What has been a relatively sedate contest for Commonwealth’s Attorney in Arlington/Falls Church ratcheted up the volume a few notches this morning. On its Facebook page a couple hours ago, the Arlington Police Beneficiary Association posted a joint statement with the Arlington Coalition of Police, stating:
“Arlington Commonwealth’s Attorney candidate Parisa Dehghani-Tafti is falsely accusing an ACPD officer of police brutality. She should be ashamed and owes that officer and all the men and women of the Department an apology.”
What prompted this, apparently, was a mailer from the Tafti campaign/”Justice and Public Safety PAC” (see screen shot, below, and click to enlarge), which went after incumbent Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos for having “Refused to prosecute police officers in cases of brutality.” One of the cases they footnote was reported by the Washington Post in May 2015. According to the WaPo:
The disturbance led Arlington officers to the Gates of Ballston complex, where around 11 a.m. they encountered the son in his residence, police said. One officer received a serious gash across his face, a second was Tasered, the mother suffered minor injuries, and Alfredo Rials-Torres, 54, was shot in the chest by police.
Police have not described how the encounter unfolded. Rials-Torres was pronounced dead at Virginia Hospital Center shortly after.
“I heard three shots,” said Reyna Duarte, who lives in a neighboring building. “They brought the guy out, bleeding from his chest.”
Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck said that the officer who had been cut was in surgery Tuesday afternoon but that his injuries were not life-threatening.
Also see ArlNow, which reports:
The incident in question involved an officer who shot a 54-year-old man three times on May 19, 2015, during a domestic violence call, after the man struck the officer in the face with a metal bar.
An investigation into the incident ruled that the deadly force was justified, and cleared the officer of criminal charges.
Now, of course, we know there have been numerous incidents of police brutality in this country. But Arlington County’s police department has a superb reputation for professionalism, does a great job from everything I’ve heard and observed over the years. Also, based on the reports on this incident, plus the investigation which found that the officer in this case “‘acted consistent with ACPD policies governing use of force’ and his actions were ‘justifiable and necessary to defend himself and others present,'” this one doesn’t at all sound like police brutality to me. To the contrary.
Politically speaking, we’ll see how this plays out – including how the Tafti campaign responds – but clearly this mailer has not pleased Arlington County police, to put it mildly, which probably makes them doubly motivated to defeat Tafti and reelect Stamos on June 11. Stay tuned…
P.S. I like and respect both Parisa Tafti and Theo Stamos, and am undecided who I’m going to vote for on June 11, but I’m not a fan of this specific accusation against the Arlington County Police, as it doesn’t seem at all warranted.
UPDATE 12 pm – See below for a statement from the Tafti campaign.