We’re not against the police. We’re not against the police department, but we are against police who commit misconduct (and those who help cover it up).
“I think it was important in this case–and I have always contended that the chief of police has the discretion when he believes that the public interests or public safety is best served to release video so that’s why we did it this time.”—Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck
It wasn’t that long ago that now-retired veteran Los Angeles police sergeant Jim Parker was faced with making the same decision that Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck made when he decided to make the video showing 18-year-old Carnell Snell in possession of a gun public. But unlike with Beck’s decision to release the Snell video, Parker’s decision would later force him into early retirement and possibly cost him up to $10,000 in fines.
Sergeant Parker released an audio recording from his encounter with “Django Unchained” actress Daniele Watts after she took to social media complaining that she and her boyfriend has been racially profiled and discriminated against. This after Parker responded to a report of a couple having sex in a car parked in Studio City. Watts, who is Black, and her boyfriend Brian Lucas, who is white, were found to match the description of the couple involved. Watts very publicly complained about the way she was treated while her boyfriend wrote on Facebook that police acted as though the couple had been engaged in prostitution because he is white and Watts is black. The story quickly garnered national attention and it didn’t take long for folks to start accusing the LAPD of being racists—again.
Meanwhile, after the audio of what really happened during Parker’s encounter with Watts and her boyfriend came out, folks who were publicly criticizing the department for what they believed was a continued pattern of racial profiling, discrimination and harassment by the LAPD took several seats and lowered their voices to barely audible whispers.
Parker, who has since been accused of violating city ethics rules for releasing the audio and is awaiting a decision on whether or not he will have to pay a fine of up to $10,000, claimed that he released the 24-minute audio recording to protect both his reputation, the department’s and to correct claims of racial harassment and discrimination made by Watts in the media. No one from the 10th floor took to the media to try and correct any of the inaccurate information about Parker or the department’s handling of Watts. Parker, like Beck, released the audio 72 hours later—the Watts incident happened on a Thursday and the following Sunday is when the accusations began to surface on social media and in entertainment and news media outlets.
For his troubles, the veteran police sergeant was essentially forced to retire or face a disciplinary board where he would have most certainly been fired because we all know what Chief Beck expects to happen when he sends officers to a board of rights hearing.
Watts and Lucas ended up pleading no contest to disturbing the peace and were ordered to write apology letters to the officers and people who reported them.
But now here comes Chief Beck essentially doing the same thing that Parker did—attempting to correct inaccurate information while protecting the reputation of the LAPD.
Speaking at news conference on Tuesday Beck said that he was releasing the video showing Carnell Snell in possession of a gun moments before he was killed by the police out of concern for public safety and to correct claims that the teenager didn’t have a gun.
“I think there is significant misinformation that has been put out about both the shootings this weekend and I think that it’s important that we put forward information to clarify it so that people can put these events—tragic as they are—in perspective. This is not done in anyway to denigrate Mr. Snell. This is merely to correct what I think is a faulty public record of what is going on.”
But what makes Beck’s decision to protect the reputation of the department any different from what Parker did in releasing the audio from his encounter with Daniele Watts?
This type of hypocrisy and public deceit has become commonplace under Chief Beck’s administration much to the disappointment of citizens and officers alike.
Community members are understandably skeptical of Beck’s newfound transparency—especially after a judge had to order the department to make the video recorded beating of a Black man in South L.A. public this year. Beck, for all of his lip service on transparency Tuesday, didn’t see a need for the public to see the video of Clinton Alford being viciously attacked by officers but did feel the need to show them a Black man with a gun.
On the other side, officers have long since grown wary of Beck’s double talk and double standards that seem designed to do one thing and that’s to protect his social popularity—even at the expense of good officers like sergeant Jim Parker.