With police brutality at the forefront of the national conversation, a Florida police chief took to the YouTube comments section Tuesday to defend the actions of an officer caught on video pointing his weapon into a car full of black men who refused to stop filming the cops.
As one officer pulls one of the young men out of the car and pins him to the ground, another pulls up, draws his weapon, and approaches the vehicle. "I'll fuckin', I'll put a round in your ass so quick," he says.
Boynton Beach police chief Jeffrey Katz doesn't believe the incident in the video, which took place February 2013, rises to the level of police misconduct.
He claims the men in the video were stopped for being inside a 2-mile perimeter Boynton Beach PD had set up to investigate a home invasion, and that officers reacted the way they did because "the driver reached out of his window with a black object in his hand."
The men in the video weren't charged with a crime, and they never filed a report about the officers' behavior—a fact Katz uses to dismiss criticism of the way the stop was handled.
"No gotcha moment exists here…which is why I suspect nobody ever came forward to make a complaint about this," Katz wrote on YouTube, "Rest assured, absent a complaint we still looked into this incident and found the officers' actions to be appropriate and justifiable given the totality of the circumstances."
If you disagree with him, he feels you're just using the video to "stoke racial tension and fear."
The video does support Katz's observation that the men in the car were "in some cases antagonistic toward the officers"—although claiming they didn't have a "fear of the police" is a huge stretch—but does rude behavior justify drawing a weapon?
Katz seems to believe so. He writes,
The driver and occupants of a vehicle have far more to do with the outcome of a traffic stop than does the initiating officer. Respect begets respect. Antagonism and hostility are met with defensiveness and it escalates the officers' stress response – this never leads to a more productive and civil engagement.
As far as the recording, Katz says it "escalated" the situation, and was just an attempt to capture that "gotcha" moment, not to protect themselves from armed cops. As we've been reminded repeatedly since protests started in Ferguson, Mo., filming interactions with police officers is legal in all 50 states.