Recently, media coverage of police shootings when unarmed black men are involved have been on the rise. With the amount of attention that fatal shootings of unarmed black men receive, you could start to think that is all cops are doing but that is far from the case. There are countless videos of police doing things from changing tires for stranded drivers, or helping a choking baby, and even pulling people from burning cars.
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In this video, a senior police officer named Dan Whitney responded to a 3 a.m. highway accident where an SUV had careened into a large tree and caught on fire. The burning flames had already engulfed the driver but as Whitney approached, he heard a man yelling for help. The severity of the accident bent the frame of the SUV jamming the doors shut and the panicked man was attempting to get free through a small side window.
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Police who responded to the scene after Whitney described the heat coming from the burning wreck "unbearable" even at 50 feet away. Whitney initially tried to extinguish the flames with his portable fire extinguisher but the fire was too powerful and refused to subside. He quickly realized time was running out and ran around the vehicle trying to get the doors open. When he could not open them, he resorted to breaking out the glass. When he returned to the other side of the vehicle, the passenger was still struggling to get through the tiny opening.
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<span style="margin-top:15px;rgba(42,51,6,0.7);font-size:12px;">Credit: Athens-Clarke County Police Department</span>
Whitney yells at the man to climb back inside and climb out the bigger portion of the window, but fear, adrenaline, and probably injuries from the crash clouded his rationality and he continued to try to get through the smaller opening. When Whitney realizes there is no way to force the man back in the car and get him out of the bigger window he resorts to trying to pull him through. At one point, the vehicle fire explodes knocking Whitney's body camera and hat off.
Finally, after a long struggle, the Whitney manages to pull the man through the small window. The driver had already perished but Whitney managed to save the life of the passenger. Police credited Whitney's actions with saving the man who would have burned alive moments after the explosion. The backseat where he had been struggling to break free moments before was melted away completely. The job police are asked to do is nearly impossible, and it results in many of them losing their lives far too early. Just this week, two sheriff's deputies were gunned down in cold blood while eating at a restaurant. That is part of the risk they take each day when they put on the uniform. Police even have hits put out on them like in a recent example in New York where a high-ranking MS-13 member called for a police officer to be killed.
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While there are many examples of bad apples becoming police, there are many, many more examples of amazing human beings dedicating themselves to protecting and serving their communities. Just remember, a 2005 ruling from the SCOTUS said police don't have a constitutional duty to protect you, even if you've obtained a court-issued restraining order. While it is true that police do not have a legal duty to put themselves in harm's way to save someone, there are thousands of examples of the brave men and woman of law enforcement putting their lives on the line.
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