By Jerome H Skolnick
The now-famous videotape of the thrashing of Rodney King brought on a countrywide outcry opposed to police violence. Skolnick and Fyfe, of the nation's best specialists on legislation enforcement, use the incident to introduce a revealing old research of such violence and the level of its survival in legislation enforcement this day.
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Additional resources for Above the Law. Police and the Excessive Use of Force
Finally, a sergeant came out of the back of the station and proceeded to give Paul King a bureaucratic hard time. The sergeant then left the room for about thirty minutes while Paul King, who had asked about procedures for making a complaint and had told the sergeant about the possibility of a videotape, waited impatiently. When the sergeant returned, instead of addressing Paul’s complaint, he asked whether Paul had ever been in trouble. He told Paul that an investigation was ongoing, and that Rodney was in “big trouble,” since he had been caught in a high-speed chase and had put someone’s life in danger, possibly a police officer’s.
For these officers, the threat of review and censure by higher authority was nonexistent: after all, their comments memorialized their actions only on their department’s electronic records, rather than on a citizen’s videotape. In Los Angeles, the indictments and suspensions came as a shock to the involved officers. They expected the Chief to back them up, as he doubtless had done in the past. But the tape made that impossible, and they were grievously disappointed. The four Los Angeles cops who beat King were indicted by a grand jury on serious felony charges, and appeared to face a bleak future of imprisonment until they were acquitted by a Simi Valley jury.
He may be pushed, shoved, verbally assaulted, and tightly cuffed. By now, however, police have learned from both experience and scholarly studies that most motorists who flee from them are not, in fact, threatening offenders. Instead, like King, fleeing motorists typically are troubled young men with bad driving records whose ability to reason has been altered by drugs or alcohol. But regardless of how relatively minor the violations that lead to their flight, fleeing motorists commit a cardinal sin against the police: instead of submitting immediately, they challenge the police and attempt to escape their pursuer’s authority.