How many Miami police officers does it take to bring a handcuffed man, who is lying on the ground and offering no resistance, into custody?
And how many punches and kicks to the suspect’s head does it take?
Either police officers are stubbornly refusing to understand the continuing crisis of excessive force or they are painfully unaware of precedent, examples and instances occurring nationwide that show police brutality — especially against minorities — is a real thing.
For some reason, it just keeps happening.
Take, for example, the case in Miami. Video surfaced last week of police officers there chasing a Black man who was suspected of hitting an officer with his motorized scooter during a traffic stop and then fleeing into a hotel. He sprinted into an elevator, where he was confronted by an officer.
The video of the incident — compiled from the hotel security system — is crystal clear. The suspect, 24-year-old Dalonta Crudup, comes out of the elevator and calmly lays on the ground. After he is handcuffed, a swarm of Miami police officers converge and beat Crudup, even as he does not appear to offer resistance. One police sergeant kicks Crudup at least seven times as a mass of other officers hold the handcuffed man face-down on the floor. The same sergeant offers another hard kick to the head toward the end of the video, as Crudup lay motionless.
Officers who arrived late sweep in and get their licks in, too.
Then, the gang turns on a bystander who is using a cellphone to film the incident. Video shows that man, 28-year-old Khalid Vaughn, who also is Black, violently thrown against a stone pillar in the hotel hallway, punched repeatedly by police and charged with a crime.
In the days since, the Miami Police Department is obviously working the public-relations line, with its leaders stressing “we will learn from this.”
How many times does America have to hear this?
And had there not been video evidence, would others believe Crudup was not resisting, or fighting back?
That an incident like this happens within 15 months of the George Floyd murder in Minneapolis is stunning. Yet the brutality continues.
“We’re better than this. We will learn from this and grow from this,” Miami Police Chief Richard Clements said.
And when will police acknowledge that bystanders are allowed to take video, provided they are not bypassing barricades or standing on otherwise private property. How have police not yet figured this out?
It’s important to note that Greater Grand Forks law enforcement agencies have no history of brutality or excessive force, at least in recent years or that we know of. And we do not condone any suggestions or actions to defund any police force. We want a police force that is able to adequately protect the community.
Locally, we don’t see issues with excessive force. But on a national scale and in the biggest cities, change is needed — not in the form of reduced forces, but in how the forces conduct their work and interact with the people.
The cops in Miami are either brutal (evidenced by their violence on a helpless suspect) or ignorant (based on their obvious lack of attention to recent national events). Probably both.
And it shows that departments everywhere must do a better job — not just in teaching officers how to maneuver the rigors and dangers of their job, but also in teaching a basic sense of right and wrong.
This other view is the opinion of the editorial board of our sister publication, the Grand Forks Herald.