“If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face— forever. ” — George Orwell
Cleveland, OH — George Orwell’s prophetic words above painted a bleak and disturbing picture of the future when he transcribed them to text over 7 decades ago. Now, thanks to the technological age of video recording and the internet, we have seen countless examples of his prediction playing out like a broken record, over and over again.
Body camera footage released this week captured the materialization of Orwell’s proverbial boot onto the foot of Cleveland police officer John Petkac and onto the neck of London Wilson.
According to police, on the day in question, they were responding to a report of domestic violence in the area when they encountered Wilson. Wilson was never charged with domestic violence, so it is unclear if he was the suspect police sought out. However, when police showed up on the scene, for some reason, Wilson ran.
Petkac was the first officer on scene and as the body camera footage shows, he pursued Wilson on foot before losing him. About three minutes later, a neighbor then told the officer that Wilson was hiding in a garbage can.
As the video shows, when Petkac opened the lid on the garbage can, Wilson emerged, shirtless — showing he had nothing in his waistband — and with his hands up. Despite completely surrendering to the officer, Petkac grabbed the man by his hair and tipped over the garbage can.
After Wilson is slammed to the ground in the trash can, Petkac drags the man by his hair, all the while holding a gun to Wilson’s head. The entire time, Wilson is asking why the officer is doing this to him as running when police arrive does not automatically give police probable cause.
“Why are you doing this to me? Why are you doing this to me?” Wilson asks the officer repeatedly. He receives no answer and only more violence.
We can see in the video that Wilson is not resisting at all. In fact, he is lying on his back with his hands in the air and with a gun to his head — posing no threat whatsoever. Nevertheless, Petkac decides that now is a good time to stomp on the man’s throat.
As anyone in their right mind would do at this point, Wilson tried to get the officer’s boot off of his throat by pushing it away. However, Petkac stomped right back in the same spot.
Likely thinking that this officer was going to kill him, Wilson went into self preservation mode and passively defended himself from the officer’s attack. This passive resistance was then interpreted by Petkac as “resisting arrest.”
“Why are you arresting me?” Wilson asks.
“Because you’re resisting arrest,” Petkac replies. As TFTP has reported, resisting arrest without cause for an actual arrest in the first place is a tactic used by cops to justify their violent behavior when attacking people without justifiable reason.
“Why are you punching me though?” Wilson asked.
More officers arrive and watch the mistreatment of Wilson by their fellow officer and instead of stopping it, they made up a story about Wilson trying to grab Petkac’s weapon.
Wilson is then placed in handcuffs as the officers pick him up and bring him to the cruiser. Instead of putting him in the cruiser, however, Petkac abused his victim even further — slamming his face into the side of the cruiser in clear act of retaliation.
A month later, Wilson pleaded guilty to the only crime with which he was charged that day, “resisting arrest.”
This incident took place on December 22, 2018 and Petkac and his fellow cops who aided and abetted him remained gainfully employed until this week.
Cleveland Safety Director Karrie Howard fired Petkac this week. According to Cleveland.com, Howard also fired officer Howard Hart — who investigators said smoked crack cocaine for four years — and suspended five other officers for between 13 and 30 days for failing to report Petkac’s actions accurately. Howard also suspended a police supervisor for failing to investigate the man’s claims that Petkac stomped on his head.
When people talk about a “bad apple” in a department, they ignore all the help given to these bad apples by their fellow officers and supervisors. Here, we have a crackhead cop, covering for a raging lunatic who stomps on people’s throats while holding them at gunpoint and 6 other officers going along with it. “Bad apple” does not even begin to describe this situation.
What’s more, because the system protects bad apples and their enablers, Petkac will likely be rehired shortly. According to the report, Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association President Jeff Follmer previously said Petkac’s actions did not warrant his firing and that the union would appeal to get Petkac’s job back as it does in most cases where the department fires of disciplines officers.