If you watch the three-and-a-half minute dash cam video showing a Lake Worth police officer’s pursuit of motorcyclist Dustin Bates, your stomach will churn.
You might presume Bates committed an egregious crime to constitute such a chase — and the result: The November 2020 video ends with the officer running over Bates with his car, fracturing his spine, right leg and three ribs. The officer jumps out of the car, screaming and arrests Bates.
Bates should not have sped away from Officer Jonathan Granado. His decision to take off at the stoplight makes him look guilty of something far worse. But the chase seems especially egregious and unnecessary.
Police officers put their lives on the line daily, and we rightly admire them for it. But incidents like this put the public at risk.
The video resurfaced after news broke Monday that Bates had filed a federal lawsuit against Granado for excessive force. In a news conference about the incident Monday, the Lake Worth police department said Granado was put on leave, then suspended, and later returned to administrative duties.
Granado resigned from the department in December 2021, weeks before the lawsuit. To that end, the police department did mostly everything right. Police Chief J.T. Manoushagian revealed that Granado had been warned about his behavior before the incident, but not for anything serious enough to garner discipline.
The video and subsequent lawsuit raises a few questions: Why are police officers pursuing someone through traffic due to minor violations? The risk/reward ratio seems disproportionately low. (Bates was later charged with evading arrest and drug possession, and prosecutors dropped both charges.)
If there were already questions about Granado’s character or behavior, why wasn’t he fired before the incident? After watching the video, which shows Granado failed to even tap the brakes as he ran over Bates, why didn’t his department fire him then?
Bad incidents go viral much more than the good work police do, and that is unfortunate. Law enforcement as a whole does an amazing job that few would want to tackle. When incidents like this happen, the public is often assured that there are only “a few bad apples” in a profession dominated by good people.
So, why are there always red flags in hindsight? This is not your average job; lives are at risk. Society needs law and order and a group of enforcers , but officers such as Granado cannot be trusted in the role.
And if his department couldn’t take appropriate action, the public cannot be reassured something like this won’t happen again.