When “I Forgot” Doesn’t Cut It

Among the many and varied excuses that usually defy response, “I forgot” is usually the best.  After all, it’s an admission of wrongdoing without any moral culpability. People forget things. It happens. It’s the nature of the beast, right?

Except when what was forgotten was five teenagers left locked in a police van for 15 hours in the freezing cold.  Via NorthJersey.com :

One of the five teenagers locked inside a police van for about 15 hours without food or water in March 2011 is suing the borough, the Police Department and more than a dozen officers.

According to the complaint, [Adam] Kim, then 17, was one of about a dozen minors transported to police headquarters after officers broke up a loud house party on Arcadian Way in March 2011. The minors were not advised of their Miranda rights or told why they were being arrested, the complaint stated.

The plaintiff alleges that the officers “displayed a pattern of racial bias and/or indifference” by using a racial slur to reference Asian-Americans.

The cops claim that there was no racial animus.  They just forgot that they had put the five teens in the van. Oops.  And Internal Affairs agreed.

But the internal-affairs investigation found no evidence of “malicious or discriminatory intent” by the officers, the head of the department’s internal-affairs unit wrote in his findings.

Somehow, it must have slipped through the crack investigator’s fingers that not only were the teens left in the van in the first place, but remained there, without food, water or toilet facilities, and after having their cellphones seized, while cops returned to the van and went for a ride.

Upon arriving at police headquarters, some of the teens were led inside the building. The remaining handful — mostly of Asian descent, and all of whom had their cellphones confiscated — were kept locked in the van and weren’t acknowledged when two officers returned to the vehicle later to respond to a couple of calls before they took the van back to police headquarters, the suit said.

Not until 3 p.m.. the next day, when some passers-by noticed the teens in the van and called the police, were they let out of the van.

Not to attribute excessive insight or attentiveness to the Ft. Lee police, but the idea that they simply forgot about the five teens held inside the van is utter nonsense. They were teaching these kids a lesson, cop-style, and there is no way they forgot about them.  None.

Whether this reflects racial bias against Asians, or perhaps something about rowdy boys, isn’t clear.  That cops used a racial slur doesn’t necessarily prove the point, as most hate all citizens and merely slip unconsciously into the use of slurs without putting enough thought into it to make it count.  That’s not a good thing, by the way, and reflects the hostility toward all citizens that cops seem to show when serving and protecting.

But regardless of their motivations, this is something that police can neither do, nor excuse.  These were teenagers.  So they were too loud at a house party?  Read them the riot act and remind them that their conduct impacts others.  Not tough enough?  Then arrest them lawfully for disturbing whoever. But under no circumstances do you execute sentence by leaving them locked in a van. 

And claiming that they were merely forgotten is utter baloney. compounding the wrong of doing so with the wrong of lying about it.  This time, “I forgot” won’t work, and the fact that the Ft. Lee Internal Affairs put its seal of approval on this obvious lie adds to the disgrace.

H/T FitzMuffKnuckle