18 January 2010

"resisting arrest for resisting arrest"

I know football fans are ugly rabid partisans toward each other

But if police are somehow going to drum up a charge of "disorderly conduct", already a nebulous legal code before considering that the same behavior probably applies uniformly to roughly 80% of the stadium's audience, to justify arresting someone at a football game, that's rough. It's very possible, given the break in the footage, that there was some incident that justifies security involvement. Perhaps a small fight or shoving match. Though an arrest may have been an appropriate action, it does not appear to be the general case of the people surrounding whatever scuffle or troubles required police involvement that they felt the actions of this strange man in green actually required police involvement. And what you're left with is "resisting arrest" charges. For resisting arrest. I would "resist arrest" if I had no idea what I had done and hadn't done anything illegal either.

The most curious angle to the entire event is the guy who is escorted out at the very end, who wasn't arrested in the clip. "Let's go outside"?

There are two good parts to this story.

1) There's a guy who apparently gives his information to the arrested guy's girlfriend. Which means that he could appear in court if necessary as a witness to support his case against the cops (in addition to the video footage).

2) The video footage itself continues a growing trend of citizen tools to resist police authoritarianism. Documenting the entire scene with video and photographic evidence is far better than giving us only the word of police spokespeople in trials or media accounts. Were I a more sociable person and apt to be found in random events with police misconduct (anything from arresting people for no reason to parking in a fire lane/handicapped spot to pulling a gun at a snowball fight), I would find this to be a now essential feature on a cellular phone to take some reasonable quality of video and be able to upload it immediately (so it could not be confiscated and the evidence destroyed or suppressed by police).

As an update, it appears he was arrested basically for resisting arrest and charged with public intoxication. It is probably true that 1) he resisted officers, it seems pretty clear he's not very cooperative and 2) that he was drunk and obnoxious at a football game (what a shock, there were no doubt thousands of people who would legally qualify for that problem). What I found most interesting is where the police were called upon to intervene in the first place still only amounted to an off-duty SD cop being annoyed at a Jets fan screaming and drunken in his section. While there were many people arrested for being drunk and obnoxious (almost 50...which is insane), I'm still not sure what this guy DID that demanded police and security interventions prior to him resisting those interventions. Without some reason given to comply with officers (ie, probable cause or a warrant), if they ask someone to leave their seat to speak with them, they don't have to comply. They can say "no". The probable response of police officers these days is to arrest someone for refusing to cooperate or resisting arrest or "disorderly conduct". But none of those things are actually what is represented by refusing to accede to an unreasonable demand made without probable cause. Being drunk, by itself, and "being obnoxious", are not crimes. They may be reasons to involve stadium security to remove people from their seats. I find it very hard to believe that they constitute reasons to book people and haul them off in jail with misdemeanor charges. I find extremely hard to justify a probable cause when the crowd reaction was rather vehemently hostile to the police's action. If a drunken raving buffoon is in their midst and is being annoying to the breaking point (where they might incite violent reprisals for example), people react very positively when they are hauled off by security. That was clearly not the case here.
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