Oct. 16, 1997
The kid arrested with Ohio State football player Ken-Yon Rambo last week is glad that Rambo was defended by coach John Cooper.
"Every newscaster, every reporter in town is calling me, and what they're trying to do is get me to say that Ken-Yon Rambo is getting some kind of special treatment because he is a football player," said Ohio State junior Charles Lewis, whom nobody heard of until he landed in the Franklin County jail.
"I tell you what, that coach is doing exactly what he should be doing" in defending Rambo, he said.
"He never should have been arrested," said Lewis, 20, a business finance major on academic scholarship. "I never should have been arrested."
Cooper, bless his heart, temporarily stood up for his kid Rambo, who apparently had nothing to do with the fight the cops were supposed to be quelling at a Downtown restaurant last week. Cooper has since apologized to police.
"I don't think Cooper ever should have apologized," Lewis said. "Maybe if he had heard what I had to say, he wouldn't have. I'm glad he stands up for his football players. It would be nice if the academic dean was up there fighting for me, saying, 'This is my scholarship student.' "
The problem may be that Rambo did not receive special treatment. How many people who are not star football players - people like Lewis - are harassed or manhandled by the police every day? There have been too many incidents lately, too many questions about basic cop behavior, for people to ignore witnesses who say that Rambo's only crime was not being deferential to the men in blue.
When the cops arrived at the restaurant, "their behavior was totally ridiculous," Lewis said. "By the time the cops got there it was all over, but they had to push people around."
Lewis, like Rambo, was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. Rambo also was charged with drug abuse; police said he was carrying a small amount of marijuana. Both students are black. Lewis said the cops who arrested him were white. Lewis said the charges are a joke.
"Basically, I got arrested for having a smart mouth," he said.
"I was arguing with another student, and this cop just came up to me and started screaming profanities.
"I said, 'Hey, I'm too busy for that right now.'
"And before I know it five cops were on top of me. They were laughing and stuff, and I was, like, down.
"As you can see, I'm a pretty small guy. Even if I had been resisting arrest, it would have taken at most two guys to get me down, but I guess the other guys wanted to join the fun.
"I just hoped my mom wouldn't find out," said Lewis, from Toledo.
Fat chance. Everybody in the state is talking about the story.
"It's strange," Lewis said. "I found out I was the topic of conversation in my roommate's criminology class. He said it turned into kind of a black and white thing, with the blacks saying Rambo and I were innocent and the whites saying Rambo was guilty, primarily because of the drugs."
But the behavior of the cops also is a real issue. Cops are public employees. They serve at our pleasure. We allow them to carry guns so we don't have to. They should be painfully polite up until - and even after - the moment they are forced to shoot.
"I think the insecure cops are the ones giving the whole cop profession a bad name," Lewis said. "I think that's why some of them become cops. They are so insecure that they wake up in the morning, and that badge is the only thing that gives them courage to face the day - the badge and, ultimately, the gun. Maybe they got bullied when they were kids or something." \
Most Columbus cops are good cops. But a rude cop is a bad cop. A cop just looking for an excuse to make an arrest is a bad cop. A cop who doesn't respect others is a bad cop. Granted, such respect is a lot to demand from people paid to deal with society's scum, but society should demand it.
The alternative is a breakdown in respect for the law itself.