What is police brutality? Police brutality is an act of misconduct done by a member law enforcement through the use of an extreme amount of force to physically, mentally, or emotionally attack a member of society. Many law enforcement officers, those sworn to protect and serve, have abused their rights and authority to assault and manipulate citizens, even if they were innocent. Citizens who have been attacked have been left with physical and emotional scars that can never go away in some cases, it has even caused death. In a report by David Packman, prepared for the Cato Institute in 2011, states that 247 deaths were linked to police misconduct cases.Many people believe that having evidence in a criminal case would be a guarantee that the one being convicted would be found guilty. That is not always the case.
In Minneapolis, Minnesota, 19-year-old Fong Lee was shot at by Minnesota state trooper Jason Andersen after chasing Lee around the outside of City View Performing Arts Magnet School. He was shot nine times. Only one or two shots are needed to stop a suspect. Anderson believed Lee had a gun in his right hand, but when other officers had arrived, according to police reports, the gun that Lee had was laying 3 feet from his left hand while his right hand was outstretched in the opposite direction. Many people are say Andersen planted the gun on Lee due to the fact that the gun was near his left hand rather than his right, which is where Andersen said Lee had the gun.
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Part of the chase was recorded on the school’s surveillance cameras; upon reviewing the tapes, Richard Derick’s, a video expert, determined that Fong Lee did not have a gun in his right hand when Jason Andersen pursued Lee and shot him 8 times, it was “closed into a fist”. Jason Andersen’s partner, Minnesota State Trooper Craig Benz, did not believe it was a gun, but rather drug-related and actually contemplated going back to get the squad car, but after taking a couple second to decide, he continued the foot chase. Jason Andersen was awarded the Medal of Valor for the incident by the department sergeant who said he “demonstrated obvious self-sacrifice in the face of death or great bodily harm to protect his own life, the life of his partner and the citizens of Minneapolis”. The Medal of Valor may have been justified, but shooting Fong Lee and killing him was not. Less lethal force could have been used to subdue him, not 8-9 shots for a kill. Some people get a little bit luckier than Fong Lee.
30 year old Christopher Sean Harris was walking through an alleyway in the Bell town neighborhood of Seattle, Washington after his shift at Arnie’s Restaurant, having drinks at a nearby bar, and paying $60 to someone to drive him to Bell town on May 10, 2009 when a woman mistakenly pointed him out to Deputy Matthew Paul as a man suspected involved in a bar fight that continued at a convenience store nearby. Matthew Paul and another deputy, whose name was not disclosed, were dressed in black fatigues and gave chase; it is unsure whether or not they identified themselves immediately as law enforcement or not during the two and a half block foot chase. When someone is chased by two men in black fatigues, it’s a normal reaction to just run, get away and get to a more populated area rather than a dark alley where you may not be found for days. Harris did just so; he ran two and a half blocks before slowing to a walk and turning to face the pursuers in front of the Cinerama Theatre. Deputy Paul, as seen on surveillance footage from outside the theater, immediately shoved Harris firmly in the chest and flew backward eight feet, headfirst, into the concrete wall of the theater. Harris slipped into a coma, one he was not expected to wake up from, and his family was encouraged to remove him from life support; his family was relentless and after about two months, he woke from the coma, unable to talk, walk, or do anything for himself, making his wife, Sarah, his primary caregiver due to his bed constrainment.
The officer may not have been given a Medal of Valor for nearly killing a man, but the officer was still in the wrong. They may not have identified themselves until it was too late for Harris and that’s what nearly cost Harris his life, but is now costing his family over one million dollars in medical bills. Deputy Matthew Paul should not get off as easy as he did; he should be expected to pay part of the medical bills he caused.
This man’s authority was misused and stretched to get him past the way of the law. A normal citizen who put a man in a coma would usually get assault charges for that sort of act. The term “To Protect and to Serve” has been closely associated with law enforcement for many years now. But where did the term come from? The Los Angeles Police Department wanted a motto for their police academy, so they conducted a contest in February 1955.
The winning entry was submitted by Officer Joseph S. Dorobek and the motto was “To Protect and to Serve” this motto was adopted as the official motto of the LAPD Police Academy and on November 4, 1963, the necessary ordinance was passed to have the motto placed next to the City Seal on their patrol vehicles. This is a fact than many people do not know.
It is an important piece of background on the police and very controversial topic in recent years, with beliefs that the police are just trying to protect themselves rather than the citizens nowadays as police misconduct continues to rise. It is evident that police brutality has gotten bad over the years. It is happening more commonly throughout the world and media has made it easier to get reports and send information quicker.
Christopher Harris and Fong Lee were just 2 of the cases that proved more significant to media outlets due to surveillance footages at both scenes, allowing viewers to ‘see’ what happened. Police brutality has been noticed, taken into consideration of the public eye, and interpreted as an idea that police cannot be trusted, but they can. Most law enforcement officers enforce the rules and regulations of laws, and keep true to them themselves.
Its cops like Deputy Matthew Paul and Trooper Jason Andersen that cause problems; even if they have probable cause, less lethal force should be taken. Law enforcement officers that abuse their status should be treated just as any other citizen would, not a special case.