Police Under Fire Over Videotape Showing Alleged Excessive Force In St. Patrick’s Day Arrest

Screen Shot 2016-03-19 at 8.31.58 AMThere is a controversy in Royal Oak, Michigan where a group of police officers are seen arresting a 25-year-old man on St. Patrick’s Day. The man, at least when outside of the bar, does not appear to be resisting but officers are shown pulling the man in different direction, dropping him to the ground, and using a taser.

In the midst of the scrum, one officer yells “taser” even tough the man’s movement appears the result of being shoved and pulled by officers. He was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

The police department said that it is investigating but that “At this point, preliminarily, there doesn’t appear to be any misconduct by officers.”

What do you think?

Here is the video

17 thoughts on “Police Under Fire Over Videotape Showing Alleged Excessive Force In St. Patrick’s Day Arrest

  1. From the beginning, I do not believe this will be ruled to be an unjustified use of force by any of the officers shown in the video. We cannot see what happened in side the bar but I am basin my observation on what is displayed in the video.

    I have to respectfully disagree with our host that the person was not resisting. The resistance started in the video when two officers began to move his hands behind the suspect’s back to cuff him and he used passive resistance at that time to prevent his being handcuffed. Namely, he stiffened up and walked away. He also pulled his arm free from the officer’s grasp during the cuffing.

    The matter was not helped by several officers moving him in different directions at the beginning of the video. However, this did not negate the resistance probable cause, which I believe was present to charge him with the offense of Resisting Arrest.

    00:06 One officer drops down during the struggle, the suspect goes in the direction of the wall.
    00:07 On officer on the right attempts to perform an Arm-Bar Takedown across the upper part of his chest, near the neck.
    00:10 The white haired office performs a Leg Raise as other officers attempt to put the suspect on the ground.
    00:13 At this point the suspect is on top of one of the officers. He has his right hand free. His left hand is held by the female officer. The officer beneath of the suspect is in a dangerous position. He is vulnerable to considerable injury and possible disarming. The training in this situation is to higher level of force to immediately escape from this position. Removing a suspect from on top of the officer is paramount at this time.
    00:16. The suspect broke free with his left hand from the grip of the female officer and another officer who at one point also was concurrently restraining the suspect by (possibly) counter-jointing his left wrist. The suspect raises up and holds both hands in front of the officer beneath him.
    00:17 It appears most likely the suspect is grabbing hold of the officer beneath him. Again this is active resistance that could possibly result in assault.
    00:19 Officer on the ground puts suspect into a Head Lock to restrain him. The suspect puts his right hand on the sidewalk. The suspect is held in place but is still on top of an officer. I cannot determine at this point if this is passive or active resistance judging by the position of the camera.
    00:21 White haired officer uses radio’s microphone. It is probable this is a request for additional units as the crowd is becoming agitated and surrounding the officers who are trying to contain the suspect. This is evidenced by hearing sirens arriving at the end of the video.
    00:22 An officer above the suspect calls out “Taser” to warn others he is going to deploy the Taser. A second late he shoots the Taser using Darts into the suspect’s torso. I cannot readily tell if this was into his front or back with a degree of certainty. The camera pans away. The suspect later is shown turning on the ground and three officers are attempting to cuff him: one kneeling on his upper body, the other two trying to pull his hands together to cuff him. There is minor passive resistance to being cuffed.
    00:31 Suspect is protesting the Tasering (not an issue) but is repeatedly doing so using course language; a small amount of evidence of defiance saying:How many [expletive] times do you have to Tase me, I am being [expletive] nice…” repeated several times.
    01:37 One officer turns suspect and it appears he is trying to roll him around to stand him up but later sets him onto the sidewalk. I do not know what was the reason for him putting him to the ground.
    02:01 While on the ground, the suspect begins turning about and struggling with officers, in defiance of being told to calm himself.
    02:15 The suspect continues his verbal tirade while being held down by two officers.

    It should be asserted that during this arrest the officers were surrounded by a crowd with several persons, especially the male in the white shirt and another in a green who continue to inject themselves into the scene and have to be pushed back several times. In situations such as this it is important to contain a suspect so that other officers can maintain a safety perimeter around the arrest to protect both the officers and the suspect. It is common during fights in bars for others to come into the scene and attempt to assault the suspect in a form of revenge.

    Due to the crowd’s behavior coupled with the suspect’s actions, during the times shown on the video it was reasonable to hold the suspect on the ground since trying to remove the suspect through the crowd might have proven to be unwise given the hot emotions exercised.

    I did not see any evidence of uses of force such as punches, strikes, or other means to inflict injury to the suspect. I saw no motions or actions that would cause an injury to the suspect except for what would be expected of Taser darts in a localized area. The shot of the probes into the center of the suspect prevented further injury to the suspect since it was least likely to strike his face, eyes or other vulnerable areas.

    In my opinion that only aspect of this arrest that might be subject to review was whether the use of the darts in the Taser was reasonable. Given the resistive suspect and the fact that he was straddling another officer at the time of the deployment and given as I have mentioned previously the potential for further injury to the officer or the possibility of disarming I feel the use of the Taser will be held to be reasonable. An alternative use would have been to remove the dart cartridge and Drive Stun the suspect into a nerve plexus region on his upper back or arms. For me, I would have chosen the latter.

    In conclusion I do not believe the actions of any of the officers will be held to be unjustified, unreasonable, or unlawful.

  2. @DarrenSmith

    I think you are right. The police are under no obligation to coddle people. Comply with their request and quit acting like a jerk, and nobody gets hurt. This guy resisted, and he could have been the spark for more trouble.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  3. The Guy appears to be “limp” and he’s being pulled and tugged in all directions.
    I see no signs of him resisting, what so ever.!

  4. Appreciate Darrell’s expertise and commentary, but his analysis illustrate the problem with cop behavior.

    Darrell provides extensive analysis of the action and concludes that the cops are justified.

    But if the arrestee’s actions constitute “resisting arrest”, then the law is wrong – the pendulum has swung too far in favor of cops.

    Being a cop is not a sedentary occupation – being a cop means that you will face “passive resistance” by people who resent being pulled/pushed around by angry cops screaming in your ear and giving conflicting orders.

    The arrestee did not hurt them, did not strike them, and did not run – that should be the definition of “resisting”.

    One of the problems we face in analyzing these situations is that cops have gotten entitled – they seem to think that American citizens should kowtow to people in uniform. Americans on the other hand often feel that cop behavior is too aggressive and that the law gives cops too much leeway.

    The law and order types think that “cop haters” are just blacks and pinkos mouthing off – anecdotal evidence suggests that thinking Americans feel a deep unease with where the pendulum is right now.

  5. Darren, I disagree with you that using a Taser in this situation is not excessive force. The perp was not struggling, and there’s no reason he had to go to the ground other than to satisfy some baseless policy.

    And, frankly, I think Tasers are very dangerous. If you were to go into a hospital for the jolt of electricity running through those darts, the staff would do a full prep workup to see whether your body could physically tolerate it. Why we think Tasers are safe on the street when a hospital staff would first determine the patient’s level of health reflects the poor standard of care one can expect from our police.

    The policeman in this video may suffer no liability, but the policy should change.

  6. I don’t have enough information to make a call. All that seems strange to me is the reason for the taser was because ‘he was on top of an officer’ when it was an officer’s actions that put him on top of the other guy.

    It does look like the suspect purposely ducked out of the 0:06 headlock attempt when the officer went down, perhaps out of his defiance or a natural reaction to not have your head like that.

    Well HEY! IF this is the WORST police incident that came out of St. Patty’s day? We are doing FANTASTIC!

  7. The ubiquity of cell phones have shown excessive, criminal behavior by cops. They have also shown the ugliness cops have to deal w/ on a daily basis. People w/o an agenda see the difference and react accordingly. Cop haters just keep on hatin’.

  8. I watched the film and I watched his face. He was not resisting. He was a rag-doll. The cops moved him where ever they wanted. The Taser was over the top. It was dog-pile on the civilian.

  9. I don’t get the concept of “passive resistance.” Essentially it means he is just doing nothing. Is he to be punished because he didn’t assist the cops in arresting him?

  10. Darren – thanks for your analysis. I’ve often wondered how the darts on the Taser work. Are they single use, so there is no cross contamination?

    I hope this is the right video. Horowitz interviewed white people in NY about cops, where he heard they were all racist, etc. Then he put on a “Cops’ Lives Matter” shirt and went to Harlem. Here is what happened:

    http://video.foxnews.com/v/4805473674001/horowitz-do-cops-lives-matter/?#sp=show-clips

  11. @Darren

    I disagree. When I examined the video, the man was not resisting. The police was not justified in their use of force.

    In fact, they were baiting him by pushing, shoving then shouting out a specific word: taser. When a police officer uses a taser, they do so to eliminate a potential threat. The guy was NOT a potential threat. He didn’t carry a knife, a gun, or anything else. He was restrained while they checked him.

    He didn’t punch back. He didn’t refuse. He was confused, and when slammed up against the wall, became even more confused. He raised his arm up as if to say, “What the hell is going on here?” Then he was thrown to the ground.

    That’s excessive use of force.

    Let me give you another clear cut example of a similar incident.

    There is a YouTube video that I can’t find. It features multiple cops in a subway station in New York. The man was standing there, surrounded by all the cops. He didn’t resist but was held at arms length by two cops. Later, he made a small movement as if to make himself more comfortable. They ended up shouting, “STOP RESISTING! STOP RESISTING!” all at once. They restrained him. It took 5 guys to take him down in 1-2 seconds flat.

    It was a huge massive pile-up and the guy was struggling to breathe with the cops “freak-controlling” him.

    Still excessive use of force. The guy did not display any aggressive demeanor, nor did he present himself as a potential threat. Seriously…

  12. Excessive use of force. But what do you folks in society do? Lay down like they did in the Soviet Union for seventy years and let it go on? Explain it away like some comments here?
    What would Curley say?

  13. @Elmer Fudd

    Did you know that a police video surfaced in the 90s on World Police Scariest Chase by John Walsh regarding the Russian Police?

    It showed two segments. Let me recollect for a second here…

    The first segment featured Russian police training future Moskva police officers in navigating the terrain on a cold, wintery, but crowded streets of Moscow. They were a long train of police cars, following the leading car. Their objective was to learn how to weave into and out of traffic with sirens on. They’re to avoid incoming collisions, oncoming traffic, check the tracks, and observe civilian behavior on the streets.

    A black Yugo parked in front of a red light. Soon, as the video of the leading car showed, the police car bumped the black Yugo, demanding that he move. Quickly, the vehicle bailed. He went over the red light at high speed. It gave the trainee the perfect opportunity to track him down using radio and to cordon areas where he may be at high risk to traffic. It wasn’t until later that the guy was stopped by police cars on the other side of the road. The segment did not record their entire confrontation. The only segment that showed was that they found an arms cache in the back of the Yugo vehicle and the man was badly beaten, nose bruised, bloodied, his hands cuffed, and buttocks sitting on the icy sidewalk with two Russian police officers standing off the curb, observing him. Police Brutality? Perhaps not since they had the right of rule to determine who can or can’t carry firearms.

    Another segment featured a hijacking of a bus that stopped on a tarmac. It was a cold morning with bristling winds. OMON (the agency dealing with counter-insurgency) coordinated with local police. They came up with a very daring plan. The terrorists’ demands were 1) send a helicopter and refuel it with gas, 2) safe passage across Russian airspace, 3) no harm being done to the terrorists.

    OMON gave the OK. So they sent in a military Hind, its rotors thundering across the skies. The helicopter was too low, but gave off the thundering sounds to mask the oncoming approach of a fast-speeding BDRM with OMON on top. The BDRM then stopped in front of the bus. The OMON troops then got off the APC, smashed the windows with a crowbar, opened the door, and assaulted the terrorists. Pointmen carried heavier weapons and opened fire on the terrorists. Some pointmen died, other Russian civilian casualties were pretty high, many were injured in the gunfight. Later, the segment didn’t show what happened after they secured the terrorists. They secured the terrorists after their faces were badly beaten, bruised, nose bloodied, attempting to inhale/exhale; their bodies were lying face down on the tarmac, ice everywhere.

    Police brutality? No. Of course not. OMON’s job was to secure the Russian Federation’s borders and regions from uprisings, counter-insurgency, and more. They have the right to beat the terrorists they arrested. They have the right to shoot them in the heat of the situation. After the dust settles, they must abide by what the police administration tells them to do.

    Then here’s a YouTube video. You tell me if the Russian cop is in the right after savagely beating 4 guys. Maybe they are hooligans. Maybe they’re not. Maybe they’re trying to do legitimate business transactions. I don’t honestly know but due process requires that the person arrested is innocent before guilty. In a trial, if he’s found innocent, he’s innocent. IF he’s found guilty, he’s guilty.

    The Soviets had far different methods of dealing with people. Believe me when I say it, their historical past due to the Chekas, are far more nefarious and bloodier than an unsantized tale of Cinderella can deliver.

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