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by Peter Moskos

October 26, 2009

Use of Force, eh?

A reader sent me this link:

Here's the news story. Abbotsford, by the way, has been labeled "the Murder Capital of Canada" [insert scary music here]. Abbotford, the Murder Captial of Canada," has a homicide rate of 4.7 per 100,000.

Abbotford, the Murder Captial of Canada, has a homicide rate lower than the U.S. homicide rate.

Think about that.

As Yakov Smirnoff used to say: "What a country!"

I have no problem with the force used in this video. In fact, I think it's a very good use of force (and I'm not saying that just to provoke anonymous insults). Every bit of force is justified, in response to actions the suspect takes, and stops when the suspect complies.

That guy on the ground had two things to do: 1) keep his head down, and 2) not move, especially his hands. Those are very fair requests. Mr. Brown Jacket complies and has no problem. Mr. Slow Learner keeps looking up and trying to move his hands to a place where 1) he could reach for a weapon or 2) get up. Neither is acceptable. The officer responds appropriately.

To me, the greater issue (outside the war on drugs) is the limitations of the gun. Once you're pointing a gun at somebody who doesn't do want you want, you kind of lose your power. I mean, if you can't shoot the guy, what can you do? So the gun, if you call its bluff, only serves to take the officer's hands out of the equations. That's not good. But as long as the gun is out (and yes, I'm assuming that officer has a good reasons to suspect the suspects may be armed), all you've got are your feet.

There was one time I got out of my car and drew down on two people fighting in the middle of the Monument Street (I had reason to believe, falsely it turned out, that one had a gun). I ordered them to stop fighting. I will never forget as they both, in unison, turned to look down the barrel of my gun, then turned back to each other and re-starting slugging each other again. All I could do was put my gun away. By this time I could see they were not armed.

I did end up macing one of them when the other, unilaterally, listened to my commands to stop fighting. At the request of their father, they both went to jail. Turned out they were brothers.

Everyone would have been happier had I never been there.


Anonymous said...

I don't have any major problems with the use of force. Couple of minor issues:

(i) walking on the back of the suspects calves is bad tactics. Not excessive force, but bad tactics. If the officer fell off the man's calves, i would hope that would NOT be grounds for assault on an officer charge.

(ii) The LEO should have given a clear verbal command, specifically about putting his cheek on the ground, and a chance to comply with the clear and specific verbal command before going foot on head. If the officer had just said "git onna groun" and then went foot on head for "imperfect" ompliance with that command, then that is excessive because it would not have been understood that a cheek needed to be on the pavement. Cheek on the pavement is borderline excessive even without shoe leather enforcement. If it REALLY was neccessary to have his cheek on the pavement, then there should be a burden on the officer to make that super-duper-extra-clear before going to the old headkick. Cheek on the pavement should be a disfavored technique. It is simply not as important as still, visible hands and still, visible legs. Cheek-on-pavement smacks of being a non-officer-safety punitive measure. In this case, the LEO might (or might not) have been sufficiently clear and patient about the cheek touching the pavement requirement. best case = cleared. Worst case = 3 days no pay.

Doug Gaff said...

LOL. Those Canadian LEO's need to come to the States to get trained on excessive use of force! That was pretty mild. We treat our skateboarders worse than that!

As Anon says, this seems like bad tactics to me, but I'm not a LEO, so what do i know.

Anonymous said...

As with the recent SF skateboarder video, my compliments to whatever company made the camera. Those are some nice, crisp, clear images.

It really helps you judge the amount of force. I think in this case, the clarity of the images works to the LEO's advantage, although maybe not if his police report departs too much from what is shown in the vid. I think in this case he wrote the report before the vid went up on YouTube. That is potentially an opportunity for the perp to stick it to him, not for force, but for dishonesty. could be impeachment city for Tom Skerritt!

PCM said...

Without seeing it, I'll tell what that part of the report say: "Suspects were arrested and transported to Central Booking."

You don't write a description of how you put cuffs on a guy.

Sgt. T said...

I think my biggest problem is that Mr. Brown Jacket wasn't searched after cuffing. Both officers turned their backs on a suspect that had been held at gunpoint a few seconds before.

PCM said...

Very good point, sergeant.
I actually had not watched it to the end. Figuring it was over after the cuffs were on.

campbell said...

You don't write a description of how you put cuffs on a guy.

If if involves pointing my gun at a guy and kicking him, I sure do.

PCM said...

It varies some by jurisdiction, but pointing your gun at somebody is not considered "use of force." Nor is going hands on. At least not in Baltimore.

And the rest was just making an arrest.

I would not have written on that.

One Time said...

I agree that there was no excessive force here, but that the officers' tactics were off. In my opinion, it's generally a bad idea to be within grabbing distance of a suspect if you are pointing a gun at him.

PCM said...

Holster before you approach.

Anonymous said...

Do they always make it so obvious who the CRI was?

PCM said...

What's "CRI"?

Anonymous said...

confidential reliable informant. sometimes they are just called CI's in places where the policemen aren't too particular about how reliable the informant is.