Early in the morning on June 17, 2012, the LAPD fished 47-year-old Rodney King from the bottom of the pool at his California home, and less than an hour later he was pronounced dead at the hospital. It is unclear at this point how King wound up at the bottom of the pool, but investigators do not suspect foul play.
Mr. King had been in and out of trouble with the law for well over 20 years, but he was made world-famous by amateur video taken of officers from the LAPD using excessive force with batons and a Taser.
The beating caused multiple fractures and lacerations to King’s face and lower limbs—and sparked the week-long L.A. Riots, which caused 53 deaths, thousands of injuries, and about $1 billion in property damage.
King might have prevented all that from happening if he hadn’t been acting like a complete jerk immediately before the beating. Some might say he was almost asking the LAPD to respond the way they did. But then again, the cops could have acted like professional law enforcement officers instead of Mafia henchmen.
Cops have a bad habit of abusing their authority out on the West Coast. Just look what they have done since the Occupy Movement began. Two Iraq war veterans, Scott Olsen and Kayvan Sabeghi, were nearly beaten to death during Occupy Oakland raids. Students at UC-Davis were brutalized at close range with pepper spray during a protest. And there are countless other stories of abuse from these cops who think they are above the law. And, more often than not, people blame the victim because the media broadcasts run-ins with the law and makes it seem that the cop was just doing his or her job.
Ladies and gentlemen, a police officer’s job is to serve and protect the public. And sometimes they don’t do that. Let’s face the facts. You may not think you have anything to worry about. You’re a law-abiding citizen. The cops will never do anything to you…right?
Are you positive about that? How safe are you and your family from the police?
I have a degree in legal studies and have worked in law (I no longer do), and there are a few things that I learned about law enforcement and the justice system when I worked in the field. One thing I learned is that we shouldn’t paint cops with a broad brush. Overall, cops tend to be good people. But there are a lot of bad apples in departments that ruin the bunch, and the department heads don’t seem willing to do much about it other than pay settlements and hope the issue is never spoken of again.
So what can you do if you run into a bad apple?
Everyone, and I do mean everyone, should familiarize themselves with laws and local ordinances as well as your rights as a citizen. This will dramatically decrease your chances of being cuffed for something. Ignorance of the law is no excuse. Ignorance is not going to get you out of trouble, so you had better know the law and know your rights.
If you know your rights and know the law, you will know how to handle any situation with a cop.
If you are in a car and the cop wants you to pull over, make sure you pull over in a well-lit area where a lot of people are. You want to take this into consideration if you are a woman especially. You’d like to trust the police, but you don’t want to be completely stupid. You want to be in a secure area if anything bad goes down.
And the one thing that I really want to stress is that cops can’t just go through your things and automatically start interrogating you. They have to have probable cause. Don’t just give into them because they are wearing a badge. Make sure they are within their rights to do what they are doing. They have rules to follow just like you do. Don’t let them bully you.
You have a right to protect yourself from police misconduct. There are ways (legal ways!) to keep your family safe from the police. Remember that.
Please let me know what you think about this post by leaving a comment below. And then go do some research about your local laws and ordinances so you can make sure you are doing the right thing in case a rogue cop ever crosses your path. If you like this post, please feel free to subscribe via e-mail or RSS so you can receive regular updates of new posts! I look forward to your feedback!