In light of the inane efforts of the clueless (and some police) to rationalize the killing of Eric Garner, suggesting that there is no possibility of the police doing their job with a “noncompliant” person that doesn’t end in harm, Kevin Underhill at Lowering The Bar presents an alternative.
According to KTVB in Boise, the incident began when deputies suggested to a 21-year-old man that he might have violated the terms of his probation. The report says the man was on probation for stalking, and it appears that there had been an encounter between the man and the stalkee. He claimed that she, not he, had violated the no-contact order, but the deputies “discovered that was not true.” It’s not clear what evidence they had to support this, but either it was enough to convince the man he was busted or he suddenly remembered something very urgent he had to do in the direction police weren’t.
Flight is almost invariably cause to pull out a weapon, whether lethal or mostly lethal, rather than let the perp get away. But not here.
This led to a 15-minute chase through suburban yards, onto a golf course, and then into the aforementioned pond. (You can call it a “water hazard” if you want to, but I’m sticking with “pond.”) And that led to the standoff, such as it was.
Certainly, the perp’s refusal to comply with the police demands that he surrender himself without their need to get their uniform wet provided cause to take swift and harsh action. And lest it be ignored, the offense for which this perp was sought was a probation violation, which by definition means he was already adjudicated a criminal and had a sheet. And yet:
“Deputies were able to coax him out of the water after about 30 minutes,” says the report, “during which time only one golf ball landed near him.”
Extraordinary. The police got their man. No weapon was used. No person was harmed, whether perp or cop, and everyone involved survived to eat dinner that night.
As ExCop-LawStudent commented in response to the insanity of the irrelevant and irrational attempt to justify the killing of Eric Garner,
I dealt with hundreds of people that hated the police.
I didn’t kill any of them.
The point is if the officer uses the proper procedures, he won’t be in that position.
The point is that resort to force and violence other than in defense of force or for the protection of another from harm is unjustifiable. Sure, it may mean that the police have to run, on occasion, after a fleeing perp. It may require patience, waiting out an untenable situation when there are other things the police would rather be doing. Suffering the annoyance of a person who just won’t do what the cops tell him to do. But contempt of cop isn’t a capital crime. Indeed, it’s usually not a crime at all.
While Kevin’s post, as always, finds the humor in the law, behind it is a very real, very important tactic that will save many from harm, cop and perp alike. Patience.
There is a fallacy, perpetuated to justify the use of force in situations where it was never needed, that the police must act with immediacy, to stop the perp and compel compliance, or society will unravel before their eyes. This is, of course, utter nonsense.
There are times when force is required. There are times when a situation is emergent, and the police are constrained to act. But the ability to distinguish between those situations demanding an immediate response including the use of force, and those where it’s nothing more than waiting out a guy who put himself into an untenable situation, is why we trust them enough to let them wear a shield.
The guy was standing in a water hazard (apologies to Kevin). He wasn’t going anywhere. He wasn’t threatening anyone. Nor was Eric Garner. This guy lived. Eric Garner did not. We can laugh about what happened with the guy in the water hazard. We cannot laugh about what happened to Eric Garner.
Life and death, and a laugh and tears, hang by the thinnest of threads.