Fair chance at justice

The city of Downey and its police department, the target of a lawsuit stemming from last October's shooting of unarmed South Gate resident Michael Nida, faced further accusations of police brutality this week but this time the allegations appear to be unfounded if not entirely baffling.Details are on page 1 but here's the gist: police officers responding to a 911 call about a fight attempted to pull over Downey resident Miguel Macias, who officers said was driving erratically and matched the suspect's description. After stopping and exiting his vehicle, Macias ignored seven orders to get on the ground. A police officer, the same officer who shot Nida, tackled him. And cursed at him. Two officers struggled with Macias before placing him in handcuffs. The incident was not unlike something you'd see on "Cops." A police review found that the officers used necessary force although the swearing was deemed "unfortunate" and unprofessional. Charges against Macias were dismissed by a judge who said police lacked justification to pull him over. Macias is now suing the City of Downey and his attorney is the same counsel representing the Nida family. The attorney released dash cam video this week that captured Macias's arrest. He alleges police used excessive force. Anyone who sees the video, however, will see that police exercised incredible restraint. They detained Macias without the use of a taser, pepper spray, batons or guns. Police say they later found brass knuckles in his possession. It's all one big non-story, which is why we declined to post the video online. Police may or may not have been justified in shooting Michael Nida. We don't know and the district attorney has yet to make a determination. I am not defending the police department. But I do think it's important to keep separate matters separate and give everyone - Nida's family as well as the police officer involved - a fair chance at justice.

********** Published: April 12, 2012 - Volume 10 - Issue 52