Remember this story? This college student, Elizabeth Daly, was walking out of a grocery store with two other girls and a case of La Croix when plainclothes officers started following her.
Exhibit A: The offending beverage.
Not realizing they were police officers, she got in her car — which only made the situation worse:
Now 21, Daly said she had been terrified when strangers surrounded her car and began pounding on the windows. She couldn’t roll down a window without starting the car, and when she did, one agent jumped on the hood and another pulled a gun, she has said repeatedly since the incident.
Elizabeth dialed 911 and started driving away, still unaware that the men terrorizing her were, in fact, officers of the law. Once the 911 operator confirmed that they were not random men assaulting her, but rather random men with badges, she stopped the car, only to be arrested, charged with assault, and jailed overnight. “She has suffered from tremors since the June incident, she said.”
Now, she’s suing the state for $40 million over the incident, and I wish her well in the suit. Unfortunately, however, if she wins that money will come not from the offending officers but from the taxpayers of Virginia.
As I’ve written before, police should be just as responsible for the costs of their abusive behavior as the rest of us — and that includes paying settlements. The police are not a special class of citizens. They are not absolved of responsibility for their crimes because they wear a badge. They are not above the law. In fact, if anything, as enforcers of the law, they should be subject to greater scrutiny.
Requiring taxpayers rather than the guilty officers to cover settlements significantly lowers the cost to police of engaging in abusive behavior — and that’s not a cost I want to see lowered.