Earlier this year, Darien Long – better known as the “Kick Ass Mall Cop” of Atlanta – was the beneficiary of a $23,000 crowd-sourced campaign organized by members of Reddit.
The money was raised in an effort to provide Long with better equipment to use on the job, including a bulletproof vest and a GoPro camera. Long posted several videos of himself dealing with unruly mall guests; a handful involved the use of a stun gun and have gone viral on the web and in the news.
The description included in the money making campaign portrayed Long as a hero in the community, particularly for his role in alleviating crime in downtown Atlanta.
“Darien Long Kick Ass Mall cop was recently in the news for his single handed stand against drug dealers near his mall. His videos went viral and may people applauded him for his great work. People would like to donate to enable him to get better and more gear.”
Long, hero or not, got into trouble of his own on March 21; he was arrested after allegedly tackling William Wright at the Metro Mall in downtown Atlanta. He faces a battery charge.
According to police, who reviewed video footage of the ordeal, Long attacked the man unprovoked. The police also noted that Long could not back up his claim that he had previously asked the victim to leave the mall.
In one popular video, Long uses his Taser on an unruly woman in front of her children. She screams profanities at Long, calling him a “faggot” and a “nigger,” ultimately getting violent. Long uses the stun gun on her and she crashes to the ground; her children scream and the crowd stands shocked in disbelief.
When members of crowd become riled up and upset due to the Tasering, he threatens violence on them too.
After his arrest, Long announced on Facebook that his last day on the job would be on March 31st due to “budget cuts.”
Another recent stun gun incident happened in early February, when Marcus Purnell was Tased after he did not follow Long’s request to leave the mall. It appears that Long has had it out for Purnell, according to statements that were given to My Fox Atlanta by both involved parties.
“He thinks I had something to do with somebody breaking into his home,” Purnell said in the interview. “I never broke into his house.
According to Long–who admitted having a prior history with Purnell–it’s his way or the highway. Or, in this case, the Taser way.
“I can tell you to get off because the sun is yellow the sky is blue and the grass is green. If you think I’m violating your Constitutional rights, file a lawsuit,” said Long in the same interview.
To the hundreds of thousands of people who watched his videos, Long’s Taser exploits were likely nothing more than a quick jolt of Youtube entertainment. However, the blurred lines of authority–particularly the authority of those who are not police officers–have had devastating consequences in America over the past few years.
It was a little over a year ago that 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was killed by Neighborhood Watch volunteer George Zimmerman in Florida. At the time, Zimmerman told police that there had been a recent crime increase in the community and that Martin was acting suspicious.
Of course, the two situations are very different, but given the Long’s past with the Taser and his habit of carrying a gun while on the job, it’s not that far of a stretch to see him take his violent actions one step further in order to ensure the peace.
Long ate up the attention he received, posting more and more videos for the world to see. His desire to show off will likely backfire; his forays into filmmaking may be used as evidence against him when he returns to court.
In a March 24 post on a Facebook page endorsed by Long, he seems optimistic about the March 21st charges: ”I hear William Wright did not get arrested; but he should have been. The problem resides in the fact that I did not have the evidence that I told him not to be there. I should be able to get that cleared up on 04Apr13.”
Another status update, posted on the same day, read “Im out; Next stop court- Darien Long.” It had 46 likes, 23 comments and one share.
He appeared before a judge on March 22 and is scheduled to appear in court again on April 4.
Jeffrey Hartinger is a writer who lives in New York City. You can visit his website at www.thewhygenerationusa.blogspot.com
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