The folks on Daughtry Street in Madison County, Mississippi were having a party. As far as Moses Hart knew, everybody was having a good time until the cops showed up. According to WAPT :
“For some reason, officers came up (to the house and) before they could even tell me what was going on, they had one of the guys in handcuffs,” Hart said.You can guess what happened next, as the partiers surrounded the police, trying to figure out what was going on.
Hart said he was having a party on his lawn with about 50 people when deputies showed up by the carload.
“I said, ‘Excuse me, officer, what’s wrong?’ (And he said,) ‘Shut …up. Get down!’ I said, ‘Wait a minute, I didn’t do nothing, you can’t tell me to get down,’” said Rolanda Daughtery.
“The deputies asked them to step back, but the crowd kept growing and getting louder. The deputies tried to disperse the crowd and gave orders which were not followed,” Trowbridge said. “A confrontation developed and one of the deputies went to arrest one of the men. That’s when another man put his hands on the deputy as he was arresting another man. This seemed to incite the crowd and they came forward. The deputies fired Tasers at three of them and ended up arresting seven people.”There are two ways for police to handle a large crowd of people, especially when they’re enjoying themselves. One way is very carefully. The other way involves weapons. The former takes thought and sensitivity. The latter rarely ends well.
[Madison County Sheriff Toby] Trowbridge said the use of Tasers by the officers seemed necessary.And from the perspective of viewing the situation with the safety of the officers first, and without giving any thought to how this “unruly” crowd happened to present a threat to the officers, Towbridge’s view makes perfect sense. But then, the rest of us may not be so inclined to block a significant detail from our analysis.
“From what I’ve read of the reports, the deputies were justified in their use of force to make the arrests and restore calm to the situation,” Trowbridge said. “I’m still looking into it, but thank goodness I had an extra crew assigned to duty that night. This was a large crowd that grew unruly and action had to be taken to get control of the scene there.”
Had the officers come in calmly, first investigating before cuffing and tasing, perhaps even answering appropriate questions such as why they were there, nothing unruly would have followed. But they came in and chose to “take control” over the situation, demanding that this large group of people comply with their demands. Hilarity did not ensue. Instead, it was a mess.
The initial call was that a person had been assaulted, struck in the head by a man with a pistol. The person was later found a few houses away. With that information, the cops had reason to be concerned, thinking there was an armed, violent person among the crowd. It’s understandable that they were on guard.
But there was still a large crowd of party people, the rest of whom were just having some fun and unaware of the cops’ purpose. A man with a gun is dangerous. A large crowd of people are even more dangerous. A large crowd of people who may have had a few drinks may be more dangerous still.
And at the end of the day, there are a bunch of people tased and arrested, though no mention of any man with a gun having been found. The officers did what they had to do to take control of the situation. Had they used their brains in the first place, there likely wouldn’t have been a problem to solve.
The worst part about it was that the officers showed up at the wrong house. Oops.
H/T Radley Balko