Woman Catches Cop Beating Handcuffed Suspect; Police Union First In Line To Shoot The Messenger

from the no-one-to-blame-but-everyone-else dept

The presumed illegality of filming police is a law enforcement mental disorder. Far too many officers believe they have the right to perform their public service unobserved. Officers continue to take cameras from bystanders who happen to catch them behaving badly. Abby Phillip at the Washington Post details another apparent act of police misconduct that resulted in more misconduct as officers attempted to shut the recording down.

Just after 4 p.m. Thursday, a woman stood a few feet away from several Miami Police Department patrol cars with her cellphone camera recording. After a few seconds, an officer entered the frame, escorting a handcuffed young black man to the back of a police car.

Suddenly, the officer put his head inside the car door and appeared to punch the suspect.

“Oh!” a woman exclaimed on the recording, reacting to what was unfolding before her. The woman, who the Associated Press identified as Shenitria Blocker, moved closer, and the officer climbed into the back seat of the car. Moments later, the camera shook and the video ended.

Here’s the video:

The camera shake was due to an officer’s attempt to take Blocker’s phone away from her. Blocker says they then ordered her to delete the footage or face being arrested. While the video does show Blocker moving in very close to the police car to get a better view of the action, any arrestable offense would have been limited to “interference,” and that would only be legit if she refused to move away from the vehicle when ordered to. No such order was given. Instead, the cop went for the camera and threatened her with arrest.

Even if the cops can’t find a sufficiently malleable “violation” to charge photographers with, the law enforcement community (including police departments and, especially, their unions) finds ways to ensure no damning recording goes unpunished.

To its credit, the Miami Police Department has suspended the officer caught punching the handcuffed arrestee and is investigating the incident. On the other hand, it hasn’t said anything about the unidentified officer who attempted to take Blocker’s phone, nor has it issued a statement affirming the public’s right to film police officers.

The Miami Fraternal Order of Police, on the other hand, is going out of its way to deliver its own brand of “justice” for Blocker having the temerity to catch one of its officers behaving badly.

In a statement, the police union said “social media has placed a very negative tone on law enforcement nationwide” and that the officer in question was “protecting our community.”

Ah. So that’s what happened. A now-suspended officer didn’t punch an arrested man who was already in the back of a patrol car. Social media did. In fact, social media should be made to answer for the hundreds of incidents of police misconduct every year. At the very least, people should stop running to social media with their clips of police abuse because being a cop is hard work.

But the union has gone farther than simply making the ridiculous assertion that all of these police officers captured on film doing the things they were actually doing is nothing more than negative spin by Social Media Co. LLC. It’s also attempting to disparage Blocker herself — ironically, by using the same social media that’s apparently destroying the reputation of its suspect-punching police officer.

The union has delivered screenshots of Blocker’s since-removed Facebook page, claiming these show Blocker is a bad person and therefore, all video captured by her phone should be disregarded… or something.

The remainder of the union’s statement focused on criticizing Smith, the woman who at the time they believed recorded the video. It highlighted screenshots of Smith’s Facebook page and accused her of posting photos of herself with men who have handguns.

According to the farcical police officers’ group, the real problem is men with guns on Facebook pages, not an officer punching a handcuffed suspect. If only the “community” had done more to raise Ms. Blocker right, Unidentified-and-Suspended Officer X wouldn’t have had to punch a handcuffed man in the back of his patrol car.

“Our community has accepted behavior that motivates violence in our younger generation. It’s time for the community to take a stand against this reckless behavior and stop the violence,” he continued. “As the saying goes: It takes a village to raise a child. Guns don’t belong in the hands of children.”

So, remember: the next time you see a police officer beating a handcuffed person, remember that somewhere out there, there’s a male with a gun and someone’s daughter might be friends with him. Ask yourself: what’s more important here? The reputation of the misbehaving officer? Or the reputation of the misbehaving officer? And then put the camera away. Because as the union sees it, the only people above reproach are the officers whose abusive actions prompt poorly-thought out and thoroughly ridiculous statements from their unions.

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Comments on “Woman Catches Cop Beating Handcuffed Suspect; Police Union First In Line To Shoot The Messenger”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Refreshing honesty

“Our community has accepted behavior that motivates violence in our younger generation. It’s time for the community to take a stand against this reckless behavior and stop the violence,” he continued. “As the saying goes: It takes a village to raise a child. Guns don’t belong in the hands of children.

I actually agree wholeheartedly with this, and it’s nice of them to finally admit it. Mind, a little odd that he describes the police as ‘children’ in his statement, but I suppose a group that regularly throws tantrums when they don’t get their way does rather fit the definition.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to replace my irony meter, given it seems to have exploded for some reason.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Congratulations to the police union for proving they’re also racists.

Perhaps they’re slow witted and somebody ought to explain to the police that no matter how much they may resent the presence of minorities in their country, beating the crap out of them at every turn isn’t going to make them go away, nor will it look very good for them when it reaches the six o’clock news, even if they’re drug dealers or gangstas!

I’d also suggest upping the ante. Any cop found pulling this is fired AND their watch commander is busted back to beat cop. If they can’t control their subordinates, they’re either unfit for command or they’re part of the problem themselves.

Anonymous Coward says:

Shoot The Messenger

I guess we need a new saying for this phrase. Some years ago it was obvious that the messenger was only shot hypothetically but nowadays that is acually a thing that could happen.

So my suggestion would be “Messenger was attacked after recording” or “Messenger’s cellphone was attacked”. The 2nd example might sound stupid to most but we live in an age where objects can be prosecuted so why shouldn’t they have the same rights as a person?

Anonymous Coward says:

Brutal reality

The fact is, the arrested man is still alive.

Further, he didn’t get put in the hospital for weeks, or months. He has not lost a limb, or the use of one. His internal organs do not appear to have ruptured. He still has both ears. Neither of his eyes were gouged out.

While the video does does not really provide evidence on this point, there doesn’t seem to be any claim that the arrested man lost consciousness—let alone had his skull fractured. Actually, there doesn’t seem to be a claim that any major bones were broken.

Certainly, there wasn’t excessive blood loss. The guy wasn’t left on the sidewalk to bleed out, while the cops stopped the paramedics from doing anything.

Bill says:

Re: Brutal reality

“The fact is, the arrested man is still alive.”

No, the fact is that a police officer who is supposed to uphold the values of society was captured on film beating a handcuffed man who presented absolutely NO THREAT.

Police now a days are nothing but a bunch of jack booted thugs that believe they are above the laws that they are obligated to uphold.

I sincerely hope that the officer in question is immediately fired and brought up on charges.

Killercool (profile) says:

Re: Brutal reality

I don’t really understand your point, here.

Because he got no debilitating injuries, it wasn’t really (alleged) excessive force?

Her recording the incident prevented it from escalating?

Because it didn’t go farther, she didn’t have a right to record the officers?

You listed a bunch of things, then just… quit. I can’t tell what you were trying to say.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Brutal reality

If I had to guess, and this is how I read it, they were showing how incredibly low the expectations for police have gotten, such that not hospitalizing or killing a suspect is actually an improvement over standard police activity, rather than something that’s just assumed as a given.

When not maiming or killing a suspect is seen as an improvement over what they could have done, rather than just ‘doing their job properly’, you know their reputations are bad.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Brutal reality

So what?

If this was a torture case, you’d be the guy saying the victim wasn’t tortured while being water-boarded because he didn’t suffer organ failure so the way he’s been treated is just fine.

In this case, the guy had been arrested, and was then assaulted while in custody.

Police Brutality – “…the wanton use of excessive force, usually physical, but also common in forms of verbal attacks and psychological intimidation, by a police officer.” — wikipedia.

It seems to fit.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Brutal reality

The fact is, the arrested man is still alive.

Oh, well, that’s alright then. Move along people. Nothing to see here. I guess the cop just feared for his safety a bit which is why it’s alright that he assaulted a defenseless, already restrained civilian. Oh wait, assault is illegal, isn’t it?

You’re part of the problem, you know? I wonder how much he’s going to get from suing your employers.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: I take by these standards...

You’re stating what you think the bar should be for police brutality, yes?

So so long as you personally are not put in the hospital for at least a week, or are maimed or lose the capacity of using your limbs, so long as you don’t lose consciousness or suffer a skull fracture or lose an excessive amount of blood, the police can do whatever the fuck they want to you, yes?

And the same would apply if the police assaulted your spouse and children, yes?

Just checking.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: I take by these standards...

• “Former Des Moines, Iowa, Police Officer Sentenced for Excessive Force”, DoJ OPA, June 23, 2015

This case arose from Boone’s use of excessive force against Orville Hill during Hill’s arrest on Feb. 19, 2013. During the incident, Boone arrived at a scene where three fellow Des Moines police officers were holding Hill on the ground and a fourth officer was standing over the group. Boone ran up to the group and kicked Hill in the face, knocking out two of Hill’s teeth and breaking his nose. Other officers reported Boone’s conduct to supervisors after learning that Boone had submitted a written report in which he failed to account truthfully for his actions.

• “Huntsville, Alabama, Police Officer Convicted of Excessive Use of Force and Obstruction of Justice”, DoJ OPA, July 31, 2015

As officers attempted to remove G.H. from the vehicle to place leg shackles on him, Russell yanked G.H. from the vehicle. While G.H. was lying handcuffed on the ground, the defendant repeatedly punched and kneed G.H. Other officers placed leg shackles on G.H. and Russell then transported G.H. to the Madison County, Alabama, Jail. When the jail refused to accept G.H. because of his injuries, Russell transported G.H.to the Huntsville Hospital. Russell subsequently wrote and submitted a false report claiming that G.H. tried to kick and head butt the officers. Further, Russell omitted from the false report any reference to the fact that he had used force on G.H.

Note well that both of these convictions involve false statements by the (former) officers.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: When I was a kid in grade school...

I was taught about police professionalism and how the police routinely conducted themselves, according to a speaker from the local precinct that came to talk to grade-school students. He explained the whole idea of proportional response and deliberate action.

This was in a stark-white wonderbread suburb of Los Angeles, well before the Rodney King incident made news in 1991, and also before I got to take pictures of my mother’s extensive black and blue marks after an incident on the wrong side of two officers and their truncheons which ultimately landed her in jail.

I couldn’t imagine violent action my mother could have done to require the police to use their weapons in proportional response. I still cannot to this day.

I’m pretty sure that nice police-officer man outright lied to us children when he explained the care by which all LAPD officers conducted themselves.

I’m pretty sure he was witting that he was telling lies.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: I take by these standards...

Another one out of the Civil Rights Division, mentioned mainly because I encountered it while looking for a report on the WDNY case which follows.

• “Police Officer in Fulton, New York, Sentenced for Assaulting a Man in His Custody”, DoJ PAO, Jan 23, 2015

Arigo was sitting at the sergeant’s desk on June 28, 2014, when a handcuffed man, G.B., was brought into the police station. G.B. was yelling, but was not physically threatening any officers or himself. Arigo pulled the video camera out of the wall to stop it from recording, walked into the room where G.B. was, shoved his head into the bench and punched him in the head multiple times. G.B. suffered cuts and bruising, lost consciousness and required seven stitches. After the incident, Arigo lied to his supervisors and in two official reports in an attempt to conceal his actions.

Compare factors mentioned in that case with this case, which is reported from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, in the Western District of New York—

• “Buffalo Police Officer Involved In Videotaped Beating Sentenced On Civil Right Charges”, USAO – WDNY, Dec 1, 2014

Between 9:30 and 10:30 p.m. on April 19, 2014, the defendant and his partner pulled their unmarked police car up to a vehicle being driven by the victim and told him that he was speeding. The victim got out of his car, fled, and a foot chased ensued.

After catching up to the victim, the defendant and another officer took the victim to the ground. At one point while the victim was on the ground, Cirulli placed his knee on the victim’s upper back area.

Once the victim was handcuffed by officers and under control, the defendant struck the suspect in the head with his hand, struck the suspect in his body with his boot, and struck the suspect again in the head area with his hand. The suspect was then placed in the back seat of a Buffalo Police vehicle, where the defendant struck the suspect yet again in the face.

Perhaps someone who understands the DoJ internal politics can explain.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 I take by these standards...

Perhaps someone who understands the DoJ internal politics can explain.

Here, though, is an potentially comparable one reported from the Civil Rights Division—

• “Former Alabama Sheriff’s Investigator Sentenced to 36 Months for Assaulting Handcuffed Man at Macon County Jail”, DoJ OPA, September 9, 2014

On April 4, 2014, McCray pleaded guilty to one felony count of deprivation of rights under color of law. At the plea hearing, McCray admitted that he arrested a salesman who was selling alarm systems in McCray’s neighborhood and transported him to the Macon County Jail. There, McCray struck the victim four times in the face and head while the victim was handcuffed and posed no threat.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 I take by these standards...

… potentially comparable one reported from the Civil Rights Division

But, as it turns out, news reports indicate use of a weapon in the McCray case.

Macon County Sheriff’s investigator pleads guilty to unlawfully arresting salesman, assaulting him at county jail”, by Erin Edgemon, Al.com, April 4, 2014

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Alabama, the salesman was leaving the property when McCray seized him at gunpoint…

Even if McCray only hit him with his hands or fists, I’d say that the use of a firearm in the unlawful arrest amounts to a significant aggravating factor in that case.

So, considering the totality, probably not on the same level after all.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

No need to just claim it, there are numerous apps that allow that very thing. With so many thugs with badges forcing people to delete incriminating evidence, it was really only a matter of time until people stepped up to deal wit the problem, and now there’s plenty of apps to do the job.

There’s also another problem with claiming that it was recorded to the cloud storage if it wasn’t. The police can lie to you without any issue, but it’s a crime to lie to them, so if you claim something that’s not true, to a thug trying to bury incriminating evidence, you’ll probably be looking at criminal charges piled on top of whatever other bogus charges they hit you with for standing up to them.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“but it’s a crime to lie to them”

Not always. Certain lies are always a crime (such as giving them a false identity or filing a false police report) and it’s a crime to lie to police when they are asking about things you personally witnessed when they are conducting an investigation (that’s obstructing justice). In most other circumstances, though, lying to the cops is not actually illegal.

The specific limits vary from state to state, so if you plan on lying you should probably look up the law where you live.

Rekrul says:

Re: Re:

These kind of recordings will only get more numerous as technology advances more and more, leading to cameras being integrated into everything and hopefully a way to record directly into dropbox.

“sorry officer, it can’t be deleted without a direct court order.”

No, don’t tell them that it’s automatically backed up online. Let them think the recording is gone so that they can file their bogus report. Then once they’ve lied in their official statement, release the recording and prove that they lied.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Self-interest. You’d be hard pressed to find a judge that likes looking like a chump(though it does happen occasionally), or likes being lied to, and having a report exposed as fraudulent, yet ruling as though it was factual would make the judge look all kinds of stupid and/or incompetent.

Mind you, it’s not perfect or guaranteed, given there have been judges who have ruled that video evidence isn’t as reliable as officer testimony when the former contradicted the latter, but it should at least tip the odds, even if ever so slightly, in favor of the defendant.

Bamboo Harvester (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Putting it to the cloud or other service off-device brings up some very nasty Chain of Custody problems if you try to produce it as evidence. The actual phone/camera that did the recording is much easier to introduce without having it excluded for CoC problems. Backing up to an online storage site is another matter.

But if you want it introduced as an Exhibit, you really want the phone itself, with the original recording on it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Yeah, that’s what I was referring to. I remembered when Techdirt profiled that case where a judge ruled that all evidence paled in comparison to officer testimony even when it was found to be erroneous.

All we need is more idiots like this running the justice system and we’d all be fucked. And to be blunt, it doesn’t look like there’s a lot of drawbacks with doing so.

Bergman (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Attempting to delete it or ordering someone to delete it is a third degree felony in Florida. Such a crime is punishable by $5,000 fine or up to 5 years in state prison or both.

Florida has citizen’s arrest, and such an arrest can be made for any felony you directly witness. Unlike the typical police arrest, you can make a citizen’s arrest simply by informing someone verbally that they are under citizen’s arrest.

If they resist, you could use force to compel their obedience, but you’re not required to — and unwise given how trigger happy police are, even though resisting arrest is a crime as well.

Discovering that an officer was under arrest, violently resisted the arrest, fled from the arrest and his coworkers aided and abetted him will make a trial judge DEEPLY unhappy.


The woman who recorded the police abusing the arrested man needs to get a better phone because the camera on the one she used is rubbish. I wish citizens who record these incidents would also get some practice in filming with phones, come on it’s not so hard, yet so many of these uploaded recordings are out of focus and blurry and the audio is terrible, come on people get it together

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