Police Abuse

The NYPD's Violent COVID-19 Arrests Show It Hasn't Learned Much in the 6 Years Since Eric Garner's Death

To the NYPD, everything still looks like a nail.


In the course of a single week, the New York Police Department (NYPD) has conducted at least three violent arrests for violating social-distancing orders. As the sixth anniversary of Eric Garner's death approaches, these arrests suggest that the department hasn't learned any lessons.

The July 2014 video of Daniel Pantaleo and other NYPD officers using lethal force on an unarmed Garner is deeply embedded in the American consciousness. Garner became a national face of the issue of police violence—and, unlike other prominent police killings around the time, it was captured completely on video, making it harder for people to justify. Conservatives who were hesitant to support the Ferguson protests spoke out against the death, and against the decision not to indict Pantaleo. Most rational people could agree that a suspected offense as trivial as selling single, untaxed cigarettes did not merit violence.

The NYPD, on the other hand, still seems intent on violently cracking down on nonviolent crimes. In a single week, at least three violent arrests for social-distancing violations have gone viral:

Perhaps the worst part about these videos is the fact that the NYPD simultaneously spent the entire weekend tweeting pictures of other officers simply handing out masks to unmasked people on the street.

The protests, the bad press, the legal action, and all the other aftershocks from Garner's death should have forced the NYPD to reevaluate its priorities and tactics. And Garner's death did inspire some changes, including a use-of-force database, efforts to implement neighborhood policing, body cameras, and the reduction of stop-and-frisk.

But the NYPD's culture still largely accepts violent arrests of nonviolent offenders.

When a lieutenant first heard that Garner was most likely dead, he texted, "Not a big deal. We were effecting a lawful arrest." While advocates were calling for more accountability and better policing tactics, police were using anonymous forums to blame Garner for his own death. When Pantaleo was finally fired last year, the police union encouraged officers to retaliate by conducting fewer arrests. Citations dropped and petty crime enforcement appeared to halt. (This tactic backfired: Crime levels dropped too.)

While reacting to a policeman punching a suspect during a social-distancing arrest, NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea claimed that such a punch "should not be assumed to be excessive force," since it is an escalation tactic used in police academy training. Many departments refocused their policing on violent offenses to avoid clogging jails with nonviolent offenders during the pandemic, but Shea said the NYPD would adopt no such change.

The incidents this week could have been avoided if more people had taken the time to ask whether nonviolent offenses are really worth a beatdown.

NEXT: Texas Will No Longer Send People to Jail for Violating Strict Social Distancing

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  1. If it saves one life……

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  2. When crime is mostly what the cops don’t like, ie victimless crimes that would never be reported otherwise, of course crime levels drop when cops quit copping.

    1. Hey do you remember when you told us you want to eat shit and we laughed at you for weeks?

      That’s no excuse for your misogyny though.

      1. i rememeber that it was hilarious

    2. Fly-overs are for losers. Gillespie does the right thing yesterday (for a change), and you rag on him.

      BTW, iatrogenic death numbers, if anything, are undercounted. You are smart enough to know how incompetent the merchants of allopathy are, including their nurse underlings. If you want to get sick, go to a hospital; if you want to die, stay there a little while.

    3. Pretty neat to get such confirmation that I hurt somebody’s feelings. But you guys are such pussy snowflakes, no way to tell which comment triggered you. Back to your safe spaces!

      1. Rememeber when you played spelling cop and told everyone it was spelled ‘dalai llama’ and you lost your mind you were so mad?


      2. pussy snowflakes

        Says the guy so triggered that he has to reply, but still too afraid to actually reply to the person who triggered him.

        1. He tells peoples he eats his own shit and he runs a blown sockpuppet specifically to whine at me, being afraid to reply to me is the least of his failings.

          1. Yeah I saw that, seems like a waste of time since he uses all of his names for that.

  3. Conservatives who were hesitant to support the Ferguson protests spoke out against the death were right.

    FTFY. Garner wasn’t doing anything. Brown was fleeing from a strongarm robbery.

    1. Brown was trying to kill the guy who shot him.
      He was still charging when he got shot. You can see it from the shot pattern, all on one side of the body rising from knee to shoulder and rather evenly spaced.
      Garner, as you said, wasn’t doing anything

      1. Brown moved 21 feet in 3.5 seconds when he turned back towards Wilson. That’s 4 mph or walking pace.

    2. The Obama/Holder Justice Department finally cleared the cop.

      1. The Feds only look for civil rights violations they don’t make determinations concerning state level homicides.

        1. OK, but if in fact the narrative about Ferguson had been correct, that would have been a civil-rights violation. Shooting a guy trying to surrender? That would be wrongful killing under color of law – which the civil-rights laws forbid.

          The investigation showed the narrative to be wrong.

          1. It being a civil rights violation and being able to prove it was a civil rights violation are not synonymous.

    3. Thank you! So many people think that Garner was selling cigarettes that day.

  4. LOL. Of course the cops didn’t learn anything – they’ve known all along they can literally get away with murder. The question is – what did the rest of us learn from watching the cops literally get away with murder? Personally, I learned I should start shorting woodchippers. There’s not going to be any shortage of woodchippers, woodchippers are never going to be in high demand. Nor will ropes and lampposts or torches and pitchforks. Might as well go ahead and pass the gun confiscation orders, nobody’s going to revolt.

    1. They learned that even a murder captured on tape wouldn’t get punished. Any surprise they are abusing people for just hanging out?

  5. the NYPD simultaneously spent the entire weekend tweeting pictures of other officers simply handing out masks to unmasked people on the street.

    Wait a minute…. *Loosie* masks?

    1. “”Wait a minute…. *Loosie* masks?””

      The city isn’t expecting taxes on those. If they did…

      The state is expecting taxes from the out of state health care workers if they work in NY for more than 14 days.

  6. a punch “should not be assumed to be excessive force,”

    Didn’t Jiminy Cricket teach us that having a conscience is a prerequisite to learning something?

  7. Texas: We should stop arresting people for this.

    NYC: What if we just summarily executed them on the sidewalk?

    1. I got pulled over Monday by a Texas State Trooper for speeding (80 in a construction zone lowered to 70). I moved to Austin in January, but have since lost my Oregon license and only had an old insurance card for the truck I traded in 2 months ago. The trooper was polite, accepted my passport for ID after asking a single question, asked one question about the insurance card and let me go with a warning that only listed the speeding. The whole interaction was less than 5 minutes.

      In my experience, there are those that consider themselves peace officers and there are those who consider themselves law enforcement officers. Heaven help us when we encounter the latter.

      1. Congratulations on your escape from Oregon.
        Welcome to free Texas.

        1. You missed the part about moving from Oregon to Austin. Not Free Texas, the Portlandian part of Texas.

          1. The irony of getting the job in Austin is not lost on me, but I got a house outside the city limits.

            1. Upwind, I hope. I hear whatever it is those people are putting off is infectious.

  8. https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/dcas/downloads/pdf/reports/100_6.pdf

    According to this, the NYPD should be refusing to enforce unconstitutional edicts from fascists.

  9. Shitheads violating the quarantine, particularly in NYC, deserve a good ass kicking. Get ’em boys!

  10. De Blasio just said that protests are now illegal in NYC. He’s violating the 1st Amendment. NY Post is already reporting a lawsuit as of half an hour ago. Fuck this piece of shit

  11. The laws regarding use of force, self defense and defense of others are the same for all citizens, whether they have badges or not.

    In New York, anyone may make an arrest for any offense they personally witness, using any necessary force if for a felony, or using force only as outlined in the statute that defines when, where and how a police officer may use force if for a misdemeanor.

    NYPD personnel, in uniform or not, are not immune to arrest.

    This means that if proper arrest procedure for someone who commits a misdemeanor is to violently tackle them and begin beating them prior to informing them they are under arrest, then it would be lawful for someone to tackle and beat any member of the NYPD that you see violating social distancing rules.

    It would not be assaulting a police officer, because that is simply how arrests are made in NYC – it’s the same level of force used without disciplinary action being taken when NYPD makes a misdemeanor arrest, and police are not immune to arrest in the state of New York.

    1. With some exceptions you, are technically correct, and unfortunately I have become convinced that citizen’s arrests of police might be a necessary step in police reform. But it’s also super dangerous. The first person that tries it will almost certainly be shot by the next officer on the scene. Even if it is done en masse with lots of civilian backup, the police and courts will fight it tooth and nail. It will only work with massive public backing.

  12. Qualified immunity is a hell of drug.

  13. Hey, if DeBallsio is gonna go Nazi, he needs an SS, right?

  14. “Citations dropped and petty crime enforcement appeared to halt. (This tactic backfired: Crime levels dropped too.)”

    No… the people who it was meant to hurt were hurt: the city treasury didn’t have that revenue stream. I mean, why is it that the most “liberal” cities have the most egregious police forces? After all, aren’t they the ones interested in police accountability? Sure… but they are also big spenders, and they can’t afford to piss off the police and risk it.

    1. Please don’t confuse liberal with leftist. NYC is a liberal citizenry. The mayor is a leftist and is using brutal tactics for the purpose of control. People are starting to see through the fear tactic and the next step is always brutality. “Do as I say or else”. Evil people pander to the working poor to advance an agenda. The problem is that their agenda is to prey on those same people for their own self aggrandizement.

  15. Why blame the cops when it’s the politicians who come up with these ridiculous offenses malum prohibitum?

  16. 4 mph is a pretty fast walk. When I was in the military, a detail that was in a hurry could march (not double-time) at 4 to 5 miles in an hour, but that was long-legged young men in excellent condition, taking long steps at much faster than the standard rate. A standard military march is no faster than 3 mph, and from Brown’s pictures I doubt he was in good enough condition to keep up with that for long. At 4mph, Brown was hurrying.

    If this had been their first encounter, 3.5 seconds to close the distance would not give the cop much time to think about how to handle Brown’s charge. But Brown had already reached into the police car and clouted the cop in the head once. When Brown turned back towards the cop and ignored warnings to stop, shooting until he dropped became the only way for the cop to defend himself.

    (A more careful cop might have brought the passenger side of the car alongside Brown to talk to him, instead of making it easy for him to reach in and assault the cop, but that assault narrowed the cop’s options.)

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