Police Brutality Essay
When one thinks of police misconduct many not too distant stories might go through our heads. Most adults will remember how they felt when they saw the brutal beating of Rodney King on their local news station; or the outrage they experienced when they heard that the evidence in the OJ Simpson trial had been tampered with. But thanks to new guidelines, procedures and even civilian groups who now “police” the police, instances of police misconduct may soon start seeing a decline.
In the past police misconduct was loosely defined, if at all. But with recent cases receiving so much news coverage legal definitions have been worked out.
The term “police deviance” includes brutality, discrimination, sexual harassment, intimidation and illicit use of weapons (Barker and Carter, 1986). Another definition of police misconduct is when police officers violate:
1.formally written normative rules
2. traditional operating procedures
3.regulations and procedures of police and other public service agencies
4. criminal and civil laws
(Linch and Diamond, 1983)
Recently, an Inglewood police officer was captured on videotape slamming a sixteen-year old boy on the trunk of a squad car and punching him in the face even though the youngster was handcuffed.
A year after the King atrocity, two white Detroit police officers bludgeoned Malice Green to death with their flashlights tearing off part of his scalp. Three years later, five foot five inch-one hundred forty five pound Johnny Gammage was pulled over while driving through a predominantly white Pittsburgh suburb, only to be choked and beaten to death after allegedly attacking five white police officers. In 1997, a New York City police officer rammed a stick from a toilet plunger six inches into the rectum of Abner Louima rupturing his intestines (Troutt 6). To make matters worse the officer stuck the soiled stick into the victim’s mouth. Two years later, Amadou Diallo and former pro football player Demetrius DuBose were murdered by New York City and San Diego police respectively. Diallo was shot by four white plain-clothes officers while standing in the vestibule of his own Bronx apartment building.
According to the officers upon approaching the building Diallo stepped back inside as if to hide. When Diallo reached into his pocket the officers fired a total of 41 shots, striking him 19 times. What the police thought was a gun turned out to be a wallet (Jeffries,2001)
That summer, DuBose, previously of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New York Jets was shot by two white San Diego police officers. The officers were investigating a burglary when they happened upon the multi-millionaire and Notre Dame graduate. An investigation by the family’s attorney revealed that DuBose cooperated with the officers’ investigation until they began to ;harass and intimidate; him (Amnesty International 1999a). The officers claimed that DuBose charged at them with a pair of nunchakus sticks, a martial arts weapon that he allegedly wrestled away from one of them.
Several onlookers said DuBose was shot in the back (Perry A3). To add insult to injury after shooting DuBose the officers stood over his body for more than ten minutes before calling an ambulance (Amnesty International 1999c). An autopsy report revealed that DuBose was shot twelve times, six in the back (Perry A3). When asked to explain how a young man of DuBose’s stature could end up being killed in this manner San Diego’s police chief called it an isolated incident–an aberration (Jeffries, 2001)
Ms.Cheng, a member of the Oct 22 Coalition say that as of 1990 more than 2000 deaths have resulted because of police brutality. In more than 30 cases suspects have been shot, killed or injured by NYC police officers in questionable circumstances in recent years.
There are serious doubts about whether the suspects had posed an immediate threat to life when they were shot, even though NYPD officers may fire their guns only as a last resort to protect life. Most of the victims –including several teenagers — were unarmed at the time they were shot. On 24 March 1995, Yong Xin Huang, a 16-year-old Chinese boy and some friends were spotted playing in a garden with an air rifle in Brooklyn. Alerted by a neighbor, a police officer arrived and fatally shot the young boy in the back .