There’s been a rash of incidents involving police brutality this summer, a disconcerting and deeply saddening trend that’s got the nation in a most unwanted state of disquiet. Citizens nationwide are on-edge, suspicious, and clamoring for justice. And in some of the more locally affected parts of the country, it runs deeper than just that. Riots on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri have flared up since the recent shooting death of 18 year old Michael Brown.
Michael Brown was unarmed at the time of the incident, sparking accusations of injustice and a too-hasty jump to violent action from area police. Some eye witnesses claim that Michael Brown had his hands in the air -the universal sign of submission- at the time of the shooting. If true, this compounds the culpability of the officers.
Recently, in New York City, a man who was being arrested for the sale of loose cigarettes was choked to death by police officers. The man in question suffered from asthma which, aggravated by the choke-hold maneuver the cops employed at the time of arrest, resulted in his death. This too raised questions about protocol. Eye witnesses to this scene recalled hearing the man shout that he “could not breathe.” The hardest part of this incident was the grievously incongruent severity of the punishment and the crime.
These incidents raise a national question as to the extent of law enforcement’s jurisdiction and, on a more personal level, the legality of a police officer’s use of force on suspected criminals.
Of course, it is a delicate balance. The counterpoint to the protesters’ argument that cops are wielding excessive force with wanton disregard for the law is the unfortunate reality that, in their line of work, force is oftentimes necessary for a cop’s self-preservation. Fleeing and / or combative criminals must sometimes be subdued, interpersonal physical altercations will take place in the name of apprehending the truly dangerous and unlawful. Striking perfect equity, and administering only the precise amount of force for a given situation, is a wonderful thought but is far more difficult to achieve in praxis than it is to posture theoretically.
National discourse is of course important for contentious issues. Hopefully, having light shed on these situations will help bring stability and harmoniousness to local precincts.
If you believe that you or someone you love have been the victim of excessive force, contact Kaplan Lawyers PC today. We are sympathetic to your plight and we can help make sense of any seemingly irrational situation. Our compassionate and professional team of attorneys will help you understand your rights, and will stand alongside you throughout the entirety of your legal process.