Law and Orders #2: Florida cop was “within bounds” when he punched and pepper-sprayed a 15-year-old girl for breaking curfew

(Via Women of Color Blog 2007-10-07 and Anthony Gregory @ LewRockwell.com Blog 2007-10-10.)

Cops in America are heavily armed and trained to be bullies, and they routinely hurt people who are not posing any serious threat to anyone, in order to make sure that they stay in control of the situation. They have no trouble electrifying small children, alleged salad-bar thieves, pregnant women possibly guilty of a minor traffic violation, or students who may have been guilty of using the computer lab without proper papers—while they are already lying helpless on the ground. They are willing to pepper spray lawyers for asking inconvenient questions and to beat up 15 year old girls for daring to give them lip over whether to clean up spilled cake. They routinely use intimidation, threats, and violence whenever they get tired enough of being talked back to and if their bellowed orders are no longer sufficient to end an argument—even without any plausible reason whatsoever for fearing any physical threat to themselves or others. When they are caught in the act police administrators will wring their hands, make up some lies to try to excuse the assault, promise an investigation, find that Official Procedures were followed, and then do nothing at all; meanwhile a chorus of sado-fascists can be counted on to cheer the pigs and smear the victim in print media, talk shows, and the Internet. Both administrators and freelance sycophants freely employ the most tortured sorts of necessity excuses, in what seems to be a deliberate effort to obliterate any notion of restraints on the use of force in securing police objectives.

In Fort Pierce, Florida, a white male cop named Dan Gilroy recently stopped a 15 year old black girl named Shelwanda Riley, and then placed her under arrest, for walking outside at 1:50 in the morning. (City ordinances forbid anyone under 18 from being on city streets without an adult minder between 11:00pm and 6:00am.) Here is the police video of Gilroy twisting her arm, telling her that he is going to hurt her to make her comply, wrenching her arm behind her back, punching her in the face, and then pepper-spraying her right after that, just for good measure.

In the video, Riley starts crying and says she doesn’t want to go to jail. The officer repeatedly shouts at her not to resist while he tries to force her arms behind her back. When he threatens to use force and then wrenches the arm he’s holding behind her back, she bites him. He immediately punches her in the face, then, after waiting a second, pepper-sprays her in the face. He then finishes handcuffing her and leads her away as she cries that she can’t breathe.

Note that after he shoved her into the car, this grown man later proceeded to charge the 15 year old girl that he forced down, beat up, and pepper-sprayed, with felony battery. The Authorities at the police department are Investigating, but Gilroy is still on active duty, and the local police chief, Sean Baldwin, says that Initial review of the incident concluded that the police officer acted legally and within bounds.

For the time being, I want to set aside the obvious, stupid tyranny of the law that Dan Gilroy was so diligently trying to enforce. City governments have no business at all keeping tabs on where or when teenagers happen to be out, and cops have no business enforcing laws that city governments have no business making. But even if they did, this kind of thuggery from the police would still be inexcusable.

The sado-fascist police enablers will, no doubt, mutter something about The Law and about keeping public order. They will no doubt point out the fact that the girl was resisting arrest by not submitting to the cop’s bellowed orders to let him handcuff her. They will no doubt point out the fact that, after he told her he was going to hurt her and then wrenched her arm behind her back, she bit at his wrist. They will no doubt claim that a grown man punching a 15-year-old girl in the face and then pepper-spraying her after he had punched her, in spite of the fact that she had done nothing else at that point to indicate that she posed any further threat, was necessary for the officer to successfully complete the arrest. But suppose that this were all true. Then so what?

Even supposing that this cop had any kind of business arresting Shelwanda Riley, so what if he could not complete the arrest without doing these things? So what if he would otherwise have had to stand around waiting until she was willing to submit to arrest, or if he would otherwise have had to give up and let her get away when it became clear that beating her up was the only way to get her cuffed, or if he would have had to let go and back off in order to avoid getting hit by her or bit by her or whatever the hell it is he was so worked up about? So what if she even—perish the thought!—happened to get away from him?

Even if you have a right to do something, that does not mean that you have the right to do it by any means necessary; sometimes there’s no way that you can get it done without using a levels of force that are disproportionate to the case, and in that case you simply have to give up on it; even if you were in the right, using force beyond what’s proportional to the situation turns you into a criminal and turns your enforcement into nothing more than an assault. If the cops cruising around our city streets think that the violence Dan Gilroy used here is worthwhile and within bounds of the proportional use of force — beating up teenaged girls and hurting them with pepper-spray just to make sure they don’t get away with the dreadful crime of wandering around outside too late at night, then that may tell you all that you need to know about the institutional culture of policing in America today.

Advertisement

Help me get rid of these Google ads with a gift of $10.00 towards this month’s operating expenses for radgeek.com. See Donate for details.

7 replies to Law and Orders #2: Florida cop was “within bounds” when he punched and pepper-sprayed a 15-year-old girl for breaking curfew Use a feed to Follow replies to this article · TrackBack URI

  1. Discussed at radgeek.com

    Rad Geek People’s Daily 2007-11-27 – Law and Orders #3: John Gardner of the Utah Highway Patrol tasers Jared Massey in front of his family for questioning why he was pulled over:

    […] inconvenient questions and to beat up teenaged girls for not cleaning up enough birthday cake or being out too late at night. It hardly matters if you are an 82 year old woman supposedly benefiting from a care check, or if […]

· December 2007 ·

  1. Discussed at radgeek.com

    Rad Geek People’s Daily 2007-12-07 – Law and Orders #4: Wichita cops take control by shocking a deaf man for not following orders he couldn’t hear:

    […] inconvenient questions and to beat up teenaged girls for not cleaning up enough birthday cake or being out too late at night. They are willing to shock you and leave you lying on the side of the highway in order to make sure […]

  2. Discussed at radgeek.com

    Rad Geek People’s Daily 2007-12-23 – Law and Orders #5: Daytona Beach cop takes control at Best Buy by shocking an unarmed, “retreating” woman:

    […] questions or by beating up teenaged girls who don’t clean up enough spilled birthday cake or walk home too late at night. They are willing to shock you and leave you lying on the side of the highway in order to make sure […]

— 2008 —

  1. Discussed at radgeek.com

    Rad Geek People’s Daily 2008-05-10 – Cops are here to protect you. (#3):

    […] in public, to rough up teenaged girls who don’t clean up enough spilled birthday cake or walk home too late at night, or to throw a quadriplegic man out of his wheelchair for not standing up on command. When they […]

— 2009 —

  1. Discussed at radgeek.com

    Rad Geek People’s Daily 2009-10-31 – Refuge of Oppression #7: I Blame The Victim edition:

    […] received from an anonymous victim-blamer through my online contact form. Apparently in response to my post from October 2007 on Officer Dan Gilroy, a grown-ass man who has no problem using his positi…. Our anonymous correspondent thinks that Shelwanda Riley — the 15-year-old victim of Officer […]

— 2010 —

  1. Discussed at www.copblock.org

    Supreme Court Justice’s nephew claims he was beaten, tased at hospital | Cop Block:

    […] is not the only way to deal with a disagreement and that when violence is employed, it must be proportional to the offense. There’s really no excuse for punching or tasering someone unless they pose a […]

Post a reply

By:
Your e-mail address will not be published.
You can register for an account and sign in to verify your identity and avoid spam traps.
Reply

Use Markdown syntax for formatting. *emphasis* = emphasis, **strong** = strong, [link](http://xyz.com) = link,
> block quote to quote blocks of text.

This form is for public comments. Consult About: Comments for policies and copyright details.