Roosevelt Dorn, the mayor of Inglewood, seems straight from the pages of The Bonfire of the Vanities. Sputtering in Reverend Bacon-fashion, Dorn declared that Los Angeles officer Jeremy Morse is guilty of four crimes involving police brutality, and probably more if you gave Dorn enough time to look for them.
"When this officer picked this young man up and slammed him face-down into the hood of that car, in my opinion, (that was) number one, felony assault," Dorn said on Wednesday, warming to his subject. "Number two, assault with a deadly weapon.... Number three, battery. Four, child abuse. And I'm sure if I looked there are other crimes."
Is resisting arrest a crime? How about lunging at and bloodying cops? No, these are not crimes, but civil rights, according to Dorn and other beacons of Los Angeles civilization, such as Project for Islamic Hope (it staged a ludicrous protest rally on Tuesday).
Sixteen-year-old Donovan Jackson is, we're told, "developmentally disabled" -- a condition which apparently gives him carte blanche to fight with police officers. A la Bonfire of the Vanities, the Los Angeles Times found a teacher to vouch for Jackson's sweet disposition. "This is really a good kid -- no drugs, doesn't cuss," said Talibah Shakir, a sixth grade teacher and a cousin to Jackson. "He doesn't understand why this was done to him."
Yes, what a stumper. Might it have something to do with Jackson throwing punches at Morse and the other cops? According to the official report, Jackson "pulled, scratched and fought with the deputies and the officers."
This is what provoked Morse's rough treatment of Jackson. Was it unduly rough? Yes, judging by the selective videotape (shot by an anti-police punk who crowed afterwards that the tape would lead to the demise of the cop's career).
But, good grief, can't a little perspective be shown? Isn't it possible that this is simply the overreaction of a frightened or stressed-out cop? Like clockwork, Rep. Maxine Waters raised the specter of racism, never mind that a black cop participated in the arrest.
The people who know the least about this case will, of course, determine the most about its outcome. All the Rodney King factors are in motion. Morse will almost certainly lose his job. Who knows, he may even go to jail, if the mob demands it. "Handcuff them! Handcuff them!" activists chanted about cops on Tuesday, reported the Los Angeles Times.
Dorn described the arrest as "felony assault" and said, "I can't think of anything this teenager could have done that would justify the conduct that I observed on the video." A former judge, Dorn isn't in the mood to sift through the evidence carefully. Morse is guilty until proven innocent, and that's that. "This young man's civil rights without question were violated," he said.
What civil right would that be? The right to be treated daintily after freaking out on cops? No matter how violent the suspect, cops must treat the suspect with kid gloves, says Dorn: "If this teenager had spit in their face, called them all kinds of names, kicked them, attacked, once he was handcuffed, he was picked up, he should have been taken to the car, not slammed face-down on the hood of a car."
Here's an idea: Don't provoke cops in the first place. But, no, that's too obvious a lesson to be drawn. In a city where criminals receive more slack than cops, Jackson will feel entitled to sue the hell out of the LAPD. And he'll probably get a key to Inglewood before this is over.
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