John Oliver Blows the Whistle on Glaring Police Misconduct in America

"Last Week Tonight" host John Oliver wants the police to be held accountable for their egregious actions, which all too often goes unpunished.


"As you know the police have been at the center of a great deal of controversy," Oliver opened after showing a clip of a drunk Ron Paul supporter resisting arrest in rural Montana, previously shown in an episode of "Frontier Force."

"It's been impossible to escape from the Black Lives Matter movement to Colin Kaepernick's protest to Mary J. Blige awkwardly singing a Springsteen song at Hillary Clinton," Oliver continued. 

Controversial police shootings in America are, unfortunately, nothing new. But several recent high profile cases from Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge to Philando Castile in Minnesota to Alfred Olango in San Diego last week have thrust the issue of police misconduct back into mainstream media. 

But why is it so difficult to hold the police accountable?

"As the police will tell you, they have a difficult dangerous challenging job, no reasonable person would disagree with that, but that's all the more reason for ensuring that [police work is] done to the highest standard," Oliver said.

"The police will also argue that what they have is less an institutional problem, than an individual one," Oliver continued, showing clips of law enforcement personel citing the "just a few bad apples" comparison in defending terrible behavior. 

"That is a weirdly blasé attitude because bad apples can erode trust fast," Oliver pointed out. "Snow White wasn't afraid of apples before she took a bite out of that one eally bad one, but I'm telling you the next time an old lady comes at her with a piece of fruit, Snow is gonna get the f*ck outta there."

But the "few bad apples" analogy doesn't begin to address the bad laws and policies that good officers are made to enforce; aside from the fact that not even the head of the FBI knows exacly how many "bad apples" there are out there.

"We can't have an informed discussion [about police misconduct] because we don't have data," FBI Director James Comey has said. "People have data about who went to a movie last weekend how many books are sold or how many cases of the flu walked into an emergency room and I cannot tell you how many people were shot by police in the United States last month last year or anything about the demographics."

"How is that possible?" Oliver asked, flabberghasted. "We have numbers for almost everything; we have ratings for how many people watched Jeremy Piven in Mr. Selfridge... the government even tracks how many people are killed by falling TVs each year; a number surely inflated by people who were watching Mr. Selfridge and said, 'I choose death' and then pulled the TV down on top of them.

The best numbers on police misconduct actually come from Philip Stinson, a researcher who began his analysis by settting up 48 google alerts in 2005.

"Out of thousands of fatal police shooting since 2005, only 77 officers have been charged with murder or manslaughter and to date only 26 have been convicted," Oliver announced, adding that "26 seems suspiciously low."

"So how can that be the number," Oliver asked. "Well, broadly speaking most investigations of police misconduct face a few obstacles and the first one is big misconduct is often investigated internally by officers colleagues, which does not inspire confidence," which the DOJ. has consistently found flaws with.

"In Cleveland, investigators admitted they intentionally cast an officer in the best light possible when investigating the use of deadly force and in Miami investigations took so long that at least two officers shot and killed a suspect while still under investigation for a previous shooting," Oliver revealed. "And there should never be a second one of anything before you figure out whether the first was justified!"

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