By now, everyone has an opinion about the alleged over-use of force in the 2014 arrest of Byron L. Harris, a then-26-year-old felon with a lengthy record, after a high-speed chase by Boynton Beach police.
Was the beating by several police officers when they finally caught up to Harris and passengers Jeffrey Braswell and Ashley Hill, a violation of their civil rights? Or was it just an adrenaline rush gone horribly wrong?
A letter writer in Monday’s Palm Beach Post views it as more the latter. Terry Aperavich, of Boynton Beach, begins his letter:
I proudly support the Boynton Beach Police because they are all that stand between me and the bad guys that are turning our once civilized society into a dangerous battleground. Did the police get it wrong in the case of Byron Harris? Perhaps.
Aperavich goes on to say, however, that he is “tired of turning the streets over to the bad guys and then for them to be treated with kid gloves when they are finally apprehended.”
To be sure, he’s not the only one that feels that way. These high-speed chases — happening in other parts of the country, as well — put not only the life of the suspect and police at risk, but more importantly the general public.
But as the Post Editorial Board pointed out in a June 21 editorial, federal prosecutors are taking seriously the evidence that the Boynton officers not only violated Harris’ civil rights, but tried to cover it up.
The June 8 federal civil rights complaint alleges that a sergeant allowed officers to rewrite their police reports to justify their use of force after learning that a Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office helicopter camera had captured them punching, kicking and Tasering the driver and two passengers of a car they’d halted after the Aug. 20, 2014 high-speed chase.
Yes, there must have been a lot of adrenaline pumping in that situation — on both sides. But is that an excuse for law-enforcement pummeling someone they’ve been chasing?
If we’re going to use that reasoning, should a stressed-out teacher be allowed to smack a serially unruly child that has pushed the teacher’s buttons way too often on a given day?
Point is, there are a lot of stressful jobs that come with an adrenaline rush. Law enforcement is surely among the worst, as most of us can’t even imagine what they have to put up with day-in and day-out on our streets.
But cops know that going in, right? So shouldn’t we expect more from our police than a half-dozen or more of them beating someone down just because they’re angry they made them chase them through said streets?
Or does a suspect, who seems to care for no one but himself during a 100-mph car chase, deserve to reap what they sow?
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