We really shouldn’t be surprised by this stuff anymore, but we still allow ourselves to be from time to time.
Rick Pitino said yesterday that two key contributors who were involved in an altercation with police over the weekend will not miss any game time due to their alleged transgressions. Two expected starters, Terrence Jennings and Jerry Smith, were arrested on Saturday night for mixing it up with police at a homecoming alumni party in Jeffersonville, Indiana (across the Ohio River from Louisville). In Jennings’ case, he was so resistant to the JPD that he was subjected to a taser – not once, but TWICE – before they finally subdued the 6’10, 230-lb forward. Smith, a senior guard, allegedly came to his defense, refused to back off, and he too was subdued.
Both players were arrested and the accompanying police report recommended that each be charged with multiple counts of resisting arrest and battery. Steven Stewart, the Clark County (IN) prosecuting attorney, had other ideas as last night he stated that they would instead each face a single misdemeanour charge of resisting arrest. He stated:
People don’t understand that police make a recommendation in the report, but the prosecutor makes the decision what charges will be filed.
This is assuredly true, and something that many people don’t understand. But it would have been nice if Mr. Stewart had provided a little more by way of explanation as to what mitigating factors he considered in making that decision. In most cases, police don’t wantonly taser people to the ground (there are exceptions, of course). And when they do it once, they usually don’t have to do it again. Yet in the heat of the moment here, the cops felt that Jennings was so completely out of control that he needed to be subjected to extremely strong (sometimes lethal!) jolts of electricity twice. So why would Stewart reduce the charges against someone whom the police thought was extraordinarily out of line on that night? What on earth could it be?
We haven’t even gotten into Mr. Best Year of His Life’s sentencing techniques. It’s understandable to a certain degree that someone in a political position such as Stewart’s must carefully navigate high-profile crimes in full view of his constituents, but what’s Pitino’s deal? In one statement he says that “anytime you defy a police officer, it’s serious,” and in another he defends Smith’s actions by saying that “he saw a teammate [on the ground] taking some pretty good blows and tried to help.”
Speaking of serious, is Pitino serious with this hedge? Defying a police officer is failing to move out of the way when he asks you to clear some space. It is NOT taking haymakers at officers wearing clearly marked “POLICE” jackets, instigating a fight and causing them to use the taser on you twice (in Jennings’ case). Furthermore, this isn’t a basketball court environment where you’re taught to defend your teammates — this is the real world. If the cops are busily tasing your friend/teammate, you should be upset (in Smith’s case); but you should also realize that you didn’t see what led to that incident and the cops must believe it’s fairly serious (rightly or wrongly). The smart move is to keep your head so that you can learn about what is happening and try to negotiate the heated situation – the wrong move is to refuse to back off and make the scene worse for everyone.
Well, at least they’re running lots of sprints (probably as we speak, right?). That’ll teach ’em, Coach!