Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Critique of Ed Krayewski's NYPD Cops Put Pregnant Woman in a Choke Hold Over Grilling In Front of Her House

I'm a little disappointed in Ed Krayewski's post on Reason.com titled NYPD Cops Put Pregnant Woman in a Choke Hold Over Grilling In Front of Her House

The blog post begins with reactive, angry, rhetorical language which attempts to preemptively group any potential critics as "police apologist" asking, did you think "Eric Garner should've just fucking complied with police if he wanted to live? Did you think Jahmiel Cuffee should've known better after his first eight marijuana arrests and done a better job hiding from the cops?" This, of course is to set the stage for what must be another obvious example of police abuse, but as I say bellow, this is anything but obvious. It would be nice if we could first read the story first without Krayewski's blatant attempts at Poisoning the Well.

The post then goes on to state "this story involves a pregnant woman, who was put in a chokehold by New York City cops, because she was grilling in front of her house." But when I read the linked New York Post story, I find the facts far less clear than presented. First, the police did not put Rosan Miller in a choke hold for grilling in front of her house. According to the NY Post article police were attempting to arrest her after she and her brother "started slapping at police" to prevent them from arresting her husband. Hmm, I don't know about you but that sounds a lot different than police rolling up on her for cooking some burgers on the sidewalk, snatching her up and tossing her in the cruiser.

Quoting the NY Post article, Krayewski then writes that the woman released photos that she said show the cop putting her in a chokehold. He then goes on to mention that chokeholds are banned by the NYPD but cops may consider the maneuver used a neck restraint. Here are the images released by Rosan which were taken from a cell phone video:

After reading the NY Post article and feeling Krayewski's post wasn't doing the story justice, I started to read articles put out by other news organizations. Strangely I found that they all included some or all of the above images (Huffington Post, Dailymail, Gawker) but where is the actual video from which they come? Could it be the video presents a less compelling story than the pictures?

The only article I could find which did provide the video was the NY Daily News. Here is a link to it so you can watch it for yourself.

Video of NYPD Officer 'Chokehold' on a Pregnant Woman

Though the still pictures may leave the impression that the officer may have used a chokehold, the video (at least in my mind) clearly shows the officer simply trying to control the uncooperative woman in order to put hand cuffs on her.

I haven't taken the time to write this criticism because I'm an apologist for police. On the contrary, I have been critical of law enforcement's decades long move towards becoming ever more militarized and less concerned with constitutional restraints (though this is largely the fault of law makers and judges). My criticism is with the unreasoned, emotional reaction this case has received by those in the media. I'm not trying to say that police didn't do anything wrong. I'm only saying that based on the so called evidence presented, there is nothing that demonstrably shows they did anything wrong.

Recently there have been a number of high profile cases where video taken by a bystander clearly demonstrates abuse by police. Krayewski writes about a number of these in his post. It is absolutely essential that journalist report these incidents to help shine a spotlight on the problem of police misconduct in hopes of curbing future incidents. But as terrible as these incidents might be, journalist still have a responsibility to judge each allegation independently (referring to opinion pieces) and to report the facts of the case completely and without bias. Though Krayewski isn't alone in his frenzied reporting (talking about you Gawker, and HuffPo), I expect more from Reason.

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