Thursday, April 09, 2009

Once Again, No "Protecting and Serving" Went On Here

Just a few weeks after the Ryan Moats flap comes news that a settlement has been reached between the city of Ft. Worth and a citizen who got crosswise with a police officer back in late 2007. This guy got his nose broken by the officer as he was trying to explain that he was deaf and couldn't hear what was being said to him:
On Nov. 30, Christopher Ferrell, 43, was pulled over for speeding, police said. [Ft. Worth police Sgt. Pedro] Criado said Thursday he did not know where the traffic stop occurred.

Ferrell’s attorney said his client reached for his identification to inform the officer he was deaf.

"He was trying to show his identification to the officer so that the officer would know that he was simply unable to communicate with him on a normal basis," said attorney Paul Goetz.

But the dash camera video shows Officer J.A. Miller grabbing Ferrell, swinging him around and slamming his head into the rear windshield.
I'm not one to use an incident like this to paint the entire FWPD with the same brush, and I'm glad the dash-cam caught the officer in the act. I'm also encouraged by the fact that Ft. Worth now has access to interpreters--for either foreign languages or sign language--who can be transported to the scene of traffic stops.

Still, it disturbs me a bit that the officer would get that violent in the first place, and even more so that he only received a two-day unpaid suspension; were I in charge, he'd have been canned on the spot and barred from being a police officer anywhere ever again, and the funds for this week's settlement would have come out of his own pocket. As I've said before, I would hope that the culture would change so that such things do not happen again in the future.

UPDATE: A good comment from a DMN reader:
[T]oo bad nobody wants to address the larger issue at hand, which is how police are trained to treat people (guilty until proven otherwise), and what is acceptable behaviour from a public servant (last time I checked, it was still supposed to be protect and serve, not harass and intimidate).
Well said; that's the kind of "culture change" I'm talking about.

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