Quick Note on the Media

I just read this story about a Houston man arrested for a shooting that occurred at the Texas Capitol building today. Most of the information on the arrest from one Jill Magid. Here’s that part of the story.

Jill Magid, visiting from New York, said she was inside the building on the first floor when people started rushing to the south entrance, prompted by the reaction of two troopers. Magid said a man next to her said he heard four or five pops.

When Magid got outside, she saw about 25 officers surrounding a man lying on the ground on his side in a fetal position as officers held him down. He was not resisting arrest. She said she heard one of the troopers say there might be another person on the building’s third floor.

What I want to know is why the writer, R.G. Ratcliffe, says “He was not resisting arrest.” He does not quote her as saying it. He says it. When someone is arrested for shooting someone or some other heinous crime the media always protects their innocence with the word “allegedly”. Why doesn’t this work both ways to protect the police from civil action in case something comes out of this where someone wants to accuse the police of excessive force? Not only is it unfair even if it’s true, but I have a hard time believing it’s true. First of all the guy went into the Capitol building and fired shots. He doesn’t sound like someone who is going to be taken quietly. Then Magid herself says he was in the fetal position. There is no point in the process of being arrested where police want you in the fetal position. The only reason I can think of someone going into the fetal position while being arrested is that they’re being defensive and trying to keep officers from gaining control of their arms and legs to effect the arrest. So with that in mind I don’t see why Ratcliffe felt ok plainly stating that the suspect was not resisting arrest.

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