Thursday, May 8, 2008

Police Abuse Authority Yet Again

MSNBC reports that police officers in Philadelphia severely beat three suspects during an arrest:

A police sergeant and five officers were pulled from street duty Wednesday as city officials investigated television footage showing a group of officers kicking and punching three shooting suspects.


Officers gathered around the vehicle and pulled three men out. About a half-dozen officers held two men on the ground on the driver's side. Both were kicked repeatedly, while one was punched; one also appeared to be struck with a baton.

On the other side of the car, the video showed, more officers kicking a third man who ends up on the ground.


[Dwayne] Dyches had a welt on his head the size of a baseball and one of his legs was seriously injured.
Video of the assault by police officers:

There's no excuse for this. Police officers are granted significant authority to perform their duties, and this is a prime example of abusing that authority. Whatever the individuals arrested are suspected for is besides the point -- if we value the ideals of freedom then police officers cannot be allowed to act like thugs. The MSNBC report mentions that officers have been on edge because of the recent fatal shooting of Officer Stephen Liczbinski; however, as I have mentioned, and as the police commissioner suggested, this is no excuse for their behavior.
The mother of one of the suspects said she was outraged.

"I'm horrified to see that our city cops would beat some human being like they did, like a gang-style fight," Leomia Dyches said. She added, "I'd like to see them tried for what they did."
Who wants to bet that the officers won't get off with only a suspension with pay and no criminal charges?


Anonymous said...

I find it outrageous that these three men are being made out to be victims. They are nothing more than criminals. They were involved in a shooting. This is why the streets of Philadelphia are out of control, because the citizens are more worried about the rights of criminals than the saftey is provided. If a cop lets his guard down and does not approach these criminals with force than they get shot and killed. KEEP OUR STREETS SAFE.

Anonymous said...

These 3 thugs were involved in a triple shooting. The shooting happened on the same corner a cop was gunned downed in cold blood. The video shows the end of a high speed chase less than 48hours after a cop was executed. You cannot allows thugs like this to kill peace keeping police officers. The sensationalizing of this event is wrong. These murdering,robbing thugs should be ruffed up when taken into custody then maybe they would think twice the next time they shoot bullets at people.

illegal youth said...

To both anonymous commenters:

You're each missing the point and are becoming bogged down in the details of this specific case rather than the big picture implications that the actions of the officers in question are portraying.

Whatever the individuals are suspected of is irrelevant to how the police have reacted in this circumstance. Our legal system is based upon the principle of innocent until proven guilty in a court of law by a jury of peers. Officers are not arbiters of justice -- they are not jury, judge, and executioner. Rather, they are entrusted with significant authority by the public they serve to enforce laws and to carry out the principle of due process. If officers are given the authority to enact retribution, then we have broken the system of shared power and checks and balances.

The actions of the officers in this circumstance highlight an abuse of the power entrusted by the public to police departments. Officers are expected to carry out the law, not break the law in order to punish suspects. Any observation of this video that does not conclude excessive force is only being dishonest.

The big picture implications of this is directly related to our cherished democracy and freedoms. If an authority figure is given the power to break the law at his/her own discretion, then we have begun a slide down a slippery slope towards a loss of rights and liberties. For your calls to give the police such powers of retribution only opens the door for truly innocent individuals to be unjustly acted upon by those in a position of authority.

My argument here is purely philosophical. Whether or not the suspects are guilty of other crimes is not relevant to the implications of the officer's actions. The police commissioner himself agrees.