Have you seen the video of the teenager who was arrested in Ft. Pierce for curfew violations? According to Officer Dan Gilroy's report, he stopped and detained the fifteen year old girl who was out past curfew and was carrying a bag of clothing, which the officer suspected may have been stolen. When the officer attempted to place the teenager under arrest for the curfew violation, the young lady resisted arrest while the officer attempted to place her in handcuffs.
At some point in the encounter Officer Gilroy decided he needed to record the arrest, so he walked the young lady to his patrol car and turned on the camera. The video tape of the remaining portion of this incident shows the teenager biting the hand of the officer. The officer is then seen striking the teenager and spraying her with pepper spray. He eventually gets the handcuffs on the teenager and completes the arrest.
The headline to this story has been incorrectly titled, "Dramatic arrest caught on camera in Ft. Pierce." After viewing the video of this incident, the correct title should have been: "Teenage curfew violator gets caught assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest."
Can there be any question that this teenager was resisting arrest? After all, how many times did the officer tell her to place her hands behind her back before he used force (I counted ten)? And why would the officer make such an effort to get the camera rolling if he did not believe he needed to protect himself?
When a person assaults a police officer and then resists arrest, there will be force used by the officer in apprehending the suspect. The officer has to use reasonable force necessary to effectuate the arrest. As a former police officer, I can tell you that the biggest challenge any street cop has is using self restraint when encountering a person who refuses to be placed under arrest. At the academy officers are trained to protect themselves, but to use no more force than is necessary for the situation. The type of force a particular officer uses will always depend on that officer's physical skills and his perception of the force used against him.
In this case the force used by the officer may not look pretty (it never does), but it was entirely reasonable under the circumstances.
What other methods of force could the officer employed? He could have wrestled her to the ground or used a "come along hold" (a method of twisting the suspects arm to cause compliance), or he may have choked her out with his baton. In any case, the type of force would have caused pain and not have looked pretty.
My message to the teenager and her family: Do not violate curfew; and when you are stopped by the police, obey their commands and you won't have these problems.
If you believe you were wrongly accused of a crime, hire an attorney, and fight the charges. If you believe you were being picked on by the police, hire an attorney, and sue the department. There are plenty of us wily attorney's who are more than happy to take your case. However, the last thing you want to do is bite the hand of the officer who is attempting to coax you into submission. Unless, of course, you want to know what it feels like to have pepper spray poured in your face!
Written by Don Schweitzer