Several years ago, the federal Justice Department investigated the Seattle police department after several high-profile incidents of excessive force. In 2011 the investigation concluded that officers use excessive force about 20 percent of the time. It noted that, quoting, the “great majority of the City’s police officers are honorable law enforcement professionals” but that didn't change the fact that a “subset of officers” continued to misuse force.
Which, frankly, is probably true of most police forces.
As part of a settlement agreement with the DOJ, over the past year, the Seattle PD has revised its policies on when police can use force.
In response, some 125 Seattle police officers, about 10% of the police union's membership, filed a lawsuit challenging the new rules. (They did this, I will note in fairness, without the support of the union.)
In their filing, which is in essence a long-winded whine that "it's tough to be a cop," the cops argue that the new rules violate their Constitutional rights under the Second, Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments, which I gather are the only ones they've ever heard of or they would have included more.
The brief asserts that cops have a Constitutional right not to de-escalate a situation before turning to lethal force, asserting that their use of force is Constitutionally protected
regardless of whether or not there existed less intrusive means, or alternatives to self-defense or defense of others, such as inflicting a less serious injury to, retreating from, or containing, or negotiating with a suspect.In other words, these cops are asserting they have a Constitutional right to use excessive, unnecessary force - more bluntly, they can use any level of force, any level of violence, up to and including shooting someone to death, any time they think they should and nobody can say boo.
Happily, these Tonton Macoute wanna-bes had their case summarily rejected by a federal judge who declared that they fundamentally misunderstood, even “grossly misconstrued,” the Constitutional protections they were claiming for themselves. And they very likely will fare no better if they appeal.
But that doesn't change the fact that 10% of the police force of a major city have said in effect that they believe they have the right to beat you, even to kill you, even if alternatives exist. Ten percent of the Seattle police department - not the whole department, but one out of every 10 of them, like the one caught punching a woman in the face - consists of clowns. Dangerous, ignorant, heavily armed clowns - but clowns.
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