It isn't unheard of for me to find myself in disagreement with Radley Balko or Dan Savage on any given day, but I never would have expected that I would find myself in disagreement with both of them about the same thing.

I wrote on Radley's blog:

Where the video begins, the woman is being physically confrontational, and at that point the initial reason for the contact is really beside the point: she shouldn’t have done that. Add to that the obviously hostile crowd (very close) and the fact that he was alone, I find it kind of impressive that he didn’t put her on the ground, tase her, call in the cavalry, or pull his gun. In the heat of the moment, I think he showed a lot of restraint.

I’m *NOT* saying he was 100% correct in how he handled it, but I do think he made a good faith effort to diffuse an escalating situation with as little violence as possible. At least based on what we see here.

That said–yeah chasing down a jaywalker is kind of dumb, though my sympathy for her is limited by: 1) the law in Seattle is extremely deferential to pedestrians (if you hit a pedestrian, it is your fault no matter what, basically), so cracking down on dangerous jaywalking does make sense; 2) if she was crossing the main road in the shot, it’s a very busy one WITH A PEDESTRIAN OVERPASS RIGHT THERE, so I think it is fair to say this counts as dangerous jaywalking.

Regular commenter "LibCop" (who has been commenting there a long time and is credibly a police officer) makes some great points to the effect that the officer could have (and should have) backed down, even if it meant letting the jaywalking thing slide.

Here's the video...what say you?

(Disclosure: I live in Seattle and jaywalk daily.)


Gino said...

i'm with the cop. i've seen friends struck much harder for less serious reasons.

that punch wasnt much. look at the upper body on that cop, and then look for some sort of injury on the woman's face... it aint there.
that was a punch intended to shock and throw off balance, not a full strike to injure.

he showed lots of restraint. i'd say way too much.

assaulting a cop is serous, as is resisting arrest. he should have tased her, or whipped out the pepper spray.

the whole time, he was ordering her to stop resisting, but she kept it up. she's damn lucky.

like i said, i seen friends tossed around pretty hard... and you learn from that.
i know i did: do not touch or threaten the cop.
most of them are fully capable of whipping your ass within a heartbeat anyway, so why deal with added injury to go with the additional legal penalty.

Gino said...

ok, i mixed the two women up. i didnt get a clear look at the face of the one who was hit.
but still, that shot should have dropped her if he wanted it to.

Dave said...

I'm certainly more sympathetic towards this cop than the one from Massachusetts who arrested that Harvard professor.

Boortz pointed out on his site that some police groups, faced with increasing scrutiny from video cell phones, want to criminalize the filming of police officers. I obviously am strongly opposed to that, especially in public. Hell, I'm opposed to police lobbying the government in general, for reasons I discussed during the Gates/Harvard police kerfuffle a few months ago. While this particular cop may be justified due to the "victim's" behavior, I still get a sense that police in the US view the public less as their wards and more as their opponents.

Brian said...

Dave--I am very surprised to find myself on the side of the cop in this one, because I usually am not for the reasons you mention here (and others.)

It's already illegal to video cops in many jurisdictions (Balko writes about this a lot). I sincerely hope nothing happens to this cop as a result of this incident, not only because I think he was in the right (or at least not clearly in the wrong) but because it would make great ammunition for people who want to push the anti-cop-taping thing further.

chris said...

This doesn't need an investigation. The video clearly shows that he should be suspended primarily for not being able to put a woman on the ground and cuff her.