Police Protection vs. Excessive Force

This is a partial transcript from Hannity & Colmes, December 2, 2003, that has been edited for clarity.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: The videotaped incident of the violent confrontation that ended with the death of Nathaniel Jones (search) has now caught the attention of the Justice Department's civil rights division.

Police clashed with Jones after he resisted arrest early on Sunday. The officers said they were just trying to protect themselves. Some people are outraged and say this is nothing more than police brutality.

Joining us, Nate Livingston. He is from the Coalition for a Just Cincinnati (search). Here in New York, the president of the police advocacy group, Americop, Sergeant Steve Rogers is with us.

Nate, let's go to the important part of this video, the beginning. He's told, and you can hear the audio -- he is told to stay where he is, and he attacks. And 90 seconds after the police arrive, attacks, assaults a police officer. What are police supposed to do?

NATE LIVINGSTON, COALITION FOR A JUST CINCINNATI: Sean, that's not the beginning of the video.

HANNITY: Yes, it is.

LIVINGSTON: The beginning of the video starts with Mr. Jones standing peacefully in the grass at a fast food restaurant, bothering no one and breaking no laws.

HANNITY: Excuse me. That's factually inaccurate. He was high on cocaine and high on PCP. And then police asked -- police approached him after they were called to the scene by paramedics, who were trying to help him, because he was so strung out on these drugs. And he was getting difficult.

This is -- watch him, he's resisting arrest every step of the way. He won't allow them to put the cuffs on. He's not listening to the officers. He attacked and punched and assaulted the first officer.

LIVINGSTON: Well, again, Sean, what crime has he committed?

HANNITY: Assaulting an officer. Violence.

LIVINGSTON: Why are they asking him -- Why are they asking him before the assault -- before the assault, why are they asking Mr. Jones to turn around and be cooperative with them?

HANNITY: Because the police...

LIVINGSTON: Why are they doing any of this stuff for this American citizen?

HANNITY: Well, why did this man just stand up and run at and assault, as this video shows -- he ran at, a 400-pound man, and hauls off and punches a policeman.

LIVINGSTON: He's not 400 pounds. He's not 400 pounds. He's a little less than 350 pounds.

HANNITY: OK. Real big difference.

LIVINGSTON: No. 2, the man has epilepsy and a sleeping disorder. He's in this fast food restaurant with a friend. He's minding his own business.

HANNITY: No. He's passed out on the lawn there in front of the fast food restaurant.

LIVINGSTON: And the people in the restaurant don't call the police because he's intruding or trespassing. They called because they're concerned about his health.

HANNITY: You and I have clashed before. When I gave a speech in Cincinnati, and you promised hundreds of protesters would show up when I was there and you managed to get four or five. And 4,000 people came to the speech.

LIVINGSTON: We had about a dozen.

HANNITY: No, not a dozen.

LIVINGSTON: We had about a dozen. You were breaking the boycott, a boycott of Cincinnati.

HANNITY: The people of Cincinnati don't deserve to suffer because you're calling for a boycott of the city. But this is not one of these instances. This guy attacked him. Why can't you be affected by that?

LIVINGSTON: He didn't -- look, Sean, no matter how you want to slice it, there's an extended video. In the beginning, Mr. Jones is minding his own business.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Right. Let me reemphasize that point. This is Alan. Welcome to the show.

Steve Rogers, let me go to you. We don't know what happened before the beginning of this video.


COLMES: We do?

ROGERS: Yes, we do. The police officers...

COLMES: We don't have it on video and it has not been shown. And I think that is key here, because while we can see the police officer being slugged by this guy...

ROGERS: Alan...

COLMES: ... that doesn't justify everything necessarily these police officers did.

ROGERS: It justifies everything.

HANNITY: No, it does not.

ROGERS: First of all, let me share this with you, Alan. The police officers go to the scene of an incident where they're asking a guy to leave. The guy refuses to leave. He's high on drugs. He attacks a police officer, almost takes his head off, all right? What did the police do? They used what we call reasonable force.

COLMES: At what point did they stop beating this guy? We keep seeing -- The guy's down on the ground. They keep going after the guy.


COLMES: At what point do they stop beating him?

ROGERS: Well you know when? When he submits. He's resisting arrest.

COLMES: Where is he now? He's on the ground.

ROGERS: On the ground? He's getting up, and he's fighting. Alan...

COLMES: They're hitting him all over the shoulders, all over the back.

ROGERS: Alan, you know what amazes me?

COLMES: They're going at brute force...

ROGERS: If this individual were your mom or Nate's mom or if one of your relatives were being beaten, you would be crying for these officers to stop.

COLMES: The fact of the matter is, you're saying this is the only way to subdue somebody. What about using nets? What about using other methodologies? Why do you have to actually take a mallet and pound somebody, as if this is the only way to stop them.

ROGERS: Alan, they didn't take a mallet. They had a Kioks 24, which they were trained to use, No. 1.

No. 2, we're not going to wait, all right, for somebody to come with a net while this guy can get up?

COLMES: But if they -- that's the problem. Why shouldn't they be equipped properly? Why aren't they equipped with the proper equipment?

ROGERS: They didn't know that would be a problem with this individual. They believed that he would submit. He didn't submit. He attacked a cop. For goodness sakes. We always make the police wrong.

COLMES: Let me go back to our guest Nate. We have a situation here where four times in seven years, confrontations between Cincinnati police and individuals who were or appear to be mentally ill resulted in fatality, resulted in somebody dying.

LIVINGSTON: That's right.

ROGERS: And how many cops have been shot at? How many cops have been beaten?

COLMES: And isn't that something that has to be seriously looked at? And that seems to be lost here on the other side.

LIVINGSTON: It certainly should be looked at. We spend -- one half of our city's budget goes toward police and fire services. We have the best-equipped, best-trained police force in the nation. There's no reason why we can't use non-lethal means to subdue suspects.

ROGERS: You know what? You remind me of individuals that like to take issues like this to advance their own political agenda.

These police officers did a great job. They did not wake up that day with a preconceived notion they were going to get involved in this. They did their job. And if your relative was attacked by this individual, you'd be crying for the police.

HANNITY: Thank you, Steve, for being with us.

Nate, we always love having you. Thanks for being back.

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