The YouTube video involving a brace of La Quinta, California cops and pair of citizens above is highlighted by freethoughtproject.com. As regular readers know, context is everything. Here’s cameraman Alejandro Natividad’s account of what precipitated the confrontation . . .

We were on our way to my friends house and we were at a stop light. When the light turned green my friend began to make some weird motions and really freaking me out. I told him the light was green and he had a deer in a headlights look. A deputy walked up and asked what was going on I told him he was acting weird I don’t know. He asked if we had any weapons and I said ‘no.’

At this time my friend was still doing some weird motions and finally answered the deputies question if he was okay. I had mentioned that we’re in the middle of the street and he came to and stepped on the gas and drove onto the corner. I jump out of the car and walked out with my hands up and was standing where the recording took place. Deputy drives up comes out of his vehicle with his gun drawn. That’s when I decided to record.

Even without hearing the officer’s account, it sounds to me like he had good reason to suspect something dangerously hinky was going on. Add to that the fact that the driver was arrested for DUI (marijuana) and released the next day.

Now, as for whether the officer should have kept his firearm trained on the camera guy throughout the incident, and whether the camera guy should have complied, I’ll let you hash that out. As for me, if a police officer orders me to the ground at gunpoint, down I go. You?

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67 Responses to La Quinta, CA Cops Point Guns At Rattled Vet. And?

  1. As for me, if a police officer orders me to the ground at gunpoint, down I go. You?

    If I hadn’t done anything and the cameras were rolling, I’d rather get shot standing up with my hands in the air. You know, like Big Mike Brown.

  2. After watching that–

    the two officers should be penalized for excessive force, escalating the situation, and arrested for reckless endangerment or whatever I would have been arrested for if I’d done what they did.

    • I’ve OC’d for over five years now here in New Mexico. I had decided ahead of time if the the cops freaked out and demanded my ID or that I would need to get on the ground for practicing a civil right, while breaking no other law, I would say no. So far, The coos have respected my rights.

      But if there was a legitimate reason for a cop to stop me, like a friend driving and acting erratically and he ordered both of us to the ground until he culd assess the siruation , I would get on the ground.

  3. Respect Mah Authoritay video in 3…2…1…

    Wasnt sure if this video was going to end with some bang bang bang for not complying because “I said so”.

  4. I’ve watched a lot “Cops” on cable to know if LEO tells you lay down, it is better part of valor to lay down to deescalate the situation. Is it right to have to do that without a reason for officer pulling his gun, it is if you don’t want risk being shot.

    See I don’t trust an officer or anybody else for that matter, with good trigger discipline so , yip going to hit the ground.

    • Your clothes will likely be dirtied, you will probably be bruised, and bystanders will think you are a criminal. What if you were on your way to work? That’s a pretty shitty deal to work out later.

      I wouldn’t be so offended by the notion of complying with incorrect and unlawful orders if the cops were held accountable for their mistakes. At the very least, the officer shouldn’t be paid for the time they spent fucking with someones life. A public apology and reimbursement for lost productivity would be nice, too.

      • If he complied, the video comes to an end, and there may be two different stories of what occurred. Guess which will be believed. Confronted with clear abuse of authority and unwarranted threats, I would sure WANT to keep that video going. Still think I would probably comply, but after arranging my camera to continue recording.

      • Anybody else noticed that the new, multipage advertisement section alters the return pointer so that the text entry is not visible, and the return is nowhere close to the reply?

    • Past incidences like this prove there is no ” working it out later”… many get shot complying..it’s come to a point that when the guns are out,, you, living thru the incident is in question.

  5. Cop: “Get on the ground”
    Cameraman: “I didn’t do anything”
    Cop: “I know… Get on the ground until I figure it out”

    Sounds to me like the cop knows he doesn’t have anything to hold the guy on, but wants to find something to pin on him anyway. If the cop admits that the person stopped has committed no crime, does he still have authority to seize/detain that person?

    • Once an officer concedes there are no possible charges, you are free to go. Cops being cops, though, that doesn’t mean turn your back and walk away; that’s a good way to get shot.

      If a cop gives an unlawful order, you dispute it — every citizen should dispute it. That should be taught in high school. Eventually it might serve to remind cops that we are their employers, and they must treat us with utmost respect at all times.

  6. Every Perp Ever: “I didnt do anything, why are you pointing a gun at me”
    Said no Cop ever: “Oh, you didnt do anything? Ok then, you are free to go”

    When an officer gives you a command, you obey it. Yes, you have to. Thats the way our system works. Otherwise there could be ZERO law enforcement ever. Otherwise one wouldnt HAVE to do ANYTHING the police say. Perps could just walk away and the police could do nothing to stop them.

    Again, its a simple principle… you have to follow lawful orders that an officer gives you.

    and its not up to you, on the street as a Youtube Attorney, to determine if the order is lawful or not. If the order was not lawful, that will be sorted out later in court and if it can be shown that the officer violated the law, or even department policy, then he/she has to deal with the consequences.

      • Yes, one that can only be determined later.

        You can be innocent but a stop, even an arrest can still be perfectly lawful. You may KNOW you’re innocent but that doesn’t mean there is not sufficient evidence to the contrary that points toward reasonable suspicion by someone outside your mind. Given that a police officer has to make decisions within seconds about a situation that a court will take days or weeks to figure out there is more latitude given to the former.

  7. Yes that is indeed a question central to this discussion.

    again, you (the rhetorical you) dont get to decide that on the street. Because if you did, every murderer could just say, “I didnt THINK the policeman was giving me a lawful order when he told me to drop the knife and get on the ground after I had stabbed my victim 900 times, or when he told me to stay where I was so he could question me as to why I was holding a bloody knife over a dead stabbing victim”.

    if you (again the rhetorical you) got to make that decision it would mean there could be ZERO law enforcement. Because what perp would follow a single order given by police?

    so, yes, you do have to do what the police say. Is it giving them lots of power? Sure. But its the ONLY way there can be any kind of law enforcement. There HAS to be some sort of authority or people revert to wild animals and do whatever they want, and some people want to do some pretty nasty stuff. I know this pisses off the “respect my authority!!!” and the “its a police state maaaaaaaaan!!!!” crowd… but when you stop to actually think about it instead of just regurgitating hyperbole, it makes sense.

    • Saying we should all do whatever the police say isn’t upholding law and order, it’s begging for a police state.

      • No its not enabling a police state… its the ONLY way that police can do their job is to have the authority to make you follow their commands, otherwise, no one would.

        could you please tell us all how police could do their job if no one had to follow police commands? Or have you thought the issue that far out?

        • They could do their jobs lawfully and with respect for citizens rather than high-handedly and despising whoever they come in contact with.

          The proper response to police, according to two former Supreme Court justices, is to not answer them. If they ask for ID, you do not comply. If they ask who you are, you do not respond. Why? Because they can and will use anything you say, no matter what, against you. They are taught to lie to you, to try to confuse you, to intimidate you, and your only recourse is to refuse to obey any unlawful order.

          The job of the police is not to apply force as they please. Once a firearm is drawn, the police are many more times likely than a regular citizen to shoot innocent people — which they do, and get away with. Their job is not, as they do nowadays, to manufacture criminals (something noted a few years ago by an NRA board member).

          If the police want cooperation and there is no visible threat, they should be polite. They should not raise their voices, but be polite. They should not issue orders, but make requests — politely. And any cop who, when there is no threat, stops being polite, should be fined a month’s pay, make a public apology to their victim(s), and be dropped to the bottom of the promotion list.

          There was a principle at the time of the Founding Fathers that we have, tragically, lost: better a hundred guilty walk free than one innocent be punished. On at least one occasion, Thomas Jefferson magnified that to a thousand innocents. That should be applied on the street as well: it’s better for a hundred criminals to get a chance to escape than for one innocent citizen to be abused.

        • They are taught to lie to you, to try to confuse you, to intimidate you, and your only recourse is to refuse to obey any unlawful order.

          When interacting with the police, remember:

          Anything you say WILL BE USED AGAINST YOU.

    • I think this emerging class of protestors are trying to force the police to state the probable cause associated with commands. That prevents problematic “charge after the fact” scenarios. This then prevents the bullying associated with over-charging which facilitates innocents taking pleas because of the expense, risk, and loss of liberty associated with court and its lethargic timelines.

  8. Too often, police officers involved in these types of incidents are let off the hook or given meaningless administrative penalties. This perpetuates the opinion (by the police and citizens) that they, the very people who are granted authority to serve and protect, are not being held accountable for that authority.

  9. There was a time in the history of the U.S. when there were no police officers. It wasn’t a lawless free for all. Situations like this and SWAT raids make me think it would be better if we went back to that system with an unarmed elected sheriff.

    • Or, as in one of my granddad’s old dusty history books, unarmed constables whose job it was to “raise the hue and cry, and call on the well-armed citizenry”.

    • I’m sure there was some fictional time in a fairy tale land where there was no crime… oh wait… that never happened.

      there was indeed a time when there wasnt a full time professional police force. So?

      Saying that doesnt mean that this concept would work today. Today we have police, and we have given them authority, because without it, there would be no effective law enforcement… and TODAY without some form of law enforcement the US would indeed be a lawless free for all. We do have law enforcement and still have crime, think what crime would be if everyone knew that police could do NOTHING to stop you.

      • We only “need” police because we have allowed our society to deteriorate to the point that citizens are more interested in privileges than in responsibilities. The constable raising the hue and cry worked because citizens understood that with liberty comes responsibility, and that they had a duty to respond.

        BTW, there’s a fallacy being perpetrated here, and that’s that the giving of instructions by police is a binary matter — it isn’t. There are lawful orders, and unlawful orders. They need to remember that, and citizens need to be educated to know the difference, and to act on that difference by refusing loudly and vocally to cooperate with unlawful orders. Why this is not taught in civics classes in the schools of a free state is beyond me, because failing to do so undermines the strength of that free state.

        • whatever you feel the cause of there being people out there that break the law, which there have been forever by the way… there was NO ‘golden age’ when everything was peachy, we still NEED police. And they still NEED to be able to do their jobs.

          In this situation, the police saw something that was more than adequate to allow them to investigate further, someone that was clearly under the influence while driving and that essentially crashed his car into the curb. Then you have two people that jump out, one intoxicated and one that jumps out on his own and moves some distance away from the car. More than enough to lawfully ask both to prone out on the ground.

          again, this is not something that the suspects get to determine if they are going to do or not. The police have and SHOULD have the authority to investigate this situation and do have and SHOULD have the authority given the circumstances to treat the situation JUST like they did. The orders were completely lawful and again, whether they are or no is not up to the intoxicated person driving the car or his buddy that is a “screw the police” type to decide on the side of the road.

          nor have you addressed the question… if we allow anyone at any time to choose what commands from police they will or wont follow, how can police do their jobs? They cant. Unless you have some solution that problem that you just arent sharing with the rest of us.

        • “nor have you addressed the question… if we allow anyone at any time to choose what commands from police they will or wont follow, how can police do their jobs? They cant. Unless you have some solution that problem that you just arent sharing with the rest of us.”

          You continue in the fallacy I pointed out.

          The police have to be educated to treat citizens with respect. The citizens need to be trained to keep the police in their place. This can only happen when both sides know what orders are lawful and what are not.

          An order to grovel, which is what getting on the ground is, is not appropriate in ANY case unless there is an evident threat and they have very, very sound probable cause. A free people does not grovel. Just as the US flag does not dip to foreign dictators, no US citizen should grovel before the police.

          And if a hundred guilty get away, in order that innocent citizens be treated with respect? Fine — that’s what liberty is about. And if you ask, “How, then, do criminals get caught?” I tell you, sir: by the well-armed citizenry, for THAT — they, we — is the security of a free state.

        • Roymond,

          I think Galbraith wants you to grovel so you can admire the shine on his boots.

          Either that or he wants you to kiss them.

      • and TODAY without some form of law enforcement the US would indeed be a lawless free for all.

        Oh give me a break. What narcissism!

        So-called “law enforcement” are outnumbered roughly 650 to 1 in the United States.

        The “thin blue line” isn’t what stands between us and anarchy.

        Police are just like the rest of us except they have a badge and uniform…and unions…and special protection that allows them to screw up without penalty.

        Citizens can arrest a suspect too, but are held to a higher standard.

        In essence, cops can act like thugs and goons because they’ve got immunity that the rest of us don’t have.

        • Im sorry, you are right. today without any law enforcement at everyone would hold hands and sing and skip around. There would be no crime.

          i’m violating one of my own rules of trying to discuss a topic with those that cant hold a reasonable conversation on the topic. So with that I’m out.

      • Seems, today, that police are only able to stop law abiding citizens, are unable and unwilling to stop violent criminals. If that tendency escalates just a bit more, then it is time to do away with police, and let each individual be responsible for enforcing the law.

        When I was a kid, in the ’50s and ’60s, a school shooting would have armed officers in the door within minutes, not 3 hours later after the “perimeter” is established and backup has arrived, etc.

  10. I get why people say they’d refuse to comply, I really do. But 99% of the time, that only escalates things. Cops tend to get nervous, suspicious and/or angry when people defy them. I would comply to keep things as calm as I can, whether or not I’ve done something wrong. Cops and Judges (if it comes to that) usually do take into consideration how cooperative people are. If you’re a big blowhard who refuses to answer questions or comply with any commands/requests, you’re only making it harder on yourself. I’m honest. If I do something illegal that catches the attention of the authorities, I’m honest and respectful with them. I tell the truth and face the consequences. Needless to say, I don’t do anything illegal. Well, I can be a lead foot, but other than that, I’m a peaceful, law abiding citizen. Now I know what you’re thinking: What if you’re wrongly accused of something? You wouldn’t “hide behind a lawyer”? Yes, I would get a lawyer. Because I’m no law expert (not that every lawyer is). But if I go to court for, say, a traffic violation that I AM guilty of, I plead guilty. And I have done exactly that. I could have gone to jail for a year, lost my drivers license, and paid thousands of dollars in fines, but the judge saw that I was remorseful for my moment of stupidity (I was a teenager), appreciated that I was honest and willing to face the consequences of my actions. As a result, my drivers license was suspended for 90 days, I had to serve 40 hours of community service, show proof of restitution, and only had to pay a couple hundred in fines and court costs. Plus, once I did all of that, I could get a work permit so I could drive myself to work and home until my license was restored. I had a work permit within two weeks. And my lead foot turned into more of a mild steel.

    • If you’re a big blowhard who refuses to answer questions

      Invoking your 5th Amendment can’t be used against you.

      If I do something illegal that catches the attention of the authorities, I’m honest and respectful with them. I tell the truth and face the consequences.

      You are a fool for saying anything to the police.

      Needless to say, I don’t do anything illegal.

      Wanna bet?

      Try this for starters…

      Three Felonies A Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent
      http://www.amazon.com/Three-Felonies-Day-Target-Innocent/dp/1594035229

    • But if I go to court for, say, a traffic violation that I AM guilty of, I plead guilty. And I have done exactly that. I could have gone to jail for a year, lost my drivers license, and paid thousands of dollars in fines

      But…wait…you said that…

      I’m a peaceful, law abiding citizen

      Could’ve gone to jail for a year? Thousands of dollars of fines?

      That doesn’t sound like a speeding ticket to me.

      Care to clarify?

    • When asked questions by police, the proper answer of an American citizen at this point in history should be, “By the advice of two Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States of America, I will answer none of your questions.”

      Watch, and learn:

  11. Yeah, right all the keyboard commandos, really smart to stand proud.

    STFU and laydown. Its strong to be calm. Dirt on your knees of suit pants. Oooh. Really?
    So a cop is a d1ck for overplaying it, so what? He is a d1ck when you go home to your family.

    Play stand up d1ck and die for your pride, and you go home in a body bag. He’s still a d1ck. Who wins?

    You are looking at this from your side. Look at it from theirs, all sorts of psycho scumbags, gang crackheads, suicide by cop wannabes, and how many normal citizens to reason with in all that mix? Of course they are going to have their gun out, Tueller Drill, remember?

  12. My apologies for not being as articulate as some. Being a combat vet, that pays for my coffee, did not make me particularly good at being a civilian. Cop with gun says “down”, I become a floor mat, or a part of the pavement, or crab grass. But, how much of a conversation we might have is up to me. As far as doing anything illegal, hell, I probably break half a dozen laws just getting up in the morning.

  13. You know I want to slam the cops in this, and they do have their own share of blame, but fundamentally they’re in the right.

    The officer came upon a suspicious scene: possible dui/dwi, possible medical emergency, possible criminal conduct or conflict between the occupants, definitely a disturbance and immediate threat to public safety. That must be addressed and resolved and it is not the cameraman’s place to disobey and debate an officer’s lawful orders.

    Securing the scene, for his own safety and that of these two and the public, before further investigation, is SOP. Hell, we advise that ourselves in here for DGUs. Watch out for accomplices, make sure the threat is stopped, take control of the bad guy’s weapon, all before holstering your own and summoning aid. And that’s when we already know what the situation is, never mind just stumbling upon two guys in a suspicious situation.

    Yes, yes, yes, these two officers grossly mishandled the situation. Suspension and, depending on the balance of their records, re-training, re-assignment, termination, litigation or prosecution may be in order. That’s a separate issue, though.

    In the meantime, follow an officer’s lawful orders and don’t help escalate an awkward situation into a potentially deadly one.

    • Without that video, the cops made no mistakes whatsoever, guaranteed. His hands are up, he is clearly no threat, why should he have to lie down, in an execution position?

      • That’s just it. The officer doesn’t know that they are clearly no threat. There’s but one officer initially and two subjects, one of whom is already in questionable control of himself. Securing the scene means putting these two in positions of disadvantage should they become hostile.

        The first man himself only partially complied, leaving open the opportunity to leap to attack from a kneeling position. The second man proceeds to pull out some object, which thankfully was not interpreted as a weapon. Then he starts running video and his mouth, like he’s looking for trouble, or a chance to flee or attack.

        I realize it sounds like circular logic to say they needed to be on the ground because they wouldn’t get on the ground. (Ok, but why’d they have to be on the ground in the first place?) They needed to be on the ground because collectively they’re drugged up troublemakers who are a hair’s breadth away from making things much worse for themselves and others.

        They needed to get on the ground so the officer could shut down their snowballing stupidity and resolve this thing at a lower level. That the semi-compliant first guy and the defiant, crying cameraman cannot realize this, demonstrates the prudence of ordering them to the ground in the first place. I’d have just cuffed them both from the start.

    • The default act shouldn’t be shooting a non compliant… The gun play should only be introduced if danger is imminent…further, people are getting shot even when they comply.. it’s getting to a point of a no win for the citizen.

      • I agree, but as I said, the officer’s actions are a separate issue. Exiting the vehicle sidearm drawn was a mistake, but at least it was pointed down.

        Ordering the subject sto the ground was fine, but because that gun was drawn, the crying cameraman obssessed over the gun, fueling further noncompliance. The officer responded by aiming his firearm, which further freaked out the cameraman. Then arrived a second aiming officer….

        The officer made missteps, I agree, but what belongs to the form, you’re carrying over to the content. The overall outline of this incident is two jack wagons causing trouble, then thwarting their own best interests by not taking the lawful path of least resistance to resolve it.

  14. Just because a cop tells you to get on the ground doesn’t mean you have to. If you have committed no crime or broken any laws and are unarmed then you do not have to lie on the ground. Just because someone is a cop doesn’t mean they can bully threaten and impend on US citizens rights. I think Alejandro Natividad is a hero and I hope this tells Americans that if you are innocent and have done nothing wrong then they can’t treat you like that just because they have a gun. These offices are obviously nasty bullies who should not be on the police force.

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