In Marion County, Florida the state attorney for the Fifth Judicial Circuit provided Eyewitness News video footage that showed deputies brutally kicking and punching a drug suspect who had already surrendered.
Derrick Price was arrested during a drug bust back in 2014; former deputy Jesse Terrell and four other former deputies are accused of hitting and kicking Price in the head, neck and shoulders after he had put his hands up and gotten down on the ground.
A federal grand jury indicted Terrell and he’s facing up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, according to WFTV. The other deputies resigned and pleaded guilty to federal civil rights violations.
Marion County Sheriff Chris Blair reportedly said in a statement, "The abusive and unprofessional actions they displayed shocked me to my core, and there was absolutely no hesitation for me to immediately inform the Florida Department of Law Enforcement of their actions, to immediately suspend those former deputies without pay and, ultimately, to request their resignation and/or termination."
Why is this particular instance important?
As cases of police brutality and misconduct have come to light over the course of several years, many people —including GOP presidential front-runners Donald Trumpand Ted Cruz — have spoken out to defend U.S. law enforcement’s actions, even stooping so low as to blame activists for “conspiring” to declare a “war on cops.”
A former North Carolina police chief, Mike Halstead, referred to Black Lives Matter as a terrorist group in a disturbing Facebook rant in which he also referred to Michael Brown — who was killed by police — as a “thug.”
The police footage from the attack in Marion County is one of many examples to discredit the notion that it’s the cops who are being targeted and threatened.
In addition, there are statistics that indicate 2015 was actually one of the safest years on record for police.
According to data collected by The Washington Post in December, firearms-related deaths of cops were down about 20 percent in 2015 compared to the previous year. Furthermore, the approximately 38 police deaths in 2015 included at least one suicide and two cases in which a cop was shot by another cop.
It’s vital not to allow misleading, fear-mongering rhetoric to divert attention away from what’s truly happening around you.
While criminals should have to face legal consequences for their crimes, they still have rights as human beings. The punishment and dishonor that these Florida cops face shows us that wearing a badge doesn’t symbolize permission to violate those rights.
Thumbnail/Banner Credits: REUTERS/Noah Berger