Kafka Surrenders

Monday, December 19th, 2011

Apropos of the post below, here’s a ruling from the D.C. Court of Appeals demonstrating just how powerless citizens are when accosted by police officers—even when the cops themselves are clearly in the wrong. What’s most troubling about the ruling is its mundanity. The law is established here. There’s really nothing to debate.  It’s just a matter of the government rattling off the appropriate precedents.

The appellant is Terrance Crossland, who is asking the court to overturn his conviction on two counts of assaulting a police officer. Last April, Crossland and his cousin were approached by two D.C. Metro officers on patrol “to gather information about a rash of recent shootings and drug sales in the area.” Crossland was mowing his grass while smoking a cigarette. The police acknowledge that neither Crossland nor is cousin were doing anything unlawful.  The two men were told to turn around, put their hands against a fence, and submit to a search. By both accounts, Crossland initially complied, then said, “Fuck this shit. I’m tired of this.”

Police say Crossland then elbowed one officer in the head, at which point he was punched, taken to the ground, kicked several times, and pepper sprayed. Both the trial court, the appeals court, and even the prosecution acknowledge that because Crossland was doing nothing wrong before the incident, it was illegal for the police to stop, detain, and search him. Nevertheless . . .

 . . . as the trial court recognized, the APO statute “prohibits forceful resistance even if the officer’s conduct is unlawful.” Dolson v. United States, 948 A.2d 1193, 1202 (D.C. 2008) (explaining that the rationale for this rule is to “deescalate the potential for violence which exists whenever a police officer encounters an individual in the line of duty”) . . .

So even if the police illegally stop you, detain you, and beat you, you aren’t permitted to resist. Just roll over and take it. Submit.

But we aren’t done, here. Crossland, backed by more than one witness, denied at trial that he ever threw the alleged elbow that led to his beating. The trial judge didn’t believe him.

The court specifically credited Officer Baldwin’s testimony, noting that it was corroborated by the testimony of Officer Castan. The court explained that it did not credit appellant’s testimony or that of the witnesses he called because “[a]lmost all of them had a bias” and because it was “not credible . . . that the police were out that day, randomly beating people up for no reason” and that even if they were doing that, it made no sense “that they would beat up [appellant], as opposed to Mr. Wo[]mack, whom they had a history with” and had arrested the week before.

The court also points out that one of the officer could be heard over his radio shouting “Stop resisting,” a phrase that seems to be ingrained in the heads of D.C. Metro cops who want to dish out some punishment.

If you read this site with any regularity, you’re aware of  the notion of contempt of cop, a charge that’s usually levied, adjudicated, and punished extra-judicially. It certainly does make sense that the cops would beat Crossland instead of his cousin if it’s true that Crossland said “Fuck this shit. I’m tired of this.” And both sides agree that he did. So to believe Crossland’s account of the altercation, it isn’t necessary to think “police were out that day, randomly beating people up for no reason.” You only need to believe that two cops patrolling a bad neighborhood—who by all accounts had shown themselves willing to violate the rights of the citizens of that neighborhood—were capable of administering excessive force if one of those citizens happened to mouth off. That isn’t so difficult to imagine.

The notion that the witnesses other than Crossland and his cousin are “biased,” but the cops aren’t, is also dubious. If Crossland didn’t throw an elbow, then he was illegally detained, then searched, beaten, and pepper sprayed for nothing more than mouthing off. That’s more than enough to get beyond qualified immunity in a civil rights lawsuit against the two police officers. So yes, they would have a pretty strong incentive to say Crossland did more than swear at them before they began to beat them. (Note: I’m not stating that either side is truth. Only that the biases here aren’t nearly as clear-cut as the court makes them out to be.)

Most importantly, consider what just happened here. The trial court, the appellate court, and the prosecution all concluded that these two cops broke the law, yet still, all three have deemed that the cops’ testimony is more credible than the testimony of Crossland, his cousin, and the other witnesses—none of whom was doing anything wrong before the confrontation. To be fair, the evidence has to be pretty overwhelming for an appeals court to overturn a trial court on witness credibility. But still. Only one party broke the law before the confrontation. But because that party sports a badge and works for the government, they still get the presumption of credibility over the guy who was minding his own business, his cousin, and the other witnesses.

One judge on the appeals court did at least have some sense of the injustice, here. Judge Frank Schwelb wrote a concurrence that begins . . .

I join the judgment and opinion of the court. In my view, however, the patently unconstitutional conduct of the police in this case merits some brief additional comment.

Schwelb then quotes from the trial judge:

I think it’s uncontested that the defendant and Mr. Wo[]mack were not doing anything wrong or illegal at that point [when the police approached them]. And I’ll even agree with the defense that the police did not have any right to go up and start searching them, which is pretty much what they did. They went up and seized them, told them to turn around, and started patting them down. And I wish those officers were in the courtroom today, because there’s a clear violation of the defendant’s constitutional rights.

Sure. All they needed was a good scolding. It’ll never happen again. Promise!

Schwelb then relays a passage from the defense brief which summarizes what happened to Crossland that day.

What is most disturbing about this case is the result: a young man in the community . . . who was engaged in peaceful activities (mowing the lawn, smoking a cigarette) and who the police knew at the time they stopped him was not doing anything unlawful, is approached by aggressive officers engaged in aggressive unconstitutional patrols, and this young man ends up being punched in the face with such force that he receives a black eye, kicked numerous times in the back, thrown on the ground, sprayed in the eyes with pepper spray, and finally, he receives two convictions on his record for assault on a police officer. . . . But for this unconstitutional police policy, appellant Crossland would not have suffered a physical attack on his person and would not have had these convictions on his record. Instead, he would have had a rather ordinary day in his community mowing the lawn and smoking a cigarette, a day he probably wouldn’t even have cause to remember, and it is very disturbing that the police in this case are essentially being rewarded for their unconstitutional behavior and aggressive unconstitutional police policy which was the direct cause of a highly volatile situation which led to this young man’s eventual convictions for assaulting them.

Despite his concerns, Schwelb concludes he has no choice but uphold the convictions.

As Judge Thompson points out in her opinion for the court, we are of course bound by the trial judge’s credibility findings, and I fully agree that Crossland’s convictions must be affirmed. But if anything good is to come from this unfortunate street encounter between the police and a citizen, it should be an end to the unconstitutional police conduct revealed beyond peradventure by this record. If this hope is naive and unrealistic, then to that extent we are less the land of the free than we would otherwise be.

Call me a cynic, but I’m betting on “naive and unrealistic.”

The dreary lesson from this case and the Nicholas Peart op-ed: Police need only the flimsiest of suspicions to stop you on the street, detain you, and search you. But even if they don’t even have that, they aren’t likely to suffer any serious sanction for an illegal search. Nor is a court likely to believe you should you try to complain. If you resist—physically or verbally, whether the search was legal or illegal—they can bring the hammer down, with damn-near impunity. And after the violence, you’ll be the one going to jail.

(Thanks to Alan Gura for sending the case.)

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85 Responses to “Kafka Surrenders”

  1. #1 |  OneAngryDwarf | 

    At this point, the only thing keeping me from leaving this country permanently is the knowledge that most other countries have even worse problems.

    Amerika is actually the best of them. And that is fucking scary.

  2. #2 |  nigmalg | 

    How does this coincide with other cases allowing you to physically resists an unlawful order? Plummer v. State, John Bad Elk v. U.S., Runyan v. State, etc..

    Which is it? Can you resist an unlawful act by an officer or not?

  3. #3 |  Whahappan? | 

    Actually, I don’t think the judge believed the officers. It’s obvious that judges and prosecutors routinely act in bad faith. I think it’s more likely the judge thought the police were full of shit about Crossland elbowing the officer, but chose to pretend to believe the officer’s testimony in order to justify ruling to protect the system and it’s members.

  4. #4 |  InMD | 

    At #2

    It depends on the jurisdiction. There’s a common law right to resist unlawful arrest but legislatures in a lot of states have gotten rid of it. It still exists in Maryland (nevertheless, good luck making that argument) but has been explicitly abandoned by DC law. I believe that the Assaulting a Police Officer statute actually says that resisting unlawful arrest is no longer a defense.

    The judges made the correct decision here as far as DC law is written. That doesn’t mean the policy underlying it is at all sound.

  5. #5 |  Adam | 

    “Amerika is actually the best of them. And that is fucking scary.”

    Come up here to Canada. We’re getting worse (new Criminal Code amendments to replicate the horrible minimum sentencing laws you guys have down there), but we’re a lot freer than the US has been for at least a decade, if not more.

  6. #6 |  nigmalg | 

    Holy crap, have any of you read DOLSON v. UNITED STATES?

    It’s lawful to obstruct or resist an unlawful entry or arrest by a peace officer from your home only if you don’t create a new barrier.

    If a police officer was attempting to illegally enter your locked home, and you didn’t unlock it, you’ve done nothing illegal.

    But if a police officer was attempting to illegally enter your home through a shut but unlocked door, and at the last minute you engaged the dead-bolt, you’ve committed a crime??!

    It’s called the “passive resistance or avoidance” test.

    The whole idea is that the physical danger of resisting an officer is greater than the danger of being falsely arrested. They claim that despite qualified immunity and other protections, you always have a civil remedy after the fact, without mention to the potential of harm through further illegal actions by the officers; i.e., you’re getting beat by nightsticks after being removed from your home.

  7. #7 |  Marie Rich | 

    He must have looked like a terrorist!

    [IMG]http://i1207.photobucket.com/albums/bb465/marierich2u/2012_us_terrorist_identification_chart_by_gonzoville-d4jdf36.png[/IMG]

  8. #8 |  Ryan Cooper (@RyanLouisCooper) | 

    “The police do it all the time…it’s part of their job. To protect, to serve, and to commit perjury whenever it supports the state’s case.” –Carlin

  9. #9 |  Elliot | 

    @Marie Rich (#7) I’d just add to that “terrorist” chart a picture of a mob of angry Muslim protesters holding signs calling for beheading cartoonists as “non-terrorist citizens expressing protected speech”.

  10. #10 |  guynoir | 

    These guys can still sue the cops individually and the police force. Not that they have the lawyers for this, but maybe someone good will step up and bankrupt them all.

  11. #11 |  Velcro Bootstraps | 

    How do I find out if I have the right to resist an unlawful arrest in my own state (Maine)? I always thought people had that right did on a Federal level, and it is pretty scary to learn that people do not.

  12. #12 |  Velcro Bootstraps | 

    err, typo… but you get the idea.

  13. #13 |  JBaldwin | 

    This story makes me sick.

  14. #14 |  picachu | 

    OneAngryDwarf “At this point, the only thing keeping me from leaving this country permanently is the knowledge that most other countries have even worse problems.

    Amerika is actually the best of them. And that is fucking scary.”

    That’s not true. I don’t think it is anyway. I guess it all depends on how you define worse. Go and see for yourself. I bet you’d find someplace you liked a whole lot better if you went.

  15. #15 |  Stress N. Strain | 

    Hijack (but maybe not really a hijack): Puppycide of the day. Dog was tied, three-year old pled with cop not to shoot him, cop shoots anyway.
    http://thelastmeow.blogspot.com/2011/12/police-officer-shoots-chained-dog-while.html

  16. #16 |  V-Man | 

    Situations like this bring to mind a J.F. Kennedy quote:

    /Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable./

    If people cannot get justice from the court system, eventually they will get it themselves. And there are more people than court officials…

  17. #17 |  Advocatus Diaboli | 

    In fairness, to devil’s advocate, forceful resistance to unlawful arrest should not be blanket approved. Only if there is reason to believe excessive force is being used or about to be used, or the police officer’s behavior is blatantly reckless. Then every arrest won’t be a debate over whether it is lawful, and thus provoke a violent duel. Just if the officer’s behavior is aimed at inflicting bodily harm or otherwise clearly off — intoxicated, etc. If the guy threw a punch, here he’d be wrong, because there was no evidence of the officers’ engaging in inflicting bodily injury. Of course, the police should be subject to criminal, civil, and professional sanction though that is not likely as we know.

  18. #18 |  Dante | 

    “Police need only the flimsiest of suspicions to stop you on the street, detain you, and search you. But even if they don’t even have that, they aren’t likely to suffer any serious sanction for an illegal search. Nor is a court likely to believe you should you try to complain. If you resist—physically or verbally, whether the search was legal or illegal—they can bring the hammer down, with damn-near impunity. And after the violence, you’ll be the one going to jail.”

    And then one day, the citizens took matters into their own hands, and there weren’t any more cops or Congressmen. Just fond memories of the day they got theirs.

  19. #19 |  Jozef | 

    #1: Come join me in Ireland. I moved three months ago and only look back at stories like these and realizing how much better I’m off now.

  20. #20 |  Andrew Roth | 

    Where are Janusz Kopycinski and the CTA when you need them? The DCMP is obviously having some trouble enforcing the cardinal rule of peace officer discipline, “bad cops don’t go home.”

  21. #21 |  Nick T. | 

    I can’t wait for Lawrence O’Donnel to cover this story.

  22. #22 |  Dylboz | 

    “At this point, the only thing keeping me from leaving this country permanently is the knowledge that most other countries have even worse problems.

    Amerika is actually the best of them. And that is fucking scary.”

    This is actually a lie. It is born of a scaremongering media and propagandistic public education system. I have lived and traveled the world extensively, including north Africa, Europe, the middle east and Asia. I have family who have lived and worked and owned property and run businesses in Mexico, India, Japan, even Kazakhstan. America is worse in many, many ways, if for no other reason than the sheer pervasiveness of the police state here. In many other places, you can easily avoid any contact with the government or its armed enforcement agents. In any case, they are RARELY so aggressive or quick to resort to the kind of violence American cops seem to feel is their professional imperative. Foreign cops are happy to keep certain individuals and activities “where they belong.” But American cops will come kick in your door and blow your brains for a variety of harmless, private activities. Nevermind their total lack of respect for the citizens they are supposedly “protecting and serving” while out in public, as demonstrated in the above tale of casual police brutality.

    They have created a culture of absolute impunity, with the eager assistance of the courts, at every level, judges and prosecutors included. People forget that the judiciary and the executive (the police) were supposed to be adversarial, and the benefit of the doubt was supposed to be on the side of the citizen facing charges, but they now work hand in glove in furtherance of tyranny.

  23. #23 |  albatross | 

    The question perhaps the judges should have asked: Having seen all this, the next time one of those witnesses to this incident sees a crime going on, will they call the police? Or will they decide it’s safer to ignore the crime? If one of these witnesses should happen to serve on a jury in the future, will he believe police testimony? If there comes a day when one of these guys sees a policeman heading into a situation he knows is dangerous, say a likely shootout with a gang, will he say something? Or will he figure it’s Iran vs Iraq, and he doesn’t really care which armed thug dies today?

    Answer that question for more and more Americans, as cellphone cameras and internet end-runs around “responsible” media make this sort of thing more and more visible, and you will see what the likely future of policing in the US is. My guess is that the worst police departments simply can’t stop doing this sort of thing, even if their management understands what a disaster it will be for them–the culture of being able to smack around someone for being mouthy is as ingrained in those police departments as the culture of taking bribes from narcos is in the Mexican police.

    We could easily end up in a situation where the police most everywhere have about the level of help and friendliness from the citizens that they now get in urban ghettos.

  24. #24 |  Yizmo Gizmo | 

    I’ve been stopped and question twice for resemblance
    to perp sketches. Goodbye Constitution, hello badged thug. You’re whole life is under scrutiny, without provocation.
    Best to ask if you’re being detained, and for what crime.
    Often they will play games telling you.

    If they do arrest you, the bright side is you get to see
    an attorney, a judge, and the whole episode is documented in the arrest report.
    They can’t pretend like the incident never happened, which
    is exactly what they’ll do if it doesn’t result in an arrest..

  25. #25 |  Chris | 

    I don’t understand the law here. Schwelb writes:

    “It is not inconceivable, however, that Crossland could have beensummarily punished because he was disrespectful to the officers by raising his voice and yelling.“Fuck this shit! I’m tired of this.” There is no evidence that Womack acted in a comparably defiant manner. The existence of the theoretical possibility that Crossland was treated as he was for “mouthing off,” however, does not render invalid the judge’s finding that Crossland elbowed andfought Officer Baldwin.”

    All the legal commentary suggests that the court found the cops’ testimony more credible than the defendant’s. There is a “theoretical possibility” that the cops were lying, but that “does not render invalid” the conviction.

    Why not? Should the legal standard not be guilty *beyond a reasonable doubt*, reasonable doubt born of theoretical possibilities?

  26. #26 |  If a Cop Is Illegally Searching You, You Have to Take It - Hit & Run : Reason Magazine | 

    [...] Editor Radley Balko does what he does best at The Agitator, chronicling how all-too-often citizens have no rights a policeman need respect when it comes to [...]

  27. #27 |  LJB | 

    Somewhere there’s going to be a tipping point when people are going to get fed-up with being hassled by the cops and will start pushing back; that’s when the bullets start flying and there’s a bunch of dead and wounded people laying on the sidewalk.

  28. #28 |  Eric Northman | 

    So what does one do when a cop orders you against the wall and attempts to search you? Comply with the order, but state verbally, “I do not consent to any searches”?

  29. #29 |  Velcro Bootstraps | 

    @26
    I always thought you could elbow him and the face and say “Fuck this shit”, if you are met with unlawful force. Apparently not, so I am wondering the same thing.

  30. #30 |  Radley Balko | 

    Why not? Should the legal standard not be guilty *beyond a reasonable doubt*, reasonable doubt born of theoretical possibilities?

    IANAL, but I think the difference is that the standard for a federal court reviewing a trial court’s finding is much higher. Schwelb seems to be suggesting that the trial court might have been wrong, but that legally, the evidence it was wrong isn’t strong enough to merit overturning the conviction.

  31. #31 |  BamBam | 

    “Note: I’m not stating that either side is truth. Only that the biases here aren’t nearly as clear-cut as the court makes them out to be.)”

    Cops, prosecutors, and judges are on the same team (The State), so the bias of THE JUDGE is very clear.

    You cannot have liberty when you have a master AKA government (other humans). The result in this case is inevitable.

  32. #32 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    At this point, the only thing keeping me from leaving this country permanently is the knowledge that most other countries have even worse problems.

    They will also take a sizable portion of your saved wealth and other nasty things as you exit.

  33. #33 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    #28 | Eric Northman

    THE Eric Northman?

    Fuck. The. Vampire Authority.

  34. #34 |  Difster | 

    I live in Mexico. The police here are MUCH easier to deal with despite the rampant corruption.

    Read the article I wrote for CopBlock on this very subject here: http://www.copblock.org/9835/mexican-police-vs-u-s-police/

  35. #35 |  Yizmo Gizmo | 

    “I live in Mexico. The police here are MUCH easier to deal with despite the rampant corruption.”

    That is such nonsense. American cops are the best damn cops
    in the…what’s that? Incoming news? “Number of youth arrested skyrockets; 41% in cuffs by age 23: study
    New York Daily News – ‎29 minutes ago‎”

    On second thought, you were right….

  36. #36 |  nigmalg | 

    Advocatus Diaboli,

    If they wanted to instill a standard protecting “innocent wrongful arrests” they could have done so. They didn’t; they adopted a standard of preventing violent encounters with even the most violent wrongful arrests.

    In this case there wasn’t mention of any possible defense if the officer was or was about to execute unlawful force. It wasn’t even considered it seems.

    I understand the concept behind allowing unlawful arrests to be fought in court, and not in the street. But in order for that to be viable, we need at a minimum:

    1.) Civil suits to be more streamlined and accessible for persons without deep pockets.

    2.) Qualified Immunity to be curtailed
    3.) A legal responsibility for fellow officers to stop violent abuse from co-workers.
    4.) A prosecuting system that actually charges officers with *CRIMES* when they are not in-fact “innocent” wrongful arrests.

    As of right now I have no reason what-so-ever to suspect the State is capable of handling the abuse at any level. So I take physically resisting as a viable option.

  37. #37 |  Witch | 

    Every criminal charge I’ve ever seen has read something to the effect of “the people vs” and “against the peace and dignity of the state” so maybe instead of suing the police officer who commit these acts we should instead hold the ones who put them in that position of absolute power and fail to exercise oversight accountable.

  38. #38 |  Mattocracy | 

    Every foreign friend I have tells me that the cops are just as shitty back in their respective homelands. From France to India, I don’t know that there really is a place where cops are not a bunch of fuckers. Moving just means you’re excepting another governments restrictions as opposed to America’s.

  39. #39 |  Flex your rights, redux » We Love DC | 

    [...] Radly Balko talks today about Terrance Crossland’s failed appeal over his arrest and convictio…. Which sounds like a pretty slam-dunk Bad Action, though maybe marginally less so when you discover it came after an inappropriate detention and search. The officers, who were in full uniform, stopped appellant and his cousin Joseph Womack, both of whom were standing near the corner, as part of their effort to gather information about a rash of recent shootings and drug sales in the area. Officer Baldwin acknowledged that neither man was “doing anything unlawful” when the officers stopped them. The officers instructed both men to place their hands on a nearby fence for a weapons pat-down. Appellant “initially” complied, but quickly became “agitated,” telling Officer Baldwin words to the effect of “Fuck this shit. I’m tired of this.” [...]

  40. #40 |  What police state?Where? | Ontoliberty | 

    [...] Read the whole thing. Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. [...]

  41. #41 |  Ken Green | 

    Having grown up in Los Angeles, I learned about the abusiveness of the police since I was about 12 years old, when some LAPD cops rousted us at a Hannukah Party because they had the wrong address. I later saw a pair of CHP bike-cops trump up a reason to arrest my mother because they thought she had flipped them the bird, when in fact, she was pointing them out to me and complimenting their uniforms and appearance. I was personally given the “hands over head” pat-down treatment because I had jaywalked, across a nearly empty street. In that instance, one cop thought I had attempted to flee from them and threatened to crack my skull open for me when I politely requested his name and badge number.

    When we would report such things to the supervisors, nothing was done, other than to get another lecture about how the police are our friends, that they are all that stands between us and homicidal maniacs, etc.

    The police in many cities are nothing more than another gang with official license.

  42. #42 |  picachu | 

    Mattocracy “Moving just means you’re excepting another governments restrictions as opposed to America’s.”

    True but in my experience most government’s have a lot less restrictions and enforcement personel than America.

  43. #43 |  GT | 

    The solution is straightforward: take matters into your own hands. If the ‘justice’ system no longer acts in the interests of the people over whom it claims the monopoly of aggressive violence, take it off them.

    I wrote this in response to the idea that some dill thought it was a good idea to write and Open Letter to some or otehr political parasite in Australia, seeling to have the machinery of government come to the aid of one of its citizens (a guy called Julian Assange… some folks have heard of him). The political parasite whose aid was being sought, famously appeared on TV grinning like a psychopathic accountant when informed that the Indonesian government had killed, without trial, a citizen SUSPECTED of being a ‘terrorist’ (it later turned out that they had extrajudicially assassinated the wrong guy… OOPSIE!).

    Anyhow… my thinking went as follows:

    “make it clear to anyone who participates in some stupid theatrical ‘legal’ set-piece that deprives Assange of his liberty, that they will never, for the rest of their lives, be able to “tell pale-hearted fear it lies, and sleep in spite of thunder”.

    That goes for the robed geriatrics in their 16th century costumes, the badged and constumed jailers etc (who Thoreau rightly placed on a par with straw or lumps of dirt); everyone who participates.

    Reliance on politicians – when the state is clearly showing itself neither capable nor willing to do anything except tend to its own malignant metastasis – is flat-out dopey.

    Mencken wrote famously that there comes a time when a reasonable man has to hoist the black flag and start slitting throats; Diderot made it clear that man will be free when the last king (politician) is strangled ith the entrails of the last priest (or judge). We are there, folks: they have thrown taxes – collected by force -onto a bonfire in order to make their financiers a minute amount more rich. They are NOT here to help.”

  44. #44 |  John Farrier | 

    So to believe Crossland’s account of the altercation, it isn’t necessary to think “police were out that day, randomly beating people up for no reason.”

    And yet, I don’t find this to be an unbelievable accusation.

  45. #45 |  JOR | 

    “In fairness, to devil’s advocate, forceful resistance to unlawful arrest should not be blanket approved.”

    Yes, they should be. Every arrest should to be subject to debate: that’s what courts and trials are for.

    So, maybe this would lead to fewer arrests being made. Boohoo.

  46. #46 |  daniel | 

    reading this article, it sounds like Crossland was the one to instigate violence.

    I know “prohibits forceful resistance even if the officer’s conduct is unlawful.” says that there’s not to be any resistance even if the officer was to start with the beatings, but I’m pretty sure that’s open to challenge if the officer just randomly starts beating someone and they defend themselves.

  47. #47 |  Mattocracy | 

    @ picachu,

    You might be right about the number of law enforcement officials per capita. I’m sure having less cops per cap results in fewer instances of reported abuse.

    Even so, according to wikipedia, the US isn’t even in the top 20 countries with the highest number cops per person. The US has about 220 per 100,000 whereas China has only 120 per 100,000 and I don’t think China is a freer place than here.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_size_of_police_forces

    So I don’t know if the countries ahead of the US have a higher rate of police misconduct/complaints or not. Nor do I think it is indicative of how free people in any of these other countries feel.

    Freedom and the perception thereof is very subjective. At the end of the day though, there are still more people wanting to come here than leave it. I don’t believe that makes the US the best place on Earth by any means, but it seems to be a strong indicator that it’s prefereable to a lot of other nations for various reasons. I believe that most places are headed down the same authoritarian path, the US just happens to be one of the place where it hurts the least right now because of our economy.

    But that’s just my opinion.

  48. #48 |  CyniCAl | 

    “So even if the police illegally stop you, detain you, and beat you, you aren’t permitted to resist. Just roll over and take it. Submit.”

    This is a good reason why there are no good cops. The better reason is that they are paid with stolen money. Either way, FUCK ALL COPS.

  49. #49 |  FloO | 

    I used to love my country without question. Now if anyone were to ask, I’d have to consider how much I hate living in this shitty place before I answer.

  50. #50 |  This idiot needs to be stopped! | 

    [...] like that!" and I believe you but most of them are like that, with a chip on their shoulder. Kafka Surrenders | The Agitator Reply With Quote + Reply to [...]

  51. #51 |  Angelo | 

    Surveillance Cameras on the street, at traffic lights, scanning the HOLOGRAMS on our LICENSE PLATES…Unmanned DRONES in the sky, taking pictures of people in their yards…SURVEILLANCE, VANS and SUV traveling our highways with heat sensor, x-ray equipment, scanning equipment, in our NEIGHBORHOODS. What are THEY LOOKING FOR….Oh WAIT ITS US THEY ARE LOOKING FOR…..Below link….BOTCHED SWAT RAIDS….

    http://www.cato.org/raidmap/

    Angelo

  52. #52 |  JOR | 

    The fact that cops are paid in tax money is the least objectionable thing about them. The wrong is in the collecting of the taxes; what is done with the money after that is in and of itself irrelevant. In any case, anyone who gets paid anything by anyone is receiving money that was stolen at one point or another.

    Paying taxes is more morally problematic, given what the state tends to use resources for, than eating them. The problem with cops is what they do, not with who pays them to do it.

  53. #53 |  StrangeOne | 

    Hey CyniCAl, put another notch in your walking stick or whatever it is you do, cause I think I’ve just signed on the anarchist position. I think I’ve reached the point where I can no longer see the phrase “just government” as anything other than an oxymoron.

  54. #54 |  #OccupyMINDS If a Cop Is Illegally Searching You, You Have to Take It « Darin R. McClure – The Good Life In San Clemente | 

    [...] old comrade Radley Balko does what he does bestat The Agitator, chronicling howall-too-often citizenshave no rights a policeman need respect when it comes [...]

  55. #55 |  CyniCAl | 

    #52 | JOR — “The fact that cops are paid in tax money is the least objectionable thing about them.”

    For someone who essentially agrees with me, you sure went on quite a bit there. Being paid in tax money is a universal quality that applies to all public cops. As such, it is the most basic refutation of the “good cop” theory, and it is the simplest way to demonstrate to tax slaves the difference between a tax feeder and a tax slave.

    And you know what? Fuck the police.

  56. #56 |  CyniCAl | 

    Welcome aboard StrangeOne. Anarchism is the biggest tent there is, you just have to resist the urge to treat your fellow human as your property. How hard can that be? Please keep this chain letter going….

  57. #57 |  Robert | 

    #5 “but we’re a lot freer than the US has been for at least a decade, if not more.”

    As long as you don’t print something critical of islam. Or believe in the right to armed self defense.

  58. #58 |  Mike T | 

    #17

    In fairness, to devil’s advocate, forceful resistance to unlawful arrest should not be blanket approved. Only if there is reason to believe excessive force is being used or about to be used, or the police officer’s behavior is blatantly reckless. Then every arrest won’t be a debate over whether it is lawful, and thus provoke a violent duel.

    That needn’t be the case. The way to solve it is to abolish or minimize the mens rea requirements for both unlawful arrest and resisting arrest. If you resist arrest and it was lawful, it should be a open and shut case where you get clubbed over the head by the judge. Same for the officer. Ignorance of the law is no excuse for us. It shouldn’t be for them. Mercy should never be applied as a general rule except in extraordinary cases of this nature and only then by a jury that chooses to nullify.

  59. #59 |  Jamie Niles | 

    I was once detained my an officer who unwittingly told me that the only reason he stopped me was to justify his hours. I was stopped, threatened with a ticket (because I *smirked* at him) and held for 30 minutes simply because he had to prove to his boss he was working.

    I wonder how many of these “stops to prove thyself” result in what happened above?

  60. #60 |  Submitting to an Unlawful Arrest | The Chetson Firm, PLLC – Aggressive, Professional Raleigh Criminal Lawyer | 

    [...] As Radley Balko writes: You only need to believe that two cops patrolling a bad neighborhood—who by all accounts had shown themselves willing to violate the rights of the citizens of that neighborhood—were capable of administering excessive force if one of those citizens happened to mouth off. That isn’t so difficult to imagine. If you're in need of a tough, experienced Raleigh, Cary or Apex criminal lawyer, call our offices day or night. The Chetson Firm represents individuals charged throughout the Research Triangle – Wake, Durham, Orange, and Chatham counties. Call anytime – (919) 352-9411 – weekdays, weekends, evenings or holidays. Tags: chapel hill criminal lawyer [...]

  61. #61 |  derfel cadarn | 

    Both of the officers their commanders and the entire appellate bench should go to prison for contempt of their superiors (citizens) and breach of oath of office. The American People can no longer put up with this kind of insubordination from their servants.

  62. #62 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    I am no longer drunk and still I have a hard time reading GT.

  63. #63 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    So even if the police illegally stop you, detain you, and beat you, you aren’t permitted to resist. Just roll over and take it. Submit.

    Step One: Become cop.
    Step Two: Find Tucker Carlson.

    Maybe there’s a silver lining.

  64. #64 |  V-Man | 

    @#59

    Nothing new here. Back in the late 80s, when I was a student working a summer job, I once lost an entire day’s wage to a traffic fine. The fine was because my wheels weren’t motionless for a full three seconds at a stop sign.

    The policeman apologized when giving me the ticket. There had been complaints by the neighborhood that people didn’t do their stop properly (“think of the children!” etc.), so he had received orders to give tickets to everyone passing by that stop sign. Didn’t think it was fair, but orders are orders…

  65. #65 |  rhofulster | 

    The link to the ruling doesn’t work.

  66. #66 |  Mike T | 

    Both of the officers their commanders and the entire appellate bench should go to prison for contempt of their superiors (citizens) and breach of oath of office. The American People can no longer put up with this kind of insubordination from their servants.

    The American people proved a long time ago to lack the civic virtue to demand the government call them “master.” The average voter is no more qualified these days to wield that power than the average bureaucrat is to regulate them.

  67. #67 |  News, links and random thoughts | Code Monkey Ramblings | 

    [...] This is a good example of why the United States does not have anything that can be reasonably called the “rule of law.” Notice that the police officers were doing something which the courts acknowledged was an actual, actionable, even criminal violation of civil rights but the defendants still possessed no right of self-defense against the illegal actions of the police officers under the law. They could sue or plead with a district attorney, but actual self-defense–that is to say, the right to use force–was not a legal option. [...]

  68. #68 |  barney | 

    aren’t the judges familar with the concept: innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt?

    seems there was a reasonable doubt as to whether he assaulted P.O.

    maybe the judges (all of them) should repeat 1st year law school?

  69. #69 |  Goober | 

    Hey guys. i know it sucks, but the smart thing to do here is to comply with what they are doing and call your lawyer afterwards. When you are armed with a cigarette and a lawnmower and they have guns, tazers, and pepper spray, you lose the physical battle.

    DO what they say, then make it your life’s mission to have their jobs, and own the local precinct as soon as possible afterwards.

    It is possible. it has happened. Remember, revenge is a dish best served cold.

  70. #70 |  Mike T | 

    DO what they say, then make it your life’s mission to have their jobs, and own the local precinct as soon as possible afterwards.

    If this were the norm, the government would just outlaw filing lawsuits against it.

  71. #71 |  Deoxy | 

    This kind of thing only stops when extra-judicial measures are applied – that is, when either vigilante or mob justice is applied to the offending party the state refuses to discipline (the police).

    In a case like this, the way to end stuff like this is to make sure you have cameras (with sound) rolling from a non-obvious vantage point, and then have someone off camera (and not directly involved) protect the victim (of the police brutality) with lethal force.

    It would take a VERY FEW of such actions to make difference (especially if the actual offender is never caught – whether someone goes to jail or not, the police know when the just grab a scape goat).

    I honestly hope it never comes to this, but if actions like these continue, eventually, it will. Hey, officers! FIX IT BEFORE THAT, for your own sake as well as ours – actions like that do lasting social damage, even when they are necessary.

  72. #72 |  Deoxy | 

    The policeman apologized when giving me the ticket. There had been complaints by the neighborhood that people didn’t do their stop properly (“think of the children!” etc.), so he had received orders to give tickets to everyone passing by that stop sign. Didn’t think it was fair, but orders are orders…

    Actually, that’s just a way of dealing with inherent flaws in human nature that are extremely difficult to correct – that is, a problem is not dealt with until it applied evenly to EVERYONE, and then, when it hits someone who “matters” (that is, who has come clout and, generally is the type who likes to throw it around), the problem is resolved.

    It sucks, but it does get things done. I got a speeding ticket once for a similar situation – there was an area that had been changed quite a bit with construction, but the speed limit signs had never been changed (still 45 in an area that was now divided, limited access highway). Everyone ignored the signs, since they were clearly just out-dated… then, a couple of officers started ticketing people for it, and the signs were changed in less than a month.

    Yes, it’s stupid, but it’s not actually malicious – there’s a big difference.

  73. #73 |  Windy | 

    @ Mike, #66 “The American people proved a long time ago to lack the civic virtue to demand the government call them “master.” The average voter is no more qualified these days to wield that power than the average bureaucrat is to regulate them.”

    “Sometimes it is said that man cannot be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the forms of kings to govern him? Let history answer this question.” — Thomas Jefferson

    History HAS answered this question, clearly the answer is “NO!”

    We, the People stopped enforcing the Constitution about the time of Lincoln’s presidency, which is why we are suffering under this police state today.

  74. #74 |  Ed | 

    If you were trying to avoid associating with terrorists and you had a choice of going to a party of 50 muslims or 50 cops, which would you choose?

  75. #75 |  Court upholds right of police to stop and search citizens for the flimsiest of reasons « Against Dumb | 

    [...] 21, 2011 news culture et cetera Court upholds right of police to stop and search citizens for the flimsiest of reasons Hedge fund managers got inside information from Congress during the healthcare debate Kim [...]

  76. #76 |  Larken Rose | 

    Allow me to make the most politically incorrect, but perfectly logical, conclusion. If you are being wrongfully detained, arrested, whatever, by a thug with a badge, there is only one way to resist that at least has a chance of you not getting arrested: killing the aggressor. Now, as a practical matter, I wouldn’t suggest this, because his fellow jackboots will probably eventually hunt you down and do nasty things (very possibly including murdering you), but the point still stands: what this teaches is that resisting thugs with badges a little bit is in some cases MORE hazardous than just killing them outright. If a cop doesn’t mind detaining or arresting you without any reason, you can bet he also won’t mind planting something on you, or lying in court (which they do constantly), to get you caged for something you didn’t do. Given the choice between 1) being put in a cage for years so some power-happy moron with a badge can get his jollies for the day, and 2) ridding the world of a power-happy thug, I would choose the latter.

    As others have mentioned, that also appears to be the only deterrent that there is ever going to be against thugs with badges doing whatever they want. Hey, even JFK said that when you make peaceful change impossible, you make violent change inevitable. And that’s all these fascist “rulings” are going to do in the end. The courts can say, “Yeah, they can do whatever they want,” right up until the people say, with bullets, “no, they can’t.”

  77. #77 |  frank | 

    and other people wonder why gangs exist and those 2 police will get shot when someone recognizes the watch and wait

  78. #78 |  JS | 

    One of the many reasons I left the country….there are too many other places where personal liberties are respected and that haven’t resorted to a police state….I told my mama I love her, but I’ll see her at Christmas, they can have this country.

  79. #79 |  shipwreckedcrew | 

    The defendant’s can sue under Sec. 1983. Judgments about witness credibility will be made by a jury, not judges.

    Constitutional violations by police such as alleged here are cognizable in civil actions, not as defenses to criminal charges.

    Whatever the police may have done unlawfully, the defendants were prosecuted for their conduct which followed.

    Had they not resisted, their civil case would have been pretty much “open and shut” against the police since their own biases and motivations to sue would not be impugned by their convictions.

  80. #80 |  libarbarian | 

    @76,

    “Given the choice between 1) being put in a cage for years so some power-happy moron with a badge can get his jollies for the day, and 2) ridding the world of a power-happy thug, I would choose the latter.”

    False choice. The choice is between possibly being put in a cage for years before being released and being put in a cage for years before having a needle put in your arm and coming out in a bag.

    The situation is NOT going to be ended by killing the cop because you are NOT going to just “disappear” and get away with it. You would then, of course, end up on death row (meaning many, many, years in a cage before the release of death) or just gunned down by whatever vengeful police were “trying” to arrest you. Your mother & family in general, whom I assume you love, would be heartbroken and have to deal with the aftermath.

    Revolutionary Violence has it’s place but uncoordinated actions by lone individuals don’t ever accomplish squat. They all hope that their action will spark some general uprising by the masses etc. …. they are fools fooling themselves.

  81. #81 |  Cyto | 

    The officers in question are not the problem. They are the symptom. The prosecutor who pursued the case knowing full well he had a couple of dirtbags on his hands is the problem. The trial judge who knew full well that he was rubber stamp endorsing this “contempt of cop” beating with a criminal convictions is the problem. The Appellate judges who know the real deal but pretend their hands are tied are the real problem.

    And most of all, we the people and the idiots we elect to represent us are the problem. We tolerate this kind of crap and like anything bad, tolerating it allows it to spread. Heck, we don’t just tolerate it… we celebrate it! Pogo was right. We have met the enemy, and he is us.

  82. #82 |  Doing Kafka Proud | Lawyers on Strike | 

    [...] he often does, Radley Balko chronicles the latest and greatest outrage of police abusing their power.  This time, there is the additional [...]

  83. #83 |  Sunday Reading « zunguzungu | 

    [...] Kafka Surrenders: [C]onsider what just happened here. The trial court, the appellate court, and the prosecution all concluded that these two cops broke the law, yet still, all three have deemed that the cops’ testimony is more credible than the testimony of Crossland, his cousin, and the other witnesses—none of whom was doing anything wrong before the confrontation. To be fair, the evidence has to be pretty overwhelming for an appeals court to overturn a trial court on witness credibility. But still. Only one party broke the law before the confrontation. But because that party sports a badge and works for the government, they still get the presumption of credibility over the guy who was minding his own business, his cousin, and the other witnesses. [...]

  84. #84 |  slacktivist » ‘The animals are coming,’ so drive up the price of Ron Paul’s investments in gold | 

    [...] [...]

  85. #85 |  Scab of a nation, driven insane : another week closer to the eschaton… | 

    [...] too bad nobody’s listening, especially in the united states. quite the opposite, actually: Kafka Surrenders – if the police illegally stop you, detain you, and beat you, you aren’t permitted to [...]

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