We need to reckon with police lies not only as a form of individual misconduct but as a matter of political speech.
by Nia T. Evans, Boston Review
Last October a horrifying story saturated local news in Philadelphia. A woman had been sexually assaulted on a train while surrounded by other passengers, and according to police, the onlookers saw the attack but did nothing to stop it. Speaking to the press, both police and officials from SEPTA, the regional rail authority, denounced the passengers for refusing to help the woman and instead recording the attack. “It speaks to where we are in society,” the local police superintendent lamented. “I mean, who would allow something like that to take place?”
But less than a week later, the story changed.
The local district attorney, Jack Stollsteimer, found that the police version of events was “simply not true” and pointed to a more complicated story: passengers moving on and off the train without clear awareness of the assault happening in their midst. Investigators confirmed that at least one person took a video of the attack, but they did so in order to document the incident as evidence for law enforcement.
Facing growing public outcry, the prosecutor and local police ...