Tongue-in-Cheek Training Materials Take Center Stage in Excessive Policing Case

The police department in Euclid, Ohio has been dinged by the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the use of an “inappropriate” training manual that featured a stick figure image of police brutality, jokes about excessive force and Rodney King, and a comedic video called “How not to get your ass kicked by the police!”

At issue was the 2016 arrest of a Black man who was wrongly suspected of drug activity. The man had recently had surgery and was wearing a colostomy bag. He was roughed up, tased, and pepper-sprayed.

The Court ultimately ruled that he could pursue his lawsuit, not only against the department, but against the city.

“This appeal involves a Chris Rock video and a cartoon, but it is no laughing matter. In fact, this case raises a gravely important issue—police use of force—that has dominated the nation’s attention in recent weeks,” Judge John Bush wrote in his opinion.

“It is very troubling that the City of Euclid’s law-enforcement training included jokes about Rodney King—who was tased and beaten in one of the most infamous police encounters in history—and a cartoon with a message that twists the mission of police. The offensive statements and depictions in the training contradict the ethical duty of law enforcement officer ‘to serve the community; to safeguard lives and property; to protect the innocent against deception, the weak against oppression or intimidation and the peaceful against violence or disorder; and to respect the constitutional rights of all to liberty, equality, and justice.’”




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