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omkhan
July 23, 2009, 06:02 AM
I was browsing through websites and came across this item:

http://www.philly.com/philly/news/51196597.html?page=1&c=y


Lawless was standing at the counter of the store, at Comly Road and Roosevelt Boulevard, smiling and chatting with the clerk, when she was grabbed from behind and violently pushed back with a police officer's gun in her face.

"He hit me with his left hand, and he had his gun in his right hand," Lawless said. "He pushed his gun into the left side of my neck. It caused a scrape-type bruise on my neck."

After a chaotic struggle, Lawless was arrested and charged with assaulting the officer.

Lawless and her three friends, all in their early 20s, filed complaints with the Police Department's Internal Affairs Bureau. But in cases in which it's a defendant's word against a police officer's, the benefit of doubt often falls to the cop.

Except when there's video.


Which got me thinking that what defense do a civilan has if a uniformed person starts a confrontation unprovoked and without any misconduct on the part of the civilian, threatening with a deadly weapon etc. Can deadly force be used against such LEO considering the fact that a deadly weapon is present and being used in a threatened matter? You never know whether the LEO is bluffing or is serious in doing you harm? What would be the legal issues attached with such scenario?

Lets hear your comments and advises.

Thanks

Edward429451
July 23, 2009, 06:44 AM
My first thought was...would you not react based on the uniform?

My instinct tells me to forget the uniform and react to the man and the surrounding circumstances.

Uniforms do not mean much nowadays, costume shops abound.

It may or may not be that simple but is a good place to start.

You know if you've been up to activities that would cause a good cop to accost you without warning, if you have, where are the other cops? If you haven't, defend thyself. LEO's are supposed to identify themselves before they accost you. Unless you're a wanted murderer, that type of behavior coming from a uniformed individual suggests that they may not be bonafide LEO.

In short, it seems to me that...a don't respect the uniform, respect the man type attitude will keep you safer than blind obsequious cooperation to a uniform.

No disrespect to badge wearing men of integrity intended.

DT Guy
July 23, 2009, 07:05 AM
Based solely on that video-a very dangerous proposition, I'll admit-I'd have treated that individual like any other individual pointing a gun at me would get treated.

Having his weapon DRAWN in that circumstance, with no deadly threats present or implied, is reckless, IMHO. He was a fatal incident trying to occur-


Larry

MLeake
July 23, 2009, 07:07 AM
If I put a gun to somebody's head like that after a traffic incident, it would be aggravated assault charges for the gun, and battery for the scratches and bruises, especially if it were caught on video.

I'm usually pro-cop, but this guy needs to be charged and fired.

Sparks2112
July 23, 2009, 08:40 AM
Wow. Just, wow.

Fremmer
July 23, 2009, 08:54 AM
You never know whether the LEO is bluffing or is serious in doing you harm?

Police officers don't bluff. You'd better do what you're told, and when you're told to do it. You can make your complaint and hire your lawyer later. :rolleyes:

Hope this doesn't devolve into a "when can I shoot a cop" thread.

Housezealot
July 23, 2009, 08:55 AM
I'm usually pro-cop, but this guy needs to be charged and fired.
I could not agree more, shouldn't LEO's be held to a higher standard? no citizen would get away with this.
I have to belive that all the good cops out there have to be enraged by the few idiots that behave this way.
next time you have to deal with a cop thats just trying to do his job think how lucky you are not to have ended up with this guy

Brian Pfleuger
July 23, 2009, 09:19 AM
"The incident provides a vivid example of how the countless video recordings generated today by security cameras and cell phones are affecting police worK."

No their not, their affecting prosecution of criminal behavior, which is what this is.

There are two answer to this question:

1)The law in many areas allows for the use of force, including deadly force, to resist unlawful use of force by a police officer. That said, you DO NOT want to go down that road.

2)The smart thing to do is comply and file a complaint. The cop is not going to just shoot you. If you comply then you might be arrested and put in jail, maybe a little beat up, nothing more. Then you can file a complaint, just like this girl did. If you resist with force, especially deadly force, then you're not going to get much sympathy and even if you win in the end, it's not likely to have you believing that you did the smartest thing.

3) (Just for kicks) This level of unjustified force, against a more or less law abiding person, is extremely rare. There are more important things for us to worry about than what we will do if we're attacked by a rogue cop.



Just to play the devils advocate, this girl DID leave the scene of an accident. They describe it as a "fender bender" but it's possible that she did commit a crime by leaving the scene. So arresting her, or at least detaining her, until the story was straight, may well have been justified. (Not quite like that however)

CWPinSC
July 23, 2009, 09:24 AM
Defend yourself?
How? He's got a GUN on you. You gonna draw against a drawn weapon? Adios, amigo! He has handcuffs, pepper spray, and a baton. That's a lose-lose answer.

Ignore the uniform?
OK, that gives him further provocation. Yes, uniforms can be rented, but the special insignia and badges can't be. It helps to be knowledgeable about the insignia and badges worn by the LEOs in your area.

LEOs held to a higher standard?
Darn right, they should be!


Shoot a cop?
Yes, I guess you can. But you'd better be right and have PLENTY of witnesses, video, AND a GOOD lawyer 'cause you're in deep kim-chee.

Do what you're told, when you're told to do it. Don't resist. Hire a lawyer and make a complaint and file charges later.
BINGO! Right answer!

grymster2007
July 23, 2009, 09:26 AM
I've always considered myself fairly safe in complying with the demands of people who appear to be LEOs, but more and more I wonder. The story of the guy who was killed in his swim trunks is pretty scary and at least to me, these types of stories seem ever more common.

It certainly appears the officer in this case acted completely inappropriately, but I think she may have been better off just hitting the deck, face down, arms out. Not that she did anything wrong, but the cop was so out of control I think doing so may have defused the situation much quicker. So, does the OP think that the woman might have gained anything by trying to disarm the officer or by using force (deadly or otherwise) against him? I tend to think she may have ended up dead or in prison if she had done so.

Yeah, cops like that are scary, but I think immediate compliance will be the best course of action in almost every case.

SwampYankee
July 23, 2009, 09:42 AM
The article goes on to say:

Once surveillance video from the store's four security cameras was released, the case against Lawless collapsed, and disciplinary action commenced against the officer, Alberto Lopez Sr. A lawsuit against the city is likely.

It also mentions that the cop making the arrest was THE FATHER of the person she had gotten into an accident with. Conflict of interest, anybody?

Officer Lopez entered the store with his son and got into a physical confrontation with Lawless. Lawless ended up in cuffs, charged with assaulting Lopez.


"I had noticed his son as the guy who had hit us," Lawless said, "and [Officer Lopez] was screaming, 'You think you can hit my son and get away with it, you think you can (EXPLETIVE) with me?' "


The cop was acting like a jerk because his son was in the accident (and possibly caused it?). He should have been smart enough to send another cop. Stupidity has its costs, hopefully this guy loses his job and serves a good example to the rest of his department. Don't think I am picking on cops, I'm not. My brother and father were cops. But cops are not immune to stupidity and consequences.

Read the whole story, it is terribly enlightening.

Cosmic Zamboni
July 23, 2009, 10:08 AM
If you ever decide to use deadly force to defend yourself against a LEO, just make sure you have a video of the event.

I've always been concerned about the small percentage of LEOs who are out of control cowboys, compared to the large majority who are consciencious and professional. The ubiquitous presence of video cameras, in spite of the personal privacy concerns, does at least help protect us against these few who need to be weeded out of the community.

bds32
July 23, 2009, 12:11 PM
A couple of observations from an LEO:

In my opinion, the police officer believed that someone in the other party was armed with handgun. This was based on his brandishing of his service pistol and the statement of his son who said one of the men in the other party made a threat indicating a firearm. I believe this statement was validated by the discovery of a firearm in the glovebox. Although not disclosed, it's possible the son may have caused the problems by indicating he had a firearm during the roadside confrontation prompting statements to the same by the other party.

However, the police officer was too emotionally involved and handled the situation horribly. He should have reported the incident to other patrol officers in that area and had them respond. At the very least, he should have waited for parties to leave the store and then contact them with sufficient back-up, using common sense. His son should have never been allowed to enter the store with police. This is what happens when you allow your profession to become personal.

Last thing, you always have the right to defend yourself from a peace officer's unlawful use of excessive force (not for an unlawful arrest). The best thing to do is to submit the peace officer's authority if he is using a reasonable amount of force and then fight it later if you're innocent. If the force becomes excessive, protect yourself from harm, using only that force that is necessary.

Sparks2112
July 23, 2009, 12:22 PM
A couple of observations from an LEO:

In my opinion, the police officer believed that someone in the other party was armed with handgun. This was based on his brandishing of his service pistol and the statement of his son who said one of the men in the other party made a threat indicating a firearm. I believe this statement was validated by the discovery of a firearm in the glovebox. Although not disclosed, it's possible the son may have caused the problems by indicating he had a firearm during the roadside confrontation prompting statements to the same by the other party.

However, the police officer was too emotionally involved and handled the situation horribly. He should have reported the incident to other patrol officers in that area and had them respond. At the very least, he should have waited for parties to leave the store and then contact them with sufficient back-up, using common sense. His son should have never been allowed to enter the store with police. This is what happens when you allow your profession to become personal.

Last thing, you always have the right to defend yourself from a peace officer's unlawful use of excessive force (not for an unlawful arrest). The best thing to do is to submit the peace officer's authority if he is using a reasonable amount of force and then fight it later if you're innocent. If the force becomes excessive, protect yourself from harm, using only that force that is necessary.

First off, I'm VERY pro LEO. That having been said, I think the son mis-represented the situation to his father, who then proceeded to lose any resemblance to a sane human being, let alone a LEO.

From my reading of the encounter the LEO and the Son then made the decision to lie about the circumstances somewhere in the middle of the encounter. IMO the Leo was not acting like he believed a handgun was present. If he had thought as much why did he not:


wait for backup before confronting potentially armed suspects
order individuals to the ground before entering into a physical confrontation with one of them
search individuals after they were on the ground or act like they might be armed


On a side note, I'm almost 100% positive by reading the report that the son carried a firearm into a police station, which I'm pretty sure is illegal EVERYWHERE (correct me if I'm wrong).

(BH)
July 23, 2009, 12:28 PM
Wow. That's just not right.

If he was too worked up and personally involved, he should have let another officer take over.

If a cop gets in a fight with his neighbor, is it ok to go over and accost him at gunpoint and then charge him with assault on an officer when he attempts to defend himself?

I don't think it's right for a LEO to intervene in any situation where he has personal ties to any individual involved, unless it's a matter of the "gravest extreme".

Yellowfin
July 23, 2009, 12:43 PM
The smart thing to do is comply and file a complaint. The cop is not going to just shoot you. You're willing to take that kind of chance with your life? There's a lot of people in lots of countries in the world with unsavory governments (that the one we have is slowly starting to more resemble in a few places) who if they were still alive would beg to differ. If you comply then you might be arrested and put in jail, maybe a little beat up, nothing more. We'll remind you to say that again when it's your wife that's happening to and see if we get the same.

I for one am concerned not only with rotten apples in general but those in places where lawfully armed citizens are rare and thus the temptation is great to take advantage of monopoly of force. Thankfully our country is seeing an increase in freedom at the moment but were the reverse to be true, and a change of political climate could make it so, it could be a serious problem to deal with. It already may be from time to time in some heavily populated areas with lock step judiciaries.

armsmaster270
July 23, 2009, 01:45 PM
As a Retired LEO I hope he is fired for his conduct. His Son hit them in a rear ender he is not much of a cop if he didn't notice that minor detail.

Brian Pfleuger
July 23, 2009, 02:09 PM
You're willing to take that kind of chance with your life?

It is far more likely that the person is a genuine police officer than not. The real chance you are taking is fighting. If someone approaches me that looks like a cop and gives me orders like a cop, I'm going to ASSUME that they are a cop, even if I don't like the way I'm treated. Besides that, a person would have to go to serious lengths to look identical to local LE. I know the uniforms and I know the cars. The situation of a convincing "fake" cop is so remotely unlikely that acting in any other way exposes you to FAR more risk than does compliance.

Especially in this situation, it could easily be seen, in short order, that the person arrived in a police car. They weren't alone in the middle of the desert, there was 4 or 5 people at a convenience store.


We'll remind you to say that again when it's your wife that's happening to and see if we get the same.

My wife and I won't leave the scene of an accident. My wife and I won't argue with or resist a police officer. If, in some far off fantasy land, my wife is in a confrontation with a belligerent police officer, I most certainly will not be shooting at him.


I am NOT defending this mans actions. He should be fired, no doubt. However, not leaving the scene of an accident and complying with law enforcement instructions would have gone a long way to preventing or mitigating this scenario.

MLeake
July 23, 2009, 02:27 PM
... according to the victim and her friends, the LEO's son is the one who first rear-ended them (should be easily established by investigators) and then left the scene.

Since I can't think of why a rear-ended driver would flee the scene, that makes sense. The driver who would have legal trouble would be the one with front end damage, in the vast majority of cases. Article said it was a low speed collision, so I have to wonder if a cell phone were involved, but that isn't mentioned anywhere in the report as given.

Staying at the scene of the accident, after the driver who caused the wreck had departed, would comply with the letter of the law. However, if no major damage were done, no injuries were incurred, and especially if the car's occupants didn't get the make, model and plate number (they said the recognized the driver, so maybe they had the other info, or maybe they had fixated on the driver) it's not hard to imagine they'd just opt to leave and not bother reporting it.

This incident is a good example of why they should have reported it anyway, but I think a large percentage of drivers, given the same circumstances, might have just shrugged it off and gone on their way after the other driver had departed.

The video didn't support the claim that the woman had not initially followed the officer's instructions. He claimed he'd ordered them all to the floor, and that the men had complied, before he laid hands on the woman. The video clearly showed that this was not the case. The cop physically grabbed the woman and shoved a gun in her face before anybody there had time to react in any way. The store clerk's testimony supported the video.

So, PK, if a cop came into a store while you were there with the wife, and he had a uniform and if he had arrived in a patrol car, but his first action was to effectively assault your wife, how would that modify your reaction?

Edward429451
July 23, 2009, 02:37 PM
I speculate that the boy waved them off fearing police involvment for the accident that was his fault...and then lied to his daddy who went off half cocked.

??

Brian Pfleuger
July 23, 2009, 02:51 PM
So, PK, if a cop came into a store while you were there with the wife, and he had a uniform and if he had arrived in a patrol car, but his first action was to effectively assault your wife, how would that modify your reaction?

Are you suggesting that I should shoot him? Are you suggesting that I should argue with him? Maybe I should jump on the guy? What could POSSIBLY be the positive outcome of any of those actions?

I'd say "Honey, do as he says, right now." and I'd do the same. Basically, if you lay on the floor with your arms out then what else is the guy going to do? All he can do is handcuff you and maybe kick you around a little. Much better than being dead.

In the end, it's no different than what happens when LE is unreasonable at a traffic stop. Arguing gets you nothing, BEST CASE. If you really tick them off, it can get you arrested, beat up, pepper sprayed, who knows....

Keep your mouth SHUT. Do as you're told. Deal with it later. I'd rather be beat up and alive than "right" and dead.

MLeake
July 23, 2009, 02:58 PM
and I agree that compliance is the better initial response; however, your previous post seemed to be assigning more blame to the victim than the cop. This probably was not your intent, but it read that way. Based on news articles and especially the video, the cop lied through his teeth, and he deserves none of the benefit of the doubt that I usually give to cops.

Innocent until proven guilty, sure, but I don't think it would have been hard to prove. Looks like the DA didn't want to upset the PD.

Given the circumstances in this scenario, comply, but immediately get an attorney and make sure they interview the clerk and subpoena the security tape.

I had thought about asking what the response should be if the cop had really gone into a beatdown mode on the girl, but I think we probably don't want to go there. I don't think the thread could remain civil.

Brian Pfleuger
July 23, 2009, 02:59 PM
I agree completely.

markj
July 23, 2009, 04:30 PM
A bad situation that could have been a lot worse. Cops are people and as such can act in unatural ways.

hogdogs
July 23, 2009, 04:39 PM
If I am wrongly aggressively treated by a LEO, I hope he only has a pistol drawn... not one them pee yer pants tasers! I can scrap with a guy holding a gun, but don't even want to get tased!:eek: Can you imagine the embarrassment of peein' yer britches in public?:o
In all seriousness I am pro LEO so long as they act within the scope of duty with the respect for citizens we deserve and I demand. Get too frisky with me without due cause and I will surely tow the line and bow up equal and commensurate to your uncalled for behavior up to and including putting a death grip on your firearm with one hand (the reason I would refrain if it is a taser) and throwing punches with the other...
I know it would likely go south for me in a hurry but I just don't got much "back up" or "quit" in me! Too many years with bulldogs I guess.
Brent

(BH)
July 23, 2009, 05:03 PM
I speculate that the boy waved them off fearing police involvment for the accident that was his fault...and then lied to his daddy who went off half cocked.


Edward, I do believe that you are on to something my friend.....

WIN71
July 23, 2009, 05:06 PM
I just don't got much "back up" or "quit" in me! Too many years with bulldogs I guess.
Mind over matter they say. It could be handy if you ever find yourself in a defendant type situation.

Sometimes you're better off with Grayhounds.

hogdogs
July 23, 2009, 05:13 PM
Sometimes you're better off with Grayhounds.
I just snarked coffee out my nose all over my walnut and oak veneer desk and electronics picturing my ugly mug on a greyhound runnin' "like the wind"... Come to think of it... I like your use of that breed to counter my analogy but figure my ugly mug is better suited on a bulldog body rather than the svelte runnin' dog!:D
Brent

OuTcAsT
July 23, 2009, 05:26 PM
I just don't got much "back up" or "quit" in me! Too many years with bulldogs I guess.

Naw, just the "hillbilly way" ;)

csmsss
July 23, 2009, 06:10 PM
The LEO in this case went way, way, way beyond the scope of his authority, and in my opinion, anyone in that store would have been justified in drawing down on him, and shooting him if he did not drop his weapon. He committed aggravated battery against Ms. Lawless (this is obvious to anyone who watched it) while brandishing a firearm. His status as a law enforcement officer works against him, not for him, in that circumstance. He was not responding to a call - he was proactively and without any foundation whatsoever attacking a citizen. I hope Ms. Lawless and the others are able to take everything he owns.

pax
July 23, 2009, 06:45 PM
Closed.

pax