Resisting arrest or self defense? - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Resisting arrest or self defense?


Resisting arrest or self defense?

CBS46 is asking the tough questions after a police beating in DeKalb County, and that's not the only one. CBS46 has shown you other instances when police use force on the people they serve. 

Often times it can lead to charges of resisting arrest, but the video can tell a different story. That's why there has been a huge cry for police to wear body cameras at all times. But even that video can be inconclusive, especially when it comes to whether a person is actually resisting arrest, or defending themselves from being possibly injured by police.

The question is simple enough -- when does the use of force become the abuse of force?

But the answer is surprisingly difficult to see, even when the incident is caught on tape.

There is a very good chance that the police officer this video does not see the same thing you see in this video.

We showed the controversial arrest in DeKalb County to Tony Corroto, a former Atlanta police officer who is now a national legal expert on police procedures.

"The officers don't know the threshold of what this person is under the influence of, but there has to be a stopping point," says Corroto. "'I'm going to shoot you,' that's inappropriate. You don't say something like that, you don't threaten deadly force unless you're actually going to use it."

Corroto and other experts on police procedure say the escalation of force by an officer is often subjective and can lead to trouble for both the suspect and officer.

Despite Corroto's training and expertise, even he has a bard time answering the question of when does resisting arrest become defending yourself against abuse or injury.

"Boy, that's a tough question, it is a really tough question," says Corroto.

In fact, it's almost a trick question because it's so difficult to answer, both in the court of law and the court of public opinion, where the verdicts are often the complete opposite of each other.

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