14 Aug 2010

The Policeman Is Not Your Friend, Denver Edition

All Posts, Big Brother 17 Comments

[UPDATE below.]

[Second UPDATE below.]

[Third UPDATE below.]

Ryan McMaken over at the LRC blog has another “good” one. To give this some context, apparently a guy got ejected from a bar for using the woman’s bathroom. (Presumably he was obnoxious on top of it.) So the cops are arresting this guy, while his buddy is right there at the scene of the arrest, talking to his father on his cell phone asking for advice.

We can grant the cops some leeway and assume that the guy on the cell phone swore at them; you can see he’s pretty animated while he’s talking.

Anyway, the one cop proceeds to beat the hell out of the guy. It’s all caught on camera. You can still see the commotion after the camera pans back to the street view, but this is the news article description:

The video of Officer Devin Sparks repeatedly hitting Michael DeHerrera of Denver with a department-issued piece of metal wrapped in leather, picking him up roughly and slamming a car door on his ankle has prompted Independent Monitor Richard Rosenthal to push for the firing of Sparks and Corporal Randy Murr.

As Ryan noted in his blog post, there was a police employee in charge of the camera. Notice how the camera zooms in on the arrest, but then once it’s clear that the cop is beating the hell out of a guy who was just standing there, the camera quickly goes back to its default position. Huh, what beating?

Also, in case I get the familiar, “Hey you can’t judge all cops based on one bad apple [this week, caught on video]!” What is so outrageous about this isn’t the fact that a cop flips out and beats somebody up, for no good reason. No, what’s outrageous is that the police officer in question clearly lied about the incident after the fact, and then when the video showed that he had been lying (he said he had acted in self-defense), here’s how his superiors dealt with the situation:

The incident was filmed by the police department’s own High Activity Location Observation video surveillance system. Video released to the news media by the department shows DeHerrera doing nothing but talking on his phone with his father, a sheriff’s deputy in Pueblo.

[Independent Monitor Richard] Rosenthal, in a report to be released on Monday, labels as “pure fiction” the police report from Sparks that describes his force as justified because DeHerrera “spun to his left attempting to strike me in the face with a closed right fist.”

Safety Manager Ron Perea, who oversees the police department and has final say on discipline, has rejected Rosenthal’s argument that the officers should be fired. He suspended Murr without pay for three days for submitting an “inaccurate report.” Sparks also lost three days pay.

Everyone got that? A police officer grabs a guy who is standing there talking on his cell, beats the hell out of him, and then lies about it in the write-up, saying the guy had attacked him. When the cop’s bosses have clear-cut evidence that the cop was lying, AND when they know the public knows this too, they still decide to punish him with a three-day suspension.

It’s actually depressing. One might have thought that capturing these incidents on video–and literally, there’s something like this that surfaces about once a week–would get people to say, “Huh, maybe a government monopoly on law enforcement isn’t such a hot idea.” But no, there are still comments like this:

What a great thread. I love all the people calling for the cop to be beaten.

A drunk punk hanging out with another drunk punk who had just assaulted a cop and who is not complying with an order from a cop should have his skull cracked. I have zero tolerance for punks who don’t comply with an order from a cops.

The kid should be have been arrested and convicted for resisting arrest and sentence to 12 months in jail.

UPDATE: Wow. I actually had stopped watching the video after it panned back, the first time. But let the footage roll. After the beating is over with, the camera zooms back in. It actually made the hair on the back of my neck stand up when I saw that portion. The person working the camera clearly pulls away to minimize the view of the beating.

Which is really ironic, because you’d think the person working the camera would really be concerned for the officer’s safety, what with a lunatic taking swings at him and all? Wouldn’t they want to get really up-close footage, to be able to ID the assailant if he injured the cop and took off down the street?

UPDATE Part Deux: Huh, go figure, now all of a sudden the video is unavailable. There must have been an IP violation from a slogan on the guy’s t-shirt or something. It’s the only thing I can think of.

UPDATE The Third: OK now the video is working again. I guess the server hosting it got slammed? Anyway, I’m quite relieved that the government didn’t just lean on somebody and have it pulled.

17 Responses to “The Policeman Is Not Your Friend, Denver Edition”

  1. Lucas M. Engelhardt says:

    Huh. I wonder… if I beat up one of my students for cheating on an exam, will I just get a 3 day suspension?

    Somehow, I doubt it.

  2. Todd S. says:

    “when they know the public knows this too”

    And there is the scary part. What that tells me is that they are so secure in their power base, they no longer care. They no longer even make the pretext of being there to “protect and serve”. Unless that means protect the State and self-serve.

    • bobmurphy says:

      Yep, I’m glad you see the significance of that, too. (It’s why I put “AND” in caps.) There is a gradual process of desensitization occurring. I’m not saying every police department is “in on it”; I think it’s in their immediate interest to expand what they can get away with.

      You would think that whenever this kind of thing happened, the boss would call the cop in and say, “Sorry Jim, we both know this kind of extracurricular goes with the job, but hey you got caught on camera. My hands are tied, I have to let you go to satisfy the mayor’s office. Say hi to Karen for me.”

      But no. It’s gotten to the point where as long as the cop doesn’t pull out his gun and shoot somebody in cold blood, 30% of the public will instinctively defend him, and another 40% don’t care enough to do anything about it.

  3. Contemplationist says:

    I get depressed watching $hit like this over and over. You’re right we can excuse and maybe get over stuff like this happening occassionally IF the dirtbags were to be fired/taken care of. But this is simply too much. And the flag-wavers, warbots and state-worshippers assume you’re cop-hating hippies if you point out such pig behavior. Hopeless, hopeless, hopeless…

  4. Ash says:

    Bob, seeing as how this video was taken down, why don’t you post this one which is about a trillion times worse


    A million guesses as to what the punishment for this officer was after this video surfaced.


    • bobmurphy says:

      But I actually don’t think that’s a trillion times worse. Yes, that kid died, but he kept biking away from a cop car telling him to stop, leading to a chase that lasted over a minute. And then the officer may have truly accidentally run the kid over.

      (BTW I hope people don’t flip out on me–I’m not saying, “The punk deserved to die.”)

      In contrast, with the episode on this blog post, a guy was standing there talking on his cell phone, and at worst turned away from the cop who told him to hang up the phone or something. And then the cop threw him on the ground and proceeded to beat the hell out of him.

      • Ash says:

        I guess my biggest beef with it was the fact that the cop planted a clean gun on the kid and no one even acknowledged it.

  5. Dan says:

    If I were that guy, I’d sue the Police Department for big bucks. with this footage the case should be quite easy

  6. Not Bob Murphy's Love Child says:

    I’m not even going to watch it because I know I would just get extremely pissed off.

  7. Jason B says:

    As was stated by Dr. Murphy and Todd S., the police, in this situation, in addition to having committed multiple profoundly immoral actions, seems that they do not recognize their actions as disgraceful and repugnant, and to compound the fact that they are specifically trying their hardest to not only circumvent their actions, but to propagandize them as justifiable to the citizenry, who ironically enough provide for the police’s very own well-being through the coercive hand of the local government. In this instance, not only have the citizens lost at every single transactional level between them and the police, but a decent amount of these citizens have in fact supported such losses as justifiable, and many of them deem such an institution as a necessary means of life. That notion alone provides quite a sickening feeling, as the people who committedly support such evil actions as exactly the opposite, either through sheer ignorance, or outright wickedness, their consciousness remains within an inhumane paradigm.

  8. Jim D says:

    For years, I’ve wondered how long it would take before the police here are indistinguishable from those in other countries. I guess the guy needed to be quicker witted, and offer a bribe. How would the cop supporters receive that being captured on video???

  9. RG says:

    I wonder what type of person would be attracted to a private protection agency in a truly free market. Would we still have the same amount and quality of sadistic maniacs? I tend to think the agencies would weed out guys like the one in the video. They’d simply be too much of a liability. I do think the job would still attract maniacs, but I believe violent incident volume and severity would be minimal. You’d still get attack dogs on the job, but the leash would be much shorter and the yank more severe.

  10. Alberto Marquez de la Plata says:

    well RPM, then just remove it all…

  11. Nikkiluvscops says:

    Ok coming from someone who was at that bar that night & actually believe police officers are people. . . . You people dont know all of the details. If a person is constantly being disrespectful to the staff at the bar and the police officers, being a belligerent drunk, & calling them derogatory names they get what is coming to them. I love the how the media never tells that part of the story. POS

    Yea sue the PD so they can lose money they use to protect people and other officers can lose pay to support their families- super intelligent-NOT.

    Next time your in trouble DO NOT call the police since they are so terrible. Thankless people. Ignorance is not bliss.

    • RG says:

      The media was video. Voice overs were unnecessary.

      Kidnapping and severe physical torture seems a little excessive for “being a belligerent drunk, & calling them derogatory names” to me. But I guess there a few beside yourself that actually believe “they got what was coming to them”.

      You epitomise “ignorance is not bliss”.