Rick Wiseman, an officer of the West Virginia State Police, has been charged of breaking into a family’s home without an arrest warrant and injuring them for supposedly hammering on a church door. When his conversation was filmed on camera and shared to social media, it generated the commotion and demand for his removal. Here are a few points on what happen and why it’s essential.
According to Fresherslive, the incident happened on February 2, 2023, when a guy driving down a street that was partially obstructed by traffic cones from a neighbouring church by the name of John Smith (not his real name). Smith decided to knock on the church’s door to request that they take down the cones because he found them annoying. He asserts that he didn’t disrupt the service or cause any other issues, though.
Trooper Wiseman, who had been requested by the church, contacted him as he was making his way back to his house. Wiseman accused Smith of committing a felony and questioned Smith about why he had pounded on the church door. Smith entered his home while denying any wrongdoing, but Wiseman followed him inside without a warrant or authorization.
In the footage, Smith is confronted by Wiseman in his living room. Wiseman demands his identification and makes arrest threats. Wiseman resists every time Smith asks him to leave his property and claims his rights; instead, Wiseman escalates his behaviour. When Smith tries to capture the exchange, he shouts at him for speaking loudly to him and slaps the phone out of his hand.
In the background, Wiseman can hear Smith’s wife and kids sobbing and pleading with him to stop. After asking for assistance, Wiseman eventually departs the house, but not before threatening to “rip this house apart” and promising to return with a warrant.
On social media sites like Reddit and TikTok, where many users voiced their fury and disgust at Wiseman’s behaviour, the video of the incident quickly became popular. They charged him with misusing his authority, breaching Smith’s rights under the constitution, and putting his family in risk. They demanded his dismissal, criminal charges, and the withdrawal of his qualified immunity.
A legal principle known as qualified immunity protects government employees from civil litigation unless they infringe on clearly established rights that a reasonable person would be aware they have violated. Numerous detractors contend that this theory permits police misbehaviour and impunity, while defenders assert that it shields officers from baseless lawsuits and helps them to perform their duties well.
Reddit claims that Trooper Wiseman joined the state police in 2018 and has a yearly pay of around $70,000. He might have also once been given a trooper of the year award. No government sources, nevertheless, have endorsed these specifics.
The incident and Wiseman’s condition have not yet been properly taken up by the West Virginia State Police or other appropriate authorities. It’s uncertain if his behaviour resulted in a disciplinary action, study, or penalties. It is also unknown if Smith has complained to him or the state police or brought any legal actions.
Trooper Wiseman’s and John Smith’s encounter is not an isolated instance of police misbehaviour or misuse of authority. It fits into a larger pattern of widespread systemic racism, violence, and corruption that affects law enforcement organisations all around the nation. It also demonstrates how a dearth of transparency, duty, and oversight enable such incidents to take place and go unpunished.
The incident additionally highlights worries regarding the significance of religion in public life and the merging of the two. Why did the church put up cones to block the street? Why did they dial 911 when Smith rang their doorbell? Why did Wiseman treat Smith like a criminal while taking the church’s side? Which impact does this take on those with democratic rights and liberties who are opposed to the church’s religion or worldview?
These are a few of the challenges that require to be solved in order to prevent comparable occurrences from recurring down the road and to be sure that everyone harmed receives justice. Even though Trooper Wiseman is only one police officer, he symbolises a larger issue that concerns us all.