Just yesterday I wrote a blog post praising a police officer for doing the right thing. I did so because it is often easy to focus on the negative actions that officers sometimes engage in. Libertarians are often criticized for focusing on the negatives, so I wanted to point out some good.
But then there are the negative stories, which also need to be reported, and two particular stories of police abuse came across my desk the day after I posted the video of an officer arresting a sheriff for drunk driving.
The first involves an off duty officer in a bar. The second involves on duty officers.
I’ll start with the less horrific story. I say less horrific because both stories are horrific and they both end in death, but at least the first one does not involve torture.
It does, however, involve a drunk off duty deputy with a bad temper.
What did it take to set this officer off? According to one witness, a man insulted his dart-throwing abilities:
“My buddy says, ‘Aw, you suck at darts.’ (The man) says, ‘That’s why I’m a cop, I can do whatever I want to do.’”
What did the deputy think was a proper response to that insult? If you guessed a three-shot execution, you would be right:
Hull said his friend, identified only as Danny, asked the man, “Really, you can do anything?” The man then pulled out his gun, Hull said, and after the group repeatedly asked him to put it away he “pops three rounds into my friend Sam.”
The deputy surrendered himself to police without struggle.
The second story comes from Lee County, Florida where a 62-year-old man was arrested for being publicly intoxicated. The man’s wife wanted the cops to take him to a hospital. They took him to the station instead.
Once at the station they stripped the man, tied him naked to a chair, and pepper-sprayed him to death. The district medical examiner has ruled it a homicide:
Tom DePolis spent more than 30 years in law enforcement at the Tampa Police Department and Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. He’s seen first-hand the effects of pepper spray and knows its limitations. He can see no reason for deputies to repeatedly pepper spray Nick Christie since he was already in custody.
“The purpose is to temporarily incapacitate someone — temporarily, that’s the key word, so you can restrain them,” says DePolis.
Monshay Gibbs was a deputy trainee at the jail at the time. In a video deposition, she testified that she thought the way Nick Christie was treated was excessive.
“He had a spit mask on and was naked,” she said on the video while under oath. Gibbs testified that Christie pleaded with guards to take off the spit mask because he couldn’t breathe.
He later died at the hospital. His heart failed from the shock of the pepper spray. The Lee County Sheriffs Office declined to comment on our story because of Joyce Christie’s wrongful death lawsuit, which is scheduled for trial the middle of next year.
It’s been two and a half years and no one has been charged.
- Stay classy, NYPD
- Flashbang no more
- The horrors of a rigid bureaucracy
- Not all cops are bad
- Libertarian dubstep