August 22, 2012
Apparently Albuquerque, NM police believe smoking marijuana is a crime that endangers their lives or the lives of others.
This was made clear by footage shot from the lapel camera of one Officer Connor Rice who claimed “hot pursuit” before unlawfully barging into someone’s apartment and subsequently tasering an occupant.
The incident happened on May 31 and has led to a criminal summons being issued to Officer Rice.
The footage was released last Thursday in response to a public records request from reporters and a lawsuit filed by local TV station KRQE.
The damning video begins with bike cop Connor Rice conducting a search in which a suspect admits to having marijuana in his pocket and in his backpack.
Officer Rice and another officer prepare to handcuff the suspect after lecturing them when the accused flees on foot leading officers on a foot and bike chase through a neighborhood.
Officer Rice next comes upon two average-looking citizens walking a dog with knowledge of the incident and proceeds to frisk them.
After leading officers to their apartment, which held the man police were looking for, police kick down the apartment door and officer Rice uses a stun gun on the first person he sees. That person is heard yelling in pain at the 24 minute mark in the video.
One resident, probably familiar with the dog-killing that has become standard protocol for police, asks Rice if he can secure his dog, to which the officer replied, “Get down on the ground, no! Stay right there!” The resident continues to insist that his dog needs to be secured when police decide to taze the resident into submission.
While the officers were busy tazering the apartment occupants, the man they were looking for sneaks out the back and runs off.
After another bike pursuit, officer Rice and about two other officers find the suspect.
While being tackled to the ground, the suspect is heard saying, “I surrender,” to which officer Rice asks “You surrender?” Next a howling scream is heard as the victim is visibly forced into compliance by officers beating him and stomping on his head with their feet.
The ABQ Journal notes that officers also jumped on that man’s back.
According to the Journal, Rice’s tasering in the apartment led to his aggravated battery charge, which means he had intent to injure, and his subsequent strikes at the “surrendered” man were the basis for his battery charge.
The other officers involved, Shad Solis and Ronald Surran, have not been charged and, according to the police chief, remain on desk duty. Rice was not charged with illegal entry because he didn’t commit a felony inside the apartment.
Albuquerque Police Chief Ray Schultz publicly denounced Rice’s invasion of the apartment, saying, “Obviously, that’s a violation…You do have to have a warrant to enter.” He also expressed his anger at the false reports filed by the three officers, stating, “I am very disappointed and angry in the differences between the reports and the videos.”
The Journal reports that the tasered dog owner was charged with harboring or aiding a felon, and the man who was chased and beaten was charged with possession of marijuana and conspiracy.
The Supreme Court has stated that “hot pursuit,” or “fresh pursuit,” can override the Fourth Amendment and gives police the authority to enter someone’s property in “the need to circumvent the destruction of evidence, and the need to prevent the loss of life or serious injury,” neither of which applied to this case.
Now, Rice faces 18 months for his conduct and the entire department faces a possible federal civil rights investigation for their overuse of force.
In the past we’ve seen Albuquerque police “protect citizens” from extreme threats such as a 13-year-old boy who burped, and more recently a 6-year-old girl who was handcuffed and charged with assault for throwing a tantrum. In June they jailed a mother for an overdue Twilight book.
The sad extent police go to in trying to control our lives is an epidemic. More frequently, we’re bogged down with infuriating police state news that feeds the public’s growing perceptions that police are not working in “our best interests.” People are becoming accustomed to recoiling in fear anytime a police car is seen.
Criminal thugs are drawn to law enforcement as a means to live out their fantasies of absolute domination. Under the guise of protecting the public, corrupt cops act irrationally and criminally, receiving little to no punishment for their heinous actions, and often get paid vacations while a corrupt network of internal investigations and judges work to get them off the hook.
The lapel cam’s footage is essentially the only reason officer Rice is being held accountable. This powerful police surveillance tool is a necessary aid to the problem of out-of-control cops and should be required of all officers at all times everywhere.