Historically, the answer is a resounding no.
If nothing else, cases like Rodney King, Sean Bell, Aiyana Jones, Oscar Grant, and Amadou Diallo have taught us that if you are caught in the crosshairs of the police, there is little you can do to protect yourself.
However, with the rise of the Internet, cell phones that can capture video, and YouTube, police officers are finally being exposed when they cross the line.
Over the weekend, yet another example of possible police brutality surfaced when an Atlanta police officer was caught punching a woman in the face at a local IHOP.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and several videos posted on YouTube, the incident turned violent fairly quickly.
The AJC reports:
It was not clear what started the melee, but the incident started as a conflict between the officer, working a second job at the Buckhead restaurant, and another woman with the one who was hit.
According to several videos posted on YouTube.com, the officer, whose name was not known, shouted at a woman sitting in the corner of a booth near the door and then he lunged at her. A woman wearing a black dress appeared to be trying to separate the officer and her friend when the officer slapped her. The woman in the black dress hit him back, and he punched her in the face.
A second officer came up just as the struggle began. He got involved when it became physical between the first cop and the woman in the black dress, apparently trying to separate them. The first officer pulled the woman in a black dress away from the table, threw her onto the floor and laid on top of her while trying to get handcuffs on one wrist. The second wrist was cuffed when she turned over on her stomach.
Cynthia Freeman, the woman assaulted by the officer, was arrested along with three of her friends and charged with obstruction of justice, criminal trespass and simple battery. According to reports she is recovering from her injuries and trying to decide if she will pursue legal action against the officer.
The Atlanta Police Department said they are investigating the incident and have “referred [it] to our Office of Professional Standards to determine whether department policies and procedures were followed.”
Whenever cases like this occur I often wonder what are our rights when faced with cops who cross the line. Time and time again we’ve heard about cases of excessive force by police officers that get swept under the rug or go unpunished because law enforcement offers are often treated as if they are above the law.
Although I’m not sure how the melee began, what’s clear is slapping and punching a woman in her face does not seem like the proper response for a police officer. I expect better.
What do you think? Did this cop cross the line or was the woman to blame? Sound off!