Contempt of Cop & Deadly Force

Beatriz Paez is just one of the many recent victims of what I like to call “Contempt of Cop”; fortunately, Paez lived to talk about her encounter.

Ms. Paez witnessed plain clothes officers detaining several individuals at gunpoint and decided to record the incident on her cell phone. One of the officers, a U.S. Marshal, told Paez to stop recording and when she failed to obey his order the unidentified marshal charged towards her; snatched her phone out of her hand and hurled it to the ground. But he wasn’t done – the marshal then stomped on the phone and punted it down the sidewalk. Luckily, Paez had someone else recording her as she recorded the officers.

As a retired twenty year veteran sergeant of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), I understand that some police officers have an absolute expectation that if they tell you to do something, you better. When you don’t, sometimes, there is a price to pay.

Police Officers have tremendous power. That small group of officers who have garnered so much of the public’s attention lately have the ability to take hours out of your life as in an unlawful detention on a Friday followed by a weekend in jail if the individual does not have the financial wherewithal to make bail. An errant officer could cost someone hundreds or maybe thousands of dollars by issuing a traffic citation and towing your vehicle. An over zealous officer can stop you, drag you out of your car, beat you up, requiring expensive follow-up medical treatment once released from jail on that bogus “resisting” arrest and battery on a police officer charge or you just may end up losing your life.

Contempt of Cop is not real you say? Ask Floyd Dent of Inkster, Michigan, who was recently exonerated of all charges after he had been brutally beaten by [fired] Inkster Police Officer William Melendez aka RoboCop after Dent allegedly committed a traffic infraction. Melendez has been charged with two felony counts. Ask Mario Givens who was yanked from his residence by fired SC Officer Michael Slager; investigating a burglary at Givens’ home. (The same Slager who killed Walter Scott during a traffic stop.) Givens was tasered and booked for “resisting” arrest when Slager decided Givens did not really live there. The charge was later dismissed.

These incidents are sadly commonplace. Police initiate a traffic stop or their other favorite — an investigative stop; escalate a seemingly benign encounter to a use of force incident and then arrest the citizen for either resisting or battery on a police officer. Both of these charges are difficult to refute without the benefit of a video recording.

Here are just a few more examples of contempt of cop. Remember Marlene Pinnock, the homeless grandmother walking along the Santa Monica freeway in Los Angeles and former CHP officer Daniel Andrew who straddled Pinnock MMA-style and punched her repeatedly in the face and head when she failed to obey his order. CHP paid Pinnock $1.5 million. San Bernardino County Sheriff’s recently paid Francis Pusok $650,000 after Pusok attempted to evade officers on horseback. They were the lucky ones.

Tragically, 52-year-old Walter Scott, during a traffic stop for a broken third tail light, exited his car and ran on foot eluding 32-yr old [fired] officer Michael Slager and paid with his life. Apparently, when you run from a police officer and as in this case and the officer lacks the physical stamina to catch you – five shots to the back is the penalty.

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