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Deconstructing an Apparent CHP Freeway Beating

Local racial grievance industry mobilized to defend suspect’s cause.

by
Jack Dunphy

Bio

July 21, 2014 - 3:46 pm
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Imagine the following scenario: Several motorists on a busy Los Angeles freeway call 911 to report a woman walking along the shoulder and acting strangely.  The California Highway Patrol responds to the calls, sending officers to investigate.  The first officer to arrive is alone in a marked patrol car.  He gets out of his car and talks to the woman, ordering her to stop.  She refuses, and instead turns and walks away as traffic continues to pass.

And now this officer must make a decision: If I pursue her, he says to himself, she will very likely resist my attempt to restrain her and I will have to subdue her by force.  The ensuing altercation may be captured on video by people in any of these passing cars, video that will soon be posted on YouTube and, if deemed sufficiently inflammatory, picked up by television news stations.

And should this occur, the officer thinks, I will surely not be cast in a favorable light.  The woman is black and I am not, a fact that will be pointed out endlessly should the encounter turn violent.  I may even be viewed as a villain by those whose experience with such encounters is limited to reading about them or watching them on television, a group that may include some of my own superiors in the Highway Patrol.  My home, my livelihood, even my very freedom may be jeopardized if I take action on my own here.

No, the officer says to himself, the more prudent course is to wait for backup to arrive, maybe even a supervisor.  That way, should things go awry, blame can be shared with others, or perhaps even shifted entirely onto the supervisor.  And besides, what’s the worst thing that can happen?

So the officer watches and follows on foot as the woman continues on her way down the freeway’s shoulder.  And as she walks facing the oncoming traffic, she sees more patrol cars approaching and realizes her avenue of escape will soon be closed.  But she sees that the freeway traffic has now slowed, the passing drivers braking so as to take in the spectacle unfolding at the side of the road.  Sensing her last chance for freedom, the woman runs into the traffic lanes, hoping to make it to the opposite side of the freeway before the arriving officers can assemble and stop her.

She finds success, if only briefly.  She weaves between cars and across all five lanes of eastbound traffic under the startled eyes of the passing drivers, but she sees that the Highway Patrol officers, too, are making their way through the snarl and coming for her.  She jumps over the wall on the center divider and runs into the westbound lanes, where she finds to her momentary horror that these drivers have not been distracted and this traffic has not slowed.  She is struck by one car and then another and another, and by the time it’s all over, there are bits and pieces of the woman scattered over a quarter-mile stretch of the freeway, which is closed for hours in both directions as the Highway Patrol and the coroner clean up the mess.

And then come the questions, the accusations, and of course the lawsuits.  Why, it is asked, did the first Highway Patrol officer on the scene not take more aggressive action to stop the woman?  Didn’t he know she was at risk from being run over and killed?  Was he unconcerned to her fate because she was of an ethnicity different from his own?  “He should have tackled her, even hit her,” says the lawyer representing the woman’s family.  “He should have done whatever it took to keep her from running into traffic.  Anything would have been preferable to what happened to her.”

Yes, a sad story, but that’s not quite the way it came to pass.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
Jack, I can't give you sympathy for this one. Pounding a middle-aged woman while she's on the ground is not going to fly no matter what kind of spin you put on it.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
Or try this, Jack: In the process of "restraining" her by pounding her to a pulp, he unintentionally kills her. Still okay? Gotta kill that miscreant in order to save her from being run over?
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yet another reason to require body cameras on police. They would protect both citizen and officer.

Why then are so many police officers against body cameras and why have so many cameras in police cruisers been sabotaged by police officers in L.A.?

17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (71)
All Comments   (71)
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Typical: Minimize, rationalize, obfuscate. Strawman and FUD.

People aren't generally against the use of force, when required. We're against the over-the-top beatdowns at the slightest provocation or infraction. We're sick of the cover ups, the rediculous findings that all too many police beatings, especially lethal ones, are somehow lethal responses and escalation to any minor infraction. We're sick of the lock-step lying and destruction of evidence, along with the double standards of behavior.

We're sick of the smug, condescending attitude, and the presumption that we owe you thugs any ounce of respect anymore.

We're sick of the presumption that you thugs are immune from *any* accountability, including recording.

Law enforcement is nothing more than a revenue stream and violent intimidation.

We're sick of the 3 am, no-knock SWAT raids over minor offenses, becoming the norm, rather than the exception, and the rationalizations used to acquire the warrants.

We're sick of the checkpoints and the blatant disregard for the law, our civil rights, and the screaming intimidation to those who dare stand up for their rights.

As a veteran, I'm disgusted. I consider police to just be armed thugs with letters of marque.

Your fictional scenario doesn't begin to justify the beating that woman received, nor the actions afterwards that are right inline with that of the IRS, the VA, and our corrupt DoJ, in demonstrating that the department in question is busy covering it's ass.

This isn't going to stop until asset forfeiture laws are reformed, the officers themselves (and their union goons) have skin in the game to pay the lawsuits for police abuse, and officer's that are accused of crimes are not dealing with the district attorney and criminal court that they're feeding other criminals and evidence into.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
"But what is clear is that the woman attempted to walk away from a lawful detention, then resisted when the officer tried to grab her."

ah, no, what is clear is that the woman attempted to walk away from a LEO. Whether the attempted "detention" was lawful or not is absolutely unclear from the video. Where was the woman when the LEO first engaged her?

This, on the simple surface, looks like a case of unjustified police violence. It takes a special kind of stupid to assume that there's any racial animus to it.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
Whether the detention was lawful or not is irrelevant. The only question that matters is, "Was the force justified?"

Even if the detention was NOT legal, the force may have been justified.

Even if the detention was completely legal, the force may have been UNjustified.

It helps to stay focused on the real issue.

17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
Boy, "Federale" pissed someone off. Half of his comments have been "reported".
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
I reported a lot that were duplicates, but only the duplicates. About half his comments were dupes.

The other half were mindless, but I never report comments for being mindless.

17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
We can argue all month about the training our peace officers should receive and expect to be proficient in, when it comes to subduing an uncooperative subject. But what's much more important is the training that all of the taxpayers receive from events like this: when confronted by an angry cop, you should submit immediately, lest you be pummeled about the face and head fifteen times by an amped-up 200-pound gorilla with years of hand-to-hand combat training.

Whether you've done something wrong or not, whether it's warranted or not, it's really just better for everybody if you serfs comply immediately and completely with every order give to you by your overlords. I mean, by your faithful public servants.

Comply, or be beaten. It couldn't be any simpler than that.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
Sure it looks bad. But it appears there is more to the story. If the woman was having some manner of mental problem at the time, she is big enough to have all kinds of physical ability to be aggressive and confused enough to be difficult to subdue. The officer may have saved her life.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
I've been trained in a number of lifesaving techniques. None of them looked like that.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
Frightening that so many alleged "conservatives" here support the racists like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton with their lies. She was a crazy person who was wandering the freeway and she violently resisted arrest. What would all these idiots here have done?
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
Frightening that so many alleged "conservatives" here support a police state, and all in the name of "Law and Order".

And what is standing between YOU and such a beating? Or between your daughter and such a beating?

Oh, you would get such a beating because you are a law abiding citizen?

Tell that to the many law abiding citizens who have been killed and beaten by our militarized police departments.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
What's standing between him and such a beating is that he's probably a cop and would be granted some "professional courtesy" by another cop no matter what he was doing.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
They do protect their own, like many other criminal organizations.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
Plaintiff's attorney is being stupid or disingenuous, or thinks the audience is stupid, with all the talk of "gadgets" on the officer's belt; even a closed fist is below use of "gadgets" on the continuum of force. That said, I've represented the employer in a number of excessive force cases against cops and correctional officers and at minimum I'd put this officer on the beach w/o pay for awhile, and that's only if he had considerable seniority and a good record. Absent considerable seniority and a good record, I'd be willing to take my chances against his union in arbitration. Then I could demonstrate by imposing discipline or discharge that he was outside the scope of his duties in his actions and let any civil liability inhere to him rather than the employer.

I don't see how this situation justified force beyond soft hands and restraint. He was using that closed fist to secure compliance, not to protect himself, her, or others; she was on the ground and defensive. He wanted her to be more cooperative and hit her with a closed fist in order to secure cooperation and compliance.

This is where my government has paid out a lot of money in judgments and settlements; rather than use of force to protect persons, force has been used to secure compliance. I think it is epidemic in law enforcement these days. The officer gives an order to the subject and escalates along the continuum until the subject complies or until deadly force is used against the subject. Fortunately, this one didn't escalate beyond hard contact so nobody is dead.

Can't go with you on this one, Jack. Don't know CHP's policies on suspension. In my government 30 days without pay was our maximum suspension. If we thought you deserved more than 30 off, we just fired you. And, yes, that was with unionized employees with a legal right to resort to a third party neutral arbitrator and to the courts under a bargaining law consistent with CA's laws and essentially like the pre-Taft-Hartley National Labor Relations Act with regard to scope of bargaining, so not an easy place for an employer to live. When I was head of my state's labor relations function, if this guy's superiors had come to me, if this was a senior officer with a good record I'd have given him 30 days off with no pay or benefits and a final warning. If he was junior or had other discipline regarding use of force or poor judgment, I'd have fired him.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
'Plaintiff's attorney is being stupid or disingenuous,"


No, Art, I have to disagree with you here.

She's just plain lying.

17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
She resisted arrest. And WTF does "soft hands" mean? Have you ever used it to arrest someone fighting you? You are truly an ignoramous.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
Resisting arrest is not a blank check for cops to beat people.

17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
Fool, "soft hands" means not a closed fist. And since you don't know what it means, you clearly have no experience with excessive force cases.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
Sorry, Jack. You ask us to look at this objectively? How can we expect you, as a police officer, to look at this objectively? Don't get me wrong, I am grateful for the service you provide to the community, and I don't believe police officers are the bad guys. However, the knee-jerk reaction of cops to defend their own in such cases makes me want to puke. I realize you are family, but that doesn't excuse defending criminal acts.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
Would anyone but a former cop take on this job? Jack has seen before how some of our fellow readers react to any defense of a police action. If there will no longer be defenses, there will be a lot less police action, to our detriment in most cases IMO.

Could this case have been handled better? I don't know. I have never been a cop.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
Let the cars hit her. There is less race industry can complain about.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
There is never less the race industry can complain about.

There are only different excuses for making noise.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
Look Jack, I'm all for giving police the benefit of the doubt but it's a tall order in this case.
Are you asking us to believe that officers in California do not know how to subdue a physically combative suspect without throwing multiple punches targeting the head?
I do not accept for a moment that officers aren't trained to apply arm control techniques to a resistant suspect.
I do not accept that you are not trained to take a suspect to the ground then apply some form of joint manipulation and use your body weight to apply the technique until the suspect gives in.
I do not believe that officers in California aren't taught this in a a gym on a padded mat.
I cannot overlook that CHP officers are authorized to carry Tazers (since February 2008) and for some reason this officer failed to even consider this option. A lot of police cruisers carry a 12 gauge and some variant of AR rifle so I have to think that a less-than-lethal Tazer would be in that tool kit as well. Even if her clothes would have stopped the barbs, when the officer got close he could have used it up against her body.
Now, I know some will make an argument she may have had a knife, gun or something that could injure the officer but if that was the case, why a initiate physical altercation at all? Surely there was more than ample opportunity for the suspect to take out a knife or gun in the 10-12 seconds that this officer was focused on pummeling her head.
I'm not saying that every day officers in California need to go out there ready to give up their lives. But you have chosen a profession where you cannot expect rainbows and butterfly kisses as you go about your work day. The risk is part of the job and the public needs to be able to rely on the decision making of the people they are paying to keep the peace. That means you have to be willing to assume a little extra risk if you want to be an officer.
It's a very cavalier attitude to say that that the fight isn't over until someone gives up and if you believe that, I think that's a problem. When I took my men outside the wire, I was bound by ROE and if I have to apply deadly force, I do so judiciously and only until I have the ability to control the situation by other means. That certainly does not mean that I unload with everything until the other side gives up. That's the wrong attitude for me and it's the wrong attitude for someone who is supposed to "serve and protect". If you ever lie awake at night wondering why cops get a bad rap, perhaps you too need to need to do some soul searching. Your trying to circle the wagons and say that the officer only had the choice you saw in the video is absurd.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
Tazers always work?

I would think the bigger the person, the more overweight or the more drugs a person takes, the less a tazer is to have the desired effect.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
That's an irrelevant distinction don't you think?
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
No, it's exactly relevant. If a means of controlling a suspect is inadequate, the offices must choose another means.

Far from being irrelevant, it's the heart of use-of-force cases. The central question is ALWAYS, "Did the officer use more force than was needed?"

If the tazer is not enough, then something more compelling must be used.



17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
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