Wednesday, April 25, 2007

NYPD Boo

On the C train as it pulls into Chambers station. Train is pretty full - lots of people standing. We sit there with the doors open: a cop, with an attack dog, is standing on the platform and trying to call some guy off the train. "Step off the train please." Guy is black, in his 40s, somewhat disheveled maybe but not a hobo. He says "Why? I didn't do anything." Cop tells him again to get off the train, he can catch the next one. Guy again says he didn't do anything, moves through the subway car down to where I am. Cop comes down the platform to my door. Again tells the guy to get off the train; guy repeats his protest. Etc. Now the cop is pissed. He steps into the train and the crowd instantly retreats from the doorway area. Except me - I am up stuck against the end of the bench, and in front of me is a rollerboard suitcase. Cop yells at the guy, then lunges at him and grabs his collar. Guy reacts, pulls away, again says he didn't do anything.

Cop commands the dog to attack.

Guy shows terror as the dog grabs for his pants cuff. Cop is yelling at the guy to get off the train. Crowd is stiff and silent in response to the tension having suddenly been ratcheted up 1000 fucking notches by this effing cop. Guy, scared of the dog, shocked at the cop, as stunned as the rest of us by the sudden violence, realizes that the only thing to do is get off the train. So he does. They're on the platform. Cop is screaming at him why didn't he get off the fucking train? Dog has his teeth around guy's ankle. Guy chills out and the cop and dog heel a bit. The doors close and we are pulling away.

I was on that fucking train car before it pulled into Chambers: Nothing was going down. Everyone was chitty chatting all casj, a guy was playing bongos for spare change, no static at all. Nothing that warranted the explosion of Napoleon/cop-complex bullshit violence. As the train continued on one black man light, some white woman said, "That was bullshit. That guy put all of us at risk," meaning the cop. Everyone agreed.

7 comments:

Christian said...

At risk of what?

Marianne said...

At general risk of getting injured in the melee of angry cop, unknown quantity guy and dog in attack mode. At risk of getting caught in the crossfire in case this guy really was loony and had a weapon of some sort. This is New York.

Christian said...

Well we'd all like to believe that you live blissfully in New York, free from danger. And to that end there may be some things that can be recognized about the situation.
Like, people always have a period, however brief, of resentment and anger after being spooked by something ("You ASSHOLE! You scared the shit out of me!") One woman on the subway car spoke and created a vehicle for everyone within earshot to pile their anger into. Why not take it out on the NYPD? Everyone loves dogs, after all.
Also, the dog is most useful as an intimidation tactic. It's meant to have the target cower and submit. All the normal humans on the subway car, within the dog's intimidation sphere, reacted as expected, including the target, mission accomplished. It can certainly also bite and subdue - a real physical danger, but how likely is the cop to loose the dog into the throng of people?
There are also police arrest procedures inconducive to inciting a gun battle against a crowded public backdrop, although that doesn't account for your sketchy, gun-toting semi-hobo.
Altogether an experience one would rather not go through, I imagine.

Marianne said...

Perhaps my writing wasn't clear: the situation was ridiculously violent and tense, and the only person responsible for bringing it to that level was the cop - not the semi-hobo, not the other passengers on the train. Contrast this cop's way of dealing with this semi-hobo with the way the firefighters I saw yesterday dealt with a very agitated man watching his trailer burn down. There was a whole lot more at stake in that situation, emotions were running much higher, and yet it didn't come to fisticuffs or mauling dogs or even shouting. The way the firefighters dealt with it was understanding but tough, man-to-man instead of "I'm the authority here and you have to do what I say."

Aaron, Kate & Will said...

Let me for one second play the deveil's advocate (and cop's wife) and say that it wouldn't have escaladed if the semi-hobo guy would have just gotten off the train?

Aaron, Kate & Will said...

oops, devil's

I hate spelling mistakes!

Christian said...

Was Deveil the cop's name?