As much as they like to complain about how hard and dangerous their jobs are—it must be nice to be a cop. Imagine being tasked with enforcing the law, but also being able to rely on the legal system’s leniency when you commit crimes on citizens that citizens, especially Black people, would have suffered harsher penalties for, especially if they committed said crime in a police officer. Then you get to cry “blue lives matter” while completely ignoring the fact that cops are already treated like a protected class.
For example, in May 2020, during civil unrest over the murder of George Floyd, a former Minneapolis police officer fired projectiles at a group of people who were just standing around. That officer also beat the hell out of a Black man who was not resisting arrest. Obviously, this is the type of behavior that could land a person, especially a Black person, in jail and have them looking at significant prison time. That cop will spend a paltry 15 days in a county facility that is not a jail.
5 DAYS after George Floyd’s murder, Minneapolis Police FALSELY arrested Jaleel Stallings on attempted murder & resisting arrest charges for acting in self-defense after returning fire at police he assumed were civilians. pic.twitter.com/bVb1ATGCfm
— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) October 8, 2021
The Associated Press reported that ex-officer Justin Stetson has also been sentenced to two years probation and he will pay about $3,000 in fines for the brutal assault of 31-year-old Jaleel Stallings.
Here’s what happened, according to AP:
The night of May 30, 2020, Stetson and other officers were enforcing a curfew when his group spotted four people in a parking lot. One was Stallings, an Army veteran with a permit to carry a gun. The officers opened fire with rubber bullets. One hit Stallings in the chest. Stallings then fired three shots at the officers’ unmarked van but didn’t hurt anyone. He argued that he thought civilians had attacked him, and that he fired in self-defense.
When Stallings realized they were police, he dropped his gun and lay on the ground. Stetson kicked him in the face and in the head, then punched Stallings multiple times and slammed his head into the pavement, even after Stallings obeyed Stetson’s command to place his hands behind his back, according to the complaint. A sergeant finally told him to stop. The incident was caught on police body camera video.
Stallings suffered a fracture of his eye socket, plus cuts and bruises. He was later acquitted of an attempted murder charge.
Stallings was looking at attempted murder for firing at someone who had fired at him first—a thing that would typically fall under “good guy with a gun” territory if he was white, and would be deemed completely and demonstrably justified if he were a cop. But for being the violent aggressor who seriously injured a civilian unprovoked, Stetson was offered a plea agreement that involved no jail time. Instead, he was sentenced to just serve two weeks in a county workhouse and is eligible for electric home monitoring, so he may not even have to report to the jail alternative.
This is what Officer Justin Stetson did to Jaleel Stallings.
Stallings suffered obvious cuts & bruises, in addition to a fractured eye socket.
But it’s fine, Stetson gave him a written apology. pic.twitter.com/QVWeyrzMdl
— dara faye (@darafaye) May 10, 2023
“The system that I believe was designed to provide justice to citizens…protected my attacker but not me,” Stallings said in court on Monday. “He brutally beat me. I offered no resistance.”
The good news—and it’s a really low bar for good news—is that, as part of the plea agreement, Stallings is prohibited from applying for any more law enforcement jobs for the rest of his life. Unfortunately, it’s far from uncommon for a cop fired over their history of using excessive force to be rehired by another police department. For example, that’s what happened with Georgia Sheriff’s Deputy Buck Aldridge, who went on to shoot and killed 53-year-old Leonard Allan Cure, in a case where law enforcement experts have said his uses of force were completely unnecessary. That case is still under investigation, but, again, he’s a cop, so the legal system is on his side by default.
This is America, where it’s explicitly implied and enforced that blue lives, indeed, matter.
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