Mimesis Law
20 September 2019

Even in Blythville, Using Taser Is Not Automatically Excessive Force

Apr. 5, 2016 (Mimesis Law) — In Blythville, Arkansas, Patrick Newbern was contacted by the local police who were answering a loud music call. When asked for his identification, Newbern said that he didn’t have it with him, and the officer told him, “Don’t go nowhere.” Newbern responded “Alright.”

 

The officer then got his citation book to issue Newbern a loud music ticket, and Newbern decided to start to drive off. The police didn’t like this, jumped in their cars, and turned on their sirens. Newbern stoped before he got out of the convenience store parking lot.

The officers decided, quite appropriately, to get Newbern out of the car, and Newbern was verbally resistant to the idea. When they pulled Newbern out of the car, he immediately started resisting the officers. You can clearly see him moving his arms and hands, trying to prevent the officers from arresting him.

So he got tased and pepper-sprayed. And then he was charged with fleeing from the police in a vehicle, resisting arrest, and loud music.

The local NAACP chapter president, James Welspom, said that the local police did their job and no investigation was necessary.

He’s right. It’s clear on the body cam video that Newbern was detained for the purpose of issuing a citation, that he decided to drive off, and then resisted both exiting the vehicle and being handcuffed.

Of course, Newbern has a different opinion. He’s comparing himself to Travon Martin and Michael Brown.

Really?

Martin was shot and killed while he was allegedly beating George Zimmerman, and Brown was shot and killed while he was allegedly assaulting Officer Darren Wilson.

You want to compare yourself to two people who were allegedly attacking others? Both Zimmerman and Wilson were cleared of any criminal wrongdoing in those deaths.

So after the local NAACP said that there was no need for an investigation, the Mississippi County chapter president, Tony Hollis, called for an investigation, claiming that the police did not follow proper procedure because the crowd was all over the place.

Okay, let me explain how this works.

You have two police officers, one resisting suspect, and a horde of upset and angry bystanders who are screaming at the police, going into Newbern’s car, and generally causing problems. Faced with that, the officers showed remarkable restraint and professionalism.

First, Newbern tried to flee. Granted he didn’t get far, but he had been told that he was to stay put and acknowledged that order, then started to drive off. When you do that, the officers are going to get you out of the car, and they are not going to entertain any discussion over the issue because you already have shown that you are willing to flee. When you do it in a car, you put a bunch of people at risk, so the officers will want to make sure that you can’t take off again.

And when he’s pulled out of the car, he’s not complying with the officers. Watch his hands. They are pushing at the officer, trying to keep the officers from gaining control. Using the taser in the drive stun mode, or using pepper-spray was completely appropriate. I get that Newbern didn’t like it, and that Hollis doesn’t think it was necessary.

Too bad. Holding hands and singing Kumbyla wasn’t going to resolve the situation.

Second, you’ll see in the video that the officers used two sets of handcuffs to secure Newbern. By attaching one pair to each of Newbern’s wrists and then connected the two cuffs to each other, the officers could restrain Newbern without having to put unnecessary force and stress on his arms and shoulders. Most officers would have just forced his arms together and used one set of cuffs.

Third, who gives a damn about the car and the property inside? Not me, if I had already called for more officers, if the crowd was still yelling at me and crowding in on all sides. I’m going to concentrate on protecting my prisoner and my fellow officer. The hell with the property, it can be replaced or even paid for by the city.

Again, the officers were very professional. I would have probably used the pepper-spray to get the crowd to back off. It’s dangerous to the officers and to the bystanders to keep charging in like that. I’ve been in a number of those situations, both as the officer at the scene and as the officer responding to assist. These officers did an outstanding job.

Fourth, as soon as the first backup officers arrived, they put Newbern in the car and got him out of there.

The Blytheville Police don’t need an outside investigation, but in this case, I would ask the State Police or the Mississippi County Sheriff to conduct one—it’s clear that it will exonerate the officers. They could even go to Jonesboro and see if the academics at the Arkansas State University Criminology Department want to look at it. Unless you are a moron or have a political agenda, it is clear that the officers did nothing wrong.

Next, I would invite Hollis to attend a Citizen’s Police Academy. He needs to get over his uneducated viewpoint on this, to learn what professional police procedure really is, and that it is not what he thinks it is. Or even more importantly, maybe he should talk to Welspom. He seemed to know what was going on from the first time he viewed the video.

This isn’t police brutality. This is political opportunism by Hollis and Newbern.

4 Comments on this post.

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  • Chris
    6 April 2016 at 11:06 am - Reply

    Agree with the assessment. I’m a bit curious as to why that wasn’t just a “Hey turn that $%$# down” kind of encounter. Then as long as he complies, just a warning. Unless he’d already been asked or this is a repeat encounter. These are the kind of opportunities officers can use to build positive relationships in the community instead of just writing tickets whenever you can.

    • Greg Prickett
      6 April 2016 at 1:27 pm - Reply

      Apparently it is an on-going problem, to the point that warning signs have been posted about loud music and loitering, with notice that citations would be issued.

      When I worked in the projects, there were several businesses in my area that had similar signage, carwashes and the like where people congregated.

      Typically those type of signs meant that it had gone past the request to turn down the music.

  • Richard G. Kopf
    6 April 2016 at 4:44 pm - Reply

    Greg,

    Thanks for this. There is a sense that in “fly-over” country racist cops are rampant. That has not been my experience. Besides, a taser-a-day keeps the idiots away.

    All the best.

    RGK

    • Greg Prickett
      6 April 2016 at 4:55 pm - Reply

      Oh, there are racist cops in fly-over country, but there are racist cops on both coasts too.

      But in my experience, the vast majority of officers are not racist, and are just trying to do their job. I think these officers showed remarkable restraint.