Educational use of discretion

January 19, 2007

A far ghastlier incident was British historian and cherished Times Higher columnist Felipe Fernández-Armesto's run-in with the US police last week. He was pinned to the pavement by five police officers, handcuffed, arrested and kept in a cell for eight hours in Atlanta for jaywalking, or not crossing the road at the proper place.

Professor Fernández-Armesto, who was attending a conference, found it "educational". His wife said: "He was lucky they didn't shoot him." But the arresting officer Kevin Leonpacher's comment was a beauty: "I used an excessive amount of discretion."

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