homeless

Austin. TX — Allegations of an unprovoked attack on a homeless man in Austin, TX, by a police officer, are stirring up controversy in yet another case of suspected police brutality. The victim filed a lawsuit Dec. 7 against the officer and is using the officer’s own dash cam video evidence to support his claims.

Austin-based KBUE, and ABC affiliate, examined the claims alleged in the lawsuit, and found Sgt. Gregory White is the police officer who supposedly attacked the man. “White was looking for a suspicious person described as an African-American female when he pulled over to speak to Justin Tyler Scott, a homeless man,” writes the television station. “Scott didn’t answer the officer’s questions. Court documents said White believed Scott was tense and acting suspiciously. Scott’s attorney claims that’s when Officer White grabbed Scott’s arm, elbowed him and punched him. Both men ended up on the ground,” the report continues.

According to the lawsuit, the incident occurred on February 20th, 2015, at around 10am. Mr. Scott was occupying space on the sidewalk when Officer White approached. From the dash cam video, White can be seen asking Scott about the African American suspect he was supposedly looking for, and then asked White to identify himself. As is every citizen’s right, Scott refused to answer White’s repeated questions related to his identity and the whereabouts of the female suspect.

The encounter takes a turn toward the violent when White asked Scott if he had any weapons. White grabbed Scott’s wrist, and placed him into a wrist lock. From there, he transitioned his wrist lock into an arm bar. Upon placing Scott into a wrist lock, for apparently failing to identify himself, and cooperate with White, that the homeless man began to cry aloud and complain, asking why White was hurting his fingers and treating him harshly.

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White then told Scott to put his hands behind his back, to which Scott asked the simple question, “Why?” Apparently asking why he was being questioned, detained, and asked to put his hands behind his back was all the justification White needed to punch the homeless man in the back of the head. White then slammed Scott to the ground, repeatedly telling him to “put your hands behind your back.”

White then proceeded to pummel Scott with repeated blows to the head with fists, elbows, and on at least one occasion, his knee. After a long and intense struggle, which included Officer White deploying his taser multiple times on Scott, the officer was able to subdue the homeless man, with the help of what appears to be other citizens. Scott was arrested for assaulting Mr. White, resisting arrest, and taking a weapon from an officer.

But the encounter begs the question of many free thinking individuals as to which person should be arrested, the homeless man who was apparently minding his own business, or the officer of the peace who beat him up? The lawsuit contends Officer White “subjected” Mr. Scott to “excessive force”, a clear violation of his fourth and fourteenth amendment rights afforded him by the constitution of the United States. Those amendments state the government does not have the right to search and seizure without probably cause, and guarantees Mr. Scott has a right to due process. But in Officer White’s law book, evidently, Mr. Scott only deserved a proper beat down.

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The lawsuit contends Mr. Scott suffered and suffers from “physical injuries, extreme psychological injuries, mental anguish, humiliation, trauma, and the indignity of being subjected to a violent beating and excessive force by law enforcement officers as a result of the use of force by Officer White…” The lawsuit also points the finger of blame at the city for, “inadequate policies, practices, and customs, without any reasonable justification.”

Not only was Mr. Scott beaten into submission, arrested, and taken to jail, but he remained in jail for 176 days, until a judge dismissed the charges against him. As a result of the “mental anguish” and “loss of enjoyment of life,” the costs associated with his injuries, and fees related to his legal representation, Mr. Scott, according to the civil court documents, is seeking over a million dollars in damages and is demanding a trial by jury.

As The Free Thought Project has faithfully reported on numerous occasions, some corrupt police officers have long-since engaged in the same types of practices Officer White employed against Mr. Scott. Often times, the victims are homeless, and mentally ill. And while, in some cases, the police officers are made to be the subject of an internal affairs investigation, they’re often given time off with pay, allowed to return to work, and in some cases, given commendations by their departments. When will the insanity end?

When will police officers begin to be held to the same standards the rest of the citizenry are subjected to? Change must be demanded, and change must happen, according to Kingian non-violence practices.

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Police officers do not have to be killed in order for these changes to take place. Independent review boards must be given the latitude to file criminal charges against police officers, be allowed to fire officers, and be allowed to force officers to undergo retraining in non-violent conflict resolution. These measures and more can make a difference. But giving police officers a free pass, when not even the homeless are safe from enforcement tyranny, only exacerbates the problem of violent police encounters.

 

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Jack Burns is an educator, journalist, investigative reporter, and advocate of natural medicine