Officers Attack Man for Filming Arrest
(KY) – Man, I thought the police in Louisiana were bad but Kentucky is giving them some serious competition.
Joseph Bennett had been driving down the street when he saw several Jeffersontown police cars at a McDonald’s. He decided to livestream the incident to Facebook. Mr. Bennett made sure to follow the guidelines and stayed a good distance away from what was going on. After a few moments, two officers begin to approach Mr. Bennett in a very determined manner.
The following conversation ensues:
Officer: How’s it going, sir. Can I see some I.D.?
Mr. Bennett: Pretty good. Yeah? Why?
Officer: Because you’re filming a crime scene investigation.
Mr. Bennett: I’m just filming in public.
Officer: And, and, you’re involved.
At this point Mr. Bennett denies he is involved. The officer asks for his I.D. again and Mr. Bennett refuses to give it to him. The officer immediately attacks him with the second one joining in. I have only found the name of the second officer, James E. Wescott. The articles I’ve read have not given the name of the first officer, the one who initiated contact, but they have said it was Officer James E. Wescott who punched Mr. Bennett in the face, causing the EMTs to have to evaluate him at the scene and resulting in a black eye.
Violation of First Amendment
Practically every court that has reviewed the public’s right to film officers has said it is protected under the First Amendment. According to the Jeffersontown Police Department, one of the people they had in custody told the officers that Mr. Bennett was the driver. This seems weird. Not impossible, but weird. If it really did happen, and I do have doubts about that, I would expect the police to investigate the claim, but that’s not what they did. There are a multitude of things they could have done to actually investigate. One of them being, ask Mr. Bennet if that was his car and then run the damn license plates on the car! That they immediately attacked Mr. Bennett shows how angry they are about the public holding them accountable for their actions.
What the Hell is an “Empty Strike”?
According to Officer Wescott, he delivered an “empty strike.” I take that to mean that he didn’t put any force behind it. I call bullshit. What part of his training taught him to give out little love taps? What purpose would that serve? Who in their right minds believes that these officers, who made absolutely no attempt to handle the situation calmly, restrained themselve enough to only give a light strike? According to IBT, “Bennett said it was a ‘solid left hook’ which made him visit a doctor for X-rays.” He also said he had a black eye from top to bottom. No, the “empty strike” comment is just Wescott trying to downplay his actions.
Mr. Bennett was charged with Menacing and the usual police cover-your-ass charge of Resisting Arrest. According to LawSERVER, the charge of menacing in Kentucky is: “A person is guilty of menacing when he intentionally places another person in reasonable apprehension of imminent physical injury.” Mr. Bennett was across the parking lot from where the officers were doing their job. How could that possibly be menacing? As for resisting arrest, well, we all know that is police speak that means you didn’t say, ‘how high’, when an officer said to ‘jump’.
Mr. Bennett is considering filing a lawsuit against the Jeffersontown Police Department. If he does, I wish him success. It’s not like we can depend on police departments to properly address the abuse.