Brickbats

Brickbat: Let's Go to the Tape

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A Texas judge has sentenced former Fort Worth police officer Jon Romer Jr. to five years in prison after a jury found him guilty of aggravated perjury for lying to a grand jury investigating an incident in which he punched a man in a hospital lobby. Romer, who was working an off-duty security job at the time of the incident, told the grand jury he had told the man he was under arrest and punched him when he tried to resist. But audio from a security camera showed the man was not resisting.

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  1. Law enforcement officers should not be allowed to work private security. One reason is that, as a legal matter, it is not clear that their powers to search and seize are limited in the way the search and seize powers of a private shopkeeper are limited. Another reason is that cops will just cop regardless of any restrictions that may arise, at least in theory, a non-governmental employment context, and many court will let them (eg, cases applying qualified immunity to actions taken by policemen at private security gigs).

    This was an easy case for the court because te bad behavior being punished (that is, aggravated perjury) was a crime against the court and not against the citizen causing the ruckus in the hospital lobby.

    1. >and many court will let them (eg, cases applying qualified immunity to actions taken by policemen at private security gigs).

      Do you know of examples where this is happening? Meaning QI for a cop working in a non-cop job.

      Not contradicting, I’m genuinely curious if it has happened or is purely hypothetical.

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      2. Great question. The answer is a bit long.

        What courts do is find that there was “arguable probable cause” that the plaintiff in the civil suit was committing a crime. The off-duty officer working private security is magically transmogrified into an on duty police officer at the instant in time which arguable probable cause is realized. Consequent to this transmogrification of the popo, she get that good ol’ fashioned QI. Works for most cases. Here is a recent example:

        https://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=16494217377690539797&hl=en&as_sdt=6,33

        Two notes on this case:

        There is a lot of subsequent history on this case, which I have not reviewed.

        The CA9 case cited in footnote 14 is a promising outlier. Unfortunately, there is a long history of CA9 anti-police decisions being mocked by the academic community (looking at you, Kerr) and reversed by SCOTUS.

        So that is my answer. Side note on cancel culture: last year there was an effort to get me cancelled at work. Nothing came of it, but it was terrifying and extremely traumatic for me. When this happened, I took down the blog I had been keeping for ten years on qualified immunity cases arising under the 1st and 4th amendments (mostly the Fourth). In the end I was exonerated completely, but I mention all this because I could have given you a better answer had my private sector employer had not terrified me into committing erasure on the fruits of my own research and mind.

  2. You comply or you get violence. This is the way, whether on duty or not.

    Had there not been audio evidence and had the assaulter not lied to the court about what he did, there would likely be no case against him and the victim would be dealing with the criminal justice machine a lot longer than he was already forced to.

    1. 10 million years of primate evolution can’t be wrong.

  3. Maybe nitpicking, but how can audio “show” that the victim was not resisting?

    1. Audio would prove whether or not the officer told the man he was under arrest before or after punching him.

      1. Would’ve been nice if the article had paraphrased the audio.

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