Police across the country all take the same basic oath – “to serve and protect.”
Cameras and Camcorders are popping up almost everywhere. You can hardly walk 100 yards or drive one quarter of a mile without a camera or a camcorder making some kind of record of your movement. Another method of spying on citizens in the United States is with the use of unmanned drone aircraft, the same kind of aircraft our military is using in Afghanistan, Pakistan and other countries in the Middle East. It is anticipated that there will be thousands of unmanned drone aircraft in the U.S. skies to track all kinds of activity.
There are camcorders in almost all stores, hospitals, government buildings of all types – county, state, and federal. They are also in most elevators, airports, and on the majority of street corners in urban areas.
Jane Velez-Mitchell of HLN wants cameras everywhere – in all apartment complexes, in all buildings and schools, parks, and bus stops because she believes it would help reduce crime and when a crime is committed, it would help identify the bad guys and bring them to justice. To a certain degree, I agree with her.
So, if cameras and camcorders would help reduce crime, why are so many states passing laws against citizens photographing police performing their official duties? Are municipalities and police administration fearful of those times when police are NOT acting in good faith and if they are photographed or videotaped committing crimes against citizens it might result in police being arrested and municipalities being sued? I believe so.
What is strange to me is that police vehicles, for the most part, have camcorders mounted on their dashboards to assist them in prosecutions against criminals – yet, if a citizen witnesses police using excessive force against citizens they can be arrested for simply recording the incident. Why?
Police can easily violate the law and physically abuse citizens by dragging them or forcing them out of view of their dashboard camera.
A prime example of this is where a young navy veteran from the first Iraq war was visiting Rhode Island from Connecticut and when he was having a heated exchange with police, three officers took him out of view of the police camcorders. They forced him down a dark alley beyond the view of patrons of a late night establishment and also from a few people who were initially viewing the confrontation. The patrons were ordered back inside the establishment and then at least one of the police officers, maybe more, took Ryan O’Loughlin, the Navy veteran, down that dark alley where he was beaten – beaten so badly that he died of those injuries a little more than 12 hours later.
The officers said they only hit O’Loughlin on the back of his legs – yet Ryan’s liver was lacerated so badly he died the next day.
I believe there are well intended police officers that do their best to protect citizens but I also feel there are other officers who go way beyond the pale and use excessive force on a regular basis. There are also officers who are fearful of retaliation if they testify truthfully under oath – when their testimony could work unfavorably against these bad, corrupt officers.
Our Federal, State, and local governments cannot have it both ways. They need to weed out and prosecute the bad cops – those who use excessive force and go on power trips and beat citizens and then deny any wrongdoing.
Those in charge of Westerly, Rhode Island are backing the police in this case – even though they know in their collective hearts that Ryan O’Loughlin did not deserve to be murdered in their city – that night – or any other night.
Was Ryan simply blown off because he was some out-of-towner? The nerve of a mouthy Navy veteran from Connecticut, of all places, coming into Westerly and giving the police lip service.
Maybe Ryan should have been tarred and feathered and sent out of town – at least he would have been alive and he could have gotten a good bath and been back to normal the next day. Unfortunately, the police saw to it that Ryan was going to be punished enough that he would NEVER give them an argument again. Did they intentionally beat him with the intention of killing him? Surely not, but that is not the issue.
If I get into a fight with my neighbor and as a result of that fight, he dies – I can be charged with manslaughter or worse – murder. So, when the police cross the line, why can’t they be prosecuted when they use excessive force?
The answer is simple; they belong to a brotherhood that will lie, cheat and steal to protect their own. Police management, Internal Affairs and District Attorneys and even town councils will go to no end to protect their own.
Each group in this process has their own motives – fellow policemen want to protect one of their own because a similar thing might happen to them down the road and they would want equal protection. Police management wants bad apples exonerated because if they were prosecuted it would reflect unfavorably on shift commanders and the police chief as well.
City councils and mayors and town managers all want to minimize the possibility of civil suits – so as you can see, all these individuals have some “skin” in the game so to speak. If a victim wins an costly lawsuit, it might result in city employees having to forfeit a pay raise or put off new equipment or even restrict overtime pay.
As long as states and local governments are continuing to enact laws restricting citizens from photographing or videotaping corruption or police brutality, we will continue our gradual shift to a police state – a state where one by one citizens will be brutalized with no retaliation or recourse and other citizens will go missing – but people will know in their hearts who took them but they will be too fearful to speak up for fear of being retaliated against by those who promised to protect and serve.
It just might be that Rhode Island, the smallest state in the union, could be the most corrupt from a police perspective. In addition, it appears that good citizens are fearful to stand up to the corruption.
A cover-up usually starts with those who use excessive force and then it goes up the chain to middle management to the police chief and then to civilians who are in charge of towns and district attorneys who are paid to bring guilty parties to trial – even if the guilty parties are wearing badges and are in uniform.
It is too bad that there were not cameras in the alley that fateful night in Westerly, Rhode Island. Maybe that is why those policemen took Ryan way down that specific alley because there would be no eyewitnesses – nor cameras or even a dashboard camcorder to record such a horrific beating of an American veteran who served his country proudly in wartime – wearing a Navy uniform only to be brutally beaten to death by policemen in uniform.
I remember the movie “The Out of Towners”, starring Jack Lemmon and Sandy Dennis where anything and everything happened to a couple when they were visiting New York City from Ohio, but what happened to Ryan O’Loughlin when he visited Westerly, Rhode Island from neighboring Connecticut was immoral, illegal, and downright disgusting to say the least.
What is worse about this tragedy is how the entire town of Westerly has been and still is complicit in covering up those involved in Ryan’s death. One brave person in Westerly is trying to raise awareness on what the police did to Ryan. Susan Champouillon has started a petition on change.org to keep the movement alive to bring the officers to trial who beat Ryan. Even if the officers escape criminal prosecution, hopefully there will be a successful civil lawsuit that will bring Westerly, Rhode Island to its knees.
I have blogged about Ryan’s death numerous times. Here is a link to one of my recent blogs about Ryan. My other blogs about Ryan are nearby in the same WordPress blogsite. Feel free to wander around.
In addition, here is the link to change.org to a petition that has been created on Ryan’s behalf by Susan Champouillon of Westerly. Please, if you have the time, visit the below link where everyone can read and sign the petition. You will be doing a wonderful service to Ryan’s widow and the rest of Ryan’s family.