Why Cops Can't Handle the Truth

Dennis Loo | November 26, 2014

Many years ago when a group of political activists (dubbed in the press the “Mao Zedong Defendants”) were arrested and put on trial for allegedly attacking a large group of police officers, I sat in the courtroom in Honolulu State Court on the defendants’ bench and listened with fascination at the parade of cops telling their version of the events of that day of our arrests.

I was fascinated by it because the cops’ accounts were a) all entirely consistent with each other, with not a single detail in any degree at variance or in contradiction to the others’ details (multiple eyewitness testimony is never entirely consistent when they're trying to tell the truth given the vagaries of individuals' observations and memories), and b) very vivid descriptions of how powerful my comrades were, two-thirds of them Asian females no taller than 5’ 1” tall and less than 100 pounds a piece, since according to these officers of the law, the officers had all been victims of a brutal assault by these Amazons.

To underscore how powerful and fierce my female activists must have been, the cops were to a man, at least 6' tall and weighed no less than 200 pounds a piece. It must be the intense study sessions of revolutionary science that my fellow activists spent so much time on because they had behemoth-like powers against these poor, defenseless officers of the law.

Tofu and veggies must beat coffee and donuts.

In my own case, the officer who had been the victim of my “assault” upon him or my “interfering with government process” or my refusal “to disperse” when ordered to do so told the prosecuting attorney during his testimony that even though he was over 6’ 4” tall and looked like he could bench press 280 pounds, that he was “in terrible shape” right then compared to when he has in fact been in reasonable shape.

I was struck by his unique self-assessment of what constitutes being in “good shape.”

After the first officer arrived on the scene of the arrests and grabbed the wrist of one of our comrades in order to take her into custody for the crime of peacefully handing out political flyers in a low income housing project, and as we told him to let her go, a slew of cop cars arrived and the next thing I knew, this very tall cop strode towards me, stuck out his right hand and in a straight arm motion, squeezed my neck tightly till I began to have trouble breathing. My fellow activists yelled at him to “let him go!” The next few instants went by in a blur and the next thing I knew I was on my knees with someone holding my arm behind my back in a submission hold. “Do you give?” the voice behind me demanded. I assessed my situation and submitted and was then handcuffed and put into a paddy wagon.

When the chief arresting officer took the stand he testified that he was jumped and beaten by a frenzied group of activists. Our attorneys asked him how he could have been bested by a small group of primarily Asian-American females who he outweighed by over a hundred pounds. All he could do was repeat his story about how he had been overwhelmed by angry and very strong radicals.

On the second or third day of our trial someone who was a long-time employee of my father came to court with her husband to watch the trial unfold and to support me. While we were preparing to enter the courtroom and I was talking to them I noticed one police officer who must have been preparing to testify openly staring at us intensely and with a worried look on his face. I realized why in a flash. My father’s assistant’s husband was a former police officer and the other officer must have recognized him. For all the world the look on his face said: “He’s going to tell him how we all concocted our stories.”

The jury eventually decided, after a tumultuous trial, that with two very minor exceptions, that we had not after all collectively lost our minds and become beasts towards the much bigger and armed cops, attacking them without provocation or reason. The jury did not buy the cops’ fabrication.

The grand jury in the Darren Wilson matter, on the other hand, never heard any examination of Darren Wilson’s self-serving and extensive testimony about why he shot Michael Brown to death. The prosecutor never recommended an indictment to the grand jury, and grand juries almost always give prosecutors what they ask for, and he never questioned Wilson's version of events, thereby letting Wilson's account stand uncontested.

If you buy Officer Darren Wilson’s (unexamined) account, Michael Brown was an unstoppable “demon” not bothered by a fusillade of gunshots to his body. As Wilson told it:

“At this point it looked like he was almost bulking up to run through the shots, like it was making him mad that I’m shooting at him.

“And the face that he had was looking straight through me, like I wasn’t even there, I wasn’t even anything in his way.”

Remarkable, Wilson’s surprised that the teenager who he is shooting to death is mad at him for shooting him to death as Brown is trying to surrender, with his hands up in a surrender posture.

Here is what the autopsy report says:

“There is a gunshot entrance wound of the vertex of the scalp. There is a gunshot entrance wound of the central forehead. There is a gunshot exit wound of the right jaw. There is a gunshot entrance wound of the upper right chest. There is a gunshot entrance wound of the lateral right chest. There is a gunshot exit wound of the upper dorsal right arm. There is a gunshot entrance wound of the dorsal right forearm. There is a gunshot exit wound of the medial ventral right forearm. There is a tangential (graze) gunshot wound of the right bicep. There is a tangential (graze) gunshot wound near the ventral surface of the right thumb. There is a gunshot related defect present near the right eyebrow that measures 4.0 x 2.0 cm. There is a gunshot related defect present near the right eyelid that measures 3.0 x 1.0 cm. There is an abrasion … “

Dennis Loo sits on the World Can't Wait's Steering Committee. He is a Professor of Sociology at Cal Poly Pomona and teaches, among other things, criminology. His most recent book is Globalization and the Demolition of Society which will be available for the first time in paperback in time for Xmas. This article first appeared on November 25, 2014 at his website DennisLoo.com.

Main Police State Repression Why Cops Can't Handle the Truth


World Can't Wait mobilizes people living in the United States to stand up and stop war on the world, repression and torture carried out by the US government. We take action, regardless of which political party holds power, to expose the crimes of our government, from war crimes to systematic mass incarceration, and to put humanity and the planet first.