The Aldrich Alert
Gary Aldrich

A Publication of the Patrick Henry Center for Individual Liberty

Cops Out of Control?

May 5, 2001

by Gary Aldrich - Volume 2, Issue 24

This article appeared on on Saturday, May 4, 2002.

President Bush recently spoke to community leaders in Los Angeles at the First African Methodist Episcopal Renaissance Center. And while he didnít mention Rodney King directly during his speech, he alluded to the violent rioting that took place after the first verdict in the trial of the LAPD officers who had been accused of assaulting King.

The Rodney King incident happened more than 10 years ago, and while much has transpired since then, how to avoid a similar situation is still unknown.

Letís review the facts: Rodney King was engaged in a high-speed chase, at night, on Los Angeles freeways, pursued by several police officers in different squad cars. They had observed King in violation of traffic laws and had attempted to pull him over using the usual sirens and lights. King refused to submit, and so the chase was on.

However, drunk, drugged or sober, he refused to obey a simple police command, engaging in a reckless high-speed chase that endangered the lives of police officers and many innocent bystanders and motorists.

After many miles, King pulled off the freeway and stopped his car, whereupon he was surrounded by a number of officers who had responded as backup. King had one or two companions in his car, and they quickly submitted to arrest.

King continued to resist. While itís true that there were several police officers and King was clearly outnumbered, he was a large man and fought ferociously as the officers tried to handcuff him. A review of the entire videotape shows King lunging at one officer as if he were grabbing for his weapon.

Losing your weapon to a crazed, out-of-control person is a copís worst nightmare because statistically, police officers who lose their guns to the person they are trying to arrest are almost always executed with it. This fact is emphasized repeatedly in training.

In accordance with the training they received, the officers who saw King lunge toward the weapon had justification to use deadly force on King to prevent him from stealing the weapon of their fellow officer.

In spite of what some "la la" people may think, there is no code stating that King or any other "out-of-control criminal" must fire first in these or any other life-threatening circumstances.

For whatever reason, the officers did not shoot King but continued to attempt to subdue him. They proceeded to do exactly what they were trained to do – they drew their nightsticks and began to hit King in places that would cause a normal man or woman to submit to arrest immediately. Training academies teach police officers and federal agents effective ways to use a nightstick. Otherwise, why carry it?

King moved about, attempting to dodge the blows. As a result, he may have been struck in places where he might not otherwise have been hit. However, as far as I know, there is no rule that forbids an officer to strike a blow to a personís head if thatís what it takes to subdue him. Unfortunately for King, these blows resulted in a slight concussion.

The infamous Rodney King videotape, played again and again by the mainstream media, only showed the blows by the officers. The media neglected to play the portion of the tape that clearly showed Kingís lunge toward the officerís weapon. Perhaps the media failed to understand the importance of that tiny piece of tape. The jury who later heard the case must have thought it was important because they found the officers "not guilty."

The city of Los Angeles was in no mood for such a verdict, and in turn, massive rioting and destruction followed. Later, the Los Angeles police officers were retried by the former Bush administrationís Justice Department on civil rights violations, and this time a Los Angeles-based jury convicted.

Many who watched the partial tape have concluded that the LAPD cops were out of control, but years later, they still have no realistic suggestions on how the cops should have reacted in a life-threatening situation such as that one. The officers were not allowed to throw a large net over him – that had serious racial overtones, and so such devices could never be used. Nor could they use a tranquilizer gun for the same reasons.

When you consider that the LAPD officersí only other options, apart from shooting him, were to let King go or pile on him with six or 10 officers – which of course could have killed him or caused him even more serious injury – one can only wonder how much more confused human beings can become in their reasoning.

Recently, the Patrick Henry Center, along with the Second Amendment Sisters, began to provide training for women in the state of Virginia in the use of deadly force. Virginia is one of a majority of states that permit average citizens to carry concealed firearms for the purpose of self-defense.

In this and other states, if you are a woman, you are permitted to use deadly force to stop a man who is threatening you with bodily harm, and he does not even have to be big like Rodney King. He does not even have to place your life in danger – according to Virginia law, just the threat of bodily injury to a woman is enough justification to shoot him.

Moreover, if you are a female police officer or female federal agent, you do not have to bop a man on the head to get him to submit to arrest. If a man does the slightest thing to make a female law enforcement officer believe that her life is in danger, guess what her options are: Bang, bang – heís dead.

When you think of it, Rodney King was lucky that the arresting officers were not women; they were guys trying to do the impossible. They were not "out of control" as has been suggested.

But King was out of control, and, therefore, the situation was out of control. Yet, more than 10 years later there are still no solutions for what to do when a large crazed man refuses to be arrested by the police.