A quick jab to the neck can cause a fighting felon to fall to his knees, says the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. A powerful baton blow to the back of the leg can make a resisting suspect throw his hands out where police can handcuff them. A twist of the arm can put a struggling drunk into submission instantly. Each technique looks violent. Done correctly, it can quickly end a confrontation with little injury to the officer or suspect. Done wrong, it can do unnecessary harm and land an officer in serious trouble.
As federal investigators review Maplewood and St. Louis officers’ arrest of a fleeing suspect last Monday, they will look for these techniques. Comparing the force used to the officers’ training, they will determine if the officers responded appropriately. NAACP leaders and others have raised questions about the punching and kicking that accompanied the arrest of Edmon Burns, 33, as seen on TV news videos. Maplewood police chased Burns after a service station reported a failure to pay for gas; Burns’ attorney said he hadn’t had a chance to pay when police approached him and he fled in fear. The Rev. Gil Ford of the NAACP said nothing appeared to justify what he saw. “The videotape clearly shows (the suspect) curled in a fetal position with his hands over his head,” Ford said. “Why is there a brutal beating at the end?” “Most people don’t have a clue to understand how much force is necessary to stop resistance,” said David Klinger, a former police officer who teaches at the University of Missouri at St. Louis. “It’s hard to put handcuffs on someone who doesn’t want to be cuffed.”