NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton is trying to get New York legislators to make it a felony offence to defy the ‘godly’ commands of their officers. After a hearing on Wednesday before state lawmakers in Lower Manhattan, Police Commissioner Bratton told reporters that the charge of ‘resisting arrest’ should be raised to a felony. “I think a felony would be very helpful in terms of raising the bar significantly in the penalty for the resistance of arrest,” said Bratton.
‘Resisting arrest’, which is more commonly known as ‘contempt of cop‘, is a catchall charge that police officers use to arrest citizens when no other crime has been committed. New York’s WNYC had previously investigated the erroneous use of ‘resisting arrest’ by the NYPD. Here is what they had to say:
Police departments around the country consider frequent charges of resisting arrest a potential red flag, as some officers might add the charge to justify use of force. WNYC analyzed NYPD records and found 51,503 cases with resisting arrest charges since 2009. Just five percent of officers who made arrests during that period account for 40% of resisting arrest cases — and 15% account for almost 3/4 of such cases.
Sam Walker, a law-enforcement expert and retired criminal justice professor, said that:
“There’s a widespread pattern in American policing where resisting arrest charges are used to sort of cover – and that phrase is used – the officer’s use of force,” said Walker, the accountability expert from the University of Nebraska. “Why did the officer use force? Well, the person was resisting arrest.”
Commissioner Bratton acknowledged that most resisting arrest charges are often reduced or outright dismissed by prosecutors for being bogus charges. However, if Commissioner Bratton has his way, prosecutors will no longer have the option to drop the pseudo-charges.
“The vast majority might end up being dismissed,” he said, though he suggested district attorney’s at times dismiss such charges out of hand. “We’re asking district attorneys to treat them more seriously than they have been treated in the past.”
If Commissioner Bratton is successful in his bid, resisting arrest charges can result in a citizen being fined tens-of-thousands of dollars and spending years in prison. All of this is horrifically ironic, considering that Commissioner Bratton publicly stated that he’s against a proposal by NY Governor Cuomo, which would allow for more oversight and investigations against corrupt police officers.
As Gawker pointed out, here are just a few people that could have landed in prison for decades under the current commissioner’s proposal:
- Chaumtoli Huq, former general counsel to NYC Public Advocate Letitia James, who was charged with resisting arrest for waiting for her family outside the Times Square Ruby Tuesday’s.
- Jahmil-El Cuffee, who was charged with resisting arrest after he found himself on the receiving end of a head-stomp from a barbarous cop because he was allegedly rolling a joint. (“Stop resisting!” cops screamed at him as he lay helpless, pinned under a pile of officers.)
- Denise Stewart, who was charged with resisting arrest after a gang of New York’s Finest threw her half-naked from her own apartment into the lobby of her building. (They had the wrong apartment, it turned out.)
- Santiago Hernandez, who was charged with resisting arrest after a group of cops beat the shit out of him following a stop-and-frisk. “One kicks me, he steps back. Another one comes to punch me and he steps back…They were taking turns on me like a gang,” Hernandez told reporters.
- Eric Garner, who no doubt would have been charged with resisting had the chokehold from Daniel Pantaleo not ended his life first.