I'll Give You Something to Look Smashed About!

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That 64-year-old retiree beaten stupid by two New Orleans cops and two feds, who claimed the perp was being apprehended for "public intoxication"? Says he hasn't had a drink in 25 years. (Links via Sploid; click the second one for video.)

"Jack Dunphy," the pseudonymous LAPD officer-slash-National Review writer, with whom I frequently disagree, has more on NOLA's dysfunctional force.

Also well worth a read is an eyewitness account of post-Katrina New Orleans from native journalist eminence Michael Lewis.

NEXT: Winners Don't Use Drugs, but Future FBI Employees Do

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  1. Typical tough-on-crime conservative response:

    “He must have been guilty of something!”

    It ranks up there with:

    “I AM DA LAW!”

  2. That poor guy.

    a fifth officer ordered APTN producer Rich Matthews and the cameraman to stop recording. When Matthews held up his credentials and explained he was working,

    Ever since this story came out, what I’ve been wondering is, is it necessary to show credentials to continue taping? Do police have the legal ability to order someone to stop video recording? Do journalistic credentials make a difference?

  3. dead elvis-

    Credentials persuade the cops that the camera man has an organization backing him, and if he winds up with a broken camera and bruises there are people who will start digging for answers.

  4. That’s a good question that I’ve been wondering about for quite a while now. Years ago, I went to Spring Break in Palm Springs. We were in a convertible and me and my two friends were filming the shennanigans while sitting up on the back of the rear seats. Cops pull us over, tell us it’s dangerous, start writing a ticket, etc. I keep rolling the camera. One of the cops notices and tells me to stop filming. I briefly point the camera away until he stops looking, then start filming him again. He gets pissed, tells me he “means it”, so I turn it off.

    Did I really have to?

    More on topic: that punk-ass cop who grabbed the producer and threw him up against a car while sreaming in his face should be fired. And I hope it goes without saying that the cop throwing blows should definitely get the boot.

  5. Did I really have to?

    Hell no. Cops tape innocent civilians all the time. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect that they endure the same treatment.

  6. It’s sort of funny that police routinely tape themselves during traffic stops from dash mounted cameras in their cars, but will try to keep others from taping.

  7. bandini-

    I think the question isn’t what’s reasonable or unreasonable, but what is legal or illegal.

  8. And then maybe the question isn’t what is legal or illegal but what the cops can get away with.

    So Dave W, has the cops’ authority to tell people to stop filming been tested in court?

  9. dead_elvis:

    The difference is, they routinely turn off those cameras when they don’t want it on tape.

  10. And then maybe the question isn’t what is legal or illegal but what the cops can get away with.

    Well, let me re-phrase that- *my* question is about the legality. I seriously want to know. It’s pretty well established that police will get away with whatever they can.

  11. Was the police horse-cop intentionally blocking the video? The start of the struggle happens while the horse is in the way, so you can’t see if the man might have done something to provoke it. From the looks of things though, it seems pretty unprovoked.

  12. Well, let me re-phrase that- *my* question is about the legality. I seriously want to know. It’s pretty well established that police will get away with whatever they can.

    It varies by jurisdiction whether or not it is legal to videotape the police.

  13. The start of the struggle happens while the horse is in the way, so you can’t see if the man might have done something to provoke it. From the looks of things though, it seems pretty unprovoked.

    On fox news last night, Hannity and his analyst (Mark Furman of all people?) were doing their darndest to find a reason to side with the cops, but in the end, they found that the department’s unwillingness to offer even a standard, generic cause for the beating (he looked like he was going for a gun, he verbally threatened to kill them, etc.) made them admit that the video pretty much tells the story.

  14. So Dave W, has the cops’ authority to tell people to stop filming been tested in court?

    I don’t have a comprehensive answer, but here is a typical outcome:

    http://www.cnn.com/2005/LAW/09/10/katrina.media/

    CNN was ready to clarify this area of the law and the prosecutor made some concession to prevent that from happening. So we are going to go on for at least a few more years without a definitive answer to a commonly-arising question.

    Prediction: I predict that taping the police, on a routine basis by regular folks, will become a form of “civil disobedience.” I can’t wait.

    Here was my answer when I got asked a similar question on another board:

    police: It is an emerging issue as to whether police, rescue workers, subways and other public people / places can forbid cameras. We have been assuming that the police can make whatever rules they want in this area, but that assumption isn’t going to hold forever, especially as gov’t officials begin to abuse the no-cameras rule. Perhaps the first major skirmish was when the US gov’t said no more pictures of caskets coming back from Iraq. They stuck with that rule, but it began to register with some ppl (like me!) that this rule has little to do with national security. Whatever terrorists are going to do, blowing up the caskets isn’t likely their bag. The no cameras rule was about politics and that is a tad Orwellian. The no cameras in the subway rule got little attention outside the libertarian blogs I read. However, Hurrican Katrina may be bringing more common sense to bear as the authorities tried unsuccessfully to keep out the cameras, but bowed to CNN’s threat of a lawsuit in the end. This is very encouraging, and I think everybody understands how important it is to have pictures of ” what really went on there.” As of today, I think the US police can effectively stop people from taking pictures, but I think that is going to change. It is not too hard to think of some legal theories that will stop police. One is that police can’t destroy evidence. If a couple of criminals go free because the police destroyed evidence by destroying cameras, the word will quickly spread and police won’t be so quick to shut the cameras down. As far as forbidding pictures of the bridge, it sounds like the security justification is weak and that policy would likely be declared unConstitutional in the US, if challenged in court, probably on First Amendment (that is, Free Speech), void for vagueness and/or other grounds. Of course, right now everybody assumes that the police are correct about the bridge, but eventually a rich and crazy enuf photographer will come along and all this “law” of no bridge pictures will go away overnight.

  15. Much like if a tree fell in a forest….if a white guy was beaten by black cops and no one was around with a video camera….I’ll exit now on my white elephant

  16. Before everybody jumps on these cops, I think we should remember that they, apparently, had lost their homes.

    …and then we should jump all over them!

  17. If a couple of criminals go free because the police destroyed evidence by destroying cameras, the word will quickly spread and police won’t be so quick to shut the cameras down.

    Except that the only good reason for police to destroy cameras is if they themselves are the criminals. If the practice exonerates more guilty badcops than it does allow street punks to go free, then I don’t think the cops will be too quick to abandon it.

  18. Doesn’t the nom de cyber Jack Dunphy come from the One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest line “Jack Dunphy don’t know shit?”

    Just askin’

  19. I’m a lawyer, and I can’t think of any reason why the police could legally tell you to turn off the camera, at least in the situation that we’ve been discussing. The action is occurring in a public place where there is no expectation of privacy — if you can videotape the chicks flashing you on Bourbon Street, you can tape the cops throwing a beatdown to some guy.

    I was willing to overlook some of what happened when I first saw the tape…I didn’t see what started the whole thing, etc. I think cops have a difficult job and it’s tough to second guess their behavior without being in the situation. But when that cop threw the producer on the car, it was pretty clear the cops knew they were in the wrong.

    Just to keep my libertarian cred… you can resist unlawful arrests and/or unlawful assaults by cops with the appropriate amount of force. It may be better to just tape it if you can and go through channels…its a tough sell to argue successfully that you shot the cop because of his unlawful assault (although it has been done!).

  20. “On fox news last night, Hannity and his analyst (Mark Furman of all people?)”

    surely you’re joking?

    jesus.

  21. Slightlybad, I’d be curious to read more about the cases where someone has successfully argued self-defense against a police officer.

  22. A couple of years ago, a guy got pulled over in Massachusetts, and the cop began to call him racist epithets and generally berate him. Accusing him of having coke in the car. Someone in the car switched on a dictaphone and recorded the entire event.

    When the guy went to the police station and played the tape for the chief, he was arrested for violating a covert wiretap statute. The case was appealed to the Supreme Judicial Court, which upheld the conviction.

  23. It seems to me that Law Enforcement has a “secret society” mentality when it comes to a lot of what they do. There is the public image of COPs as untarnished, wholesome do-gooders that they want to uphold at all costs. However, the job of police work is sometimes very dirty, sometimes very justifiably so. I think its an unwritten rule in the Law Enforcement community that being recorded in any way by a third party is bad. I think they worry about their actions being taken out of context and used against them.

    Its funny, most of the COPs and ex-COPs I know all have this victim mentality when it comes to criticism of their job. Its an easy perch to fall back on because society gives them a lot of leeway and trusts their better judgement. It becomes rude and disrespectful to criticize a COP when they remind you of their “sacrifice” to the community.

    I think COPs, just like most people, don’t like being taped while doing their job. They’re not actors. They misuse their authority to stop something they personally find displeasing. I for one think that COPs should learn to accept the fact that the trust we place in them relies on verifiable proof of their conduct. That’s why bad COPs should be punished to the full extent of the law when undeniable proof surfaces of their misconduct. That doesn’t seem to happen in the real world, though.

  24. This is where spy cameras come in handy.

  25. My question is, why hasn’t anything happened to the federal agents involved in this? Also, do we need feds busting people for suspected public intoxication.

  26. for the chief, he was arrested for violating a covert wiretap statute. The case was appealed to the Supreme Judicial Court, which upheld the conviction.

    If this case is characterized correctly, it is, of course, a bad and absurd result. However, even so, I wonder if the case would have come out the same way if the audiotape had come to light in the context of defending against a criminal charge. For example, imagine a case where a tape showed police planting contraband or admitting that they will lie, as neccessary, at any future trials. Then the tape is introduced as evidence by the defense when the driver-defendant is charged with whatever they end up charging her with.

    Maybe the lesson here is to use the tape a lot more strategically than was done here. Specifically, it seems like the tape should have been held in confidence here a bit longer. In joe’s case note, one wonders what the defendamt was doing playing the tape for police, outside of a court of law. What the defendant really want the police chief to do in response to the tape? Something legit, or . . .

    IDEA: It would be neat to print up one of those magnets for the side of the car that said: “this car and its surroundings are videotaped at all times and the driver has no way to disenable the video system.” Stick it under the driver’s window on long car trips. You don’t have to get the video system. Just the threat is enough to make police behave! If the police want to know why the sign is there, tell them it is to discourage car thieves.

  27. Doesn’t anyone get sick of this sort of propaganda? What was the black guy doing before the cops assaulted him? Was there no video tape of that? Perhaps it was tossed down the memory hole, along with the video of black cops looting the Walmarts.

    Just once, I’d like to see cops beating up lawyers who defend black on black crime.

  28. Its funny, most of the COPs and ex-COPs I know all have this victim mentality when it comes to criticism of their job. Its an easy perch to fall back on because society gives them a lot of leeway and trusts their better judgement. It becomes rude and disrespectful to criticize a COP when they remind you of their “sacrifice” to the community.

    That’s the impression I get from reading post by Law Enforcement Officers on several internet discussion boards over the years. Glad to know it’s not just me who’s noticed that.

    My favorite is the oft-repeated This is another example of how the right to be ‘innocent until proven guilty’ doesn’t apply to the police, Woe is us posts whenever a police officer is accused of wrong doing. How dare we violate their rights by talking about them!

    But then, it takes a special kind of person — specifically, a whiny government union employee playing the victim card — to believe that an innocent man who was minding his own business “who set the stage for tragedy” when confronted and shot to death by undercover police officers.

    Because, you know, the police — who had the weapons, training, superior numbers, and initiated the confrontation — were in fear for their lives, and had to make a split second decision. The civilian, on the other hand, should have assessed the situation and reacted correctly. Diallo (and others) got what he deserved for not doing so.

    These types of incidents are always terrible tragedys — for the officers involved. Our prayers are with them.

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