Recent Broward Law Blog Features

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Dallas Cop Debacle

One a.m. Suburban Dallas. You rush to the hospital to be near a dying family member. You get to the E.R.
A cop stops you: “License and insurance, sir. You ran a red light.”

Man, my mom is dying inside.”

“Your attitude sucks, sir.”

Even after an ER nurse comes out and publishes the emergency, the cop, Officer Powell, holds up the ‘suspect,’ barring his entry into the hospital. The mother in law dies.

Everyone is apologetic afterwards. Dallas police. The cop. National news. Brian Williams shaking his head. Jay Leno probably doing jokes about it. But it is real life. Cops, like judges, like attorneys make mistake. Our justice system, well, that is one large mistake sometimes. This was one of those times.

That Dallas cop on that nite did more than exercise poor discretion. He stole a moment in time which can never be recaptured. Every son wants to be there when his mother in law dies. No, wait, seriously, god, I can’t resist a joke- seriously, this is a vivid example of when rigid rules clash with harsh realities.

It was a bad mistake, maybe by a good cop. I have no clue. But it goes a long way to teach community policing, seeing the community as a friend and neighbor. In this case, the detained suspect turns out to be an NFL football player. Maybe one the cop cheered for the Sunday before, watching a game with his son on TV.

Cops, too often disobeyed, develop jagged edges. They don’t want to hear anything. You become stupid. They become right. They own the street. You can hire a lawyer. Take your best shot. But in uniform, on the street, screw with them and you wind up facing the battery LEO, not them. They get exonerated. You get fried. Not this time, though. Cameras again capture injustice at work in the big city.

There are 80,000 stories in the Naked City. Thanks to You Tube, the Internet, cameras on dashboards, now you know about one more of them, shouting out “How can this happen?” Members of the jury, it does, everyday, anywhere, any place. It is our system, and like most systems, it breaks down more often than we would like.

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