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Opinion

When they come for you

Cops usually look out for us. But not always.

Who do you call when you think there’s a burglar in you house? Who do you call when you get in a terrifying car accident? Who do you call when you need protection? For most of us, the automatic response when we feel endangered is to call the police. We are taught from early on that police officers are our protectors, and more often than not, they are. But like always, there are exceptions to this rule.

Sometimes, police officers can be the bad guys.

March 8, 2010 began like any other day for Binghamton alumnus Robert Leone of Vestal, N.Y. The weather was beautiful, and his zest for life was at an all-time high. As a lover of nature and the outdoors, Rob decided to get into his car and drive. All he wanted was to enjoy another fine day.

Unfortunately for Rob, his day took a drastic turn.

That evening, upon his return, Robert was signalled by Pennsylvania State Troopers. He didn’t pull over. Maybe it was the euphoria of his day, or the knowledge that he hadn’t done anything wrong, but Robert simply continued driving.

He drove along Rt. 6 at about 35 miles per hour when police placed spiked strips on the ground to stop Robert’s car. He finally pulled over.

What ensued was the most horrifying night of Robert’s life.

Robert was severely beaten by police officers and tased countless times. At one point, a trooper broke his fist by hitting him in the face. For this, Robert was charged with aggravated assault of a police officer.

The troopers hog-tied him and threw him in the back of their vehicle. Robert endured hours of torture and had to be taken to the hospital multiple times for the injuries he sustained.

As unbelievable as this story sounds, it is true. There is proof.

Police car dashboard cameras captured the entire act. So far, about 835,000 Youtube viewers have witnessed this shocking act of police brutality. They have heard Robert’s pleas. They have heard Robert’s screams. They have heard Pennsylvania State Troopers respond, “You’ve got a long f—— night ahead of you.”

And he did.

Throughout that night, Robert was tased into unconsciousness, beaten with a baton, pepper sprayed and physically assaulted by the police multiple times. Today, two years later, he suffers from broken ribs that did not heal properly, head trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder.

He was incarcerated for two years, and the officers involved in the incident have yet to be charged.

Some say it is human nature to abuse power, but when do we say enough? The best time to make a change is at the present.

If you want to help Robert and his family, take the time to write a letter to the Justice Department demanding the investigation of the Robert Leone case. Robert once walked the same halls as we do now. He used the same water fountains and sat in the same classrooms. He is one of us, and we must help him.

Letters can be sent to:

Angela Washington
Justice Department
Patrick Henry Building
601 D Street NW
Washington, DC, 20530

Views expressed in the opinion pages represent the opinions of the columnists.