An interesting new law was passed and signed the other day in Indiana:
Gov. Mitch Daniels has signed a law explicitly authorizing Hoosiers to physically resist police if officers are breaking the law.
Senate Enrolled Act 1, approved by the Republican governor late Tuesday night, permits a person to use reasonable force against a public servant, including police officers, to protect themselves from injury caused by the imminent use of unlawful force, to prevent illegal entry into a home or vehicle, or stop the unlawful taking of a person’s property. (emphasis mine)
On paper, there are multiple barriers intended to discourage police misconduct already. For example, in the U.S. illegally obtained evidence is to be excluded from admission at trial. Cops who use excessive or unnecessary force are to be disciplined in ways ranging from being fired up to even themselves being charged with a crime, and the city whose force they operate on could be sued. Here the real world though, this rarely occurs, as police officers automatically get the benefit of the doubt, making Swiss cheese out of the so-called “rules”. When legal means are closed off, as in a deeply corrupt and self-serving system, people come to resort to Plan B.
Well, what Mitch Daniels just did amounts to saying “Yeah, Plan B is your best bet now. All that stuff that was supposed to restrain the cops before it came to that doesn’t work”. Police conduct themselves as if merely another gang, and Mitch signs something allowing people to approach them as such. Curious thing for a Governor to admit, ain’t it?
Not so fast…
“Contrary to some impressions, the bill strengthens the protection of Indiana law enforcement officers by narrowing the situations in which someone would be justified in using force against them,” Daniels said. “Unless a person is convinced an officer is acting unlawfully, he cannot use any force of any kind.
“In the real world, there will almost never be a situation in which these extremely narrow conditions are met.”
Ok, now this makes absolutely no sense. The law says that citizens can respond to illegal police conduct with force, and Mitch argues that it actually further closes that possibility? He says the situation the law addresses will “almost never” occur? Then why pass the law at all? Was the state legislature just bored?
What I’m particularly concerned about here is the prospect that the existence of the conditions the law points at themselves will be ignored. Take the following hypothetical scenario: you live in an apartment in Indianapolis. It’s 2am, you’re awakened by noises outside. You head towards the window to see what’s going on, and suddenly your door is being busted in. Quick thinking, you grab some form of weapon, whether you have a firearm or you grabbed a knife, a bat, whatever. Turns out the ones that just flushed your damage deposit are cops who misread the address.
If you’d attacked upon the entrance being breached, would you be:
a) seen as justified since they were in fact not authorized to force their way into your home
b) arrested and charged with assaulting a police officer? Or…
Problem is, it’d be their call.
Link via Tim F, who chalks this up to wingnuttery despite their uniform worship & says the alternative to assuming police are inherently justified is anarchy, to which I say “Yeah…point being?”