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Thanks to those who bring public attention to police misconduct

Jan 05, 2015 Thanks to those who bring public attention to police misconduct

Thanks to those who bring public attention to police misconduct, including to Virginian Daniel Clement who spoke out about having been thrown to the ground by Baton Rouge, Louisiana, police in late December 2014 outside a theater. Police claimed they did so after Clement did not leave the area after being told to do so, and after Clement jumped on and pushed a police officer after that police officer grabbed someone next to Clement.

The question arises whether Clement’s videotaping of the incident from his cellphone was a motivating factor for the police assault on him. Clement said that police seized and did not return his phone. Thanks to video, released surveillance footage of the incident at the Varsity Theater does not show Clement jumping on nor otherwise assaulting any police officer.

Clement faces criminal charges of public intoxication, battery on police, resisting an officer and remaining after forbidden. Possibly before Clement hired a lawyer to defend against the charges — many lawyers, like I, advise their criminal defense clients not to discuss their pending criminal cases with anyone but their lawyer — Clement talked. Had he not, this police manhandling story likely would not have seen the light of day. Were Clement my client and had he wanted to go public with this story, I would have advised him of the risks to his criminal defense case of doing so, and would have helped prepare him in advance for any news interviews if he still wanted to speak in public.

As I blogged last Friday, I do not view such police mistreatment of suspects as mere aberrations by a few bad police apples. I believe that such police misbehavior runs too rampant throughout the nation, with too little fear of repercussions for police wrongdoers to change their ways. It is not enough for good cops to be good cops. They should speak up against the police misconduct that they witness, and should teach their peers by their good example.

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