Man Who Taped Police Beating Arrested in L.A.
July 11, 2002 6:20 PM   Subscribe

Man Who Taped Police Beating Arrested in L.A. Conveniently dug-up charges, a bizarre radio talkshow detour, what the heck is going on?
posted by donkeyschlong (65 comments total)
 
oh what grounds are you calling the charges "dug up"?
posted by techgnollogic at 6:30 PM on July 11, 2002


Well, if these charges were outstanding, why did they wait to arrest him in the first place? I'm just wondering.
posted by donkeyschlong at 6:33 PM on July 11, 2002


Well, if these charges were outstanding, why did they wait to arrest him in the first place?

Maybe they didn't know where to find him?

Going on TV and claiming you're "untouchable" with outstanding theft and DWI warrants is just plain stupid.
posted by ljromanoff at 6:37 PM on July 11, 2002


As with the other case mentioned in the article, what were the people holding the video cameras thinking at the time -

"wow, I am going to get rich by selling this tape to the highest bidder" or

"I really should put this camera down and do something to help my fellow human being".


I think we all know the answer to that.
posted by dg at 6:38 PM on July 11, 2002


"I really should put this camera down and do something to help my fellow human being".

How do you help someone being beaten senseless by cops? Call more cops?
posted by donkeyschlong at 6:42 PM on July 11, 2002


Anything would be better than ignoring the fact that someone was in trouble - making it clear to the person that there is a witness would go a long way to cooling them down if they are planning to do some serious harm.

Calling the cops is probably the best thing to do, as I suspect they would react pretty quickly to a call that one of their own was beating someone in front of witnesses, if only for damage control. Either way, it would stop the injuries getting worse.

Standing by while someone is suffering is never right and to do so with a camera to your eye is adding insult to injury.
posted by dg at 6:49 PM on July 11, 2002


Bollocks. Making it clear to the cops who are doing the beating that you are there, witnessing, with a camera trained on them, is the best thing you can do. Anything else - trust me, I've been in this situation - gets you either beaten or arrested yourself.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:52 PM on July 11, 2002


The guy's name is crooks, I mean come on.

But seriously, you knew he had something to hide by not giving them a copy of the tape. What harm would it be to give a court of law a copy of your video tape? I mean, even if you taped something incriminating, the whole world is watching the guy now, I doubt anything harmful would happen (though I have seen the movie traffic, and I guess someone could try to hurt him to keep his testimony outside the courthouse).
posted by mathowie at 6:57 PM on July 11, 2002


Isn't that more or less what I said?
posted by dg at 6:57 PM on July 11, 2002


hmm. When I was a kid and watched some officers beat the living piss out of some guy they were chasing in a car (he crashed on a traffic island, just beyond our street), the cops were screaming for everyone to back up and get the hell out of the way.

If there's a cop overstepping his bounds, I don't think trying to help the guy getting beat is a possibility. Do you think the police officers in that adrenaline charged situation will stop, think of what they are doing, and apologize to everyone involved? Or would they likely do something harmful to you as well?

At what point does "helping someone out" become "aiding a criminal?"
posted by mathowie at 7:01 PM on July 11, 2002


Isn't that more or less what I said?

If you say so.
posted by donkeyschlong at 7:01 PM on July 11, 2002


OK, I wasn't suggesting that you should wade in boots and all and give an Arnie impersonation, just that there are things that you can do to help defuse the situation, such as make it known that you are a witness. Standing there and filming the scene, while helpful later for evidence, does not do anything to reduce the risk of the beatee being seriously injured or killed.

While you should not risk yourself, just standing there going "wow, look at that" is tantamount to holding the guy while he is beaten.
posted by dg at 7:08 PM on July 11, 2002


While you should not risk yourself, just standing there going "wow, look at that" is tantamount to holding the guy while he is beaten.

But recording it for use in a brutality case is, in one big way, helping the guy out. The guy didn't just stand there, he did something, which was get hard evidence that can be used against the police department.

Running into the situation to try and difuse it, or appearing as a witness in court saying "they were beating that man" is nothing compared to having hard proof of the actual event.
posted by mathowie at 7:15 PM on July 11, 2002


Valid point, but at what stage do you decide that enough is enough - when the beater looks like he is getting too tired to take you on as well, when the beatee stops breathing, when someone else comes to help?
posted by dg at 7:21 PM on July 11, 2002


Calling the cops is probably the best thing to do, as I suspect they would react pretty quickly to a call that one of their own was beating someone in front of witnesses, if only for damage control. Either way, it would stop the injuries getting worse.

I take it you don't live in Los Angeles.
posted by eyeballkid at 7:22 PM on July 11, 2002


Standing by while someone is suffering is never right and to do so with a camera to your eye is adding insult to injury.

I disagree. There is very little you can do to stop a power-mad authority figure in the moment, but if you can stop them in the long run by providing evidence of their abuses, you are helping a lot more people than just this one victim.
posted by rushmc at 7:24 PM on July 11, 2002


I take it you don't live in Los Angeles.

No, I don't, but I suspect that, if you were to call the LAPD and tell them you are taping one of their officers beating someone, they would deal with it pretty quickly. It may not be a good idea to give your name and location at that point in time, though, or you may drop your camera.
posted by dg at 7:26 PM on July 11, 2002


dg, I appreciate your sentiment, but I don't think it's realistic.
posted by donkeyschlong at 7:28 PM on July 11, 2002


You'd probably be wrong about that. The LAPD is notorious for dealing with situations like this by covering them up any way they can.
posted by eyeballkid at 7:28 PM on July 11, 2002


... you are helping a lot more people than just this one victim.

And if this victim should die as a result of the injuries received? Would that be an acceptable sacrifice for the sake of helping hypothetical future victims?
posted by dg at 7:29 PM on July 11, 2002


but at what stage do you decide that enough is enough - when the beater looks like he is getting too tired to take you on as well, when the beatee stops breathing, when someone else comes to help?

Have you ever been in this situation? Have you ever known any cops? My dad and several family members were cops, and let me just say that they take every opportunity to remind you of who is in charge, and that you will never has as much authority as they will. Anyone going into a situation like this will be seen as trying to get in their way, regardless of what they are doing.

Heck, people die or are badly beaten by police all the time, and most likely, there are dozens of witnesses at every event (houses or businesses nearby). Why are brutality charges so rarely brought on anyone? No one wants to mess with "the law" or speak out against cops.
posted by mathowie at 7:29 PM on July 11, 2002


... I don't think it's realistic.

Perhaps not, but I refuse to consider someone a hero who did not lift a finger to help a fellow human being in need. I don't have the facts available to me, but does anyone know whether either of these witnesses phoned the police or anyone apart fom the media during the attacks?
posted by dg at 7:33 PM on July 11, 2002


This sounds like an ethical dilemma, does one:

(a) Alert the police that they're being filmed, thus saving the suspect from being beaten severely.

(b) Continue filming, thus the suspect get beaten up, but the tape results in the officers being prosecuted and the media fallout leads to reforms that may save many future suspects from being beaten.

(c) Alert the police a little way through, a compromise between a and b.

I'd go with a, if the Rampart scandal didn't clean up the cop situation in California nothing will, so might as well help the guy.
posted by bobo123 at 7:34 PM on July 11, 2002


Perhaps not, but I refuse to consider someone a hero who did not lift a finger to help a fellow human being in need.

dg, I don't know that anyone's labeled him a "hero," but I wouldn't go as far as to criticize him for NOT intervening. Anyone who's ever dealt with a power-crazed cop knows to just shut the fuck up and keep a low profile. It's scary that it's come to this, but it's the reality. And I bet it's even worse in a lot of other countries.
posted by donkeyschlong at 7:41 PM on July 11, 2002


Heck, people die or are badly beaten by police all the time...

Yes, at near epidemic proportions. I think somebody's been watching a few too many episodes of The Shield.
posted by dcgartn at 7:46 PM on July 11, 2002


I'm not sure what to make of the specifics of this camera man's situation. However, I've seen police move in to break up a peaceful protest (people sitting where they didn't want them sitting) stop and back off to think things through more carefully when enough cameras appeared in the crowd.
posted by Stuart_R at 7:48 PM on July 11, 2002


Have you ever been in this situation? Have you ever known any cops? …

Not quite and yes, many. My opinion stands.


… if the Rampart scandal didn't clean up the cop situation in California nothing will, so might as well help the guy.

Thanks bobo123, I agree. I do see the point of view that others are making, also, that you should not risk yourself unnecessarily, but I feel that it is simply wrong that so many in our society have this view. For evil to triumph …

In my opinion, standing by and letting someone be beaten to death (I know, not this time, but maybe next time) without at least making some effort makes you an accessory to the act.


… I don't know that anyone's labelled him a "hero …

Perhaps that was a little strong, but you wait and see what happens as this story develops. I don’t disagree that you take a risk by intervening, but isn’t that how we have got to the point where this type of thing happens more and more? Because no-one cared enough to step in and say “that’s enough” or is it a result of camcorders getting cheaper (therefore more available)? Perhaps this has always happened, but no-one has been game to come forward without the evidence?
posted by dg at 7:51 PM on July 11, 2002


Starvros: Making it clear to the cops who are doing the beating that you are there, witnessing, with a camera trained on them, is the best thing you can do.

Article: Crooks shot his videotape from a motel room across the street from the scene of the incident in Inglewood, which abuts south-central Los Angeles.

He wasn't visible at all. This is a no-win situation in many ways, but Crooks was only videotaping, nothing more. Good or bad, he can't be credited with doing anything to help anyone at that moment. He probably did more than the other witnesses to this, I'm sure it didn't happen in vacuum. If the tape sells, so what? Better to get rich and arguably help someone than burning the tape because it suddenly makes you a liability.
posted by skallas at 8:03 PM on July 11, 2002


That was a bit incoherent - comes from trying to fit too many thoughts in one sentence. I guess you know what I mean though :-)
posted by dg at 8:03 PM on July 11, 2002


ok, so dg, all we know is what is on the tape.

Let's imagine you're across the street, and you see the whole thing (including the events leading up to those being taped). There is a traffic stop then some sort of altercation, resulting in the officer being cut somehow.

You probably wouldn't do anything yet.

So you see them catch the kid, and take him back to the car.

You probably wouldn't do anything at this point either.

The cop slams him against the trunk. Now, that was pretty harsh, but something happened before that.

Do you do something at this point? My guess is 75% or more people reading this do nothing. It was the first act of aggression, but probably due to what happened previous, and the cop is acting out.

Next the cop wacks the guy with a cheap shot. Then it looks like he starts trying to choke the kid, and an officer tries to stop it.

You're across the street, what do you do? Run over and yell? From the only video I've seen, the situation stops about there, and he's tossed into a car. Everything happens in an instant, and I don't see when or where anyone has the opportunity to intervene and help the situation out.
posted by mathowie at 8:04 PM on July 11, 2002


Yes, at near epidemic proportions. I think somebody's been watching a few too many episodes of The Shield.

I repeat: You Do Not Live In Los Angeles.

This city is like that. I'm an average suburban white guy and have been pushed around by the cops, searched over the hood of my car for rolling through a stop sign and been sitting in a car, hands on dashboard, waiting for two cops to approach with guns drawn only to be told about a shorted blinker-light (just an excuse.)

I say "thank you" when I get tickets and never refer to an officer as anything but "sir." I never look at a cop dead in the eyes. I've never been charged or convicted of a crime. I don't have outstanding warrants. I have friends who have been hit by cops, one who chained to a bench with a bloody nose in a PD station while waiting to be charged with "being the only Hispanic guy in a car," and one pushed around for jokingly mentioning that a cop was parked in a red zone. So what do you do? Call the cops? Please.

The cop culture in this city has been that way for as long as I've lived here. This shit doesn't just happen when someone is holding a camera, it happens all the time.
posted by eyeballkid at 8:13 PM on July 11, 2002


If Crooks had tried to intervene, the cops would have run his license, found the outstanding warrants, arrested him and confiscated the tape. Who's he helping then, especially if the tape was accidentally stored by the police right next to a large magnet? Better to tape the incident and take it to the media so you can prove it happened and the officers have to explain their actions.
posted by rcade at 8:22 PM on July 11, 2002


I don't remember anyone calling Crooks a hero. I think he could definitely use some protection because the LAPD is the most corrupt police force in the US. The ousted the last chief who was looking to reform things after Rampart because the mayor got him by the balls, who in turn was probably caught in a serious nut lock by forces within the LAPD. They are like the mafia down here. Watch L.A. Confidential for an idea of how you run that kind of operation. The only organized crime in this city is in the police force. Gangsters down here are small potatoes compared to what the cops pull off. I can't find the story now but after Rampart Internal Affairs went back looking into cases of officers using deadly force in self defense. They found that one guy was shot dead while handcuffed. Nice.

You really don't get an idea of it until you get pulled over by them down here. It happened to me the other day. I drive a 73' Orange Datsun 510 that is a total beater. I get pulled over on a regular basis because they think I'm a drug dealer or something. This time I got pulled over while making a U-Turn at an intersection in a business district. They nabbed me because they were training a new guy and hoped they score something substantial.

After I pulled over, I turned off the car, put on the E-Brake and waited for them to come up. I was promptly yelled at to put my hands on the wheel in front of me, blah, blah, blah. He was new so he was a little more amped up than usual and really got into the yelling and general bossing around. Here's how it went:

"Do you know why I pulled you over?"

"Not really."

"You made an illegal u-turn."

"Just now?"

"Yes. It is illegal to make a u-turn in a business district in the state of California."

"I thought that was only true if you make one in the middle of the street. You can always make a u-ey at an intersection unless there's a sign saying otherwise."

"Are you trying to tell me what the law is?"

"No sir."

Then he proceeded to give me a ticket. I'm sure it was good experience for the new guy. At some point while writing the ticket they decided they weren't through with me and asked me if I had been drinking or using drugs. I said no. They wanted to search the car. I said no. They said it wasn't my choice. I said they didn't have a reason to and it is my right not to have my car searched unless there is a reason to. He said he felt I'd been drinking. I asked if that is why he pulled me over. No answer. Then I told him to give me a sobriety test. After that he gave up.

When he brought me the ticket I asked him if it was his policy to act like a total spazz (used different words) when pulling someone over for a traffic violation. He proceeded to rail on me about procedure, protection, blah, blah, blah.

So what is the point?

This is the best experience I've ever had with a police officer in LA. I could tell he wasn't that much of a dick or I wouldn't have dreamed of standing my ground.

Worst thing of all is that I never broke the law. Jesus, I'm glad I'm not a minority.
posted by velacroix at 8:24 PM on July 11, 2002


... when or where anyone has the opportunity to intervene and help the situation out.

I guess my comments, while specific to this incident to some extent, apply more generally to the principle of helping your fellow man. (perhaps that is an error on my part).

I have not seen the video of this actual incident and was using the article alone as the basis for information. I did see the video of the other incident where a person was beaten for some time by two police officers with batons and there was certainly sufficient time for someone to let them know they were being filmed. That video did not look like it was filmed at long distance.

I accept that the video is of great assistance later in a trial situation, although I still feel that assistance in reducing the damage in the first place is more important. I also accept that, in this particular situation, there may not have been much anyone could do to intervene, as mathowie says.

In other words, I capitulate.

Given the comments various people have made about the police force, I really feel sorry for anyone living in LA. I would have no hesitation in asking a police officer here for help (being white makes that easier, I guess) and would never assume that I was in any danger when dealing with them.

For a solution, I suggest you go here.
posted by dg at 8:39 PM on July 11, 2002


I don't know, dg. Australia is about the only country that will click heels and march to whatever draconian crap Bush cooks up. New Zealand on the other hand . . .
posted by velacroix at 8:48 PM on July 11, 2002


dg, seek the video footage out online. It's all pretty quick and happens in an instant.

I agree that with the Rodney King video, they just wailed on him for 5 minutes, and anyone could have plenty of time to do something, but in this case, the entire video is probably around 30 seconds in length.
posted by mathowie at 9:02 PM on July 11, 2002


You can see the video here, click the small "video" link.
posted by mathowie at 9:25 PM on July 11, 2002


I haven't seen the video yet, and can't view the one linked there.

But is there any possibility that the police officer is telling the truth and was grabbed by the balls?
posted by obfusciatrist at 9:45 PM on July 11, 2002


Thanks mathowie - I don't normally seek out video, due to the world's slowest connection (took over 5 minutes to stream that video in bits and pieces:-[).

In this particular case, the video tells several thousand words and it was certainly brief - not what I would describe as a beating at all.


New Zealand on the other hand . . .

Yeah, but there are good reasons why my family left NZ to come here lo these many years ago:-)
posted by dg at 9:48 PM on July 11, 2002


This site contains the video in QuickTime, Windows Media and Real formats.
posted by donkeyschlong at 9:59 PM on July 11, 2002


I would have no hesitation in asking a police officer here for help (being white makes that easier, I guess) and would never assume that I was in any danger when dealing with them.

Now that you've seen that the situation doesn't work that way for millions of people, even those who aren't minorities, and don't have criminal records, will you please take that lesson to heart and tell your friends and family what you've learned? Please? As a personal favor to me?
posted by anildash at 10:04 PM on July 11, 2002


Ummm, okay anildash. I guess it is easy to assume that a "civilized" nation such as the USA would not have to live in terror of those sworn to protect them, but that seems to be the case.

As I said earlier, I feel sorry for you all.
posted by dg at 10:17 PM on July 11, 2002


I think you have us confused with Canada. Heh.
posted by donkeyschlong at 10:23 PM on July 11, 2002


Confused about fear of the police, or about feeling sorry for you?
posted by dg at 10:30 PM on July 11, 2002


The fear of police thing. :) I tend to think of Canada as the sanitized ideal of the United States. Of course, Canada couldn't afford to be so squeaky if we weren't so rompin-stompin, but still.
posted by donkeyschlong at 10:36 PM on July 11, 2002


Actually, that is more or less the way I view Canada - what the USA was meant to be but never quite made it. I guess that's what comes from not having any royalty ;-)
posted by dg at 10:41 PM on July 11, 2002


Well, to be
posted by donkeyschlong at 10:48 PM on July 11, 2002


(dammit, got cut off)

Well, to be fair, Canada benefits from our largesse. :) If we weren't out there playing bad cop and defoliating entire cultures and continents so we can create markets for sugar water and Britney Spears, North America wouldn't be such a tony neighborhood.
posted by donkeyschlong at 10:50 PM on July 11, 2002


Yeah, I guess someone has to set the "bad example" so that the rest of the world has something to compare to when they say "at least it's not as bad as in xxx"

Big of you guys to volunteer :-)
posted by dg at 10:57 PM on July 11, 2002


Canadians are OK in small doses. Get more than three or four together in a room, though, and it just starts to smell too much like back bacon.

All right, I don't actually know any Canadians, nor have I ever met any. I did listen to the Bob and Doug McKenzie Christmas album over and over as a teen, though. Plus I can quote the dialogue along with Strange Brew.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:59 PM on July 11, 2002


I live in LA. I've been pulled over a few times. I've NEVER had the experiences described in this thread. Granted, I'm fortunate to be white, and we're talking Torrance and Long Beach. Maybe it's different in LA proper, but this all sounds a bit like hyperbole to me. I know LA has some bad cops, and frequently people in uniforms develop authority issues, but come on. It's not like I'm afraid to go out or call the police because I might be attacked by psycho street gangs with badges.
posted by willnot at 11:04 PM on July 11, 2002


I've known lots of Canadians. They remind me of Mormons, in a way, only they're a little edgier. Good people. Great bacon.
posted by donkeyschlong at 11:06 PM on July 11, 2002


Canadians are OK in small doses. Get more than three or four together in a room, though...


Funny - that's precisely what I say about Americans.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:06 PM on July 11, 2002


There's always three or four of us together in a room. It's our foreign policy.
posted by donkeyschlong at 11:11 PM on July 11, 2002


Is that why it takes so many Americans to change a light bulb?
posted by dg at 11:17 PM on July 11, 2002


Or beat up a black man, unfortunately.
posted by donkeyschlong at 11:25 PM on July 11, 2002


"Is that why it takes so many Americans to change a light bulb?"

No, that's classified. We wouldn't want the terrorists to wi.... *strangling noises*
posted by mr_crash_davis at 11:25 PM on July 11, 2002


Mr_crash_davis, are you there?


hello?


Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!
posted by dg at 12:28 AM on July 12, 2002


At least on The Shield (a show I really like) the cops mostly beat up the bad guys. Reality is a different matter altogether.
posted by owillis at 1:35 AM on July 12, 2002


Can I point out that there were no LAPD involved in this incident? The guy with the fists was on the Inglewood Police Department, and the rest were either Inglewood PD or LA County Deputy Sherrifs.

Also, what every cop, and everyone with any relationship to law enforcement knows, is that the ability of a cop to shove, kick, and use fists and baton is actually increases the safety of suspects and bystanders. When cops have and confidentality employ significant non-lethal force, they don't have to go for their guns right away, or let situations escalate until someone has to get shot.

Bottom line: if cops can't use non-lethal force against non-compliant suspects, more suspects are going to end up dead.
posted by MattD at 7:25 AM on July 12, 2002


I thought detectives determined suspects, not the beat (ha) cops they outrank.
posted by NortonDC at 7:46 AM on July 12, 2002


ive seen about 10 situations were a cop has beaten someone. i have noticed one thing; The person getting the beaten, was clearly the aggressor in all cases. It is not a color issue to some extent. Flint is a far cry from LA (though we are more deadly per capita) I have heard that kops are equal opportunity punchers, any cop who hits a civie for no reason, will most likely get it from his peers. Dirty cops usually get theres anyway. Mathowie is right, cops are the power on the streets, do not F#$& with them. But my father always told me, in order to beat a policeman, you must do it in court, not the street.
posted by clavdivs at 8:31 AM on July 12, 2002


Dirty cops usually get theres anyway.

If the US is anything like the UK (and I wouldn't imagine it's THAT different) this is nonsense. Corrupt police are rarely charged and quite serious charges regularly only result in dismissal - often leaving pension payments untouched.

Who polices the police? In the UK it's the Police Complaints Authority, run by? you guessed it - the police.
posted by niceness at 9:26 AM on July 12, 2002


"L.A. Confidential" was on U.S. cable just last night, btw.
posted by gimonca at 12:12 PM on July 12, 2002


Why are brutality charges so rarely brought on anyone? No one wants to mess with "the law" or speak out against cops.

....particularly if somehow one is not quite in the right, or have something to hide? Being grabbed by the balls in a hostile manner does justify some fast, effective response, I'd think, what?
posted by semmi at 11:35 PM on July 12, 2002


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