We live in a society of law and order. Modern civilizations all follow the ideology that in order to exist free from cavemen-like anarchy where the guy or gal with the biggest stick wins, we have to abide by certain rules. Furthermore, we also have to entrust a certain incorruptible people to enforce these rules. For the most part, the system works; that is until it doesn’t.
It’s seems like the Los Angeles Police Department is perpetually going to be one of those police organizations that just can’t stay off the front pages. Ever since Rodney King and the ensuing riots, the LAPD has gotten a pretty bad rap when it comes to police brutality.
The most recent case involves a 34-year-old registered nurse by the name of Michelle Jordan. Jordan was pulled over by L.A. cops after a pair of yet-to-be-named officers allegedly spotted her talking on her cell phone while driving. Jordan pulled into a Del Taco parking lot. The cops then approached Jordan about the incident. However, instead of behaving reverentially to the officers like most motorists in that situation, Jordan mouthed off to the cops, according to her attorney. Can you guess what happened next?
If you said that the cops pulled Jordan out of her car and body-slammed her to the floor, you’re correct! The fast food joint’s camera’s capture the officer allegedly yanking the 5-foot-4-inch woman from her vehicle and tossing her to the floor before handcuffing her. The video then shows the cops allegedly slamming her down to the ground a second time for no apparent reason prior to shoving her into the backseat of their squad car. The officers then appear to celebrate with a cool-as-ice fist bump.
Jordan was later charged with resisting arrest and then released. Though thanks to the surveillance video, it looks like it’s going to be a lot harder for her charge to stick. Especially following the release of pictures showing Jordan’s scraped and bruised face and body after her arrest.
There are more than a few legal issues floating around this case. First and foremost is whether Jordan was lawfully pulled over to begin with. Cops are allow to stop and arrest citizens for any crimes that they either witness or have reasonable suspicion to have occurred. In Jordan’s case, if she was actually talking on her mobile phone, that would’ve been reckless driving and certainly be a valid reason for the officers to pull her over.
The trickier part is determining whether she was lawfully charged with resisting arrest. While most people may be quick to dismiss this in Jordan’s favor, the fact of the matter is that under California law resisting arrest is actually very broadly defined. The statute basically states any actions willfully done by the defendant that would have delayed his or her arrest is enough of a basis to charge one with resisting arrest. This arguably means the slightest physical movements, like pushing back against a cop or not letting a cop push you to the ground could theoretically be enough for a conviction to stick.
In addition, in California (and most jurisdictions) defendants can still be charged with the offense even if the initial arrest was unlawful. Meaning even if the cops didn’t have a reasonable suspicion to pull Jordan over, she still isn’t allowed to prevent them from arresting her.
While it’s unclear from the video how much of a fight Jordan put up (if any) to her arrest, if prosecutors can establish that she put up some resistance, there’s a possibility that her charge might not be dismissed.
Though in reality, it’s probably unlikely that prosecutor in their right mind would try to pursue a conviction against her. You’d be hard-pressed to find any jury to convict her after looking at that surveillance videos and seeing her injuries. In fact, don’t be surprised if Jordan is the one who ends up suing the LAPD, which by the way her attorney already claims to be considering.
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