May 5, 2020
If you live in Southern California you’ve likely seen the now viral video of a Los Angeles Police Department officer appearing to use excessive force while detaining a man. The incident reportedly took place on April 27, but the video was only released yesterday via Twitter.
As a former Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles County, I worked closely with dozens of LAPD’s finest on countless high profile cases. I considered them part of my team in helping to bring about justice and convict some of the city’s most loathsome criminals. I have the highest respect and admiration for the job they do every day, the sacrifices they make, and the risk they take each time they put on the uniform.
I truly believe that 99% of the members of the LAPD are good, hardworking professionals whose utmost goal is to serve and protect the members of our community.
However, at first glance this video appears to clearly demonstrate a brazen attack that is unacceptable, and appalling. We, of course, must wait for all the facts to come to light before making a final judgment, and an internal investigation is reportedly already underway. That said, from the current vantage point, and given the information available, this appears to be a case of excessive force that is indefensible. Of course, I will reserve the right to alter my opinions after we receive all the facts.
I find the video extremely troubling on a number of levels. The officer involved in the attack is clearly not upholding the standard of professionalism that I know is paramount to the current culture of the LAPD. An officer who attacks an innocent bystander simply does not deserve to be a member of the Los Angeles Police Department.
Moreover, I find the lack of intervention on the part of the attacking officer’s partner to be inexplicable, and incredibly demoralizing. When tempers flare in tense situations involving police and alleged perpetrators, it’s imperative that partners take an initiative to ensure cooler heads prevail. That was not even attempted in this incident, and it’s truly disappointing to see given the likelihood any intervention on the part of the other officer could have helped to mitigate the situation.
We’re all familiar with the rift between the community and the LAPD in the early 90s. The Rodney King beating and eventual acquittal of the involved officers, as well as the ensuing LA riots represent a dark period in our great city’s history.
Since the early 90s, great strides have been made, and the aforementioned rift has been successfully bridged to a large extent thanks to an effort throughout the LAPD to condemn and refuse to tolerate this kind of excessive force.
It is truly a shame that, after all the progress that has been made over the years, a video like this comes to light. The fallout will undoubtedly be felt throughout the relationship between the community and the police department. What I find so unfortunate is the fact that, when 99% of LAPD’s officers are upstanding professionals, it only takes one bad apple, one unfortunate incident, to undo years of progress and negatively influence the public’s perception of the department.
For the individual who sustained the attack at the hands of the officer, his rights were clearly violated, and he will undoubtedly (and rightfully so) proceed with filing a civil lawsuit against the LAPD, the involved officer, and perhaps even the city. He has every right to do so, and absolutely should. But again, this is such an unfortunate incident because any trial that plays out as a result of this unjustified attack will only further negate the critical progress that has been made over the years.
It’s unfortunate, dispiriting, and unacceptable. My hope is that this incident serves as a reminder to all LAPD officers that they must hold themselves to a higher standard. The effect of failing to do so impacts all of us — members of the community, law enforcement professionals, politicians, etc. No one is immune to the repercussions of this type of excessive force on the part of those we depend on to protect us.
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