Indianapolis, IN — Officer discretion allows cops some leeway on which they can rely as they make choices that impact the people they are policing. If they see a family who may be struggling to put food on the table, a cop can choose not to extort them for some arbitrary violation like window tint. All too often, however, cops do not use this discretion and will escalate force and kidnap people over the most mundane infractions, up to and including, improperly crossing the street. The officers in the following example, however, used their discretion to help a man in need instead of throw him in a cage.
Their discretion should serve as an example for other officers across the country.
The man in the video below was not looting a jewelry story or part of a flash mob carrying out a smash and grab at Nordstrom. He was a hungry man trying to feed his family but couldn’t afford to do so. Becoming desperate, that man decided to break the law to put food on the table for his family and entered a grocery store, where he attempted to shoplift his sustenance.
Officer Jim Gillespie, with the Indianapolis police department, was wearing a body camera which captured he and his fellow officer’s response. Instead of beating, tasering, or killing the man, Gillespie and his partner used their discretion and chose not to arrest him.
Their discretion didn’t stop there, however. After choosing not to arrest a man who was stealing food for his family, the officers carried out an act of compassion and actually bought the man the food he was trying to steal.
“Me and the other officer just really exchanged looks, like, this is a good opportunity here to help somebody out, and you know at the end of it, neither one of us were really interested in arresting the gentleman either,” said Gillespie.
As the video shows, instead of handcuffing the man, Gillespie and his partner escorted him out of the store and gave him the bag of food he had attempted to steal. Shocked, the man originally didn’t want to take it, but the officers ensured him that it was okay.
“Alright, man. This is a lot easier way to carry it than in your sweatshirt,” he says in the video. “Here you go, Merry Christmas!”
This act of kindness could have been the spark to change this man’s life. Instead of spending Christmas in a cage for trying to feed his family, he was given a second chance thanks to officers using their discretion in a good way.
“Usually, in those circumstances, you do expect to go away in handcuffs or at least receive a physical citation where you going to have to go to court, and instead he’s getting a bag of the food that he was intending to take in the first place,” Gillespie said.
Thought he man in the video above was given discretion by these officers, others haven’t been so lucky.
In 2018, TFTP reported a disturbing story out of Cincinnati that shocked the country after a police officer tasered an 11-year-old girl in the back after he suspected her of stealing food. Since then, officer Kevin Brown was “disciplined” by his department, but never fired. He then became the subject of a criminal FBI investigation that his superiors called a politically motivated “assault on our cops.” However, the propaganda by the department and the union worked and the officer was later cleared.
Officer Brown appealed his suspension and won after the court found it was totally acceptable to taser small children in the back for stealing food.