Local police are in serious need of being reigned in for their behavior towards innocent civilians who have not been charged with anything. Just for being in public, there is no legal justification for a police officer to force anyone to show their identification. Our Fourth Amendment rights clearly protect us from unreasonable searches by law enforcement. Multiple court cases have also clearly upheld the right to videotape police officers performing their jobs in public, despite what seems like the majority of police officers lying to their victims that such an act is illegal. Overzealous police officers are also more likely to shoot an innocent civilian by mistake, compared to non-officers, yet we are expected to rely on them for safety, and relinquish our own right to self defense.
When plainclothes police officers raided the wrong home on faulty drug informant information, a women understandably thought it was a home invasion. She told her 61 year old husband to get their gun, which he did and fired at the plain clothes police who then fatally fired back. Full article.
A 22 year old man and member of the National Guard was shot by police in the early morning and died, after being pulled over for cutting off a police van. The police claim he reached under hit seat for a gun, despite the fact that his passenger, a coworker who he was driving home from work, says he kept his hands on the wheel at all times. The police later claimed a power drill was mistaken for a gun. The women in the passengers’ seat claims it was an incident of road rage by the angry police officers. Full article.
In 2005 a young man named Fouad Kaady was driving with a container of gasoline to assist his father, when the gas caught fire, also igniting Fouad, who then crashed. He was reported as badly burnt and walking naked down the highway after the accident. The police found him sitting naked indian style and essentially catatonic. For some reason, they told him to roll onto his stomach, despite the fact that burnt flesh could be seen hanging from his body, as well as lacerations, all over his blood covered body. When he refused to comply–when this in shock, dazed, severe burn victim who had just been in a bad accident and was quite obviously in extreme need of medical attention refused to comply–the officers tased him with two separate tasers. This is apparently when the victim of the car crash became a victim of police brutality. After being tased, the man reportedly jumped to his feet, and ran at officers (or in some direction, remember he had just been tased and in a severe accident) at which point he was shot 7 times by the police officers. The man was unarmed. The police officers were not charged with any crime. Read more here.
And of course there was the event in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina when police officers murdered and burnt the body of an unarmed black man, reportedly while laughing about the murder. But even when police are not murdering innocent civilians, they often abuse their power and make illegal unconstitutional demands of their victims.
In the following video some youngsters are filming in a Walmart parking lot for an unknown reason. A police officer can be seen at one point in the filming, but he was clearly not the subject of their recording. He tells them that they cannot film him, which is false. He is on duty in public, and therefore can be filmed along with the Walmart parking lot. The officer then comes over to the young men and demands to see identification. This is a harassment tactic police use to intimidate people, but it is completely illegal for them to force someone to show their ID if no crime has been committed. It is unclear whether the officer is racist, or just belligerent, but after approaching the young men he pulls out his stun gun, after attempting to grab one of the youth’s phone away from him, and begins to threaten them, and claim they have broken laws. Apparently walking away from an officer with his gun drawn is a crime in this cop’s mind, as is not showing your papers when the law demands. The officer became agitated after one of the young men correctly stated that they did not have to show ID’s. In the end the police officer successfully bullies the young men into showing ID’s. After the teens mention the constitution, the officer calls a back-up unit.
In the following video a police officer stops a man because he was “leaning on the corner watching me”, after the police officer drove by and saw the man standing next to a car parked in his drive way. He claims the man looked suspicious, and asks for his identification. When the man tried to walk away, the police officer claimed he could not do that. Two more police cars then arrive to handle this non-situation. The car parked in the drive way of the mans’ home is then searched, and the trunk is opened, both of which appear to be illegal since no permission appears to be given. Since the car was parked on private property without the engine running, the police had no right to search it. In the end the police leave after harassing the youths for about ten minutes, possibly because they were being filmed.
In this video a man is detained by police for carrying a gun, something that is not illegal. He knows his rights however, and the police officer ends up leaving without seeing the man’s ID. The man is correct in asserting that the police had no reason to stop him and search him, or confiscate his weapon, because he had committed no crime, and was told he was stopped for a legal activity, carrying a gun.
The attitude of police officers that they can search anyone, or stop anyone on the street and ask for their ID needs to change. Being in public is not reason enough for a police officer to detain you, and ask for your papers. This needs to end, and it can start with informed citizens exercising their rights in the midst of illegal police activity. But in order for us to be able to exercise our rights, we cannot be in fear that the men and women who are supposed to be protecting and serving, will murder us with impunity. I encourage people to know their rights, and film suspected illegal searches and seizures by police.
Click here to read “The Constitution Applies Locally” about more local violations of citizens’ rights.
Click here to read “State Sanctioned Home Invasion”.