If you live in Polk County you have probably seen the video circulating social media of the gentleman that was supposedly resisting arrest by Lakeland police officers and therefore force was used against him. According to the chief, that force was necessary because the gentleman was “actively resisting” and his resistance was even “violent.”
This video has caused an array of opinions whether the officers’ response was justified. What one must question is what exactly is resisting an officer without violence? And what exactly what must one do to get charged with this crime?
Florida Statute section 843.02 defines resisting an officer without violence as resisting, obstructing, or opposing any officer in the lawful execution of their legal duty, without offering or doing violence. I am sure that clears things up! Therein lies the problem. An officer just has to say that a person is opposing him or obstructing him in some way, and he can charge that person with resisting.
I personally have seen items on police reports such as “clenched fists” and “stiffened arms.” I just shake my head as I read these allegations. Of course a person is going to have a stiffer body posture if being manhandled! Another common example is when someone does not follow orders fast enough. They are told to either sit down or stand up and they just don’t do it as fast as the officer would like. It is therefore seen as resisting. A final common example is when people say things to officers that the officers see as offensive. They may use curse words or call the officers names. This one is a little easier to defend because as long as you are not making threats, you have a right to free speech.
If you happen to be arrested, even if the arrest is not justified, try to just go along with it. Try not to stiffen your body language in any way and just follow the officer’s orders as quickly as possible. Doing this will prevent the extra charge of resisting an officer without violence. Unfortunately, in most of these cases it is the officers’ word versus your word, especially in jurisdictions where law enforcement is in opposition to body cameras.