Rarely do I sing the praises of cops but today I do. Let us all applaud Austin, Texas, Police Chief Art Acevedo for telling Americans what police work in this nation has become.
After several of his department’s finest were caught on video roughing up a young woman jogger who was wearing earbuds and therefore could not hear an order to stop running, Acevedo said at least his cops didn’t rape her as cops in other towns might have done.
Here are his exact words:
Cops are actually committing sexual assaults on duty so I thank God that this is what passes for a controversy in Austin, Texas.
Let that sink in a moment . . .
A police chief in a major city says people should be happy his cops did not rape a young woman they stopped for jaywalking. Doesn’t that speak volumes about the nation’s police?
Cops are also committing many other crimes on duty, including murder, and often getting away with it. Just last month, two Fullerton, Calif., cops were acquitted of beating to death a homeless man in a crowded commuter parking lot. Dozens of people witnessed the savage attack and recorded it. But in rock-ribbed Republican and law-and-order Orange County, Calif., juries apparently believe people who are mentally ill and wandering through a commuter parking lot should be summarily beaten to death if they don’t obey a police order.
Remember when nearly every cop car had the words “To Protect and to Serve” emblazoned on it? We don’t see that so much anymore. I think it’s because cops do little to serve but a lot to harass, bully and intimidate. If they protect anyone, it’s themselves.
Just ask Jonathan Ferrell. Oh, wait, we can’t because he’s dead. Last fall the former Florida A&M football player, just 24 years old, was shot 10 times and killed by an apparently panic-stricken cop near Charlotte, N.C. Ferrell had been in a late-night car crash and walked to a nearby house to ask for help. The woman who answered the door feared a break-in and called police.
A few minutes later police arrived at the house. Instead of helping Ferrell, one of them fired 12 shots, striking him 10 times. Toxicology reports showed Ferrell had no drugs or alcohol in his system, and he had no weapons. Here’s the latest development on this case.
We could ask Jonathan Meister about the protection and service police provided him, but we’d need to know sign language. Meister is profoundly deaf. About two weeks ago he filed a lawsuit against the City of Hawthorne, Calif., and the city’s police department. Here’s why:
A former roommate of his told him he could go into his yard and remove some snowboarding gear. Neighbors saw Meister, thought he might be stealing the things, and called police. Meister started using sign language to explain to the police that he is deaf. The cops thought the gestures were threats. They grabbed his hands.
We’ll let Jean Trinh of laist.com pick up the story from here:
Things escalated from that point. The lawsuit says:
According to the officers’ reports, Officer Salmon tried to put a potentially lethal carotid choke hold around Mr. Meister’s neck, and after being unable to do so, kneed him twice in the abdomen.
Then things got worse:
At some point, HPD officers Erica Bristow and Mark Hultgren joined the beating of Mr. Meister. After being unable to pull Mr. Meister to the ground (Mr. Meister played club rugby at Ohio State and instinctively tries to stay on his feet when being tackled), Office Tysl punched him in the face repeatedly while Officer Salmon shot darts from a TASER Model X26 electrical control device into Mr. Meister’s left side, causing five seconds of rapidly pulsing electrical shocks. Officer Salmon reported that the X26 current had the desired result and Mr. Meister fell face down. … The officers allegedly kicked, elbowed and Tasered Meister multiple times before he was taken to the hospital to be treated for his injuries.
All because cops were too stupid to recognize sign language when they saw it. Read the whole thing for yourself. And also this article, posted yesterday, shows how incidents like these have become routine.
I was raised by authoritarian parents who, naturally, taught me to respect, submit to and obey authority — particularly authority wielded by cops, because they serve the most authoritarian institution of all, government. So I grew up fearing cops while at the same time believing they could be trusted. After a few years as a newspaper reporter who covered cops and courts, I became convinced the fear of cops was correct but the trust was wrong.
I wrote about one cop who got his own 15-year-old daughter pregnant. During the trial it was revealed he had been offering pelvic exams to his daughter’s friends. I wrote about another who helped cover up his kid’s bicycle theft ring.
I wrote about others who had the mysterious ability to get into bar fights while off duty and never be charged with a crime. In every instance, the victims of the numerous attacks by these off-duty cops were charged.
I wrote about a man who was wrongly charged with and convicted of murdering both his parents and sentenced to death. Nearly four years later, he was cleared after the FBI — by pure dumb luck in a totally unrelated investigation — recorded the actual killers talking about their crime and how the poor schmuck son would die for it. When the FBI presented the indisputable evidence to the local cops and prosecutors, they changed their story.
From the first day, and all the years until then, cops and prosecutors had said the son committed the murders by himself in a drug-induced blackout rage – even though they had no physical evidence against him. Then they said he was the mastermind of a criminal plot to have others commit the murders. The Illinois Appellate Court saw through their pathetic attempt to cover up their incompetence and immorality.
Since 2010, in the county next to the one in which I live (the county line is just three miles from my house) five people convicted of murder have been freed after the courts were confronted with DNA or other indisputable evidence showing the convicted persons could not possibly have committed the crimes. Here’s the most recent release.
These people were wrongly convicted of murder because cops or prosecutors (or both) made up evidence, missed evidence, withheld evidence, suborned perjury, or engaged in other acts that would have been considered negligent or criminal if you or I or anyone else not a cop or prosecutor would have committed them.
In instance after instance — no matter how outrageous their conduct has been — police and prosecutors have tried to defend, downplay, and explain away their actions.
Now comes Austin Police Chief Acevedo, who has told America we should be thankful his cops did not rape a female jaywalker. Applaud him, Dear Reader, applaud him. We need more candor like this from America’s police chiefs.