The video posted to Twitter by a Black Lives Matter group showing a Meridian police officer punching a suspect lying on the sidewalk was shocking.
As the suspect, Colt James Seward, tries to cover his face, the officer repeatedly punches Seward, rams his head into the pavement, and pins him to the ground. As a second officer holds Seward’s right hand behind his back, the first officer punches Seward in the face again.
In his police photo, Seward’s right eye is swollen, he has blood on his face and he has several cuts on his forehead.
It was a gratuitous show of excessive and unnecessary force, in the eyes of the whole world.
And yet, Meridian Police Chief Tracy Basterrechea said Donald Heida, the officer who struck Seward, acted “within policy,” adding that “these incidents don’t happen if the suspect is cooperating”.
It’s certainly not in defense of Seward, who is charged with drunk driving and was, according to police, found passed out “in traffic” lying behind the wheel of his vehicle, engine running, car in grip and his foot. on the brake. It is obviously inexcusable.
Police say after failing a sobriety test and being taken into custody, Seward slipped his handcuffed hands under his legs and down the front of his body, which ultimately led to the altercation being caught on video. when the police tried to handcuff him again.
At the start of the video, officers are seen pushing Seward to his knees. Seward falls forward and spins, sending Heida rolling backwards. This seemed to prompt Heida, who appears to lose her temper and acts out of anger as he punches Seward in the head.
The outrage over what happened here and the lack of accountability has nothing to do with defunding the police, supporting blue, Blue Lives Matter, Black Lives Matter or anything. other. And no one is saying that all police officers are violent. It has to do with the principle that the police should be held to the same rules as everyone else – and anyone who did what Heida did would be in big trouble.
It was not an exercise in self-defense. It was not a good font. It wasn’t human at all.
We recognize and recognize that police work is difficult and dangerous, and we know that the vast majority of police officers are trying to do the right thing.
But it’s the good officers who should be upset that Heida is getting away with it without any discipline.
Many people in the community believe that the police act as if they are above the law, that officers protect the bad behavior of their colleagues, that the thin blue line exists.
Rulings like this, when there are no repercussions, only serve to confirm those beliefs.
Telling the public that punching a subdued suspect who is pinned to the ground multiple times in the face is “policy” for the Meridian Police Department sends a terrible message.
Good cops who know better should ask for a different result. The city of Meridian should demand accountability.
Otherwise, it just paints all cops with the same bad brush, and it hurts trust in the department and in law enforcement in general.
Statesman editorials are the unsigned opinion of the Idaho Statesman Editorial Board. Board members are Opinion Editor Scott McIntosh, Opinion Writer Bryan Clark, Editor-in-Chief Chadd Cripe, Newsroom Editors Dana Oland and Jim Keyser, and Member of the Mary Rohlfing community.