In the age of mobile phone video and security cameras, anyone who breaks a rule is in grave danger of discovery.
That includes criminals. And it includes cops.
Just ask Anderson police officers Brandon Reynolds and Ashley Gravely. They’re on administrative leave after Reynolds was caught on video applying a chokehold to Spencer Dakota Nice and taking the 21-year-old to the pavement. Gravely assisted.
In a video shot by his girlfriend, Nice does not appear to resist arrest. He and three others in his family were stopped by Reynolds while they were on a twilight walk in their neighborhood, Nice and his father said.
In a probable cause affidavit, Reynolds said he heard gunshots and then saw Nice throw something toward a nearby building. That led to the chokehold and takedown. Nice was charged with resisting arrest.
The episode happened just two days after a statement by Mayor Tom Broderick and police Chief Jake Brown was posted on the city website proclaiming that the Anderson Police Department had banned chokeholds by officers to restrain suspects.
Unethical officers across the country are finding out the hard way that cameras are everywhere, recording them when they make a mistake, when they lose their tempers and when they flat-out brutalize a suspect — or a bystander.
Videos of Reynolds’ chokehold on Nice went viral and highlighted that at least one APD officer either hadn’t gotten or had ignored the ban on the dangerous maneuvers, which can cut off air supply to the brain.
That’s what happened to George Floyd, whose May 25 death under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer touched off the ongoing national protest movement against police brutality and racial injustice.
There are no claims of racial injustice in the recent Anderson case. Reynolds and Nice are both white. But the issue of police brutality is clearly on the board.
The investigation of Reynolds and Gravely must be turned over to an outside law enforcement agency, perhaps the state police. The main priorities should be fairness, transparency and objectivity. The city of Anderson and the APD should take every measure in this case, and all others, to avoid any appearance of a coverup.
Police officers have difficult jobs that are becoming more difficult under increased scrutiny. That scrutiny, ultimately, will separate officers who lose their tempers and needlessly endanger the health of suspects from those who are committed to acting with the highest professionalism and ethics.