Written by Jeremiah Bannister
Research by Autumn Smith
After last night’s news coverage by both Dave Spencer of Fox 17 and Julia Fellows of Newschannel 3 regarding the controversial video obtained and published by PaleoRadio capturing Battle Creek Police Officer Christopher Hug’s arrest and treatment of Kenneth Moye, the City of Battle Creek has issued a press release, entitled, “City leaders discuss 2012 use of force incident timeline.” (You may read the press release by clicking on the image below.)
(VIDEO & BLOG – “BCPD Cover-Up: Officer Body-Slams Local Resident)
Editor’s Note – The debate over whether Hug used excessive force seems to be all but settled here–though there’s always the possibility that the Michigan State Police officials scrutinizing the incident may conclude otherwise. The reason is simple: sides were settled in the city’s story. It’s all about narratives.
Allow me to explain, using a comparison to one of my all-time favorite vintage cartoons: Superfriends.
First, consider those exonerating Hug. Let’s refer to them as the Legion of Doom. The Legion would be comprised of:
1. Then-Police Chief Jackie Hampton, who resigned his post amidst all the controversy–much of it having landed at his doorstep!
2. Then-City Manager Ken Tsuchiyama, who, like Hampton, resigned his post after having quite enough of the nagging media rain clouds associated with Hurricane PaleoRadio.
3. Lastly, there’s the not-so-dynamic duo of Deputy Chief Jim Saylor and Inspector Maria Alonso. These folks have had a rought time of things lately, finding themselves in the fires of simultaneous lawsuits. One suit is on their own behalf, arguing that the city denied them due process–and that the city has ruined there careers. The other suit, however, names them as defendents, arguing that they are, to one degree or another, culpable for unauthorized secret cameras being placed in the BCPD women’s locker room.
On the other side–those who are skeptical of Hug’s exoneration–we’ve got the Hall of Justice. Members of this group within the story are:
1. Interim Police Chief Jim Blocker, “who has worked to address the incident since his appointment on Feb. 25.”
2. Two unnamed officers who’d witnessed the event. These officers had made additional claims, stressing that they had prohibited by Sgt. Jim Walters from filling out an accurate report on the incident. They were also refused the right to review the video so as to determine one way or another whether they say the incident rightly.
3. City Attorney Jill Steele, who, upon seeing the video, disagreed with those exonerating Hug. She went further than mere disagreement, requesting a “meeting with police use of force officials to review the legal use of force.”
4. Lastly*, there’s Dr. Darrell Ross, of Valdosta State University in Georgia. Ross is an expect brought in per the request of Blocker and Steele. After reviewing the video, he “determined that excessive force was used in the incident between Hug and Moye.”
* I know I said Ross was the last one, but I really ought to put Calhoun County Prosecutor Dave Gilbert on the side of the Hall of Justice within the city’s narrative. After all, the narrative aligns him with parties unconvinced by the Legion of Doom’s exoneration of Hug. At bare minimum, an asterisked ally.
It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out, to see how city officials and members of the media choose to frame the incident, how they choose to portray the characters and the institutions involved. Who will be a superfriend? Who will be a superfoe? Who knows? Nevertheless, and nuance notwithstanding, I don’t think it takes Superman’s exceptional vision to read the writing on these walls of Jericho…