In a comment Kyle W was kind enough to get me going about the situation in which a Manhattan resident Kang Chun Wong suffered injuries after an officer attempted to give him a jaywalking ticket and Mr. Wong seems to have tried to walk away. Mr. Wong is 84.
I wasn't there, so it's hard for me to talk about this specific incident. But I have plenty to say in general about jaywalking and ticketing old men...
First of all, it is never the fault of an 84-year-old man for getting hurt at the hands of police for something non-criminal and non-violent. Why? Because he's 84.
Yes... I'm saying different rules apply to people who are 84. (Or in a wheelchair. Or mentally ill. Or pregnant to name just a few). This is common sense. This is why officers have discretion. And this is why their bosses should chew them a new one when they abuse such discretionary potential with such absolute stupidity.
So you've got an 84-year-old man jaywalking in NYC. How about not giving him a ticket at all? This might not be understand by non-New Yorkers, but jaywalking is OK in NYC. You do it in front of cops. Cops do it. Everybody does it. With rare exceptions, you will not get a ticket for jaywalking in NYC. Nor should you. Such is the culture of our city. And it's good.
Last year there were 531 jaywalking tickets issued. For the whole city. For the whole year. That's 531 citations out of exactly 8.4 gazillion incidents of jaywalking (By comparison there were roughly 23,000 misdemeanor marijuana arrests.) This year jaywalking tickets were up to 10 a day. So *if* you want to to be one of those 10 lacking-in-common-sense not-living-in-NYC officers who choose to write a jaywalking ticket, don't friggin' pick an 84-year-old man to write up! I guarantee you there were at least dozen other jaywalkers during that light cycle alone.
[Jaywalking may even be good, collectively, for pedestrian safety here. It keeps cars from going too fast because pedestrians walk like the own city, because they do. Individually it can be good for safety to jaywalk when there are no cars coming. If you wait for the walk sign, then cars also get the green light who can and do turn into you. If the choice is between crossing with no cars and waiting for the light and putting myself at great risk, you should always cross when it's safest. But that's for another day...]
If your bosses tell you to write jaywalking tickets, you could as an adult and professional, and as police did when Giuliani "cracked down" on jaywalking in 1998, simply refuse to do so (unless somebody jaywalks while flipping the bird or something). Or, as one real po-lice put it back then: "The only incentive they have to make me is fear, and that ain't gonna work because writing these is up to our discretion.... This is just taking hard-earned money from people who can't afford it, and I'm not going to prostitute myself for the Mayor or anybody else."
But let's say you do choose, for whatever reason, to write a ticket to an old man. Then you, as a young officer, need to remember you're dealing with an old man. He can be restrained, if absolutely necessary. He should not be pushed to the ground. Why? Because he's 84!
Clearly this was bad policing. I just can't be certain if it happened early in the situation (deciding to ticket an old man), in the middle of the situation, at the end, when things got physical, or all of the above.
At some point, if push came to shove, because he's 84, let him go. Why? Because he's 84 and we're talking about the non-offense of jaywalking. Unlike letting some young thug walk away, this old man is not and will not be a permanent threat to your authority. Don't get into a pissing battle with an old man. Why? Because you can't win.
Once, year ago, I almost got into a fight with an old man in Amsterdam. He was dumping wheelbarrows of trash into a canal after Queens Day. I asked him to stop dumping trash into the canal. He told me to fuck off. I informed him he didn't need to dump trash as the was going to clean it all up anyway. He continued to tell me to fuck off. I tried to prevent him from dumping trash in the canal. Words were exchanged. I was in the right. He was ready to fight....
So I walked away. Why? Because I couldn't win. I was like 26. He was like 84. What if, by some happenstance, mano-a-mano, he beat me down. Then I lose. I got beat up by an 84-year-old. What if, on the other hand, I ducked his first punch and then put him down with a strong right. Then I still lose. I beat up an 84-year-old.
Remember this truism when it comes to fighting an 84-year-old men: you cannot win. If he wins; you lose. If you win, you *still* lose. And a smart cop would never put himself into a situation he couldn't win.