'Roid rage in blue
June 6, 2005 4:14 AM   Subscribe

'Roid rage in blue: Cops on steroids deal with the dregs of humanity:
[Police officer] Tweedy kicked and stomped on Koonce's head repeatedly, walking away and then returning to continue the blows as Koonce lay motionless, gurgling his own blood. Koonce, now 28, suffered life-threatening injuries, including skull fractures and brain contusions. He spent two months in a coma.... [Officer Tweedy] He was described as depressed and having trouble sleeping and had been accused twice earlier of overly aggressive police tactics. [emphasis added]
It just goes to show that a certain segment of society thinks they can defy any and all authority, and they seek to blame those people who (for the most part) try to serve and PROTECT.
posted by orthogonality (38 comments total)
Background: Officer Fife Tweedy was upset with Koonce because
[a]s Koonce was on the ground and [Tweedy's partner] House was trying to handcuff him, authorities said, Tweedy accidentally sprayed himself [with the same pepper spray he'd just used on the victim "perp"] and went into a rage.
So is it the 'roids or the cop? No one has suggested that Officer House was using steroids, but
House, the officer patrolling with [Tweedy] that October night, was charged with aggravated malicious wounding.... A third former Petersburg police officer, Michael R. Perkins, was convicted of the same civil-rights deprivation charge in Koonce's beating.
What I'm curious about are the two earlier accusations against Tweedy for being "overly aggressive". Why wasn't this noted, and Tweedy stopped, before ruining his own life and the victim's?

But maybe the accusations were for benign, normal police behavior, like being quick to taser suspects or bringing down"a world of hurt". Or maybe the accusations were made by the "dregs of humanity" and so were, appropriately, discounted?

("Hate me forever, but the more [I imagine Koonce's skull cracking under Tweedy's foot] , the more it cracks me up.")
posted by orthogonality at 4:30 AM on June 6, 2005

OK, this is a bit misleading. The officer in the "taser" incident is a different officer in this new incident. With the wording of the post, it could be construed that the original officer was the one on steriods, which is not (to anyone's knowledge) the case.

Just for clarification purposes.

Also, expect a dozen replies saying, "That's why he should have used a taser."
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:31 AM on June 6, 2005

Civil_Disobedient writes, "Also, expect a dozen replies saying, 'That's why he should have used a taser.'"

Not replies saying that this sort of thing happens in fraternities and among cheerleaders all the time?

The cop in this story used pepper spray, then played "Lord of the Dance" on the victim's skull, because the cop was pissed off. The cop in the other post tasered a victim, then tasered her again when she was obviously no threat because the cop was pissed off.

One can argue that the pepper spray or the first tasering were justified. But after the victim is immobilized with pain, the rest is just cops enjoying some brutality, because they think they can hide behind their badges.
posted by orthogonality at 4:41 AM on June 6, 2005

And here I thought it was rage caused by hemorrhoids from sitting on their asses and eating donuts all the time.
posted by Eekacat at 5:04 AM on June 6, 2005

posted by Faint of Butt at 5:11 AM on June 6, 2005

Watching some reality cop show UK-style, I was blown away by their totally different way of operating. They were excessively polite. They explained this was to keep things calm.

Some would point out the difference between a gun culture and one where guns are relatively scarce. I suppose this does make a difference. Yet, I can't get over the idea of control trumping rage, any day.

But you know, the whole atmosphere in America today is infected with this iron-fisted crap fostered by the Bush junta to drum up support for unprovoked war and any other issue that can be made to play to the audience (gay marriage, abortion, drugs...). Hate mongering for political gain is a dangerous game that breeds this kind of thing.
posted by Goofyy at 5:17 AM on June 6, 2005

I think that whenever someone is given license to use violence on other people, incidents like this are unavoidable. Now, how do we deal with this, since law enforcement is by nature a violent activity? Training, recruiting the proper people (i.e. people are who not primarily attracted by violent nature of the job), psychological counseling... But, as evidenced in the taser thread, acts like this are not considered abnormal by part of the general population. Lots of people just relish the "tough on crime" discourse, where criminal activity begins with jaywalking, thus condoning in advance any sort of abuse provided it happens to "criminals". Sadism by proxy, here we go.
posted by elgilito at 5:21 AM on June 6, 2005

So...a post where some of the folks think that what the cops did was right, followed by a post where I doubt anyone thinks what the cops did was right. And I am to conclude...what again?

orthogonality : "But maybe the accusations were for benign, normal police behavior, like being quick to taser suspects or bringing down'a world of hurt'."

No, I'd suspect the accusations are for non-benign, abnormal police behaviour, unlike using a taser on a suspect.

In other news, I support American troops trying to kill Hitler during World War II. Maybe you can post an FPP about American troops trying to kill an unarmed grandma, to, you know, show how my support for one is the same as support for the other.

Yeah, I Godwinned. Whatcha gonna do about it, post an FPP about someone shooting a random German and imply that my support for Hitlerdeath is the same as supporting all killing of all Germans?
posted by Bugbread at 5:32 AM on June 6, 2005

Yeah, but was Tweedy cut?
posted by OmieWise at 5:43 AM on June 6, 2005

I missed the Jesus in Jackboots thread. Quite something. Best of Metafilter indeed.

About this post-I thought it's been kind of common knowledge for years that steroids are prevalent in police culture. Perhaps I have just made assumptions about that, but I find it hard to believe that this is a problem that administrators are unaware of.
posted by OmieWise at 5:46 AM on June 6, 2005

Watching some reality cop show UK-style, I was blown away by their totally different way of operating. They were excessively polite. They explained this was to keep things calm.

american cops could learn a thing or two from their british counterparts. i saw a very large, very drunk, very aggressive guy last week mouthing off at the LUL staff after hopping the barrier.

being starved for entertainment, i watched the show.

two cops - one male, one female showed up armed with nothing other than billy clubs and a radio and wearing short sleeved white shirts with protective vests - and those silly hats. they walked right up to the guy and told him to calm down in very polite language.

i was astonished at how calm they were. they showed no aggression whatsoever. very professional, very smooth. and they did not look the least bit afraid.

the lout didn't calm down.

instead of tasering him, or shooting him, they kept talking to him in a very polite, yet firm manner and kept him in his place until the mod squad - the white van with the metropolitan police's professional wrestling team - showed up.

six huge cops walked up as a team, pounced on the guy, and subdued him in less time than it takes to deploy a taser. they threw his ass in the van, and drove off.
posted by three blind mice at 5:47 AM on June 6, 2005

wow i'm just now catching up on this story . . . (sry for wanting to add an opinion so late in this thread)

i'm just struck by what i'm reading, not really surprised at this point , but i am a little taken back.

i watched the clip. i know what it means. pain.

i'm watching one person exert power over another. who gave him permission to harm that woman , and why?

if that were your mother , or sister in that car, would you tell me ; "she got what was coming to her"? would you expect me to think that was due? i feel sick having watched it. not only because its violent , but because its wearing a badge. it makes me sick , and i would think it would make anyone who cares about what law enforcement should be, sick as well. i don't have the heart to even argue about it , i'm just sick to my stomach , and its because i read the comments before watching the clip (it was down) i was prepared to see something that was 'due' this woman, based on what people in here where posting, instead i saw a woman being harmed for a reason that makes my guts turn. reading the post, then watching the clip ,has left me ill.
posted by nola at 6:00 AM on June 6, 2005

[Deputy Police Chief]"McKinnon said out of the 130 police officers he oversees, he is aware of only two or three instances of steroid use by officers during the past 25 years. "It's when someone acts off of aggression when they're using steroids, that's when the real issue begins."

Heh...he's the co-owner of the gym where the Police go.

Obviously better psychology training (and retraining and retraining and ad infinitum) is needed to get the meatheaded minority of Police to effect behavioural changes in their customers without resorting to violence. I'd nearly advocate drug testing them but.....I hate that Brave New World assumption of guilt until proven innocent and transgression of personal rights - although I recognize the arguments.

Umm...referencing the blue in the blue? It's on topic and relevent. It's the attitude thing.
posted by peacay at 6:11 AM on June 6, 2005

nola : "who gave him permission to harm that woman , and why?"

Presumably lawmakers, and presumably in order to facilitate arrest procedures and minimize danger to cops. Whether those results are worth it or not is a different discussion, but I figured I'd answer your questions.

nola : "if that were your mother , or sister in that car, would you tell me ; 'she got what was coming to her'?"

For the first tazering: Yes, though I'd resent the cop for not having tried to talk her down. Of course, my mother (or sister, but I'm an only child) would have gotten out of the car. And if my mom blew herself up by playing hackysack with a bag of nitroglycerin, despite repeated admonishments that "kicking nitroglycerin will cause an explosion", then I'd say she deserved that too, but, again, she wouldn't do it. If my mom killed a toddler just to watch him die, I'd say she deserved to go to jail. But she wouldn't do that either. There's a whole plethora of hypotheticals available.
posted by Bugbread at 6:13 AM on June 6, 2005

D'oh!! This is the problem with crosslinked posts - nola's comment is in reference to the other thread; my comment is in reference to nola's comment. They should both be in the other thread, not this one. Sorry.
posted by Bugbread at 6:42 AM on June 6, 2005

City of Austin - Officers Killed in the Line of Duty

Wisconsin Law Enforcement Officers Killed in the Line of Duty

Fallen In The Line Of Duty... Saint Paul Police

Native American Officers Killed in the Line of Duty [PDF]

...need I go on? The police in the tasering video were in a dangerous situation. The woman in the truck was in command of a ton of steel and a V-8 engine and was behaving belligerently and irrationally. With a flick of the wrist and a push of the foot, she could have sent that ton of steel right into the officers or some passerby.

And if she had, Ortho would have made a FPP out of it: "Irresponsible police fail to protect the public, even though they had non-lethal means of restraint at hand!"
posted by LarryC at 7:25 AM on June 6, 2005

Is it legal to tazer a cop in self defense?
posted by kuatto at 7:44 AM on June 6, 2005

kuatto : "Is it legal to tazer a cop in self defense?"

On duty or off duty?
posted by Bugbread at 7:49 AM on June 6, 2005

That's why he should've used a taser! Taser taser taser taser!
posted by fungible at 7:53 AM on June 6, 2005

Ok, folks, let's try to keep the woman-in-truck-with-tazer discussion in its own thread, and the cops-on-steroids discussion in here. As the second violator of my own advice, mea culpa.
posted by Bugbread at 8:02 AM on June 6, 2005

LarryC: take a good look at, say, the Austin list. Most of these 19 deaths were accidents (11) , not assaults (8). All but one of the deaths since 1979 have been traffic accidents or a heart attack. In one of the traffic accidents, the driver was another cop.

How many people do you think have been killed by Austin's Finest in the line of duty? I don't know, but I'm willing to bet it is far too many to make your argument supportable.

Now, let's look at the rest of the argument -- what do you think is the ratio of cops to civilians getting the crap beat out of them?

Long story short, there aren't enough cops getting hurt to justify their acting like jungle fighters. It's a bogus argument because it never takes into account the fact that cops are rarely prosecuted for excessive force.
posted by warbaby at 8:17 AM on June 6, 2005

american cops could learn a thing or two from their british counterparts.

I'd love to see one of these excellent British cops dropped into East New York, without a weapon, and see how many drug dealers he could successfully (and politely) arrest before getting his head blown off with a Tec-9.
posted by bashos_frog at 8:53 AM on June 6, 2005

> Now, how do we deal with this, since law enforcement
> is by nature a violent activity?

I think that this is part of the mythology that cops perpetuate, in order to maintain certain privileges and to justify indefensible behaviour and procedures.

I'm not saying that cops are never at risk. I *am* saying that the degree of risk that the majority of cops face on a day-to-day basis is actually pretty small.

Its only a quite small proportion of cops who are actively engaged in 'thief catching' at any given time, and the proportion of offenders who respond with violence when faced with arrest is also extremely small.

If you take a look at the first list of 'fallen officers' that Larry C posted, over the last twenty-five years, in the city of Austin, you have:

One cop killed when a defective part on his motorcycle failed.
One killed when his patrol car struck a tree.
Two killed by drunk drivers.
One had a heart attack on duty
One killed by a police cruiser -- friendly fire, so to speak.

All this 'we risk our lives on a daily basis' stuff is just so much bullshit. For 70-80% of them, its a cushy office job, that pays pretty well (when you take into account the qualifications necessary for the job), and has great benefits.

I live in the UK, and over the last fifteen or twenty years or so, we've started to see a significant rise in gun crime on our streets. When I say 'significant', I mean a rise from approximately no shootings a year, twenty years ago, to something in the region of ten to twenty a year in a city of around half a million

So we've gone from a situation in which our police used to face virtually no risk whatsoever, to one in which there is at least a percieved risk -- although police shootings are so rare as to be almost unheard of.

The police response to this trend has been an enormous increase in police taking long-term sick leave. The number of police who suffer 'significant (but indetectable) damage to their back while in pursuit of a suspect' is growing so dramatically as to be a serious source of concern to local senior police management. Put plainly, our local police don't feel as though they signed up to run the risk of being shot at, and so rather than doing the right thing and finding another job, they defraud the community and the state by feigning an occupational injury -- which results in extremely long periods of leave on full pay, followed by early retirement on a full (and very generous) pension.

At which point, they then take another job where necessary, keeping an eye open for private detectives who are seeking to uncover their deception.

Police officers going down this route (I've met one, my wife has worked with a couple, and I have a friend with close connections to senior management) feel completely entitled to behave in such a manner, and they don't suffer any significant social ostracization from their colleagues as far as I can tell. On the contrary, they are more likely to be regarded as 'smart' or somehow enviable for their ability to work the system, and the officers themselves see it as their just reward for this whole 'risking our lives on a daily basis' bullshit.

Of course, where they are genuinely injured by a criminal, police also recieve the same financial compensation as any other citizen, from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund and so many actually like to get a minor assault -- as a punch on the nose can mean a free holiday, a broken arm, the deposit on a new car.

All of this might seem as though I'm anti-police. I'm not. I think they do an essential job that is important to any culture. However, they've tended to cultivate a whole 'cultural apartheid' attitude, arguing that it's forced on them by a wider society that doesn't want to know them.

If this is true, then I think it's only because certain police officers are unable to put aside their asshole nature, unable to relinquish their power and authority in order to treat people they meet on a social level as equals. And perhaps there's an important social function there, in having them see themselves as a band apart? But I can't help thinking it makes them behave like a paramilitary force, rather than a group that both belongs to and serves the community that employs it.

On preview: I *should* murder my darlings here, but it's the fact that they *are* my darlings that makes them so hard to kill.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:56 AM on June 6, 2005

If this is true, then I think it's only because certain police officers are unable to put aside their asshole nature...

Well, here in America, especially in big cities, police recruits are taught that their number one priority is officer safety. They are supposed to enter every encounter with the specific goal of not getting hurt. Now, clearly this attitude has some merit, as police officers do face violence, but it isn't difficult to see how this attitude can also engender an attitude of aggression and paranoia in the police. There has been a movement in recent times to move away from teaching officer safety in such a way as to make many officers constantly paranoid for their safety. If one believes that every situation poses a mortal danger, then any rational person would have to believe that every person one encounters is dangerous. This can, of course, be extended to the belief that every person one encounters is also most likely a criminal, and that opens a whole different can of worms.
posted by Doug at 9:16 AM on June 6, 2005

I know a guy who stabbed someone to death two days after being released from prison, where he was serving a sentence for GBH. He was on a cocktail of steroids and cocaine. Everyone agreed he did it for no reason.
Not sure what happened after that, but I know considerable efforts were put into intimidating the jury.
posted by asok at 9:18 AM on June 6, 2005

If one believes that every situation poses a mortal danger

David Uribe - May. 11, 2005
A veteran Phoenix police officer who chose to spend his entire 22-year career patrolling the city's streets was shot twice Tuesday during a routine traffic stop and left to die in the roadway. He didn't even have a chance to draw his gun.

Scott A. Patrick - Dec. 22, 2003
Patrick, 27, was shot to death in Gary after he stopped to help a man with a flat tire.

Baker, Jason Matthew - Sept. 17, 2001
Deputy Baker was killed in a gun battle that began with a routine traffic stop and turned into a police chase. Three suspects were arrested and another found dead. Also wounded in the incident was an Indianapolis Police Department patrolman and two civilians who were caught in the crossfire.

Sgt. Daniel Starnes - July 10, 2001
Starnes, 46, a Morgan County deputy, died 27 days after being shot four times in the chest during a traffic stop June 14 in Martinsville.

Cory R. Elson - April 3, 1999
Trooper Elson, 26, was gunned down with an assault rifle in the parking lot of a Decatur auto parts store after pulling over a motorist for a traffic violation.

Todd Burman - July 29, 1993
Trooper Burman 28, was fatally shot while trying to arrest Jack Lenon, 66 , in a squabble over a stop sign.

Michael E. Greene - Feb. 5, 1993
Master Trooper Greene, 43, died from a single gunshot wound to the chest, fired at point-blank range. Greene stopped to investigate a car parked near 86th Street. and I-65 in Indianapolis

posted by bashos_frog at 9:32 AM on June 6, 2005

I think the constant exposure to endless hatred, aggression and disrespect that the average policeman in the UK experiences would be enough to turn everyone into a racist, classist bastard. Most anyone in the UK who owns a TV will have at some point watched one of the endless Police Camera Action type shows (I reckon all the CCTV cameras have been installed around the country solely to provide footage for them). When interviewed on these shows most cops show a distaste for most of the people they deal with.

You can join the police force with a mind to be a helper of the average citizen but I would be very surprised to find anyone lasted 5 years in the police force without becoming depressed and deciding that he is out for himself and that the people he deals with are little more than animals. I know a few long time cops and a couple of people whoi have served for a few years and it's amazing the changes that have been wrought on them. Constant racist jibes from their colleagues rub off and become everyday etc.

Check out this old AskMe question from jonmc about joining the NYPD for a good example of MeFi attitute to policework.
posted by longbaugh at 9:38 AM on June 6, 2005

>american cops could learn a thing or two from their british counterparts.

"I'd love to see one of these excellent British cops dropped into East New York, without a weapon, and see how many drug dealers he could successfully (and politely) arrest before getting his head blown off with a Tec-9."

They'd take down that dealer before you could say "Holy carp - that shit really works!".

Seriously, you're labouring under a lot of misconceptions here. Firstly, cops in other countries take the calm approach even though they carry guns. (Not all do, but lots do). They take that approach despite having guns because it works a lot better than guns, even in explosive situations - especially in explosive situations.

And more importantly, you're talking about cops who, precisely because they don't hide behind their guns have years of real-world experience taking down belligerent and/or armed people with seamless precision, it's part of a day's work.

Push is far far less likely to come to shove with their approach, and when push does come to shove, they are better able to handle it than someone who goes from potential-threat-to-gun in seconds.

An American once said to me "I don't understand why anyone would obey a cop without a gun - I'd just say no, I mean, what could he do if they don't have a gun?". The guy clearly hadn't throught about the fact that he simply wouldn't know what hit him - these people don't need guns to take down two guys twice his size without even working up a sweat, because That's What They Do. They deal with shitheads every day. And they always come out on top.
posted by -harlequin- at 1:22 PM on June 6, 2005

I should probably add, that I would be the kind to go from threat-to-gun as fast as a Ferrari hits 60. I just want to clarify that I'm not criticising those who do this - it's completely understandable and I certainly wouldn't be "better". I'm lauding praise on those who have the courage and the skill and the experience to do it a better way. That stuff is awesome.
posted by -harlequin- at 1:30 PM on June 6, 2005

Let me rephrase your American, slightly:
I don't understand why a criminal with a gun would obey a cop without a gun.

Where I come from, the criminals tend to shoot first and listen to polite chit-chat later.

6 blocks from my old apartment, a young actress was mugged. After the mugger took the money, but was still being aggressive, she said "what are you going to do, shoot us?"

He answered her with a bullet - fatally.
posted by bashos_frog at 2:32 PM on June 6, 2005

I don't know how many guns there are in the UK, but in the U.S. there are over 250 million firearms, including about 85 million handguns. That's roughly one weapon for every man woman and child in the country - so I don't blame the average cop for being overly concerned about the possibility of a gun being drawn on him.
I remember reading about at least one case where a traffic stop resulted in the cop being cut down with an AK-47. Somehow, I think this is a rather less likely scenario in the UK, or Japan, or any other country where the police tend to be less quick on the trigger.
posted by bashos_frog at 2:46 PM on June 6, 2005


No, the guy was talking about himself. He was thinking of himself and how he thought he would act. I think he just wasn't thinking it though.
posted by -harlequin- at 4:11 PM on June 6, 2005

Your actress example BTW is a great example of why the UK approach works better - ratcheting things up with a challenge is the last thing she should have been doing. The results speak for themselves regardless of whether you're an actress being mugged, or a Fully Armed And Operational Battle^D^D^D^D^D Police Officer
posted by -harlequin- at 4:20 PM on June 6, 2005

Ya know, Bashos-frog, I bet I have a deadly weapon for every person in this thread.
With most getting firearms.
But I have never pulled a weapon for anything except that one time, when I went camping and my "friend" took my hot chocolate-coffee mix before I could have any, first thing in the morning, before I was thinking straight, and shot a 9mm between his legs.
He was armed, too, with a .45, so it was kinda like self defence. We're still almost best friends.

I would have just as easily grazed him with a spiked log, or a pointy rock. I would have done it, too. Bastard.. taking my wake-up-juice.
posted by Balisong at 6:10 PM on June 6, 2005

Cops work on principals of control and force. There are some bad cops.

Bankers work on the principals of trust and fairness. There are some bad bankers.

Car mechanics work on the principals of skill and honesty. There are some bad car mechanics.

There are black hats and white hats in every profession. *yawn* -- worlds a dangerous place.
posted by stbalbach at 7:42 PM on June 6, 2005

One might hope that we endevour to limit the number of 'black hats' in any profession.
posted by asok at 2:12 AM on June 7, 2005

Balisong - made me laugh.

I wish I lived someplace where I could own a gun, too - although I'd be nervous about having it around my 4-year old. (An aquaintance of mine very nearly shot his daughter while cleaning his gun - something he'd been doing regulary for 14 years without incident, until the day it went off.)

It would be easy enough to get one, if I wasn't concerned with the law. The cops know this too, which is why when they pull me over, I put on the dome light, and put my hands on the wheel.

BTW - I really respect your going through the trouble and expense to get your gun back. There aren't a lot of people left in the U.S. who value a just resolution of a given situation more than the cash/time it takes to get that justice.
posted by bashos_frog at 9:52 AM on June 7, 2005

After a particularly vicious mugging, I carried a gun for a long time. (I had a permit to carry...I was completely legal.) When driving, I usually put the gun on the passenger seat, or in the console. When stopped for speeding, which happened more than I'd like to admit, I would put my hands on the wheel in plain sight, and the first thing I'd say when the cop approached is "Hey, how ya doing. Listen, I have a loaded G17 sitting next to me, would it be ok with you if I got out of the car while you assured yourself that I am no threat?"

The cops would usually ask me to step back to the grill of their vehicle while they ran my tags/insurance/license and then when allowing me to return to my vehicle would remind me that the glove compartment was a safer place than the seat for the gun.

I never had a cop raise his voice, touch me, threaten to arrest me without it being deserved, or in any other way behave like a renegade from civilized discourse. I have found that it you treat cops with the same courtesy and respect that one extends to everyone one doesn't know, most cops are fairly reasonable human beings. If, on the other hand, you're rude and difficult, you have to expect that things are not going to go as well as you might hope.

That said, there is no justification, in my mind, for anything that any of the cops in either thread, did. That sort of aggression should not be encased in an official government suit. Nor should anyone that jumpy/aggro/insane/stoned be given a gun, mace, tasers and seemingly prosecution-free carte blanche to take it out on citizens. (Granted, the officer in this case will see some prison time...well deserved prison time, imho.)

This line from the article kills me: Researchers say some users of steroids don't believe they're dangerous. "It's not in the same class as cocaine or marijuana," Gaines said.

Good lord...like stoners are a menace to anything but a box of oreos. Please, I'll take a room full of stoned hippies and coke-sniffing hollowwood morons way before I'd want to be in a room with a bunch of spooky testosterone laden, thick-necked, steroid freaks.
posted by dejah420 at 9:36 AM on June 8, 2005

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