Marshall Frank is a retired captain from
the Metro-Dade Police Department in
Miami, Florida, where he spent the
majority of his thirty years investigating
murders or commanding those
The fine line between a cop doing one’s
duty or overdoing his duty is once again
in the grip of Monday morning
quarterbacks to judge. Meanwhile, a pair
of police careers are on the line. Two Los
Angeles cops are being investigated by
federal authorities for their conduct in the
arrest of a wanted felon back in August
of this year.After running from police, the
thief was taken to the ground. As the
cops tried to restrain him, it appears he
resisted. It also appears he was a
A bystander’s video depicted one officer
punching the man in the face while his
arms were being held. The amateur video
showed up on YouTube.com and then
found its way into major newspapers
and, of course, network television for all
Turns out, the suspect, William
Cardenas, 24, is an alleged member of an
L.A. gang with a past record for
attempted murder and carrying a
concealed weapon. And now, the watch
dogs want the cops jailed.
In my 30 years on the job in Miami-Dade,
I was never accused of brutality. In truth,
I was less physically adept than many of
my comrades and knew my limitations.
But there was one incident which, if
videotaped today, would probably have
landed me in the midst of a similar
We had just arrested Big Tony Esperti
for a Mafia killing at a Miami Beach night
club. Esperti was well known in crime
circles, big and mean, a former
heavyweight boxer who once lost to
Cassius Clay and a known killer. At 245
pounds, he towered and powered over
me and my partners.
Upon advice of his mob lawyer, Esperti
refused our request to let us swab his
hands for gunpowder. We had the law on
our side, so we decided to use whatever
force was necessary. He resisted. The
brute threw the three of us around like
rag dolls. My partners grabbed his arms
and took him to the floor where he
wrestled us all. We were about to lose
this fight. Not only that, we feared
Esperti escaping. Adrenalin surged. We,
the cops, were afraid.
In a moment when the other detectives
were on the floor grappling with his arms,
sweating, panting, I stood up and kicked
him in the testicles. How’s that for a mea
culpa? Then I leaned with all of my 180
pounds into his groin with bended knee.
Voila, the job got done. Esperti instantly
turned pussycat. His hand yielded a flake
of fresh gunpowder.
Good thing YouTube.com and CNN
wasn’t around then. My police career
would have ended, and all the good I
ever did for many years would have gone
Such is the case that these two officers
are now facing. I watched the video with
interest. Clearly, Cardenas was a tough
and rugged young man who elected to
resist once he was taken to the ground.
Cardenas had powerful arms, which
presented a daunting task to the two
cops trying to restrain him lest they be
injured in the fray. Cops are ever aware
that their firearm is a tempting lure to
such nutcakes in a fighting situation.
When the one officer saw that the
grappling effort was going nowhere, he
reared back and punched the felon in the
face, in an attempt to subdue. From
everything I saw, it was totally justified,
and the media is dead wrong for
replaying the video over and over and
over again, as though they were
airplanes ramming the World Trade
Center, in order to create controversy
and sway public opinion.
Police Chief William Bratton said he that
found the video “disturbing” but stressed
that the 20-second clip amounts to only
a fraction of what transpired.
The Los Angeles Times since reported
that a Superior Court commissioner
viewed the video nearly two months ago,
heard the officers’ testimony and
concluded their conduct was “more than
reasonable” because Cardenas was
The trends are frightening. More than
ever, police officers in the U.S. are
becoming the targets of federal
investigations in order to grease the
squeaky wheel, particularly where
minorities are involved.
Stephanie Mohr was a decorated K-9
officer for the Prince George’s County P.
D. One night, she was called to a scene
where two illegal aliens were caught at 1
a.m. atop an office building. As the two
thieves were surrounded at ground level,
she claims it appeared one of the
Guatemalans made a move as if to start
running. She released the dog. The thief
Prosecutors said it wasn’t justified. One
cop, in need of a special favor, turned
state’s evidence and testified against the
female cop. The feds went after her with
a vengeance, claiming she was a bigot
and released the dog for folly. It took
two trials. The devoted mother of a small
boy is now spending 10 years of her life
in a federal prison … for a dog bite.
It’s out of hand. The numbers of
incidents of good police officers who have
become targets on the federal firing line
are too many to list in one short article.
The trend is clear: Cops represent a
prosecutor’s plum in cases where a fine
line exists between performing a duty or
committing a crime.
Not a blind defender of wayward officers,
I’ll be the first who will lambast brutal or
crooked cops. The last arrest I ever made
was that of five other police officers who
had beaten a man to death. No regrets.
But it’s a national disgrace when drug
smugglers, crooks, rats and social
parasites are coddled while civil heros are
buried away in prison cells in order to
satisfy a vocal minority. Police officers
today are ever wary, not of criminals but
of the convoluted legal system they work
within. In confrontation situations, who
can blame them when — given an option
— it’s more prudent to do nothing rather
than face the standing army of
condemnation. And in the long run, it’s
we, the citizens, who lose.
And we wonder why thousands of police
departments have such a hard time
recruiting. Voracious prosecutors and
sensational media should heed a
message: When a nation turns on its
protectors, so goes the nation.
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