What is more interesting, and more troubling is the reaction of on-lookers. Flatbush is a mostly Caribbean American neighborhood with some African Americans as well. It's low income, but not as bad off as East New York, Brownsville, and some other New York City neighborhoods and these are folks with some money in their pocket to spend at Target.
Notice that multiple people in the store immediately react negatively to the use of force by officers. Then they begin to actually berate the officers, closing in on them. This kind of things makes cops crazy. it is extremely threatening to them. As a result they call for extensive emergency back up, which arrives quickly and in large numbers.
Fortunately, the incident ended there. The large number of officers who arrived quickly took control of the situation and no further force was needed and the crowd never actually physically intervened. We are left, however, with a not very reassuring impression. It was clear that a large crowd was on the verge of interfering with the arrest of someone in a large public place. That should be a giant red flag to the police and political leaders. This represents a significant breakdown in police authority and indicates an underlying crisis of police legitimacy. Police work will become more dangerous and difficult if people react so strongly to what was in essence proper police procedure.
Then there are the what ifs. What if police had not been following proper procedure and really had used excessive and unwarranted force. Would the crowd have been more likely to physically intervene, setting the stage for a radical escalation of police tactics? What if back-up had not arrived so quickly? Was that crowd on the verge of taking action? What if the back up that did arrive had overreacted. Officers could very easily have assessed the situation as more threatening and come in using force. It would be interesting to listen to the radio traffic to hear how urgent the call for assistance was and what kinds of instructions if any were given to arriving officers.
The police and political leaders have a lot of work to do to restore public trust in the police, especially in communities of color. So far the main action taken in response to the death of Eric Garner and the national wave of protests has been to institute some enhanced training of questionable value and to hire more police. This does not send a signal to the public that police are approaching their job in a new way and that the public should give them the benefit of the doubt in difficult situations like the one shown here. Hopefully back-up will continue to arrive quickly.