We've examined many incidents (some are listed here) where law enforcement officers and agencies have been 'economical with the truth', or overstepped legal and constitutional boundaries. Despite my long association with law enforcement and an abiding respect for the rule of law, I'm forced to admit that many of the concerns expressed by commentators, protesters and others are solidly grounded in fact. It's a sad but true fact that the 'good cops' and agencies out there (and there are many) are all too often tarnished by association with the bad ones.
If you needed any further reinforcement of that, consider the lawsuit just filed against the Caldwell County Sheriff's Office in Texas.
Faulkenberry's own surveillance video shows the lawmen approach on foot, their guns drawn. He stood stock-still except to raise his hands in the air. The video is silent but Faulkenberry says a sergeant ordered him to turn around so handcuffs could be put on.
Then came a sudden takedown.
“I turned my head to ask about a warrant and that's when I heard '2, 1' and then the leg sweep, the tackle and punching.”
Reading the arrest report from that night, Deputy Michael Taylor wrote: 'I observed Lawrence Faulkenberry push Sgt. Yost with the left side of his body and elbow into a tree causing him to fall and injure his left shin.'
Even slowed down, in the grainy video it's hard to see where Faulkenberry might have pushed - and where the sergeant's leg sweep put everyone off balance.
In his report, Deputy Taylor conclusions were more concrete: 'I observed Faulkenberry forcefully resist deputies while attempting to lawfully detain him...'
Faulkenberry's criminal record shows no violent issues and he's been out of trouble for more than a decade.
Deputies charged Faulkenberry with:
Felony Assault on a Public Servant
Resisting Arrest - a Class A Misdemeanor
Aggravated Assault with a Firearm
Deputies never recovered a handgun -- Faulkenberry says he doesn't own one.
Court records show bond was set at: $807,500.
. . .
“I called my attorney,” says Faulkenberry. “I told him 'I didn't do it.' He's like 'there's three officers who say you did. You got proof?' I was like 'yeah, I got a video.'
After ten days locked up at the Caldwell County Jail, Faulkenberry's lawyer says a court magistrate saw the video and dropped the bond. KXAN confirmed the DA's office declined to prosecute and Faulkenberry returned home.
There's more at the link. I highly recommend reading the article in full. It contains screen capture images from the video, as well as additional details suggesting that the Sheriff's Office may have problems all the way up the chain of command.
There may be those who claim that we shouldn't prejudge the situation, that the plaintiff may be lying, that the officers may have had reason for their actions, and so on. However, that doesn't explain why such damning charges were filed, then withdrawn, or why bond was initially set at so stratospheric a level, only to be dropped precipitately (along with all the charges) as soon as independent, objective evidence was provided to disprove the officers' allegations.
Frankly, this stinks. I hope the lawsuit goes to trial rather than being settled out of court, so that all the evidence can be heard and weighed in the balance. If it can be proved that the officers in question lied about their actions, and pressed false charges, then they need to be behind bars themselves - along with everyone in their chain of command who supported them, covered up for them, and/or encouraged them to believe that they could get away with this sort of thing. Even if there's no way to jail them, we should at least demand that they never again be trusted with or permitted to exercise law enforcement authority.