But For Video: Front Porch Edition

David McLaughlin doesn’t have one of those mean, nasty-looking faces that would make you fear him, hate him. He’s kind of a baby-faced cop with the Vallejo police department. Hardly the sort one would naturally associate with engaging in excessive force. But then, there’s video.

The guy taking the video was standing on his own front porch. Regardless of the fact that he wasn’t doing anything to interfere with McLaughlin’s arresting the guy on the motorcycle, who was immediately ignored in favor of the guy on his own front porch and, on another day, might well have taken off, the offense was capturing McLaughlin on video.

In the video, McLaughlin yells at Burrell to “get back,” and Burrell replies, “Nope.”

“You’re interfering with me, my man,” McLaughlin says, then tells Burrell he will put him in the back of his squad car. Burrell replies: “That’s fine.”

“Stop resisting,” McLaughlin can then be heard saying.

“I’m not resisting. Put me on the ground,” Burrell replies.

Adrian Burrell is a veteran, black and a filmmaker. Apparently, McLaughlin ended without arresting Burrell because of his being a veteran. But did he initiate his assault on Burrell because of his race?

In his Facebook post, Burrell said the officer should be disciplined and added, “Police need better training on implicit bias.”

“I’m not a lawyer. I’m not a detective. I’m just somebody who went with something and am trying to figure it out, and understand that historically these things happen to people who look like me and in communities like this,” Burrell said in an interview outside his home Thursday afternoon.

“Some people call it implicit bias, some people call it racial bias. … These are things that can be on the table, in terms of starting a dialogue. Let’s start a dialogue, start a conversation and see what comes from it.”

The Vallejo Police Department, upon becoming aware of the video following its going viral on social media, began an internal affairs investigation. What the outcome will be is largely irrelevant, as everyone but Burrell will have moved on to the next hundred thousand similar incidents before any determination is made.

It may well be that this reflects a racial animus, both because cops are deployed in minority neighborhoods disproportionately, under the argument that it’s where the crime happens. So a black guy on his front porch, a place where he is fully entitled to be no matter what any baby-faced cop thinks about it, is treated differently than a white guy in a white neighborhood, for whom McLaughlin would never have been so cavalier in his excesses.

Or was this an instance of a cop not wanting to have anyone video his arrest. The problem is that cops hate being taped, and they hate it whether the guy doing the taping is white, black or green. Indeed, most of the “auditors” who go out and video police for the purpose of testing their adherence to the auditors’ constutitional right to videotape police are white. Still, they get hassled and arrested with unfortunate regularity.

But what happened after Burrell posted his video online presents a separate issue.

After posting the video Thursday to raise awareness about what happened, he said the response has been a mixed bag.

“It’s kinda scary. You got a lot of random people messaging you, making threats, calling you stupid, some people saying you did the right thing, some people saying you didn’t,” Burrell said.

“But at the end of the day, I couldn’t let that slide. I just felt like I had to do something.”

As videos go, Burrell’s “nope” was not only constitutionally protected, but remarkably benign. He didn’t threaten McLaughlin. He didn’t even argue with him. Not that it prevented the cop from the usual “stop resisting” trope as he used force to teach Burrell a lesson.

In an interview Thursday, Burrell said that’s when the officer kicked his legs and knocked him over. His post says McLaughlin “smashed my face against the wall and then swung my body, knocking my head into a wooden pillar causing a concussion. He put handcuffs on my wrists so tight they broke the skin.”

In the video, McLaughlin then tells Burrell, “That wasn’t very smart, man, now you’re going to jail.”

As every cop knows, it’s the ride, not the rap, that teaches the noncompliant the lesson. McLaughlin gave Burrell his tune-up to remind him to be respectful when a cop says jump, but then stopped short of the ride.

But later, McLaughlin released Burrell after learning he was a military veteran, Burrell said.

“Does that mean that if I had not been a vet, he would have put me in jail for not breaking the law?” Burrell wrote in his post.

Burrell’s question is rhetorical. And what of the guy on the motorcyle with his hands in the air lest McLaughlin, with weapon drawn, feel threatened? Did he rob a bank? Did he murder a child? Did he dump a half ton of garbage in the woods?

Burrell’s cousin, Michael Walton, said he was briefly detained and put in a police car, and ultimately given a speeding ticket.

The only person threatening the safety and welfare of society here was Vallejo Police Officer David McLaughlin. The “why” may be unclear, but there is no question but that he forcibly attacked a man for doing what he’s constitutionally entitled to do while standing on his own front porch.

10 thoughts on “But For Video: Front Porch Edition

  1. Bode

    What are police academies teaching these guys? Their job isn’t to enforce respect for the police department, nor their own ego, it’s to enforce the law. If he wants respect, he ought to have just written the ticket and be done with it, let this guy record it. I was always taught that, barring orders otherwise, let people record all they want. If an officer is doing his job in a professional manner, then the only consequence is evidence of that officer’s professionalism.
    And all this for a speeding ticket.

    1. Black Bellamy

      It doesn’t matter what police academies teach these guys. Do I remember what they taught me in boot camp? I remember yelling and marching and target practice. What mattered was what happened once I got to my unit. How I relied on the veterans to teach me the culture and the specific procedures, how I wanted to fit in, to be a good member of the unit, to be valuable. I needed these guys to show me how to stay safe so I wouldn’t kill myself and others handling ordnance. I needed them to show me what I had to do in order to make it safely back to the barracks at the end of the day.

      1. Bode

        I guarantee that you remember your Army values. Or whatever the 16 flavors of Crayola are if you went to Parris Island. Boot, basic or police academy are obviously not there to teach doctrine. What they are there to do is to create the type of marine/soldier/officer who can step into those roles with a certain level of professionalism. I remember nothing from MP school except the mantra over and over again, in some form or the other, that the lowest level of force is verbal. Little things like that and one’s Army values, as hammy as it is, are the most important part of those schools, not the specifics of how they taught you to handcuff someone or squad attack. And if the important lessons are not being retained, then obviously there is some fault at the school or in the curriculum, and it affects the unit-level doctrine. The veterans have gone to those schools too after all. Presumably. Depending on that city’s pre-reqs for police work.

        You are right, the culture gets ingrained and that is the biggest teacher in a profession as such. But they should know better, this guy didn’t loose control of the situation until he reacted, and now he looks like the bad guy.

        Also, sorry for the Crayola jab. Couldn’t help myself.

  2. RedditLaw

    Dear Mr. Greenfield,

    It appears that you can no longer obtain the clicks necessary to grow your blawg by drawing the public’s attention to something as mundane and pedestrian as an African-American veteran getting his bell rung for filming a police officer. It appears that the ubiquitous nature of video recording devices has inured the public to this behavior, causing the public to discount it. Therefore, you get no comments.

    You can draw your own conclusions from this fact.



    1. Casual Lurker

      Dear RedditLaw,

      As SHG is obviously too busy to reply, in my best effort to channel him, I’ll take this opportunity to put forth the likely rationale behind this post.

      Don’t confuse comments with page hits. I don’t see the metrics, but I’d wager they’re up there.

      Moreover, many posts that get few or no comments over the weekend often get flooded with them come Monday.

      Furthermore, I’d wager that a sneaky old lawyer with a soapbox, knowing posts of a certain type always get some minimum number of hits, might deliberately use that soapbox to raise the profile of a story he deems worthy of attention.

      Of course, if you’re bored, maybe you can find items of greater interest at Reddit.

      1. SHG Post author

        Don’t be too harsh on RL. He’s right, in a sense, as we’re now inured to such pedestrian cop vids as this, where no dog gets murdered and no non-cop gets drawn and quartered. Sure, an old law-talking guy might have a reason for posting this specific vid, and it got its share of views even if there wasn’t a lot to comment about, but attention spans are short, the shock is gone and our outrage detector has been turned elsewhere.

        1. Casual Lurker

          “Sure, an old law-talking guy might have a reason for posting this specific vid…”

          Thanks for restoring my faith in the axiom…

          “Old age and treachery will always beat youth and exuberance.”
          —David Mamet

          (Mamet substituted “exuberance” for the more common “skill” or “ability”, believing it more appropriate).

          “…but attention spans are short, the shock is gone and our outrage detector has been turned elsewhere.”

          That’s what scares me.

          I’m all too well familiar with the mechanisms that allow the human mind to bury things that are repetitive and which we can do little or nothing about. Out of necessity, it all just gets subsumed into the background noise.

          Unfortunately, the current level of saturation makes it near impossible to achieve a critical-mass of opinion on any one issue demanding our attention. Long term, this doesn’t bode well for society as a whole.

          1. SHG Post author

            I warned a friend who was deep into advocacy about his pumping and dumping the same story, that he wasn’t scoring points but creating outrage fatigue. He told me I was wrong, stupid and dressed funny. Two out of three ain’t bad.

  3. Syme

    What’s Burrell’s whining about? Unlike Dennis Tuttle, Rhogena Nicholas, and their dog, he survived.

  4. Dan

    The issue is not “racism”…..implicit or otherwise. Badgemonkeys really don’t care if you are black, white, red, brown, yellow, green or lavender. ALL that matters is YOU AIN’T BLUE…. you’re not part of THEIR club
    therefore you are automatically the enemy. This badgemonkey committed FELONY ASSAULT KNOWING he was being recorded and it’s a sure bet he gets away with it…even WITH video proof of his criminality. Imagine how much they get away with when NO video is being made……how many murders they commit, plant evidence and bleat ” I feared for my life”. Want to kill someone just for the thrill of it and NOT GO TO PRISON? Just become a cop.

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