Calvon Reid died in police custody in Cocunut Creek, Florida, last Wednesday after being tased repeatedly to force compliance—witnesses now say he was yelling out that police were going to kill him, and at point complained that he couldn't breathe as officers tried to subdue him. As usual, police don't want to talk about it, stoking more controversy. As CBS Miami reports:
Reid's death following an encounter with the Coconut Creek police sparked controversy this week when police were accused of trying to cover up what happened by claiming all details surrounding the incident were "confidential" and the public did not have the right to even the most basic information. At one point the department refused to acknowledge the death by citing federal privacy statutes on healthcare records.
[John] Arendale and [Bonnie] Eshleman, who both work for the Broward County school system, offer the first independent, eyewitness accounts of what happened during the early morning hours of Sunday, February 22. Their accounts were first published by the news website, BrowardBulldog.org.
Arendale and Eshleman said they are still not certain what prompted the encounter between Reid and police. One of their neighbors inside the Wynmoor Village complex told them that Reid had approached one of the residents in the parking lot of the gated community asking the man to take him to the hospital. Reid had been injured, but it's not certain how he was hurt. The condo resident called 911 and asked that paramedics come and check on Reid. But when the paramedics arrived, Reid reportedly became belligerent with them. The police were summoned and as many as five officers confronted Reid.
It was sometime during that confrontation, in front of Eshleman and Arendale's condominium, that the couple was awakened.
Eshleman said as they watched the affair play out, one of the officers tried to speak to Reid in a calm voice, asking him for his name and identification. He also wanted to know how he had gotten into the complex and if he was visiting anyone there.
It appeared Reid, however, just wanted to be left alone. A check of criminal records reveals that Reid has a lengthy criminal record for drug possession.
The Department of Justice report on Ferguson released this week pointed to various policing-as-revenue-generation incidents as one of the contributing factors to the police department's systematic abuse of poor, mostly minority residents. It identified "failure to comply" as one of the tools used to criminalize residents. Although it's not as politically correct, yet, for the DOJ to note, certainly laws like "drug possession" serve the same purpose.
A report from the White House, meanwhile, listed a litany of ways poor police behavior contributes to poor police-community relations. Offensive language was one of those behaviors listed in the report, and something heard in the Coconut Creek incident. "Don't move or I'll break your fucking arm," Arendale says he heard a police officer shout at Reid before Reid eventually died in police custody. The White House report recommends more training, naturally, as one solution. Zero tolerance for the kind of behavior that could be a warning side of future violent behavior, also not as politically correct, is among other solutions, not mentioned in the White House report, that could work better to prevent unnecessary police violence.