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Beating Yourself Up to Get Out of an Arrest Is a Bad Plan

A video camera captured a man in Oregon giving himself two black eyes in a jail cell before claiming the cops were responsible.
February 18, 2015, 5:31pm

In a video uploaded yesterday by police in Eugene, Oregon, you can see a Californian named Aleksander Tomaszewski sitting in a holding cell, waiting to be interviewed on suspicion of sexual abuse. Then he stretches, stands up, walks around his cell, and punches himself in the face about 60 times.

His self-administered ass-whooping resulted in a really nice shiner under each eye, as you can see from this mugshot:

Mugshot via Lane County Sheriff's Office

According to the Portland Oregonian, Tomaszewski was asked about the black eyes by police officials and blamed the detectives who had interrogated him. He repeatedly demanded that charges be brought against them, and then, in his biggest gamble, he signed an official statement detailing the abuse he'd supposedly received.

Next, the cops produced two videos: one apparently showing the uneventful interrogation, and then, of course, the surveillance footage showing Tomaszewski getting medieval on his own ass. Sergeant Carrie Carver told the Oregonian, "When [Tomaszewski] learned that the incident was caught on camera, he admitted that he thought making the claim would get him released."

The crime is called "attempted coercion," along with "filing a false report," and Tomaszewski has already been convicted, given three years' probation, fined $600, and sent home. His case is the most recent example of someone literally beating themselves up to get out of something, but it's far from the only one. People injure themselves and lie to the police about it all the time.

Mugshot via Farmington Police

For instance, Daniel Vagnini of Farmington, Connecticut, tried to get out of a 2011 DUI by speeding ahead of police, getting out of his car, punching himself in the face, tearing his shirt, and throwing his stuff in a river to make it look like he'd been robbed. He later admitted that his flimsy story was just a drunken lie.

Tomaszewski took it a step further by accusing the police of causing his injuries, but he didn't invent that desperate move. The "Police Brutality Gambit," as we might as well call it, has probably been around as long as police, brutality, and lying, but it was most memorably documented in the movie Dirty Harry:

The bloodthirsty psychopath in that movie almost got away with his killing spree by paying a guy to beat him to a bloody pulp, and then getting our hero, Detective Callahan, slapped with phony police brutality charges. The lesson of Dirty Harry is, of course, that stupid liberals and their "compassion" endanger the public, and therefore there shouldn't be regulations on the use of violence by police. (Of course, fake police brutality is, depressingly, far less common than the real thing.)

The lessons of Tomaszewski's failed scheme may be a little more complicated. First of all, the more cartoonish your lie is, the less likely it is to succeed in the real world. Secondly, and more importantly, if you're in a police station, you're probably on camera—heck, if you're outdoors in a large city you're probably on camera. And though there are plenty of people concerned about the sprawl of the surveillance state, there's been a growing movement for cops to film every interaction they have with civilians just in case things go south and somebody complains about brutality, or winds up dead. This sort of arrangement benefits cops too, as Tomaszewski's case shows: It's pretty simple to prove a complaint is bogus when every instant of a self-administered beating is caught on tape.

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