Friday, February 15, 2008

Update on Officer Dude.

Here’s a update regarding Officer "Dude". The incident which we recounted here took place in Baltimore. Officer “Oink” is a Baltimore police officer and has been for 17-years. He is named Salvatore Rivieri. The kid he assaulted is Eric Bush, a freshman at Northeast High School. Office Oink looks well over 200 pounds. I would guess it is more like 250 pounds. His victim weighs about 125 pounds.

Eric’s mother, Peggy Miller, has said that she couldn’t believe the way that this police officer acted. “To be honest, if that officer did that to me, I would have punched him” she told WJZ news. Miller said: “I started watching the video and couldn’t continue. I flipped out.”

She wasn’t the only one. Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon said: “I saw the tape. The officer handled the situation so poorly. It is very clear this is unacceptable.” That is called an understatement. What the office did was assault.

Apparently Office Oink has a problem. He likes to intimidate people and allegedly has done it before. One woman from the Baltimore area recounted that her husband faced threats by the same officer in the same area. Her husband was riding his bike and Office Rivieri had his little security car blocking the road. To get around it the man was forced to ride on the sidewalk for the length of the vehicle. Apparently this is another offense that the Office takes very serious. She recounted that she got a frantic call from her husband fearing this officer was going to assault him. She said “Rivieri was out of control” and “this guy takes everything as an assault on his authority, no matter how trivial.”

Eric’s own words describe the story this way: “He was just like up in my face, yelling at me...then he tackled me. It was like scary because I have diabetes and my blood sugar went crazy ‘cause he scared me.” I thought the kid looked like he was in shock and he seemed genuinely bewildered as to why this large man was going ballistic. For the record the alleged worst thing the kid said was to use the term "dude" in reference to Rivieri. Rivieri lectured the boy loudly claiming "dudes" work on ranches. Apparently the officer's knowledge isn't as wide as his waist.

The city has put the officer on suspension. But so far this means a paid vacation. He doesn’t have to work but he still receives his salary. No doubt he’ll spend the day on the couch munching donuts by the dozens -- no man in his condition should never wear the uniform he had on. That alone ought to constitute assault to good taste.

The out-of-control officer has hired an attorney to defend him. The best the attorney can offer is to say “you don’t see what happened before the officer took the boy down to the ground.” Actually that is a lie. You do see the situation from the moment Office Out-of-Control started approaching the boy. You witness him put his arm around the boy’s throat and neck as if he were going to choke him or snap his neck. And you witness him throw the boy to the ground. The boy seems terrified. His alleged crime was that he didn’t hear the officer tell him to stop skateboarding. And he used the word “dude” which set the Officer into an irrational frenzy.

What we do see is damning enough. No video can show what happened before the video started. And the fact is that few people will start taping an “incident” before it is apparent that something wrong is happening. The justification used by Rivieri’s attorneys, if accepted, would basically give emotionally unstable officers carte blanch to do as they please. Even if caught on tape they can contend the tape doesn’t show what happened before the tape started.

Rivieri shouldn’t be on paid leave. He should be facing charges of assault and dereliction of duty. And please get him out of that uniform. Surely having Officer Oink in his tight shorts, running around the Waterfront area, has to put thousands of people off their lunch. He must really discourage tourists from eating at the local restaurants -- though I suspect he more than makes up for the meals they don’t buy by himself.

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