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Posts made in July, 2015

By on Jul 29, 2015 in Civil Rights, Communication, Criminal, Fourth Amendment, Police | 0 comments

  Today’s discussion is about a Facebook post a friend shared. It’s one of those clickbaity-type kind of sites but I’m a sucker for articles on criminal defense and police interaction. The article is about the arrest of Sandra Bland (who later died in a jail cell). The article my friend shared can be read here. The article is a discussion with criminal defense attorney, John Hamaski of San Francisco, about the stop of Ms. Bland and the Fourth Amendment in general. Mr. Hamaski is an experienced attorney and as far as I can tell his analysis of the unlawful escalation of the stop is spot on. However where I differ from Mr. Hamaski is here: “If an officer is behaving unlawfully, you can use a reasonable amount of force to defend yourself. You can’t punch an officer in the face if he tries to handcuff you–that’s not reasonable. But your ability to defend yourself exists regardless of an officer’s badge.” This advice, in my humble opinion, is insane. It’s insane because 1) it won’t do anything, and 2) it will get you killed. Allow me to elaborate. Resisting an “unlawful” arrest won’t do anything because there is no situation where an officer who has decided to arrest you will be persuaded by your resistance to give up.  No officer is going to throw his hands up in defeat to your “reasonable amount of force” and let you go on your merry way. Either he will escalate his force to overcome yours, or call in backup who will then overwhelm you. In any event you will end up in handcuffs in a cell (or worse). Secondly, and far more importantly, adding violence to a situation with a police officer gets out of control very quickly. As in, here comes the tasers and firearms quickly. Besides your lack of training, likely you are literally outgunned. It’s a fight you cannot win, and many people who have tried have ended up hurt or dead in the scuffle.  The other problem with this advice is that it requires you, an ordinary citizen, to make a fairly complex constitutional analysis while interacting with a police officer. The standard for probable cause to arrest is notoriously fluid,...

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