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Traffic stop traumatizes family: Couple handcuffed, dog shot to death over lost wallet
WorldNetDaily.com ^ | Saturday, January 4, 2003

Posted on 01/04/2003 1:21:52 AM PST by JohnHuang2

Losing your wallet in Cookeville, Tenn., can get you handcuffed on the side of the highway and your dog shot to death by police – at least, that was the experience of a North Carolina family returning from a vacation in Nashville.

James Smoak apparently left his wallet on the roof of the family station wagon New Year's Day while getting gas prior to pulling onto Interstate 40, reports the Cookeville Herald-Citizen.

He discovered it was missing after three police cars swarmed his vehicle in what appeared to be a traffic stop.

But this was no ordinary traffic stop.

According to Smoak, a Tennessee Highway Patrol officer broadcast orders over a bullhorn for him to toss the keys out of the car window, get out with his hands up and walk backwards to the rear of the car. Smoak obeyed and was subsequently ordered onto his knees and handcuffed at gunpoint. Officers similarly handcuffed his wife, Pamela, and their 17-year-old son with their guns drawn.

As the troopers were putting the family members inside the patrol car, one of the Smoak family bulldogs came out of the car and headed toward one of the Cookeville officers who were assisting the THP troopers.

"That officer had a flashlight on his shotgun, and the dog was going toward that light, and the officer shot him, just blew his head off," Pamela Smoak told the Herald-Citizen. "We had begged them to shut the car doors so our dogs wouldn't get out, [but] they didn't do that."

Cookeville Police Officer Eric Hall later defended his actions to the Herald-Citizen.

"A dog, I believe to be a pit-bull, jumped from the suspect vehicle, singled me out from the other officers, and charged toward me growling in an aggressive manner, Hall described.

"I yelled at the dog to 'get back' but it attempted to circle me to attack, so I felt that I had no other option but to protect myself. I fired once at the dog, instantly putting him down," he continued.

Following the slaying of the dog, it was some time before the family learned why they had been stopped. At one point, a state trooper told them they "matched the description" in a robbery that had occurred in Davidson County.

It was a while longer before someone in authority figured out that the officers had stopped and were holding the very family that someone in Davidson County had assumed had been robbed.

"Finally, they asked me my name and I told them my name, date of birth and other information, and they talked by radio to someone in Davidson County and finally realized that a mistake had been made," James Smoak said.

The 38-year-old said the officers then told them they were released and apologized.

"A lady in Davidson County had seen that wallet fly off our car and had seen money coming out of it and going all over the road, and somehow that became a felony and they made a felony stop, but no robbery or felony had happened," Pamela Smoak said.

"Here we are just a family on vacation, and we had to suffer this," James Smoak added.

Beth Womack, a THP spokesperson in Nashville, told the Herald-Citizen an internal affairs investigation is underway and that every effort will be made to "find out exactly what happened and why."

"As I understand it," she said, "a report was made in Davidson County to our officers that this car had been seen leaving at a high rate of speed and that a significant amount of money had come out of the car and someone became suspicious," she said.

An internal investigation is also underway at the Cookeville Police Department.

On Friday, Chief Bob Terry issued a statement stressing the department was called in as back-up by the Tennessee Highway Patrol and the officers' role was "secondary to what the THP termed as a 'felony' stop, a possible car-jacking."

"Unfortunately, during the THP's process of gaining control of the situation, a very rare thing occurred," Terry's statement continued. "The Smoaks had been traveling with family dogs, and one of them got loose. ... it clearly approached one of our officers in a threatening manner. Our officer first tried to call the dog down, but after it kept approaching aggressively and started to circle him, the officer took the only action he could to protect himself and gain control of the situation."


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Front Page News; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: copernicus3; donutwatch
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Saturday, January 4, 2003

Quote of the Day by Bogie

1 posted on 01/04/2003 1:21:52 AM PST by JohnHuang2
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To: JohnHuang2
The week before Christmas, my brother was pulled over by a bunch of cops in North Carolina (Statesville) because he matched the description of a bank robber. After putting him through the ordeal of getting out with hands up, lay on the ground, and having his car searched, they did him the favor of arresting him for a suspended license (he just returned from a year-long Army tour in Korea).
2 posted on 01/04/2003 1:26:58 AM PST by Lunatic Fringe
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To: JohnHuang2

3 posted on 01/04/2003 1:46:48 AM PST by Byron_the_Aussie
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To: Byron_the_Aussie
G'morning, amigo.
4 posted on 01/04/2003 1:51:29 AM PST by JohnHuang2
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To: JohnHuang2
And to you, mon ami. So good, to return to FR from a few months' sabbatical, and find you at your usual station, sourcing key stories for us all. Very best wishes for a prosperous 2003, By.
5 posted on 01/04/2003 2:01:45 AM PST by Byron_the_Aussie
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To: Byron_the_Aussie
Very best wishes for a prosperous 2003

Why, thanks -- same to you and yours.

6 posted on 01/04/2003 2:10:55 AM PST by JohnHuang2
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To: JohnHuang2
Opps.......you are free to go now.
7 posted on 01/04/2003 2:30:01 AM PST by SeeRushToldU_So
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To: JohnHuang2
Sex is like sports, or for that matter the Roman games of old, since it helps to keep the mind of the underling off of the subject of taxes.

LMAO!!

John, I want to reserve judgement on the article because I recently dealt with a cop with a real attitude and I am trying to get rid of the thoughts and attitudes of that experience. If a seriously bad police force turns up they can be dealt with "American Graffiti" style.
8 posted on 01/04/2003 2:30:20 AM PST by jwh_Denver
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To: JohnHuang2
The police were successful at their main objective, protecting themselves.
9 posted on 01/04/2003 2:53:18 AM PST by per loin
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To: JohnHuang2
John, my thoughts and feelings go so far beyond disgust and revulsion and anger over this story that I will not mention them, beyond saying that stories like this have no place in the America I revere.

I have a few links:

Owner to pursue police in shooting of two dogs

Oregon man captures robber -- cops shoot his dog as a reward

AGR Online/ Letters
... Asheville police kill dog, no longer welcome. Editor, Asheville Global Report,.
On Friday, May 26, about 9:45 pm, during a truly amazing display of police power ...

BSL - United Kingdom - Media Articles and the DDA
... terrier as appeal is shelved - The Telegraph 28 June 1996 - Police kill dog with
a garden fork - The Telegraph 18 July 1996 - How pawprints can uncover the ...

Untitled
... May, 09 2001, Owner of dog killed by police ponders action. May, 08 2001, Centreville
officer shoots puppy; 1-year-old Lab ran up to 2 officers talking to owner. ...


10 posted on 01/04/2003 3:05:09 AM PST by backhoe
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To: JohnHuang2
....the officers then told them they were released and apologized.

Well, they said they were sorry, so it's OK. Right?

I've been arrested on false charges by a racist cop who obviously didn't like the fact that I shared an Apt with a black friend. Nobody apologized to me.
I had to pay a freakin fine and move just to avoid future encounters with this racist cop.

11 posted on 01/04/2003 3:14:59 AM PST by Jorge
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To: JohnHuang2
We travel via SUV with a very large dog who is always kept behind a dog barrier. I believe it to be safer for the dog than an open interior. After reading this article I can believe it.
12 posted on 01/04/2003 3:52:56 AM PST by goody2shooz
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To: goody2shooz
The news last night here in Memphis said it was a Pit Bull. Which given it's reputation for mauling folks to death, would scare any one. IF you call the police in Millington, you get NO less than 2 cars 2 officers each. Millington has about 9,000 population now since the Navy base went from a training station to an administration type base. So we have more than enough officers to do this.
13 posted on 01/04/2003 4:41:05 AM PST by GailA
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To: *Donut watch
http://www.freerepublic.com/perl/bump-list
14 posted on 01/04/2003 4:50:33 AM PST by Free the USA
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To: goody2shooz
Seems to me that the owners of the dog should have controled the dog on command. This was not memtioned. This to me is a law suit in the making!
15 posted on 01/04/2003 4:50:34 AM PST by fred flinch
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To: JohnHuang2
A dog, I believe to be a pit-bull, jumped from the suspect vehicle, singled me out from the other officers, and charged toward me growling in an aggressive manner, Hall described.

The family dog was a BULLDOG, not a Pit Bull!

One of our dogs is a Bulldog (think U. of Georgia's mascot "Uga"). They are the most people-loving, non-aggressive dogs and they don't look anything like Pit Bulls.

Our family joke is that our Bulldog will delightedly greet burglars at the door, slobber affectionately all over them, show them around and leave with them when they are finished.

A needless, senseless tragedy. My heart breaks for this family.

16 posted on 01/04/2003 5:02:35 AM PST by RottiBiz
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To: JohnHuang2
Cops love to confront law-abiding citizens... no risk.

Traffic tickets are good revenue if the perps look docile.

Give them a drunk to slam around and they love it.

I have no more respect for most of them than I do the hacks at motor vehicles.

State cops are the worst. They're not out there to protect you... they're out there to make money for the state!

17 posted on 01/04/2003 5:04:55 AM PST by johnny7
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To: JohnHuang2
It takes a certain attitude, bravodo, personality, to be a cop and make cop like decisions that escalate a situation far beyond reality. For this reason, all police forces must be brough under control of someone, or group without said bravado, attitude, personality. Disarmed would be a start. As true servants of the people, they can be at the mercy of those they stop rather than the other way around.

Can you imagine two unarmed policemen busting doors down, instead of politely knocking and presenting a warrant. The public has allowed far to much "progress in the name of law enforcement" and far too many mistakes by those they think are here for protection of the public, when in reality police protect themselves first, and the public if it suits or the situation presents itself.

The public is in need of more serious lessons in what happens when you give government the power to do what it finds unpleasant, and what it doesn't have the stomach to do, and then give them the ever increasing manpower, resources, and budget to do the job. Those dedicated individuals in the police line of work will continue to find plenty of "work", all of it at public expense and some of it not in the public interest.
18 posted on 01/04/2003 5:27:27 AM PST by wita
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To: wita
"We had begged them to shut the car doors so our dogs wouldn't get out, [but] they didn't do that."

Personally, I hope they sue the state to the max. Big jury awards are the only thing that is going to bring these police forces back under control. Money is the only language that politicians and city and state officials understand. They don't give a hoot about the Constitution; but they do understand the bottom line.

19 posted on 01/04/2003 5:45:36 AM PST by Lion's Cub
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To: fred flinch
""Seems to me that the owners of the dog should have controled the dog on command. This was not memtioned. ""

Seems to me that this dog saw his owners being handcuffed and 'kidnapped' and came out of the car to investigate.

I lost my wallet in Tennessee, by leaving it on the roof of my car at a rest stop. Didn't realize it until I stopped for gas in North Carolina. What a mess that caused at the time. Now I am glad that the wallet was not found by the Tennessee highway patrol!
20 posted on 01/04/2003 6:13:23 AM PST by maica
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To: per loin

So you think we don't kow about that little stunt you pulled back there, DO YA, PUNK.

And ya claim to just be out with the missus and the family on a family vacation FROM ANOTHER STATE!

Well I got news for ya, BuddyBoy, that's not how we spend our vacations down here in North Carolina. Whatd'ya say we just take a look in the car there, NOW THROW OUT THE KEYS AND DON'T EVEN THINK OF MAKING A RUN FOR IT!

KSSSHRRT...Deputy Fife, the Sheriff says not to make a big deal about it!

21 posted on 01/04/2003 6:14:34 AM PST by Cvengr
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To: JohnHuang2
There's a short story I once read about a guy who was reported as having not returned the book "kidnapped" to the library, when he had never checked it out. The automated systems continually misunderstood each other until he went to jail for kidnapping a kid, whose body was never found.
22 posted on 01/04/2003 6:36:08 AM PST by lepton
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To: johnny7
"Cops love to confront law-abiding citizens... no risk."

I believe there is plenty of truth in everything you say. Yet most of the cops that I have met and know personally are very nice folks. I figure, tho, that there are many that are drawn to the force for the wrong reasons + quite a few that don't handle confrontations well.

'Course lots of folks go into politics for the same reasons, to exercise power and control people. Especially Democrats.

23 posted on 01/04/2003 6:36:23 AM PST by Sam Cree
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To: SeeRushToldU_So
"Oops.......you are free to go now. Please clean up the carcass from the roadway."
24 posted on 01/04/2003 6:37:33 AM PST by lepton
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To: JohnHuang2; harpseal; Travis McGee; Squantos; sneakypete; Chapita
I am beginning to think the WOD means war on dogs.

Any respect, I have left for cops is going away fast.

Sic PETA on these Clymers!
25 posted on 01/04/2003 6:39:13 AM PST by razorback-bert
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To: JohnHuang2
Can anyone say "Gestapo Jackboots"???? Sure you can.
26 posted on 01/04/2003 6:42:51 AM PST by cynicom
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To: JohnHuang2; backhoe
Good morning, John.

As I posted on this other thread dicussing this subject:

Felony Stop Leaves Family Traumatized.

Sometimes otherwise law abiding citizens are forced to obtain justice outside the courtroom. That's a sad fact considering all the good police that are out there.

27 posted on 01/04/2003 6:45:23 AM PST by Vigilantcitizen
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To: RottiBiz
I think the perp was one scared wabbit cop of the Carter style. Certainly none of the people involved seem to have come equipped with a functioning brain.
28 posted on 01/04/2003 6:46:14 AM PST by cynicom
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To: JohnHuang2
This arrest of an innocent family without any probable cause of a crime being committed is not an isolated event for Cookeville, Putnam County, Tennessee.

www.putnampit.com has documented for years the ineptitude and corruption that exists in local government in the area.

For example the only police officer shot last year was by another drunk off-duty police officer who got mad because the officer who he shot would not go with him to kill a particular civilian. The now former Cookeville police officer who shot the officer in the neck was given pre-trial diversion (no conviction if the 5 months of probation are served without incident).

Bureaucrats in government have trouble holding each other accountable thus creating a climate where mistakes and other bad acts are swept away. Of course, problems keep surfacing because the foundation of good management is weak. Poor management is the one problem that never want to sweep away; they just move the dust around.

29 posted on 01/04/2003 6:47:26 AM PST by Harris
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To: JohnHuang2
Arm Up! They Have!
30 posted on 01/04/2003 7:42:38 AM PST by PatrioticAmerican
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To: JohnHuang2
The Cops lied... They said....that the family matched a discription of one given to them as perps of a robbery Someone found an empty wallet then THE COPS "decided it" was a robbery....found a drivers license computer searched the car and pulled them over as if they were robbers who stole the familys car...THEY HAD NO evidence ,no witnesses,no descriptions of the perps..only the now empty wallet.....They made all this shiite up?..wonder who really took the money in the wallet? The cops didnt close the doors because they wanted the dogs to get out...they wanted to hurt these people..and get away with it...

Evil Evil shiite has darkened the soul of America...drunk with power incompetant and evil armed police...

And they claim citizens are too icompetent to own firearms?

Come on...robbers steal the family car and the dogs just go along for the ride....

BTW those dogs...werent pitbulls....you freeking evil morons...they were bulldogs...and had you let the family members calm the dog and tell it to get back in the car it would have...you just couldnt wait to kill something...today it was their dog...and you will get away with it...tomorow emboldend and drunk with your kill....it will be another human being....You are a psycho and have no business carrying a gun...you are a gangster...a nazi...a criminal...with a badge..

The police state cometh

To Protect and Serve (Protect our pensions and serve ourselves...to your property )

How many times did the cops have the DC snipers in their hands...and let them get away... Had a discription yet since it was a "politically incorrect" one..harrased "White Males"...Vietnam combat vet-gun magazine reading-bible toting-working class....

Now in Maryland having kept their "tips" police such as these will invade the homes of those who own the wrong type of gun or had an evil neighbor turn them in...using the police to hurt their neighbors..

And even if the cops are wrong...you will be hurt..financially...legally....in your property...etc...but they will have instilled "the fear" and "intimidation" they desire all the sheep to be under...... And these are the administrators of HOMELAND DEFENSE?

I am outraged...I am incensed...I am acromonious... and a White Male Combat Vet Who Reads Gun Magazines Totes a Bible and am from a Working Class and Career Military Family....

31 posted on 01/04/2003 10:33:37 AM PST by joesnuffy
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To: Lion's Cub
Big jury awards are the only thing that is going to bring these police forces back under control...so tort reform is not such a good idea!
32 posted on 01/04/2003 10:45:24 AM PST by RWG
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To: GailA
The news last night here in Memphis said it was a Pit Bull.

I wondered about what type of "bull dog" it was. If it had been an English bulldog it would have been criminal. We had one it was the sweetist dog I have ever run across! Not to mention how much money it would cost to replace that type of dog.

33 posted on 01/04/2003 10:46:12 AM PST by Lady Heron
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To: joesnuffy
BTW those dogs...werent pitbulls....you freeking evil morons...they were bulldogs...

Never mind last post. I did not read far enough

Seems to me that the owners of the dog should have controled the dog on command. This was not memtioned.

English bulldogs while being sweet are not the brightest dogs in the world. It took us for ever to teach ours to obey the command to sit and even then it would not stay still more that 5 seconds before it would get up and explore some more.

The English bulldog would have wanted to go and meet everybody. Most peoples first reaction to it is stark terror when one approaches them (even if the owner has it on a lead), even when the owner tell that person that the dog is friendly. The jutting jaw scares people and most dogs. A macho cop who does not know the breed would shoot first no questions asked. It is a real pity because I do not think that there is a sweeter dog around.

34 posted on 01/04/2003 11:01:50 AM PST by Lady Heron
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To: maica
Sorry, I forgot to link your name to my last post.
35 posted on 01/04/2003 11:03:18 AM PST by Lady Heron
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To: JohnHuang2
More stupid, macho, trigger happy cops who shouldn't have made the force to begin with.
36 posted on 01/04/2003 11:05:30 AM PST by mg39
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To: lepton; wardaddy; maica
What a great premise for a story!
37 posted on 01/04/2003 11:22:16 AM PST by Travis McGee
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To: viligantcitizen; PatrioticAmerican; joesnuffy; harpseal; Squantos
Imagine a USA where only the police have legal arms.

Get used to tasting asphalt, or boot leather.

38 posted on 01/04/2003 11:26:01 AM PST by Travis McGee
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To: Lady Heron
This is an American Bulldog:
We do not know what manner of bulldog the people had. It would have been your basic English Bullie, or, if it was an American Bulldog, you can see how the cop may have fired in fear. In no way am I excusing such behavior, but I am saying we do not have all the facts, nor do we know the breed of dog involved.
39 posted on 01/04/2003 11:42:51 AM PST by Darnright
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To: Jorge
I've been arrested on false charges by a racist cop who obviously didn't like the fact that I shared an Apt with a black friend. Nobody apologized to me.

I had to pay a freakin fine and move just to avoid future encounters with this racist cop.

I believe your account wholeheartedly, yet, I think you are making a mistake by taking everything as "racist."

These cops are just BAD cops, and -- as I can tell you from my experiences in San Antonio, where the force is multi-ethnic to a fault: Bad cops come in ALL colors; and GOOD ones come in all colors.

My worst brush was an incident my son and I had with two cops -- one white and one Hispanic, and they were both UGLY. Ethnicity doesn't seem to fit the bill here; MEAN-SPIRITEDNESS does.

Incidentally, I was saved from a threatened overnight trip to the slammer by the supervisor of these two cops -- and my "savior" was a black cop.

40 posted on 01/04/2003 11:56:49 AM PST by BenR2
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To: Travis McGee
Imagine a USA where only the police have legal arms.

Get used to tasting asphalt, or boot leather.

My nomination for the POST of the WEEK!

41 posted on 01/04/2003 11:58:21 AM PST by BenR2
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To: Harris
"Gack Country"
42 posted on 01/04/2003 12:07:18 PM PST by wardaddy
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To: wita
For this reason, all police forces must be brough under control of someone, or group without said bravado, attitude, personality.

Officer Fife says...

43 posted on 01/04/2003 12:27:00 PM PST by Bloody Sam Roberts
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To: JohnHuang2
Did the cops try pepper spray on the dog? Nope. This is the best reason we need to enforce the Second Amendment. Too many bad cops with guns means tyranny.

I'm not sure about the state this happened in, but here in Massachusetts, State law caps dmages to $100,000 for public sector workers. This example is a good reason why public employees should be made to carry million dollar premiums at their own expense. Maybe, if they footed the insurance premiums and got stung with a few liabilty suits, they would learn ethics about thier jobs. Thats the way it works in the private sector.

44 posted on 01/04/2003 3:44:26 PM PST by LoneRangerMassachusetts
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To: JohnHuang2
I can't believe I beat John Huang to a story on Free Republic!

Felony Stop Traumatizes Family

Best regards,

45 posted on 01/04/2003 4:05:58 PM PST by Copernicus
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bttt
46 posted on 01/04/2003 4:18:43 PM PST by Tailgunner Joe
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To: BenR2
I believe your account wholeheartedly, yet, I think you are making a mistake by taking everything as "racist."

What gave you the idea that I am taking everything as "racist."?

Of course I know there are simply good and bad cops of all races.
But I also know there are racist cops just like there are racist people.
And I've often seen a profound difference in how I've been treated by some cops (and others) when I've been with my black friends compared to when I've been with my white friends.
But the fact that I've encountered racism at times still doesn't mean I take "everything" as racist.

Quite the opposite. I don't expect racism and it surprises me when I do encounter it.

47 posted on 01/04/2003 5:04:02 PM PST by Jorge
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To: BenR2
Thanks!
48 posted on 01/04/2003 5:31:42 PM PST by Travis McGee
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To: Jorge
What gave you the idea that I am taking everything as "racist."?

Maybe because of the frequency of the word "racist" in your post to which I was replying. It sort of jumped out at me from the page.

Unless you can read the cop's heart, I submit that you really don't know if he was racist, or just despised the way you and your black friend parted your hair, or had just been told to take a hike by his girlfriend.

Then, again, maybe he was a racist: But how can you know for a certainty? (Frankly, I don't care if he was racist: I DO care if he misused his position to harrass you, however.)

Why not focus on the fact that the guy mistreated you? Let the LORD ferret out the underlying causes of evil. To me, that is the whole bogus feature of hate crimes legislation.

How about we just treat police brutality/oppression as police brutality/oppression (without bringing race -- or other underlying motives -- into it)?

Just my two bits. Again, I am outraged that you were mistreated by that cop -- regardless of what particular motivational burr may have been under his saddle that day.



49 posted on 01/04/2003 6:00:27 PM PST by BenR2
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To: Travis McGee
Imagine a USA where only the police have legal arms.

I will only imagine it I will not live to see it.

Stay well - Stay safe - Stay armed - Yorktown

50 posted on 01/04/2003 8:16:38 PM PST by harpseal
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