Careful what you ask for.
When I figured out that the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Department regularly used a video camera to document its encounters with unruly inmates, it was a “eureka” moment.
When the same department told me it had retained the video of more than 400 such encounters in 2009 alone, it sounded like an Open Records Act moment. The sheriff’s department agreeably set up a time and put me in a conference room with more than 400 DVDs. I brought my own DVD viewing equipment. I also brought my son, Bill Richards, who was home on break from UGA.
Thus began the first of two entire days viewing DVDs. Daughter Leigh Richards, also home from college, provided the second set of eyes on day two. Together, we watched hours and hours of human behavior at its not-so-finest. As you might imagine, these were great family bonding moments.
Many of the DVDs showed inmates acting a fool in their cells, or simply refusing the cooperate with jailers. The procedure grew numbingly familiar: Inmate acts out; deputies respond with overwhelming manpower; inmate is subdued.
And then we ran into a video featuring this guy. If coarse language offends you, don’t play it.
Dantrell Mitchell was arrested “for taking a number two,” as he put it toward the end of the video, in a Waffle House men’s room. The restaurant called Norcross Police after he allegedly locked himself into the restroom for two hours.
Mitchell was combative with deputies. But mostly, he was hilarious. He told the cop who arrested him needed to “get in the weight room.” He provided droll narration as the deputies subdued him on the floor, picked him up, then restrained him in a chair. “You gotta love this. You would think I’m Jeffrey Dahmer up in this motherfμ¢Ξ®,” he cracked at one point. “I’m not going to eat you. I promise.”
Clearly, Mitchell overreacted to his arrest. He taunted cops who were simply doing their jobs, but he settled into something approaching straight comedy after he appeared to realize that his combativeness wasn’t helping matters. My favorite moment is when he says “Ten four. Roger. Thanks for picking me up.”
I had to cut ninety seconds from the original piece I edited for WXIA, partly because I used too much of Mitchell’s material. That’s one of the perils of having an abundance of video.
I wish I could have spoken to Mitchell, but I couldn’t reach him based on the police report info. The guy seems to have genuine comedic talent. Perhaps this Youtube video will get him out of the Waffle House bathroom and into the limelight, for the right reasons.
Hey, it could happen. My kids and I are rooting for him.