Just watched the infamous video of the Sandra Bland arrest.
I could only come to one conclusion: the highway patrol officer in Texas was way out of line and obviously not fit to handle the pressure of the job. I would certainly not be able to handle it. People can make me quite angry at times but I know my limits. I could not be a policeman, but neither should the officer in the video.
I also observe, that as so often is the case in these type of incidents, the woman would have done better to simply comply with the officer’s initial request and then order. The officer actually politely requested that she extinguish her cigarette and although she apparently did at some point she did offer much resistance and copped an attitude.
And I even thought he kind of provoked her by saying at least once: “you seem irritated.”
She had every right I thought for questioning why the officer was making such a big deal about what he said was a failure to make a turn signal. But sometimes it’s better to hold one’s tongue.
But at one point the officer orders her out of the car. She eventually complies, well, after he attempts to physically pull her out and threatens to “light her up?” (not sure about the phrase) but she questions why she is being ordered out of her car and if she even has to get out.
What is not shown in any of the footage I saw was what happened after she exited the car. But there was apparently some kind of scuffle, and I think by that time other officers had arrived. And I think in a voice recording Bland is heard complaining that they had slammed her head somehow.
I was recently stopped in my own personal vehicle by a highway patrol officer. I just played it cool. He admitted up front that he was new and strangely enough he seemed to admit the stop was just a pretext. He said I had a license plate sticker that looked a little faded (whoever gets stopped for that?), and he mentioned as an aside that I seemed to be following a truck too closely. I in turn admitted to some embarrassment in that I am a professional truck driver. My excuse for the possible following too close, which I don’t think I told him, was that I was getting ready to pass the truck but was blocked because the patrol car was coming up in the other lane. He up and told me that they (the highway patrol) were on the lookout for drugs. He asked me if I had any illegal items. I answered no (both because that was true and it seemed like the obvious best answer). We had a nice chat and I was on my way without a citation, albeit with an irritating delay and irritation I kept to myself. I mention this because in reality I was irked. I was minding my own business exercising my freedom of movement and I get stopped for what seemed like bogus reasons. He kept asking me where I had been and where I was going. Like that is really his business? I mean I know if there was some observable probable cause for stopping me and then in the course of doing so contraband was in plain sight or I consented to a search and contraband was found, then the officer would have been within the law. But I felt he overstepped (maybe he did not). But I am alive and Sandra Bland is not.
She was found dead from an apparent suicide in her cell done my hanging herself with a plastic bag. Some are questioning that. There is some indication that she had mental problems, and it was reported by police that she had indicated that she was suicidal in her booking info she filled out.
And I did not bother to mention yet, since this has been in the news, that the woman was black.
I am white. I was stopped by a rookie officer on a pretext in order that he might spot contraband.
But our deceased woman it seems may have fell victim to what black people refer to as being stopped while black. Purportedly the officer had just previously stopped a white woman and let her off with a warning (don’t know for sure about that one).
I note in the video that the officer calls for backup. Good idea. He should have left her alone in the car and waited for the backup and a woman officer perhaps to talk her out of the vehicle (if even her exciting the vehicle was necessary). And as I noted earlier once backup did arrive there were still problems. But I don’t see why it was so important for her to get out of the car. If nothing else, waiting could have offered protection against liability to the officer.
The officer may or may not have been correct in deciding to consider her to be resisting arrest. And I think the law or at least common sense requires that persons being detained lawfully by police show some amount of decorum.
And even if you feel you are being detained unlawfully, better to fight it out in an administrative hearing or court later and live to tell about it.
I don’t know if these types of incidents are escalating or if they are just being reported more frequently because they have come into the news and because these videos are ubiquitous.
Whatever the case, something has to be done to totally revamp police procedures.
If police had a different attitude eventually there might be a change of attitude by people who have been brought up to both fear and disrespect police.
There of course will always be trouble makers out there.
There are suspicious gaps and signs of editing in the video, and then there is always the what happened just before the cameras rolled and after and what angle they were at and so on. But I think what I saw tells the story enough to show there was a tragedy that could have been avoided by an officer with a little more tact and patience. We should not have to live in fear of the police.