Panama City, FL — As TFTP has frequently pointed out, if you have a single bad cop in a department who continuously violates people's rights, and 50 cops who watch him do it and say nothing, then you have 51 bad cops. Silence when witnessing corruption among your own ranks is the same as carrying out that corruption. Sadly, silence is the norm, as good cops who speak out or attempt to stop the corruption, are more often than not, fired, retaliated against, and even threatened and attacked.
Instances of good cops keeping their jobs for exposing bad cops are extremely rare, which is why the following case out of Panama City is so important. An unnamed officer from the Panama City police department has been fired after a good cop decided to do the right thing. Now, according to a statement from the department this week, criminal charges could follow.
The incident began last week when police responded to a mentally ill man pushing a wheel chair down a sidewalk and photographing the Chapman Early Education Center. Though it is somewhat creepy to film into a school, as more than a decade of case law and the constitution confirms, filming in public is legal. So, although some folks may have been disturbed by his actions, when police approached Calvin Pittman, 41, he hadn't committed a crime.
Tony Bostick, Northwest Florida Minority Business Chamber leader, said that Pittman has “diminished mental capacity,” which explains why he gave the cops the following reason for filming.
When asked why he was filming the students and staff, Pittman said, “they were out to kill me, and I have to record it,” before saying that he thought that the officers were fake police and that he was scared of them.
Clearly, Pittman is mentally ill, and clearly, at least one of the officers involved in his detainment was either untrained in dealing with the mentally ill, or likes to take out his anger on them. Either way, a man, who the community says is harmless, was subsequently handcuffed and attacked by a Panama city cop.
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“He’s been known to walk around town and sometimes he goes in and out but he doesn’t harm anyone,” Bostick said.
According to the officer, when he moved to handcuff Pittman — who had not committed a crime — Pittman became uncooperative. This response by someone in Pittman's mental capacity is to be expected when they are being questioned or arrested and those with the proper training would know how to respond. The officer in the video below did not know how to respond.
Once Pittman was in handcuffs, for some reason, according to police, a "secondary incident" occurred between Pittman and an officer. Exactly why the officer felt it necessary to jump on top of Pittman is unclear. However, his fellow officer obviously knew it was not justified and moved in to intervene.
In an extremely rare move, the good cop intervenes and is seen on video pulling his fellow cop off of Pittman and shoving him to the side. The good cop them pushes the bad cop out of the way and appears to tell him to stop doing what he is doing.
“So far, what we know is that Mr. Pittman was assaulted by a Panama City police officer. A secondary officer stood by and watched it without intervening, and then a third officer actually came in and pulled him off,” Bostick said. “As a result, now they’re trying to say that Mr. Pittman assaulted the other officer that pulled him off.”
Because that good cop decided to do what is right, the officer seen in the video allegedly attacking the innocent mentally ill man now has his own department pushing for batter charges against him. This is how progress is made.