Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Phoenix Jones: The face of real superheroism; in Seattle, you're not above the law just because you dress up in a costume

If you've ever wondered what real superheroism looks like-- as opposed to that glamorized, sanitized version you see in ridiculous films and in comic books-- check out this video of Seattle Washington's Phoenix Jones, rushing to break up some kind of, um, well, a group of people.

Phoenix Jones Stops Assault from Ryan McNamee on Vimeo.

Did Batman ever get attacked by a loud, angry, shoe-wielding woman? Well, there was of course that famous Batman villain LadyShoe, but I mean, other than that?

I wonder if the mysterious and whimsical Doctor Shoe had anything to do with this?

Anyway, Mr. Jones has been arrested for his trouble.
Police officers arrested the 23-year-old man who calls himself Phoenix Jones early on Sunday after he allegedly assaulted several people with pepper spray. He was held in county jail on four counts of assault, with arraignment set for Thursday, police said.
"Just because he's dressed up in costume, it doesn't mean he's in special consideration or above the law. You can't go around pepper spraying people because you think they are fighting," said Seattle police spokesman Detective Mark Jamieson.
Okay, but if there are no police around, and no one else to help, wouldn't you want someone to jump in and start pepper spraying people who were punching and kicking you? I would. Save me, somebody! I would call out into the night. Even Phoenix Jones!

As for someone being above the law or given special consideration because he's dressed up in a costume-- does that also apply to the police? This is the same Seattle police department that falsely claimed it did not have video of the arrest of a man called Eric Rachner back in 2008:
Eric Rachner was arrested in October 2008 after police stopped him while he and a friend were swatting giant sponge golf balls during an urban pub crawl. Rachner refuse [sic] to identify himself, and he was arrested for obstruction of justice.

Rachner says it was a false arrest. ... In fighting the charge, he requested video copies of his arrest, and was repeatedly told the tapes were deleted or didn't exist.

"I thought that doesn't sound right," says Rachner. "Why would you delete arrest videos while the case was still pending? That was when I decided to find out what happened to the videos," says Rachner.

By researching the video system's manufacturer, he discovered a log of all the in-car cameras for SPD. He was finally to obtain multiple video copies of his arrest. The charge against him was eventually dropped.
They flat-out lied to him-- a member of the public which the police department is sworn to protect and serve-- and only because he kept pushing did he get to the truth.

Just because he's dressed up in costume, it doesn't mean he's in special consideration or above the law.

The Seattle police department is also being investigated by the Department of Justice for the excessive use of force:
The Justice Department is launching a formal civil rights investigation of the Seattle Police Department following the fatal shooting of a Native American woodcarver and other incidents of force used against minority suspects.

The wide-ranging probe will focus on "allegations of discriminatory policing and excessive use of force," Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for the DOJ's Civil Rights Division, said at a Thursday morning news conference.

The investigation comes after a preliminary review of the Seattle Police Department found cause for a more thorough, formal probe.
The Seattle police department is also stonewalling local news organizations in their attempts to get access to dashcam videos:
...KOMO News filed a lawsuit against the Seattle Police Department because we believe the department is breaking state public records law.

For more than a year, our Problem Solver investigators have been fighting for access to the department's database of dashcam videos.

The lawsuit, filed in King County Superior Court, contends the police department has intentionally and illegally stonewalled the Problem Solvers over and over again.
Just because he's dressed up in costume, it doesn't mean he's in special consideration or above the law.

More from the article about the KOMO lawsuit:
Justin Boldaji knows how important it can be to have video of an encounter with police.

When Boldaji found himself surrounded by Seattle police officers for allegedly jaywalking and then forcibly put on the hood of a police cruiser last May, he figured he was lucky because someone nearby had a cell phone camera.

A cell phone camera recording of Boldaji's encounter.
"I felt like I was being jumped by, like a gang, honestly," Boldaji said.
But 20 minutes later police let him go; no ticket, no arrest. And he wonders if that would have happened without the camera.
Jumped by police for jaywalking, and then let go 20 minutes later-- thanks in no small part to the fact that the police actions were captured on cell phone video.

The Seattle police department has a pretty low tolerance for the crime of jaywalking, apparently. Not even the developmentally disabled are given any slack:
Seventeen-year-old Joey Wilson called a neighbor for help soon after a police officer stopped him for jaywalking across a Queen Anne street.
"Two officers grabbed my arm. A third one started punching me. In the stomach, in the nose. My hands were being held I could not defend myself. I was thrown to the ground and I was kneed in the face. I felt my nose break," he said.

His mother, Mary Wilson, raced to the police station to pick him up.

"He was dazed, he couldn't move his neck. He was bloodied, his clothes were full of blood. And I put him in the car and drove him to the emergency room," he [sic] said.

Joey had a concussion and broken nose.

While any mother would be troubled to see their child like this, Mary explains that Joey is mentally disabled. He was born three months early, weighing just one pound, and has been in special ed his entire life.
Joey's lawyers say the family has tried to get information from the police department and the city about this incident and the officers involved.

But they say after getting no feedback for more than a year, they've decided to move forward with a lawsuit.

Just because he's dressed up in costume, it doesn't mean he's in special consideration or above the law.

Another interesting Seattle police department incident:
David Rengo says his friends were jumped by another group. Police stormed in to stop the fighting. A cell phone picture shows Rengo being arrested with gang unit detective Shandy Cobane in the background. Moments after the picture was taken, Rengo says that while handcuffed and lying down in a patrol car, Cobane intentionally cut off his air supply by pressing his thumbs on his windpipe.

"He (Cobane) came around the driver’s side, opened the door up and just choked me until I lost -- I couldn't -- I started kicking, 'cause I was about to pass out. He let me go. I took a breath and he choked me again," Rengo told Team 7 Investigators in an interview last year.

While Internal Affairs reviewed his complaint, the King County Prosecutor's Office pressed ahead, charging Rengo for felony assault of a police officer. Cobane reported Rengo "pushed" him -- something Rengo strongly denies.

In court, Team 7 Investigators discovered Cobane's "assault" story became impossible to corroborate. Connick subpoenaed patrol car videotape and audiotape, and found important pieces were missing or erased.

Connick told KIRO-TV, "That crucial video of that initial contact, detention, and placement in the car is missing."

He added, "Certain things were intentionally not done. The video wasn't turned on specifically, which was admitted by all officers to be a breach of protocol and procedure. There were gang unit officers who specifically told arresting officers not to give statements."
Just because he's dressed up in costume, it doesn't mean he's in special consideration or above the law.

And there's also this:
Malaika Brooks was driving her 12-year-old son Jahrod to the African American Academy on Beacon Hill one morning in 2004 when a Seattle cop pulled her over. It was the beginning of a traffic infraction that has so far cost city taxpayers $345,000 in legal fees, and which left the then-pregnant Brooks with Taser scars and the determination to pursue an alleged police-brutality case for what appears to be a record seven years and counting.

Officer Juan Ornelas, who'd caught Brooks on radar, came to her window and said she'd been doing 32 in a 20-mph school zone. Brooks denied it, explaining he must have mistaken her vehicle for the black Honda that had been racing along in front of her. Brooks, then 34, handed her license to Ornelas as her son got out and walked on to school. Ornelas wrote the ticket and handed it to Brooks for her signature. She declined. Signing it, she mistakenly thought, would be an admission of guilt. Ornelas told her that if she didn't sign the traffic ticket, he would issue a criminal citation for refusing. She could then be arrested and taken to jail.

Brooks said she wasn't signing anything, but would accept the ticket otherwise. Ornelas then called Sgt. Steve Daman to the scene. Officer Donald Jones also showed up. When Brooks told the sergeant she wouldn't sign, Daman told Ornelas and Jones to "book her." Brooks was asked to step from the car. She refused. Jones then displayed a Taser stun gun and asked if she knew what it could do to her. Brooks told the officers she was pregnant. "How pregnant?" one asked. Her baby was due in two months, she said. She refused to step out.

After a discussion among the officers, Ornelas opened the driver's door, reached in and grabbed Brooks by the left arm as Jones put the device to Brooks' thigh in touch-stun mode and shocked her with 50,000 volts. She began honking her horn, screaming for help as she resisted. Jones quickly administered another shock to Brooks' arm, and she stopped blowing the horn. Then he shocked her a third time, in the neck, and Brooks fell over, unable to move. She was pulled out and held face-down on the street while being handcuffed. After an examination by fire-department medics, she was jailed for resisting arrest. The charges ultimately were dismissed.
Just because he's dressed up in costume, it doesn't mean he's in special consideration or above the law.

And then there was the case of the 15 year-old girl arrested for auto theft:
A King County sheriff’s deputy kicks a 15-year-old girl, slams her to the floor of a jail cell, strikes her and pulls her hair in violence captured on videotape.
In the video, a deputy kicks the girl, pushing her back toward the wall. The deputy then strongly backs the girl against the wall and slams her to the floor by grabbing her hair. A second deputy enters the holding cell, while the first deputy holds the girl face down to the floor. The first deputy appears to hit the girl with his hands. The girl is then lifted up and led out of the cell while the first deputy holds her hair.

The second officer shown in the video was a trainee at the time and is not under investigation, Goodhew said.

According to court documents, the girl complained of breathing problems after the incident and medics were called to check her. A short time later, she was taken to a youth detention center and booked for investigation of auto theft and third-degree assault, the latter accusation dealing with her conduct toward the deputy.
Seattle is broken. Someone has to put all the pieces back together. Phoenix Jones just might be the man.

If someone were making a film, or creating a comic book, about Mr. Jones, the above three sentences might possibly serve as said comic book or movie's tagline. Instead, this is the real world. And what we get is a guy in an ill-fitting rubber suit being smacked around by an angry shoe-wielding woman, and a police spokesman releasing a straight-faced statement that reads, in part,

Just because he's dressed up in costume, it doesn't mean he's in special consideration or above the law.

Fight on, Phoenix Jones! Seattle needs you!

The original source of the above photo of Phoenix Jones can be found here. The original caption reads, ironically,
Seattle Superhero Phoenix Jones photographed on Feb. 18, 2011 during a patrol of Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. He worked to control a rowdy crowd of anarchists that were confronting Seattle Police officers.
Thanks for nothin', Phoenix Jones!

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