Broken shield – part 2

22 Mar

Brocken-shield-sizedWe’ll start off by cautioning we have no idea to know whether this is true or not.

This was in KaLeo – the UH newspaper.
The author was not identified.

We hope it’s not true, or at least there is more to this then what the writer saw.

Regardless, it reminds us of another article, and it needs to be investigated by the Professional Standards Office (formerly Internal Affairs) or the Police Commission.

Leaving an accusation like this on the table does more harm than good.

There was a loud muffler accelerating near my house half past midnight, and I walked outside to discover where the noise was headed. Just past my driveway, I saw a man headed my way at a sprint. Instinctively, I stretched out my foot and tripped what appeared to be a criminal, as he was being chased by several police officers. He fell hard and fast but was immediately back up and running.   I failed to think about why this person was running. Was it fear? Did he actually commit a crime? Was he terrified that the officers chasing him wanted to cause him harm? I didn’t know what he did, but I knew that he was running from the police.   I started chasing him, caught up, grabbed him and pushed him against a fence. He collapsed to the ground, and I kept my distance in case he had a concealed weapon. I saw that this person was not a man but a young teen.

“You need to stop,” I told him, but he felt otherwise and started to run again. Honolulu’s finest were lagging 50 yards behind us. I pursued him again, tackled him to the ground and held him until the police caught up. I moved out of the way as four cops jumped on the kid.

The suspect was already on the ground with his face down and hands out. I know this because I was the one who stopped him. From that moment, he didn’t appear to be a serious threat, although there are necessary precautions that the police take for suspects.

As the first four police officers swarmed over the boy, I saw each of the cops throwing elbows into the boy’s back after he was already handcuffed, along with punches to his stomach. They hit him wherever they could except for the face. Still standing five feet away, I felt guilty because I stopped this person, thinking that I was doing the right thing.

One officer noticed that I was watching them beat the boy and stood in front of me to obstruct my view, but I was still able to see. As he did this, one of the officers beating the boy made eye contact with me and realized I was watching every move they made, at which point he began to scream, “Stop resisting!”

The boy was not resisting, and his hands were cuffed behind his back. By the time the officers caught up to us, the boy didn’t have enough energy to lift himself off the ground, let alone resist the four men pummeling his ribs and abdomen with their fists.

Within another couple minutes, two more officers came up and began repeatedly kicking the boy in the knee; I stopped counting after the first five kicks. I should have let the kid get away because no one deserves this kind of beating. I couldn’t take anymore and began to walk away from the six cop cars and 12 officers. As I left, I turned my head and saw one officer bending the boy’s right leg toward his buttocks, twisting his ankle outward as if he was going to snap it.

What was the point of this other than to cause pain and suffering? My mind was blown by the cruelty. In the United States, are we not innocent until proven guilty? What if they had the wrong person and had beaten someone innocent?  Judging by what I witnessed, this teen was a victim of a broken system.

While talking to one of my neighbors about what happened, a single police officer began to walk down the street toward his parked vehicle, and I asked him about what I had seen. He told me that the suspect was a known assailant with a criminal record, whom they had been trying to catch for some time, and had pulled knives on police officers before.

The officer told me that the reason for the beating was because they were trying to get his hands behind his back – which were already cuffed – and they did not know whether he had a knife or weapon. Then the officer said, “He was probably no older than 17.” Full-grown men, officers of the law who we look to for protection and judgment, tried to beat up a minor.

I respect officers of the law and appreciate their sacrifices. They cannot, however, blur the line between a cautious arrest and police brutality and hope to keep that respect and appreciation intact. Acts of police brutality happen throughout the U.S., and nothing is done about it. We assume that the police know best. If we interfere with what appears to be an unjust arrest, we will be looking at 5 to 10 years for assaulting an officer.

I lost my faith in law enforcement after that night, and I still don’t know whether to feel guilty. But I do know that I will never be able to stand by and let something like that happen again.

*The author of this article personally witnessed the events he or she has described above and has asked to remain anonymous. This article is presented to the UH Mānoa community for the purposes of calling attention to an important community issue and inviting discussion, not to accuse or place blame.

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