Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Springfield Police Union's Twisted Thinking And Mayor Sarno

I don’t blame any union for defending a member, we join unions to get protection, but we have to draw a line somewhere. The Springfield, Massachusetts police union is trying to defend their guy, Jeffrey Asher, for giving an arrestee a flashlight shampoo, by saying the cop was defending himself against resistance. This is to insult the intelligence of anyone reading the story. Even a surface understanding of words should make it clear that no one has to defend against resistance, but against a defined and obvious offense. Read it here.

So, did Melvin Jones, above left, the arrestee, launch an offense? Even the professional fabricators at the Springfield Police Union couldn’t come up with one, except to rely on their guy’s stated excuse. Jeffrey Asher, above right, (the one with his face still intact,) claimed Melvin Jones attempted to take a gun from another cop at the scene, which in Jeffrey’s lawbook, opened the door widely to any sort of retaliation he could conjure.

That was before the tell-tale video surfaced. Cops knew of it, but suppressed it because it did not back Jeffrey’s story. The totally innocent Jeffrey Asher, just wanting to do his job and return home at the end of his shift, was forced to defend himself against Melvin Jones’ devastating resistance by crushing the man’s skull with his flashlight after the suspect didn’t want to go to jail for drug possession.

The video shows Mr Jones being overpowered by back-up cops and then beaten. There was no gun-grab. Also, the duration of the beating lasted well beyond the arrestee’s ability to sustain his alleged resistance, given his injuries. The video defeats any attempt to claim that force was stopped as soon as the resistance stopped. The encounter was just a old-fashioned ass-whoopin’.

Union President Joseph Gentile bolstered his defense of Jeffrey Asher by saying that nobody cares when a cop gets hurt, nine incidents of which were documented last year. Nobody calls or inquires in any way about them, he said. Well, boo-hoo-hoo. Cops are paid to do dangerous work. That’s why citizens hired them.

“Appropriate force” is what Joseph Gentile called the action Jeffrey Asher took on Melvin Jones. Could we have a list of actions a citizen could take that would warrant the application of that amount and style of force? Multiple broken facial bones and partial blindness in one eye. Can anybody outside of the PD call that appropriate? OK, I know one---Tony Soprano. Melvin Jones was not armed. His attempt to take a cop’s gun is not backed up by the video. After being outnumbered, 6-1, his short-lived resistance did not pose any threat.

He was down on the ground by the time the flashlight was employed. In that situation, how many strikes would be appropriate to quell his resistance? Is 6 too many? Is 2 enough? Or does the Academy instruct students to beat the arrestee until their lunch hour? Well, Jeffrey Asher hit Melvin Jones 18 times with the flashlight. And his reasoning for the beating? To “disorient” him, he said. Well, he disoriented the eyeball so much that it cannot function anymore, and he disoriented the bones in his face into a pattern not found in nature.

Oh, Melvin Jones was then arrogantly charged with assault & battery on a cop. There was no such assault in the video, as seen here--

The Mayor To The Rescue

Mayor Domenic Sarno promises a new CRB with teeth. We will probably watch that idea get beaten with flashlights too when the police union gets hold of it. Local leaders as well as citizens are behind Sarno’s idea, including Reverend Talbert Swann.

The Reverend has the basics right. Transparency from the PD and decision-making by the CRB are the combination for true police control.

Springfield Police Commissioner William Fitchet will not cooperate with any new policies suggested by the Mayor, even though his cops have proven they cannot tell the difference between a diabetes-triggered seizure and disobeying police orders, an error which cost the city $180K. Douglas Greer, Principal at Robert M Hughes Charter Academy, was labeled “unresponsive” by cops while he was suffering a seizure, and promptly beaten. All in a day’s work, right?

BTW, Jeffrey Asher was suspended for 6 months in the late 90’s for kicking a man while he was held down by other cops. A $180K settlement against the PD resulted. Jeffrey Asher has been busy over the years. Seven other problems in the Springfield Police Department all feature Jeffrey’s name. But, cop apologists are quick to remind us that police are human too and can make mistakes. OK, sure, sure……..We can overlook it. Melvin Jones will do that with only one eye, however. Jeffrey Asher put the other one out of service.

Mayor Sarno, do you have the maracas necessary to put the police union where they belong in your city? Believe it, they will not allow any progress toward a functional CRB as long as they exist as a functioning union. Cops cannot stand competition, and they hate a level playing field even more. Jesse Ventura got it right when he said “Win if you can, lose if you must, but always cheat.” It is the cop credo, permanently etched in the granite that makes up their heads.

Mayor Sarno, in the next few weeks, show us progress in your promise to make a CRB with teeth. You know what those teeth are, too. A citizen’s board that has total access to all police records, including dash cam video. A panel that can hire and fire without approval from the police union or the Commissioner. Citizens that can make department-changing decisions. Mayor, do it right this time, and put the future of the Springfield Police Department in the hands of those who will benefit from its improvements, the taxpaying citizens.

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