Police Officer Patrick Larrison | Use of Force Issues
A Case Study
A police officer with the Phoenix Police Department of Arizona physically assaulted a 15-year-old teenage girl while responding to a call regarding a disturbance at a school she attended. Officer Patrick Larrison is a 6-year veteran with said law enforcement agency and is under investigation for the incident and his involvement in it. The outstanding issue of debate is whether the use of force was necessary, justified and ethically-abiding.
The events occurred on January 25, 2011 on the parking lot of the Ombudsman Charter School on 40th Street and Thomas Road in Phoenix, Arizona. A teenage girl, whose name was not released, was reportedly drinking and sharing alcohol inside the school. She has allegedly assaulted a teacher as well. The Phoenix Police Department was called and Officer Larrison heeded the call. Larrison, along with other officers, arrived at the school only to find the teenage suspect wrestling on the ground of the parking lot with another female; her mother, who was the one that contacted the police for assistance.
The teen girl began to walk away from the officers when they approached her. Officer Larrison followed after her and closed the distance between them by rushing and performing a technique referred to by the police as an “impact push”, but a former sergeant of the Phoenix Police Department, Paul Penzone, calls it a “tactical hit”. Such move violent hurled the teen into the concrete wall and her head slammed the pavement below. The teen suspect appeared nonresponsive for a few seconds and Officer Larrison placed her on mechanical restraints in the form of handcuffs behind her back. She is then taken into custody and charged with aggravated assault on the school staff member.
I was doing a general search on You Tube for videos on the subject of police abuse and found footage depicting this incident. An eye witness was recording the teen’s altercation with her mother in front of the school and happened to catch the officer’s action towards the young suspect. This person anonymously uploaded the video on YouTube in March of 2011 and a member of the Phoenix Police Department watched and reported it. The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office was made aware of the video according to Phoenix Police spokesman Sergeant Trent Crump.
Officer Larrison was found to not have any history of force or any incidents where the use of force was invoked according to their police department’s professional standards bureau. Former Phoenix Police sergeant, Paul Penzone, said that the “use of force may very well have been justified; it does not mean that it was the most appropriate or necessary use of it. That is what the police must decide.” However, another retired member of law enforcement, Richard Lichten, now a Police Practices Expert, called the video and use of force “disturbing” and added that he “didn’t see the girl resisting the officer” or “didn’t see where the officer gave the opportunity for her to comply with any orders, so it’s very troubling…”
Officer Larrison had been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of both an internal and criminal investigations as sparked by the video footage. No further developments on this case or investigation are available as of recently in the media. It is my assumption that the findings of the inquest are yet to be compiled and released to the public. Furthermore, and based what has been studied in class thus far, it appears as though Officer Larrison’s actions are in connection to Kant’s Theory of Ethical Guidelines. Larrison’s nature of actions are examined rather than the outcome achieved where the “means justifies the end.”
Arizona State Legislature found in Title 13, Article 7, Section 3881(B) of its Criminal Code, states that “No unnecessary or unreasonable force shall be used in making an arrest, and the person arrested shall not be subjected to any greater restraint than necessary for his detention.” Penzone predicts that based on what he knows; Officer Larrison should not obtain “severe disciplinary action”, but rather “require some additional training” at the very least.
Duell, M. (5 May 2011). Smackdown: Police Officer ‘takes out drunk girl, 15, outside school in violent attack. UK Daily Mail Online. Retrieved from
King, J. (5 May 2011). Phoenix Police Officer Patrick Larrison, Apparent Bully With a Badge, Caught on Tape Body Slamming 15-Year-Old Girl into Wall. Phoenix New Times. Retrieved from http://blogs.phoenixnewtimes.com/valleyfever/2011/05/phoenix_police_officer_patrick.php.
Holdsworth, A. (5 May 2011). Former PHX sergeant says officer’s use of force on teen may have been justified. ABC 15 Everything Arizona. Retrieved from http://www.abc15.com/dpp/news/region_phoenix_metro/central_phoenix/former-phx-sergeant-says-officer's-use-of-force-on-teen-may-have-been-justified.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tu-shg_yirY&feature=related. 15 year old knocked out by cop. YouTube. 6 May 2011.
Title 13 Article 7 Section 3881
State of Arizona Statues – Criminal Code