Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Are police guilty until proven innocent?
Last week, we saw video showing officers arresting 45-year-old Carol Anne Gotbaum for disorderly conduct at Phoenix's Sky Harbor Airport. Minutes later, she died while handcuffed in a holding cell. Police deny any wrongdoing. They say their actions were proper and justified and no excessive force was used.

This week, we saw dashboard-cam video of a Ft. Pierce, Florida police officer punching and pepper-spraying a 15-year-old girl for violating the town's curfew. The teenager bit the officer on his arm -- before he punched her and pulled out the pepper spray. The city's police chief told a local newspaper that his officer acted properly.
As always, we want to hear from you. Tonight's blog question is:

Are police guilty until proven innocent?

Click on the comments section below to share your thoughts online. We'll also be reading some of your comments during the show. And a reminder, you can always send us a v-mail.

See you tonight at 10p.m. ET.
Posted By CNN: 9:34 PM ET
  10 Comments
I think the cop should have known better. What he did was wrong and the 15 year girl doesn't deserve to be treated like that.

I think is just down right mean.

Jennifer - Anderson, South Carolina.
Posted By bluediamond (Jennifer) : 10:04 PM ET
No, police are not guilty until proven innocent. They have the same rights as everyone else, a right to an attorney, a fair trial, etc.

All these stories that we hear all of a sudden regarding police brutalities is disconcerting, though. People in law enforcement should be held to a higher standard. If we can't count on the police to protect us, then who can we count on?

Thanks for taking our feedback,

Lilibeth
Edmonds, Washington
Posted By Lilibeth, Edmonds, Washington : 10:10 PM ET
Sometimes I'm just plain scared of the police. Do you really need to pepper spray a 15 year old? That makes you a man? That seems very excessive. I'm starting to think that there are some people out there who go into police work because they are alpha males (or females) and because get off on violence-violence that is usully condoned.
Posted By Debbie, Denham Springs, LA : 10:13 PM ET
My initial reaction to these images are sympathy for the person in custody whether or not the police were just in their actions. I agree that these images make you feel like the officer is guilty until proven innocent.

I just cannot imagine why this officer, who probably weighs twice what that 15 year old girl weighs, would use such force. I realize she may have bitten him but his actions just seem extreme.
Posted By Annette, NJ : 10:18 PM ET
No, I don't think the police are guilty until proven inncocent!
I'd hope we will treat our police force in this country like the professionals that they are. I'm not saying that there aren't some bad officers, but I'd hope we won't go on a witch hunt for every arrest the police carry out.
Posted By Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif. : 10:32 PM ET
I think you asked the wrong question. Why does a 15 year old teenager fight against the the established authority of her community? There would be no "situation " if she put her hands back and got in the car. That what my son did when he was 15. He was taken to the police station I was called and I picked him up. I raised him to respect authority. The video looks bad but he kept a minor child in front of the camera so there could be no doubt what happened.
Posted By Jim, in Ga. : 10:33 PM ET
Police guilty until proven innocent? Id say yes. We live in a age (small example) where truck drivers are held to a higher standard than any other driver. Its very easy to sue a truck driver for example (i even saw a commecial on tv where lawyers are now tageting just truck drivers!), or to get their license taken away just by something minor, and possibly not even their fault; but becuase they are out their working on that road they are much more liable for anything that happens out their. This was only one small example. Why should the police not have a higher standard as well? Thats why they have to go through all those background checks, training, and everything else, so they should know better when it comes to doing sometihng wrong. Problem is ive seen plenty of cops doing things they shouldnt, and i think things are already very lax for them.
Posted By Anonymous : 2:49 PM ET
First of all - love your show! I'm a fan, and watch it regularly every night. On to my comment:

It appears from most of the videos you have shown us, as well as the well edited cuts on shows such as Cops, that police have a tendency to cuff first, ask questions later. Often times I believe they are overwhelmed and perhaps not trained on how to solve a crisis situation without some sort of overpowering force. That example of the cop tasering the woman was a dramatic showing of my point.

I believe that police across our nation need more support and training. There needs to be a better understanding of what police-work is, that it's not about putting people in custody and locking them up, it's about helping the community to solve problems.

If our police were better at crisis-prevention, I think our cities and neighborhoods would be safer places
Posted By Sweet Consultants : 3:02 PM ET
Acutally I would say the opposite. While police are held to a higher standard than others, and not necessarily incorrectly, they are are also often trusted above others. In court for example, a police officer's testimony is often respected more so than anyone else's.

Having said that, seeing videos like we've seen lately prove that police are above all else human. They can make some very grave mistakes in judgement, either intentional or not. All too often they tend to assume resistance and are basically ready for the fight before they even talk to a person. This assumption can quickly heighten a situation unnecessarily.
Posted By Jennifer, Washington DC : 3:22 PM ET
It's very disturbing to see how the police treat people. I'm sure they all don't act this way, but when the good ones condone or ignore the bad behavior of a few, it taints them all.

Did it even cross the policeman's mind that the 15 year old might have been frightened and getting rough with her would only make the situation worse? Why didn't he just keep her there and call her parents? He could've avoided the conflict in my opinion. It seems excessive considering all she did was violate a curfew. It's possible she wasn't even aware of the curfew.
Posted By Christina, Windber, PA : 6:14 PM ET
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