Having received a ticket and thinking the stop was over, 70-year-old Robert Whatley calmly drove away from the British police. A misunderstanding ensued and the cops followed him down the road. When he stopped again they bashed in his windows.
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Mr. Whatley's story is a case of he-said/he-said, so while on the face of it this looks like a clear cut case of police overreaction it's hard to make a clear judgment. Here's what we do know: The elderly Whatley was stopped for not wearing his seatbelt and, after a brief exchange with officers, he drove off thinking everything was sorted out (he did need to get home to take his heart medication though, as he'd explained to officers). The police claim Whatley struck an officer as he was leaving, a claim Whatley denies.
So officers then pursue the old fellow, who never broke the posted speed limit and claims he thought the police were escorting him home to his medication. After the slow 17-minute pursuit Whatley decided there might be something wrong and pulled over to the side of the road, at which point one officer started smashing his window with a baton while another jumped up on the hood and started kicking in the windshield. To subdue an old man. Who'd been driving the speed limit. Who needed his heart medication.
It's hard not to make a snap judgment based on the ridiculous dash-cam video, but we're many times removed from the situation. All we know is if it looks like police abuse and sounds like police abuse.
The most depressing part of this whole story isn't the police behavior, it's a comment from Whatley that speaks volumes about the foreign perceptions of America. He said of the incident, "It's something you might expect in America but not in the quiet of the British countryside."
The whole thing is being investigated by the Officer's superiors. (Thanks for the tip Guy)