Drinking coffee while black: Ohio cop stops black man strolling down the street –then slams him into wall


Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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81 Responses

  1. Avatar Chris says:

    Nothing will happen to that cop. Nothing will change in the way he behaves. Hell, a bunch of people, including our own petit monstre in this thread I imagine, will defend him and condemn his victim.Report

    • Avatar notme says:

      I watched the video and missed the part where the cop “slammed” him into the wall. Maybe if he said, “you’re violating my constitutional rights” to the cop one more time it might have helped.Report

      • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

        Let’s walk back to why a simple pedestrian violation inspired a cop to stalk a man? I’m sure the cop regularly issues such citations to white people all the time.Report

        • Avatar notme says:

          Sure let’s talk about the “stalking.” I saw the cop following him but either way you don’t know what happened before the guy started recording the video.

          I’m sure the cop regularly issues such citations to white people all the time.

          You actually know or are just saying that to seem clever and make this into something racial?Report

          • Avatar InMD says:

            Even assuming the individual was rude or committed some minor infraction that doesn’t make resorting to a use of force acceptable. We need to have higher expectations of public servants. There shouldn’t be anything controversial about the idea that people shouldn’t risk being thrown around during routine interactions with law enforcement.Report

          • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

            The cop says, in the video, what happened earlier. He tells the guy that he crossed against the light (if I heard it correctly, it sounded like he started walking before the walk signal had lit up).

            Now perhaps Cincinnati has a problem with jaywalking, but I doubt it. The officer likely saw something else that made him follow the guy, and jaywalking was the thinnest of pretense he had to initiate contact (cops ignore jaywalking all the time). The issue is not the contact, but the fact that the cop had already lost control of the interaction before he even made contact, and he knew it (or should have known it), and he went into “Respect My Authoritah!” mode, rather than working to de-escalate the situation.

            Now you are right, I have no way of knowing if this was because the guy was black, but I can make a pretty good guess that the fact that he was black, and clearly on the lower end of the SES, was factored into the officer’s decision to escalate versus de-escalate. Which is actually the larger problem we have with police. Certainly there is a racial component, but the larger issue is SES.

            The further down the SES ladder you are, the more willing the police are to take physical liberties with you, the less effort they will make to keep things calm and de-escalate. Not every cop, not every department, but when such things are in our awareness, generally it’s because a cop, or a department, has failed to keep things civil when it could have.Report

            • Avatar Kazzy says:


              I agree with much of what you said here but am going to push back against the idea that the gentleman was “clearly on the lower end of the SES”.

              Now, maybe this is a semantic issue. The conflation of economic class (i.e., how much you make) with social class (i.e., where you fit in in society) is very problematic. While there is a relationship between the two they are not the same thing. And a term like socio-economic class just further muddies the waters. We really have no idea this guy’s financial situation. We get some sense of his manner of dress but, frankly, I don’t dress all that differently during my down time and I don’t think anyone would say I’m “clearly on the lower end of SES.”

              Now, if we are thinking of SES about one’s “place” in society… primarily about whether they are in-group or out-group and how far in and how far out then, yea, this guy is probably closer to the outside edge than the center. But how much of that is a function of race? It is really hard to tell.

              Are economic issues real? Absolutely. But I also think we sometimes use SES as a more palatable way of saying someone is an insider or an outsider.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                Rephrase to “presents as”. You are right that his financial situation is unknown, but his manner of dress & speech that I caught in the video suggest that he further down the ladder. I’ll bet the officer saw other indicators (movement, posture, location, etc) of a person lower down the ladder than he (and race colors those perceptions as well).Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                He crossed against the light on the video. The cop was already following him, and had, according to the man filming, already addressed him. What you see at the start of the video is the man crossing against the light and the cop immediately stopping him.

                Also, I’d have guessed from the video that the guy is middle class.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                I wouldn’t want to guess to much at his SES, since I’ve never been to Cincinnati. His manner of speaking strikes me as lower SES, but that is a perception that has to filter through my experience, which filters all speech against MidWest flat.

                Ergo I would be a bad judge. The cop should be much better.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                “…movement, posture, location…”

                I just don’t see those as indicators of economic class. They might signal him as “one of them”… For various definitions of them.

                My old job was inside a hoity town with a fence around it and bored police. On an in-service day, I came in wearing a backwards cap and workout clothes. The cops were doing inspection checks (i.e., bored) and I had a one-day-expired temp sticker on my new car and got pulled over. When I got to work, a politically conservative, blue collarish (her: teacher’s aide; husband: landscaper), late 40s colleague who saw me pulled over said, “Ya shouldn’t have had your hat on like that. You look like a punk. Of course they pulled you over!”

                Now, the cop was in the right here and I have no reason to believe my appearance was a factor in the stop. But my colleague’s mindset shows this shit isn’t actually about class but about whether you are in or out. We use class to mean alot of often conflicting things but ultimately it is a way of designating those who are in and those who are out. And it tends to be much harder for black folks to be in.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:


                Never said they were. SES is SOCIO economic status. You are ignoring half of the descriptor.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                But what is social class other than a hierarchy of cultures?

                Can someone be wealthy but low-SES? Poor but high-SES? The whole term is useless.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                For instance, if a wealthy person sits down with other wealthy people and precedes to use all the wrong silverware, he may be derided as having “no class.” Which doesn’t mean he’s suddenly poor, just that he ain’t acting right… By THEIR subjective standards.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                The socio part is context dependent.

                A drug lord has low socio but high economic.
                A catholic priest is the opposite.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                So what does it mean to say someone is of high (or low or middle) SES?Report

              • Avatar Aaron David says:

                This (and its lynx) is probably a good introduction for much classed based thinking. I will say that it helped me put my finger on many things that I don’t think econ or race focused discussions adaequately answered. YMMVReport

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                Do you have a link, @aaron-david ?Report

              • Avatar Autolukos says:

                Oh, man, he seriously cites Michael O. Church. I’m sure the Haskell Rapture will arrive any day now.Report

              • Avatar Aaron David says:

                Yeah, the Church stuff is a little shakyer, but data is data, and its good to go through everything you come across.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:


                Having only skimmed it, I think that post supports my argument. Really, I think we need to retire the word “class” and come up with some new terms, one (or some) of which address income, wealth, and other economics factors and another (or some others) which address culture, power, and those sets of factors.

                As @oscar-gordon points out above with the examples of the priest and the drug deal, it is essentially meaningless to try to capture their situations and the disparity between their economic situation and their cultural positioning with a simple metric.

                To channel @mike-schilling , it’s like the baseball stat OPS. A guy with an 800 OPS could be a speedy slap hitter with limited power and a good batting eye who has a 400 OBP and 400 SLUG. Or it could be a free swinging slugger with a 300 OBP and 500 SLUG. Those guys are dramatically different players but by combining two very different and only somewhat related metrics into a single one, we lose the ability to see that distinction.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                Thank you, @aaron-david, that gets at what I was trying to express.

                In short, actual SES, however it might be determined, is not important. It’s the SES the officer perceives as being important, and that perception is highly subjective. So if an officer sees a person, he gauges the SES, and if he is not a shining example of humanity*, his willingness to make the effort needed to keep a situation calm will be proportional to his relationship to that perceived SES.

                *I.E. an officer who treats all persons with respect, whether it’s ‘due’ or not.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:


                Yes, that I agree with.

                My argument is that — at that point — SES is too blunt a term to get at what you are describing. It might be the best we have but I think it is poor.

                Basically, it seems cops* size people and ask themselves some variant of the question, “How shittily does this guy deserve to be treated?” and they answer it based on their perception of various factors.

                * I do not for a second believe this behavior is limited to cops.Report

        • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

          I’ve had police stop me for jaywalking a number of times. I’ve never been arrested or gotten a ticket, but I suspect the reason for this has less to do with my race than with my response. When I get stopped by the police, I go into it thinking that he’s probably legally entitled to give me a ticket, and may have a career incentive to do so, so I’d better not do anything to antagonize him. I don’t use marijuana, but if I did, and had some in my pocket, I’d be extra careful not to give him an excuse to search me. This is probably not the most healthy (for the Republic) way for citizens to view the police, but it’s a policy that’s served me well.

          I won’t say he deserved what he got, but what did he expect would happen?

          I’ve also been stopped and searched for walking while white on a number of occasions. If I reacted that way, I suspect it would have turned out much worse for me.Report

          • Avatar El Muneco says:

            The third day I owned my current car – an entry-level GT coupe / GT wannabee – before I even received my permanent registration or plates, I was pulled over for passing over-exuberantly(*). I had no papers, even proof of ownership, and was clearly guilty of technically violating the law, in a very similar type of infraction as jaywalking.

            And you know what? As a mid-high SES cis white dude in golf-approved clothing, I had no fear whatsoever that my interaction with the officer could possibly escalate to violence no matter what I did – if I slagged him off, I’d certainly get maximum points on my license, and might even have to go to the impound to get my car back if I was really nasty. But getting shot on Memorial Day Weekend really wasn’t going to happen for me.

            I’ve since come to realize that not everyone sees such interactions the same way. It was a blind spot. I don’t like to have blind spots.

            (*) I had been following two cars along a B-road for miles on a perfect day without either of them ever even reaching the posted speed limit, so I passed both of them in one jump as soon as we hit a straight bit of road with good visibility.Report

            • Avatar Damon says:

              How many years ago was this? “Cause I think the trend that cops behaving badly to non whites is spilling over increasingly to whites.Report

          • Avatar Kazzy says:

            Fair point, @brandon-berg . But consider the inverse… This cop was being filmed and still acted as he did. What does that tell us about his belief in the righteousness of his actions and the lack of consequences they’d entail?

            If this cop gets in trouble, will any generally pro-cop people say, “Maybe he should have responded differently given the circumstances?”

            Sure, let’s tell people not to jaywalk and to respect cops. But let’s also tell cops to respect citizens and use ad little force as necessary to maintain safety.

            ETA: The guy perhaps has a self-interested and legal (insofar as he may be arrested, which brings us back to self-interested) rationale to respond differently. But doesn’t — or shouldn’t — the cop have a professional, moral, and/or ethical duty to respond better? If the guy mouths off, he harms himself. If the cop gets rough, he harms a citizen, erodes public trust, violates his professional duties.

            The guy has a right to mouth off though must accept the consequences. The cop ought to have a duty to maintain order and respect rights. Sadly, it doesn’t seem cops do.Report

    • Avatar Snarky McSnarksnark says:

      Well, the guy did choose to go out in public openly black…Report

  2. Avatar aaron david says:

    I hope Mr. Harrell sues Cincinatti into bankruptcy.Report

  3. Avatar Kazzy says:

    You have to wonder if the cop was inspired — in part or in whole — by Mr. Harrell’s choice to record his actions and voice his opposition to them. Which would essentially amount to criminalizing monitoring and criticizing the police and government. Wahoo!Report

  4. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    Our cops are out of control. A good third of the country is in full fever dream and out of controlReport

    • Avatar greginak says:

      Calm down a bit. A third of the country isn’t doing anything other forgetting to change their clocks and being late for stuff for the next few days.Report

      • Many of my clocks (computers, phones), do that automatically. The only ones I’ll have to reset manually are the car and the microwave, and I suspect that if I owned newer ones they’d be unnecessary too.Report

        • Avatar greginak says:

          Well not all Muricans have technology to change their clocks for them. They have to do it the old fashioned way with…umm….however people used to change clocks before the computers did it.

          I did change my wifes silly wire cat clock in the kitchen though, so the rest of the day is all downhill for me.Report

        • Avatar Troublesome Frog says:

          That’s the fun thing about DST, though: Congress tweaks it every once in a while just to mess with embedded systems designers. No access to WWVB or GPS or NTP, just a little hard-coded to change the date based on DST rules? You’re screwed as soon as Congress decides that it DST starts a week earlier or ends a week later.

          A lot of engineers and owners of “smart” appliances learned that the hard way in 2005. I’m happy the nav system in both of our cars has automatic DST adjustments and an “override” option to fix it when that happens. It would be *super* annoying not to be able to fix that.Report

  5. Avatar Kazzy says:

    I wonder about charges like the one the officer alleges. It would seem that the only evidence that could be presented would be the officer’s testimony (unless he had a body cam on at the time). Which means the trial amounts to he-said, he-said. How could you ever get a conviction in that situation? That *can’t* be enough evidence… can it?Report

  6. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    Xm.x. GmReport

  7. Avatar notme says:

    Police kill more whites than blacks? Or is it that cops kill whites but murder the blacks? Whichever it is, one generates more controversy.


    • Avatar Kazzy says:

      If only there were a way to evaluate how the raw numbers are impacted by the size of the populations in question…Report

      • Avatar notme says:

        Would that change the fact that cops murdering white folks isn’t as controversial?Report

        • Avatar Kazzy says:

          We would need to look at the specifics of the incidents. The argument has never been that Black folks are the sole victims of police violence and abuse. The argument is that they are disproportionately the victims of police violence and abuse and that race often seems to be a factor, as evidenced by the disproportionality both in frequency and intensity of force used by cops.

          Which, ironically, your data supports: Black Americans make up 30% of those killed by cops while making up just 15% of the population.Report

          • Avatar notme says:

            I’ll do a Chris, and say that clearly you didn’t read the article. The title is “Police kill more whites than blacks, but minority deaths generate more outrage.” The point isn’t about the numbers per population size. The point is that more whites are killed but for some strange reason, black deaths generate more outrage, especially from liberals.Report

            • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

              Your point being that we should:

              A. Be more outraged over police killings of whites;
              B. Be less outraged over police killings of blacks;
              C. Both of the above;Report

            • Avatar Kazzy says:

              You notice I quoted the article, right?

              I’m explaining that one of the reasons Black deaths by cop generate more outrage is because they are killed at a disproportionately higher rate than whites.

              That is a fact. That Blacks are killed at twice the rate their share of the population would imply is a strong piece of evidence that race plays a factor in many of these killings. And if race is a factor in policing, that is indeed outrageous.

              Seriously, dude, are you even trying? Citing raw counts of deaths on a post about harassment?Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

        If only there were a way to evaluate how the raw numbers are impacted by the size of the populations in question…

        Or by rates of violent crime. If we look at the rates at which different populations commit the kinds of violent crimes that are likely to bring them into violent confrontations with the police, black men get killed about as often as you would expect them to.Report

        • Avatar Kazzy says:

          Can you elaborate?Report

        • Avatar Kazzy says:

          So we know the rates such crimes are committed? Or just arrest and/or conviction rates? Those are three different things.

          We’d also want to know how many victims of death-by-cop were engaged in violent crime. The high-profile ones are high-profile because they tend not to involve violent criminals.Report

          • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

            Arrest rates are broadly consistent with data reported by victims in the NCVS. There’s not much in the way of support for the idea that black and white people commit crimes at roughly the same rate but black people get arrested at three times the rate because police are racist.

            The one area where this does seem to have some validity is in drug crimes, although there are plausible alternative hypotheses that explain at least some of this, such as that black people tend to be arrested more for drug-related crimes because police tend to focus enforcement of drug laws on areas where drugs are more strongly associated with violent crime.Report

        • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

          Let’s look at this a different way. Something like 90% of people killed by police are men. Do you think that’s because the police are even more sexist than they are racist, or because men commit more violent crime, and are thus more likely to get themselves into the kind of situation conducive to getting shot by the police? I see a lot of people talking about police being racist, but not much about police being sexist, and if we go just by demographics and ignore behavior, sexism is the bigger issue.

          If we look specifically at the small subgroup of shootings in which there’s a plausible case for police misconduct, it’s possible that black victims may be overrepresented there. But that’s what we should be looking at. Comparing aggregate police shootings to representation in the general population is just garbage analysis.Report

          • Avatar Kazzy says:

            First, I would argue that sex is a factor throughout the criminal justice system in myriad problematic ways.

            Second, is looking at rates relative to population size more or less garbage than looking at raw counting totals? My argument isn’t that the rates are definitive prove of anything… It’s that failing to account for population size and attempting to draw any conclusion is at best stupid and at worst dishonest.Report

          • Avatar Kazzy says:


            I agree with your general point about the sloppiness of analysis that is often applied in situations like these. Furthermore, when looking specifically at deaths, we are dealing with an awfully small data set. My argument is not that the information we have on deaths at the hands of police officers proves anything definitively. It is that notme’s link here is ultimately irrelevant to the discussion of this particular incident. This incident did not involve someone being killed by an officer. It didn’t even involve a shooting by an officer or the deployment of “non-lethal” arms.

            Based on the available information, it does seem to involve an officer handling the situation very poorly, escalating an apparent non-issue into a physical confrontation, with race serving as a possible factor in his decision to do so. Regardless of the man’s race (or sex, for that matter), I would think all right-minded people would look at someone who was walking down the street drinking a coffee one minute and thrown up against the wall the next minute for, at most, jaywalking and, more likely, filming an officer and being less-than-fully compliant and find it troubling. (Yes, the man was found to have a small amount of marijuana on him but nothing in the video suggests the officer had any reason to suspect that and therefore does not seem to have been a factor in him being pursued and engaged with.)

            I’m going to bow out of this particular subthread because I have no interest in feeding notme’s trolling any further, but wanted to at least flesh out my response to your valid critique.Report