Aug 292010

I’m sure it was a shock to all of you to learn that one of our fellow students may have been involved in the riot. The first weekend students returned to Fort Collins, a riot broke out; chances are, a student was involved.

As it turns out, only one student, Landon Eskew, 21, has been charged as of Sunday morning and charges on only two more CSU students are expected.

Eskew, who I do not know personally, was charged with a misdemeanor count of “obstructing a peace officer.” Now, to be fair, I have no idea what took place that night. None. But I do know I’m dubious any time police charge someone with resisting arrest, obstruction of justice or anything else along those lines.

I’m not an advocate of resisting police officers; it’s a good way to end up with two metal darts in your back or having your chest conducting 50,000 volts of “maybe-I-shouldn’t-have-done-that” through your body.

Common sense would tell you the week after a riot most young people in Old Town would be on their best behavior. After all, we don’t really want to turn our contentious relationship with city government –– i.e. the city’s 3-Unrelated occupancy ordinance –– into an outright mutual dislike.

Yet Friday evening, as I was finishing the last of a mystery-meat bratwurst on Mountain Avenue across from the cab line by Lucky Joes, I heard the crowd in the square start to cheer and then saw a young Caucasian male running from two Fort Collins police officers.

I have no idea who that brave soul was, or if he escaped, but I do know that running from the police when you have hundreds of witnesses around to protect you from any serious abuse a week after a riot is just a bad idea.

Most of you have seen a movie, or 30, in which someone runs from the police and ends up either escaping or being violently handcuffed when caught by the officers.

Nevertheless, I’ll tell you as someone who worked with law enforcement daily for over a decade, running –– unless your life is in danger –– is stupid.

In Hollywood, the runner gets away or ends up with a scrape or two and is gently escorted into a jail cell. In real life, they call in a K-9 unit when they’ve chased you long enough. In this scenario, they release the dog and when it finds you, it bites into your arm with roughly the same force a wolf uses to break the hind-leg of a moose. The dog then pulls you to the ground with the grace of an NFL tackle.

Guess what. That hurts … a lot. Now you get the cuffs slapped on by half a dozen officers you can only hope have the self-restraint to get their temper under control, and chances are you no longer have those hundreds of witnesses around to support your claims of excessive force. Well played.

But what of those lucky few who manage to escape?

The fact of life in today’s climate is police have better training to find suspects than your friends have ability to keep secrets.

Try to remember rule No. 1: Don’t do anything stupid. This applies in life, sports and relationships. Our system still requires the prosecution to prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, regardless of the charges.

And remember, you have no obligation to answer questions. However if you choose to speak to a law enforcement officer, you do have an obligation to tell the truth. My advice is to “lawyer up,” (request a lawyer) and keep your mouth shut. I promise this will have a better outcome than running.

If you’re surrounded by witnesses and confronted by law enforcement, don’t run. It’s not going to end well, I promise.

Seth Stern is a senior journalism major. His column appears on Mondays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to

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