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Oops We Did It Again: SPD Caught Beating Man In Video

May 8, 2010

It was just last week that I brought you an exclusive interview with Maikoiyo Alley-Barnes, a name synonymous with police brutality.

In 2005 he was savagely beaten by members of the Seattle Police Department…for doing absolutely nothing.

We only ever found out about Maikoiyo’s story because video existed that captured a sliver of what happened to him.  It was the video that brought an end to his criminal trial.  It was the video that exposed the savagery of the officers involved.

It was the video.

Without it…who knows.

It’s nearly impossible to count how many times police brutality happens because 99% of the time the stories never come to light.

Now five years after Maikoiyo’s beating was captured on tape, comes another- this time by a freelance journalist.  From the Seattle Times:

The video, shot around 2 a.m., shows a group of officers detaining three men, who are lying on a sidewalk about a half-mile from the robbery scene.

After one of the men moves a hand to his face, it appears Cobane is trying to stop the movement with his boot but ends up kicking the man’s head. The man can be seen reacting, his head briefly flinching upward. Moments later, a patrol officer is seen stepping on the back of the man’s leg or knee.

It was later determined that the man and another detainee weren’t involved in the armed robbery, KIRO reported. The officers help the man to his feet and sit him against a patrol car. The man, who has a scrape on his head, tells the videographer: “They knocked me down and kicked me in the head.”

The video doesn’t lie.

Seattle police have responded by launching an internal investigation and a review by the Office of Professional (police) Accountability.  The Mayor has issued a statement saying he won’t be issuing any statements until after the investigation is over.  The acting Chief of police, himself a Latino, says he purposely has not watched the tape. The police union is making room to justify the officers actions saying something “must” have happened before the video started rolling, which justified the officers’ actions, and that gang unit officers face plenty of rough characters and often need to use “coarse” language. He went on to say:

“If people believe that in the course of police work that everything is ‘Officer Friendly’ and ‘Mr. Rogers,’ that’s a very naive view of what goes on.”

Civil rights groups are outraged.  Community reaction has been everything from shock to indifference to anger.  Many say this is the best kept secret: police office abuse people in their custody all the time.

The media has now grasped onto a part of the story much less significant- the battle between two television stations for rights to the tape.  Q13 claims it owns the tape- that it was their truck, their camera, their contracted employee who caught the incident.  KIRO 7 News says they own the video fair and square.  Lawyers are threatening action, yadda, yadda, yadda.

Fact is, Q13 hadn’t aired the tape by the time KIRO did.  The news execs at Q13 say they were still reviewing the tape- deciding what to do with it.  The camera man says they told him the officers didn’t do anything wrong, that the tape wasn’t egregious and they wouldn’t air it.

Was it really that the video wasn’t “egregious” enough to air, or was it something else?

I think we can all agree what is captured on the video is outrageous, particularly the racially tinged threats.

The better question is not who owns the video, or if it’s contents warranted being shown to the public.  The better question- one the mainstream media would rather not ask- is did Q13’s relationship with law enforcement cloud their judgment?

The local station has a show called Western Washington’s Most Wanted.  They rely almost exclusively on law enforcement for their stories, scoops and information.  Without that all access pass behind the “blue wall”, WWMW wouldn’t exist.  Would Q13 sweep stories unfavorable to law enforcement under the carpet to maintain their cash cow?  Most crime beat reporters rely on tight-knit relationships with police to do their job.  When you read an article about a crime and the reporter refers to “sources close to the investigation”- they are referring to the cop they just chugged beers with at the local cop bar the other night.

Does the buddy-buddy relationship cloud their ability to be objective when reporting on police officers, police departments, or police conduct? Should we care about that more than this little enhanced media spat over who owns the video?

The same video which shows one of the Officers, Shandy Cobane threatening a man on the ground, saying “I will beat the f*cking Mexican piss out of you…”

If that’s not egregious, I don’t know what is.

Cobane took the interesting step of calling his own press conference Friday night to apologize for his words, and for shaming the department.

He also said that his words are not a reflection of who or what he is.

I disagree very much Officer Cobane.  As far as I can tell, if a person could threaten to beat the “Mexican piss” out of someone, he could threaten to beat the “Black piss” out of someone.

I doubt very much this is an isolated incident.  I doubt very much Officer Cobane woke up that morning and decided “today is the very first day I’m going to use racially derogatory statements towards someone.”

I also doubt that this was a case of an officer snapping under the pressure of a high stress, dangerous life and death situation.  He didn’t have to chase this man down.  There was not struggle.  There was no resistance.  Not that those things would be an excuse.  The man on the ground, who was probably scared out of his wits- didn’t do anything.

These officers abused this guy for two reasons: they thought he deserved it, and they thought they could get away with it.

He didn’t apologize because he is sorry.  He apologized because he’s uncomfortable with being splashed across the news.

Aside from the fact that he could have not threatened the man- going from a threat to a racially tinged threat is a distinct, conscious act.  He said it to cause a reaction within the victim, to strike greater fear.  He was communicating not just power and authority, but superiority.

He said it because he meant it.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 8, 2010 9:53 am

    The only thing this officer is sorry about is that he got caught.

  2. Aaron Bossett permalink
    May 8, 2010 10:29 pm

    Cobane couldn’t even force himself to cry in that apology!!! Cobane is known for beating up on guys in the city, his whole rep is exactly what he was FINALLY caught for. Sorry my ass, & the worst part about it is, if you watch the reactions of the other officers involved, you can clearly see they are or were used to this type of behavior because not one of them reacted in surprised manner. Cobane clearly felt comfortable enough to do this KNOWING that there was a crowd of people watching and just knew he wouldn’t get caught and if it caught that there would be zero consequenses for his actions!

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