*A veteran police officer has some advice for everyone in the wake of unarmed teen Michael Brown being gunned down by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.
“Even though it might sound harsh and impolitic, here is the bottom line: if you don’t want to get shot, tased, pepper-sprayed, struck with a baton or thrown to the ground, just do what I tell you,” Sunil Dutta, a 17-year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department, wrote in a column for The Washington Post.
Dutta cautions against arguing, insulting, or screaming at officers, “and don’t even think of aggressively walking towards me. Most field stops are complete in minutes. How difficult is it to cooperate for that long?”
If you believe an officer is violating your rights or bullying you, Dutta says, don’t challenge him then — save that for lodging a complaint later. “Do what the officer tells you to and it will end safely for both of you.”
Needless to say, his words didn’t go over well online or in social media, CNN reports.
“The outrageous thing is not that he says it. The outrageous thing is that we accept it,” writes Ken White of the blog Popehat, which tracks American legal issues.
“Do we have a justice system? By name, yes. Is it effective in deterring cops from abusing citizens or punishing them when they do? No… If you hope the cop will be charged criminally for misbehavior, you’re going to be waiting a very long time for no result.”
Dutta’s message is to “shut up and take it, because even the slightest bit of intransigence is grounds for the cops to unleash a world of hurt,” writes Benjamin Freed of the Washingtonian. “To say that putting up a verbal argument warrants bringing out the billy clubs, stun guns, or actual guns only stokes what’s been seen coming out of Ferguson in the past week — images of peaceful demonstrators being met with a lines of officers rigged with military-grade equipment, marchers being fogged with canisters of tear gas, and people being slugged with rubber bullets after not moving quickly enough,” Freed complains.
“So, ‘Do what I say or I will hurt/kill you?’ How does that even remotely correspond with ‘To Serve and Protect?’” Carter Gaddis wrote on Twitter, citing the police motto.
Mike Knox, a business owner and father of four in Ferguson, told CNN “people are just tired” of being pulled over when they did nothing wrong, so it’s common to give police attitude in the area. But he teaches his children not to.
Protesters throughout the country say submitting to an officer doesn’t always avoid police brutality. They point to the case of Eric Garner, killed by New York police in a chokehold in July. And in California, a 51-year-old woman was seen on video being repeatedly punched by a Highway Patrol officer.
In a CNN.com column last week, Iris Baez of the Justice Committee in New York wrote that her son died nearly 20 years ago in an illegal police chokehold. “These tragedies and injustices happen year after year, and people of color — primarily black and Latino — are usually the victims.”
“Police-community relations can only start to improve when individual officers who abuse civilians’ rights are held accountable with a zero-tolerance policy for police brutality,” she says.
Authorities in Ferguson say force has been needed to stop the minority of “agitators” who have fomented violence, through gunshots and Molotov cocktails.