Tedder

Gagflex: Beware of the California Police

On July 10 of this year, police in Bakersfield, Calif., shot and killed ex-NFL running back David Lee Turner. Police were called to a convenience store where teenagers were reportedly asking adults to buy them alcohol, and two squad cars swiftly responded to this horrible crime. The store surveillance camera shows police pulling into the parking lot at the same time Turner was walking away from the store with his teenage son. The deputies stopped Turner, and they searched and questioned him. The police statement says that Turner complied at first, but after continued questioning, he refused to comply. He grabbed his six-pack of beer and tried to walk away. At that point, a deputy hit Turner in the back of the legs with a baton, knocking him to the ground.

The account from that point on is debated because the store surveillance camera mysteriously skipped six seconds of footage, the same six seconds in which Turner was shot. According to police, Turner smashed the cans of bear over the police officer’s head “tomahawk style,” then the deputy shot him. The son claims this never happened. He claims that the beer exploded on the pavement when his dad fell to the ground. Either way, the events that took place were ridiculous and unnecessary. Turner wasn’t under arrest and should have been allowed to walk away. If a police officer can’t handle a 54-year old man with a can of beer, then he needs to reevaluate his career choice.

It’s seems like there are stories similar to this one floating around every week. Last January, former MTSU football player, Reggie Doucet, was shot and killed by Los Angeles police. Unlike Turner, Doucet was reportedly being aggressive. Police were called to Doucet’s apartment where he had gotten into an argument with a cabdriver. When they arrived, Doucet was naked in the street and acting erratic. They said that he attacked them, and one of the officers claims that he reached for one of their guns. So they shot him twice.

More recently on July 5, Kelly Thomas, a homeless schizophrenic man was severely beaten and shot with a Taser several times by five police officers in Fullerton, Calif. He fell into a coma and died shortly after. Police suspected Kelly of being in possession of stolen merchandise because a number of cars had been broken into in the area. While I confess I do not have much experience taking down unarmed naked men and schizophrenic homeless guys, I would imagine that five police officers in semi-good shape should be able to get the job done without shooting someone or beating them to death.

I’ve heard that several police officers in Murfreesboro take Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and maybe that should be mandatory nationwide. At no point in time should a police officer be physically outmatched by an older man wielding a can of beer, especially when he already has a baton in his hands. If an officer isn’t bright enough, strong enough or brave enough to deal with the person he is facing, then the system is screwed up; the officer should not have been hired in the first place. While stories like this are occurring all across the country, California seems to spawn idiot police like no other state. One would think that they would automatically assume that they’re always being filmed in the land where movies are made, but apparently they didn’t learn much from Rodney King.

Jason Johnson tuckwopat@yahoo.com

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