A Missouri man has filed an excessive-force lawsuit after a dash-cam video showed Kansas City police officers punching him multiple times during an arrest.
The beating of Manuel Palacio, starkly portrayed in the video above, is the closest thing we've seen to the brutality against my wife Carol during an unlawful eviction--which also happened in Missouri, in Springfield, at the hands of deputies from the Greene County Sheriff's Department. That's not the only ironic twist with this story. Missouri also was home to an August 2014 police shooting--killing Michael Brown in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson--that touched off a string of misconduct cases across the country.
Palacio was wanted in a case of armed robbery and wound up pleading guilty to theft; he's now serving a five-year prison term. But the video shows he did not resist officers and complied with their commands.
Tom Porto, Palacio's attorney, said his client was not armed. Officers Shannon Hansen, Jacob Harris and Todd Hall punched, kicked, and spit on Palacio, taunting him with numerous verbal threats, Porto said. Release of the dash-cam video has sparked a criminal investigation Here's how the Web site copblock.org describes the actions of police:
The dash cam starts with officers bumping Palacio, who was walking down the street, with their cruiser. One of the officers jumped out of the cruiser with his gun drawn and orders Palacio to the ground. After he complies, the officers pile on top of him and one of the officers punches Palacio three times in the head.Brian Sumner, writing at CopBlock, was mystified by the officers' behavior:
Throughout the entire arrest Palacio maintains he didn’t do anything, still the officers physically abuse and verbally berate him. Most of what they say is so depraved that it makes you wonder if these are public servants or members of a violent street gang.One of the officers, either Harris or Todd repeats over and over again “You’re bought and paid for, you’re done dude.”
Officer Hansen then threatens to give his family’s information to the victim.
"You’re not only going to get an ass whooping from us, but you’re getting it from him,” Hansen said, while pointing to the robbery victim’s father, who was also on scene. “I’m giving him your address, your mom’s fucking address and everybody’s address that you know and I hope his family comes over and takes a fucking ball bat to your fucking head.”
Another of the officers threatened to send Palacio to the hospital if he didn’t stop talking.
"You sit there and you don’t open your fucking mouth, you understand? Otherwise, you are going to the hospital."
I’m not entirely sure what these cops were so angry about, it wasn’t like Palacio had victimized them personally. In fact, their behavior should raise questions about the effectiveness of police as mediators. They didn’t even ask for Manual’s ID before pointing guns, shouting orders, and becoming physical.
The video shows Palacio did everything the cops say you’re supposed to if you want to survive a police interaction.
He didn’t call them pigs or cuss them out. He followed all of their orders. He never reached for his waistband or made aggressive movements. He did not resist them in any way, shape or form. He remained calm regardless of their assault. Regardless of his compliance, the officers beat and abused Palacio. The lawsuit claims Palacio suffered head and back injuries, as well as emotional distress, as a result of the attack.
While the video above reminds me of what I saw cops do to Carol during an unlawful eviction in Greene County on September 9, there are a number of differences between the two cases:
* Palacio was a suspect in a crime, to which he eventually pled guilty, while Carol was not connected to criminality in any way. She was trying to retrieve our cat's litter box--and she had been given permission to enter the apartment to gather our personal belongings--when at least three cops surrounded her and slammed her to the ground.
|Lawyer Tom Porto|
* Palacio clearly was roughed up, but it appears that he came away from the encounter relatively intact. Carol's left arm was shattered when one cop yanked on her arms in a backward and upward direction. She was handcuffed behind her back, placed in a squad car, and driven to the Greene County Jail after Sheriff Jim Arnott (who inexplicably was on the scene) falsely claimed she had assaulted an officer. Arnott, or someone under his direction, apparently decided such a charge wouldn't make much sense once X-rays showed that Carol's arm had been broken, and both arms were bruised to the point of being purple, almost black in some places.
Carol's injuries were so severe that they required trauma surgery, plus eight weeks of intensive physical therapy, with the likelihood that her arm will return to only 75 percent of its normal use, at best. On top of that, cops burst into our residence and pointed multiple weapons at us, including at least one assault rifle.
One similarity between the two cases would almost be comical if it had not been part of gross police misconduct. Officers in the Palacio case are quoted as saying, "You’re bought and paid for, you’re done dude.”
The officer who broke Carol's arm had a habit of saying almost the same thing, to both of us. Whenever either one of us said anything--often to someone else, not him--this one guy would say, "You're done, you're done." He was almost like one of those artificial clowns who pops up from a jack in the box and says the same phrase over and over.
Where will the civil and criminal cases wind up in the Palacio matter? It's too early to say, but we can say for sure that Greene County deputies deserve similar scrutiny for their abusive actions against Carol and me.