If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Friday, 6 August 2010

A Rodney King moment ...

Follow this link to see something quite unbelieveable. (Sorry, can't seem to embed the video directly.)

Two police officers have been suspended after they were filmed smashing up a disabled man’s car while the terrified pensioner sat in the driver’s seat.

A 70-year-old man is stopped by police in his Range Rover in a country lane. The police tried to give him a fixed penalty notice for not wearing a seat belt, but he drove off. They followed him for 17 minutes and eventually he stopped, surrounded by police. So far, so predictable.

What happened next was astonishing. With no provocation, one policeman jumped on the bonnet of the car and started to kick the windscreen in, while another drew his baton and, after several attempts, smashed in the driver's window before dragging the poor guy out. All recorded on the video camera in the following police car.

It's the kind of reaction you might expect when a joy-rider, who has recklessly endangered the lives of many people and police during the chase, is finally caught. It was way over the top even for that, but in those circumstances might have been understandable. But this guy drove as gently as could be in his 'getaway chase'. He didn't even break the speed limit. He was hardly 'running from the law'. The police can't have been suffering from the red mist, unless it was something he said to them before he drove off ("your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries" perhaps?). It was pure, unadulterated, unprovoked violence, and shameful to watch.

And when it came to court, what was he convicted of? Not wearing a seat belt, failing to stop, and having tinted windows and number plate that did not conform to legal requirements.

Words fail me. He was fined £235 and ordered to pay £300 costs, which seems reasonable if a little harsh under the circumstances. I wonder if he will be billing the police for the thousands it will cost to put the Rangie right? Or for the trauma of committing a minor traffic offence and then being treated with Clockwork Orange-style ultra-violence? They were more patient and understanding with Raoul Moat.

And some people think the police ought to be armed? That would keep me awake at night.

The policemen concerned have been suspended from duty, which is something. But then, after the exoneration of Simon Harwood, it wouldn't surprise me if they were back on duty before long, with a lot of sniggers and back-slapping in the canteen.

The officers concerned should be sacked in disgrace, and the video showed to all new recruits as an example of what can happen when public servants think they are above the law.

EDIT: I have just watched the video again, and saw something I missed the first time. As the assault (can't call it anything else, really) is taking place, a car drives past. The driver appears to see the incident and stops. He gets out and walks towards the police officers. One officer walks to block his progress, and then bundles him back towards his car. The man is clearly not connected with the police, and I imagine he is a concerned passer-by. His presence was not welcomed by the officers. That doesn't look too good, either.

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