During the last few years, there’s seemingly been an outbreak of sorts of rogue cops, police brutality, illegal activity by police and law enforcement. While it’s a problem not localized to the US, it seems the development has been particularly disturbing there, while other nations have seen improvements.
The number of complaints and law suits filed against police departments and police officers in the US is increasing, and a staggering ~340 million dollars were spent in court costs due to incidents of misconduct by public servants. Imagine, if you will, the good all those millions could have done if they could have been spent on officer training, replacing battered and worn out equipment and vehicles, etc… Some states have gone so far as to amend or add laws to reflect the legitimate need that citizens face to defend themselves against the police. Let’s say that again; states have passed laws that allow citizens to use force against the people sworn to protect and serve them, because those people, sworn to serve and protect, are abusing them and breaking the law.
So what are your rights, and what should you do if you’re under this kind of attack?
Indiana law authorizes deadly force against police
Before you get all worked up over that, let’s explain what it’s all about. Simply put; if you are a law abiding citizen, sitting in your own living room, you have no affiliation to crime and you are not perpetrating a crime, and the police break down your door, you may defend yourself and your property against that unlawful intrusion.
Yes, you read that right. If the police commits an unlawful intrusion, and you have reasonable grounds for believing that they are there unlawfully, you may use deadly force against them.
The need for such a law is extreme in itself, but it is also an extremely powerful signal to law enforcement agencies that they themselves must follow every letter of the laws they are charged with upholding, or face serious consequences. By the way, the NRA backed that law vigorously. Let’s be clear about something here; if you’re a suspect in a crime, or if you’re committing a crime in your home, it’s still illegal to shoot at cops! So before you do that, make sure you’re not involved in anything even remotely fishy.
The law says it’s there to; “protect the person or a third person from what the person reasonably believes to be the imminent use of unlawful force.”
Bottom Line; If you’re a spotless, law-abiding citizen, you may use deadly force against law enforcement who is breaking into your home or abode.
Justifying self-defense against the police is the real problem.
In most cases, the person who has been “assaulted” by the police is at fault themselves, by initiating a situation where force has to be used against them.
However; in 2010, a Connellsville, PA, woman was found not guilty of assaulting a police officer whom she had beaten to the point where the female officer had a broken nose and teeth knocked out. The bottom line of the case was that the cop has initiated the assault by calling the woman a derogatory racist term, and the woman also stated that the cop had initiated the physical struggle that ensued. It’s important to note that the woman was found guilty of resisting arrest, even though she was found not guilty of assault. resisting arrest is a lesser charge, of course.
This illustrates one point; if the police initiates the assault or physical struggle, you do have a right to defend yourself. This, of course, is providing you’re not breaking a law and resisting arrest… which is often the case when force has to be used. If you’re an innocent bystander, for example, and an officer calls you a derogatory term (verbally assaults you), and then proceeds to be physical, you may well be within your rights to defend yourself. Remember that in the US, you cannot be detained or arrested, or even questioned to any notable extent unless you are the suspect of a crime and the suspicion is reasonable. For example; watching/photographing/videotaping the police is not a crime, and you cannot be detained or arrested for it.
Another example, this one from Canada, is Basil Parasiris, a Quebec man who killed a police officer taking part in a 4am raid on Basil’s home. Basil was initially granted bail during his trial, an unprecedented move in Canada under the circumstances, and was acquitted after the court found that he had reason to believe he was sincere in his statement to him being convinced he and his family were under attack from burglars, not the police. Basil shot the police officer three times.
In that case, the police failed to identify themselves, initiated the assault on Basil and his family, and that was proven in court, to the extent that Basil was found not guilty, since it was a self defense situation.
Here’s another case, where an SF man was found not guilty after stabbing (!) an off-duty police officer. Again, it was established that the cop was the aggressor in the situation.
Knowing when and where to resist is your ticket to freedom.
Let’s be absolutely clear about something; we firmly believe that it’s in the best interest of everyone to cooperate with the police. However; if the police steps over their boundaries, we also believe that it’s the duty of everyone to make sure they’re put back in their place. Here’s a few pointers to when and where you might find it’s appropriate to resist law enforcement and/or other public servants;
- If you are certain beyond a shadow of a doubt that the police are acting unlawfully.
- If you are certain beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are acting lawfully.
- If you are certain beyond a shadow of a doubt that the incident is being documented.
Remember, the burden of proof will be on you. The most effective way of documenting that you’re in the right is audio and video recording – not one or the other, but both. If you have your whole encounter on video, and if you have several witnesses on your side when you take appropriate action against unlawful activities by the police, you can feel safe.
Also, remember that you will almost certainly be arrested and taken into custody for what you’ve done. That’s nigh on impossible to avoid. Never resist arrest if you have taken action against unlawful activities committed by the police. Document your arrest as well, if possible. That, of course, is to prove that you did not resist arrest.
Prepare, prepare, prepare.
Being prepared for unpleasant encounters with the police isn’t a crime (though some police officers seem to think so). Showing up at a peaceful demonstration with a gas mask in your backpack isn’t a crime. Carrying legal mace/pepper spray meant for self-defense isn’t a crime (check your local laws, though…). Wearing a helmet with a visor, body armor and joint/legs/arm protection isn’t a crime. Remember that.
Even if you show up to a peaceful demonstration in full riot gear (minus billy club and shield, perhaps) with a gas mask strapped to your thigh isn’t a crime. You can wear that on the street, can’t you? Exactly. We would honestly like to know why there aren’t more demonstrations with people geared up like that. After all, most riot gear can be bought online (and in surplus stores) at bargain basement prices. Well… maybe not bargain basement, but here are some examples;
- Hatch TR1000 helmet w/face shield – $170, though helmets can be had for half that, even.
- Damascus FlexForce full body armor, hard shell – $484. This is extreme, though…
- Israeli gas mask w/NATO filter - $25. And the Israelis never kid around with this stuff, either.
- ContourROAM HD handsfree camcorder – from ~$174. Can be mounted on helmets, clothing, etc… everyone should have one of these.
- SanDisk Extreme 128GB SDHC memory card – about ~$135. Right at home in that camera we told you about…
The Bottom Line
The hard truth is that police brutality is on the rise, and unlawful activity by the police is on the rise in the US. Being prepared for that is not a crime, and it might be a necessity. Only by documenting incidents, resisting when it’s appropriate and weeding out the “bad cops” can the statistics improve, and the faith in the police be restored.
We would never recommend using violence against the police. In fact, we would much rather live in a society where people cooperate with a law abiding and -upholding police force that honors its oaths to serve and protect.