Hogtying: Cruel, barbaric and needs to go

Screenshot from body camera footage showing Falcinelli laid on his stomach, hogtied. | Video by QuotidianoNazionale

PantherNOW Editorial Board

Hogtying is the practice of tying together the hands and feet of a person or all four legs of an animal, rendering them immobile. Looking at it, it’s not too far off from being mistaken for some medieval torture. 

Matteo Falcinelli, an FIU graduate student was arrested by North Miami Beach police and hogtied by the officers — yes, hogtied

Falcinelli’s arrest caused such a stir in his home country of Italy that Antonio Tajani, the minister of foreign affairs, had to make a statement condemning it, stating that he was “deeply shocked by the violence and the kind of treatment that was applied to our young compatriot.” 

Being arrested shouldn’t mean that we are subjected to inhumane protocols that shouldn’t be legal in the first place. The life threatening risks of hogtying only gets worse when officers fail to follow safety measures. 

The practice is banned in cities like New York and Los Angeles due to the life threatening risk it poses to the individual. Hogtying can jeopardize one’s ability to breathe and potentially kill them.

There have already been 23 deaths of individuals who were hogtied when arrested by officers — how many more will there be?

Despite the practice’s brutality, it is still a protocol that law enforcement are trained to do. 

FIUPD Chief Alexander D. Casas shares on record with PantherNOW that in his four years of law enforcement he has seen hogtying protocol about six times when arrestees are “combative and they have to be transported” and “more of a danger of hurting themselves.”

But there are ways to subdue someone without hurting them and making them transportable; hogtying isn’t one of those options.

The arrest report indicated that Falcinelli was intoxicated but this isn’t uncommon for officers to see in Florida. Though intoxicated individuals’ actions can be unpredictable, there are steps to properly and safely detaining them with minimal force. 

Yet nothing about Falcinelli’s arrest was minimal.

Hogtying is a traumatic experience that strips an individual’s sense of humanity by treating them like an animal. 

But again, the body cam footage doesn’t show the whole situation. 

What it does show is that the officers failed to follow two vital safety measures when deciding to hogtie an individual: do not leave them on their stomachs and do not leave them alone. 

Hogtying is a traumatic experience that strips an individual’s sense of humanity by treating them like an animal. | Illustration by: Leonardo Hernandez

Chief Casas made it clear to PantherNOW that “once you apply the leg restraint, you have to lay them on their side or on their back. You can not lay them prone because you would be killing them on their stomachs.” 

It was also made clear that protocol states that they must be monitored as long as they are restrained – no exception.

The body cam video not only shows the cruelty of hogtying but the officers leaving Falcinelli on his stomach in a locked cell. Whether it was a lack of care or borderline ignorance, there is no justification for this.

Officers understanding and following safety measures when restraining an individual is the difference between life or death. Absurd arrests like these will only continue if nothing is done about it. 

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