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.