If a citizen states that a police officer used excessive force, and the police/ government disagree over what is excessive force, should the citizen face jail? I ask that question because the individual, Darreen Chaker, did just that. He stated that the police officer unnecessary used force in restraining his wrist instead of just asking him to put his hands behind his back. The case by the way didn't involve the suspect being accused of rape or murder, but theft of services. Something that he was not found guilty of later, by the way.
Now, this column isn't about whether he should have been arrested or even if the officer used excessive force. It is about the police and government being able to charge you with a criminal offense, because of their disagreement with the meaning of excessive force versus that of an average citizen. The police in this case didn't dispute the fact that his wrist was twisted, as reason for the criminal charge of falsely reporting excessive force. If the guy said the officer had hit him with his baton upside the head when the cop didn't do anything of the sort, than yes that warrants a criminal charge if the evidence is clear that nothing like that happened. No, this case involved the very meaning of what is excessive force.
If a citizen is afraid, because of possible criminal charges, of reporting what he or she believed was excessive, than the obvious result is that police who illegally do apply excessive force, will have a much freer hand in doing so. Indeed, in Oxnard, California police stated they could not corroborate that an officer on their force exposed himself to a bunch of teenagers. The people who reported this, were tried and convicted under this law.
Look, does the U.S. want to be closer to China. In that nation, unless one is powerful and influential enough, one must always go with trepedation before reporting any case of police brutality. Gladly I can say, the outcome in this case was good. This law was struck down.