Ronald D. Wagner II is at best a moron and at worst nuts. But neither is a crime. When one undertakes to drive a car, one similarly accepts certain rules that go along with it, one of which is that you must produce license and registration, sometimes an insurance card according to applicable laws, upon demand of a police officer.
You disagree with the law? That’s fine. I disagree with laws all the time, and regularly argue against them. But as long as they remain the law, you have to comply with them. Your disagreement, for reasons sound or utterly idiotic, has no bearing on whether you get a pass. And that goes for Wagner.
But, and this is a huge “but,” Wagner’s being obstinate in his refusal to comply, whether he’s polite about it or not, doesn’t answer the question of what the police are entitled to do about it.
But what were they supposed to do when he refused to comply?
Great question. Wait him out. Employ more persuasive means to get him to comply? It’s not my job to figure out police tactics to effectively enforce laws in the performance of their duty. But what they cannot do is unleash a dog to bite, to shred, a non-violent person who poses no threat to their welfare.
Dealing with difficult people is part of the job. Using force when the job is hard may be convenient, but there is no “cop convenience” to use of force limitations. Sucks to be a cop. If it’s too hard, apply to the fire department.
But they warned him?
So what? “Open your door and come out of the car or we’re going to kill your children” is a warning as well. Does this mean they get to kill the kids? Okay, the kids had nothing to do with it so that’s an unfair analogy. What if they told Wagner that if he failed to comply, they would put a bullet in his head? Hey, he’s the guy involved, so fair game?
Except we don’t execute people for failure to comply with a cop’s command. Being an idiot during a traffic stop is not an executable offense, and cops don’t get to impose the death penalty for failure to be sufficiently obsequious. It’s frustrating not to be able to make your commands happen upon threat of force, but that’s why cops get paid the big bucks.
But the registration for the vehicle was connected to a concealed carry permit, so he might have been armed?
This presents one of the gnawing conflicts created by the Second Amendment to the Constitution. People have a fundamental right to possess a weapon, and if anything, having a permit suggests a law-abiding citizen. Just so you know, a lot of people who have guns with intent to use them unlawfully do not go through the hassle of getting a permit. In the scheme of committing murder and mayhem, having an unlicensed handgun isn’t their foremost concern.
But regardless, the exercise of a constitutional right, even by someone with peculiar views of citizenship, isn’t a basis to assume harm. More importantly, it isn’t a basis to do harm. Siccing a K-9
on a guy trained to maim upon command on a guy, on the other hand, is fairly certain to cause significant harm.
Like so many videos that are now available for our viewing pleasure, this presents litmus tests for people to decide whether they prefer the side of law or order. The question isn’t whether Wagner was a moron or nuts. The question isn’t whether Wagner was completely wrong to refuse to cooperate with the officers. He was. The question is whether Wagner’s failure to comply justifies the use of significant force to make him comply, and do substantial harm to him in the process.