English 11 Block 4
5 December 2014
To Serve and Maybe Protect
“They thought I was a cat with nine lives. The two shots that were fired at me did not kill me. One of them cocked his gun, hit it on the ground and released the shot that got me on the leg.
They fled the scene, believing I was dead like my friend” (Life 1). Mathew Koseblinu, an alleged victim of police brutality in Lagos, Nigeria, came into conflict with police officers on
August 15, 2014. Police officers started to seize motorcycles from civilians; the riders resisted, and as a result the policemen began shooting sporadically. Was this type of force necessary?
Although police officers should have the prerogative to use necessary force while dealing with criminals, police officers who abuse this and use excessive force need to be punished.
Police brutality exists as the use of excessive force on criminals. However, determining this type of force can be difficult because the definition of "excessive force" differs from person to person. In Police Brutality: A National Debate, Jerry Bornstein explains these conflicts:
Police brutality is the use of excessive force by police officers. Exactly what level of force is appropriate at a given moment in carrying out police responsibilities is often a subjective judgement. What’s more, this judgement has to be made by police officers on a splitsecond basis under often difficult circumstances. The same action might be considered justified under one set of
circumstances, but under differing circumstances might be considered brutality.
Because of this, people often argue their opinions about the power of police. People view police work in a few different ways. One of these sides believes that police are able to use excessive force in order to protect themselves when their wellbeing is in danger: “Still, from a police perspective, law enforcement in the United States continues to be dangerous work America has a relatively higher homicide rate compared to other developed nations, and has many more guns per capita” (Wihbey 1). These people have an adoration for police. They sometimes believe that police are heroes as police work exists as naturally violent and dangerous work. In contrast, another side believes that these violent methods prove ineffective, and that psychologically oriented techniques work better (qtd. in Preface 2). These people generally have an abhorrence for police when they use violent methods. These two sides clash frequently when trying to determine a situation involving police force.
Police brutality, although currently problematic, also troubled the nation years ago. On
March 3, 1991, Rodney King, a black motorist, came into conflict with police after he refused to pull over in a highspeed auto chase. When the car finally stopped, the two people accompanying
King followed directions from police to get out of the vehicle. King hesitated, but when he did get out of the car, he allegedly jumped at the police officers. The policemen “struck him with two darts from a taser stun gun, each with an electric charge of 50,000 volts usually enough to subdue any suspect” (Bornstein 8). In summary, King still failed to listen to the police after being told to lie down. Resulting from this, he suffered fiftysix baton hits and six kicks. This incident, recorded by a resident of a close by apartment, shows the beating on video. King suffered many
injuries: “King suffered eleven skull fractures, brain damage, broken bones and teeth, and kidney damage, as well as emotional and physical trauma” (Bornstein 8). Rodney King resisted to listen to the police several times. However, when the violent videotape was viewed, the majority of people agreed that the police used too much of their power. The nation, recently debating the seriousness of police brutality, now want to stop police officers from executing this