There is another controversy over the level of force used in an arrest. The latest such controversy comes from Salinas California where police are investigating a new videotape and witness complaints about a beating given to a mentally ill who was being arrested after shoving his mother into a busy street. While 28-year-old Jose Velasco is shown trying to rise at one point, police below are shown beating him with batons and shooting him with Tasers while he is on the ground.
Officers said that they found Velasco screaming, running into traffic, jumping on cars, and attacking his mother. Salinas Police Chief Kelly McMillin insisted that Velasco was “a violent man assaulting his own mother” but admitted that the videotape raised serious concerns about the police response.
The police stated that when officers responded, they “saw Jose Velasco slamming the female’s body into the pavement of the northbound lane of North Main Street while heavy traffic was passing by. As the officers tried to get Velasco off of his mother by pulling him away, Velasco began to violently resist and attacked the officers.” Thet would certainly justify the use of force in my view. There is a danger in viewing such scenes with the benefit of hindsight and distance. Officers often have to act quickly and, when an individual is clearly a danger to himself and others, they often have to use force. The problem here is not necessarily the force initially used but the extent and the length of time involved in the use the use of force. That concern is particularly great with regard to the second officer who arrives and continues to beat Velasco with a baton as other officers are sitting on him or holding him.
The videotape is another example of the value of videotape in the proving of police abuse. We have been following the continuing abuse of citizens who are detained or arrested for filming police in public. Despite consistent rulings upholding the right of citizens to film police in public, such abuses continue as well as efforts to curtail this right.
What do you think?