Even if what the Kentucky cops are claiming is true, it still does not justify them punching Joe Bennett in the face after he refused to provide identification last weekend.
Bennett, after all, was doing nothing more than recording police in a McDonald’s parking lot from at least 50 feet away Saturday, not saying a word to them when they stormed up to him and attacked him. He was, in fact, trying his best not to distract them while exercising his First Amendment right to record.
“I’m trying to stay away so I don’t get involved,” Bennett says into the camera as he records. “I ain’t trying to piss off the police or nothing. Just watching.”
But Jeffersontown police officer Manuel Cruz was peeved that a citizen would dare record him in public and stormed up to him demanding his identification, telling him, “you’re filming a crime scene … and you’re involved.”
“I’m not involved in anything, I’m sitting right here,” Bennett responds.
“I need your ID,” the cop demands.
“I refuse to give you my ID,” Bennett says.
Cruz then pounces on Bennett, telling him to “let go, let go, let go” as he grabs the camera. The video shuts off seconds later.
The Jeffersontown cops charged Bennett with resisting arrest and menacing, a Kentucky statue that states “a person is guilty of menacing when he intentionally places another person in reasonable apprehension of imminent physical injury.”
If anything, Cruz is guilty of menacing.
The cops claimed they were investigating a person for passing bad checks when the suspect pointed towards Bennett and told them he was also involved in the crime of passing bad checks. They claimed Bennett became “uncooperative” and a “brief struggle ensued” and that Cruz had to deliver an “empty strike” to calm him down.
But Bennett described it more as a “solid left hook,” according to Spectrum News.
Despite the video evidence clearing Bennett of any wrongdoing, charges against him are still pending. His attorney, however, is called for Cruz to be charged with assault and battery.
“These acts of Officer Cruz were cowardly, bullying tactics that were doubled down when he had the audacity to charge Joe with crimes,” Sam Aguiar said in a statement. “This type of conduct cannot be allowed to happen without severe accountability.”
Cruz was wearing a body camera but the footage has not yet been released.