Submission to the Shield: Digustingly Real

There is a host of things ordinary people do for no better reason than someone requests it. Do you give your social security number to the physician because his medical history form has a space for it?  Why? Will that help her diagnose your illness?  The reason it’s on there is for the benefit of the collection agency in case you don’t pay your medical bills, and yet nearly everyone provides it without blinking. 

When a police officer tells you to jump, most people ask how high. They may not like it, but they will do what they’re told lest the interaction is raised to the next level.  It’s the motivation that gives rise to false confessions. It’s how they get you to consent to a search, even when you know you’ve got two bricks of cocaine in the trunk. It’s amazingly powerful stuff.

And the cops know how powerful submission to the shield can be, which is how a disgusting pig can do something like this. Via the Miami Herald :

[T]he girl was sitting in the back of a car with a 19-year-old friend parked in the back lot of a business plaza in Miramar after school on Jan. 18, when a man approached the car and looked at them through the window.

He asked them to roll down the window.

Because he was in a dark-blue uniform and wearing a gold badge, the teens thought he was a police officer and complied.

The girl was 15 years old.

But the man told the girl he “needed to check.”

The girl asked “Check what?”

“I need to see inside,” he responded.

That’s when he ordered her to take off her pants and underwear so he could look for bruising or other evidence of sexual activity.

In fear, the affidavit said, she complied.

It’s almost impossible to imagine what thoughts raced through a young woman’s mind as a cop ordered her to remove her clothing.  But as mind-boggling as that was, it got worse.

The girl told police she thought it “was the right thing to do” because he was an officer.

He told police he heard the man tell the girl “I need you to spread your legs wider so I can see.”

The officer then used a flashlight to “inspect” her and told her to pull down her blouse so he could check for bruising, according to the police report.

Then he returned the driver’s license to the boy and told them “Go home.”

While this could have been done by a vicious pedophile masquerading as a police officer, it wasn’t.  After sifting through pictures of police officers, she identified the man who ordered her to spread her legs wider.

The man she identified: Miramar police Capt. Juan De Los Rios, 46.

On Friday, De Los Rios was charged with two counts of lewd or lascivious conduct on an underage girl, according to the arrest affidavit. He was booked into Broward County Jail and held on $30,000 bail.

If convicted, De Los Rios could face up to 15 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

Miramar police Capt. Juan De Los Rios was on the job for 18 years.  It appears that he has transgressed even the thin blue line this time, and he was suspended without pay.  The case seems to be taken seriously, though I wouldn’t anticipate $30,000 bail had it not been a cop who gave the order to a 15-year-old to spread her legs wider.

Yet why, why would a young woman disrobe and allow an unknown man to view her vagina with a flashlight upon command?  

The girl told police she thought it “was the right thing to do” because he was an officer.

Much as readers here, as lawyers, will find that statement utterly naive and shocking, it reflects the breadth of faith in police.  No matter how many videos appear showing the police beating someone to death for being non-compliant, we still teach our children that they can trust the police, that the police are their friends. 

And even the videos push people to do as they’re told, fearing that failure to do what the office says might leave one dead on the street, whether a statistic or the target of some vague yet vicious justification.  “She took an aggressive stance and made furtive gestures as I ordered her to spread her legs apart.”

People find it unfathomable that others do as a police officer commands, thinking they would never do something as “wrong” as consent to a search without basis, confess to a crime they didn’t commit, or strip naked and spread one’s legs so the officer can “inspect” her vagina.  The power of the shield is amazing, and compulsion to submit to that power is undeniable.  And still people don’t believe it, just as they can’t bring themselves to believe that any cop could engage in conduct this demented and disgusting.



10 comments on “Submission to the Shield: Digustingly Real

  1. Frank

    The reason why he Cartman caracature works is that there is a large element of truth to it. Every contempt-of-cop arrest begins with failure to lick the badge on command.

  2. Onlooker

    Wow, that’s stunning. Just when you think you’ve heard it all…

    You think that poor girl will have trust issues?

  3. mary

    I’m horrified by the thought that I would seriously think about challenging this police officer. The fact that her male friend did not comment does make me think poorly of him. One word form a friend can often make us agree. Two people can make a valid point not to obey the officer.

  4. Nigel Declan

    I don’t know the facts, in this case, but if there is a finding that the officer in any way used his status or authority as an officer to perpetrate this act, he deserves an increased sentence as it constitutes a gross breach of trust.

    To be clear, the officer is innocent until proven guilty and is entitled to a fair hearing with capable defense representation. My point is more that officers found to be using their status or authority to assist in the perpetration of offenses, regardless whether they are as heinous as this or not, deserve very stiff sentences to make it clear that officers are not only above the law but owe the public a duty of trust to behave within the law.

  5. SHG

    My bet is the 19 year old was scared to death that the cop would “find” something and put a gun to his head. But yes, his failure to speak out certainly doesn’t make him look good.

  6. PJL

    I can almost understand someone allowing a cop to search a car on demand (not that I would agree to such a search and have told friends not to allow such), but to disrobe? Wow. That goes way beyond what the law could possibly allow.

    As far as the boy in the car goes – I suspect he was scared beyond belief. Here he was in the back seat with a 15 yo girl. Is she under the age of consent in that state? And he definitely is 2 or more years older. In many states that is a recipe for sexual assault charges. No wonder he didn’t say a word.

  7. LTMC

    This reminds me of something David Cole wrote 13 years ago:

    “Few of us, [confronted by] armed police officers…would feel free to tell the officers to mind their own business…“[i]mplicit in the introduction of the [officer]…is a show of authority to which the average person encountered will feel obliged to stop and respond. Few will feel that they can walk away or refuse an answer.”

    — David Cole, No Equal Justice, at 18–20 (1999)(quoting Illinois Migrant Council v. Pilliod, 398 F. Supp. 882, 899 (N.D. Ill. 1975).

  8. SHG

    Excellent quote. If the shield is powerful enough to cause a young woman to do this, the notion, embraced by so many judges, that people feel bold enough to exercise their right to be left alone is an absurd fiction. This case was extreme, but shows how powerful submission is. It’s ridiculous to call an ordinary citizen’s compliance “knowing, voluntary and intelligent,” and frame rules around it, as that’s not the reality for ordinary people.

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