Fort Collins Police Under Fire After Release Of Brutal Take Down Of Colorado State University Student

A new videotape has raised questions of excessive force in Colorado. The video shows Michaella Surat, 22, was thrown to the ground with such violence that it could easily have caused serious head and face injury. The sorority girl was arrested after she allegedly struck an officer who has responded to a fight involving Surat’s boyfriend.  Surat is a junior at Colorado State University.  The smiling mugshot below does not show any obvious injury to Surat, but the video (also below) is quite chilling.

The incident occurred near Bondi Beach Bar in Old Town Fort Collins. Surat tried to leave with her boyfriend but police said that he was not ready to go (but that she was).  She then allegedly “shoulder checked” a bouncer and police officer, which was declared to be a battery.  The description of the “check” does not sound particularly serious but it turned quite serious in the following moments.  Surat faces charges of third-degree assault and obstructing a peace officer.

Kate Kimble, Fort Collins police spokeswoman, said that the take down was a “standard arrest control” to subdue Surat.  It is hard to see from the video why such a violent move was needed in dealing with the woman who did not appear to present any serious threat to the officers.

This is not the first such controversy in Colorado. In 2015, this eerily similar scene was captured on a security camera:

The concern in such films is that a take down can be used to cause serious injury while justifying the act as a standard arrest move.  Particularly when the suspect is not a serious physical threat, legitimate questions are raised about both the means and the motivation behind the level of force used in the arrest.

What do you think?

120 thoughts on “Fort Collins Police Under Fire After Release Of Brutal Take Down Of Colorado State University Student

  1. anonymous, April 11, 2017 at 3:34 pm
    “They’ll settle with the guy. He’ll likely end up with a good chunk of change, but it was a f*ck-up, to be sure. Never should have happened.”

    Not only is that going to be one very rich doctor if he sues, but Katie Curic reported that United Airline stock has lost $500 million in value since the video of their customer relations policy in action went viral.

    In view of the world-wide viewing of the video and the growing number of people who are boycotting UA, methinks the stock’s value will probably go down even more.

    It seems that in the digital age, it’s becoming increasingly diffcult to throw around your big fat corporate a$$ for all the world to see.

    • “It seems that in the digital age, it’s becoming increasingly diffcult to throw around your big fat corporate a$$ for all the world to see.”

      Yep. And it’s a damn good thing.

    • I would say the opposite notwithstanding small victories such as the video of this doctor. In general, the world is far more receptive to brutal control by ever more technologically and militarily over equipped police and security forces as you outline in your excellent response to Under-Toads above.

      The Empire may be collapsing, but it will not be short and sweet.

    • Someone needs to leak the dark past of United’s CEO. I’m sure there’s nothing to see there!

      Really, this guys past, dark or otherwise is completely irrelevant. A computer picked him out and unless United is claiming psychic abilities on the part of HAL, he was picked at random. It was United who manhandled him and forced him off the plane. It is their action alone which matters. And BTW, which agency/private agency corporate master gave out the info on the passenger? Probably Susan Rice, except it can’t be her because she would never lie! It can’t be Eric Schmidt because he never does evil. So I guess it only leaves—Satan!

        • Some balance:

          http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/david-daos-past-doesnt-negate-what-happened-on-that-united-flight_us_58ecf1e5e4b0ca64d9197011

          “As ThinkProgress notes, the Courier-Journal piece doesn’t delve into the background of the Chicago Department of Aviation or the 10-year stretch between 2004 and 2014 when the Chicago Police Department paid out more than $500 million in brutality settlements and legal fees. “Nor does it attempt to explain why the CDA placed one officer who was involved in the Dao incident on leave but not the other two who can be seen manhandling him in videos,” ThinkProgress points out.

          “But as for Dao’s “sordid history,” what purpose does that serve?

          “This sort of unnecessary muckraking has taken place repeatedly.

          “For example, take Timothy Caughman, a 66-year-old New York City man who was stabbed to death by a white supremacist in March. News reports about Caughman’s murder investigated his arrest records from the 15 years prior, though his criminal history had nothing to do with his death or why his killer, James Jackson, targeted him. Jackson admitted in an interview that he “had traveled to New York from Baltimore intending to kill numerous black men.” Isn’t that more significant than charges for marijuana possession over a decade old?

          “We can also consider what happened to 18-year-old Michael Brown after he was fatally shot in Ferguson, Missouri. Brown’s life was dissected posthumously: The New York Times called him “no angel” due to habits deemed “problematic” ― activity that included “dabbling in drugs and alcohol,” rapping and “one scuffle with a neighbor.”

          “And look at what happened to Ken Bone, the red-sweatered man who asked a question during the 2016 presidential debates and won America’s hearts. After Bone had become a widespread meme, reporters discovered that he had made unsavory comments about the likes of Trayvon Martin and Jennifer Lawrence on Reddit. Again, there’s no reason to defend Bone here. The comments were bad. But what was the motive for bringing them to light?

          “In Dao’s case, no matter what he did in his past, United’s actions are unjustifiable.

          “We are living in an age where the media is under incredible scrutiny. People routinely doubt facts and even have presidential support to consider journalists an enemy. It’s important that we do our jobs as effectively as possible. But the more we dig up irrelevant dirt from people’s pasts, the more we resemble pitchfork-carrying mobs.

          “We don’t need to tell every story, folks. But if we must put it out there, let’s tell it right.”

          • I’d guess Dao’s license to practice medicine in Kentucky was reinstated after five years because he either: 1) pleaded drug addiction made him do it; or, 2) he was Senator Mitch McConnell’s primary care physician, and Mitch has every Kentuckian’s genitalia in a bench vice, even those on the state medical board.

  2. Former Police Chief Has A Plan For ‘How To Fix America’s Police’

    July 10, 20165:18 PM ET

    http://www.npr.org/2016/07/10/485460453/former-police-chief-has-a-plan-for-how-to-fix-americas-police

    Former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper says in his book To Protect and Serve: How to Fix America’s Police that policing is in crisis. He says more emphasis needs to be put on community policing.

    MARTIN: Let’s talk about your book. The subtitle, as I said, is “How To Fix America’s Police.” So I have to assume that you believe that America’s policing system is in fact broken. What’s broken?

    STAMPER: The system itself. Policing is broken. Tragically, it has been broken from the very beginning of the institution. It has evolved as a paramilitary, bureaucratic, organizational arrangement that distances police officers from the communities they’ve been sworn to protect and serve.

    MARTIN: What underlies your view about the fact that the system itself is what’s broken?

    STAMPER: Well, it starts from the very basic premise that the police in America belong to the people, not the other way around. And if we’re ever to achieve that kind of partnership, we’ve got to find a way to build trust. And that’s not going to happen as a result of some cosmetic public relations approach.

    It requires very, very hard work. It is human beings all playing different roles, recognizing their common ground and working to establish the quality and the nature of the relationship that’s necessary to reach that common ground. And, for me, that means we need to adopt true community policing. And I don’t believe that that exists to the extent that it should.

    MARTIN: That suggests that this is an issue of a few people as opposed to a systemic problem. So what’s the system problem that leads to these poor outcomes?

    STAMPER: The system problem, I think, is that police officers in the United States believe that they must maintain control from beginning to end of every single contact they make. They’re taught that by their culture. In some cases, they’re taught that in the police academy.

    When you create this one-up, one-down situation in which the police officer says, I’m the cop. You’re not. This is what you’re going to do and why you’re going to do it, how you’re going to do it, if you’re going to do it. That kind of control leads to an abuse of power. We’ve also militarized American law enforcement beyond all measure. The drug work has contributed dramatically to the militarization of policing. If you’re engaged in a war, you have to have an enemy. You also have to have propaganda. You don’t fight wars without enemies and propaganda.

    And so we’ve taught our cops that they’re on the front lines of an occupational force and their job is to maintain control of every situation. And I would argue that they lose control when they embrace that attitude and take it into every contact. Look, there are dangerous situations in police work, and police officers need to be ready to use force. The law entitles them to use only that amount of force necessary to overcome whatever resistance they’re facing. And if, in fact, you’re confronting, as the police officers in Dallas did, an armed and very, very dangerous man, they are authorized to use lethal force.

    Most people, I think, get that. It’s when you get into these discretionary marginal contacts that we find police officers abusing their power. And it is true that if one officer out of the million police officers we have in this country shoot somebody without authorization, without legal standing, and we can say that’s the exception. Let’s go ahead and deal with that individual. But when we have shooting after shooting after shooting that most people would define as at least questionable, it’s time to look, not just at a few bad apples, but the barrel. And I’m convinced that it is the barrel that is rotted.

    MARTIN: You say in the book (reading) a scared cop is a dangerous cop.

    What do you mean by that?

    STAMPER: A scared cop is an impulsive cop. A scared cop is somebody who literally does not see straight. Perception is affected by fear, sometimes profoundly. Every officer who’s been involved in a shooting – and I have been – will tell you that tunnel vision is absolutely real. Everything else disappears from view but the threat to the safety of the officer or to the safety of any other person.

    And so it’s vital, I think, that we all understand that when a police officer is frightened, is inclined toward impulsive behavior or rash behavior, we need to be asking ourselves, did we anticipate this? Isn’t it in the nature of police where the cops are going to find themselves 3 o’clock in the morning down a darkened alley confronting somebody? How do we train them, educate them such that they know what their bodies are going to do?

    They have an understanding of elevated blood pressure, of rapid heart rate. They know what their bodies are telling them, namely I’m afraid. And then they have a way not to override it, but to channel it. And the cops I hear screaming at people, pulling their guns, firing those lethal weapons are out of control, and that comes from fear.

    MARTIN: Do you think anything good is going to come of this week?

    So it could very well be that critics will begin to sort of lean into whatever discomfort they may have about doing this and work with their cops. And then police officers experiencing the very raw emotions associated with human vulnerability, associated with human grief will become more human themselves. And they will say, look, this insanity has got to stop.

    MARTIN: That’s Norm Stamper. He began his law enforcement career as a beat cop in San Diego in 1966, and he eventually became chief of the Seattle Police Department. He’s the author of the new book “To Protect And Serve: How To Fix America’s Police,” and he was kind enough to join us from member station KPLU in Seattle. Chief Stamper, thank you so much for speaking with us.

    STAMPER: My pleasure. Thank you.

  3. Ex-Seattle Police Chief: Jeff Sessions is Apologist for Worst Type of Policing in Country

    APRIL 11, 2017

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions is attempting to shake up policing in the country by limiting federal oversight of police departments with a history of civil rights violations, while calling for an escalation of the war on drugs. Last week, Sessions ordered a wide-ranging review of the federal consent decrees with local law enforcement agencies that have been accused of brutality and violating civil rights laws. The review signals the Justice Department intends to shift away from monitoring and forcing changes within police departments, such as the police department of Ferguson, Missouri, where systematic racial discrimination by the police and the police killing of unarmed 18-year-old African American Michael Brown sparked an uprising in 2014. Attorney General Jeff Sessions also called for what many see as a new war on drugs during a speech in Richmond, Virginia. For more, we speak with Norm Stamper, the former chief of the Seattle Police Department and the author of the book “To Protect and Serve: How to Fix America’s Police.”

    TRANSCRIPT

    This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I wanted to ask Norm Stamper—you were the head of the Seattle Police Department. Seattle is under a consent decree, which has had enormous progress for the city’s policing. Could you talk about that?

    NORM STAMPER: Tremendous progress. As a matter of fact, last week, the federally appointed monitor of the consent decree in Seattle wrote, essentially, a love letter to the city, city civic officials, the police chief, and he named the rank and file, as well, and said, “This is a department that is undergoing major transformation.” Five years ago, that was not the case. Five years ago, the allegations of excessive force and bias policing were well established.

    So, what’s happened? There’s been a 60 percent reduction in use of force by Seattle police officers. There has been a dramatic decrease in the use of firearms, Tasers and batons. And police officers themselves, through the president of the Police Officers’ Guild, are saying, “The train has left the station. We’re grateful that we’re at this stage of our progress, rather than”—

    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And the crime rate has continued to go down, right?

    NORM STAMPER: The crime rate has continued to go down. Officer injuries are either flat or dropping. So there’s been no so-called Ferguson effect or de-policing.

    AMY GOODMAN: Well, let’s go back to Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaking to police and federal officials last month in Richmond, Virginia.

    ATTORNEY GENERAL JEFF SESSIONS: Many of you who are law enforcement leaders have told us that in this age of viral videos and targeted killings of police, something has changed in policing: Some law enforcement personnel are more reluctant to get out of their squad cars and do the proactive, up-close police work that builds trust and prevents violent crimes and saves lives of innocent people. In some cities, arrests have fallen as murder rates have surged.
    AMY GOODMAN: So, that’s Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper, your response?

    NORM STAMPER: My response to that is, he’s clearly in lockstep with his boss, the president. He is clearly an apologist for the worst kind of policing in this country. He is pandering to police unions. He is saying things that he thinks they want to hear, and is—

    AMY GOODMAN: But Sherrilyn is even saying that the police union is saying that they want to continue these.

    NORM STAMPER: That’s happened in Baltimore. It’s happened in Seattle. He needs to visit those two cities and pay attention. Instead of mouthing slogans, he needs to sit down and listen to the officers themselves.

  4. Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong deserves an Irish Poem! (Hmmm, I wonder if this will qualify as a
    poetry slam???)

    THOT* Process???
    An Irish Poem by Squeeky Fromm

    There once was a chick named Surat!
    And respect for the cops, she had not!
    But hit cops? You can’t!
    Sooo, she did a face plant!
    She was lucky she didn’t get shot!

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

    * For all you old fuddy-duds, a THOT is slang for “That Ho Over There” and it is pronounced to rhyme with “hot.”

  5. A bit OT, but:

    https://www.policemisconduct.net/worst-of-the-month-march-2017/

    Worst of the Month–March 2017

    Author Jonathan Blanks Posted on April 10, 2017

    For the worst of March, we look to the Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department scandal that has finally come to a close. Now-former Sheriff Lee Baca was found guilty of obstruction of justice for trying to hide various civil rights violations that were happening at the jail and within his department. Ten other officers, including Undersheriff Paul Tanaka, were convicted and sentenced to prison terms for beatings of inmates, general jail conditions, and hiding information from the federal government.

    Before this scandal came to light several years ago, other LASD deputies were tried and convicted for sexually abusing inmates and other civil rights violations.

    While some officers we cover are certainly bad apples, some departments create and maintain cultures of impunity for abusive officers. This allows misbehavior to become commonplace and even an integral part of how a department manages itself. This is a sad chapter in LASD’s history and hopefully the department can move on and regain the trust of the community it serves.

    (Thanks for the links, Ken.)

  6. @desperatelyseekingsasquatch, April 11, 2017 at 3:38 am

    “Come back when you know history!

    “Lawyers are the bain of corruption!

    “Ambulance chasers, all!

    “Ill fitted to the world.”

    I see that you’ve given up on finding susan and are now willing to settle for saquatch. I hope that’s a case of lowered, rather than heightened, expectations. 🙂

    I think you mean “bane,” as in “a source of harm or ruin,” but why do you object to harming or ruining corruption? Is this another instance of your authoritarian emotionalism clouding your thinking and its articulation?

    Regarding the history of policing in the US, the evidence from it isn’t terribly supportive of your desire to see the police even more unfettered than they already are. As a matter of fact, that history is dramatically unsupportive of your police-power (-state?) advocacy:

    “More than crime, modern police forces in the United States emerged as a response to ‘disorder.’ What constitutes social and public order depends largely on who is defining those terms, and in the cities of 19th century America they were defined by the mercantile interests, who through taxes and political influence supported the development of bureaucratic policing institutions.

    “These economic interests had a greater interest in social control than crime control. Private and for profit policing was too disorganized and too crime-specific in form to fulfill these needs. The emerging commercial elites needed a mechanism to insure a stable and orderly work force, a stable and orderly environment for the conduct of business, and the maintenance of what they referred to as the ‘collective good’ (Spitzer and Scull 1977). These mercantile interests also wanted to divest themselves of the cost of protecting their own enterprises, transferring those costs from the private sector to the state.”

    “From the beginning American policing has been intimately tied not to the problem of crime, but to exigencies and demands of the American political-economy. From the anti-immigrant bashing of early police forces, to the strike breaking of the later 1800s, to the massive corruption of the early 20th century, through professionalism, Taylorization and now attempts at amelioration through community policing, the role of the police in the United States has been defined by economics and politics, not crime or crime control.

    “As we look to the 21st century, it now appears likely that a new emphasis on science and technology, particularly related to citizen surveillance; a new wave of militarization reflected in the spread of SWAT teams and other paramilitary squads; and a new emphasis on community pacification through community policing, are all destined to replay the failures of history as the policies of the future.”
    http://plsonline.eku.edu/insidelook/history-policing-united-states-part-6#_ga=1.232409373.304185009.1491920760

    Also see Bradley Balko’s The Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces (2013):

    Rise of the Warrior Cop contains too much good material to justly summarize it. Balko describes how civil asset forfeiture and federal spending grossly distort local law enforcement incentives, such that ‘successfully fighting crime could hurt a department’s ability to rake in federal money’ (p. 243).

    “The book gives gut-wrenching accounts of innocent people killed by police in raids over marijuana, sometimes at the wrong house. These raids, which very often turn up nothing, traumatize people for life. Police now frequently shoot harmless dogs belonging to suspects or victims. The system is Kafkaesque: for example, between 2002 and 2008, elderly Brooklyn couple Walter and Rose Martin were wrongly raided by the NYPD “more than fifty times” (p. 268, emphasis in original).

    “SWAT raids now target entrapped gamblers betting small sums, charity poker nights, doctors who allegedly overprescribe pain meds, and regulatory violations. Cops in Orange County, Florida, raided nine barbershops in 2010: ‘thirty-four of the thirty-seven arrests were for “barbering without a license” ‘ (p. 284). Federal agencies from the Food and Drug Administration to the Consumer Product Safety Commission have their own SWAT teams.”
    (See the entire review at independent.org/publications)

    This militarization is also congruent with the death toll reported by The Guardian:

    By the numbers: US police kill more in days than other countries do in years
    “The Guardian has built the most comprehensive database of US police killing ever published. Compare our findings to those from the UK, Australia, Iceland and beyond.”
    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/jun/09/the-counted-police-killings-us-vs-other-countries

    I trust that this is enough history for now with which to have gottten back with you.

  7. The fact that the women in these instances are so much smaller than the cops, are so easily picked up and thrown so hard to the ground, illustrates more that the cop is out of control, using excessive force, and should not be a cop, than that there is any threat. These guys should never have been cops or at best have lost control and need to be put out to pasture in a mall.

  8. @Gary, April 10, 2017 at 12:37 pm

    “Incidents like this occur daily. Only the one’s taped come to Nations attention.

    “Cop’s know they have immunity and act with impunity.”

    Yes.

    Until police officers know that they will be held to the same standards of behavior that everyone else is, and until they are made personally financially responsible for their conduct, a significant portion of them will continue to indulge themselves in violating the natural and constitutional rights of their fellow citizens.

    “In the 1967 case of Pierson v. Ray the Supreme Court held that police officers sued for constitutional violations can raise ‘qualified immunity’ as a defense, and thereby escape paying out of their own pockets, even if they violated a person’s constitutional rights.

    “This decision was unabashedly policy-oriented: it was thought that government officials would not vigorously fulfill their obligations if they could be held accountable for actions taken in good faith. Under current law, the general rule is that victims of rights violations pay the costs of their own injuries.

    In practice, qualified immunity provides a near-absolute defense to all but the most outrageous conduct. [Emphasis added] The Ninth Circuit has held that throwing a flash-bang grenade ‘blindly’ into a house, injuring a toddler, isn’t outrageous enough. Just last year, in Plumhoff v. Rickard the Supreme Court decided that firing 15 bullets at a motorist is a reasonable method to end the driver’s flight from the police. So much for ‘every person’ ‘shall be liable.’

    “Simply put, qualified immunity has to go.

    “Qualified immunity shields police misconduct not only from liability but also from meaningful judicial scrutiny.”

    https://fee.org/articles/to-hold-police-accountable-dont-give-them-immunity/

    Amen.

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