Officer Marc Rios. New York Police Department. The Bronx, New York, New York. A few months ago, a New Yorker named John Roperto was leaving a nightclub in Kingsbridge at about 4:20 in the morning. A speeding car almost ran him down, so he smacked the hood of the car and said some unkind words. Normally that would be about it; civilized people understand that when you almost run someone down, emotions run high, and the best thing to do is just say you’re sorry and let the poor guy cool down. But it turns out that, instead of a civilized person, the driver of the car was Officer Marc Rios, a 12-year
veteran of the New York City government’s police force. Rios, who cruises the city heavily-armed and looking for trouble, got out of his car, whipped out a baton, and smashed John Roperto so hard in the face that it broke the baton — and Roperto’s cheekbone. Then Officer Marc Rios, as a public servant supposedly paid and legally privileged to Serve and Protect, jumped back into his car and sped off with his buddy-cop — while his victim was still lying in a gutter. Neither of them thought to call it in; Roperto didn’t get any medical attention until a concerned stranger called 911.
Officer Marc Rios’s explanation is that this brutal, unprovoked hit-and-run assault — committed against a man who had every right to be angry, and who had done nothing more than bang on a car hood and shout at a cop — is justifiable as
self-defense. I’m not sure what sort of
self-defense is supposed to be involved in leaving a man bleeding in a gutter without even calling in an ambulance, but in any case, Officer Marc Rios figures that the original beating was a righteous beating, because he’s a cop, and he (allegedly) gave an order, and John Roperto (allegedly) didn’t immediately snap to obeying it. That may not seem like
self-defense, exactly, to you, but you’ve got to keep in mind that government cops like Officer Marc Rios are trained to believe that disregard for their prerogative is tantamount to an assault on their persons, if not indeed a threat to their very lives. So no matter how little physical threat you may pose, any refusal, or even hesitancy, to immediately obey their arbitrary bellowed commands is, just as such, a justification for maximal uses of force against you.
Meanwhile, Rios’s lawyer is telling the press that Roperto ought to be grateful that
experienced Officer Marc Rios didn’t just shoot him in the face.