Last week, NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton presented state legislators with an idea – turn the penalty for resisting arrest from a misdemeanor into a felony.
“We need to get around this idea that you can resist arrest,” Bratton said. “You can’t. You just can’t do it. [It] results in potential injury to the officers, to the suspect, and we need to change that. One of the ways to change that is start giving penalties for that.”
Leaving aside the mountain of evidence that increasing the penalty for crimes does not deter potential criminals, the NYPD’s use of “resisting arrest” is often merely an excuse to justify an officer’s use of excessive force.
“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 Sam Walker, a former criminal justice professor at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. ““Why did the officer use force? Well, the person was resisting arrest.”
In fact, statistics show that 5 percent of NYPD police officers are responsible for about 40 percent of resisting arrest charges. Additionally, 75 percent of all resisting arrest charges are made by a mere 15 percent of officers. These numbers back-up the assertion that some officers use “resisting arrest” as a way to invent a crime for people who have not broken any law, but are merely being illegally held in contempt by an officer who wishes he had the power of a judge.
Knowing the dubious nature of many “resisting arrest” charges, judges and prosecutors often dismiss such a charge, something members of the NYPD also want to change.
“The vast majority [of charges] might end up being dismissed,” Commissioner Bratton said. “We’re asking district attorneys to treat them more seriously than they have been treated in the past.” Bratton added that to police abuse, the NYPD would use its own stat-tracking system to monitor which officers had charges that are eventually dropped. Bratton might as well have said, “In addition to giving us the power to slap anyone with a felony at any time for any reason, give us the unchecked power to police ourselves, and make sure people are sent to jail on our say so too…No, I don’t care about the facts, ma’am.”
As noted by WeAreChange and other alternative media outlets, some of the people who might have found themselves slapped with a felony for “resisting arrest” include Jahmil-El Cuffee, who was recently charged with resisting arrest after having his head stomped in by an NYPD cop for allegedly rolling a joint, and Eric Garner, who assuredly would have been charged with resisting arrest if he hadn’t died after being famously choked out by an NYPD officer for selling loose cigarettes. As law enforcement expert Sam Walker mentioned, “resisting arrest” is a popular charge nationwide for officers who have used excessive force. The teenager in this horrifying video was also being told to “stop resisting” while an officer used his favorite “pain compliance technique” on the face-down teenager, who lay on the floor with three armed officers holding him down.
Below is a video of a man dressed in a Spiderman costume fighting with NYPD cops who may have been resisting and was definitely charged with resisting among other crimes, but this week, he was cleared of all charges when his attorney argued that his right to a speedy trial had been violated.
“Stop resisting, bitch!” the cops told him after they had subdued him.