Restrained in a Bar


A majority of the outcry against the peace officers and their conduct at the Rainbow Lounge, alleging that excessive force was used against patrons.

In the course of administering duties as peace officers, the use of force is at times necessary. Were police officers not able to use force in the detention or arrest of suspected lawbreakers, they would not be able to uphold a safe environment for the public. When suspected lawbreakers are unruly, engage in threatening or harmful actions, or actively resist being taken into custody or handcuffed, it is both appropriate and necessary to use force.

When a suspect engages in actions that necessitate the use of force, they sometimes contribute to a situation where minor injuries can occur, including bruises, sprains, and strains. The injured are assumed under the law to have contributed to their own injury, because had their actions not necessitated the use of force, those injuries would never have been suffered.

The Texas Penal Code, Title 2, Chapter 9, Subchapter E, Section 9.51 provides for the legal use of force:

Sec. 9.51. ARREST AND SEARCH. (a) A peace officer, or a person acting in a peace officer's presence and at his direction, is justified in using force against another when and to the degree the actor reasonably believes the force is immediately necessary to make or assist in making an arrest or search, or to prevent or assist in preventing escape after arrest, if:

(1) the actor reasonably believes the arrest or search is lawful or, if the arrest or search is made under a warrant, he reasonably believes the warrant is valid; and

(2) before using force, the actor manifests his purpose to arrest or search and identifies himself as a peace officer or as one acting at a peace officer's direction, unless he reasonably believes his purpose and identity are already known by or cannot reasonably be made known to the person to be arrested.
In chapter 18 of the TCLEOSE (The Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education) Basic Peace Officer Course, it is taught that intoxication is a risk factor when determining appropriate response, and explains that as the situation necessitates, a variety of weaponless strategies can be employed to restrain a resisting suspect. These include:
  • touching,
  • joint-locking,
  • pressure points,
  • hand strikes and foot strikes,
  • and blocks against hands, arms and legs.
The same course teaches that as appropriate, handcuffing can be performed in any of the following positions:
  • standing,
  • sitting,
  • prone, or
  • kneeling.
Witness statements that allude to a patron's head being pushed back are merely describing the use by a peace officer of pressure points in order to restrain. The photograph that shows a man being handcuffed on the ground demonstrates a proper handcuffing technique. Neither of these scenarios represent any use of excessive force.

Questions have arisen over why patrons were not charged with resisting arrest. First, it is important to illustrate that there is a difference between resisting arrest and resisting being handcuffed. The first is an active threat of the suspect starting a fight with the peace officer; the other is physical resistance that is dangerous but not threatening. Many peace officers believe that intoxicated persons are able to learn a lesson simply by being charged with public intoxication. They understand that intoxicated persons may have a fight or flight instinct, and will both regret and learn from their actions once they regain full mental capacity. By not adding an additional charge, peace officers are able to prevent a suspect from facing a more serious crime.

The specific case of Chad Gibson is discussed in a later section.

Disclaimer: The information posted on this site has not been prepared or approved by any police agency, police association, or legal or law enforcement professional. It has been compiled through research of already available information and should not be relied upon as legal advice or as findings of an investigation.

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