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Old May 22, 2009, 12:12 AM   #1
Dust Monkey
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El Monte and Alabama excessive force incidents and End of Chase Syndrome

http://blogs.usatoday.com/ondeadline...d-beating.html
http://www.cnn.com/2009/CRIME/05/20/...ng/#cnnSTCText
http://www.ktla.com/news/local/ktla-...,7041275.story

End of Chase

“There is a reason you separate military and police. One fights the enemies of the state, the other serves and protects the people. When the military becomes both, then the enemies of the state tend to become the people.” (Borrowed a quote from a line in BSG, I believe it is apt to this discussion)

We all remember the video of the El Monte Police officer kicking a compliant suspect in the head at gunpoint. We had a discussion about it that was locked down due to personal attacks by some members, including me. This will not happen in this thread. If it does, I will assure you that a MOD will shut it down post haste and deal with the people who can't discuss a topic without attacking the poster. (emphasis added by Antipitas)

I am ex military police/investigations and served in a civilian police department in Texas. Total LE experience just shy of 14 years.

The El Monte incident was not the only incident in recent news to attract my attention. There were 5 Alabama Officers fired after a video surfaced showing them beating an unconscious suspect after a chase. By some reports this video is over a year old and was viewed by several LE supervisors, several in the LE community and Prosecuting Attorneys. Yet not one of them thought something was wrong until the trial. During the trial, the Prosecuting Attorney did not have his edited copy so he asked the defense to borrow their copy. The current Prosecuting Attorney had not seen the entire tape, it was a surprise. Think about that. 5 officers beating the hell out of an unconscious suspect, not a threat to anyone, maybe in need of medical attention at the time himself, not one person thought that this might be wrong. Our Constitution either means something or it does not. If one persons rights are abused, criminals included, we all suffer for it. Those abuses that begin on criminals, end up on the law abiding citizen.

Higher ups in several departments involved saw this video, and no one scratched their head and said, um, wait a minute. It took a year to surface. That folks is sad and alarming at the same time.

These officers were fired, and I believe they need to be charged and prosecuted for several crimes that IMO they are guilty of under color of law. Same with the El Monte Officer, another report has yet another El Monte officer striking the same suspect, but video did not capture it. That kick he gave to the suspect on the ground did not serve any LE purpose. None at all. In the past few days I have had the time to speak with some old friends, some retired LE some current, and all of them agree on what a “distraction blow” is. And they all agree that you never should deliver one, alone, and holding a suspect at gunpoint. Now I believe both of these instances are a result of 2 things. End of chase syndrome and the growing militant behavior/training of today’s peace officers.

The militant attitude that is all consuming in today’s LE is scary. Police should not act like soldiers. Soldiers are trained to kill, period. They are trained to seek out an enemy and kill. They have that mindset instilled during basic training and advanced training. In police schools across the country, that same mindset is being taught. And this is where the two jobs, military and police, clash. A police officers job is not to kill an enemy. It is to prevent crime and arrest those who are a danger to the populace, and to do that while respecting established laws and the civil rights of the population, that also includes the civil rights of the suspect/criminal.

Police are not soldiers in a war. There is not a war going on in any state where the police need to be militant. If there were, you would here about multiple officers being killed by criminals nightly on every news network. So I don’t want to hear any BS about “it’s a war out there”. I was a cop when the war on drugs was started, and it was BS then, and its BS now.

End of chase syndrome is defined as: police beatings like this have no logical explanation why they happen, some cops have described a feeling of excitement during a high speed pursuit. This feeling now has a name. It is called High-Speed Pursuit Syndrome. High-Speed Syndrome is described as a mix between fear, excitement, and adrenaline. This syndrome cause the officer to vent all these emotions on the suspect at the end of the pursuit

It is my opinion that the militant attitudes and training only aggravate this syndrome to the nth degree.

Some folks can’t handle being in LE. I now work in a dangerous industry, Oil and Gas exploration. I know what whenever I step on a location I could be killed. H2S gas, well kick, explosion are among but a few dangers. Some stuff on an Oil rig will hurt you, most will KILL you. My point, don’t try to excuse actions that are wrong by saying that the suspect was the reason you chased them. Or the suspect shot at me. I have worn a badge. You wanted to do the job as a police officer, you knew the risks that come with the job, so do it. There is no excuse for actions as seen in these 2 incidents. No excuse.

More training in civil rights is needed in today’s LE schools. Rights that everybody has, suspects included. Police officers should know that the rights of the populace come first. They should be educated more on End of Chase Syndrome and how to realize the signs just like a fighter pilot receives g-force training and hopefully can see a black out before it happens.
Lets discuss this, nicely and with an attempt to see if there is a solution.
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Last edited by Al Norris; May 22, 2009 at 08:39 AM. Reason: Added emphasis
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Old May 22, 2009, 09:38 AM   #2
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Very nice post. It's almost out of an aggression and violence lecture plus a touch of authoritarianism from a social psych class. Maintaining our values in the face of provocation is an indicator of civilized society.
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Old May 22, 2009, 11:09 AM   #3
maestro pistolero
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There is a reason you separate military and police. One fights the enemies of the state, the other serves and protects the people.
We accept this idea a little too quickly in my opinion. The police are, by definition, law enforcement, and therefore agents of the state. While this role may tangentially protect the public from harm in the broadest sense, it is not primarily the role. And, as we all know, there is no legal duty to protect, or ramifications to fail to protect. Even the oath to uphold and defend the constitution would be willingly supplanted by many, if not most LEs, by an order to the contrary.
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Old May 22, 2009, 11:28 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by maestro pistolero
We accept this idea a little too quickly in my opinion. The police are, by definition, law enforcement, and therefore agents of the state.
Yes they are agents of the state but their roles and training are quite different. One of the reasons we have Posse Comitatus.

Quote:
Originally Posted by maestro pistolero
Even the oath to uphold and defend the constitution would be willingly supplanted by many, if not most LEs, by an order to the contrary.
Not sure I agree with that. Especially if they know the order to be illegal. Many times LE believe the order to be legal and don't find out it is not until after the fact. However, I think if a Chief of Police walked up to a rookie and told him to murder someone or fire into a peaceful crowd most would not obey that order.
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Old May 22, 2009, 01:49 PM   #5
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Yes they are agents of the state but their roles and training are quite different.
I have not been through LE training but I would guess the training would have been, at some point, different. I'm not so sure about modern training.

Another issue is this;

Quote:
I am ex military police/investigations and served in a civilian police department in Texas.
Now while the OP came from a Military LE background, many military veterans go into LE from other types of MOS.

When my hitch was up I left the military with a technical background, and went into a technical field, I brought with me many of the skills and thought-processes that I used during my service.

I would think that same thing would apply to someone who came out of a combat/peacekeeping MOS and went into LE. You might receive additional LE training, but some "skills" just don't get "turned off".

Additionally, the "militarization" of LEAs is becoming more apparent; IE: Uniforms are now adaptations of BDU's Agencies have humvees, APCs, and a general military e'spirit de corps. I am certain that these esoteric appearances are not the only military manifestations that exist in LE today.


Another issue is this;

Quote:
While this role may tangentially protect the public from harm in the broadest sense, it is not primarily the role. And, as we all know, there is no legal duty to protect, or ramifications to fail to protect.
While there is a great deal of "protectionism" in LE it is generally not in the public interest, as they have no responsibility to the public.
And, the immunity from prosecution for crimes committed "In the line of duty" that LE enjoys is another huge problem.
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Old May 22, 2009, 02:00 PM   #6
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When I went through a civilian academy, we were called Peace Officers, not LEO. LE was part of what a Peace Officer did, but he/she did it knowing the risks involved.

I know that some officers leave infantry, force recon, Spec Ops and such to become police officers. IMO That should not happen if you are a 15 year vet of special ops, you really don't need to go straight in to civilian LE. Folks with some MOS's should be banned from being in LE. I am reminded of an incident, I believe it was in CA during the riots. Police were being aided by a Marine unit, I do not remember if the unit was active or reserve, I do think the marines were combat trained, MOS. Police officers were partnered up with marines. A call came in of a shooting. IIRC, 2 officers and 2 marines responded. Shots were still being fired, not in the direction of the police and marines. One of the officers wanted to move to a better vantage point and yelled at the marines to "cover me". Well, they covered him as they had been trained to, by putting several hundred rounds into the house where the shooting suspect was held up.

This is why some military MOS training should bar you from LE work, period.

Quote:
However, I think if a Chief of Police walked up to a rookie and told him to murder someone or fire into a peaceful crowd most would not obey that order.
We are not talking about disobeying an order. These incidents are veteran cops beating the hell out of suspects after chases, in most instances. These veteran cops have been/should have been trained in civil rights as well as proper arrest procedures. Is it ok to get forceful (knee in the back) with a felon being compliant just to ensure officer safety, sure. Beating the hell out of one serves no purpose and turns the cop into a criminal.
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Old May 22, 2009, 02:38 PM   #7
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Southern Justice


A couple of kids in the South get pulled over for speeding. When the trooper approaches the car, the driver says 'What's the problem, sir?'.
The trooper takes out his machined aluminum flashlight and whacks the kid across the head saying 'You don't speak to a state trooper unless you're spoken to'.
The trooper writes out the citation and gives it to the driver who responds 'Thanks a lot'.
The trooper again gives the kid a dose of the flashlight and says 'When you address a state trooper, you finish your sentence with the word sir'.
He then walks over to the passenger side and whacks the other kid with the flashlight.
The kid says 'What was that for, sir?'
The trooper says 'I was just fulfilling your wish.
Y'all wouldn't have gotten 100 yards down this road before you'd have said to your friend, "I wish he'd have hit me with that flashlight", so I fulfilled your wish.'
There is no room for police brutality... if they can't handle the adrenaline rush after a chase I will correct it for them... I can take them on a hog hunt and after we get to the caught boar I can pull the bulldog off and let officer brutal loose on him! Bet he learns to control his adrenaline induced rage after 5 seconds nose to nose with a 250 pound hog!
I am not in LE and one reason is I doubt I could haul some criminals to jail without stoppin off in a dark alley along the way and adrenaline wouldn't even be involved... just plain ol' "pre-trial justice"...
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Old May 22, 2009, 04:50 PM   #8
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I am not in LE and one reason is I doubt I could haul some criminals to jail without stoppin off in a dark alley along the way and adrenaline wouldn't even be involved... just plain ol' "pre-trial justice"...
"A mans gots to know his limitations."
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Old May 22, 2009, 05:35 PM   #9
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Al, I hope that wasn't sarcastic as I agree with the statement fully. I am also not willing to try brain surgery just like many folks won't attempt to repair their car on their own
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Old May 22, 2009, 08:17 PM   #10
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Nah Brent. Just trying to show (with good natured humor) that common sense isn't quite dead.... Maybe I'll just stick to swinging the scythe.
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Old May 22, 2009, 08:35 PM   #11
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Thanx, I was hopin' that was an attempt at humor or agreement... I admit I wouldn't be able to deal with a bunch of the riff raff with out takin' it over the line...
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Old May 22, 2009, 08:50 PM   #12
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Come on guys. Let's not interject common sense into this. Folks might get the wrong idea that we are trying to have an actual civil discussion.
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Old May 22, 2009, 11:07 PM   #13
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turns the cop into a criminal.
Unfortunately this is not always the case.

Granted that in the two incidents in the original post the officers were "caught red handed" as it were, and suffered a loss of job as a punishment, but as I pointed out earlier
LE is usually immune to prosecution in a criminal manner. While they may yet be tried in civil court, and punitive damages may result, that is not enough.

An example which remains in my mind is a case I have discussed here before, a resident of my community was shot and killed by two local LEOs when they kicked in the door of the wrong address to serve a warrant, the homeowner thought he was being robbed, produced a weapon to protect himself, and was killed.

The result was a loss of job, and a hefty civil settlement.
Why ? Because they were acting under "color of law" and an accident happened. I would think the first barrier that needs to be broken down is this kind of "immunity".

If LE had to operate under the same ROE as any other citizen, and with the same consequences possible, this would be a good first step. Assault someone during an attack of "end of chase" syndrome ? Get charged with aggravated assault, weapon also involved ? how about ADW. Break down the wrong door? Breaking and entering.
someone get hurt ? Aggravated burglary. Someone killed?
Criminally Negligent Homicide or 2nd degree murder.

With all due respect to our fine LE members, I know the argument would be akin to; "we would never be able to do our job for fear that every case would result in some kind of bogus charge" Maybe so, but if you have done your job correctly you should have nothing to worry about, and you are, after all, innocent until proven guilty.

ETA: I am not advocating that you be charged for doing your job, but unlike when a mechanic puts on the wrong part, and can go back and fix the problem, when LE does a poor job people pay, sometimes in blood.

Once the law applies equally to everyone, many of the "syndromes" might well correct themselves.
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Last edited by OuTcAsT; May 22, 2009 at 11:31 PM. Reason: Expanding a thought
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Old May 22, 2009, 11:40 PM   #14
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OuTcAsT,

Great post. Right on target. I agree 100%.
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Old May 23, 2009, 12:58 AM   #15
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It's threads like this that make me glad I gave up police work about five years ago.
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Old May 23, 2009, 01:14 AM   #16
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Wagonman,

Why did you leave police work? Your reference to " threads like this ". Care to elaborate?
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Old May 23, 2009, 07:42 AM   #17
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There was an incident a year or two ago in a small town in the Maryland suburbs of Washington in which the police invaded a house that was apparently the wrong house. It turned out to be the house of the mayor of this small town. Fortunately, a local constable and friend of the mayor turned up just in time and stood by the mayor to prevent anything else happening, there being a likelihood of it turning even worse. I wonder how these things get started?

There seems to be an unfortunate trend of militarization of law enforcement. They wear black uniforms and combat boots with black trousers, helmets, shields and the works. They tend to have what used to be called Prussian haircuts as if having hair were immoral. I think these little details cause a little confusion in the minds of some police but there may be other reasons. The police in my small town where I grew up wore white shirts. The police station was built with a garage door front (next to the fire station) and on hot summer days before air conditioning, the entire front of the station was wide open. I guess things change.
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Old May 23, 2009, 09:22 AM   #18
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I live in the same area as the above poster; while no humans were killed, the police did execute the family's labradors, in front of kids I believe. Pretty offensive.

And in northern VA, a SWAT team arrived to bust a local fellow, optometrist if I recall correctly, for gambling on football games in the local sports bar. One of the team bumped his elbow exiting his vehicle; his drawn .45 discharged, killing the gambler. No charges.

Us vs Them has got to stop. We're becoming the disUnited States of Alienation.
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Old May 23, 2009, 10:15 AM   #19
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Us vs Them has got to stop.
It will get much worse before it gets better.
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Old May 23, 2009, 11:17 AM   #20
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After sleeping on this, I have begun to wonder why there are no criminal charges brought against officers that commit such acts, the question was the impetus for my doing some research into my own states laws. After reading the TCA carefully, and from a layman's POV (I realize case law also plays a part) I cannot find any statutes that prohibit such charges from being brought. This is problematic for me.

Who has the responsibility and authority to bring such charges ? Would it not be the States Atty. / Local DA ?

Is it really as simple as the fact that the DA is unwilling to bring such charges ?

Perhaps someone more qualified than I can explain this.


Quote:
Wagonman,

Why did you leave police work? Your reference to " threads like this ". Care to elaborate?
Wagonman, we have discussed things in the past, and I respect your opinions and common sense views, please elaborate. The more input we can get from veterans such as yourself, the clearer the picture becomes for us all. I also hope some active LEOs will join the discussion as well.
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Old May 23, 2009, 12:59 PM   #21
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Why no charges? I suspect it's politics as usual. The DA and the police are on the same team; further, no DA wants to be seen as soft on crime or hard on the police. Then too, there's the internal culture of the police dept. One local county which I will not name has had a racist and trigger-happy reputation for the forty years I've lived in the area. Despite the occasional investigation (FBI was involved, more than once if I recall correctly) nothing really changes. The Chief gets swapped out every so often, but it's difficult to impossible to weed out the folks who shouldn't be carrying anything more lethal than their bare hands. I imagine it must be very frustrating for the honorable and responsible LEOs, to be tarred with the same brush, so to speak.

On the plus side, the local Va dept mentioned in my earlier post is studying alternatives to having SWAT teams serving warrants on non-violent offenders.
I don't think they're looking into why it was thought necessary in the first place. Of course, when you have a weapon available, the tendency is to use it. The availablility of funding from Homeland Security (am I the only one who finds that title a bit disturbing?) has contributed to the development of a lot of para-military equipment and capability in local police departments; possibly a lot more than is needed.
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Old May 23, 2009, 01:17 PM   #22
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There seems to be an unfortunate trend of militarization of law enforcement.
I agree, with family and friends in law enforcement for years I've seen the trend,however one aspect of an officer losing control is how it affects him in his personal life, his family, once he is conditioned to react with force or rage it becomes hard to hold on to reality at home, divorce rate is high among law enforcement.

Truthfully I believe some type of psychological testing every 5 years should be mandatory, it would protect the public and the officer.
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Old May 23, 2009, 01:30 PM   #23
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The second guessing and breast beating about the excesses of Police work are just two of the reasons I and many of my fellow LEOs stopped proactive Police work. We are getting results also, Chicago had more murders than Baghdad last year. But, the bright side a lot less "rights" were violated and I haven't been sued federally in over 6 years.


Quote:
once he is conditioned to react with force or rage it becomes hard to hold on to reality at home
That is an insulting and a Non sequitur. While LEOs have a higher rate of divorce than the GP LEOS have a lower incidence of DV. Unfortunately LEOs harm themselves more than others with their demons.

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Old May 23, 2009, 02:32 PM   #24
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Anyone notice the poor innocent motorist running down the cop who tried to spike the van at the first of the video?

Seems to be getting glossed over by the left wing fringe and other nutcases.

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Old May 23, 2009, 03:37 PM   #25
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Why no charges? I suspect it's politics as usual. The DA and the police are on the same team; further, no DA wants to be seen as soft on crime or hard on the police. Then too, there's the internal culture of the police dept. One local county which I will not name has had a racist and trigger-happy reputation for the forty years I've lived in the area. Despite the occasional investigation (FBI was involved, more than once if I recall correctly) nothing really changes. The Chief gets swapped out every so often, but it's difficult to impossible to weed out the folks who shouldn't be carrying anything more lethal than their bare hands. I imagine it must be very frustrating for the honorable and responsible LEOs, to be tarred with the same brush, so to speak.
Much of it is an us vs them attitude bred in training and nurtured in dealing mainly with sheep and the wolves that prey on them everyday. Much of it is a gentleman's agreement. I can't speak for the rest of the country but I'm a politically conservative male in my 50s and I've been observing this trend in California LE for decades. What I have seen time after time is a set of standard operating procedures. Again these are not attacks just 30+ years of observations.

SOPs:
1) The LE agency circles the wagons and begins leading and (less commonly) intimidating witness to exonerate the officer. A classic case happened back in the 1980s. A middle aged middle class African-American couple stopped to get gas (Anaheim, CA?) and spotted a LEO beating a suspect. They called the police to report the crime. They were then arrested and prosecuted for "filing a false police report" against the officer. The judge threw out the case as a blatant attempt to intimidate the public into remaining silent on abuses. Riverside, CA a police fusillade into a woman sleeping in her car with her pistol on her lap led to multiple press releases and press conferences about what a horrible human being she was. Murrieta, CA an off duty shooting in a bar led to an immediate press statement on what evil mean and nasty people the shootees were. SOP step 1a) Intimidate and lead witnesses, step 1b) demonize and dehumanize the shooting/beating victim in the media, step 1c) release a report exonerating the officer. In the cases cited I make no judgement of guilt or innocence only on the method of dealing with the cases. But in one recent and extreme case it went so far that the parents of a child molestation victim received death threats from someone very familiar with non public aspects of the case. The molestation suspect was a long time LEO and the charges had been brought by another agency. I personally think most officers are good men and women but are victims of an us vs them system and also don't want to risk being the next Serpico.

2) Whenever possible DA's in this area accept the official report and quietly decline to file charges.

3) If backed into a political corner the DA's office will file charges but will simply throw the case and blame "brain damaged jurors". Methods vary. In a taped Long Beach CA beating the suspect was beaten unconscious, but that did not stop the officer who continued the beating with his nightstick while literally dancing a jig around the suspect. Fellow officer were so appalled that they failed to confiscate the video tape. However the DA refused to enter the video tape into evidence during the trial. A board of rights later reinstated the officer to duty. Orange County CA, the DA's office "accidentally" deleted the 20 minutes of a jail house security video showing deputies beating a suspect. Strangely enough they only deleted that 20 minutes from the video. But without a video they were "forced" to drop the case.

The examples could go on forever but I do not submit these to attack LE. Only to answer the question. I think the vast majority of LEOs are as appalled as you or I. But I also think they suffer from the "but for the grace of god go I" syndrome that leads them to protect the old boy system. After all anybody, even a really outstanding officer can loose it once and it's nice to know you have a backstop to protect your butt even if it means that it protects the rare bad guy in blue.
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