Police Departments Too Often Don’t Act Like Police Brutality is an ‘Isolated Incident’

Former South Carolina police Officer Michael Slager watches his murder trial for the shooting death of Walter Scott in April 2015. Slager later pled guilty to depriving Scott of his constitutional rights. He faces up to 25 years in prison. He remains in custody until sentencing later this year.

The country watched in outrage last week as Salt Lake City Police Detective Jeff Payne forcibly arrested burn unit nurse Alex Wubbels for (properly) refusing to allow Payne to take a blood sample from an unconscious crime victim in late July. Surprisingly, Payne’s superior officers did not find his behavior concerning enough to remove him from active duty until a video of the incident generated a crescendo of public outrage. As of now, Payne is on (paid) administrative leave pending an investigation, which means that he is being “disciplined” with a taxpayer-funded vacation.

Oh, that we all should suffer such terrible punishment for being caught on video clearly attempting to violate two people’s constitutional rights.

Payne, however, is not really the issue here. Pretty much everyone is in agreement that Payne was in the wrong and should be punished. Ditto the as-yet unnamed lieutenant who allegedly ordered Payne to arrest Wubbels. The issue, as always, is the other cops who were present in the video, all of whom stood by and either did nothing to oppose what Payne was doing or actually egged him on.

Whenever I watch videos like this — videos where there is little or no ambiguity about whether police misconduct has occurred — I’m always interested in the reactions of other police who are present. Do any of them attempt to intervene to prevent their colleague from making a mistake? Do any of them promptly report the misconduct to their superiors afterward? If so, do their superiors take appropriate action to remove bad apple cops from the streets?

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Filming Cops
Filming Cops 3188 posts

Filming Cops was started in 2010 as a conglomerative blogging service documenting police abuse. The aim isn’t to demonize the natural concept of security provision as such, but to highlight specific cases of State-monopolized police brutality that are otherwise ignored by traditional media outlets.

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  • michael92064

    Taking it a step further is the retaliation on officers that do try to protect a citizen from abuse by another officer.

  • Nick Nitro

    This is exactly the type of behavior you do not want in law enforcement….ever. Entitled assholes with qualified immunity are precisely the types that shoot people for nothing.