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David French on Crime

 

 


Don't prosecute police for wrongful arrests; intent matters

If anyone doubted whether it was reasonable for police officers to feel a "chill wind" blowing against law enforcement, they had only to look at the prosecution in Freddie Gray's death. The charges against five police officers sounded impressive--accused of 2nd-degree assault and reckless endangerment--but those charges were dangerous. Prosecutors claimed that arresting officers had a "right to stop" Gray--but that they did not have grounds to handcuff him, place him prone on the ground, and search him.

Baltimore veered dangerously close to essentially arguing that there are only two kinds of stops: lawful arrests and assaults. That's not to say that arrests should be a zone of immunity for police, but rather that intent matters. Police officers chase fleeing suspects all the time, and if they can go to prison for chasing a man, searching him, handcuffing him, and arresting him after finding what seemed to be an illegal knife, that "chill wind" they feel will become a lot chillier.

Source: David French column in National Review, "Freddie Gray" , May 23, 2015

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Page last updated: Sep 08, 2018