The tape also does not reveal whether Jackson provoked the beating captured on tape or whether he was "mouthing off" to the officers. However, experts say the circumstances that led up to the arrest become irrelevant after he's been placed in handcuffs and subdued.
"There is no punishment in this country that calls for someone to be punched in the mouth for talking," said Jones. "Once the suspect is under control, that does not give the officer the right to use excessive force for talking. … There are too many officers out there who want to issue their own brand of street justice and want to be the judge and jury. And once we let that happen, the whole system begins to go haywire."
Handcuffed — Mostly Under Control
Police may not consider a suspect subdued until he is promptly obeying all orders, has been disarmed and has been handcuffed. In Donald Pete's case, police were called to the scene by Bates after he saw Pete allegedly picking up a prostitute and engaging in sex.
Officer Driskill arrived alone and on foot. When Driskill ordered Pete out of his van, he saw him put what appeared to be marijuana in his mouth. Pete began to eat the marijuana and a police helicopter hovering above the scene requested backup for Driskill.
Officer Dyer arrived to help Driskill subdue the heavy-set Pete. Though Pete was not aggressively resisting them, he appeared on tape to be resisting nonetheless. Supporters of Dyer and Driskill have said they had to use their tactics to be sure the larger Pete would not overwhelm them or grab their weapons suddenly.
Experts say it is not guaranteed that suspects are entirely subdued even when handcuffed. But in most cases, they are.
"It depends on the situation," said Bobb. "For the most part, once the individual is handcuffed, the person is under control. Any use of force used after the suspect has been brought under control will be looked at carefully and with skepticism."
Questions Surrounding Video Vigilantism
Some skepticism has surrounded "video vigilante" Bates, who reportedly tapes illegal sexual activity and reports it to police and makes money from his video vigilante Web site and regular appearances on talk shows. Still, people should not be discouraged from videotaping and filing reports if they believe they are witnessing police brutality.
"If people were sending in edited versions of what happened, then I'd be concerned," said Jones. "Choosing what to report, what to show, that can be very dangerous. But if someone happens to see and tape something in plain view, that can be as bad for the suspect as it could be for the police officer. As long as the person presents unedited, raw tape, then they are doing a service."
"I'm not wary of tape nor do I believe they always present the full story," said Bobb. "They rarely present the entire story, but I do believe they present a highly accurate account of what was witnessed."
Morse has been relieved of duty and placed on administrative leave with pay pending an investigation. The three other officers who were with him on the Jackson arrest have not been relieved of their duties. Meanwhile, a civil rights lawsuit was filed in federal court on behalf of Jackson and his father Wednesday as prosecutors announced a grand jury probe into the arrest.
In Oklahoma, Driskill and Dyer,will remain on duty pending an official review. Pete faces numerous charges associated with the arrest, including alleged possession of drugs, engaging in an act of lewdness, as well as destroying evidence.