One of the quotes from one of my books is “Thank a cop today. It’s one of the toughest jobs I’ve ever seen.”
That being said…..
At this time, it appears clear that Sandra Bland died at her own hands. HOWEVER, I believe we can also assume that she would still be alive today had she not been arrested. And why was she arrested? Because she was resisting arrest. Why was she resisting arrest? Because she refused to get out of her car and when Officer Encinia tried to pull her out, she resisted and was subsequently arrested.
Would Samuel DuBose be alive today had Officer Tensing not tried to pull him out of his car and for what legitimate reason? Of course he would. I’ve logged over 500,000 miles without front license plates and have NEVER been pulled over. I’m white; BuBose was not. But this is beside the point. An officer, for no apparent reason and, in my opinion, no legal justification decides to reach in and pull someone out of his car, then shoots him at point blank range when the occupant fails to cooperate.
On numerous occasions, both state and federal courts have made it clear that police officers have the right to ask (order) someone to “step out of the car.” But no one is talking about WHY they’ve been given this “right.”
Yes, that’s the justification. Yet, in example after example and event after event, it becomes crystal clear that ordering someone out of their car really only brings about 2 events: 1) it escalates a situation that really never needed to be escalated and, 2) it places police officers at INCREASED risk of personal injury.
Who am I? A two-time attendee of police academies. Once when I was 18, and another when I was 36. Why is this important? Because here’s what’s taught.
In pulling over a driver for a violation of the vehicle code…
First: The initial approach is the most dangerous. This means the officer is in the greatest danger as he/she is exiting the squad car and approaching the other vehicle.
Second: On the officer’s approach, view the driver, occupants and car interior to maintain safety and/or to see if any additional laws are being broken, besides that justifying the initial contact.
3: By asking the driver or other occupants to exit the vehicle there is a better ability to see if any laws are being broken, e.g. a bag of drugs was underneath someone BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY, the officer now has the legal right to search the person “for weapons” due to the courts wanting to ensure “officer safety,” which, to be clear, allows the officer to find other laws that are being broken, drugs, weapons, etc. – - even though this search has virtually nothing to do with officer safety.
So, in an effort to increase arrests, officers request people remove themselves from their cars. BUT, as I stated earlier, having individuals outside of the car actually places police officers at GREATER risk, not less. It also serves to escalate the potential for aggressive behavior since in many cases, the occupant does not understand why he/she is being ordered out of the car.
Try this. Next time you’re being pulled over, try to get out of your car. The first thing you’ll be told over the squad car’s loud speaker is, “Get back in your vehicle” or “Remain in your vehicle.” Why? Because cops know they are SAFER when occupants REMAIN IN THEIR CARS.
So if police officers are safer when we stay in our cars, how is it being justified that they order us out? Officer safety? Clearly not.
Now I understand that when an officer smells alcohol on someone’s breath or in the car or he/she has radio’d in and gets an open warrant returned, that he/she has every right (and duty) to order someone out of their car.
But when someone is ordered out, because the cop doesn’t like how the person is verbally interacting with him or her, this becomes a different story.
Failure to signal. Is this a crappy little ticket? Sometimes yes; sometimes no. It depends on whether or not the failure to signal affected other drivers. If there are no other cars, it’s a crappy ticket.
No front license plate. A crappy little ticket. Is it legal to pull someone over for this? Yes. Have I ever known a single person in my entire life, who was cited for this violation? No. And I spent 5 years with a police department.
Do either of these situations warrant the driver being dead? No.
Officer safety had nothing to do with either of these situations.
Both drivers could’ve been handed their tickets and been sent on their way. Instead, both Sandra Bland and Samuel DuBose are dead.
Up until the mid-90s officers justified use of lethal force by saying, “I thought he had a gun.”
NOW, all the officer has to do is “fear for his life” regardless of the absence of a weapon and whether or not the officer really did fear for his/her life and, FAR MORE IMPORTANTLY whether the officer was the person responsible for escalating a nothing situation in the first place.
I don’t get to walk into a biker bar and loudly proclaim that “all bikers are pu**ies and fa**ots” then shoot the first person who tries to fight me.
Police officers should not be allowed to deliberately and aggressively escalate a situation then claim they feared for their safety to justify shooting an unarmed person.
Our courts need to ensure that someone getting pulled over to be given a ticket, lives to pay the ticket.