There are three kinds of resistance an officer will face: Passive, “Egressive” and Active.
Passive: Dead weight; an abortion protester for example.
Egressive: This is a term coined to describe a subject’s efforts to break free from police and escape.
Active: This is the most serious level of resistance. The subject is trying to overpower an officer with the intent to harm or kill him.
- In Ferguson, Missouri evidence from three independent investigations is conclusive that Officer Wilson was faced with active resistance.
- In the Staten Island, New York officers were faced with low-level egressive resistance from Eric Garner.
Police can lawfully use force to:
- Effect an arrest
- Prevent escape
- Overcome resistance
- Maintain order
The amount of force used must be reasonable as measured by the totality of circumstances. Contrary to public opinion, when there is a complaint regarding police misconduct in general or excessive force in particular, police can and do more often than not properly police themselves. Of course, this requires integrity-centered leadership in the organization. Today’s call for police reform argues a need for citizen review boards and/or federal oversight. Citizen review boards and Federal oversight do not guarantee impartiality, morality or accountability.
I sat on a police peer review board. The board’s findings resulted in a ruling of negligence for excessive force and the termination of an officer. Bad apples and the incompetent have short careers. The problem is that too often these officers are recycled. Unless decertified by the state it is common that they are hired by another agency resembling the game whack a mole. Background checks do not always reveal the truth surrounding the circumstances of an officer’s “resignation” due to tight-lipped Human Resource managers.
In light of the unrelenting, biased media coverage against white male police officers, one must know that it is no truer that all white male officers are bad than it is that all minority officers are good or somehow better. It is racist toward whites to suggest that by merely diversifying the ranks − in favor of minorities – the alleged problem will be fixed. Misfits and predators of all races wear badges. In my police career I found that criminal police offenders mirror offender demographics in the civilian world. The same goes for the military. It stands to reason that lowering hiring standards in order to increase diversity for diversity’s sake will actually increase the amount of police misconduct. Standards must matter over diversity. Otherwise, citizens will go from the current situation of crying about a mythical crisis to suffering a real one.
More to the point, there is no evidence to prove the premise of a systemic problem of “white male, racist cops.” The purported cure for the Big Lie is itself the danger. In this case the poison is the medicine because it will be prescribed to a misdiagnosis.
The media have framed a context of discourse around police that is inverted. Without regard to truth and reason white male police officers are cast the villain. The ignorant have digested the false narrative; they feel righteous in their protests. They are unwittingly ushering in changes that will destroy professional police agencies.
Nobody in their right mind with the desirable qualities and traits long expected of police will apply. Who does that leave to wear the badge? These changes will bring increased crime on the streets, police corruption and federal tyranny. To use the vernacular of those carrying signs or wearing t-shirts that say, “Hands Up Don’t Shoot” or “I Can’t Breathe” ― these protesters are “tools” being “clowned” and “played.” To use Lenin’s term, they are useful idiots.
The federal government wants a big footprint in local police departments. The media’s character assassination of police built on a false crisis will be used to argue federal oversight. Federal “fixes” will destroy professional policing and local control. They will bring about truly systemic problems of increased crime, police corruption and incompetence. The duped pubic will then cry for yet more federal help. Over time this merger will evolve into the de jure or de facto federalization of police.
Use of Force
A good use of force policy is written loosely so as to allow some flexibility for unusual or extreme situations. For example, striking a subject in the head with a rock would generally be against policy, but if an officer tumbles down a hill fighting a suspect, breaks his strong-side hand, and is losing the fight to the point he feels he could go unconscious or be killed, then making an improvised weapon from anything could and should be within policy.
The Staten Island situation where Eric Garner died is an example of the use an unauthorized technique. There is no question that force was warranted. Officers were making an arrest and overcoming resistance. The question is whether or not the totality of circumstances necessitated the unauthorized choke hold. The trivial nature of the offense is irrelevant to the ensuing struggle. Like any lawful police contact the suspect has a duty to comply and the officer has a duty to apprehend: therein lies the conflict.
An officer cannot argue qualified immunity as a defense for using an unauthorized technique unless other force options were not available, not justified, or used and proved ineffective. Were other force options available to officers facing Eric Garner? It appears so. Let’s look at the options.
Taser: NYPD does not issue Tasers to every officer. If an officer on-scene was armed with a Taser, its use would have been unwise. Mr. Garner was an obese man. Being shot with the Taser would cause him to fall. He could have broken his skull on the sidewalk and died. Not using a Taser was wise.
Baton: Mr. Garner’s level of resistance did not warrant that level of force. Not using a baton was wise. Furthermore, consider for a moment that Mr. Garner’s level of resistance did justify the use of a baton(s). Imagining the optics of the media would have caused officers to second guess that option.
Empty hand control holds: This was tried twice, but Mr. Garner effectively parried away those consecutive attempts by two officers.
Pepper spray: Pepper spray followed by a common peroneal strike and an arm bar take down was an appropriate option, but was not used. Perhaps the plain clothes officers were not carrying pepper spray. Hindsight is 20/20. Maybe waiting a short time for a uniformed, fully equipped officer to arrive could have made this option available. We know that uniformed officers were nearby based on how quickly they arrived once the struggle ensued. There was no urgency to go hands-on by the first officer, but when he initiated the arrest things became fluid due to Mr. Garner’s resistance.
The Grand Jury’s decision stands, but officer Pantaleo could still face internal discipline, a civil suit for wrongful death and federal charges. Officer Pantaleo used an unauthorized technique. Again, he can argue a defense of qualified immunity if he can prove that other options were not available to him and that he had to act immediately.
One relevant point not yet raised in the media is details about Mr. Garner’s arrest history. We know he was arrested thirty times over thirty-four years. Did any of those arrests include a violent offense or resisting arrest? Did the officer(s) know Mr. Garner’s potential for violence based on his criminal history and previous police contacts? Conversely, did his record show no violent history despite his many arrests?
Police dispatch alerts officers about the “highlights” of a subject’s arrest record that come up on the screen in order to caution them about the potential for resistance, flight or attack. The kinds of information shared are wanted status, no contact orders, assault, battery, resisting arrest, eluding, and carrying a concealed weapon. Knowledge of Mr. Garner’s arrest history could be a reason why officer Pantaleo took swift action against this “no person.”
The media continue to call officer Pantaleo’s action an “illegal” choke hold. Words mean things. The hold was not illegal, it was unauthorized. In other words, it was not on the list of NYPD approved techniques permitted in normal or common offender encounters.
What Really Happened to Mr. Garner
The decision to initiate the arrest was not made by Officer Pantaleo. It was the short officer in the black t-shirt with “D.D.” on the back that initiated the arrest. He tried to grab Mr. Garner’s right wrist. Mr. Garner used egressive resistance to break free. Officer Pantaleo then followed up on the first officer’s failed effort. Officer Pantaleo attempted to control Mr. Garner by grabbing his right wrist from behind. When Mr. Garner defeated that attempt Officer Pantaleo immediately attempted to apply a head-and-arm rear choke. He did this by sliding his right arm deep under Mr. Garner’s right arm and then placing his left arm around Mr. Garner’s neck. The interference of police bodies in front of the camera does not make clear when or if Officer Pantaleo was able to complete the intended technique. The completion and effectiveness of the intended hold was compromised due to Mr. Garner’s unruly mass and height disparity relative to Officer Pantaleo.
The choke hold attempt turned to a clumsy takedown that was frustrated when the intended direction was reversed by Mr. Garner’s opposing body mass. Still, Mr. Garner’s fall was softened by Officer Pantaleo’s body. I could see no frames of footage that showed the head-and-arm rear choke hold was completed in text-book fashion, but it is clear in the video that once on the ground, Officer Pantaleo is holding on firmly around Mr. Garner’s neck. At that point you can see that Officer Pantaleo’s right arm had changed position. It was no longer under Mr. Garner’s right arm. Officer Pantaleo’s right hand fingers are clasping his left hand fingers (hooked) in a modified LVNR (lateral vascular neck restraint). Officer Pantaleo is not on top of Mr. Garner, but behind him, chest-to-back. This is an important point to note because it argues against chest compressional asphyxia; one of the causes of death in the coroner’s summary. Officer Pantaleo releases his grip and uses his right hand to grab Mr. Garner’s extended right arm in a failed effort to place it behind his back to be handcuffed. Officer Pantaleo then releases his left arm from around Mr. Garner’s neck and transitions to his knees. He uses both hands to hold Mr. Garner’s head down against the pavement. You can hear Mr. Garner say repeatedly, “I can’t breathe.” Were either the head-and-arm rear choke hold or the LVNR applied successfully it is unlikely Mr. Garner would have been able to speak at all.
The city coroner called Mr. Garner’s death a “homicide.” Most people erroneously equate that word to mean murder. Ignorance of the legal definitions and distinctions between the two words has caused emotion to run away and unwarranted criticism of the Grand Jury system. Homicide is the killing of one human being by another. Not all homicides are crimes. Homicide that stem from self-defense, pure accident, act of war and capital punishment are non-criminal. Murder is the intentional, unlawful killing of one human being by another (sane) person.
The city coroner determined the cause of death was compression of neck and chest combined with Mr. Garner’s positioning on the ground. Additional contributing factors were acute bronchial asthma and hypertensive cardiovascular disease.
Prior to reading a summary of the coroner’s findings and only viewing the video it looked to me as though Mr. Garner’s death might have been “positional asphyxia” due to the duration and position of his obese body on the ground. Though officers were standing over and around him, I saw no additional body weight on him to argue “compressional asphyxia” to the chest. Mr. Garner’s own weight on his chest under any circumstance would certainly make it difficult for him to breathe. What is being argued in the media is intentional, “mechanical asphyxia” (air choke) as the cause of death. The coroner’s summary supports mechanical asphyxia, but the aggravating factors are being ignored or marginalized; without those Garner would not have died. I have to wonder if the pressure for social justice influenced the coroner to switch the order of the primary and contributing causes of death.
As opposed to the head-and-arm rear choke hold, the LVNR is authorized by some agencies, but many have removed it as a force option in favor of the Taser. This is a mistake because Tasers are overused, not fail-proof and can cause more damage than an LVNR when a subject freefalls to the pavement.
When used properly an LVNR will prevent a subject from talking. In fact, when fully applied the LVNR results in the subject passing out due to disrupting blood flow. The failed choke hold on Mr. Garner no doubt compromised his airflow, but did not stop it as evidenced by his ability to speak. In addition to positional asphyxia, aggravating factors in Mr. Garner’s death were no doubt his obesity, his excited state and other health problems. There is no argument that this was a preventable death, but it was not murder. Misdemeanor manslaughter was as close as the Grand Jury could have come to a criminal charge, but they weighed the evidence and circumstances deciding otherwise; we must accept their decision.
Mr. Garner was not “killed” by police. Saying police “killed him” implies the officer(s) had intent. Murder is the unlawful and intentional killing of a (sane) human being. Examples of lawful killing are acts of war, self-defense and capital punishment. The unauthorized techniques by Officer Pantaleo (the attempted head-and-neck rear choke, followed by the attempted or modified LVNR), were effective. These unauthorized techniques ultimately did place Mr. Garner on the ground and stopped his further resistance. He did not die on the pavement.
In my opinion, the primary factor that led to the death of Mr. Garner has been conspicuously overlooked by the media: Negligence on behalf of the police supervisor on-scene. The sergeant did not alert on the signs that the arrest was turning to a medical emergency. The sergeant was not supervising. Mr. Garner’s repeated and strained admonishments to officers, “I can’t breathe” were ignored. The sergeant should know that the first of sixteen cues of high-risk individuals for sudden and in-custody death is a big belly (John G. Peters, Jr. Institute for the Prevention of In-Custody Deaths, Inc. 2005). Why has this NYPD sergeant been spared the scrutiny of the media and DOJ?
Do you recall the name Stacy Koon of Rodney King fame? He was the LAPD sergeant on-scene. It is fair to ask, if Sergeant Koon was a black female, like the NYPD sergeant that stood over Mr. Garner, would he have dodged media scrutiny too and not gone to federal prison? Nobody died in the King case. In fact, King’s injuries were far less serious than what his attorney embellished. Mr. Garner died. Yet, the media’s finger of scrutiny has not pointed beyond Officer Pantaleo.
Truth and reason are being choked out by emotion, political and racial bias; all byproducts of the Big Lie. Like the Ferguson incident, the media have spun the Staten Island incident and mischaracterized Officer Pantaleo’s conduct as a racially motivated murder. Race had no relevance to the contact. It was Mr. Garner’s behavior that caused police to contact him. It was Mr. Garner’s behavior that caused force to be used on him.
Would it be relevant for me to always describe the on-scene Staten Island, NYPD supervisor as the “black, female sergeant?” No. The sergeant’s race and gender had no more to do with Mr. Garner’s death than did his race and gender. Yet the media spin race when it suits their agenda. In the Ferguson case they referred to Officer Wilson as white and Michael Brown as black when there was no evidence of racial bias. In Ferguson like the Staten Island case and thousands of police contacts daily across the country everything that unfolded was initiated by the suspect’s behavior. For Mr. Garner, first it was his petty criminal act and then resisting arrest. Race has no relevance in the analysis of police conduct in either case. No matter though, the media spin it that way.
The media are in bed with the White House and DOJ trying to break the back of police in this country. The Marxist revolution has entered a violent phase. The fuel is selective outrage spun by President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, the likes of Al Sharpton, and the media. Facts are inverted. Lies look like truth. Rebellion looks righteous.
Wrongfully discrediting police will have devastating consequences to our future. Nobody in their right mind will apply to be a police officer. Through attrition the professional officers will disappear including command staff. The recruiting bar will have to be lowered in order to fill the ranks. We will suffer the unscrupulous with a badge. Police and gangster will be weighed as the lesser of two evils. The pool left to promote from will become shallow. It will yield inept, under qualified police administrators. Their lack of competence and lack of confidence will steer them to be directed by the federal puppet masters. They will look the part in a photo with stars and bars on their epilates, but always be looking to the feds for direction.
Police will never be perfect. That is an impossible bar. Improvements can always be made and police need to be held accountable, but on the whole we will never have a more professional police force than we have today across the nation. At the same time, minorities (blacks in particular) will never have it better than they do right now in terms of government favoritism, freedom and social mobility.
What happened in Staten Island was truly a tragedy. It was an unintended consequence of three factors: Mr. Garner’s resistance, one police officer’s arguably wrong force option, and the big one: an incompetent sergeant’s inaction. Do not allow the Marxists in the media and Washington DC to recast this tragedy as something it is not. Their goal is to take away local control of police. Anarchy is on the horizon. Anarchy is a power vacuum that will be filled by tyranny. Join me in promoting truth and reason. Support your local police.