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Hullabaloo


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

 
You talkin' to me???

by digby

Americans do not have the right to make fun of a policeman's driving. Or, at least, this cop didn't think so:
A Philadelphia police officer has been suspended and criminally charged after he allegedly yanked a war veteran off a Center City corner, handcuffed him and drove him around in his SUV, irked that the man and his friends had criticized his driving.

The 16-minute saga started when Officer Kevin Corcoran, 33, a nine-year veteran of the force, was patrolling in his SUV near 13th and Lombard streets at about 2 a.m. last March 31, according to the District Attorney's Office. A pedestrian, part of a group of people on the sidewalk nearby, yelled to Corcoran that he'd made an illegal turn, prompting the officer to get out of his car and yell at them, according to the D.A.'s Office.

As onlookers began recording the incident on their cell phones, Corcoran allegedly slapped a device out of Roderick King's hands and confronted him, saying: "Don't f***ing touch me." The officer allegedly kept walking toward King, "who was backing up with his hands out in front of him making no contact with the officer," the statement from the D.A.'s Office said.

Corcoran then pushed King, grabbed him by the chest, threw him against the side of the SUV, handcuffed him, hurled him into the back of the car and then sped away with him, the D.A.'s Office said. The whole incident was caught on tape. King was not the person who criticized Corcoran's driving.

Corcoran drove King somewhere off Broad Street, telling him he was under arrest for public intoxication, the D.A.'s Office said. But Corcoran "did not prepare any of the required police paperwork for a public intoxication arrest, had no evidence that the victim was intoxicated, and was in fact driving in the opposite direction of the 17th police district where Corcoran was assigned," the D.A.'s Office said.

King then told Corcoran that he was an Iraq War veteran and had never been arrested before. That prompted Corcoran to stop at 13th and Rodman Streets, uncuff King and release him without charges.





Gosh, I wonder what would have happened if someone hadn't been recording this incident?

I wouldn't bring this up normally since examples of overzealous policing are so commonplace, even including physical violence and torture. But this illustrates something very specific about our policing and what's going haywire with it. This "respect" nonsense, that seems to spring from the military and/or gang culture is now normal. I get that cops need to have authority in order to function safely in emergencies and times of danger. But this is about being "dissed", an entirely different proposition and one that has no place in a free society.

I think that most cops would shrug at someone making fun of their driving --- some might even roll their eyes or laugh. But there exists a non-negligible number who have adopted this authoritarian attitude that demands that citizens bow down to them. That's not right. Luckily the law seems to have been following in this case --- thanks to documentation --- and this officer has been sanctioned. But I don't know how many departments would do that. There's way too much macho, military swagger in our police departments.



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