If the Oakland Police Department was looking to giftwrap sympathy for the so-called occupiers, this video will be the gift that keeps on giving. The person filming it was not being provocative and was even asking the police if where he was standing to film was OK. Clearly unprovoked, an officer fires the shot, hitting him in the thigh. We criticize the “occupiers” for their unruly and unnecessary behavior. The officer in this case also deserves condemnation. There’s just no reasonable excuse for this.
Scott Campbell was walking a police line at the Occupy Oakland general strike last week when he was shot with a nonlethal beanbag or rubber bullet by police.
Campbell, 30 of Oakland, caught the entire thing on camera.
“I thought it would be a good idea, since I had a camera, to film the police,” he said. “I just stood there.”
“I was standing well back,” Campbell wrote in his YouTube post. “There was no violence or confrontations of any kind under way.”
But then an officer appears to pull out a weapon that shoots a bean bag or a rubber bullets and, well, shoots Campbell.
“Ow, ow, ow, ow,” Campbell yells in the video.
Via reader Jedi, here’s some legal reaction.
Geoffrey Alpert, a University of South Carolina criminal justice professor who’s an expert in police decision-making and use of force, said the video left him “astonished, amazed and embarrassed.””Unless there’s something we don’t know, that’s one of the most outrageous uses of a firearm that I’ve ever seen,” he said. “Unless there’s a threat that you can’t see in the video, that just looks like absolute punishment, which is the worst type of excessive force.”
Campbell hasn’t decided how to proceed, but you can be sure this story will be receiving an enormous amount of attention. The Oakland PD has has enough problems and this sure isn’t going to help their tattered image.
“I’ve been discussing it with some individuals from the National Lawyers Guild. So far nothing’s been decided,” Campbell said. “It’s shocking that someone who is a police officer felt it was appropriate to do that. I’m not sure what the options are, but I would like to have the officer identified, and I would like for him to be held accountable.”
“It looks terrible,” agreed Sam Walker, a professor emeritus of criminal justice at the University of Nebraska, Omaha, who consulted with Oakland police on the federal consent decree emerging from the Riders scandal. “It certainly looks like they singled him out to be shot … and there does not appear to have been any sort of attack by the protester. Clearly, the camera is not approaching the officers, so they couldn’t claim that he posed a threat.”