[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]
A Seattle freelance videographer recently captured a local cop kicking a man in the head while prone on the ground and using ethnic slurs:
Interim Seattle Police Chief John Diaz said Friday he is going to have to "repair damage" in the community after the release of a videotape showing a gang detective and a patrol officer kicking a prone man and using ethnically inflammatory language.One of the most disturbing aspects of the incident, as you can see from the video, is that it turned out that the man being kicked and verbally assaulted had nothing to do with the crime being investigated. Indeed, you can see police stand him up, dust him off, and send him on his way, with no medical care.
The Police Department disclosed Friday that it has launched an internal investigation into the incident, in which the gang detective, Shandy Cobane, can be heard on video telling a man lying on a concrete sidewalk, "I'm going to beat the [expletive] Mexican piss out of you, homey. You feel me?"
Here's how the Seattle Times described it:
According to KIRO-TV, which said it got the video from a freelance videographer, Seattle police officers responded to the area near China Harbor restaurant after several nightclub patrons called 911 to report an armed robbery in the parking lot. The patrons apparently described the robbery suspects as Hispanic.The Times piece features Cobane's tearful apologies as well:
Around 1:15 a.m. April 17, a patron of China Harbor, located at 2040 Westlake Ave. N., went to the parking lot to say goodbye to his girlfriend, who had gotten into her car, according to a police report on the robbery.
Four Hispanic men walked up to him, and one of them demanded money and pulled out a 3-foot-long machete, according to the report. The man told his girlfriend to leave and began walking to his car, but was followed by the four men, the report says. According to the report, a second suspect told the victim, "We can kill you right now. We can do whatever we want with you."
The victim gave the men $20, but they demanded more money so he gave them another $20 before getting into his vehicle and calling 911, the report says. He told officers the man with the machete appeared to be drunk or on drugs.
The victim was able to positively identify at least one of the suspects at the scene, the police report says. Police later arrested two of the four men — one told officers he was from Mexico while the other said he was from El Salvador, according to the police report. A third man was interviewed and released at the scene, and the fourth man was not found.
It's unknown if the man released from the scene is the same man seen in the video.
"I know my words cut deep and were very hurtful," he said. "... I am truly, truly sorry."Kinda like closing the barn door after the horse has been let out, isn't it?
A 15-year veteran of the department, Cobane, 44, said he never dreamed he'd "bring such notoriety to my department. Sadly, I did."
Apologizing to colleagues, the Latino community and Seattle, he said his "offensive and unprofessional" words did not reflect who he is.
Well, now the FBI is opening up an inquiry:
The FBI will conduct a preliminary inquiry into the incident last month in which a Seattle police gang detective and a patrol officer kicked a prone Latino man and used ethnically inflammatory language.As Maegan at VivrLatino observes:
The inquiry was requested by the U.S. Department of Justice, according to Special Agent Fred Gutt of the FBI's Seattle office. Gutt said such an inquiry is routine in cases where there may be a possible civil-rights violation and could be followed by a full-blown investigation.
The fact that the man beat up in the video had nothing to do with the crime reported (a robbery with Latinos involved) is besides the point. If the police had beat up and used anti-Mexican slurs against the “criminals” would we, those who consume media feel a little better about it, think somewhere in the back of our minds “well, they had it coming”?There's also an interesting back story involving the video itself: It seems the freelancer originally offered it to the local Fox News affiliate, KCPQ, with whom he had been working earlier in the day, and they iced it. So he offered it to KIRO, which promptly ran with it, realizing the import of what they had.
The point is that laws like SB1070 and the current Comprehensive Immigration Reform framework put out there by Senator biometric Chuck Schumer works from the default position that immigrants, painted broadly as Latinos, painted broadly as Mexicans are criminals. It works from the framework that we need to prove ourselves worthy of humane treatment via speaking proper English, paying fines disguised as taxes, getting to the back of the line. Resistance to this, asking for legalization and/or basic human rights is seen as ungrateful and as an unwillingness to play the political game we asked to swallow in the name of political efficiency.
Now KCPQ is threatening to sue, saying they were just figuring out how to release it. Right.