The arrest Eric Holder just described — the one with the guy who had just been playing basketball — is simply horrifying. We’ll have a full write up on the DOJ’s report on Ferguson later this afternoon.
We’ll have details from the report itself later, but here are Holder’s words describing the incident from his presentation this afternoon …
During the summer of 2012, one Ferguson police officer detained a 32-year-old African American man who had just finished playing basketball at a park. The officer approached while the man was sitting in his car and resting. The car’s windows appeared to be more heavily tinted than Ferguson’s code allowed, so the officer did have legitimate grounds to question him. But, with no apparent justification, the officer proceeded to accuse the man of being a pedophile. He prohibited the man from using his cell phone and ordered him out of his car for a pat-down search, even though he had no reason to suspect that the man was armed. And when the man objected – citing his constitutional rights – the police officer drew his service weapon, pointed it at the man’s head, and arrested him on eight different counts. The arrest caused the man to lose his job.
Unfortunately, this event appears to have been anything but an isolated incident. Our investigation showed that members of Ferguson’s police force frequently escalate, rather than defuse, tensions with the residents they encounter. And such actions are sometimes accompanied by First Amendment violations – including arresting people for talking back to officers, recording their public activities, or engaging in other conduct that is constitutionally protected.