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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Thoughts on the "Seattle Police Officer Punching Girl" incident (via David Chong's FB notes)

(written by David Chong)

Usually I don't write anything these days because someone else usually does it, and I just don't have the time for it. But I'm studying for finals and I just spent five hours reading about tort law and my mind is going to implode if I don't give it some rest. With that being said, let's get started before I throw myself back into my 1,300 page business law textbook.

On Monday afternoon around roughly 3:00PM, an SPD officer punched a 17-year old woman in the face after attempting to arrest her 19-year old friend. This has been the headline that has been floating everywhere around Seattle, through the Times, news channels, as well as countless facebook and twitter updates. First, the fact that this was caught on video might have very well saved this officer's career. Without video footage of the officer striking the 17-year old woman with a closed fist, we would've never have known the truth and would've only been able to go off of witness testimonies who would more than likely have favored the two girls. Without the video footage and just this headline, Seattle would be in an uproar with it's citizens demanding the head of the officer responsible for this mess. But if you watch that video, it tells us a different story.

Now first, the officer did strike the girl with a closed fist. Was it professional? Absolutely not. Was it necessary? No. Did the officer handle the situation to the best of his ability? No. There are other alternatives for an officer to defend himself with. This is what else the officer could have done...

By the way, did you see how the officer punched this woman? It's not like he torqued his body and twisted his hips into it, he simply cocked his arm back and threw a punch that didn't cause that much damage. If it would've done damage, that girl would've been out cold on the pavement or bleeding profusely as a result of a broken nose. But no, seventy-five seconds after she gets punched, she's seen walking around as if nothing happened to her. Let's be serious, it wasn't that great of a punch. Was I there getting punched? No. Do I condone the hitting of a woman? Absolutely not. I just think the force of the punch wasn't that great, and is being blown out of proportions by people. But a punch, is still a punch.

Do you also realize that if you keep reasoning that it's a woman being punched, you're holding her to a different standard? I'm not saying we should all go around punching women in arguments like men punch other men due to insecurities, but saying you won't hit a woman because she's a woman but you're willing to hit a man is holding her to some sort of sub-standard. SPD is being called an asshole because they're put in a position where they have to be the asshole. Nobody enjoys getting a speeding ticket, but if they weren't patrolling it, we'd have asshole BMW and Mercedez drivers constantly cutting everyone off going 95 miles an hour causing high speed collisions ending lives for one's pride being put on the line. If a fireman punched a woman in the face because a building was burning and she refused to let him in due to thoughts that he'd steal from her apartment; and he heard a baby crying from within the residence, we wouldn't be screaming for his head, we'd be patting him on the back telling him he did a good job, gave him a medal, and would've labeled the woman a crazy bitch.

1. Pepper Spray the Assaulter.
Have you ever been pepper sprayed? Pepper spray is some of the nastiest, most disruptive, safe shit on this planet. It begins to aggitate and override any mucuous membrane it comes in contact with, it begins to restict airways, and did I mention that it burns like hell? This doesn't last a few mere minutes either, pepper spray tends to stay burning for a long, long, long time which is why it comes in small, handy sizes and even colored in pink to encourage women to carry it with them. It tends to burn a lot longer than usual because the person who gets pepper sprayed often makes it worse, rubbing their eyes and flailing wildly thinking that this will help the burn magically dissapear. Pepper spray used by officers individually is oil-based, rubbing it only smears it onto your face and makes the situation worse. Working at a nightclub for almost five years, I've been exposed to mace several times, both directly and indirectly. It isn't pleasant stuff, and I'd gladly be punched in the face several times over being directly maced. Chances are the Seattle Police Department doesn't issue out the cheap pepper spray you find at gas stations that come with a key-ring either. Coming from experience, the stuff SPD uses isn't pleasant. It's like having a bag tied to your head with a small, angry, and hungry carnivorous animal in that bag.

2. Tazer! Tazer! Tazer Deploy!
Yet again, this isn't fun. I've been tazed by all sorts of different volts ranging from 100,000 to 2,500,000 volts. But officers don't carry stun guns which is what I've been hit with quite often, usually by prank by friendly faces. Officers carry tazers. Tazers shoot out what are essentially miniature barbed fish hooks with wires attached to them so that they can send electric currents through them to subdue whichever sad, sorry person is on the other end. I've only had this done once to me, and by the time the five seconds was over, my body had felt like it had gone through a four-hour intensive workout. Once again, I would've gladly been punched in the face over and over instead of being hit by a tazer and shocked on the ground. By the way, it's also hilarious to watch people getting tazered, and chances are people would've watched this video if she was tazed, for comedic purposes.

3. Slammed and Subdued on Pavement Through Physical Force
Pavement is hard incase you haven't noticed. Just falling to your knees can cause scrapes and the blunt force of it alone although you only travel a small distance actually hurts a lot. Being taken down by force and hitting the pavement with your body would hurt, a lot. Now we're not talking Rampage-Powerbombing-Ricardo slamming, but just your basic takedown. Not only that, but once on the ground, you're subject to being submitted forcibly so that you can be cuffed. Working with former police officers and prison guards, there's a lot of actions that one is taught to subdue and inflict physical pain upon a detainee/prisoner/arrestee with it appearing it to look like you're only reinforcing your position or your hold on the individual.

Of the three options, the officer should've went with the third in my opinion, but then again, I wasn't surrounded by dozens of individuals, some with cell phones out to record the altercation, some egging on the cop with taunts and verbal jabs. The officer had a reaction, and although it was a poor one, it was the most immidiate reaction the officer had. In an altercation like that where you have no control of the enviroment, there's an extremely small window for one to think before they act, and instinct usually takes over at that point. The officer is human, just like you and I are. Can reaction be trained? Over time and much dedication and training, yes. On the far end of the spectrum, it could've been worse. The officer could've felt as if his life was in danger, and he could've shot the woman assaulting him. The officer had no idea what intentions this girl had. All he knew was this girl was putting her hands on him, forcibly tried to shove the officer, was reaching for him several times, all of which shouldn't happen when an officer is ENGAGED IN THE ACT of arresting someone. The officer could've thought he was at risk, he had no back up there, for what was going on, he could've very well thought that the girl was reaching for his gun on his hip. One of the many reasons as to why you should NEVER TOUCH AN OFFICER.

Did you know that merely touching an officer without his/her consent can net you up to five years in prison? Hell, touching your metro bus driver without his/her consent can land you two years too. This individual was interfering with the police officer who was doing his duty, which was sadly making sure that people wouldn't jaywalk across the street. As a product of Franklin High School which this whole altercation took place, I know exactly where this woman was punched, and I know exactly why officers were stationed there so that individuals wouldn't jaywalk. There's a skybridge for those who need to get across the street. In front of Franklin High School is a junction that two main roads meet, Rainier Ave and MLK Way. These are extremely busy, several lane roads that have a high volume of traffic flowing through with many buses and even a light rail cruising through one of these 'mega-roads'. Yes it sucks to walk uphill, and maybe it's a result of being American, but the damn thing was built so that you don't jaywalk. Franklin High School called for assistance to prevent people and their students from becoming instant road kill by asking for officers to discourage jaywalking by promoting a presence there. If you put it down on paper, jaywalking across those two busy main-roads is absolutely maniacal suicide. Here, I'll do it for you as a courtesy just to show you how crazy this looks.

You want to cross one hundred and fifty feet to get to your destination. In between you and your destination, many objects often weighing more than just a few thousand pounds are traveling at high speeds, and not in one direction either. Behind these large objects are other people, not machines. People are often unpredictable and their attention spans are short, and are usually prone to many other distractions within these large vehicles such as a mobile cellular device, an attractive individual on the side of the road, an annoying radio host, a favorite song, a half-eaten burger in hand, and so forth. Now you can risk trying to get to your destination by trying to cross safely between all that, or you can expend just a little bit more energy and use the sky bridge designed to get you safely across the one-hundred fifty feet chasm of possible death and destruction. Your call.

Also did you know that these two females have priors? They range from auto theft, assault charges, and even an assault charge with a female King County Sheriff. Where did one of these women assault this King County Sheriff? At the Ruth Dykeman Children Center, a Burien center for troubled girls. So before she even assaulted this sheriff, she was in a place where they knew she was a bad ass (not in a good way). This was only roughly 16 months ago too. These two women weren't exactly model citizens for Utopia.

In the end, if this officer faces minor disciplinary action, I wouldn't be surprised only because it's to only show the public some sort of action being taken against officers so that they're reminded to be a little bit more careful. When I mean minor, I mean suspension without pay for a week or two, being stuck with shafted duty like being a traffic controller being forced to where those ridiculous rain boots with the gloves with the orange stop sign sewed into the palm. Anything more than that is absolute bullshit and should be met with outrage. Yes I've had my fair share with dissapointment from Seattle's finest, but I know they're not perfect, just like me, and they're just doing their job. If these women just took the damn sky bridge which probably cost us taxpayers millions of dollars to construct so that they wouldn't be pancaked by the 7 or 106 bus, none of this would've ever occurred. No outcry for this officer's head. No mass-media coverage of this whole incident. No stupid video-shooter making dumbass remarks during the shooting of this video. (By the way look up this guy's story, apparently he carries his video camera with him just looking for stuff to shoot. He's done this for five years and is living off of unemployment. Tells you a lot about the kind of people hanging out in front of my high school.)

By the way, for the record, this whole "Stop Snitching" thing is absolute horseshit.


Here is the video for those of you who haven't seen it.

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