Corbella: When it comes to dealing with cops, comply first, then complain

Police arrest a suspect with dye on his arms after a robbery of the TD bank on 17th avenue S.E. on Thursday, May 18, 2017.

Twice now readers have sent me a five-year-old

video clip

from an Arizona television station that shows an outspoken critic of police violence going through police training scenarios.

The first time this video — which has been viewed more than 2.3 million times — was sent to me was after

I wrote about

the videotaped

choking death by Minneapolis, Minn., police of George Floyd

which sparked protests against police brutality and racism all around the world — including here in Alberta.

Nothing justified what happened to Floyd, who was on the ground with his hands cuffed behind his back when an officer’s knee remained pressed on his neck for nine minutes until he died. So, I didn’t think the video was particularly valid, but I have not been able to forget its lessons.

On Thursday, I was sent the clip again by a different reader after

I was critical of how five Alberta Sheriffs beat up an 18-year-old farmer from Sundre who was driving one of his family’s tractors

as he rushed to make hay while the sun was shining and the ground was dry.

Jeremia Leussink faces several criminal charges after he refused to provide a breath sample at a roadblock in Didsbury at 9 p.m. on July 31, as he was in a rush to continue making hay in yet another farmer’s field after already having reportedly worked 16 hours in Olds. Why didn’t he just provide a breath sample? There were just three or four cars ahead of him. It might have cost him 15 minutes rather than a brutal beating that has left him bruised, traumatized and facing criminal charges.

 A photo taken of Jeremia Leussink after a July 31 incident with Alberta sheriffs that led to his arrest. He and his brother, Dominic Leussink, are facing charges after the incident. Their family has set up a GoFundMe.

The news segment from

Fox 10 News called, Shoot or Don’t Shoot

, (

) starts off showing Rev. Jarrett Maupin, a civil-rights activist, leading a protest through the streets of Phoenix, saying: “We want his badge. We want his gun. We want his job,” after an unarmed Black man was shot by a police officer one month earlier.

To his credit, Maupin agreed to undergo use-of-force police training and be filmed in the process.

After being provided with a holstered training gun, Maupin is presented with Scenario No. 1 —  a call about a man casing cars in a parking lot. “You’re looking for your vehicle, what kind of a car do you drive?” Maupin asks the man a couple of times.

The suspect ignores him, walks behind a white SUV, pulls out a gun and shoots Maupin multiple times.

Scenario No. 2 is a call of two men fighting. Maupin says, “What’s going on today, gentlemen?” He repeats the question. The men stop fighting and the bigger of the two men approaches “officer” Maupin at a quick pace. Maupin only says “back up” once before he “shoots” the man with the training device. The man was unarmed. “He shouldn’t have approached me,” Maupin then says repeatedly.

When asked why he shot the unarmed man, Maupin says, “Because he was within that zone, you know. I thought that he was an imminent threat. I didn’t necessarily see him armed but he came clearly to do some harm to the officer, to my person. It’s hard to make that call. It shakes you up.”

Luckily, it was just a training exercise.

After Maupin’s training, a television reporter is put through the same scenarios without having seen what Maupin did. The outcome was exactly the same. In the first scenario the “officer” was shot and killed; in the second, the unarmed man was shot.

When asked what his biggest take away was from the exercise, Maupin stated the obvious.

“I didn’t understand how important compliance was,” admitted Maupin. “But after going through this, my attitude has changed. This is all unfolding in 10 to 15 seconds. People need to comply with the orders of law enforcement officers, for their own sake.”

It’s an eye-opening news clip and I urge everyone to watch it and send it on to your loved ones — particularly young males.

The lesson is comply. If you feel you need to complain, only do so after that police officer has left.

I thought of this lesson after watching the

dashcam footage

of the March arrest of Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation Chief Allan Adam. The full 12-minute video shows the chief disregarding police requests to stay in his vehicle. Instead, Chief Adam swears at the officer, walks around his truck, opening doors and reaching inside several times. Had he been in the U.S., where it’s assumed everyone is packing a handgun, the results could have been even more catastrophic.

Tonii Roulston

, the Calgary defence attorney who has been hired by the Leussink family, said in an interview recently she “can’t imagine being punched in the head, in the neck and thrown from a tractor. Let’s not forget the actual physical touching that went on here, the violence of it, all because what he’s doing is, the family relies upon this work, that their work gets done with the weather. All the police had to do was have a conversation,” she said.

“Jeremia will be traumatized. If it happened to a woman we would be outraged, even more so than we already are,” added Roulston.

“What I tell my clients is, ‘Look, even if you don’t consent, do not get into it with the police. You could be seriously injured,’” warned Roulston.

Personally, I have never been treated disrespectfully or roughly by police. I tend to appreciate their presence. That could be because I’m white and female. But, and here’s the crux of the matter, I have always treated all police officers with respect and followed their instructions because I know the vast majority of them are decent and courageous. By law, they have the right to tell me what to do. For many people of colour, however, particularly Black youth, police are a threat.

So, remember the three Cs when it comes to dealing with police. Comply, comply, comply. Even if you don’t consent, comply first. You can always complain later. If you reverse the order, you might not be around to complain.

Licia Corbella is a Postmedia columnist in Calgary. [email protected] 

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