Is The Frequency Of Police Brutality On The Rise?

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Some observers think police brutality may be on the rise, as a pair of recent court cases would appear to indicate, but more than anything, the cases – and a pattern of police behavior since the so-called “war on terror” began – definitely project a growing police state mentality among civil servants charged with serving the public.Perhaps the most famous instance of police misconduct in recent history is the L.A.P.D. beating of the late Rodney King. A construction worker who was on parole for robbery, he became known nationally after a video showing him being beaten by several officers following a late-night car chase on March 3, 1991 made headlines.But there have been a number of cases since then, and while the vast majority are not nearly as high profile, when taken together, they could be the foundation of darker days ahead.
Case in point: Such concerns are rooted in cases like this recent one in near Rockford, Ill., a mid-sized city located on both banks of the Rock River in far northern Illinois. There, police have been accused of using a taser on a suspect before beating him for telling a friend she could refuse to take a field sobriety test, then allegedly accusing the man of assaulting an officer. According to federal court papers, the plaintiff, Craig Clark, has named the Village of Pecatonica, which is west of Rockford, and Officer Douglas Hendricksen, as well as Winnebago County Sheriff’s Deputy Joseph Broullard, in a suit.Clark has claimed that he was leaving a bar in the town of Durand, which is also west of Rockford, with a female friend when his car was stopped by Broullard. While the deputy ran the female friend’s identification and called for back-up, Clark went back into the bar, court papers said.

“Plaintiff was standing on the rear porch of the bar when defendant-Officer Broullard-started administering the field sobriety test to Colleen,” the female friend, the papers said. “Plaintiff yelled out to Colleen that she could refuse the field sobriety test.”

When he did so, the deputy allegedly began to yell at Clark. “At this time, defendant-Officer Hendricksen approached plaintiff on the porch and pointed his taser at plaintiff.” The papers say that Clark was not taking an aggressive stance towards the officers, but that Hendricksen told Clark he was placing him under arrest.

“Really?” Clark said, according to the papers. “Defendant-Officer Hendricksen then fired his Taser at plaintiff,” says the complaint, which then said Hendricksen drew his asp from his belt and began striking Clark – an act that Broullard allegedly did nothing to stop.

The complaint says that Hendricksen told Broullard that Clark had taken his Taser, though Broullard had allegedly dropped it.

“Defendant-Officer Broullard struck plaintiff in the face with his fists and elbow,” according to the complaint before Hendricksen used a Taser on Clark once again.

Did Clark get beaten, tased and arrested because he really deserved it, or because the officers involved just didn’t think he had a right to speak his mind? And if what he said was against some statute, did it warrant the violent treatment?

Patterns of behavior

Those questions, and others, scream for answers, as you read about other recent cases of alleged police brutality:

— In Nashville, two brothers recently filed suit in federal court against officers they say assaulted them; one brother says he was assaulted by the officers for videotaping them assaulting his brother.

— An officer assigned to a Dolton, Ill., school physically assaulted a 15-year-old special needs child in 2010, all of which was caught on surveillance camera, ostensibly because the boy’s shirt was not tucked in. That same officer was later accused of rape.

— Officers in St. Paul, Minn., maced a 30-year-old suspect then kicked him, apparently for asking why he was being arrested, earlier this month.

— An undercover Greenville County officer tased and punched an 18-year-old in the face 13 times. Though at a known drug house, it did not appear as though the suspect was giving the officer much grief prior to his beat down.

— A security camera from a nearby Del Taco restaurant caught L.A.P.D officers (a pattern here in and of itself?) roughly handling Michelle Jordan, after being pulled over on a routine traffic stop (she was texting on her cell phone while driving). Post-arrest images showed bruises on her face and body after being mishandled by police.

— From the March 6, 2012, edition of the Chicago Tribune: “Eugene Gruber was drunk, hostile and uncooperative when he walked into the Lake County Jail, but a day later, he was paralyzed, had a broken neck and barely registered a pulse after an encounter with guards, records show.” He died four months later.


  • Buford T. Justice

    A true “journalist” would have at least compared the drunk idiot’s version of events to the sober and professional law enforcement officer’s report.

    Edmond needs to put down the bong, crawl out of his basement bedroom at his parent’s house, and go to that journalism class once in a while…

  • certain

    And true “cops” wouldn’t beat people for no reason and violate rights.

  • t.

    One sided at best.

    I love how this guy was “cool hand Luke” with his calm reply (obstensivly while being threatened and having a taser pointed at him from very close range). Now IF it went down likethis, its of course wrong. But you are believing a drunkard who was even admittedly trying to interred with a lawful police action.

    Then there are the other listed cases. My fav is the one at the drug house that “didn’t appear to be giving the officer much grief”. What a sentence.

    When looking at these, or any incident, just keep in mind: the police are legally justified in using force to effect an arrest (if you think it through…just handcuffing someone is a slight use of “force”) and that we are legally allowed to use force to overcome your resistance.

    I’ve been involved (either my actions, a fellow officers actions or a sudordinates actions) lots incidents where attorneys / plaintiffs have filed complaints. Invariably they end with the attorney saying “oh, they didn’t tell me that part”. I’ve actually collected on 2 judgments against people for fi.king false allegations of excessive force against me. Other officers that I have encouraged to sue have also won when they are defamed.

    The unfortunate thing is that accountants frequently decide that its cheaper to pay out settlements than it is to litigate these cases. I’m not saying that there aren’t incidents where things go to far, but most of these types of claims are unfounded. Heck, as proof just look around this site and those listed as sources in the article. Video after video making claims of police wrong doing. What those videos almost always show is proper police action that the poster just did think they should be arrested for. Big difference.

  • Dan

    T, it only seems that way because you are on one side of the line. If you were one of those complainents you would realize that following through on a complaint is not easy. It costs money, time, emotions, thought, research etc….its easy for you to say that when ur a cop and you get defended by the D.A. and GET PAID EXTRA TO goto court. It’s not that the majority of these complaints aren’t true, it’s that the system is not fair and it discourages people from taking and following through on such actions. I can’t beleive how arrogant your previous comment was. Police are “legally justified” in using force to effect an arrest. WHATEVER THAT MEANS. ANd even so, it’s not true. As well, remember, as a citizen I am “legally justified” in using force to defend myself against any unlawful conduct by anyone, including those claiming to be agents of the federal government. This is what u wrote “What those videos almost always show is proper police action that the poster just did think they should be arrested for. Big difference.” That is such an arrogant comment my god. That is only your opinion. It’s obvious you would say that because your on the Blue team. No these videos don’t show Proper Police action. If you caLL MURDER,RAPE, MISCONDUCT, THEFT all Proper action? Go tell that to all the victims of police brutality.

  • shawn


    Cops do have to be able to use force to make an arrest. It is just too many have lost the concept of controlled force, and then we get people who are beat to death.

  • T

    @dan: Obviously you didn’t think it through as requested. You really missed it all and are just way off base. First and easiest, we aren’t “defended by the DA. That doesn’t even make since. They prosecute…not defend. Lots of officers belong to various professional organizations or groups such as the PBA to have legal ad ice / protections should they get sued or accused of something, but that’s not the DA As for using force…hmm… take that one up with SCOTUS, but I bet they disagree with you as they have in case after case after case. And your right, you have the rigt to resist an unlawful arrest… But you’ll have to prove it was unlawful, not just you thinking you shouldn’t be arrested. Big, big difference. As for my comme t about the videos posted here…it stands as it was directly on target. Occasionally there is a video posted here that shows the police going to far. But the overwhelming amount of the videos posted here a d on his source sites simply don’t. You are viewing a very short video of a larger incident. But just because you don’t see anything on said short video you think whoever shouldn’t have been arrested…you don’t like it. As for the complaints being hard to file. Wow, apparently you do live in a bad town. Most places allow complainants without even having to ID yourself. This is a result from some really bad incidents / situations such as LAPD’s Rampart issues. Now I have worked hard with my PD on a sort of hybrid system of complaints. He names of complainants should remain anonymous if the investigation proves to have some merit to it. But those that are purely false / lies where someone who got a ticket or arrested or an officer didn’t do exactly what they wanted done (more often than not because the complainant was in the wrong) should be documented and available. I successfully sued 2 people for outrageous and fri illusion claims of excessive force. In one incident he didn’t know that there would be video available be ause the in ident took place far away from the dash cam. Like I recently commented elsewhere, your first amendment rights have limits…you can’t intentional lie and defame, slander, libel someone. So I guess in total, you kinda miss on each of your points. Again, think it through, don’t just react out of emotion. There are already the emotions only group around here.

  • 2minutes

    Thank you for pointing out a very glaring double standard enjoyed by the police – that of qualified immunity. Specifically, you like to brag about how you were able to successfully sue 2 people ” for outrageous and fri illusion claims”; yet, you are protected from being sued yourself via qualified immunity. Now, perhaps you haven’t done anything to merit being sued, but that’s beside the point. You can sue for something that you are protected from being sued for; in other words, if someone lies about you, you can sue, but if you, as a law enforcement officer, were to lie about someone, they can’t. Because you are protected. And they are not.

    We have seen numerous examples of police reports where the report does not match the video, or the witnesses, or both. But, the officers who lied on the report cannot be sued. Sure, the department can be, but that just takes money from the taxpayers, while you are allowed to take the money from the individual. You are protected from financial harm, yet are allowed to wreak said harm on someone for the same activity.

    Now, tell me how there is no double standard. Because that sure looks like a perfect example of one.

  • T

    @2: No. If the officers intentionally / maliciously do things…they can be sued and are. Qualified immunity doesn’t apply. Most of the incidents that I’ve seen where things are suspect, are just that, suspect. And without clear cut evidence that officers intentionally did wrong.

    What I sued for, as described above, were maliciously acts. People intentionally and knowingly lying because they were mad. I got lucky I that in one instance there was excellent video from and outside source showing that not did what the complainant said happen-not happen. But there wasn’t anything at all. No conflicts. No force. Just he and I talking The second dealt with a very public incident with lots of witnesses, both police and non-police. What you usually hear is officer being sued by people who didn’t think they should have been arrested. Big difference between having PC to arrest but not enough evidence to get to BRD and a malicious lie.

  • 2minutes

    @T No. look at Lisa Steed, accused of arresting people for DUI who were, in fact, sober. Two judges have found that she lied on the witness stand. LIED in order to extract a conviction. You can’t get more malicious than that. Now, there is a lawsuit, but its against the Utah HP, not her. Why? because 1) its more difficult, because of the qualified immunity issue, and 2) its more lucrative, financially, to sue the employer, who will settle, usually, and pay with taxpayer moneys. So, there is both a disincentive (qualified immunity) to suing personally and an incentive (larger payout in a settlement) to suing the employer – both of which add up to a level of protection for cops that the average citizen doesn’t have, even when the officer is caught red-handed acting maliciously. On the other hand, a cop doesn’t have this incentive/disincentive barrier to surmount: according to you, all you had to do was sue the individual directly – causing financial harm to the person, not the
    entity they were employed by – for a similar malicious activity.

    How extremely…convenient… for you.

  • t.

    2: Was there a finding of qualified immunity?

    But as an example that you arent totally right…did / do cancer sufferers sue the individuals on the cigarette assembly line of just the companies? Do they just sue the doctors for malpractice or the hospitals too?

    Now I have no idea about the cases you quoted. What’s is the back / total story? What were the stops for, was there any signs of impairment and the just “blew green” as we say. If there are some of those factors involved…there may be qualified immunity. But as I said, I’m not familiar with her at all.

    I’m not saying that you are or do, but remember, a finding of not guilty BRD is far different than having PC for arrest. The standards are far, far different. There will most likely have to be a finding of maliciouness to overcome the protections of having that PC.

  • http://[email protected] Vicky

    Hello everyone! I guess I missed the part where Mr. Clark was charged with drunkeness…And he was guilty by association with the friend??? And by being at a bar you automically are a drunk. .Wow – good thing we have jurors – some of you people are great judges – without the facts….I hope you never get on the other side of the law and need my help!

  • 2minutes

    Your examples are fallacious. Cancer sufferers sued in class action lawsuits because that’s what the courts allowed, since the suits were too big to handle on an individual basis. This happened with Wal-mart’s employee grievances as well. Even if it was not mandated, the companies would be sued, since an assembly line worker has little say in the process, just one or two repetitive tasks to perform; unlike the police, who utilize what? Police discretion, I believe you called it. That means that the damages wrought are a direct consequence of the officers decision making, and therefore the officer has a much greater responsibility for the outcome than an assembly line worker. really, that one isn’t that difficult to reason out.

    As for Doctors and hospitals – it depends. Who is at fault? Sometimes the hospital, sometimes the doctor, sometimes both. Sometimes one gets sued, sometimes the other, sometimes both.
    But again, your reasoning is in error. In most cases the doctor doesn’t work for the hospital, he or she has privileges to practice at the hospital – its a big difference. The doctor is a separate entity, not an employee. And the doctor doesn’t receive the benefit of qualified immunity for poor decision making – ever.

  • blinders

    For those so shocked by these aligations there is plenty of video evidence to support the claims of police brutality feel free to surf you tube for it. There are allot of good men on the job and just as many not fit for the job. Compact cameras, remote uploads to webserves that prevent the destruction and confiscation of incriminateing evidence is bringing more and more light to a serious problem.

  • Brian

    If you think police brutality doesn’t occur, try watching this. These officers beat this kid so bad he had to be taken to the hospital 3 times in one night, each time in worse condition. This was caught on camera: