Lt. Josey and the Palm Pacifier (Update)

The  video spread like wildfire throughout the blawgosphere because it was appalling.  It was horrible on its surface, and horrible in its reflection of what it showed about Lt. Jonathan Josey, the officer who punched the woman, as well as the general attitude of Philadelphia police officers toward this act of needless violence.  As  Radley Balko opined, 

 I’ll just make the obvious point others have already made: Even assuming the woman had been the one who threw water/silly string on the cop, the reaction should at least get him fired. And probably prosecuted. That it doesn’t appear to have been her makes it worse, but is kinda’ beside the point.

Is it an obvious point?  To me, sure. To you, probably.  To police officers who see it?  Therein lies the problem.  At Police One, a website for police officers, the video garnered a lot of comments. To the police commenters, the video is similarly obvious, but not the same obvious as appears to others

There are two more pages of similar comments, all similarly obvious.

It’s all obvious. Just obviously opposite in our respective reactions and expectations of propriety.  While the punch thrown by Lt. Josey (and bear in mind he’s a supervisor, meaning that this is an individual charged with keeping the troops in line) is bad enough, the reaction by the other officers present and the reaction by the cops who commented on the video gives rise to a far larger, systemic problem.

We aren’t seeing the same thing.  We may see the same image, the same video, but we don’t see the same thing at al.

What these comments make painfully clear is that non-cops can’t begin to make a dent in the perspective of a police officer. Whether you chalk it up to rationalization, denial or the First Rule of Policing, one thing is obvious: they fully, absolutely, totally believe in their right to harm a citizen at any provocation.

pondered on twitter yesterday, after reading the Police One comments, what our buddies at LEAP, Law Enforcement for Prohibition, had to say about it. There was no response.  I still ponder the question.  While we may share a concern over the drug war, what about punching a woman in the face?  Do they see what we see or what their brethren see.  Will they criticize the conduct or back up Lt. Josey?

Maybe LEAP’s executive director,  Neill Franklin, will have  something to say about it today.  This isn’t exactly a new issue between us, as the question of whether their dedication to the cause is a facile one-trick pony, or they are willing to stand up against their own when the issue shift from drug policy to police abuse.  This would be an opportune moment to find out.

The point is that non-cops can get angry over what is, to us, obvious, but police not only don’t give a damn, but think we’re all blithering idiots for what we see.  We don’t get it. We’re the enemy. The answer is simple: if you don’t want a cop to beat you, don’t do anything to piss off a cop. Easy, right?

And we can continue to rant about the wrongfulness of this conduct, but to no avail.  Are we alone in the wilderness, without a police officer who sees what we see, who believes that you don’t get to punch people at will?  It’s unclear whether one cop speaking out against this conduct will change anything, but it is quite clear that no cop has come forward to say this is wrong.

One cop is a start. A hundred is a movement. Anyone?  Or are we so far apart in our understanding of how police should behave that none of us can see the same thing here?

Update:  According to twits from the Philly Inquirer, the District Attorneys has announced that he will not prosecute the woman who was sucker punched, and Lt. Josey will be terminated.  Not prosecuted, but terminated. No word on the other cops who watched, but let’s not get greedy.

Me too.

23 comments on “Lt. Josey and the Palm Pacifier (Update)

  1. Frank

    You would need at least a hundred in the same agency or region. Witness the lesbian officer in NJ who was fired for intervening in a 2-officer beatdown of a mental patient.

    A police department is a de facto army of occupation. The good news is that people are at last waking up to that fact.

  2. J. Alfred Brown

    SHG, thank for constantly offering Your perceptive views
    I’d like to think that all C.D. Attorneys share your common sense

    Experience has taught me otherwise, tho

  3. Antonin I. Pribetic

    Huh? Philly police officers feel threatened and justified to punch a protester who soaks them with water or fires silly string at them?

    Have they never heard of Toronto Const. Adam Josephs — otherwise known worldwide as “Officer Bubbles’’ and the G20 incident Youtube video?

  4. PhillyTee

    What is the world coming to when an officer thinks he is justified in punching a woman in the mouth? And why are there so many racist comments about it? Lt. Josey is a psycho cop. What kind of person nominates themself for Philadelphia Daily News Sexiest person? He’s been getting away with this kind of behavior and being rewarded for it. It has to stop. Dismissed with no pension and I do hope that she sues the bull*hit out of the City of Philadelphia.

  5. BobN

    Saw a bunch about this on the philly news last night. At least the police commissioner indicated some concern but the president of the local PBA avowed that it was absolutely a justifiable use of reasonable force. So sad.

  6. Miranda

    I met a kid once who was accused of stealing a car and leading police on a short chase. When he stopped, there were multiple units there and the police approached with guns drawn. I thought this must have been pretty scary. The kid said it wasn’t because the police would never shoot a kid, and if they did they’d get in serious trouble. I laughed out loud at that one.

  7. SHG

    I wasn’t aware that Lt. Josey nominted himself for Sexiest Person. I don’t think this will help his cause.

  8. SHG

    There is nothing a cop has ever done that the local police union doesn’t support. But then, that’s the nature of unions.

  9. SHG

    Sounds like a statistic waiting to happen. How sad that they believe that nothing will happen to them. Sadder still when it does.

  10. jesse

    Actually there is one thing the unions won’t support, whistleblowing and/or intervening to prevent other officers from abusive behavior.

  11. George B

    Prosecuted? That must be a subtle joke.

    Terminated is a big move (esp. considering Ramsey is in charge…) but IF they prosecuted and convicted him, he could not just move to another police job in an adjacent area…..

  12. Just Dropping By

    I’m sorry, but why would LEAP take a position on this? Their mission concerns reform of drug laws. Getting involved in monitoring and denouncing police brutality just distracts from their core mission. Maybe after the drug laws have been massively reformed/repealed, they could change focus (e.g., March of Dimes’ change from fighting polio to dealing with other infant/child health issues), but it seems like doing it now would just be diluting their work.

  13. SHG

    If you had clicked on the links in the post, you would find that I’ve raised this issue with LEAP guys in the past, given that their anti-drug war rhetoric includes aspects relating to the treatment of citizens by police.  While police abuse and misconduct isn’t their core message, it’s impossible to separate it from the anti-drug war message.  You can’t disagree with the drug war, and its litany of horrors toward citizens, and ignore (or worse yet, applaud) police beating citizens for reasons other than the drug war.

    As LEAP wants criminal defense lawyers to be their natural ally, and to applaud their heroic stand, then they need to be clear what their stand is. Are they against the drug war but fine with citizens being wrongfully beaten or killed by cops or not? Are they heroes, or heroes only when it’s convenient?

  14. ShelbyC

    Why would he move? He’s going to be reinstated with back pay after a few months by some review board anyway, after things have cooled down. This way, the brass gets credit for having fired him, Lt. Josey gets a paid vacation, everybody wins, right?

  15. ShelbyC

    The good folks over at police one are suggesting that firing is too severe, that maybe a suspension or something would be more appropriate. Funny, I’m pretty sure that if I lost my cool and smacked somebody at my job, nobody would think firing was too severe.

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