Karate legend Chuck Norris had nothing on Scranton Mayor and self-proclaimed martial arts master Bill Courtright when the alleged 8th-degree black belt leaped into action at a St. Patrick’s Day parade beer bash gone bad on Taylor Avenue.
Everybody was king fu fighting.
Those cats were fast as lightning.
In fact it was a little bit frightening.
But they fought with expert timing.
And now it’s case closed, with the police report already written and available to the public and high-ranking officers defending the rookie mayor’s involvement in physically restraining a suspect who real cops later handcuffed and charged with public drunkenness and disorderly conduct.
For Master Courtright, public service is just another day at the dojo.
But it’s not case closed for truly professional law enforcement officers, whose best trained advocates strongly advise against civilians, including the ghost of Bruce Lee, interfering in the sometimes deadly world of protecting the public.
To make matters worse, no mention of Courtright’s involvement appears in the official police report.
Police Chief Carl Graziano said that should not be the case. Maybe the officer was so busy in the aftermath of the chaos that is the Scranton Paddy’s Day parade that she overlooked including the mayor in her report, Graziano said.
I doubt it.
The officer included the name, address and telephone number of a witness who called 911 because “things were getting out of hand” at the party. With such expected attention to detail I would also expect the officer to include a major martial arts moment from the mayor – her boss – that resulted in a restraint technique used by the master who is a certified self-defense instructor at the local police training academy.
If the accused gets a lawyer and sues, and I will not be surprised if that now happens, I would expect said lawyer to ask for the police report to look for who exactly took his client to the ground so he can subpoena that person to court and cross-examine him about why he jumped into an official police action when he is not even a cop.
Courtright would then have to answer questions – questions he has steadfastly refused to answer from me, by the way – concerning his teachers, his formal training and who promoted him to a black belt ranking higher than God’s.
The only explanation for Courtright’s use of force is that the officer he was accompanying on what police call a “ride-along” was in real danger or being attacked. But Graziano made no mention of a real threat or attack when we spoke yesterday.
I understand that the officer is forbidden by department rules from commenting.
Still, we need a full and detailed explanation.
So does the city’s insurance carrier.
Is Courtright covered for physically restraining anybody? Even if he’s right, what if the accused claims he got injured by an elected official while sworn police officers stood by and watched as their supervisor put him into some kind of ancient and mysterious arm bar reserved for use only by the elite and secret shogun protection unit of a secret Samurai force?
Who’s going to pay the legal bills, ninjas? Or taxpayers in the already cash-strapped and feudal city Courtright is paid to serve? What if Courtright got injured? What if he had encountered a 9th degree black belt schooled in the mysterious and ancient art of chop suey phooey?
Yes, it’s an ancient Chinese art. And everybody knew their part. There was funky Billy Chin and little Sammy Chung. He said here comes the big boss let’s get it on.
And that’s exactly what the Electric City’s big boss did.
For better or worse, the civilian mayor put himself on the front lines of a battle in which he is not supposed to engage – unless, of course, he was busy saving the female officer from not being able to do her job. Did she really require his assistance? Was she in real physical danger? Did she agree to step aside so Courtright could protect her?
If so, why didn’t she include those answers in her official police report? Why did she keep Courtright’s name out of the report all together? Will Graziano require her to file a supplemental report? Should somebody investigate the mayor, who failed to respond to a message that I left with his secretary?
From a feint into as slip and kicking from the hip.