This is how an SPD spokesperson described the videotaped "interaction" between Isaac Ocak and some of Seattle's finest two years ago.
This story is up to 91 comments and counting on WSB's front page, and most of the commenters line up firmly on the side of the cops or Ocak. A few commenters – bless their hearts – perceive shades of grey.
My own bias favors Ocak. I don't think he intentionally bit the cop, and I do think the cops were being too rough with him. However, that's not what I wanted to talk about. Instead, I want to look at this incident and ask how it could've been handled differently. For example, would more "sensitivity" training for the cops really have prevented this, as some people claim? Personally, I doubt it.
To me it looks like Ocak struggled with the cops a bit, and yet, this does not surprise me. Why should it surprise anyone? He's a vigorous young man and there's a natural tendency for such young men to resist authority, just as there's a natural tendency for cops to assert theirs, regardless of how much sensitivity training they've had.*
Here's what I think. I think that when a cop tells you to hold still, put your hands behind your back, or whatever, you should do it. If you want to file a complaint for harrassment or brutality, you can do that later.
I also think it might be a good idea for teachers and parents to start talking with kids about what to do if you encounter a cop in this situation. We should go further, in fact, and PRACTICE having kids answer questions from cops, and even getting arrested. Just in case.
Maybe it could be folded into Drivers Ed.
As part of this training we could also teach kids what their rights are (to remain silent, to have a lawyer present during questioning, to be told of the charges). That way, we could combine the objectives of personal safety with an education in civics.
Good for cultural sensitivity, good for our kids, good for The System.
What do you all think?
*FWIW: I'm still in favor of sensitivity training.