Beware the Sand Shoveler

Sand Shoveler

I have a friend who is a hard-working carpenter. He’s compassionate and generous to a fault. He’s quick to laugh and easy to get along with. Because he’s dealt with a good deal of adversity in his life, he possesses empathy for people who walk difficult paths.

About a month ago, this friend of mine was shoveling sand into the back of his truck to repair a water line at his home so his family could have water. He was parked in an area designated for just this purpose—people come and get sand. I don’t know if the cops were called or just happened on the scene, but a sheriff arrived to investigate what the media described as “suspicious behavior”. The sheriff patted him down and discovered he was carrying knives—also known as tools. Carpenters carry tools; they’re weird like that. My friend was compliant and handed over his knives, and when he was searched the sheriff discovered my friend was in possession of small amount of narcotics. Due to the cowardice and incompetence of the sheriff, things quickly got out of hand.

The sheriff had my friend interlace his fingers and put them on his head, which he did, and the cop took hold of him. Back pain and construction go hand-in-hand, and the sheriff repeatedly forced my friend, who was being otherwise compliant, into a position that caused his back to spasm, forcing him to adjust his posture. My friend asked this thug to stop hurting him, and tried to tell him he couldn’t hold that position. The officer, despite being in no danger, felt threatened by this and took my friend to the ground and proceeded to strike him repeatedly. Perhaps he forgot his job was to serve and protect (and de-escalate), not pretend he’s a fucking cage fighter against someone who can’t even protect himself without risking great consequences. The sheriff punched him something like seventeen or eighteen times, and at no point did my friend attempt to fight back. All he did was try to stand up—a natural enough reaction when another human being is savagely beating you.

The media had a slightly different take on the situation:

That’s when, the deputy reports, the man became uncooperative, broke free and ran, leading the deputy after him. That led to a struggle during which the deputy was unable to free his hands to call for help.

“That’s when our Good Samaritan came to the rescue,” Sheriff Balaam says. “She observed the violent nature of the struggle and immediately called 911 so that dispatch could advise other responding deputies about the urgent nature of the situation.”

There’s several problems with this interpretation. First, my friend told this hooligan where he lived. His truck was parked there. Why would he run? Where would he go? The only reason this gangster in blue couldn’t reach his radio is because his hands were occupied trying to smash in my friend’s face. If he felt threatened, he could’ve asked my friend to sit down until other officers arrived, and he would’ve done so.

I’m not only sickened by the complete lack of the officer’s ability to control the situation while dealing with a compliant person, but I’m disgusted by the media and the police and the so-called “good Samaritan” damn near breaking their collective arm patting themselves on the back for averting near disaster. Fuck each and every one of you. All you averted was a working-class family man from providing water for his family. Yeah, he had some drugs on him. Did he break an unreasonable law? Yes. Should it be up to the government to regulate what we put into our bodies if we’re not hurting anyone? Fuck no. And should citizens be beaten instead of restrained by incompetent officers? I don’t think they should.

I recognize police have a difficult and dangerous job, but I also think that because of their position, they have a duty to conduct themselves in a professional and civil manner. An officer, like any human, should protect himself when in danger, but I would hope they would be able to discern the difference between a compliant person and an actual threat.

My buddy took it all in stride. Whenever people asked what happened to his face he told them the truth—not such good publicity for the cops. His sense of humor gave birth to the Sand Shovler—a heinous, dangerous deviant who should be avoided at all costs. Beware the Sand Shoveler. Luckily, we have the police to protect us from such horrors.

About Jeff Opfer

Jeff is a carpenter and freelance writer born and raised in the Reno area. View all posts by Jeff Opfer

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