Police Brutality or Legitimate Arrest?

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Tonight starts our new REPLAY time schedule — yes, we still air live at 10 p.m. ET/9 p.m. CT/8 p.m. MT and 7 p.m. PT, but starting tonight we re-air at 1 a.m. ET/12 a.m. CT/11 p.m. MT and 10 p.m. PT. Thus, if you get home late on the West Coast and miss our show at 7 p.m., you can now see it at 10 p.m. PT!

We are on the road today at a Barbara Bush Literacy Foundation event. When I interviewed Mrs. Bush last spring, she asked me if I would go to her literacy event in Dallas tonight. I said yes and I am keeping my word. So, by the time you read this e-mail, I will be in Dallas. Mrs. Bush has invited a group of people to read at this event to help raise money to help promote literacy. I am delighted to be a participant. On Saturday, I received an e-mail from Chuck and Gena Norris telling me that they will also be at the event.

This afternoon I am going to try and steal a few minutes with Mrs. Bush and President Bush 41 for an interview — if time permits, check in tonight to see them! (Here is a small tidbit: Every time I have interviewed Mrs. Bush or interviewed the president with her there, she has brought her Springer Spaniel — a descendant of Millie, the family Springer Spaniel when President Bush 41 was living at the White House. I grew up with Springer Spaniels, so I am always thrilled to see her dog.)

If you want to know more about this literacy event, check out Mrs. Bush's Web site: www.barbarabushfoundation.com. To say literacy is important is an understatement. If you can't read, you will struggle your whole life. It will also be difficult for your family — you can't get a job, you can't even read a bus schedule to go apply for a job. So my hat goes off to Mrs. Bush who has been promoting literacy for years. She has inspired many to learn to read — even adults. Yes, many adults can't read, this is not just a problem for children.

On Friday night, we tried something new on the show — or at least new for us: We used the screenwriter to analyze the tape of the arrest in Los Angeles that has caused so much controversy. The question is: Did the LAPD use excessive force (police brutality) in making the arrest? What the screenwriter enabled us to do was to analyze — frame-by-frame — the 20 or 22 second tape of the arrest. You could plainly see one officer sitting on the man who was arrested. The other LAPD office, who struck the man, was holding his arms and kneeling on him (his chest/neck?) The advantage of the tape and the screenwriter is that we could make all of us the fact finders in the case. We could look at the tape, highlight portions, move forward, back, etc. Of course it is not insignificant that we had only 20 to 22 seconds. What happened before the camera turned on? What happened after? And would a different camera position have shown us something different? We don't have all the facts — yet — but we certainly have enough to want more. The stop and go of the screenwriter allowed us to see how many times the man was struck in 22 seconds (I counted five times) and you could see most of the time the man's hands. Yes, the Department of Justice is investigating.

Here is something to think about: The man is now in custody charged with two crimes: assaulting the police or resisting arrest (I can't remember which one) — but NOTHING ELSE. In other words, whatever they were arresting him for has either yet to be charged or was bogus and no prosecutor wants to charge it. But for the activities surrounding the arrest, he would not be in custody since no underlying offense holds him in jail. Here is the question: Was he the assaulted (victim) or the assaulter? If he is the victim, why is he in custody? Yes, we need more facts, but there are red flags.

We solicited e-mails about the video — we wanted to know, based on what you saw, if you thought the LAPD conduct was "excessive force" or not. We got hundreds of e-mails — too many to post all, but I read most of them. Overwhelmingly the view reported in the e-mails was that it is police brutality/excessive force. We DID have some e-mailers — very few — who thought the police conduct was not excessive.

I wanted to get us a screenwriter so that we could look at lots of videos, lots of diagrams, etc., and discuss them knowing we were talking about the same event. With the screenwriter I can point at specific points, specific evidence, etc. I expect over time I will get better at using the screenwriter — let me know what you think about using the screenwriter on our show.

Here is a random note: I had dinner with a bunch of people on Saturday night connected to other networks and/or working on Capitol Hill, etc. We talked very briefly about the fact that many anchors now stand when doing their shows from their studios. Any thoughts? I think it is sort of funny that it has become so popular — sort of like Capri pants for women — someone came up with the idea and now everyone (well, not everyone) is doing it. Being a sloucher by nature, I hope no one takes my desk from me — I like to lean on my elbows.

Now for some e-mails:

E-mail No. 1 — The next few e-mails refer to the murder of the pregnant woman in her home in Raleigh, North Carolina:

RE: The husband in Raleigh who hired a lawyer after his wife was found dead. Considering what has been going on in the Raleigh/Durham area re: the Duke lacrosse case, the man would be a fool not to hire a lawyer.
Wilmington, NC

E-mail No. 2

Who can blame Jason's family for hiring a lawyer. I only have one answer Nifong.
Phil Costanzo
Wrentham, MA

E-mail No. 3

Since the Raleigh, NC murder may be in the news for a while, thought I'd help with the correct pronounciation (sic) for Brevard. It's Bruh-VARD. Accent on second syllable.

E-mail No. 4

I say let Shep eat whatever he wants on air or not. Same for all you guys as long as you're not slobs about it. Especially when there is an event that needs 24/7 coverage. Yeah, I know it's not professional at all. But I know the feeling. I get so busy at work I don't have time to eat. Keeps me skinny.
I loved your segment with Bill.
For the viewer asking about the time change. If you can't stay up record, TiVo or whatever device is available. That's what I do and I watch it when I get to work the next morning. I can hardly make it to 10:00 anymore.
Looking forward to the new "Crime Scene."
Clarissa Lockett,
Houston, TX

E-mail No. 5

It is inconceivable to me that in this country we still practice backwoods justice. Something needs to be done to step up the trial system in NC. It appears we have once again failed what the constitution has promised... liberty and justice for all! No one wins when we take so long to bring justice to a serious crime being charged to these three young men! If they're guilty… shame on them. If they're innocent... shame on us!

E-mail No. 6

Hey Greta!
While I can understand the logic about not needing an attorney right off when being questions, it just isn't smart anymore. I have seen this issue discussed at length numerous shows such as "GMA" and "Oprah." Both attorneys and retired law enforcement officers said lawyer up immediately and don't say a word to police officers. They were taught to intimidate and will twist your words. Even when a person is pulled over for an "alleged" traffic violation never admit to doing anything wrong.

E-mail No. 7

I agree with you. Leave Shep alone! Believe it or not, I find sneaking drinks and snacks and being caught by the camera just serves to make the broadcasts a little more human.
Pittsburgh, PA

E-mail No. 8

Greta, it is irresponsible of you and your staff to equate what goes on in Durham, and Durham County with events in Raleigh which is in Wake County. Nifong is not the DA here.
Terry Maupin
Raleigh, NC

E-mail No. 9

To all of the defense attorneys saying it was Michelle's husband's right to obtain an attorney ASAP, all I have to say is... Daniel Horowitz. Daniel found his wife but told police everything he knew IMMEDIATELY. Daniel was innocent. He had nothing to hide. What is Michelle's husband hiding?
Patricia Carson
Dana Point, CA

E-mail No. 10

Until someone actually encounters an action as those officers were dealing with, they have no idea what it takes to subdue someone who doesn't want to be arrested. Officers are not superhuman, and attempt to make all arrest (especially, noncompliant arrests) are safely as possible, not only for themselves, but the suspect, as well. As a former officer, I can attest to having encountered the same situation (by myself), and have had to do what was necessary short of taking a life.
David Cox
Summit Point, WV

E-mail No. 11

Hello Greta,
Love you show and your honest reporting.
I watched the police video in absolute disgust. It is my understanding that police officers are to "protect and serve" the community. Clearly they were doing neither in this video. Yes, brute force and no excuses for such criminal behavior. Violence, especially by TRAINED police officers, is not necessary or acceptable behavior. It seems that the police officers are more in need of an arrest and jail sentence than the man lying on the ground. I would hate see how these officers treat their loved ones. If officers have violent and/or cocky tendencies they shouldn't be allowed on the force! What an absolute disgrace!
Truly Appalled!

E-mail No. 12

Dear Greta:
The video shows sure proof of excessive force. While the man is clearly restrained (body subdued and both hands held) the officer is brutally punching him in the face. This officer is despicable and should be fired.
E. Novosel
Bethlehem, PA

E-mail No. 13

If you view the tape of the LAPD arresting the suspect, I see that the officer has his right knee on the subject's neck... this is why he was saying he could not breath… while having his knee press on his airway... he then hits him in the face several times... this does not appear to be resisting arrest, but rather a victim, albeit a fugitive from justice, who was simply having his airway obstructed, as I saw it. Please review that tape carefully.
C B Melini

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