffic stop beyond what was necessary. He shouldn’t have gotten pissed about getting an honest answer. Don’t ask a question when you can’t handle the truth. She should have simply complied and complained about his actions later, I agree, but that doesn’t make what he did right.
            I agree that prompt compliance with a lawful order is mandated by law- and necessity. The officer may well have valid reasons for making an order but lack the time to explain it. The place to argue the validity of a lawful order isn’t on the roadside or in the heat of the moment, though a part of the problem is that officers aren’t held accountable for giving unlawful and unnecessary orders.
            For example, I’ve had an officer order me to “stop” and “come here.” I’ obeyed. After approaching him as ordered, I asked if I was being detained. He said “no.” So, he gave me unlawful orders. I filed a complaint. He wasn’t even given a stern talking to. His superiors didn’t see a problem with his actions, even though his commands to me constituted an unlawful seizure of my person. I can’t afford to ignore his commands to stop and approach him because they might be lawful. He, however, gets to abuse his authority for his own purposes with effective impunity.
            That’s a small thing, but it happens repeatedly across the Republic millions upon millions of times.
            Here’s another example: some years back, I ran across a video from a neighboring county. A man saw a police stop and pulled into a parking lot to record it from across the street. After she finished her stop, the officer approached him and asked him what he was doing. He told her. She informed him that recording her was against the law and he was under arrest for doing it. I wrote the County Executive, who punted me to a police department flack. That flack informed me that the man wasn’t arrested for videorecording the officer, but disturbing the peace, and, further, the state prosecutor decided not to prosecute. So, in that incident you had an unlawful arrest for engaging in lawful, First Amendment-protected activity, and the department corruptly covering it up with a false arrest for disturbing the peace and a system generally (and corruptly) pretending the failure to prosecute for the false charge was sufficient to resolve the problem. The officer faced no disciplinary action for her unlawful arrest.
            Not one officer in the unlawful arrest of Christopher Sharp for videorecording was disciplined for the false arrest, even though the city ended up settling for hundreds of thousands of dollars with him over it.
            In another incident, a Baltimore City cop arrested a woman standing in her own front yard and recording an arrest on her cell phone. She spent three days in jail before the charges were dropped. He was suspended one day.
            So, there are times when idiots fail to obey the law and an officer and they face being arrested, charged, convicted, and sentenced for it. As they should be. There are also times officers abuse their authority or use it mistakenly, and the ugly truth is they almost never face any consequences for it. When they do, it’s typically light. Law enforcement is held to lower standards.

          • LegalBeagle

            As I recall, the Texas stop of which I am thinking was not over, but still in progress, and the citation not completed. I’ve dealt with similar conduct, and it was done to try to cover the smell of the alcohol; such is also done to use the cigarette as a weapon or distractor as part of an assault. The command staff at Texas DPS should have been fired for what they did to that trooper, and I have not been unable to understand how the jail’s failure to keep her safe has not had severe consequences.

            The other conduct is not acceptable, and I am not going to try to defend it. What is rarely seen is how angry cops get about that kind of crap and the cowardly failure of administrators to properly address that. I never minded filming, but people do have to maintain a much larger distance than they think in order to not be interfering/distracting.

          • bacchys

            We’re talking about the Sandra Bland case, I believe, and while he hadn’t yet handed her the citation he’d already written it and told her what she was getting. He then asked her a question, got an honest answer, and you can see his demeanor change and hear the change in his tone of voice after he heard the answer. If someone can’t take people being upset or angry at him for doing his job, the cop job ain’t for him.
            Let me put it this way: if, instead of his tone changing and his demanding she put out her cigarette he’d instead called for a dog and ultimately recovered drugs from her car, it wouldn’t have been admissible under U.S. v. Rodriguez because he was extending the stop longer than necessary.
            I can understand how the jail hasn’t been held accountable. That’s the norm. Jail guards can steam an inmate to death without consequence. Failing to check on a suicidal inmate
            I don’t really buy the “angry cops” part, though. There are too many Joe Chrystals and Donna Jane Wattses out there, to me, to support it. I do agree it’s a leadership issue, however. If the public had a reasonable expectation that cops who make wrongful arrests, detentions, or other abuses of authority would be held accountable it would go a long way towards minimizing these kinds of instances.

          • LegalBeagle

            Actually, if a dog had been close enough to arrive while he was still writing, it would not have been an improper extension. Other than that, you are right, but the encounter is not over until the tasks are complete. However, even while he is not at the vehicle, she can’t smoke, and I can’t see any trainee not getting a 1 for the day if they had let her.

          • bacchys

            He was done writing. Had he called for a dog at the same point he asked her to put out the cigaretter I doubt any evidence found as a result would have been admissible.

            I agree he had the authority to ask her to put it out, but he hadn’t to that point. He didn’t, prior to asking his question ask her to put it out. The “safety” argument just doesn’t jibe with what’s seen on the video. It’s entirely petty revenge for her not being overjoyed at getting a ticket.

  • Samuel Fivey

    Little to disagree with. Agency command staffs and officer associations first need to actually understand the legal standards involved. Then they need to be willing to stand up and communicate those, along with the facts of the event, to community through whatever media platforms they have available.

    While it has only been a handful of officers and agencies that have had to directly suffer through this over the last four, five years, the failure of those command staffs to take on the biased media and those driven by a false agenda have had nation-wide implications. Never mind how badly that abandonment has impacted those who directly suffered from it.

    Hopefully, you all will follow through on this. Not only with Ferguson but with all of the others where we’ve seen the cowardice and the abandonment.

  • Police Chaplain

    Proud of you brother. Standing with you.

  • LegalBeagle

    One of the huge problems has been the consistent dereliction of LE command personnel across the country who have failed to collect, analyze, and publicize data about what really happens, and the legal standards that apply. The lies get repeated, and rarely get corrected, so the volume of lies drowns out the truth.

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