Troll around YouTube (or read the news, even casually) and you will readily come across examples of cops who don’t know the law – and enforce their own conception of it with impunity.
Two examples come to mind, one automotive – the other not.
Example one: Open Carry.
In states where this is legal, people are routinely hassled by cops for doing what is legal. A person will be out in public, with a sidearm legally holstered (or carried) in plain view. A cop car – often, several of them – will roll up and aggressively confront the open-carrying person. Usually, it is done in an order-barking manner, and not infrequently with clearly stated threats of summary roadside execution, as in this video:
Mind, the open-carrier has not done anything illegal. The law is clear. People may open carry – that is, they may openly carry a gun in public. Period. There is no qualification. It is the law. Yet this is no defense against “the law” – the goons with guns and special outfits, that is.
The common theme in these videos is a request by the person being given the Fallujah Treatment that the cop consult the statute book – i.e., that he familiarize himself with the law rather than make up law as he goes. The response is typically a blizzard of non sequiturs and threats. The cops will state that “someone” called in to “express alarm” about the sight of an armed person walking down the street. That this made them “nervous” or “concerned.”
The open-carrier will reply – correctly, insofar as the law is concerned – that a person isn’t subject to harassment by the law because of “someone’s” feelings. That there must be at least some suspicion, some specific probable cause, to suspect that anactual law was violated.
Merely walking down the street with a firearm in an area where it is legal to do so does not constitute probable cause for suspecting anything illegal is occurring, has occurred or might be about to occur. If it does, then any legal going-about-one’s business is insufficient to protect one from “the law” – from its enforcers.
It is Kafkaesque.
Why even bother with “the law” when it has become whatever any random cop decides it is?
The ugly truth is we’ve lost one of the basic bulwarks against despotism – the rule oflaw as opposed to the rule of whomever happens to wield authority. Innocence of wrongdoing under the law – or rather, the absence of any tangible reason for believing a given person is guilty of having violated the law – ought to be (and once was ) a shield of immunity against arbitrary authority. It no longer is in random checkpoint/stop-and-frisk and shoot-you-in-the-head America.