Story by: Janice Ayers
Police brutality occurs numerous time throughout the year, and a vast majority of the infliction involves “a few extra blows, punches or kicks during arrests” but some incidents have resulted in the deaths of civilians (Kirschner,1997). Evidence of law enforcement induced deaths via brutality reflect the outcomes of several cases including Eric Garner, Philando Castile, and Michael Brown who were all killed during interaction with law enforcement executives when they were unarmed. This is problematic because in the above cases, the suspects were unarmed and a weapon should not have even been utilized. One thing that the above cases have in common is that they took place outside of interrogation raising the question of if tactics utilizing during interrogation are more problematic than the tactics utilized on the streets which have yielded to several deaths.
According to Kirschner, “when a civilian succumbs to police brutality while in interrogation, the brutality injuries do in fact increase in severity. This increased level of brutality is evident in the notorious Chicago Area 2 Headquarters incident which resulted in “beatings, mock executions, near asphyxiation with plastic bags, thermal burns, and electric shock torture during interrogation procedures.”(1997)
In another incident of severe police brutality occurring while in interrogation, “Abner Louima, a Haitian immigrant, was brutally assaulted by officers of the New York City. Police Department (NYPD) in the early hours of Aug 9, 1997. He was arrested for allegedly striking a police officer during a mêlée outside a night club; the charges were unfounded and later dropped. What took place after his arrest shocked the city and the nation.
Louima, who was handcuffed, stated that during the drive to Brooklyn's 70th Precinct, the arresting officers stopped their vehicle and beat him. Shortly after his arrival at the station, he was taken to the bathroom and sodomized with a toilet plunger or similar implement that perforated his rectum and lacerated his bladder; it was then shoved into his mouth and broke several of his teeth. Still handcuffed, he was put in a holding cell for 1.5 h until an ambulance arrived at 0625 h. Although it was clear that Louima needed to be admitted to the hospital, the precinct commander refused to provide the required police escort until about 0800 h, despite repeated requests from the emergency paramedics.
Louima was taken to Coney Island Hospital where he underwent emergency surgery to repair his torn internal organs. There have been allegations that some supervisory personnel at the hospital concealed the cause of Louima's injuries to prevent the information from becoming public, despite the ethical obligation of health workers to report torture or other degrading treatment that occurs in custody. That evening, Magalie Laurent, a hospital nurse, acting in the best tradition of her profession, called the NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau to report the assault. Her call was ignored. The next day the Louima family filed a complaint, but the investigation only began on Aug 11, giving those involved enough time to destroy evidence of the assault.”(Kirschner,1997).
Although the above-discussed incidents involve severe injuries to the victims involved, law enforcement brutality injuries do not always require medical attention. However, it must be noted that some civilians succumb to their deaths due to their severity of their afflictions. Whether or not, a victim of police brutality has severe injuries or not, is not the issue. The issue is that some police officers treat suspects, who are mostly of African-American descent with a lack of respect during police interactions. It is important for police officers to remember that no matter the severity of the situation they are handling involving a suspect, that the suspect is still human and should be treated as such. The fact, that numerous individuals have come forward with claims of police brutality stemming from policing officers around the country prove that this is a problem that needs to be solved and in order to start to resolve this issue, we must understand that police brutality is problematic in our society and must be changed.
Kirschner, R. (1997). Police brutality in the USA. The Lancet, 350, (9088), 1395. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(97)10182-9