Miami, FL — Miami-Dade Police are under fire tonight after a pair of their finest handcuffed a panhandler, who was also a double-amputee, and then dropped her to the ground, leaving the woman there crying out for help, after being arrested for trespassing. Of course, there are two sides to every story.
In an attempt to evaluate the scene from multiple perspectives, one could say the police were just doing their jobs. After all, the woman was reportedly belligerent and trespassing. And in all fairness to the police, she may have thrown herself to the ground because she knew the incident was being recorded and possibly wanted to make a few dollars in a lawsuit against the city.
On the other hand, maybe she was asking patrons at the gas station for money because she was truly in need, and when cops arrived, she immediately became defensive. We won’t know because only the confrontation with officers was what was recorded on a bystander’s cell phone.
Taking the video at face value, without attempting to take sides, one must look objectively at the facts. Fact number one, the officers wanted to handcuff her. Fact number two, the two beat cops put the elderly woman in handcuffs. Fact number three, they decided they should let go of her, at which time she dropped to the pavement because she had no legs upon which to support herself. Fact number four, the police stood idly by as the woman pleaded for help. Fact number five, the police can be heard asking about an adjacent vehicle, and then proceeded to move the empty wheelchair away from the other car, all the while the woman remains on the ground crying out for help repeatedly saying, “stop hurting me!”
Mary Luis Brown is the woman with special needs, featured in the video. She’s 52-years-old. She lost her legs, which had to be amputated as a result of her long-running battle with diabetes. She’d been asked to leave the gas station located at Moody Dr. and SW 127th. But, as is often the case with panhandlers, they come back to where they’re successful at receiving charity.
However, something less than charity was what Brown received at the hands of police officers who are increasingly being seen as heartless, disaffected agents of a police state in which the only actors with rights to being treated with dignity are the officers themselves. Anything less than one-hundred-percent compliance often leads to aggressive, brutal, and disrespectful treatment directed at the citizenry. In Brown’s case, having suffered the loss of her limbs, she now has to go through the agonizing humiliation of her image being broadcast worldwide, lying helpless at the feet, and some might say metaphorically, under the boots of the police officer.
According to WSVN TV, the police issued the following statement. They say they’ve, “realized that as an agency we need to provide our law enforcement officers additional resources to aid them in facilitating the transport of disabled individuals, so that situations such as these are handled in a more amicable manner in the future.” The slight admission of responsibility does not change the facts, or provide consolation to the general public the incident will not happen again in the future.
Police departments must do more to ensure that all people, including the citizens with special needs, receive equal and fair treatment under the law. In August, an unarmed deaf man was shot dead by a highway patrol officer in Charlotte, NC, after not being in compliance with the officer’s commands, which he could not hear. The man drove home, where he was shot on the street where he lived. It has been said he was seeking someone who could sign for him to be able to communicate with the officer.
In San Francisco in August 2015, police used heavy-handed treatment of a one-legged-homeless-man, all the while the general public cried out for more humane treatment of the individual. But once again, cries going out for the sake of humanity were met with stone-cold wall of blue police silence. “You’re protecting and serving the community, having this man half-naked? You don’t protect and serve this community if that’s policing to you…You’re doing your job all wrong,” one woman told police adding, “This is poor policing.”
The phenomenon is not limited to instances in the United States. In France, as The Free Thought Project reported in May, a triple-amputee was treated brutally by police, had his prosthetic limbs forcefully removed, and was left helpless on the ground of a railway station, after being accused of stealing a cell phone. Of course, while the police felt they had the right to remove his prosthetics, they offered no help in reattaching them.
It’s time for police to return to being reasonable, and amicable, especially when dealing with individuals with special needs. There are other, less than lethal ways of dealing with threats. At the time of the writing of this article, yet another police shooting has taken place in a Reno Nevada. A 16-year-old special needs student, armed with two knives on his high school campus, was shot by the campus police officer, in clear view of dozens of his classmates. His prognosis is unclear.
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