Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday, December 14, 2013
Hamilton police arrest video goes viral
A citizen’s video of Hamilton police subduing a screaming female suspect, while using minimal force, has gone lightly viral, garnering hundreds of thousands of views since being posted Wednesday.
“Honest Cops” was posted on You Tube and then linked to a popular reposting site.
It quickly sparked thousands of comments and was closing in on 400,000 views by Thursday night.
In the nearly 8-minute-long video, shot outside The Source store on Mohawk Road near Upper Gage, Hamilton constables Mark Morelli and Chantelle Wilson are shown first subduing and then arresting an out-of-control suspect in what police say was “a domestic related” incident. The arrest took place Sunday.
The woman can be heard screaming and seen thrashing about on the sidewalk in front of the store, ignoring Morelli and Wilson’s commands to stop resisting and to put her hands behind her back. Seemingly hysterical, she claims “I can’t breathe” repeatedly, and complains that her chin is cut and she’s lost a tooth.
For several minutes the officers struggle to control and cuff her and take her to the waiting patrol car. They treat her sternly, but with evident restraint, employing force only to contain her, not hurt her. Eventually Wilson and Morelli succeed in placing the 21-year-old Hamilton resident in the waiting cruiser.
During the arrest and afterwards Morelli, aware they are being videotaped, attempts to answer the complaints of the videographer and other bystanders, explaining what they are doing and what the law permits them to do.
“You can’t do that … she’s only a weak girl” the videographer admonishes the officers repeatedly as they struggle to cuff the woman.
“I’ll explain it to you in a second,” Morelli says, holding up one hand in a “wait there” gesture.
True to his word when the woman is finally securely in the rear seat of the cruiser, he catches his wind and proceeds to explain the law and the use of force choices they made during the arrest.
Hamilton media relations officer Debbie McGreal-Dinning would offer no information on the arrest, citing the service’s policies against commenting on ‘domestic incidents.’ (Source: Hamilton Spectator)
Last Saturday’s editorial cartoon not only disrespected a fine officer but every member of the Hamilton Police Service.
Officer Mark Morelli went the extra step, trying to — and accomplishing — make the arrest a learning experience for not only the bystanders but for everyone who eventually watched the recording. His action was a credit to him, his superiors, every member of the force and the entire city of Hamilton.
The cartoon appears to accuse Morelli of grandstanding and preparing for a photo-op rather than taking a moment to recover after a rough arrest.
I know that it is much more difficult and draining, both physically and mentally, to hold back rather than going all out with full force.
I have dealt with Morelli in his official capacity and he is the type of officer you would want on the scene regardless which side of the law you are on.
If you are a victim, he will do his utmost to protect you and see to your needs. If you are a perpetrator, he will be no rougher than necessary to affect an arrest, but he will work even harder to help a person turn their life around. He deserved better than what you gave him.
If you want an idea for an editorial cartoon, how about a judge and lawyer waiting to give the young woman a mani-pedi in the back of the cruiser after the arrest.
Hans-Peter Boergers, Hamilton