Last week in Los Angeles, there was a pursuit of an allegedly armed driver of a red Chevy Tahoe. The chase went on for some time, and eventually news helicopters arrived. During the pursuit, officers were able to successfully deploy spike strips and the right front tire of the car was shredded. The driver continued at slow speeds. Eventually, he stopped in the middle of a residential neighborhood.
Training comes into play and scenarios are prepared for. What if he flees on foot? What if he turns around and starts shooting? What if he rams us with the vehicle? These are all thoughts a well-trained officer would consider.
Is this case, officers had to deal with something unexpected. As the suspect sat in his vehicle, dozens of local residents came out onto the street to engage the suspect and the officers. Cell phones in hand, they ignored the officers repeated attempts to move out of the way.
The crowd grew and taunted the officers, who were just trying to do their job. The frustrated cops repeatedly motioned and ordering the crowd to back off — orders that were ignored.
And then, the final insult: two women began dancing, and as best I could tell were “twerking” in the middle of the street as the suspect leaned out his car window and seemingly enjoyed the show. Another person in the crowd came up to the car window and either took or gave something to the driver.
So, what were the officers to do? They couldn’t just walk away. The crowd continued to grow. There was absolutely no regard for the officers’ authority. If the officers tried to take the suspect out of the vehicle, they would have put themselves at risk or make it easier for the driver to force them to use deadly force.
There is no doubt the people who were deliberately disobeying the officers were interfering and subject to arrest. But what would happen if the officers took any action to make that happen?
I’m certain a supervisor is thinking about how quickly the scene could explode and get out of hand. But again, the officers can’t just leave. There is an obligation to enforce the rule of law and get a potentially dangerous suspect off the streets.
The crowd grew when suddenly, the suspect started up the vehicle and attempted to drive up an alley. He got penned in and eventually came out of the vehicle and was taken into custody. A large crowd gathered as dozens of officers tried to keep the peace so they could finish their investigation.
There is a certain amount of frustration anyone who respects the rule of law will feel when they see this video, which shows an entire community with no regard for the police and their attempts to keep us all safe. If you feel frustrated, just think what the officers on scene must have been going through.
Joe is a retired police captain. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org