Note: There are several versions of this video on the web; I selected this one because of the subtitles.
What I want to talk about in this blog post are some comments I saw regarding this footage, such as these (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yg9yiBezl6E):
unfortunately, if they have reason to believe someone may be in danger, they can do this. a good majority of homicides are a result of domestics. :-\ in many cases, the female is scared the male will hurt her more so she complies with the abuser. on the other hand, we all fight and bicker and this is above and beyond what the cops did. had they opened the door, gotten the story, witnessed nithing had transpired- these people would have never been in this position.
It is sad and unacceptable that the cops resorted to this level of violence, but the part that stands out to me is that this entire situation could have been avoided with some simple cooperation. This is a domestic violence call. I’m not familiar with the procedures and protocol of the local law enforcement there, but being uncooperative with police who are most likely required to investigate this allegation is not really warranted either.
Addressing the first comment, as someone who has a degree in criminal justice (whatever that’s worth), I’d like to say that police must have more than “reason to believe someone may be in danger” to break into a house and tase people who show no signs of resistance. Breaking in itself would require probable cause, meaning that the officer could convince a neutral and detached magistrate that either the person involved has committed a crime or that evidence of a crime is in a particularly described place.
Apparently, what led officers to this residence was a noise complaint by neighbors. This is not sufficient to be probable cause. Indeed, the people involved were arrested for “obstruction,” a crime that cannot occur unless police officers are there to be obstructed. What exactly they were being obstructed from is still a mystery.
How about the idea that “this entire situation could have been avoided with some simple cooperation”? This entirely misses the point. A well-established precedent in Common Law is that a man’s (or woman’s) house is his castle.
“The poorest man may in his cottage,
bid defiance to all the forces of the Crown.
It may be frail, its roof may shake;
the wind may blow through it;
the storm may enter; the rain may enter;
but the King of England may not enter;
all his force dares not cross the threshold
of the ruined tenement.”
– William Pitt, (1708-1778) First Earl of Chatham, English statesman and orator, Speech in the House of Lords, in opposition to Excise Bill on perry and cider, 1763
Obviously, the main goal of the person holding the camera wasn’t to not get tased. Why didn’t he open the door? “Because we don’t live in a police state, sir.” I think it should be quite apparent that the goal of the officers was not to prevent violence or ensure safety; their taser use saw to that.
But, ultimately, if someone is beaten for refusing to hand over his wallet, does anyone say, “Well, that beating totally could have been avoided if you had only been more cooperative”? It seems that so many people have become so conditioned to police officers employing violence in any and all situations where people assert their rights that they have become desensitized to the gravity of what’s happening: if you resist unlawful orders, even in a non-violent manner, police will employ violence.