Beware The Stare (Update)

Remember the Halcyon days when a cop had to claim a young black man made a furtive movement before he could justify the use of force?  Good times, but they’re in the past. We now have a new, even more nuanced excuse for a takedown, the “dehumanizing stare.”

And the puppy too?  It’s not entirely clear how 14-year-old Tremaine McMillian could simultaneously be holding his puppy and clenching his fists, but if the police say so, who are we to question

Tremaine McMillian learned a hard lesson about what it means to be young, black and armed with an intimidating stare. Turns out that you don’t even have to commit a crime to get choked out. All he did was shoot a few “dehumanizing stares” at officers who slammed him to the ground and put him in a choke hold. Police claim he was clenching his fists and looking menacing but the teenager claims that he was busy bottle feeding a puppy at the time.
It’s not easy being a Miami-Dade police officer, with so many threats to one’s safety and never knowing whether the next dehumanizing stare will be your last.  From Huff Post :

“All of that body language alone is already letting the officers know that this is a person that now is obviously getting agitated and can become violent,” said Miami-Dade Police Detective Alvaro Zabaleta.

Zabaleta told CBS that the police report from the incident doesn’t mention a puppy.

“Of course we have to neutralize the threat in front of us,” he said. “And when you have somebody that is being resistant…that’s the immediate threat. At this point we’re not dealing or concerned with the puppy.”

Does Zabaleta watch himself, read his words, afterward and cringe, think aloud: “could I have sounded like I was more full of shit?”

Mothers, tell your children that they are not only to be kind and gentle with their new puppies, and not to raise a clenched fist when a police officer is anywhere in view, but also to avert their eyes, lest the police feel dehumanized, perhaps even bullied, and then do what they have to do to “neutralize the threat.”

And keep your cameras at the ready, because nobody would believe this utter load of crap being offered by Det. Alvaro Zabeleta and the Miami-Dade police. That they would be so ridiculously shameless isn’t so much a reflection on the police, as it is a reflection on how passive, how willing to bite on any nonsense they feed us, they view the public. 

Can’t you hear them back at the station, saying “tell them the kid gave us a ‘dehumanizing stare’ and we had to take a 14-year-old kid holding a puppy down.” 


“Come on, who would be stupid enough to believe that?”

Hey, you bought the “furtive movement.” Why not?

Update: And if you think Miami-Dade cops are twinkies for trying to justify their misconduct on Tremaine McMillian puppy-handed dehumanizing stare, how would they react to this:

15 thoughts on “Beware The Stare (Update)

  1. SHG

    And it doesn’t bother you that police officers are being “dehumanized”?  Where is your empathy for these delicate flowers? Do police have no feelings?  Okay, bad question.

  2. Jim Majkowski

    I don’t even feel sympathy. I have noticed in the last (is it that many years?) that many people, esp LEO and judges, are extraordinarily sensitive to even an emanation of a penumbra of the potential for harm of any sort.

  3. David Sugerman

    Had the young man followed the avert-the-eyes guidance, he would have been assaulted for “evasive menacing.” Puppies are pretty threatening. Teens, too. But African-American teens with puppies are red-line dangerous.. Amazing.

  4. SHG

    Great, and when they take down some kid and claim “evasive menacing,” it will be all your fault. Stop giving them new excuses!

  5. Brett Middleton

    Hey, that puppy — “pit bull mix” don’t forget — could have been loaded! And who knows how many cops could have been sent to the promised land by crashing blows from the huge right fist of that skinny 14 y/o.

  6. Dr. Sigmund Droid

    I imagine the conversation went down something like this – COPS: “Hey kid, stop staring at us like that . . .” KID: “Whatcha gonna do, beat me for it?? . . .” COPS, then turning towards and giving each other a knowing wink: “Why, yes, certainly yes . . .”

    The new motto of the Miami-Dade Police Department should be: “Where We Always Treat You Like King – Rodney King!! . . .”

  7. Jack

    The only thing this story is missing is the police shooting the puppy because they were in fear for their lives…

  8. Bruce Coulson

    It’s long past time for ‘Bette Davis Eyes’ to be recognized as a potential threat to every passerby.

    And puppies can grow up to be vicious dogs; better to deal with them when they’re easy to take down.

  9. Thomas R. Griffith

    Sir, if I may? As always, this kind of shit tends to piss me off to the point of no return (see, I’m already cussing & there’s no way I can be brief). If Cuba, Fl. wasn’t so far away I’d personally be rallying around the Irish? / Cuban? / African? / American / human with a pocket full of puppies and sunglasses for all.

    Since I can’t afford to go there, much-less, afford to go to jail simply for being there while white (and not being from there), I’m going to ‘call’ the President of the United States of America. If he’ll take time out of his busy day to insert himself into a color coded incident easily disposed of via: a poolside beer staving off a possible white & black riot, surely he’ll see the potential for a brown & black riot and intervene. This dirty department is begging for a DOJ investigation before they burn it down.

    In the mean time, I’m asking anyone with a heart beat (& a puppy in their lives at some point) to consider doing the same. If enough of us come to the conclusion that we’ve had enough of this take-everyone-down 8 to 80, blind crippled & looking at me crazy practice bullshit and take it passed the point of just reading about it and actually doing something about it, maybe Mr. Obama will insert himself again. It’s worth a try.

    Closing Color Coded Lesson of the day – In the 80’s, a 65 yr. old black-man (btw, he said he wasn’t African and seemed to be more off black and said I was more peachy than white) told me that when he was a young buck, if a black person looked at a white person too long he / she was doomed. In order to survive they taught everyone at church to look down and avert their eyes when walking near or talking to anything white. It pissed off entire generations to the point of embarking on lashing out and re-claiming the dignity and man-hood / woman-hood of their wronged kin-folks. Now, (Post Roots) when a white person of any shade looks at them for too long, the response is automatic – What the fuck are you looking at or worse? With that, he said, try not to stare too long at a young buck and don’t be offended when an older black person doesn’t keep eye contact when you are talking. If he lived to see this incident, he’d probably cry, those that are witnessing this (the opposite of isolated incident) are not going to shed any tears. This could get very ugly & maybe it should.
    Thanks (have a good weekend).

  10. John Neff

    I guess this is a special case of ‘unwanted eye contact” that applies only to young black males.

  11. Jamie R

    I’m surprised the cop hasn’t been fired yet. He managed to confront a teenaged African-American male and pit bull without shooting either. I’m pretty sure that violates police regulations.

  12. SHG

    It’s not clear if that’s a termination offense, but you can bet they’re going to ridicule the crap out of him in the locker room.

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