In my last editorial I said I’m not a fan of protestors supporting Mike Brown. The fact is this: Brown was charging a police officer and was shot because of it. He was a tall dude and was shot in the top of the head. If he had been standing peacefully with his hands up, the officer would have had to climb a tree to shoot him like that. The facts all support the officer.
A new wave of protests erupted because of another incident where an officer applied a choke hold to a citizen, killing him. This incident was recorded on video. More police officers today in the US are being equipped with body cameras to document encounters. If you’re in a city, many events are captured by security cameras or by people with cell phones. This is a positive thing because it helps people see what really happened.
In cases where racism or abuse of power exists, I fully agree an officer should be dismissed from his job. If a crime has been committed, the officer should be prosecuted. When there is a question of appropriateness, I give the benefit of doubt to the officer. It’s a difficult job.
In the case of the choke, my opinion is the officer didn’t follow acceptable procedure. The guy was standing there and the officer jumped up and applied a chokehold. There were several other officers present. They should have been able to restrain this guy without using a chokehold. Grab his arm first and see what happens if he resists arrest. The officers should have been able to take him to the ground and handcuff him without using a choke hold.
This guy wasn’t a large muscular guy just an overweight guy. There’s a big difference. Anyone who exercises can spot the difference.
The use of choke holds as police techniques is a bad idea. Massad Ayoob in his book The Truth About Self Protection writes
“In 1976, I became the first in the police sector to speak out against the chokeout in the pages of the police professional journal Sentinel. I had studied the technique and discussed it with numerous physicians, all of whom pointed out potentially lethal problems.” (page 267).
The many risks of using choke holds is well known from decades ago.
The rise of the UFC and MMA has brought a little known technique called the rear strangulation choke or the rear naked choke to public awareness. I learned this technique when just a child. It was pretty rare. People who studied Gracie Jiu Jitsu or Judo knew it. It appeared from time to time on the TV.
A famous Minnesota wrestler in the 1970s was known for his use of the “sleeper” hold. No comment about wrestling being real or fake. It appeared in a few movies and TV shows from time to time in the 70s. I remember James Gardner applying it to a mobster in the TV series The Rockford Files.
The technique was taught in hand-to-hand combat and appears in Army training manuals from the 1950s. There are two versions of this choke. One known as a blood choke which is designed to reduce blood flow to the brain. The other version is a direct attack on the windpipe. Each has advantages and disadvantages as a combat technique. In the 70s, few people knew this technique.
Too many guys today want to be “tough guys.” They think it’s cool to “choke out” somebody. I was in a Wal-Mart and saw a child no taller than two feet running around and pretending to apply a rear choke hold to his little sister. The kid wasn’t a student of judo. He was mimicking what he saw on TV.
Even legendary martial artist Chuck Norris got into the act with the popularity of MMA. In an episode of Walker Texas Ranger, he applied a rear choke to a huge guy, who promptly went to sleep. Norris looked so awkward I felt sorry for him. The two foot kid had a smoother technique!
If you want to be a macho stud and practice BJJ choke techniques, the police force isn’t the place for it.
Bonus Editorial. What crime was this guy committing? He was selling cigarettes on a street corner. Not drugs. Smokes. It’s a crime for individuals to sell cigarettes in New York and many other states. The states want the sales tax revenue from the sales. Smokers are a small group and are easily taxed. They don’t have the political clout to defend themselves from excessive taxation. Politicians can raise taxes on them at will.
Through taxation, the government artificially drives up the cost of cigarettes by a massive amount, creating an incentive for people to purchase them on the black market. Not paying the hefty cigarette tax is criminalized. This says a lot about how a government really feels towards its citizens.
Another Editorial About This: