You may have heard about the video of the Long Beach police officers beating a prone man. Well, last night, NBC Los Angeles came to the rescue… of the police department. In a story that is shocking in its bias toward the LBPD, reporter Kim Baldonado does everything but accuse the victim, Porfirio Santos Lopez, of pedophilia.
We learn for example, that Lopez was drunk and, according the the police, admitted to being on methamphetamine. I don’t doubt that this is all quite true, but it bugs that such information would normally not be publicly available. But when the police department needs a cover, well, any information can be released. But the main thing is that this information doesn’t matter. I think everyone that sees the video assumes that the police were at least somewhat justified in starting their beating. The question is why did they continue to beat him when he wasn’t resisting.
Similarly, the story goes on to show a confrontation between Lopez and two other men before the police arrived. This is even worse. I suspect that the police wouldn’t have even collected this information if they hadn’t been covering their asses. And so they’ve used the footage for its primary purpose: to release it to the TV news to try to justify their actions. But again: it is irrelevant. We get it: Lopez should have been arrested. The question is whether he should have had bones broken and teeth knocked out.
These kinds of situations are typical and I doubt these cops are any worse than any other cops. Yesterday, while waiting for a bus, I was nearby when a woman was hit by a car. Witnesses quickly called 911, and very quickly a police car and fire truck arrived and tended to the injured woman. I was sitting on the curb behind the bus shelter in the parking lot. Another police car was coming to the scene through the parking lot. Another car was in front of it. The officer got impatient and raced past the car going roughly 40 miles per hour. I thought, “That’s just what we need: another pedestrian hit by a car.”
The point is that there was no rush for that particular cop to get to the scene. He was just keyed up with adrenaline (Which is much like methamphetamine, right?) and thus behaving irresponsibly. I’m sure that was what was going on with these cops in Long Beach. So I have no problem with reporting that explains the situation that these officers found themselves in. Generally, being a cop is a very boring but easy job. Situations like this one are hard and it isn’t surprising that cops sometimes screw up. But blaming the victim for the bad behavior as if of course they should have beat him to death is wrong. That isn’t journalism; that’s propaganda.
If I’m very lucky, this embed will work: