28 Feb 2009

The Policeman Is Not Your Friend, Or, Why Monopolies Are Bad

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Folks, I see tons of these videos; I only pass along the most outrageous. And let’s get something straight: The point isn’t so much, “Whoa, there are some bad apples in the police industry!” because yeah, there are violent thugs in most lines of work. Out of a million cops, surely some will occasionally be caught on tape doing horrible things.

But that’s not the point; the point is the typical police department response to these “bad apples.” Whether it’s a cop drawing his gun and blowing away an incapacitated guy in front of a hundred witnesses, or a cop punching a guy handcuffed to a wheelchair, invariably the other officers either ignore it or help, and then their superiors completely minimize what happened when reporters ask them about it.

In contrast, imagine if, say, a road construction worker suddenly grabbed a pedestrian and started jackhammering the guy’s foot. Do you think (a) the other workers would rush to stop him and (b) his boss would fire him immediately and apologize profusely to the public? It’s even more obvious that those things would happen if it were a non-union crew working on a privately owned parking lot.

Anyway, here’s the rather depressing video, followed by commentary from William Grigg to give more of the story. (But watch the video first.)

William Grigg:

In his official report, Schene did what police almost always do in such circumstances: He lied, in the serene (albeit misplaced) confidence that nobody would review the video from the holding cell, or at least take it seriously.

Schene claimed that the girl “provided resistance and failure to comply with instructions”; in fact, it was her compliance with instructions that precipitated the beating. The deputy wrote that his response was merely to “place” her in handcuffs, while omitting mention of kicking her in the stomach, beating her head against the wall, hitting her twice while she was prone and pinned down by two men twice her size, and then dragging her out by her hair.

He also reported that the shoe hurled by the detainee injured him so severely that he — fragile, delicate creature that he is — had to be treated at a nearby hospital. If that injury occurred, it was entirely self-inflicted: The video shows him banging his shin against the toilet as he attacked the terrified girl.

The video record documents that after the assault the girl, who understandably had difficulty breathing, required medical treatment. Schene described the treatment as necessary to deal with a “panic attack,” a dishonest way of describing the reaction of a traumatized teenage girl to being gang-beaten by two adult males.

The video was discovered weeks later by a detective assigned to investigate the auto theft. Schene has been charged with fourth-degree assault, a gross misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of one year in jail.

Several years ago, Schene shot and killed an unarmed, mentally disturbed man following a traffic stop that degenerated into a “knock-down, drag-out” fight. The shooting was ruled “justifiable.” Shortly after that incident, he was stopped for driving under the influence (apparently of prescription medication). He was given a deferred sentence and placed on probation, so that he could continue to bless the people of King County with his singular professionalism.

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