In 2008, twenty Philadelphia police officers beat three men suspected of murder and the entire ordeal was captioned on a video released by Fox29. A grand jury found all 20 police officers not guilty of criminal action because the three suspects “eluded police” and the police officers “used reasonable force” when they were videotaped kicking the victims repeatedly during the 14-minute video.
Also in 2008, two undercover Denver police detectives stopped a man because he ran a red light on his bicycle. The officers dressed as civilians pulled the man off of his bike, grabbed his hair and slammed his head to the concrete breaking his two front teeth. The entire ordeal was recorded on video camera. The two undercover officers did not face any charges.
Last week a police officer with the St. Louis County Police Department resigned the same day that he was being investigated for allegedly assaulting a prisoner. The prisoner suffered non-life threatening injuries during the alleged beating on July 18 and the officer is currently being investigated for third-degree assault. Investigators are currently reviewing surveillance footage to verify any wrongdoing.
While the St. Louis County case has yet to be carried out, it would not be a surprise if the officer accused of misconduct would be found innocent. That is seemingly the theme of all police brutality cases—even the culturally impactful Rodney King beating resulted in 4 police officers being acquitted after they were videotaped assaulting King.
The police brutality problem in our society is swept under the rug far too often. Members of the police force assault someone, it gets reported on, people get angry and the assailants are never charged with any crime. The saddest thing is that in more recent years the crime has been caught on video and still no justice is served for the victim. Police officers essentially get away with murder. Don’t think that is true?
In 1995, 31-year-old Johnny Gammage was asphyxiated to death by police officers in Alleghney County, Pa after they applied pressure to his chest and neck during an arrest. In 1999, 23-year-old Amadou Diallo, an unarmed civilian, was shot 41 times by NYPD police officers because they thought his wallet was a gun. In 2006 Sean Bell, another 23-year-old unarmed civilian, was shot at 50 times by undercover NYPD detectives because they thought one of the passengers in Bell’s car had reached for a gun. All of these victims were unarmed and all of the officers in their cases never faced any criminal charges for the murders they committed.
When police officers break the law in any fashion they should be treated like any other law-breaking criminal. Being a police officer should not give someone special privileges in court and furthermore, it should not excuse them of their crimes. There is no justice for families who have lost their loved ones or for the victims of police beatings when the assailant is a police officer and they are never punished. It is no wonder why so many people do not trust the police.
Who exactly does the law protect?