Seattle Cop Not Indicted for Punching Handcuffed Woman in the Face

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Another day, another story that causes us to wonder what, hypothetically, a police officer would have to do to get indicted for using excessive force. Via the Seattle Times:

The decision comes after King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg announced that his office would not seek a state felony charge against Shepherd, 38, a nine-year department veteran, for punching Miyekko Durden-Bosley in the back of his police cruiser.

Durden-Bosley, 23, was intoxicated and was verbally abusive after her arrest outside the home of a Seattle man whose mother had called the police. Durden-Bosley swore at Shepherd and kicked at him while being shoved into the back of a police cruiser, according to the investigation.

Shepherd reacted by punching her once in the face, fracturing the orbit of her right eye. Shepherd suffered no visible injuries, according to court documents.

Let us stipulate a few things. First, Durden-Bosley, like most people involved in these sorts of altercations, doesn’t make an extremely sympathetic character. There is allegedly video of this incident that the public has been unable to see prior to now where it shows that she kicked out at Shepherd after he had gotten her in the backseat of the car. It is unclear from the video whether the kick connected with Shepherd at all, but either way, Durden-Bosley deserved to get charged with assaulting an officer, and in fact was charged with that. All of that is fine.

That does not mean, under any set of circumstances, that Shepherd was legally privileged to haul off and sock Durden-Bosley in the face, hard enough to break a major bone in her skull. Law enforcement officers are privileged to use sufficient force to effectuate a lawful arrest, not to avenge slights on their personal integrity. And in this case, Durden-Bosley had already been handcuffed and placed in the back of the car when the alleged kick (which by all accounts did no actual damage to Shepherd) occurred. In other words, Shepherd was not trying to subdue a suspect, he was getting revenge.

I have noted a troubling trend in the course of some conservative commentary about cases such as these, which displays a complete misunderstanding of the nature of constitutional protections of civil rights. Whenever a story comes out about the use of excessive police force, a cottage industry of law enforcement officer apologists immediately begins pointing out that the suspect had a rap sheet or did something …read more    

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