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  • sheknows

    Is this police chief for real?? There is only one side to this story and he knows it. His officers clearly made a bad decision based on racial profiling. Who is he trying to kid? Maybe keep the much deserved civil suit and ugly publicity at bay by calling it a “draw”, saying they were BOTH equally to blame.
    Wow, I wouldn’t be calling that Police chief any “friend” of mine ever again.

  • rudi

    This would be worse if the man wasn’t a firefighter. racism in the North and Midwest is just as bad as in the South.

  • The_Ohioan

    Maybe that police department could arrange for eyesight tests for all their personnel. Apparently they can’t see (physically or psychologically) the difference between a wave and a flip.

    Is it a racist attitude? Would they have misconstrued a wave for a flip if the biker were not black? The answer seems obvious – but I could be mistaken.

  • zusa1

    This article is in the Daily Mail. Every time I link to a Daily Mail article, I get slammed for referring to a “tabloid” (paraphrasing here). Glad I won’t have that problem anymore. 🙂

    “He called me yesterday afternoon right after the incident happened,” Evansville Police Department Chief Billy Bolin said. “Said he was on his bicycle, went through a stop sign, saw a police car and said that he waved at the officers, but he thinks the officers thought he was flipping him off.”

    Chief Bolin, who is friends with Madison, says the incident is now under investigation.

    “I know him, I like him. I know the officers involved, I like the officers involved. So, my job is to try to figure out the truth no matter who you like,” Chief Bolin said.

    In a Facebook post, the youth pastor and member of the fire department’s combat challenge team says he doesn’t think race had anything to do with what happened.

    Madison says the stop seemed to be more of a personal issue than a professional one.

    Based on what I have read so far, I think the officers saw the bike rider run the stop sign. The bike rider then saw the officers and waved an apology for having not stopped. The officers misinterpreted the gesture as an FU, and things went south from there.

  • KP

    I am not trying to figure out if the George flipped off the cop or not. Maybe George was already into the intersection on his bike and the cop car almost ran him over because he wasn’t paying attention. More than a few cyclist would flip off the driver (even a cop) in that case.

    Second, we don’t know if the cop would have pulled over a white cyclist after he thought he got flipped off. I am guessing this guy would. I had a cop pull me over on my bike not long ago and he was very unpleasant and literally threatened to take me to the station. Until I shut up. I could have easily escalated the situation. Instead, I swallowed my pride and let it play out and it was diffused.

    The captain is right to find out what happened. I know of cops and firefighters and preachers, who break the law and lie. BTW, if you are on a sidewalk as the subject of a cop stop, don’t go fishing in your pocket to make a phone call that is threatening to the cop. You are inviting trouble. It is probably a good idea to listen up before you start making phone calls to the police chief. That call was _before_ he was handcuffed.

    The real point, to me, is that the cop should have kept on driving whether he thought he was flipped off or not. This type of police action is what we see from cholos or gang bangers; somebody looks at them wrong or disrespects them and there has to be reciprocation because they were dissed. Cops shouldn’t be doing that.

  • sheknows

    Thank you KP. ” the real point to me was that the cop should have kept on driving whether he thought he was flipped off or not”. Exactly.
    That is why I say the police chief has got to be kidding with this. It is wrong…on several levels.

  • zusa1

    The officers put in their police report that the bike rider had run the stop sign. I haven’t read anywhere if the bike rider agreed that he had. Running a stop sign, even on a bike is a traffic violation, so it wasn’t just the misunderstood wave that precipitated the stop.

  • KP

    Thanks for context ZUSAI. I didn’t see it before I posted. Like I have been saying; hold off on the racist stuff folks.

    As far as the cop pulling him over: The cop had to. You cannot run a stop sign on your bike! I have done it and it is a $186 dollar ticket. Cops and drivers are rightly furious at cyclist who disobey traffic laws and there are bodies in the morgue to show us why. My apologies to the cop.

    Sounds like the firefighter was wrong on several counts (flipping or no flipping).

  • The_Ohioan

    Read The Courier report that is linked from the daily mail. It gives a fuller account.

    Mr. Madison agree he was going to run the stop sign, then the police car coming from the opposite direction turned left sharply in front of him and stopped.

    Mr. Madison has filed a formal complaint which is why the chief doesn’t want to say much – he’s waiting for the internal investigation to be completed.

    It is easy to jump to conclusions when half the facts are missing. As always, context is everything.

  • jdledell

    zusa1 – It is unclear whether the bike went through the stop sign since the police car turned in front of the bike. Plus the police NEVER ticketed the man for a traffic offense.

    I have NEVER had a pleasant experience with any policeman. I have one traffic ticket 51 years ago and never been arrested. I would NEVER call police under any circumstances. I would never trust them to do the right thing. Let me explain my few interfaces with police.
    1 – When we lived in Boston, one evening I was working late at the office and on the Mass Pike on my way home at 9:30 I came across a sobriety checkpoint. I pulled over in the line and cut my engine. After about 10 minutes a cop came up to the car and told me to get out of the car for a sobriety check. I got out and told the cop, I needed my crutches in the back seat. I was holding onto the car door so I could stand up. He yanked me forward, used his legs to sweep me off my feet face down on the pavement, knee in my back and handcuffed. He then took my handcuffed arms lifted me up and slammed me against the car. A superior officer came over as a result of the ruckus and I explained to him about the crutches. He looked in the back seat and saw them. He then leaned over and smelled my breath which had zero alcohol and told the first cop to let me go. Not content with his mistake, the first cop then twisted my right arm so badly I could not use it for days and twisted the handcuffs so they gouged big grooves on my wrists.

    2 – One Thanksgiving,my son and his roommate form MIT were down for the holiday. While the turkey was cooking the two of them played frisbee in our front yard. Suddenly two police cars come roaring up the driveway jumping out of their cars and running into the front yard and grabbing the two boys. The police said they had a report of suspicious people in the neighborhood. I thought this would be easy to solve the misunderstanding. WRONG!! I told the police it was my son and his roommate. They said the boys had to show ID. Neither one had a driver’s license (they were Geeks) and they left their MIT ID’s in their dorm room. No proof of ID, off to jail they must go. My wife is out there showing pictures of my son from her scrapbooks. Family photos were not good enough ID. Fortunately, my attorney lives 3 blocks away and was able to convince the police they had no legal leg to stand on and if they did not release the boys from the back seat of their car, it was going to cost the town big money. We eventually got an apology from the mayor and police chief but no penalty for the officers.

    3 – One day two detectives show up at my front door saying they had questions for me. I invited them in and we sat in the living room and they said they were investigating a claim of child abuse against a neighbor who lives about 200 yards away. They asked me if I had heard kids screaming and/or crying. I said no, I had not. All of a sudden they got real huffy and asked me why I was protecting the neighbor – did I not like kids etc. I tried to explain my house has concrete walls 12 inches thick and I don’t hear leaf blowers or lawnmowers either. They then told me I was going to be booked as a “material witness” and then maybe my memory would return. Thank goodness again for my attorney who came riding to the rescue again.

    4 – There have been numerous other incidents, not quite so dramatic, but deeply unsettling. Here is what I mean about not calling police for any assistance. About 1:00 this afternoon, my wife and I heard our front door open. I grabbed a baseball bat I keep handy and zoomed out in my power wheelchair to the foyer and standing there is a complete stranger with an empty cloth grocery bag in his hand. He apologized saying he thought our place was a museum. I zoomed forward with my bat and he ran off. While this was happening my wife did not call 911 because we both knew the police would find a way to make it our problem.

  • dduck

    With those expereiences can’t blame you for being wary of any dealings with cops. I hope these incidents which you and others experience are not typical and done by the bad ill trained and supervised branch of copdom. Sorry.

  • zusa1


    Not good experiences and I fully understand why you feel the way you do. I don’t want to go into details because the incident involved a family member and not myself, but I also am fully aware of how quickly someone can go from being treated as a member of the community being protected, to a member of the group the community is being protected from, without enough care as to which group the person actually belongs.

    I am glad you and your wife are safe. (you might want to take the “Museum” sign down off the front of your house though 🙂 )

  • KP

    I happy to say I have never had a less than cordial interaction with police officers unless I had a hand in it. The one I referenced above was after I ran a stop sign on my bike and protested. It diffused when I stopped protesting. I was wrong.

    Another was when I was pulled over for speeding. I parked in a relatively remote side street and got out of my car before he came to my window. Bad move. Best to stay seated with hands on the wheel at 10 and 2 so they can see them. I was wrong.

    As a sole proprietor I have had great relationships with the guys on that beat. I saw all of the police officers as patients at no charge. Their job is hard enough without my impatience and frustration making it worse.

  • JSpencer

    I don’t know why anyone would automatically trust the cops in this country anymore. I have blue eyes, blond hair, and am pretty much a model citizen but I’ve still had enough negative experiences to reinforce my sense of distrust. I just lump it in with all the rest of the dumbing down that goes on in this country.

  • StockBoyLA

    What horrible experiences people have with cops. Thanks for sharing, all.

    Unfortunately even guilty criminals claim they are innocent when confronted with cops. Not that I’m condoning the cops’ poor behavior but I agree with KP; “Their job is hard enough….”. Sometimes when you’re used to seeing so much evil and you’re looking for evil that’s all you see when dealing with good people.

    Fortunately my experiences with cops (one speeding ticket and pulled over a couple times for random sobriety checks) have been non-eventful. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that my luck continues.

  • zusa1

    “Sometimes when you’re used to seeing so much evil and you’re looking for evil that’s all you see when dealing with good people.”

    Good point. And when their life hangs in the balance, I can’t blame them for erring on the side of caution. They probably expect a typical type response in any given situation, and when the response deviates, it must be a cause for additional precautions.

  • sheknows

    IMO, the story speaks for itself. I doubt it would have made national news if it was just a routine traffic violation. I also doubt that if the bike rider hadn’t been extremely upset by this incident, there would be a story today for us to speculate about.

    I think we all live in a world where racial profiling is a common occurrence. So common it is legal in 14 states ( they don’t call it that of course)…I believe it’s called stop and search.

  • SteveK

    A few words in defense of the police…

    When I got out of the Army I applied for a job and was on the ‘hire list’ with both the local police and fire department… Luck was with me and the firehouse gave me a job.

    The new hires, both police and fire, shared a few training facilities and I got to know four of the police recruits real well, we became friends and now and again we’d go out for a beer… They were nice guys. However, within five years the change in three of them was disturbing, they’d become quite obnoxious and overbearing.

    Thinking about the difference in what we did and how the public viewed us let me cut them some slack.

    A cop with the wisdom of Solomon is still the ‘bad guy’ with half of the people (s)he deals with (i. e. – accident reports, family disputes, etc.) whereas we firefighters, even if grandma died or the house burned down, were usually treated as heroes.

    Theirs is a tough job and a lot of them become callous simply so they can wake up in the morning and go to work.

  • cjjack

    Theirs is a tough job and a lot of them become callous simply so they can wake up in the morning and go to work.

    I can cut a guy some slack to a degree. I’ve been pulled over by cops who were obviously having a bad day or had something on their mind that caused them to be jerks. I had a cop berate me once over a speeding ticket. He had me dead to rights, and I’m always respectful (“yes sir, no sir, I apologize sir”) but this guy – as he told me at length – was only a few months away from retirement and took the opportunity to explain exactly how sick and tired he was of handing out citations to scofflaws like myself.

    Fair enough. I can take that. But there is no excuse for the sort of stuff that has been described in this story and the subsequent comments. Getting dragged out of a vehicle or residence, cuffed violently, slammed up against a car or onto the pavement, and tased just because the officer is having a bad day? Sorry, I can’t cut any slack on that. Racist attitude aside, there is no excuse for that sort of behavior.

  • SteveK

    My comment was not meant to justify the actions of the police when they’re out of line and I agree that it happens quite often. I was only trying to explain the why some of them get that place.

  • petew

    I know it is a crime to disobey a police officer. But, is it also a crime show any kind of disrespect, deliberate or otherwise? I really don’t know.

    Even if the person in question, really had flipped the police a finger as they drove by, is it appropriate or even legal for officers to force him onto the ground, handcuff him and threaten to tase him over such a trivial incident? I have been offended by kids who flip me off. Does that give me the right to wrestle them to the ground and threaten to zap them with a taser? If anything, officers should issue very minor tickets for such trivial offenses!

    If petty offenses like this one, typically set off officers who are offended—even if an affront to police really did happen,it seems to me that the police are given too much power if they can then handcuff, tase and arrest the offender on the basis of one childish and nasty gesture. After all, that’s why road rage incidents happen—often just because one motorist offends another—

    but is any such small act really worthy of such an extreme response from anyone? Even the Police?

    What’s wrong with this picture?

  • rudi
  • adelinesdad

    I don’t know. There’s a lot going on here and a lot open to interpretation. But don’t know if we can conclude racism. Here’s what we (sort-of) know.

    1) The guy admits he was not slowing down to stop at the stop sign.
    2) The cop cut the guy off apparently in an effort to stop him *before* he waved.
    2) The waving gesture was apparently misinterpreted. Given that the cop didn’t know the guy and was in the process of stopping him, that’s somewhat understandable. Would I wave at a cop as he’s trying to stop me? Probably not.
    3) The police appears to have had an attitude when he got out of the car. Not particularly unusual for a cop, as has been noted, but not necessarily racism.
    4) Calling your buddy the police chief as you are being questioned by a cop seems like a particularly bad idea.
    5) Threatening the use of the tazer seems excessive just for not putting the phone down fast enough.

    All-in-all, it seems like a minor traffic violation and then a misunderstanding escalated by a few bad decisions made on both sides. Would it have happened if the guy was white? I can’t answer that. Don’t interpret this to mean that there is no racism problem in law enforcement, just that I don’t think it’s fair to project that generalization to a particular situation when we don’t have all of the facts.

  • justcowboyway
  • justcowboyway
  • zusa1

    A little background regarding community relations:


    In an effort to improve relations between the community (specifically the Black community), newly appointed Evansville Police Chief Billy Bolin asked me to become a part of a new Community Relations Board. Every first Friday of the Month, the Board meets in the Civic Center to discuss ways in which the EPD can more effectively do their jobs and keep the city safe. What suggestions would you make to the Chief and the Mayor?

    One of the suggestions I made was that we need to find a way to have our Police Officers viewed as members of the communities they serve and not just strangers with badges that ride around looking solely to meet their arrest quotas. Maybe if we even just started back calling it OUR police department instead of just THE police, that can open the door to better relations by reminding BOTH sides that the police serve the communities they are part of.

    Every year, I help promote the 911 Gives Hope for the Holidays Toy Drive and the Guns-N-Hoses Charity Boxing with Chief Bolin and many of the officers of our police department. They care about the Evansville community just as much as the next ordinary citizen, but racial, social, and sometimes just personal attitudes and misconceptions can cloud people’s perspectives and judgement and get in the way of solving problems and working together.

    So, the Mayor has asked me to give a call to action for us as member of the community, especially the Black Communities to find a way to bridge the gap between the Police Department and the residents they serve, and I need your help. Leave your suggestions in the comment box or attend the next Community Relations Board meeting, Friday, March 2nd in the Civic Center!

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