A panel on CNN’s “Legal View” today erupted into a shoutdown over an incident in which police in Hammond, Indiana, used a Taser to remove a man from a car during a traffic stop. The incident took place on Sept. 24 and was captured on videotape: 47-year-old Lisa Mahone was pulled over for failing to wear a seat belt while a friend, Jamal Jones, and her two children, ages 14 and 7, were passengers.
Hammond officers asked Jones, who is black, for ID and asked him to get out of the car. He refused. After much back-and-forth, a police officer broke the passenger-side window and tased Jones as they pulled him from car. He was arrested for resisting law enforcement and refusal to aid an officer, according to an account in the Chicago Tribune.
The case has drawn a federal lawsuit that accuses the officers of “malice” and “reckless conduct.” The videotape, which was recorded by Mahone’s 14-year-old son, is chilling, especially the crying reaction of Mahone’s 7-year-old daughter to the officer’s breaking of the passenger-side window.
So it’s no wonder that Ashleigh Banfield’s noontime CNN program would take up the story. After running through the specifics, legal analyst Paul Callan noted that the police were legally protected in taking the actions they did.
Sunny Hostin, another legal analyst, agreed that Callan may be right on the technicalities but suggested in a passionate monologue that there’s much more to this one: “This family was tortured for over 13 minutes, those children were traumatized and guess what? The law as it stands right now probably protects the police officers’ actions. As a woman of color, I don’t know what to do because this could happen to me, this could happen to my child, this could happen to my father, this could happen to my husband. What do we do about the inherent racism that we’re seeing over and over and over again in these United States in these traffic stops?”
Callan jumped in: There’s no evidence here that this is a race incident.
Hostin: Give me a break. This is about race. Give me a break, Paul.
Callan: If there was a white family…
Hostin: This wouldn’t have happened. This would not have happened.
Callan: You have no idea.
Hostin: I do have an idea, because I live in the United States as the person that I am.
Callan: Listen, it’s wrong, it shouldn’t have happened, but to turn everything into a racial issue….
Hostin: It’s not everything, but this is. This is. This is.
Callan: Legally, the cops can ask you for ID, can ask you to get out of the car.
Hostin: If you were with your family in that car, this would not have happened, period.
Host Banfield concluded the discussion by saying that both Hostin and Callan were right. What nonsense that was: They were arguing quite opposite sides of an issue. What the segment didn’t do was leave enough time to discuss all the research regarding racial profiling and traffic stops.