A former police officer and current instructor on proper arrest and use of force tactics joined TODAY’S TMJ4 to offer insight into what happened in the body cam video of an officer tasing Bucks player Sterling Brown.
Robert Willis says MPD officers get training on crisis prevention and professional communication. But after watching the video, he wants to know whether supervisors are making sure what’s trained in the academy is carried over to the streets.
With so many questioning how it ended with the Bucks player getting tased, you have to examine the very beginning. The first thing the police officer does when Brown comes out of the Walgreens is immediately ask him for his ID.
“There's a time for that, but I'm not sure it's right at the outset,” Willis said. ‘Why create that dynamic going in?”
Willis said instead the officer should have introduced himself.
“Good evening sir, my name is Officer Smith. The reason I need to speak to you is there a parking issue here, is there any reason you're parked like this?” Willis said, explaining how he would have liked to see the situation handled.
“You want to control space, but you know as an officer, I can also move back. It shouldn't be an ego issue,” Willis also said.
The officer instead told Brown to back up and that everything he did would be on camera. He then called for backup.
“You even hear the officer say ‘I only asked for one officer,' and you see 4 or 5 different squad cars. Take it from the perspective of Sterling Brown,” Willis said. “You've maybe parked poorly, and suddenly many, many squads are showing up. That's going to make me a little nervous. And when people are nervous they typically put hands in pockets.”
That leads to the next step. A common saying when it comes to police training is, “Control the hands. Hands kill.”
The officer yelled at Brown to take his hands out of his pockets.
“At that moment we have an officer grasp on to his arm,” Willis said. “We don't know what the officer initially felt when he laid hands on Sterling Brown. Did he feel actual resistance or a quick flinch? If someone grabs your arm, it's a bit of surprise there.”
The video does not show what exactly happened on the ground, but you can hear the command to tase.
Willis acknowledges that anytime you analyze use of force video you have to realize it’s not going to show every angle or nuance.
Also, you must try to approach what you’re watching from the perspective of all sides involved.