Evanston, IL - Video footage from an October 2015 incident showing the arrest of Lawrence Crosby has recently been released and is causing outrage. The narrative is that a black man was beaten by police for stealing his own car, but that's actually not what happened at all.
First, watch the video and we'll break it down after the jump: https://youtube.com/watch?v=0-wtnx1CcyE The incident started when a woman was walking down the road when she noticed Lawrence Crosby using a metal bar on window molding.
If anybody witnesses this, they should call the police. When this sort of thing goes unreported, officers show up later to take a theft report only to find that a witness had seen the suspect, but they hadn't called the police because they weren't 100% sure that they weren't legit. This sort of thing happens all of the time. People should always report suspicious activity. People don't need to know before calling; it's the job of law enforcement to investigate if the suspicious activity is illegal or not.
The 911 caller said, "I don't know if I am racial profiling..." Which, when heard in hindsight, makes it look like she was racial profiling. However, she called for entirely reasonable suspicious activity which had nothing to do with Lawrence Crosby's race, and over-publicized incidents like these cause people to hesitate when they witness illegal activity.
Evanston Police Officers were dispatched to Lawrence Crosby's vehicle for somebody matching Lawrence Crosby's description who "just broke into" a car. The officers located Crosby driving and got behind the vehicle to execute a "high-risk stop."
The Evanston PD officers only knew what they were told. They were told that the vehicle had been broken into by a person matching the description of the driver and that he had driven off. Officers did exactly what they were supposed to do and they stopped the car as if it were a stolen vehicle with the suspect inside.
Stopping stolen vehicles is a high-risk incident because officers are dealing with people who are in the middle of committing a felony, and they got caught red-handed. If the suspects get caught, they are likely going to prison, potentially for many years, which leads them to frequently fight or run. Because of the high-risk nature of these stops, officers take every precaution.
Lawrence Crosby stopped his car and immediately got of the car with something in his hand. Immediately getting out of the car on a traffic stop is what people who fight or run do, and so it's generally a bad idea for people to get out of the car on traffic stops until ordered to do so. Getting out of the car with something in your hand which could be mistaken for a weapon is also a good way to get shot. Crosby is lucky that all of the officers apparently recognized that he wasn't holding a gun. Officers then ordered Crosby to put his hands up and he did.
Officers ordered Crosby to get on the ground, and instead of getting on the ground, he stood still. Officers had time to approach Crosby while yelling at him to get on the ground, and Crosby didn't react.
Police officers are trained to get high-risk suspects prone because it makes it much more difficult for the suspects to fight or run. It's fairly standard training to put these suspects in a position of disadvantage, which is why, if you watch enough dash or body camera videos, the officers are always telling people to get on the ground.
Rather than getting on the ground, Lawrence Crosby suddenly turned like he was going to run or lunge for a weapon. Officers grabbed him and they continued to order him to get on the ground. Crosby still did not obey the commands to get on the ground. Furthermore, because Crosby was contracting his muscles to resist the officers' efforts to get him on the ground (the video makes it apparent he is resisting the officers' efforts,) he moved from simply being non-compliant to actively resisting.
When somebody is actively resisting arrest, officers can (and often should) strike them. The officers still didn't know who this guy was or if he was armed. What they did know is that he was a suspected car thief, caught in a suspected stolen car, who refused commands, looked like he was going to take off or lunge for something, and he was actively resisting arrest.
The longer that situations like this go on, the more chance there is for the suspect to access a weapon or escape. Officers are taught to end active resistance as fast as possible for everyone's safety. Hitting somebody who's resisting arrest can get them to loosen up enough to be handcuffed.
The officers hit Lawrence Crosby only as long as it took to get his arms under control, and then they stopped. Once he was fully under control, the officers were able to investigate and determine that Crosby was driving his own vehicle.
The way that this incident should have happened is that when officers stopped Lawrence Crosby, Crosby should have remained in his car until ordered out, and he should have followed all orders until he was securely handcuffed. Officers would have then investigated and released Cosby when they determined that he didn't do anything wrong. Instead, Crosby did not comply with commands and he resisted arrest.
Lawrence Crosby did not get hit because he was driving his car, he was not hit because somebody saw him "breaking in" to his car, he was hit because he was actively resisting arrest, and striking a suspect who is actively resisting arrest is an appropriate level of force.
You may be wondering how Lawrence Crosby was "resisting arrest" when he couldn't have been arrested for driving his car, and I'll explain. When you got stopped by a police officer for any actual or suspected violation, you are detained and obligated to obey officers' lawful orders. Officers can control where you move and what you do, for everyone's safety. When Crosby failed to comply with orders to get on the ground, he was failing to obey the lawful orders of a police officer. In most (all?) jurisdictions, that's a crime.
If you don't move where/when officers tell you to, the officer will make you move. Depending on the level of danger that the officers judge in a situation, you may be afforded more leeway in not immediately obeying or being able to argue with the officer. However, Lawrence Crosby was stopped in a high-risk situation. No suspects in high-risk situations are afforded the chance to do anything except comply immediately, because any other action may be done to kill the officers or escape.
Lawrence Crosby's failure to comply with the officers' commands led to his arrest for Disobeying Officers, and subsequent additional charges of Resisting Arrest when he resisted arrest. Those charges were later dismissed in court, but just because somebody isn't successfully charged in a court of law doesn't mean they didn't actually commit the crime.
In a review of the situation it was determined that all of the officers acted lawfully and within policy, but backlash has forced change. Per a policy change, Evanston PD officers are no longer supposed to order a suspect to get on the ground during a high-risk stop.
Do you think that this use of force was justified? Let us know in the comments below.