This actually happened last week but it’s such an incredible story I think it’s still worth highlighting. Two Chicago cops saw someone on a corner selling drugs to someone in a car. This was early in the afternoon, not the dead of night. The officers rolled up and attempted to arrest the suspected dealer and that’s when things spiraled in a disturbing direction:
Police who had viewed the body camera footage told me one officer dealt with the suspect and another stood a few feet away, watching a bystander who was making threats.
Then, someone reached into the squad car and took seized drugs. The officer standing a few feet away ran to chase the drug thief, and the mob began pressing and threatening the other officer with the suspect. A shot was fired a block away.
A police radio recording of the incident shared with me lays it out.
“Ten people surrounded me indicating they had firearms, then one person away from me … holding his waist … indicating he’d use the firearm against me.”
An earlier report said the drugs were under the squad car (they had fallen there) but either way, you have someone stealing drugs in the midst of an arrest. And then a group of maybe 10 people surrounded the lone officer and threatened to kill him unless he released the dealer. So the cop, rather than risk his life and the lives of everyone nearby, released the dealer and someone in the crowd grabbed the guy and ran off.
On the plus side, there wasn’t a shootout in which a bunch of people, maybe the officers or maybe some in the mob, were killed. As columnist John Kass points out, you can pretty well imagine how the media would have responded if there had been a shootout. It wouldn’t have been banner headlines about trigger-happy cops. It’s not hard to imagine what MSNBC and CNN would have done with it, regardless of the facts. So, again, maybe this is the best outcome in the short-term.
But it’s not just the short-term outcome you have to think about here. What happens now that this story is out there circulating, not in the media which barely mentioned it but on the streets? Do you think this is going to be the last time arrest nullification is going to be attempted? It seems more likely any gang-member or drug dealer worth his salt is going to want to try his luck. And that could turn out pretty badly for cops and gang members in the near future. Columnist John Kass went back to the neighborhood where this incident happened and asked a couple of guys he found standing on the corner about it:
“It wasn’t no ‘mob.’ But this is the hood, man,” said John.
“This (stuff) happens in the hood.”
Not this (stuff), I said.
“It do now,” he said.
If so, it could turn into an ugly summer in Chicago.