Thanks to LP who sent me this clip and asked my thoughts on it.
It's from an Instagram account and these are always in danger of being taken down or deleted so hopefully it stays up at least for a while. It seems to be getting a lot of hits so that should be a motivation to keep it up by the “OP” but more of that later...
The video shows an (alleged) off duty policeman restraining a young man on the ground by a bus stop.
The audio and also description points to the young man being involved in threatening and/or robbing kids at knife point. He was on a bike but apprehended by the off duty policeman and pulled from the bike (by what witnesses seem to describe as “the neck” and restrained).
He is held down on the floor, face down by the right arm by the cop who's applying a straight arm bar and also a wrist lock.
There is no direct weight placed on the torso and therefore little to no danger of anything like positional asphyxia.
The cop is shifting his weight as needed to keep the pin in place and also moving the wrist lock to relieve and reapply.
The cop is calling for assistance and a young guy can be heard phoning for it.
This is what you would hope community policing would look like. Not reduced to harassing over a slipped mask in Tesco or one too many guests at a BBQ but rather that despite a risk to his own safety this man decided to go to work and act on a crime while off duty is surely making the community a better place for children by arresting a scumbag with a knife.
The suspect travels from apologetic to death threats over the course of the video when he sees and is emboldened by another teenager's presence.
“I'm gonna smoke this cunt though!”
The female taking this video on her phone is concerned that too much force was used to remove the lad from the bike, that the restraint is too forceful and should be loosened.
She then wants to see proof of his badge in the middle of this incident.
Others join her in concern. A youth shows her the badge from the policeman's pocket.
She continues to want to discuss her impressions of the arrest with the cop as he tries to check whether the free hand of the boy is reaching for another weapon.
The cop is doing his best to keep composure and reply to her while maintaining his own safety.
Other teenagers seem to be circling and may be friends of the arrested suspect, it's unclear.
I'm reminded of the old bumper sticker - “Lead, follow or get out of the way!” and that would seem to apply here.
This isn't a social media scoop of brutality that has been captured, it is someone making your neighbourhood a better place. You're either with that or against it.
This arrest would not have happened through a discussion and reasoning.
This young guy is easily large enough to harm an adult man, especially if armed and is being restrained very reasonably.
If he was larger though, would this armbar have worked? This cop would then have been in the fight of his life to arrest a suspect.
Would this pin have worked on a far larger man?
Would this cause the cop to be forced to use greater force or use it straight away when the suspect is too large to restrain easily, is combative and intent on harming?
This is a police context situation.
I tell students to not attempt tactics like this – citizen's arrests – unless in the direst of circumstances.
Imagine your stress at being a have a go hero pinning a knife wielding thief to the floor but without that badge to satisfy the local social media cameras?
You are pinning this guy to the floor and calling for help, now what?
For how long?
Does he have friends?
I say this to you with experience of several times trying to stop extremely violent incidents including one with a knife and the resulting threat to my life that that triggered. No one seemed to be in much of a hurry to help me in those incidents and emergency response was slow.
In terms of trying to help in a crime that is not directly effecting you, drawing attention, disrupting a criminal's ability to perform the crime if possible from a safer distance, calling cops, these are better options.
In terms of this video, someone really community minded (and not scared of possible gang retaliation in the local area) would have offered the cop help and held down that other arm to safely immobilise the thief until help arrived rather than trying to get a scoop for their IG account or looking ,perhaps, for some confirmation of a bias.
Some people talk community “activism”.
Some people are actually doing it.
Lead, follow or get out of the way.