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Police Abuse And Loss Of Public Trust

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Police brutality has been an ongoing issue and controversy throughout the years. When you think about police officers, you usually think about someone who is there to protect you from danger but that is not always the case for innocent citizens. Police brutality is defined as “the use of excessive and/or unnecessary force by police when dealing with civilians.The 14th amendment states that all citizens have “equal protection from the laws,” unfortunately, police brutality has violated our rights because police officers are using their power in an uncooperative way.   In the last couple of years’ police brutality has been at an all-time high in Oklahoma and continues to grow as time passes by. Citizens are beginning to lose trust in their police departments. This is because police brutality is an issue that shows police officers using drastic measures on citizens which is a violation of their civil rights. Since 2007, Oklahoma police officers fatally shot 39 people and there had also been 162 fatal shootings. In 2018 alone, police have killed 646 people. 

Oklahoma is also ranked number one in the nation in fatal shootings by police officers and you are 7x more likely to be killed in Oklahoma than in Georgia.  There have been many cases of police brutality in Oklahoma. One of the cases was of Keith Woolery who had 4 instances of police brutality with the same police officer, Jordan Westbrook. In June 2012, Keith had his first confrontation while coming back from the local fair. Westbrook went to addressed Woolery about not having any tail lights on his horse drawn wagon. Because Woolery didn’t want to let go of his mules, Westbrook had called for backup. When the backup officers got to the scene, they had scared the mules, prompting them to crash the wagon into the police chief’s patrol car. Westbrook then got agitated, grabbed Keith off the wagon, began to beat him, and then arrested him. 

In the second confrontation, which was all caught on video, Woolery had gotten a letter informing him that he must remove his personal assets off of city-owned land before September 23, 2013. When that day came along, police officers showed up ready to remove Woolerys belongings. In the body cam video, you can hear Westbrook telling Woolery that he was trespassing city owned property. He was then tased a couple of times because he declined arrest. Woolery had suffered 16-19 wounds all over his body and when the interference with Woolery was over, you could hear Westbrook say, “that was fun.” Woolery was also charged and convicted with resisting arrest, trespassing, public intoxication, and assaulting an officer but were later dismissed when Mercer, Woolerys attorney, found out that the land was actually Woolerys and not the cities. 

The third confrontation happened in April 2014 when police were investigating a party that Woolery was having on his is property. When Woolery came face to face with them, he received no answers. Since he couldn’t get any answers, he left on his trackhoe even when the officers asked him to get off. Westbrook got angry since Woolery was not obeying the officers commands so he jumped on the trackhoe and began to beat him. Westbrooks attorney later said that it was justifiable since no force was used that was not needed. A few days later, Woolery was taken to the hospital to get emergency surgery to replace his liver stint from the abuse Westbrook did to Woolery causing his liver to begin to shut down. 

The fourth and final confrontation between Westbrook and Woolery happened in May 2014. Police officers drove to Woolerys house because they were instructed to issue a citation of nuisance about a car that was totaled. Woolery said that he no longer was responsible for the car and he was holding on to it until it got picked up. A video shows the confrontation rise and it ended with Woolery in the hospital. While the interaction was going on, Woolerys mother was begging them to stop kicking him on the side since he had just had surgery. She was arrested for obstructing justice. Westbrook later resigned from his position but Woolery is fighting for more justice so Westbrook can no longer work in any police department.  Although many people believe that Officer Westbrook was wrong, there are people who think that he was justifiable in all four instances. In instances one, Westbrook had the right to stop Woolery since he did not have any taillights. Therefore having a reason to stop him. In instance two, the police department told Westbrook that Woolery had his belongings on city land so that is the reason why Westbrook confronted Woolery in the first place. In the third instances, Woolery was not cooperating with the police officers so Westbrook had a good reason as to why he pulled Woolery off the track hoe. 

In the fourth instance, Westbrook had a citation about a car that Woolery had. When Woolery told Westbrook that he no longer owned the car and was not complying with the officers, Westbrook had the right to use excessive force on Woolery.  Ways that we can help with the tensions that citizens feel with their police officers is by having more of a diversity in the work field. By having, more of a diversity in police departments, officers and civilians will better understand each other and officers will not be so harsh on their civilians since they know what they are going through. We can have different news stations or add commercials that are promoting and encouraging people to be police officers so they can feel more welcomed. Overall, police brutality has been one of the most talked about civil rights violation for years. Oklahoma continues to add more cases throughout the years and does not seem to be slowing.


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