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Monday, October 15, 2012

Police Brutality

It may be the civil libertarian in me, but few things make my blood boil more than seeing physical abuse by police and other officials who are given extraordinary powers over civilians; power that when abused is truly terrifying.

Below is a video filmed at approximately 1:00AM of October 8th (the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah) on a closed circuit camera system within the lounge of a Jewish outreach center for troubled youth in Crown Heights Brooklyn called 'The ALIYA center'.

The silent film shows two New York City policemen (one male and one female), waking a man who is asleep on a couch, then talking to him and then trying to handcuff him. 

It is clear from the film that the man is confused as to why he has awoken to be confronted by the police, and he PASSIVELY tries to avoid being handcuffed while explaining himself to the officers.

The man, Ehud H. Halevi, was apparently homeless and appears to have had permission to sleep at the ALIYA center.  It is unclear who called the police, but according to sources from the center, the complaint seems to have been mistaken.

Within seconds of Mr. Halevi passively trying to avoid being cuffed, the male officer assumes a boxing stance and begins punching him repeatedly in the head and body.  Once the man has been backed into a chair by the male officer's assault, the female officer's joins in with her fists and a metal truncheon.  She also sprays pepper spray into Mr. Halevy's eyes.

If the victim in this video had been black we'd be hearing Al Sharpton screaming 'Rodney King' right now.

See for yourself:

 Sadly, there is no fitting remedy under existing law for such a terrifying abuse of power.  At a minimum the two officers should be fired and brought to trial for criminal assault. 

But that is unlikely to happen.  And even if it does, it isn't nearly enough.  

In a perfect system, in order to be forced to understand the helplessness victims of police brutality feel in such a situation, both officers would be stripped of their protective clothing, strapped in a standing posture to a pole, and the victim (or the representative of his choice) would be allowed to spend the same time as the duration of the original assault using fists, truncheon and pepper spray to exact a brand of justice that is sorely lacking in such cases.

 You can click herehere or here to read more.

Posted by David Bogner on October 15, 2012 | Permalink

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hmmm, it seems I might be the only one bothered by this. [shrugs]

Posted by: treppenwitz | Oct 15, 2012 4:15:03 PM

No, you're not. I find it unbelievable that it ends up with 10 overweight cops to take in one scared teenager (they needed a minyan?)

Apologists for the NYPD are now saying that his 'resisting arrest' justified the beat down. The volunteer security guard in the video says that he was drunk (what, a young Jewish guy, drunk, on Simchas Torah? Who could imagine?) and 'regrets having made the call'.

Not a good situation

Posted by: Anonymous Cow | Oct 15, 2012 5:06:19 PM

We have corresponded on this before. As I watched the video, at least in Pennsylvania, I think the officers would not be disciplined for the initial use of force. The lack of cooperation would be enough. The later use of force, especially the truncheon appears to cross the line of excessive force under the law as I understand it. However, this would likely not result in a charge of Official Oppression, the charge here. It would practically not by itself result in dismissal and it would be a difficult civil tort or civil rights case.

This is the aggressive policing that people want, at least that is what the leadership thinks. Also, we live in a security state that also promotes and tolerates excessive force.

Posted by: lrg | Oct 15, 2012 6:01:33 PM

it almost looks like the Yassam police against protesters.

Posted by: Dave | Oct 15, 2012 7:02:27 PM

An unfortunate event to say the least, but I'm not sure I could convict a peace officer of any wrong-doing based on this silent video. I don't know what the young man said, or how he said it, to the officers. I agree that he was moving away, but at one point he pulled up his pants. From the rear it is obvious he's pulling up his pants, but from the front it may have appeared that he was adopting a boxing stance (i.e.- a threatening position). It was just as the police man adopted the fighting stance and began punching.

It's my perception that, here in the US, the police will often, maybe even routinely, handcuff those involved BEFORE they get to the bottom of the story. It's seen as a way to control the situation and to avoid injury whenever possible -- both to the officers and the "person(s) of interest". It's a result of more officer injuries and more civil litigation in the last 20-30 years.

The problem is that police are (realistically speaking) not allowed to back down from a personal confrontation. So if the suspect is uncooperative (in any way), the police are going to charge him/her with resisting arrest or impeding an investigation, etc. Then they have a legitimate reason to use force. Never mind that he had permission to sleep there, once he says "you're not going to handcuff me" (or something similar) they have reasonable cause to use force.

As a follow-up, did he have any injuries of significance? If he did, then he may have grounds for a civil suit. It's probably not going to get his criminal charges dropped, but there is *some* recourse for the police using too much force.

Posted by: ProphetJoe | Oct 17, 2012 4:45:05 PM

Good points by lrg and Prophet Joe. Especially the part about not backing down. Before I condemn the two officers for their initial reaction to Halevi's resistance to arrest, I want to know what he said to the officers. That, combined with his actions, could make this situation a lot different that it appears in a silent video. As for the subsequent beat-down, that was uncalled for. I have never seen an incident where that kind of force was necessary in a situation like that.

I'm surprised chemical spray was used indoors. Even a short one-second burst of OC-CS can contaminate a room and affect everyone inside, including the officers making the arrest. This is where a Taser would have been handy. NYPD could have neutralized the guy from a distance and taken him down without putting a hand on him.

Posted by: Karl | Oct 19, 2012 8:18:58 PM

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