Police Brutality for Seatbelt Violation

The Hammond Police Department denies that the video below reveals police brutality. Breaking through a car window and using a tazer on a passenger for refusing to leave the car is just business as usual.

From Fox 2 Now in St. Louis:

Jones refused to identify himself and repeatedly ignored requests to step out of the car after officers feared he had a weapon, Hoyda said.

“The first officer saw the passenger inside the vehicle drop his left hand behind the center console inside of the vehicle. Fearing for officer safety, the first officer ordered the passenger to show his hands and then repeatedly asked him to exit the vehicle,” Hoyda said.

In the video, the passenger was obviously showing his hands constantly to the police. He was searching for a form of ID to give them, which is pretty clear evidence that he had identified himself to officers.

Did the police think that he had a concealed weapon that he had lost in his bag and was searching for? Seriously?

[See also, “This Is Why We Get a Police State: Cops Kill Four Including Unarmed Man and Informant.”]

The police stopped this couple on a seatbelt violation and insisted that the adult passenger identify himself.

Hammond Police Officers Patrick Vicari and Charles Turner stopped Mahone because neither she nor Jones wore seat belts, according to Hammond Police spokesman Lt. Richard Hoyda.

The officers placed spike strips under the car’s wheels and approached Mahone.

Mahone “informed the officers that her mother was dying and that (they) were on the way to the hospital to see her before she died,” read the complaint. “Rather than issuing Lisa (Mahone) a ticket for failure to wear a seat belt, the officers demanded that Jamal (Jones), the passenger, provide the officers with his identification as well.”

But Jones didn’t have an identification. He had previously turned over his license for an unrelated citation. “Jamal offered to show the officers the ticket, which had his information on it but the officers refused,” read the complaint.

Is the issue that they can’t issue a citation unless they have identification? Maybe if they had explained that to the couple before drawing weapons, the whole situation could have gone differently. But at the 23-second mark Jamal says he just gave them his information. So why the window-shattering and the tazing.

And spiked strips under car wheels for a seat belt violation? I’ve never seen such police behavior in St. Louis. What is going on in Hammond, Indiana?

I have trouble understanding the way this Fox 2 News story is written: “Police however tell a different story.”

Taser

How is it a different story? They claim Jones “refused” to identify himself, but that seems to amount to the claim that Jones doesn’t carry “proper papers” with him at all times. From the video it is pretty clear that he has identified himself and given them a document. They just don’t consider it satisfactory.

Also, the headline claims says in part, “Police Allegedly Smash Car Window.”

Allegedly?

Nothing in the report says that the police deny that they smashed the window. No one is claiming that the video is staged or otherwise faking what it shows the viewer quite plainly—a cop smashing in a window showering the occupants with glass shards. So why say “allegedly”?

Does anyone think that the driver and the passenger were being unduly paranoid about wanting to put themselves in the hands of police officers who had drawn weapons on them? If so, then you need to wake up—and no, I am not referring especially to Ferguson.

And was not the driver being super reasonable to ask for the police to send someone with more authority to give them assurances?

None of it mattered. The police own you if you don’t have “proper” identification or they suspect (guess) that you might have a weapon.

Both the Police Department and Hammond are standing by the officers.

No one is surprised.

“Police officers who make legal traffic stops are allowed to ask passengers inside of a stopped vehicle for identification and to request that they exit a stopped vehicle for the officer’s safety without a requirement of reasonable suspicion,” Hoyda said.

If Indiana has a law that says no one may ever ride in a vehicle without “proper” identification, then that is true. Otherwise, it is a lie or—worse—a usurpation by the police who are requiring people in Indiana to abide by a non-existent law. They have taken upon themselves the authority to punish people for violating a non-law.

There were multiple armed police around that car. If they can’t feel safe under those circumstances, they need to find another line of work. The fact that two other officers died in the line of duty does not justify their brutality. These two and the two children in the back seat should not be forced to pay for other people’s crimes.

And we all know that, even though it was statistically likely that these people were not going to be killed by cops, their fear was not irrational or baseless.

As far as I’m concerned, even though I wear my seatbelt and think everyone should do so, this couple made the simple mistake of thinking they live in a free country, not a banana republic.