This just reinforces the long-lasting reality that cops are - generally, though not exclusively - mindless thugs.
This is not an "American" issue, this is the way it is in every society, historically and presently. That position of power, getting a badge and a gun and 'being' the 'law', attracts mostly the wrong type of people to it. People that would taser students for speaking or not showing I.D., people that would beat up kids for skateboarding, people that would pepper spray a baby squirrel, and people that would abuse that power and wield it like a little boy with a little toy.
For much of recent history, in places like America, the 'police' are viewed as being there "to serve and protect." They are, in reality, the coercive domestic apparatus of 'the state', a structure which is inherently and always corrupt and corrupting and ultimately dehumanizing. Thus, they enforce the corrupt laws and dehumanizing policies of such a state. The military serves this purpose in foreign policy, though they too can be turned on the domestic population (just look at Egypt, Bahrain, Libya, Cote D'Ivoire, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and on and on and on.
This role has been evident to 'minority' groups within Western "democratic" society for most of our history. If you were poor, black, Latino, gay, or anti-war, anti-globalization, et. al., you have seen how the 'state' and its domestic apparatus "protect and serve." The question is: who do they protect and serve? Is it you? Or is it 'the state'? The answer is obvious. However, as these groups are brought within the system and structures of power, the overt coercion against them subsides for the most part.
As an example, the notion of "black power" in the 60s was transformed through the funding of the Civil Rights Movement by the major capitalist philanthropies such as the Rockefeller, Ford, and Carnegie Foundations, which directed their hefty financial weight into supporting those organizations in the movement that supported legalistic and reform-minded changes to the system, like the NAACP. In doing this, certain organizations rose above others in prominence. Martin Luther King's organization, the Southern Christian Leadership Council, was funded by foundations. But when he began speaking out against the war in Vietnam, the American empire, economic exploitation at home and abroad, and was beginning a massive anti-poverty campaign, his funding from the foundations subsided. When he was killed (as the King family later proved in court, his assassination was an "act of state"), the funding ceased altogether. Instead, "black power" became "black capitalism." Thus, black individuals were able to get the "right" educations and rise to positions of power within the system, even now to the point of president Yet, the fundamental issues remain. Black people in the U.S. still suffer disproportionately compared to the rest of American society. Latinos follow, and it's the usual story. If Civil Rights was successful, why has so little truly changed? Sure, some of the faces changed, but the system hasn't.
Of course, there are cops who want to "do the right thing." But there are also politicians who are "honest." In either case, they are a rare breed. It is the nature of such institutions and positions of authority that they inevitably attract the wrong type of people to them.
I am not saying that this cop spraying a squirrel is doing this in service to "the state," I am simply saying that he and his actions are a symptom of a much larger issue: that of the role between the state and the people. Those who enforce the provisions of the state often enforce them against the people. This reality has made it so that police often attract those types that would be willing to be hired goons.
Protesters in Toronto know this well. When the G20 was here last summer, Toronto police (with a $1 billion security budget) rounded up thousands of innocent people and put them in a make-shift detention centre in downtown Toronto like it was some Third World despot.
And yet, of course, you will always have those fools and apologists who say, "well, that person should have done what the cop said," or "they shouldn't have been there," or "that squirrel could have bit him."
The only difference is that now, because of the Internet and cell phone technology and social media, we are becoming more 'aware' of those who rule over us. It's a lot harder to abuse power if there are constantly videos being filmed. This is a positive development. It's becoming harder to get away with all this insanity. The only unfortunate other reality to this is that the police seem to be getting increasingly authoritarian in nature and training. But hey, that's "Homeland Security": protecting the powerful from the people.
I leave you with a quote:
"A foolish faith in authority is the worst enemy of truth" - Einstein