With Great Power Comes The Thinnest Skin: 13-Year-Old Hit With Felony Charges After Throwing Snowball At Cop

from the millions-of-assault-victims-still-wander-the-nation's-playgrounds dept

Considering the type of people cops interact with the most, you’d think law enforcement officers be the most broad-shouldered of individuals, easily shrugging off the various slights and indignities they’re subjected to on a daily basis. You’d think that, but you’d be wrong.

According to police, a 13-year-old boy was charged as a juvenile with felony aggravated battery against a police officer Wednesday after he hit the officer in the arm with a snowball while the officer was parked in his vehicle in the 4900 block of West Congress Parkway about 3:20 p.m.

A cop, a person not entirely unlike anyone else ever hit by a snowball, found the impact of snow against his arm to be nearly unbearable. The main difference between Joe Citizen and Officer Snowball is that the Chicago police officer has the power to toss the offending person into the gears of the criminal justice system. Which is what he did. Obviously, this has provoked plenty of negative reaction.

“I think that’s ridiculous — it’s such a big charge,” said Latanya Powell, a construction worker on the block. “It’s just going overboard. I can see if it were a weapon and harm was done, but it was just a snowball.

“This is a case of kids being kids.”

Boys will be boys, but that’s only acceptable if they don’t extend their natural mischievousness to include this particular uniformed manchild. Once you cross that line — a line only a cop can see — you’re finished. Say goodbye to childhood and hello to a criminal record that will affect you for years to come.

Not everyone was as nonplussed as Latanya Powell. Local idiot educator Ray Fields felt this was a totally appropriate response to snowball-throwing.

“If [the boy] had gotten away with it, who’s to say what they’d do next? If it doesn’t stick to them now, they’ll be 16 or 17, and they’ll have a gun,” Fields said, adding that he has experience with local teens as a teacher and was the victim of a home burglary by neighborhood teens in 2010.

Hmm. Well, if we follow Fields’ reasoning (and that of the unnamed cop), we arrive at a couple of conclusions, both equally asinine.

A. Throwing snowballs at authority figures is a gateway drug to a life of crime. (Because snowballs magically become guns when the snowball thrower hits “age 16 or 17.”)

B. If a kid hitting a cop with a snowball is felonious battery, then kids everywhere are committing this crime — repeatedly — after every snowfall (with the attendant “snowballs lead to gunplay” concerns nowhere to be seen).

Conclusion A is a dead end. It’s not unlike the assertion that because criminals play video games, playing video games leads to criminal acts. Many criminals threw snowballs at their friends and authority figures (adults, teachers, cops) during their formative years, therefore snowball throwing leads to criminal acts. Rather than punish criminal behavior, those deploying this stunted logic want to crack down on non-criminal behavior in the deluded hope of preventing future criminal acts. All the way wrong, all the way down.

Conclusion B just exposes the fact that there are multiple sets of rules in play at any given time: one for citizens, one for cops and one for when the two intersect. Johnny hits Timmy with a snowball and it’s “playing.” A cop hits another cop with a snowball and it’s “playing.” But Johnny hitting a cop with a snowball is a felony.

Hanging a felony charge on a kid for snowball throwing is not only completely absurd, it has a much greater chance of converting him to a criminal than his cop-targeting snowball throwing does. Way to go, law enforcement (and enablers like Ray Fields): you’re generating scofflaws just as fast as you can trump up charges against them.

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Comments on “With Great Power Comes The Thinnest Skin: 13-Year-Old Hit With Felony Charges After Throwing Snowball At Cop”

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70 Comments
That One Guy (profile) says:

RESPECT MY AUTHORITAY!

I just can’t help but picture Cartman whenever these ‘pathetic cop goes overboard’ stories come up, where you’ve got some laughable joke of a person, who becomes a cop so they can feel big and powerful and lord over the ‘lesser people’, and then whenever they feel their ‘authority’ is being ‘threatened’, they go totally ballistic, in this case filing felony charges for being ‘assaulted’ by a freakin’ snowball.

The Old Man in The Sea says:

Re: RESPECT MY AUTHORITAY! - Simple Solution to Problem

The problem is the copper, simple solution. Place his picture all over the place with the caption:

Adult missing in Action – little boy pretends to be a cop.

or

Such a sissy – even snowballs make him cry.

He will quickly become the laughing stock and he’ll soon see how little he is respected.

I have met many coppers (male and female) who even in the face of great difficulty still manage to keep an even keel and still manage to have sympathy for those who need it. Maybe it’s just our area but we have a real good crew in the local constabulary.

AjStechd (profile) says:

The Officer was following his directives, sadly this type of behavior is encouraged. It’s actually a much bigger story, involving many large metropolitan police. Despite popular belief, they’re not here to “protect”, they’re here to pile on charges for any and everything with the objective of instilling fear and absolute obedience from the public along with some interesting secondary goals.

It’s remarkable to me that police believe themselves bullet proof. I mean, what happens when you finally push the public to the point where it makes no sense to comply? Of course, it’s not the steroid ridden storm troopers that are thinking about the big picture stuff, they’re really happy beating the hell out you to worry about that. But it does make you wonder why this is encouraged from such a high level.

Got a good friend that’s been on the job for decades and is fairly high up on the food chain, he claims this is all just mild practice and we won’t believe what else they’re preparing for…somehow I think I would.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Abuse of power.

According to Wikipedia

Acts most often defined under aggravated battery are:
~ use of a deadly weapon
~ battery in which serious bodily injury occurs, and
~ battery against a child or police officer.

Unless the officer required a hospital visit from aforementioned snowball, guess which one applies here.


As of this posting I have not received a US National Security Letter or any classified gag order from an agent of the United States
Encrypted with Morbius-Cochrane Perfect Steganographic Codec 1.2.001
Tuesday, February 25, 2014 3:24:03 PM
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Anonymous Coward says:

Cops will do what they want so long as they continue to hold a monopoly on so called “law enforcement”, backed by State force/aggression/violence and funded through extortion/theft (euphemistically known as “taxation”).

They have no incentive to do good. They’re paid either way.

Cops are the muscle employed by the farmers of the tax farm known as the USA.

Pragmatic says:

Re: Re:

And the alternative is…?

Do you really think a bunch of anarchists could run the country effectively?

People who believe you can vote with your wallet and that there’s no way the corporations who are ACTUALLY ruling the roost at the moment would behave any worse if we removed the few restraints we still have on them?

People who seem to think that, what – we could shoot our way out of trouble if some local warlord rose up and decided to grab what he wanted – no cops, no courts – where would we go for justice?

What we’ve got right now is far from perfect but I’ve always preferred “bad” to “worse.” In any case, the democratic system provides us with the opportunity to remove bad actors from office if we can get enough people to agree with us. How does anarchy provide for individuals to have a say in how things are done?

Where there’s a large group of people, there are needs, and needs like communications and transport infrastructure require organization. If the organization isn’t a democratically-elected government, what is it and how can we hold it accountable?

Sorry, I struggle to see a difference between anarchists and stoners.

zip says:

Disrespect of Authority - the Mother of all Crimes

The actual crime was “Disrespect of Authority” – but since that’s generally not a chargeable offense in the penal code, the cops had to come up with something else.

Dogs who bark at cops are also perpetrating “Disrespect of Authority” and must be dealt with, often in a zero-tolerance manner.

Rekrul says:

Are there actually laws on the books that specifically state that cops get special treatment and that trivial things which no cop in their right mind would act on if applied to a civilian, are a felony when applied to the cops? In other words, are there laws which state that an assault amongst civilians has to include violence or injury, but that just touching a cop’s arm qualifies as attacking them?

If so, how do they justify putting cops above the law?

If not, how exactly do prosecutors convince a jury that being hit in the arm with a snowball, or raising your hand to protect yourself counts as assault?

Zonker says:

Don’t you get it? We have to put a stop to 13 year olds with snowballs or by 16 they will be making snow guns, which must fire ice bullets, which as we all know is the perfect undetectable assassination weapon as the bullet melts leaving no trace of the murder weapon (Hollywood says so!). Or maybe he’ll make a snow cell phone or snow Wii controller and become an even greater threat.

/sarcasm

Anonymous Coward says:

Obviously, a felony charge was way too much. However, you can’t just say, “Oh well, it was only a snowball.” Because it won’t end there. The kid tells his friends that he got away with it, and pretty soon the whole neighborhood will be pelting their local popo with wintry missiles.

I think a ride in the back of the police car to the station and having his parents pick up the little snot would have been sufficient. But let’s not stick up for the boy, here – he was way out of line.

The Old Man in The Sea says:

Re: More to the story that we don't know

What the story doesn’t give is if the action (snowball throwing) was intentional or not. We have no motive given, we have no circumstances given. For all we know it could have been a completely misdirected throw and the whole thing a complete mountain out of a molehill.

We have no context given, hence the only thing we can say is that the copper is basically acting as a little cry-baby. He has many avenues to deal with this and all he has done is shown he is a complete fool in his handling of the situation.

I am nobody in particular, I have no government authorised authority, but when necessary I have taken action, including just staring idiots down and they have backed off. More often than not, these situations can be dealt with aplomb and humour and any message that needs to be gotten across will get across.

Again, this copper has shown that he is a little minded, immature, self important fool who shouldn’t be put in charge of a kiddie cart.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Updates according to online news (and rant.)

At this point the kid is saying the snowball didn’t hit the cop’s arm as he’s claiming, but the cruiser. It’s not clear that he was the one who threw it.

A dean of the kid’s school, who is the witness who fingered the kid has given the kid five days suspension, because a felony charge isn’t enough.

At this point I want to see this go through the justice system. I want to see a Cook County jurist declare that either it is, indeed, aggravated assault when a police officer is hit with a snowball, or that it isn’t and that the officer in question should be dressed down.

In fact, I want to see an indictment. I want to see a Cook County jury tell this child that he’s just ruined his life with a felony charge at thirteen…or that by invoking the justice system at all, this officer has gone way too far.

And then I want to see Cook County pay a fine of six digits or more, maybe put this kid through a decent college that way. If they’re going to keep coppers who have no sense of proportional response, if they’re going to institute zero-tolerance policies so that children cannot make mistakes ever, then I want to see their precinct get fined out of existence. Maybe the street-gangs will keep better order.


As of this posting I have not received a US National Security Letter or any classified gag order from an agent of the United States
Encrypted with Morbius-Cochrane Perfect Steganographic Codec 1.2.001
Tuesday, February 25, 2014 9:42:30 PM
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Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Updates according to online news (and rant.)

Perhaps those words are a code, or a key to a secret code embedded in the body text of the post.

Perhaps the NSA needs to pay very close attention to the post and run it several times through their analytic software just to make sure I’m not sending an activation command to my fellow cellmembers.

Purple Monkey Dishwasher.


As of this posting I have not received a US National Security Letter or any classified gag order from an agent of the United States
Encrypted with Morbius-Cochrane Perfect Steganographic Codec 1.2.001
Wednesday, February 26, 2014 9:39:02 PM
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John William Nelson (profile) says:

Bad prosecutors are the problem

Too many prosecutors would take this case all the way through. This is the problem. To them it is a game. It pisses me off to no end the games played by prosecutors and cops in these situations.

The prosecutor bringing this should be ashamed. It should be considered ethical misconduct wasting the court’s time with this nonsense. Sadly, it isn’t.

And that doesn’t even count the judges who want to be seen as “tough on crime” who are complicit in the whole system.

Anonymous Coward says:

The response

If you could organize such a thing, you could respond to this by having everyone report every similar case to the police and ask them to come out and make an arrest and file it. Kid throws a snowball? call the police. Kid points a toy gun at someone? call the police. Verbal abuse? call the police. Someone calling the police too much? call the police. Get a reference number for these calls, follow them up a week later. Make sure the police do the paperwork. After a couple weeks of this they will have to stop responding to these ridiculous cases. No force would be able to keep up with the workload and paperwork and they’re forced to drop all the cases and stop acting on them.

Pamela Garrett says:

It is really sad that basically all they have to say is “I feared for my safety,” and all is excused. I use to have great respect for law enforcement but over the past couple of years, it is slowly fading.

In Tulsa last year a police officer pulled a man over for a traffic violation. He had 3 of his 8 children in the car with him. Somehow they ended up in a scuffle and the man was shot to death. No weapon but ended up dead over a traffic violation. That same officer beat the crap out of a guy during a traffic stop in January. He said resisting arrest (because he raised his hands instead of putting them behind his back) and assault and battery on an officer. Hospital reports show no injury, bruising, or even a scratch on the officer. The man had been beaten in the BACK of the head repeatedly with blunt object, his left eye swollen shut, nose broken in 2 places, chin busted open and had stitches, and best of all his EAR had to be stitched back on at the top because the officer bit him and pulled part of his ear off. Man went to hospital in ambulance and had to have a cat scan for fear of brain injury while officer walked out with a re-injured knee that happened back in September when he shot the other guy. How safe would you feel running into this officer who was sworn in to “Protect and Serve” the people? Scary!

J'hn1 says:

But...

I recall kids throwing “snowballs” and breaking house and car windows. Robert Taylor Homes (Chicago projects) kids relocated by HUD to my community.
“Snowballs” as a thin pack of snow around large rocks, and “snowballs” as a thin pack of snow around a chunk of ice.

Especially in the second case, what proof is left afterwards? As long as the CP is willing to apply the same standards to other victims I am not going to get too wound up about it. If the only ones so defended are Chicago Police, then I am not so gullible.

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