Herb Edwards is black, 48 years old, and when the weather’s nice and he’s home, he is known to tool around the neighborhood on his bike. He’s never been convicted of a crime; felony or misdemeanor.
One late afternoon, while pulling up to his apartment he rode a short distance against traffic on the quiet street. NYPD officers pulled up to him and issued him a summons for riding his bike against traffic. He frankly didn’t even realize that what he’d done was illegal, but took the summons and got on his way.
About two weeks later, he was on his street riding along side his wife and her friend, who were walking on the sidewalk and chatting. He came across police officers – different officers, and asked politely if it was against the law to ride a bike in the opposite direction on that street.
The cops could have answered “yes, it is, be careful”. But no, “courtesy professionalism and respect”, as it says on every police blue and white, isn’t what you often get from police officers. Instead, they told him to “go back across the fucking street. “ Mr. Edwards was shocked, and asked the officer why he was speaking to him like that. After a brief, equally rude and ridiculous further exchange, plaintiff started back across the street with his bike.
As he did, however, Mr. Edwards was so angry he couldn’t help himself, he said “asshole” as he was crossing the street. The insult was just too much to bear for these officers. They had a choice to make, let it go, since no crime was committed, or escalate the situation for no valid reason. They chose the latter.
In front of his wife and her friend, the cops pounced, threw him to the ground, handcuffed him, and threw him into the police van. While handcuffed and inside the van, one of the officers, still in a rage for being called an asshole, punched him in the face, causing Mr. Edwards to suffer a laceration on the outside and the inside of his lip, requiring a trip to the ER and sutchering.
Mr. Edwards spent 21 hours imprisoned and was charged with disorderly conduct. Of course, the charges against him were dismissed, since clearly, he was not the one acting disorderly. As far as we know, the officer who punched him is still on the street.