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Student's beating: Take a poll, see reader comments

Washington Post readers displayed a range of reactions after reading Ruben Castaneda's story, which details how Prince George's prosecutors who have begun a criminal investigation of three county police officers who beat an unarmed University of Maryland student with their batons after a basketball game last month in an incident that was caught on video and surfaced publicly Monday.

A selection of their comments is displayed here; feel free to add your voice -- then take our online poll.

From bperk420:

Police get the benefit of the doubt far too often when they shouldn't. PG does nothing to enforce any kind of discipline or reasonableness on their police force. It is scary to see how dangerous coming to their attention is.

From ntrides1:

The attack was so violent that it scared the horses. Watch the horses carefully, keeping in mind that these are highly trained horses.

From puffyfluffypufffluff:

Cops beating people isn't cool, but it seems some UMD students need to learn to behave themselves.

From metroman76:

Not all police officers are committing these crimes but not standing up to these thugs and having to have citizens provide the evidence makes all those that were there just as guilty.

From trcall:

Shocking! Appears to be totally uncalled for, and extremely excessive!

From Baltimore137:

There have been hundreds of cases that people have called police abuse when they see the video, but are cleared of any wrongdoing by the law. Some people just don't understand the amount of force that the police are authorized to use.

Take our quick poll, or leave your own comment below.

By Washington Post Editors  |  April 13, 2010; 8:28 AM ET
Categories:  From the Editors , From the Post , Pr. George's , Reader Comment , Ruben Castaneda , Schools  
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While I'll admit I enjoy commenting and reading other people's comments, the Post shouldn't put too much weight into what is said on anonymous boards. People say some pretty ridiculous and crazy things on here; I'm pretty sure in person most, if not all, wouldn't say the same things.

Posted by: Aerowaz | April 13, 2010 9:44 AM | Report abuse

In this case I can see why the police reacted the way they did, but they took it too far. They needed to ensure the safety of the horse(s) but once the subject was subdued, they no longer needed to pound him. Why are PG Police so conspicuous at UMD and you never see them in the rest of PG unless they are doing 90 on the Beltway. I work in PG and never see police pulling cars over or enforcing the rules (I saw a guy walking a pit-bull along a major route the other day)?

Posted by: smirkman | April 13, 2010 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Watch the video again. The police did not act in a professional manner, and they did not act proportionally to the perceived threat.

A drunk, unarmed kid danced too near a police horse, and for that he was beaten. He offered no resistance, yet the cops continued to beat him. He was down and one cop came over and gave him a last shot, almost as if he didn't want to miss the fun.

And then watch more, the kid who was videotaping on the right hand side? The cop came after him too, but he wasn't drunk and could easily run away. The police officer gave up. Too much work, I suppose.

I'll bet these kind of police hate the idea that they can so easily be taped. If they had know they were being taped from the building, they might have gone upstairs and taken a few licks at the kid filming their little party.

Anybody who sees that and thinks the kid "deserves it" has anger issues. Police officers who think this was an OK thing to do, are probably not well suited to the role of a peace officer, and should consider enrolling in the U.S. Military where they'll have their chances against to try this with someone as well armed as them.

Posted by: Ombudsman1 | April 13, 2010 10:09 AM | Report abuse

We can know the cops acted inappropriately because they felt they had to lie in the charging documents. If they had reacted lawfully and proportionately why the need to say he got kicked by a horse? The officers and whoever filed the documents are criminals pure and simple.

Posted by: flamingcissy | April 13, 2010 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Now it's sad that it was a white kid, please I feel bad for him but it happens to us all the time.

Posted by: shadon1 | April 13, 2010 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Let's face it, U of MD happens to be in a very questionable area, economically, and socially.
A lot of gangs in nearby areas, a lot of crime in nearby areas. Police have a tendency to react to the things they've been conditioned, and I think the riot force in PG County are probably not much more educated than the people who commit such crimes.
A pissed off man with a badge and a gun can be a very dangerous thing. I would not celebrate to wildly the next time Maryland beats anyone. Because you might be the next bad beat. I wish PG county residents all the best, as I am from PG county, but no longer live in the area.

Posted by: keithlb28 | April 13, 2010 10:41 AM | Report abuse

The university should have anticipated that the students would want to party after the Duke game(regardless of who won) and provided a safe indoor containable area for such.They could even have offered alcohol and checked ID's to ensure there would be no under age drinking.

Posted by: lsf07 | April 13, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse

the police should concentrate on keeping property and people safe. Just because 100 kids are dancing in the street doesn't mean it's a mob or a riot.

These people are supposed to be trained professionals. They should act like it.

Posted by: WilyArmadilla | April 13, 2010 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Of course the kid had it coming. That doesn't make it okay. Being an idiot isn't a crime, and even if was, punishment is supposed to come after a trial and not at the end of a night-stick. The only justification for the use of force by police is to protect themselves or others. It's plain that the force used here wasn't necessary for that purpose.

Posted by: grapoport | April 13, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Excessive force?? It seems to matter what gender & race the victim is for it to be considered excessive force on the Washington Post blog. Just read the comments made about what happened to the young black male trying to ask for a job the other day....

Posted by: dc4life | April 13, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

I've watched the video. The police were on horseback, and the students approached the horses after certainly being told to clear out. What those who think that this was harmless need to understand is that such an approach can easily spook the horses - regardless of how well trained they are - and seriously injure an officer. The student doesn't want to get a little "wooden shampoo"? Well, simple. Do what you are told by the police. Period. Not complicated.

The problem is that hoodlums think that since the police got in trouble from the Rodney King beating (BTW, watch the ENTIRE video of that - NOT just the highlight reel that the liberal media likes to show), that they can act with impunity. Rodney King's track record leading up to, and since, that incident lead me to the firm conclusion that he richly deserved what he received. And so did this punk.

Nobody believes that gratuitous beatings by police are necessary or acceptable. But why is it in this day and age that individuals are no longer accountable for their own actions?

Posted by: virginian9 | April 13, 2010 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Kid probably mouthed off and taunted the officers and they lost their temper. They are clearly in the wrong and should pay for it, but the kid basically dared them to do it. Cops are human too, and if you mess with big armed men, odds are you will get the stick (or worse). Its not right, but we are all human. I am sure at that point the cops were totally frazzled and dealing with conflicting orders (end the party but don't hurt anyone) and they just lost it. Maybe gardening will be a better profession for them...

Posted by: mendelsonmustgo | April 13, 2010 11:40 AM | Report abuse

The cops were completely out of line. I could not see any threatening actions by the young man. Completely uncalled for.

Posted by: jckdoors | April 13, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Here's what I see in that video... 1) Drunken punk throwing punches in the air and dancing like a prizefighter as he approaches the line of riot police clearing the street, 2) idiot grabs at horse, and 3) receives the beat-down he so richly deserves.

It's ridiculous... Some people seem to think there's no such thing as personal responsibility anymore: no matter how stupid your actions, there's always somebody else to be blamed for the result. Look, it's pretty simple: don't challenge the po-po in the middle of a riot, and you won't get a beating.

Posted by: ProfessorPeabody | April 13, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

"How should authorities handle out-of-control college students?"

That depends on a lot of things. But also, how is this question relevant to this situation?

But I'll tell you, I'm slightly shocked at the outright stupidity of some of the comments here. It seems as though the public at large can think of a whole handful of reasons why police in riot-gear can whale on a 18-21 year old white kid with impunity. Even *should* do it. One can only imagine what they would have done if the kid were black or Hispanic. Which possibly is why you don't see any black or Hispanic kids sauntering up to the police horses like this kid did.

The point is that it seems as though "college kid" or "protester" is a license to ill. You keep categorizing people and justifying police brutality that way. All they will do is create more categories and more justifications. The bottom line is the same. You've got 10 cops whaling on a public citizen with batons for doing nothing more than getting close to one of them. If that's ok with you? Fine. If not? Such is life. Because that's how it is. And the only negative thing for the cops that is going to come out of this is that one of them filed a false report. Wasn't for that, this would be just another beating, just another day.

Posted by: dubya1938 | April 13, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

How about the the personal responsibility of the cops who've clearly abused their powers. Did you read the news article? If the cops were in the right, why did they lie in a sworn affidavit? Why has one already been fired, with 2 others who will be fired as soon as they find out who they are? Why are they being charged by the DA's office? Without the video, the kid would be going to jail based on the statements of cops who intentionally fabricated statements to cover up criminal acts.

Posted by: me_its2002 | April 13, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

The PG prosecutors office has consistently declined to prosecute police officers who clearly committed crimes under the color of law. In the rare instances when they have been prosecuted, the police have a pet judge to whom they've managed to get those cases steered resulting in acquitals and dropped charges. Of the DC area police forces, PG is again and again in the news for cases like this. Remains to be seen whether these guys will really be held accountable for their actions

Posted by: eric_goodall | April 13, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Who cares? It was just some white boy....if it was a black boy, it would be a front page story, and CNN would talk about it for two weeks, and the cop would be fired.....but its just some punk white kid, so who cares?

Posted by: msg8568 | April 13, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

mendelsonmustgo if the cops try that as a defense, "we're only human" I don't think that will be sufficient to get them off the hook. the fact is, they're trained professionls, they're cops. they're not supposed to break the law. And professorpeabody it has nothing to do with whether or not the kid "deserved it." The question is was the force excessive. apparently the cops involved dont agree with you, since they had to file a false report. It's not legal to beat unarmed citizens Einstein.

Posted by: red2million | April 13, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

When a college student alleges abuse against campus police due to a protest involving activism for a political cause, then I'll care. When a college student alleges abuse while drunk from a keg party, I really don't care. Sadly, college campuses feature more of the latter and not enough of the former.

Posted by: nomayo | April 13, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Seems odd to me that the poll question the Post chose is how to handle out-of-control students -- when the incident that places the post-Duke game events back in the news today was out-of-control police. The record of law enforcement abuses in PG County is long, and a far more serious issue than anxiety about students who rampage.

Many now are not old enough to remember the Walker Report following the street violence at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago (see: The Report found that the violence was largely the result of a "police riot". In the wake of these findings and the nation's introspection, police crowd control practices across the country improved and were professionalized. But now with the dimming of memory over distant time, we seem destined to relive history.

Posted by: rboltuck | April 13, 2010 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Both the kid and the police are at fault. The kid for testing the limits of police power by frollicing down the road the police were clearing and the kid was being a dumbass. Does that deserve to be wailed on by a baton, not hardly. All the cops had to is order the kid to turn around, place his hands behind his back, cuff and book him for disobeying a police officer's order and end of story. Cops take all that training on procedure and how to subdue people and all that jazz. Cops are always taunting they are following Police Procedures. Where in the police procedure does it say to immediately whip out a baton, club a citizen and continiue to club them even after they are unconscious? Pretty simple case for the lawyer of the kid who got beat. (Oh please, oh please, oh please just give me one more hit cuz Who's got the Camera.)

Posted by: dbasile | April 13, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

It's too easy to drag ideology into this absurd attack. I wonder if the police would have reacted the same way if say they were anarchists or your run of the mill protesting everything leftist students. The police tend to allow those kinds get away with far more than your typical stupid drunk student. The radical student protesters carry the protection and cover of the fiction reporting print media and the police seem to be overly cautious when encounter them. Here we have a situation that they probably feel wouldn't get the same coverage or protection from the media because the students especially if they are not a minority can be painted as spoiled and privileged and thus probably deserving what ever the police hand out. I remember getting far more scrutiny for having a kegger and being loud than my leftist brick throwing window breaking thugs neighbors because the university saw nobility in their cause of showing hate for Bush or meat or oil or what ever those white privileged types hated. I'd be curious as to the color of the police and the kid. Regardless the kid needs a lawyer and the taxpayers need to be ready to pony up. Down side for this kid if he's white is and just a student with out a leftist political cause is the media will play it different than if he was say Rodney King because of his lack of a powerful advocate like the NAACP or the ACLU or even the university.

Posted by: azsd19 | April 13, 2010 4:12 PM | Report abuse

The police departments involved in patroling the UM campus should get training in nonviolent crowd control, a la New Orleans Mardis Gras, or from any college town police force that has to deal with student celebrations that spread onto the streets. The police officers beat this kid, then covered it up and charged their victim with a felony while fellow officers did nothing but watch. Reprehensible, unacceptable, impossible to justify or explain in any other terms but criminal.

Posted by: Olderwiser | April 14, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Three cops need to be fired. The nation is watching, AGAIN

Posted by: citigreg | April 15, 2010 8:57 AM | Report abuse

WAPO, since no students were "out of control", your poll is stupid.

Posted by: citigreg | April 15, 2010 9:11 AM | Report abuse

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