Saturday, January 17, 2015

Detroit Arrest: Police Brutality or Street Justice?

I am not overly fond of police. Usually when they are talking to you something has gone wrong with your day. But I must admit that they are necessary for society. Although I can honestly say they've never directly helped me much, we are all made safer when alleged or actual criminals are removed from the street. That's a police department's primary job responsibility: to apprehend such people. A local police task force apprehended and arrested a carjacker and felon named Andrew Jackson. The police may or may not have used excessive force in arresting the man. This story is attracting attention locally. I briefly read about it in the Detroit papers. But I didn't really start paying attention until driving home a few days ago when I listened to a rather heated discussion on the Mitch Albom radio show. Albom and his co-host Ken Brown (who is black) were mostly supporting the police, pointing out that the alleged criminal was armed and wasn't completely restrained during most of the use of force. Brown, who is a comedian with a penchant for hyperbole, exclaimed that he "wasn't marching for no criminal!". Numerous people called in to state that Albom and especially Brown were missing the point. The story discussion also lit up my Facebook feed and email accounts. Various friends and relatives, few of whom would ever be caught dead donating to policeman charity funds, took different sides on this issue. We don't and can't expect perfection from police. However, if you let things slide eventually you may wind up with infamous jails or prisons like LA County or Riker's Island where police and prison guards have felt free to abuse, beat, rape and even kill inmates, some of whom haven't even been found guilty yet. It's not the police officer's job to punish someone accused of a crime. Attacking someone after they are restrained is cowardly and evil. No good. 

But the accused apparently did have a gun on him before he was taken into custody. And police are most definitely trained and allowed to use appropriate force to protect themselves and complete the arrest. Force during the arrest can be ok; force after the arrest generally isn't. Unlike other cases we've discussed this situation apparently does not involve mistaken identity. A police officer did not decide to bully, harass or insult someone just because s/he can. Some people found karmic justice in watching a grown man who was a big bad wolf while allegedly terrorizing an unarmed grandmother, turn into a little sheep crying for Jesus when the police catch him. But everyone, even vicious criminals, deserves legal protection. Otherwise all we have is might makes right. Below the fold watch what happened during part of the arrest and read the thoughts of Mr. Jackson's (alleged) victim.

Grosse Pointe Park — Protesters Wednesday outside the headquarters of the Department of Public Safety questioned "whether excessive force was used" by area police officers videotaped hitting and kicking a carjacking suspect in Detroit.
"We are on a peace mission ... this is the kind of thing that can incite something," said Ron Scott, director of the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality, who was joined by a dozen other protesters.
The coalition called for criminal and civil charges plus the suspension of the officers from a multi-jurisdictional task force involved in the incident, which occurred Monday morning on Plainview, near McNichols and Evergreen.
The video of the arrest, which was recorded by Detroit resident Emma Craig on Monday on the city's northwest side and posted on Facebook, shows two officers beating the suspect identified as Andrew Jackson Jr. while apparently trying to handcuff him, and administering more blows after his hands were secured behind his back. According to Hiller, task force officers were tracking a vehicle that had been carjacked two hours earlier.
"This subject was a parole absconder wanted for an armed robbery in Detroit. He was armed with a handgun," Hiller said.
"The subject resisted arrest and in an attempt to restrain him an officer deployed a Taser," according to a police statement. "However, it failed to take effect due to the subject's heavy clothing. The subject continue(d) to reach for the area of his waist band and refused all orders to show his hands.
"He curled up in a ball and his right hand again went under his clothing. Fearing for their safety and those in the immediate area, an officer delivered a kick to the thigh area of the subject thus allowing the other officers the ability to arrest the subject. Located in his waist band was a loaded semi-automatic handgun."
The victim in Monday's carjacking is telling what happened before any camera started rolling - and any cops started hitting and kicking an armed and dangerous man. The 55-year-old woman says her grand kids were in the car. She was standing just outside around 7:40 Monday morning near Greenfield and Fenkell.
"This is a dangerous felon who had a semi-automatic gun which was loaded, that he had put in my face and my children's face," the woman said. 
The victim had a broom to brush the heavy snow off her car, that's when she said a man came up to her with a gun and pointed it at her.
"He puts the gun in my face and says '(blank) give me your car and your purse, I'm robbing you,'" she said.
She told him she had no money and her grandsons were in the car.
"I'm screaming and yelling, 'Help help I'm being robbed,'" she said. "And he's telling me to shut the hell up and then he pointed the gun at my two grand kids." Boys, just 9 and 12 years old with the older child having special needs, were inside the car. 
"'Get your ass out of the car,' he just kept yelling and screaming," she said. Jackson fled in her car and GPS tracking led the police's Auto Theft Task Force to the suspect. 
But Jackson wasn't ready to give up. Armed and dangerous, he ran and police gave chase for a quarter mile before catching their suspect. Their officers' actions - kicking, hitting, the victim believes were totally justified based on what Jackson had just done to her family.
"I think they did a good job, maybe the officer's emotion got the best of him," she said. During the arrest as he was being struck, the suspect called out "Jesus." One of the officers said "Don't you dare" as he hit him.
The victim referred to the suspect's apparent cry for help from above.
"I'm like the officer," she said. "How dare you call on Jesus when you robbed somebody by gunpoint. Was he thinking of Jesus when he put a gun to my face and my grand kids' faces?"

What's your take on this incident?
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