Over at Cato’s Police Misconduct web site, we have selected the worst case for the month of April. It was the case involving a Michigan man by the name of James King.
King was minding his own business when he was confronted by two menacing men. King didn’t know these men and he wanted to get away from them, but they chased him down and beat him up.
Turns out the men were police officers working on a fugitive task force. They thought King was one of their fugitives, but they were mistaken about that. They were out of uniform when they confronted King and, according to King’s lawsuit, they did not identify themselves as police officers. Worried about his own safety, King ran away from them.
One of the officers put King in a chokehold till he lost consciousness. When King came to, he again feared for his own safety, thinking that these men were criminal attackers, so he bit the arm of one of the officers in a gambit to get away from them. The bite infuriated the officer, who then unleashed a torrent of punches on King’s face and head.
Bystanders were alarmed by what they were witnessing and they called 911. The responding officer, for his part, told the witnesses to delete their cell phone videos of the incident. He was worried about the safety of the officers, who had undercover jobs. He said they shouldn’t be recorded.
When things settled down, and the police realized their mistake, they decided to arrest King anyway. He fought back during his arrest–that’s a crime.
Prosecutors evidently agreed that King needed to be punished–so they charged him with three felonies.
King declined to plea bargain and insisted on a jury trial. After hearing all the arguments and evidence, the jury acquitted him of all charges.
A civil lawsuit is now pending. There’s no indication of any discipline for the officers involved. They’re apparently still out there policing.