Iowa Picture

GunPundit points to a picture I’ve seen making the rounds through forums and what not.  It shows an Iowa police officer holding a gun on a driver.  I’ve variously seen this attributed to police enforcing a checkpoint with excessive force.  Didn’t blog about it when I first saw it, because we had no context.   Well, here’s the context:

After being denied re-entry to a flooded neighborhood, Rick Blazek, 53, returned to his vehicle as a state trooper used his police vehicle to block the checkpoint, according to the news release.

“Blazek drove his vehicle toward the state trooper and struck the state trooper three times with his vehicle,” the release said.

Police told Blazek to get out of his vehicle, and when he refused, “the driver’s window was broken out because the doors were locked and Blazek was removed from his vehicle,” according to the release.

The trooper was not injured. Blazek, who was arrested and charged with assault on a peace officer with a deadly weapon, could not be immediately reached for comment.

The trooper in question was fully justified in drawing his pistol on the driver as they took him into custody.  Cars are deadly weapons.  Whether or not the police were justified in keeping a man from his home isn’t material.  You’re allowed to use force to overcome an unlawful restraint (different from kidnapping), but not deadly force.

Whether or not one can be kept from one’s home is a matter of emergency powers provisions under the Iowa Code, which seem to allow for “Control ingress and egress to and from a disaster area, the movement of persons within the area, and the occupancy of premises in such area.” and “A peace officer, when in full and distinctive uniform or displaying a badge or other insignia of authority, may arrest without a warrant any person violating or attempting to violate in such officer’s presence any order or rule, made pursuant to this chapter. This authority shall be limited to those rules which affect the public generally.”

So under the Iowa Code, the governor can prevent persons from entering a declare disaster area, and the police are empowered to enforce edicts issued under the Governor’s disaster powers.

18 thoughts on “Iowa Picture”

  1. ‘Tis the law and all, but a dumb one at that. If I wish to enter a disaster area, I should be allowed to with the understanding that emergency services will not be available provided I get myself into a jam. Unless my entering a specific area has the distinct ability to harm others, it should be “Halt. You can’t go in here”, “I’m going anyway”, “Your life, dumb ass. Have any next of kin I should notify?”

    However, running over ANYONE, cop or not, who is not threatening your life should result in the immediate cancellation of the next season of your life.

  2. Yes. I wasn’t suggesting it was a good law, but it’s law enough to get you into trouble for assaulting a police officer trying to enforce it.

  3. as someone who has lived in neighborhoods that were devastated by disaster, i can understand why they remove everyone…

    you may have downed wires, unsafe structures, unsafe roads, fires, gas leaks, and potentially dangerous animals that have been scared… all of those are potential threats to yourself…

    but there is one other problem… what happens if the cops let people into a neighborhood and houses get looted? i would argue that because the cops are maintaining the checkpoint, that they are liable for losses…

    im kinda torn on this one…

  4. OK, not sure about the driver’s window, but the cop sure as hell ain’t trying to break it, that’s the passenger’s window. The “report” is from the cops in this case, so it’s STILL only one side of the story.

    In terms of the force, he attempted to go AROUND the checkpoint when the officer pulled a gun, and I’d be willing to bet stepped into his path as an attempt to force him to stop. IF he stepped in front of the truck the officer escalated the force level beyond that of 1 step above what was being used against him.

    Under Iowa code in this case 83 of the 99 counties of that state should have been evacuated.

    Now, assuming the police release was accurate, ramming the cop 3 times was not a smart move, but pushing is not the same as ramming or running over. If “deadly force” included those things then police would never be allowed to touch someone as the human body can kill someone.

    We’ve seen time and time again people being forcibly removed, property being seized, people being relocated with insane strings attached. The government does NOT exist to be your parent, or you keeper, or your voice of reason. It has one reason to exist, to protect our rights and freedoms.

    If the guy wants to return to HIS property fine. Escort his ass over there and leave him. You’re on your own now, no help will be given. If he is seen anywhere else or doing anything illegal, say looting, you take him in. Otherwise just come out and say you have no rights to property, or anything else for that matter and be done with it.

  5. You’re a Second Amendment blog and you support police who are ready to shoot a citizen because he wants to get back to his flooded home? Like Tom above mentions, I’d bet the officer stepped into the path of the truck. I doubt Blazek was some deranged crim trying to go all Deathrace 2000 on the officers. Just more evidence of the authoritarian crackdown in American society. Wake up and smell the fascism, mate!

  6. The law says the police can enforce evacuation zones. That means the officer is legally empowered to restrain your movement to that effect. If you try to push past a checkpoint with your car by bumping your car into a cop, you’re assaulting a police officer. In Pennsylvania, that would be aggravated assault, and an automobile is a deadly weapon if someone who seems intent on running your checkpoint actually decides “fuck it” and runs you over.

    I mean, what’s a cop to do? It’s his duty to prevent people from doing that. Whether or not the law that he’s enforcing is a good one or not is something to take up with your state representatives. You don’t contest the law by running over a cop!

  7. I also agree that the officer quite obviously escalated level of force inappropriately by stepping in front of the vehicle. Don’t get me wrong, my sister was involved in a justified shooting as a Milwaukee cop when some guy tried to run her over after they cornered him during a high-speed chase, so I understand that cars can be deadly weapons. I just think that any cop stupid enough to try to block a truck with his body (and not a parked squad) deserves to get run over; my family members included.

    Were this to have happened in my neighborhood (and it very nearly did last week) I would have used more tact by incursion on foot, instead of trying to drive around a checkpoint in front of LEOs.

    Now, look at the Reservists in the background of that picture – they are responding properly. “He drove around, I guess if he’s caught looting he’ll be shot to death, or if he’s found in his house or at a checkpoint, he’ll be arrested.”

  8. Oh, and to be clear, I’m not advocating running over cops to contest laws, either, I’m just saying that this was a poor enforcement decision by the cop, and it very nearly cost him (and a citizen) his life.

    If it turns out that this man intentionally tried to run the cop over, then fine, the response was correct. But let’s be honest: no one intends to hit a pedestrian with a truck three times and doesn’t succeed in running them over completely.

  9. Were this to have happened in my neighborhood (and it very nearly did last week) I would have used more tact by incursion on foot, instead of trying to drive around a checkpoint in front of LEOs.

    That’s what I would have done. Keep trying different ways to get in by car, and if that doesn’t work, sneak in on foot.

  10. Oh, and to be clear, I’m not advocating running over cops to contest laws, either, I’m just saying that this was a poor enforcement decision by the cop, and it very nearly cost him (and a citizen) his life.

    To be clear, if it turns out he tried to skirt the checkpoint, and the cop stepped in front of the vehicle and drew his pistol, then the cop was using excessive force. But various reports say the guy ran into the cop with his vehicle. Even if he didn’t do it at high speed, the cop doesn’t know that he won’t.

    The distinction between this and what one of us would encounter, is we don’t have an affirmative duty to enforce the blockade, and to take law breakers into custody. In the case of someone threatening with a vehicle, we can merely step out of the way. If the officers were intent on taking the driver into custody, they had to arrest the vehicle to get to the driver, and most state laws allow for peace officers to exercise reasonable force in making arrests. One could argue this wasn’t reasonable, but if the circumstances were as described, I doubt you’d get a jury to agree.

  11. In short, Robb’s 3rd Theorem of Bad Judgment states

    One asshole doing something stupid plus another asshole doing something stupid inevitably leads to a situation where you’d just like to dump both assholes in the middle of the Pacific and forget about them

    And applies to this situation just fine.

  12. I don’t think the law is that bad. People on the board are saying the police should have let him go to his house, as long as he recognizes the dangers, and if he gets in trouble than its his own fault. All well and good since it’s just one guy. But what if the entire town wanted to go back? The whole point of them being evacuated is that it’s a disaster zone. How are you going to keep track of them all? Assign a cop to each one? I don’t think they’re that many. And that nonsense that if they get hurt well than that’s too bad – c’mon! You’re risking more lives sending emergency services in after the guy. (which btw, they are obligated to do)

  13. Frank, the only argument that I can think of where the safety of person X is of any concern to you or I is if {random number} of people enter a disaster area and that taxes the emergency personnel to the point where they cannot provide services to those who did not willingly put themselves into harms way.

    I doubt that is ever the case. I’d be willing to bet the number of people who enter a disaster area to take care of their own stuff is minimal and any problems associated with their reentry is statistical noise. In fact, looters don’t worry too much about it since they’re guaranteed no one else will be there.

    I simply do not believe it requires the use of lethal force to prevent people from doing something that might be dangerous.

  14. I guess it all depends on how you would define “minimal”. One, two, sure. What about 10 or 20? and so on.

    But I agree the amount of force the police used was excessive

  15. I’ve thought about this, the government interest in public health and Joe Huffman’s “Jews in the Attic Test”.

    My feelings are: If you wish to stay with your property as disaster ensues then you should be free to do so. You may have someone in the attic that you are protecting. You may have to forego later rescue due to your decision.

    However, once having left, the State does have a compelling interest in preventing you from returning because if you die on a public street on the way to your private property then your rotting corpse may contribute to polluting other people’s private and public property.

    There, you now have a balanced state and personal view to satisfy libertarians.

    About the cop and the pickup driver. Two wrongs don’t make a right. The driver was wrong to try to drive through a cop with a gun. The cop was wrong to place himself in the path of the vehicle. The cop was not threatened with lethal force until he did step in front of the truck.

    A stupid analogy: you walk past a cop who is not in your path. The cop says “Stop, by state law I say you cannot proceed without showing government ID.” You, knowing the Supreme Court opinions about demands for ID, and feeling that you have no reason not to proceed about your lawful business, continue walking. The cop steps in front of you and you step on his foot. Have you just “assaulted an officer”? Do NBA rules apply or municipal rules giving police commands unlimited authority?

    We live in a police state when it is illegal to ignore a cop no matter the situation.
    The example I will give is the Jerseyville, IL teenage who died after multiple taser usages. His crime: Ignoring a cop’s order to stop proselytizing in the street.

    At least some of us are getting old enough that years of rock music, unmuffled trucks, noisy computer rooms, not to mention shotguns and revolvers can plead hearing impairment. If we survive the initial shock treatments.

  16. It was reported by the Cedar Rapids media that he was caught twice for sneaking into his house before this incident took place. That particular checkpoint has been a mcf since they started. Show up, shut up, wait your turn, get lost without seeing your home for three days now. The city is overwhelmed but when you push people around sometimes they push back.

    And he tried to go around the checkpoint, not through it. A distinction that probably doesn’t mean much. That gives me the suspicion that the trooper stepped in front of the truck. I wasn’t there, so I’m only guessing.

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