Editorial: Justice for Jaylan Butler

Eastern sophomore Jaylan Butler’s life changed forever last February when Butler and the rest of the Eastern swimming team were traveling back to Charleston from the Summit League Championships.

When the team us pulled over at a rest stop in East Moline, Illinois, Jaylan got off the bus to stretch his legs. While outside the bus, Butler was stormed by police officers who, according to a lawsuit filed by Butler and the ACLU, threw Butler to the ground, placed him in handcuffs, held guns to his forehead and threatened to “blow his f***ing head off” if he moved. 

What the police did not know at the time, was Jaylan was not the suspect they were looking for. The police had an innocent Eastern student athlete pressed to the ground, handcuffed and at gun point. 

Even when police did realize they had the wrong person, instead of letting Butler go back to the team bus they instead placed him in the back of a squad car and told him he was under arrest for “resisting arrest.”

Butler was eventually let go and in his lawsuit alleges that when he asked who two of the officers present were, he was told by other officers there was “nothing they could do for him.”

Today, two of the five officers cited in Butler’s lawsuit remain unnamed and unidentified. 

If everything Butler alleges in his lawsuit is true, we at The Daily Eastern News believe all of those officers need to be held accountable to the law and to their departments and maybe should not be allowed to work as officers again. 

The police work alleged in the lawsuit is beyond acceptable. 

The aggression the officers approached Butler with is bad enough in itself, the guns and language used at Butler is also eye-opening. 

But what is truly disturbing is that even after the officers realized they had just pointed their guns at an innocent suspect and threw him to the ground, they still tried to place him under arrest for “resisting arrest.”

You have got to be kidding. 

Butler had done nothing wrong. He was a student-athlete traveling with his team, which both the bus driver and a coach tried to explain to the police. But rather than accept the mistake they had made and apologize to Butler, the police went back on the offensive and placed him under arrest for “resisting arrest.”

Placing Jaylan under arrest for “resisting” after treating him in such a violent manner is unthinkable.

If what the lawsuit alleges is true, those officers should not work again in law enforcement. 

The original actions were bad enough, but their attempt to cleanup their mistake and keep their names secret has been worse.