The Men in Blue, They Assault You

While we are fighting the war on terror, perhaps we can stop our police officers from terrorizing the rest of the populace. A man in Springfield, MO, has filed a lawsuit alleging that he was assaulted by a police man for the offense of asking for the officer’s name.

The entire incident was videotaped, but at the time when the Springfield News-Leader published the story, the video had not yet been released. The lawsuit alleges that Officer Brian Reeves grabbed Peter Anselmo by his jacket with both hands, drove him ten feet back against a building, and then slammed him repeatedly into the wall. According to the lawsuit, Reeves yelled, “Let me explain to you what punitive means. Okay? Usually it means you’ve got to go to the hospital. Now you start grabbing for shit again and that’s exactly what’s going to happen to you.”

However, Anselmo had reached for his wallet, because Reeves had ordered him to do so.

Reeves even taunted Anselmo, “Take this to court. Please do. This whole incident is on video and has been audio recorded. Take it to court. We will have a heyday.”

The incident began because Reeves stopped Anselmo and gave him a speeding ticket and a citation for not carrying proof of insurance.” As Reeves was walking away and getting back in his patrol car, Anselmo opened his door and asked the officer for his name. Reeves got back out of his vehicle and walked toward Anselmo. Anselmo got out of his vehicle to meet him. Reeves, according to the suit, became “agitated” as he spoke, and demanded that Anselmo show him his driver’s license again in order to give him more tickets. When Anselmo reached to get his driver’s license, Reeves commenced his assault.

Anselmo worked for several months trying to come to an understanding of some kind without going to court. He is now suing because he hasn’t found the alternatives satisfactory. According to the News-Leader, the City Attorney’s response was to claim, “We think some of his allegations are not founded,” without explaining which ones.

I realize that police officers face dangerous situations, but if any of these allegations are true, nothing in Reeves actions indicate he felt truly threatened by Anselmo. Rather, he was simply angered at being questioned. Our police, especially in the last decade or so since the “war on terror” started in earnest, have behaved more and more like the guards in a prison, with us as the prisoners. While not all law enforcement officials are deficient in this way, there seem to be more of them, and they seem to typically be protected by their superiors and by the courts.

There is nothing conservative about letting police manhandle and intimidate the people they are supposed to be protecting. That is the sort of behavior you find in a “third world” country, but it has no place in the United States or any other country that claims to be civilized. People asking the name of the officer who gave them a citation should not have to fear being bullied, attacked, or even yelled at.

“Law and order” doesn’t mean the police can do whatever they want. It means that the police both enforce and respect the law. It means they preserve the order of society.