In Dangerous Precedent, NYPD Moves To Make Resisting Arrest Felony

| Resist!

Above Photo: The NYPD arrest an eledery man protesting the death of Baltimore, Maryland Police victim Freddie Gray in a show of solidarity in the Union Square section of New York City on April 29, 2015 in New York City. (Credit: RTNJennings/MediaPunch/IPX)

On Wednesday, NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton urged state legislators to consider increasing the penalty for resisting arrest from a misdemeanor to a felony. The change, he argued, would help New Yorkers “get around this idea that you can resist arrest. You can’t.” It would also give cops an easy way to turn victims of their own worst impulses into the worst class of criminal.

In theory, a resisting arrest charge allows the state to further punish suspects who endanger the safety of police officers as they’re being apprehended; in practice, it gives tautological justification to cops who enjoy roughing people up. Why did you use force against that suspect, officer? Because she was resisting arrest. How do I know you’re telling the truth? Because I charged her with it, sir.

Consider a few recent would-be felons:

  • Chaumtoli Huq, former general counsel to NYC Public Advocate Letitia James, who was charged with resisting arrest for waiting for her family outside the Times Square Ruby Tuesday’s.
  • Jahmil-El Cuffee, who was charged with resisting arrest after he found himself on the receiving end of a head-stomp from a barbarous cop because he was allegedly rolling a joint. (“Stop resisting!” cops screamed at him as he lay helpless, pinned under a pile of officers.)
  • Denise Stewart, who was charged with resisting arrest after a gang of New York’s Finest threw her half-naked from her own apartment into the lobby of her building. (They had the wrong apartment, it turned out.)
  • Santiago Hernandez, who was charged with resisting arrest after a group of cops beat the shit out of him following a stop-and-frisk. “One kicks me, he steps back. Another one comes to punch me and he steps back…They were taking turns on me like a gang,” Hernandez told reporters.
  • Eric Garner, who no doubt would have been charged with resisting had the chokehold from Daniel Pantaleo not ended his life first.

Cops using resistance as an excuse for their own abuse isn’t some wild conspiracy theory. Sam Walker, a law-enforcement expert and retired University of Nebraska-Omaha criminal justice professor,told WNYC in December:

“There’s a widespread pattern in American policing where resisting arrest charges are used to sort of cover – and that phrase is used – the officer’s use of force,” said Walker, the accountability expert from the University of Nebraska. “Why did the officer use force? Well, the person was resisting arrest.”

Fortunately, city district attorneys know the drill, and often have the good sense to dismiss resisting charges when perps are brought up in court. But Bratton would like to see that provision thrown out as well. “The vast majority [of charges] might end up being dismissed,”he said at the joint hearing of state senate committees Wednesday. “We’re asking district attorneys to treat them more seriously than they have been treated in the past.”

Anticipating criticism, Bratton told the assembled lawmakers that he already had a plan to curb abuse: the department would use its CompStat arrest-tracking system to monitor officers who make lots of resisting charges that are eventually dropped, leaving oversight of the NYPD to the NYPD itself.

  • occupyRUScom

    Though; Out of Respect; i [WE] Sing “COPS Are The 99% Too; THAT:

    Out of All the requests for NYPD enforcement Powers via Rules/Regulations or Statutes that This Requests is-Itself an Abuse of power let lone audacious!

    IF if this Request becomes LAW then it SIGNALS to US (Protesters et al) the POLICE are with the FASCIST Regime (1%rs)and will Arrest-US into Oblivion!

  • PaulK2

    We might append to this list Cecily McMillan, the occupy protester who got three months for felony assault on the police officer who grabbed her breast. She could in theory have gotten seven years in jail for the police sexual assault but the judge wasn’t quite Kafkaesque enough for seven years.

    “Assaulting a police officer” is the current police workaround for not making resisting arrest a felony too. It has been fraudulently and criminally used by police departments and district attorneys for my entire lifetime.


    We should make no bones about what this is. This proposal by Bratton is an advocacy of fascism. The cops can simply call something as “resisting arrest” and a person will be charged with a felony. Bratton has been one major architect of many reactionary policies in NYC too.

  • I notice two sets of rules, the one above where everyone is deemed guilty until proven innocent while having to answer to trumped up and baseless accusations and the other set of rules where authorities and politicians are able to claim that they’re exceptional above the law and simply not accountable.

    To add further emphasis, remember the number of times that the Bush administration, deliberately chose to hide behind state secret privilege (23) in order to avoid answering questions about a certain day with a well known date.

    Why did they refuse to cooperate with an investigation, by another standard they could have been brought in a long time ago.

  • mwildfire

    What is it about the NYPD? Why is the biggest, most multicultural city in the country policed by what increasingly looks like a warlord gang? I suppose any police department will have a disproportionate number of cops with the psychological profile of bullies if they don’t screen these out–but why are the union and commanding officers encouraging this?

  • I agree. But since “they” can monitor everything that everyone says and especially writes online, I hesitate to upvote this comment. This idea that it is legal to scoop up everything that everyone has ever said or done, and be allowed to present it as “evidence” in court, is extremely dangerous to freedom and therefore to democracy.

  • Chazz A

    The NYPD operates as an “occupied, militarized force’ and has done so with near impunity for decades. This is a dry run for Martial Law enforcement, in my opinion and it will give a green light to more police brutality.

  • Jon

    I think you know why. An honest investigation would have shown complicity with the deeds AND subsequent cover up.

  • The arrogant unwillingness to fully cooperate during such times is suggesting they had certain things to hide* — Then to lie about the reasons for invading Saddams Iraq while having previously carved up their oil fields and we have nothing less than involvement with a conspiracy.

  • Robert A Dorrough

    I know everybody loves the First Amendment and clings tightly to the Second Amendment, but if you were to read a little further you might come across the Fourth Amendment. It has been eroded almost beyond recognition. In plain language it states: the government cannot lay hands on your person or property without a warrant. The judiciary has abdicated its role in determining probable cause and allowed LEO’s to exercise that power arbitrarily and at times capriciously.
    Still searching the Bill of Rights where it says the government is allowed to electrocute citizens with tasers in order gain compliance, which should violate the cruel and unusual clause of the Eighth Amendment, but somehow it has become so normal.
    Interestingly, there are more police officers in the US 1.1 million than active duty US Army 498,642.

  • TeeJae

    You’re catching on. Law enforcement exists to “protect & serve” the 1%, not the rest of us.

  • TeeJae

    That’s exactly what they want you to fear. It’s called suppression of dissent.

  • TeeJae

    It’s a culture steeped in power and corruption beyond comprehension.

  • TeeJae

    Does it say anything about their growing ‘shoot first, ask questions later’ policy?