Article first published on Technorati as Cop Uses Citizen As Human Shield?
Recent polls show that most Americans do not trust mainstream, corporate media. Unfortunately, journalistic standards are frequently dismal in independent media as well — even among the most popular outlets.
The video opens with a state trooper frisking a citizen at the front of his cruiser. This is fairly straightforward; the police officer is bent over, holding the man’s hands together behind his back while he searches him. The officer is seen to the left of the citizen, behind him.
Though I am not a police officer, I believe the next action in the series — which this trooper surely has in muscle memory — is to transfer the citizen’s hands to his right hand while passing behind him, to use his left hand to search the left side of the man’s body. In other words, he’s in the process of passing the man from one side to the other from behind.
The officer and citizen hear tires squeal; the officer stands up straight, both men look at the oncoming vehicle. The trooper is fully behind the citizen at this point; the citizen’s shoulder obscures the officer’s face.
The citizen is thrown violently forward; his head bounces off the patrol car. The trooper is seen standing directly behind him, also bent forward. Fortunately the citizen walks away, and appears to have avoided catastrophic injury. The dash-mounted camera angle moves when the patrol car is hit. It is not clear from the video if the trooper was also hit. Subsequent research found that he was injured.
Ana Kasparian: The cop in this case is so dirty, dirty.
David Pakman: I think he didn’t pull the guy out of the way. He got out of the way, he didn’t pull the guy.
Ana Kasparian: No, I think he did something worse than that. I think he pulled the guy in front of him, to cover himself, so when the car is coming, he’s like [gestures of pushing someone in front of herself].
Ben Mankiewicz: No.
Ana Kasparian: That’s what it looked like to me.
Ben Mankiewicz: Let’s see it again.
Ana Kasparian: My — I — that’s what it looks like. It just seems like he pushes the guy in front, like, you know, in front of him. So he protects himself.
Ben Mankiewicz: He’s already behind the guy.
Ana Kasparian: He is, but watch. He sees the car coming, and look at his reaction. [Video shows impact.] Am I right or am I right?
David Pakman: You might be right about that.
A couple of simple, obvious concepts apparently eluded Ms. Kasparian and Mr. Pakman.
- A highway patrolman has extensive training in situations like this. Of all the people in this scenario — including the man who was hit, myself, readers and other commentators — the trooper is by far the most mentally prepared for this event. His training might explain what appears to be a reflective safety vest hanging from the subject’s neck. This was likely provided to the subject for his safety.
- The entire incident happens in literally a split second — the tires are heard squealing at 0:13, the man is seen thrown up onto the hood of the patrol vehicle at 0:14. The trooper took exactly one step in this split second. The weight distribution of his stance is not clear, i.e., which foot was more of his weight on at the moment before impact.
- Everyone on The Young Turks is certain that he didn’t try to grab the back of the man’s jacket to pull him, though the trooper cannot be seen at the moment of impact. There is no way to know what his hands were doing. Ms. Kasparian chose to believe he was shoving the subject forward, and worse yet, peddled that theory to all and sundry.
- The car didn’t hit the two men directly; it hit the back end of the patrol vehicle. At the front of the patrol vehicle there is a bumper, which juts out 6 or 8 inches in front of the car; the subject was first impacted in his lower legs, not his hips. The bumper hits his lower legs, knocking him off balance. The patrol car becomes a wedge, throwing him forward and up. In other words, there was a kinetic energy transfer, from the moving vehicle to the stopped vehicle to the two men. That’s what threw the first man up and forward, not the trooper behind him.
I have seen many similar videos in fire academy and paramedic school. Believe it or not, there is an actual science to the mechanism of injury. Panels of experts continually analyze incidents like this, then hand their findings down to first responders so we can better avoid, manage and prepare for them. Any police officer, paramedic, firefighter or emergency room medical professional could have pointed out the obvious perception distortion caused by the camera angle, and the action of kinetic energy in this scenario. It’s the proverbial “no-brainer.” Unfortunately talking heads now demand that first responders be mindful of blocking and camera angles while they work. If they don’t, they risk being portrayed as craven abusers, as this officer was.
Note the video’s title, and Ana Kasparian’s opening statement. “A man and a cop were hit by a car during an arrest.” Is a cop not a man? It’s a small thing, and may not be terribly meaningful on its own. However, the Young Turks’ founder is notorious for repeatedly using the phrase, “C’mon man, be a human” while wrongly criticizing first responders. Firefighters and police officers are often discussed in subhuman terms on this channel, which makes this phrase stick out.
I believe that the subtleties of language are extremely important in forming public opinion, a concept I have heard each of these commentators discuss.
Unfortunately The Young Turks is a habitual offender regarding failure to research. They speculate that the video may be 15 years old, and admit they have no further data about the story. The date of the incident, 9/20/11, is shown in the source clip, as is the originating agency – Ohio State Police. On the lower right is a CNN logo, in the upper right the local news logo. In other words, all the information they could possibly need to find out more information before commenting was available. There is no excuse for this inattention and poor work ethic.
I spent less than ten minutes researching this story, and discovered that they lifted the title directly from CNN. So it’s simple intellectual laziness. I also followed the clues provided on the source video to the local channel, TV10, which did a much more informative and professionally reported piece on the incident.
Ben Mankiewicz: There didn’t seem to be a great deal of, like, the cop panicking, running around making sure the guy was OK.
It never ceases to amaze me when civilian commentators criticize public safety personnel for maintaining their composure in the performance of their duties. Is panic an appropriate response for the person whose job it is to control any and every situation? Is that really what you want from police officers? Though I like Ben Mankiewicz, his contribution here was dreadful.
I heard the (injured) officer immediately take the best possible action – get on the radio and request help. The citizen certainly needed medical assessment, as did the trooper. He still needed to complete the investigation he was doing before the incident, and deal with the person who hit them.
Very few police officers are medically trained. For all intents and purposes he’s no different than any other citizen in the same situation, aside from his radio, which he immediately used.
I blog about substandard reporting by new media because independent media is so important now. It pains me to see this kind of damaging, sensationalist, low-quality infotainment from sources that are in some ways very much part of the solution. Ms. Kasparian managed to sway Mr. Pakman’s opinion, and he’s brighter than average. This is the first time I’ve ever seen David Pakman involved in terrible reporting.
Unfortunately, Ms. Kasparian, like her boss, is a Public Safety Hall of Shamer. Though The Young Turks have acknowledged they are aware of my criticisms, I have yet to see them do a follow-up, correction, clarification, or even simply begin paying attention. They are willfully ignorant.
I will again point out that first responders are never allowed to make public statements regarding incidents in which they are involved, no matter how vicious, unfounded, and libelous attacks upon them may be. There is an entire “permanent gag order” section on this blog, because the public’s failure to understand this dynamic is a major flaw in our discourse. You will not hear any statement from this officer about this incident, or the terrible reporting of it detailed herein.
The Young Turks has now been picked up by Current TV, where they will have a much larger echo chamber from which to mindlessly attack first responders. Even now, their audience (here combined with David Pakman’s) is vastly larger than that of this blog. My ability to clean up their mess is limited. As of this writing, 17,330 people have seen that video from The Young Turks. The top comment, with 48 thumbs up:
“If you dont see the cop using him as a shield you are blind as f***.”
I don’t see the cop using him as a shield, as discussed above. I see a police officer who got hit by a car at work, then faced ridiculous accusations for his trouble. I see civilians (The Young Turks and David Pakman) creating hostility toward (and as a result, from) public safety personnel, irresponsibly and unnecessarily. I see disdain for science and critical thought. I see an epic common sense fail, in a destructive way.
The missed opportunity to support first responders and the community as a whole by mentioning the “move over and slow down law,” as the local reporter did, is a foregone conclusion. The Young Turks are probably unaware of the law and have never considered it, because they don’t do research. Again, this writer spent less than ten minutes on it.
Ana Kasparian will probably never give this incident another thought, but the hostility she created toward this police officer will continue to ripple outward, and, unnoticed, back to her and other civilians. She will then loudly criticize officers who overreact, and demand their termination. There is no way for first responders to win with these people.
At the end of the day the rift between first responders and citizens will have grown, and the average citizen who thumbed-up that video will have no idea that they contributed to that problem. Nor will The Young Turks, though this writer has repeatedly advised them.