So, so far today, I’ve been discussing a couple different cases regarding police activity, and ensuring your civil rights are not violated. First was the case of Deven Guilford, a 17 year old in Michigan who was shot and killed by a Sherriff’s Deputy following a very minor traffic infraction.
Next up was an incident from a couple years ago with an unruly passenger resisting arrest by Sherriff’s Deputies aboard a US Airways flight from Ft. Lauderdale to Charlotte.
Law enforcement officers must have an articulable, reasonable suspicion that you have, are, or are about to commit a crime to detain you. That’s a far lower bar than the level of probably cause required to arrest you.
But here is the critical thing to remember should you wish to exercise your rights in an encounter with law enforcement.
The police are under absolutely no obligation to articulate that reasonable suspicion to you. They have to be able to articulate it to the court.
In the case of Deven Guilford, the Sherriff’s Deputy did in fact explain his grounds f0r detaining him. Just because Guilford didn’t like that reason, didn’t magically give him a right to ignore that. His mistake led to him making increasingly poor choices that lead to his own death.
Let’s talk a bit about the horrible woman on the airplane, as airlines are a special circumstance, and you should understand your rights.
To wit- you have none.
An airline has absolutely no obligation to actually allow you to fly. They can deny you service for any reason at all. And federal law makes it a crime to fail to follow the instructions of cabin crew. If the flight attendant tells you to hop on one foot and cluck like a chicken, well get hopping and clucking.
In this case, Ms. Bien-aime was told to turn off her cell phone. She apparently failed to do so after repeated instructions, leading the Captain to make the decision to return to the gate and ask for her removal. That’s entirely proper and within the scope of the airline’s authority.
Note, generally, airlines simply deny service. They don’t usually press charges, as it is inconvenient for them. In this case, the deputies ask, repeatedly for Ms. Bien-aime to leave the aircraft. That would have been the end of the incident. But she somehow thought she had a right to stay aboard, and force the airline to explain why she was being removed. And that stubborn refusal to abide by what the law actually says, and not her mistaken appreciation of it led, again, to an increasingly poor series of choices that led to her arrest on multiple charges, including resisting arrest with violence.
Know your rights, know the law, and remember, the time to actually fight for your rights is in the courtroom, armed with a lawyer, not in public against someone armed with a gun.