Once a criminal gang “wins so many recruits from the ranks of the demoralized that it acquires territory, establishes a base, captures cities and subdues peoples, it then openly arrogates to itself the title of kingdom, which is conferred on it in the eyes of the world, not by the renouncing of aggression but by the attainment of impunity,” wrote Augustine.
Simply put: Gangs and governments do exactly the same things, but the latter immunizes its agents from punishment. This explains why government enforcement agents — better known as police — so frequently engage in blatantly criminal behavior.
Whenever police commit criminal acts against innocent people, they do so in the serene confidence that their uncorroborated testimony about the incident will be accepted by judges, and most juries, as the truth.
The only exceptions would be those instances in which audio or video records of such episodes exist — which is why police have started to confiscate cell phones of witnesses and use wiretapping statutes against people who make audio recordings of police encounters. This fact was infuriatingly put on display last August in Philadelphia.
Last August 17, a Philadelphia woman named Agnes Lawless was riding in a blue Mazda with some friends when the vehicle was rear-ended by a car driven by Alberto Lopez, Jr., an on-duty police officer. Lopez left the scene and Lawless, along with her friends, stopped at a nearby Lukoil convenience store.
Lawless was chatting amicably with the clerk when she was suddenly assaulted from behind by a male who thrust a gun into her face.
“He hit me with his left hand, and he had his gun in his right hand,” Lawless later recalled. “He pushed his gun into the left side of my neck. It caused a scrape-type bruise on my neck.”
The assailant had the same name as the officer responsible for the hit-and-run collision with the Mazda: Alberto Lopez. The difference was that this Alberto Lopez was the daddy of the driver, and like his son he is a veteran police officer. After the younger Lopez rear-ended the Mazda, he went running to his daddy at a local police station, and the two of them went out in pursuit of the victims — not to offer compensation for the injury, but instead to deal out some “street justice.”
As is the case in almost all such incidents, Lawless — the victim — was charged with “assaulting” a police officer. And like most police officers in such circumstances, Lopez pere perjured himself.
At a preliminary hearing he testified that, after seeing the Mazda in the parking lot, he entered the store and ordered Lawless and her friends to hit the floor. Lawless supposedly “freaked out, started punching, slapping and kicking me multiple times.” Based on that testimony, Judge Robert Blasi ordered that the case proceed to trial. Charges were dropped four days later, however, after the store’s surveillance video was made available.
The video corroborates the accounts of Lawless, her three friends, and Carlos Ruiz, the clerk who was on duty at the time. It shows the elder Lopez approaching Lawless from behind, a drawn gun in his hand, and grabbing her neck.
“I was really confused,” Lawless recalled. “I didn’t know if we were getting robbed. I remember seeing his uniform on his arm, he swung me around and hit me with his arm. He hit me first with an open hand, then he hit me with his gun in the face.”
According to Lawless, Lopez was shouting, “You think you can hit my son and get away with it, you think you can f*** with me?” Her account was corroborated by Ruiz, the store clerk.
The melee continued for more than a minute, with the two Officers Lopez working in tandem. After more police arrived, Lopez, Jr. told Ruiz to “do himself a favor and get rid of the camera tapes.” That suggestion was repeated during two separate visits to the store by police; during one visit they urged him to “help the cop out and testify for the cop.”
In his initial report of the incident, Lopez, Sr. mentioned the fender-bender, but didn’t identify his son as the other party involved in the incident, referring to him only as “the witness.” In his version, one of the occupants of the Mazda threatened to pull a gun on him. Furthermore, after Lawless and her friends were arrested, Ruiz heard the elder Lopez tell his son, in Spanish, to “Say he [one of Lawless' friends] had a gun.”
Lawless spent the night in a feculent, rat-infested jail cell. Although both Officers Lopez face possible disciplinary action, the District Attorney, after reviewing the matter, chose not to prosecute.
Lawless, who later moved to Florida, said she was emotionally traumatized and now fears the police — an entirely justifiable reaction to the unalloyed thuggery and practiced dishonesty that resulted in her night in jail. She is just one of a growing number of people who can testify, from experience, that we should never believe the uncorroborated word of a police officer.11:09 am on July 22, 2009 Email William Norman Grigg