National Police Misconduct Reporting Project

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 12-18-14

Here are the 9 reports of police misconduct tracked for Thursday, December 18, 2014:

  • Los Angeles County, California: The sheriff’s department settled a civil suit and agreed to federal oversight of its jail facilities due to numerous instances of abuse. According to NPR: “There are the grisly details of inmate beatings by gang-like cliques of sheriff’s officers while higher-ups look the other way. Then you have the indictments handed down by the U.S. attorney here that recently led to criminal convictions against top sheriff’s deputies. The federal government accused them of encouraging the violence. In one case, a deputy beat and pepper sprayed an inmate and then taught other lower-level officers how to write a report covering up the abuse.” http://ow.ly/G4jyU 
  • Cleveland, Ohio: A police officer was arrested for domestic violence. Over the course of several days, he is alleged to have physically abused his girlfriend several times including shoving her to the ground and knocking her unconscious. http://ow.ly/G6BeL 
  • Leflore County, Mississippi: A deputy was arrested by the FBI for accepting money from an informant for what he believed to be cocaine. He was fired upon his arrest. http://ow.ly/G76gq 
  • Update: Corpus Christi, Texas (First reported 10-01-14): Two officers whom had been involved in an arrest with excessive force have been disciplined. One officer resigned, the other is currently suspended without pay. http://ow.ly/G7ax4 
  • Homer, Louisiana: A police officer was charged with federal civil rights violations for physically abusing a female suspect and making false statements to FBI about the incident. http://ow.ly/G7fK7 
  • Mohave County, Arizona: A sheriff’s deputy faces three domestic violence charges for assaulting his mother-in-law. http://ow.ly/G7iDg 
  • Portland, Oregon (Oregon State Police): A detective was sentenced to 18 months of probation for misconduct during an investigation into a white supremacist killing spree. He committed forgery, illegally intercepted suspects’ mail, and destroyed evidence in the case, among other violations.  He resigned as part of his plea deal. The judge in the case said, “The most troubling aspect of the conduct in this case is that, in large part, the government, which was aware of the problems to a substantial degree, did not alert the court of these problems of its volition.” http://ow.ly/G7jOt 
  • Update: Saratoga County, New York (First reported 03-05-14): A deputy has been sentenced to five years in prison for a cocaine trafficking and protection scheme. He accepted $5000 to escort a drug dealer on two separate trips as a bodyguard. http://ow.ly/G7mVL 
  • Orange County, California (US Immigration and Customs Enforcement): An agent was charged with filing roughly $13,000 in false overtime claims over a nine month period. http://ow.ly/G7rr7 

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 12-17-14

Here are the 21 reports of police misconduct tracked for Wednesday, December 17, 2014:

  • Greene County, Ohio: A now-former sheriff’s major was convicted on two of seven counts for illegally purchasing a machine gun. He forged a superior’s name on the federal paperwork to acquire the gun and then kept it for his personal use. http://ow.ly/FWCAG 
  • Boston, Massachusetts: A state trooper has been placed on restricted duty. The state police are investigating an incident caught on video in which the trooper verbally abused and pepper sprayed a peaceful protester. http://ow.ly/FYX4c 
  • Huntsville, Alabama: A police officer was arrested by FBI for bribery. The highly decorated officer was arrested under sealed affidavit so few other details are currently available to the public. http://ow.ly/FWFa7 
  • Baton Rouge, Louisiana: An officer has been named in two federal lawsuits alleging excessive force. The lawsuits allege a documented history of violent behavior by the officer. http://ow.ly/FZy6u 
  • Espanola, New Mexico: A police officer was arrested for aggravated driving while intoxicated. His law enforcement certification has been suspended pending outcome of the criminal case. http://ow.ly/FZAWH 
  • Baltimore, Maryland: The police department is being sued by woman who claims she was verbally abused, tasered, and arrested for recording a police stop of another person. She claims the police erased the encounter from her cell phone, but she was able to recover the footage that included her own arrest because she had an application that automatically backed up her data. http://ow.ly/FZFIv 
  • Chillicothe, Ohio: An officer was suspended and then resigned amid administrative and criminal investigations into an alleged sexual assault. The victim originally refused to speak to anyone in law enforcement when she was admitted to the hospital. The following day, she returned to the hospital to talk with sheriff’s department detectives from the county. She described the officer and he was identified. http://ow.ly/FZJZ3 
  • Jefferson Parish, Louisiana: A deputy was fired and arrested for having sex with suspect in exchange for not taking her to jail. The deputy had responded to a reported theft from a car. He learned that the caller had a warrant and two other outstanding attachments. They reached a compromise. However, when she called-in another theft, according to the news report: “A different deputy responded and told the woman about the attachments and warrant….The woman then informed the deputy of her previous arrangement with his colleague. But no similar terms were struck. The deputy arrested the woman and informed supervisors about the allegation.” http://ow.ly/FZZS8 
  • Update: Colchester, Vermont (First reported 11-12-14): A detective has been indicted for stealing $5,000 in cash and drugs from the evidence room, giving a firearm to a felon, and heroin distribution. http://ow.ly/G05dV 
  • Salem, Virginia: An officer and DEA task force member pled guilty to bribery. He had been accused of soliciting sex from a cooperating witness in exchange for his support at her sentencing. http://ow.ly/G078w 
  • Onondaga County, New York: Three sheriff’s deputies have been indicted for filing false time sheets for public transit duty they didn’t serve. http://ow.ly/G1dHV 
  • Denton County, Texas: A deputy has been indicted for child exploitation. He is alleged to have downloaded and stored child pornography on his computer. http://ow.ly/G32hB 
  • Victoria, Texas: An officer was suspended and is under investigation for excessive force after tasing a 76-year-old man over expired inspection tags for his vehicle. The video of the incident has gone viral. http://ow.ly/G3aRQ 
  • Update: King County, Washington (First reported 03-04-14): A deputy pled guilty to reckless driving, a misdemeanor. He had originally been arrested for DUI and hit & run. Investigators alleged that he took sleeping pills an hour before the accident. http://ow.ly/G2YV7 
  • Aledo, Illinois: Two deputies were arrested on the same day after a state police investigation into an allegation of an inappropriate relationship between a member of the department and a minor. One deputy was charged with aggravated criminal sexual abuse, meaning he had sexual contact with someone between 13 and 17 years old. The other was charged with indecent solicitation of a child.  http://ow.ly/G34DB 
  • Buffalo, New York: An officer has been suspended without pay after a video surfaced of him beating a man with a baton Thanksgiving morning. http://ow.ly/G37NB 
  • St. Petersburg, Florida: An officer was arrested for suspicion of DUI after running red light. He has been suspended pending an investigation into the incident. http://ow.ly/G3BlC 
  • Salem, Massachusetts (Massachusetts State Police): A state trooper pled not guilty to DUI and other offenses stemming from Spring 2014 car accident. The vehicle hit a utility pole and a 53-year-old passenger in the car had to be airlifted to the hospital to be treated for his injuries. The trooper refused a field sobriety test and refused medical treatment, thus precluding a blood test. http://ow.ly/G45cK 
  • Update: Los Angeles County, California (First reported 01-18-12): A now-former deputy has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for obstructing federal civil rights investigation. The former deputy was the last of a number of department members prosecuted for abusing prisoners in the jail and covering up investigations into that abuse. http://ow.ly/G49ij 
  • Update: Clay County, Florida (First reported 02-27-14): The sheriff’s office has settled a wrongful arrest suit for $50,000. Two detectives jailed the wrong teen for child sex abuse and held him for 35 days. http://ow.ly/G3Gbg 
  • Update: Honolulu, Hawaii (First reported 09-19-14): An officer pled not guilty to three sexual assault charges and is awaiting trial. http://ow.ly/G43nw 

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 12-16-14

Here are the 10 reports of police misconduct tracked for Tuesday December 16, 2014:

  • Update: Oldham County, Kentucky (First reported 10-14-14): A now-former police officer was sentenced to nine months in jail for sending lewd text messages to a teenager he met during a traffic stop. http://ow.ly/FWfGR
  • Update: Woonsocket, Rhode Island (First reported 08-22-12): A now-former police officer was sentenced to 10 years in prison, with all but six months suspended, for choking his 9-year-old sister while she was in his custody. http://ow.ly/FWjWa
  • Update: Berkeley, New Jersey (First reported 06-11-14): The police department settled an excessive force lawsuit for $110,000 from an incident in January 2013. Video evidence shows an officer punch a handcuffed man in custody. The offending officer had been involved in another excessive force lawsuit in 2008 that also resulted in a $110,000 settlement. http://ow.ly/FWlpY 
  • Colfax, Louisiana: A now-former police chief was sentenced for one count each of malfeasance in office, obstruction of justice, and theft of a firearm for pawning seized police evidence. He received five year sentences, suspended, on both the malfeasance and obstruction charges. He was sentenced to seven years hard labor, with five suspended, on the gun charge. http://ow.ly/FWoCz 
  • Update: Alton, Illinois (First reported 08-14-14): An evidence officer is accused of destroying forensic evidence, including a rape kit and clothing. The discovery was made during an investigation into missing evidence in 130 cases. It is unclear whether this officer is responsible for the other missing evidence. http://ow.ly/FWvnC 
  • Update: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (First reported 04-01-14): The department settled a lawsuit by a teacher for wrongful arrest. The teacher was arrested outside a public meeting that had been discussing police/community relations. http://ow.ly/FYGZw 
  • Suffolk, Virginia: A female officer was arrested for assault after confrontation with another officer’s wife. The wife had filed charges against her husband but subsequently dropped them. Both officers are currently under investigation. http://ow.ly/FYE4d 
  • Update: New York, New York (First reported 12-10-11): A now-former police officer was sentenced to 12.5-14.5 years in prison for grand larceny, robbery, and drug possession. This conviction was the latest in a string of cases that originally stemmed from a ticket fixing scandal that uncovered a drug ring and other corruption in the NYPD. http://ow.ly/FYQ1d 
  • El Paso, Texas: A police officer was fired after the investigation into the fatal shooting of a handcuffed man who was sitting on the ground outside the local jail. The officer had been on leave since the incident in March 2013. The victim’s family has filed a civil suit, but the district attorney declined to file criminal charges. http://ow.ly/FWAu2 
  • Starr County, Texas: A sheriff’s deputy was indicted for smuggling 77 pounds of marijuana across US-Mexico border. The deputy and her brother were arrested November 10 at a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol checkpoint with bundles of marijuana hidden in their vehicle’s floor. http://ow.ly/FYS2T 

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 12-03-14 to 12-15-14

Here are the 15 reports of police misconduct tracked for Wednesday December 3 to Monday, December 15, 2014:

  • Corpus Christi, Texas: A police officer has been disciplined after dash cam video showed he asked woman to delete video of chokehold by county official. ly/FUGrY
  • Colcord, Oklahoma: A police chief has been arrested for driving under the influence in his police cruiser. It’s his third DUI since 2004. ly/FUNb4
  • Pittsfield, Massachusetts: A man claims he was arrested for recording a traffic stop with his cell phone. He is challenging the arrest at his trial for disorderly conduct. ly/FV3fJ
  • Memphis, Tennessee: A police officer resigned and pled guilty to a charge of misconduct. He was accused of coercing a fugitive to perform sex acts. ly/FV6u4
  • Riverside County, California: A sheriff’s sergeant was charged with battery on a spouse, false imprisonment, assault, and illegal possession of controlled substances. ly/FVn0f
  • New Straitsville, Ohio: The police chief was indicted for records tampering for second time in the past two years. The newer charges are related to complicity in his wife’s alleged food stamp and Medicaid fraud charges, for which he faces up to seven years. A former Perry County Sheriff’s deputy, he was already slated for a trial for tampering with records and unlawful use of a law enforcement database. He faces up to 14 years in that case. http://ow.ly/FVplR
  • Update: Los Angeles, California (First reported 8-30-12): The police department settled excessive force suit for $550,000. The plaintiff had video showing officers body slamming her to the ground twice after she talked back to one officer. One officer involved in the case was suspended and the other was fired. http://ow.ly/FVvdU
  • Update: Los Angeles County, California (First reported 9-13-13): A now-former sheriff’s deputy pled no contest to charges related to a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old girl. The highly decorated 22-year veteran was sentenced to three years in prison. http://ow.ly/FVCjn
  • Update: Eutawville, South Carolina (First reported 8-16-13): A now-former police chief was indicted for murder stemming from 2011 shooting of unarmed man in parking lot. He had been charged in relation to the case with misconduct in office, but a judge recently ruled he could not use a Stand Your Ground defense and subsequently a grand jury indicted him for murder. http://ow.ly/FVHJy
  • Carbon County, Utah: A county sheriff was charged with misuse of public funds and equipment. He allegedly used department funds to pay for $2000 worth of gasoline for his personal use. He also used the department’s search and rescue trailer to move into his new home in a neighboring county. http://ow.ly/FVQJj
  • Clewiston, Florida: A police officer was arrested for assaulting a Hendry County sheriff’s deputy at a gas station. Both officers were off duty but the assaulting officer was still wearing part of his uniform at the time of the alleged attack. http://ow.ly/FVXmK

Boston Globe Looks at Police DUI Cases

From the Boston Globe:

Simpkins is one of at least 30 Massachusetts law enforcement officials who have been charged with drunken driving while off-duty since the start of 2012, a Globe review has found. The crashes collectively killed three people and injured more than a half-dozen others.

Though some officers resigned or were placed on unpaid leave after the charges, a majority kept their jobs, sometimes after a short suspension.

The drunken driving tally is almost certainly low because not every arrest is widely reported and officers sometimes let their peers off the hook, a practice known as “professional courtesy.” …

The Globe also found the vast majority of officers, like Simpkins, refused to take a breath test, making it harder to prosecute them criminally for drunken driving. And departments frequently went out of their way to accommodate them — keeping officers on the payroll even after they temporarily lost their licenses for refusing the test and could no longer do their regular duties….

The Globe’s findings saddened Ron Bersani of Marshfield, whose 13-year-old granddaughter was killed by a drunk driver in 2003, inspiring “Melanie’s Law” to combat drunken driving.

“I think people in public service should be held to a higher standard, but that is apparently not the case,” said Bersani, grandfather of Melanie Powell. “It is enormously frustrating.”

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 12-03-14

Here are the 10 reports of police misconduct tracked for Tuesday, December 3, 2014:

  • Update: Bangs, Texas (Previously reported 10-10-14): The now-former police chief was sentenced to five years of probation and permanently lost his peace officer license. He pled guilty to abuse of official capacity, a felony. ly/Ff4lB
  • Erie, Pennsylvania: A police officer is facing DUI charges after he hit a fire truck with his car. ly/FeXCc
  • Port St. Lucie, Florida: A police officer is behind bars for allegedly having sex with a 16-year-old high school student. “This is unacceptable behavior and incomprehensible for a police officer to engage in this type of behavior,” said the police chief. ly/FeVTi
  • Update: Buffalo, New York (Previously reported 06-18-14): A now-former police officer convicted on federal civil rights charges related to the videotaped beating of a handcuffed suspect has been sentenced to a year of probation. The incident was recorded by a bystander. ly/FeTPI
  • Brunswick Hills Township, Ohio: An officer has been suspended for 30 days for a series of incidents where he failed to properly use his sirens and traveled at excessive speeds. The chief said the officer’s actions created a danger to other emergency crews, pedestrians and children. ly/FeRxa
  • Cabell, West Virginia: A now-former sheriff’s deputy entered a plea convicting him of misdemeanor domestic battery. ly/FeNSs
  • Update: Boynton Beach, Florida (First reported 10-31-14): The 20-year-old woman who police say was raped by a police officer has filed a lawsuit against the officer and the city. ly/FeIRO
  • Nags Head, North Carolina: The police chief has been served by the with an arrest warrant for assaulting a female, a published report says. ly/FeBD9
  • New York, New York: A police officer has been arrested on a drunken driving charge after he left the scene of a fender bender. ly/Fey1o
  • Prince George’s County, Maryland: Police have suspended an officer after he was charged with simple assault and disorderly conduct, authorities said. ly/FdXke

Police Departments on Trial

From the Economist:

So far much of the debate within America has focused on race. That is not unreasonable: the victims were all black, and most of the policemen involved were white. American blacks feel that the criminal-justice system works against them, rather than for them. Some 59% of white Americans have confidence in the police, but only 37% of blacks do. This is poisonous: if any racial group distrusts the enforcers of the law, it erodes the social contract. It also hurts America’s moral standing in the world (not aided by revelations about the CIA’s use of torture—see article). But racial division, rooted as it is in America’s past, is not easily mitigated.

There is, however, another prism through which to examine these grim stories: the use of excessive violence by the state (see article). It, too, has complex origins, but quite a lot of them may be susceptible to reform. In many cases Americans simply do not realise how capricious and violent their law-enforcement system is compared with those of other rich countries. It could be changed in ways that would make America safer, and fairer to both blacks and whites….

In many ways America remains a model for other countries. Its economic engine has roared back to life. Its values are ones which decent people should want to spread. Yet its criminal-justice system, the backbone of any society, is deeply flawed.

 

Worst of the Month — November 2014

The worst police misconduct in November goes to the Cleveland Police Department.

To begin with, in late November, a Cleveland officer shot and killed 12-year old Tamir Rice.

The press reports based on the police accounts at the time of the incident read:

A rookie Cleveland police officer shot a 12-year-old boy outside a city recreation center late Saturday afternoon after the boy pulled a BB gun from his waistband, police said.

Police were responding to reports of a male with a gun outside Cudell Recreation Center at Detroit Avenue and West Boulevard about 3:30 p.m., Deputy Chief of Field Operations Ed Tomba said.

A rookie officer and a 10-15 year veteran pulled into the parking lot and saw a few people sitting underneath a pavilion next to the center. The rookie officer saw a black gun sitting on the table, and he saw the boy pick up the gun and put it in his waistband, Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association President Jeffrey Follmer said.

The officer got out of the car and told the boy to put his hands up. The boy reached into his waistband, pulled out the gun and the rookie officer fired two shots, Tomba said.

As detailed in this video report by MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, the initial reports by the police do not jibe with video evidence in several major respects.

The video shows Rice, alone, playing with his toy gun and also with the snow, as 12 year olds are wont to do. He was not, as the police said, with “a few people” in the pavilion. Other police reports to the press said the shooting officer got out of his car and told Rice three times to put his hands up. The video, unfortunately without audio and recording at the speed of two frames per second, shows the officer shooting Rice within 1.5-2 seconds after exiting the police vehicle.

The officers also waited several minutes before administering CPR to the fallen boy.

The original call that drew the police to the park in the first place said the person with the gun in the park was likely a minor and likely was a toy gun. Apparently, this information was not relayed to the responding officers, who called-in the shooting victim as “possibly 20” years old.

The officer who shot Rice “was specifically faulted for breaking down emotionally while handling a live gun” according to subsequent reporting. The internal memo that informed the report concluded that the officer be “released from the employment of the City of Independence [,Ohio].”

And here’s the thing: The Cleveland Police hired the officer without checking his personnel file from his previous law enforcement job, where he was deemed unfit!

The Department of Justice took a close look at the Cleveland Department and issued a highly critical report:

The Justice Department report on Cleveland cataloged many instances of unjustified force, including officers who assaulted, pepper-sprayed and even Tasered people already being restrained. In one case last year, the police fired two shots at a man wearing only boxer shorts who was fleeing from two armed assailants. In a 2011 case, a man who had been restrained on the ground with his arms and legs spread was then kicked by officers. He was later treated for a broken bone in his face.

The city’s policing problems, [Attorney General] Holder said, stemmed from “systemic deficiencies, including insufficient accountability, inadequate training and equipment, ineffective policies and inadequate engagement with the community.”

Cop Car Crashes

From WJLA:

They’re sworn to serve and protect. But police officers are not immune to causing harm, especially behind the wheel. An ABC7 I-Team investigation discovered police officers in the D.C. area have been found at fault in hundreds of accidents, causing deaths, injuries and thousands of dollars in damages….

Some of the accidents also resulted in injuries, not just to officers, but also members of the public. In Montgomery County, which supplied the most detailed and comprehensive records, eight civilians have been injured since 2010 in police-involved accidents in which the officer was classified as responsible. Those incidents include a 2013 accident in which a person was hurt after being struck by an officer who didn’t see them walking through a parking garage.

The video that details the last seconds of Ashley McIntosh’s life has logged more than 240,000 views on YouTube. But for the Fairfax County woman’s mother, Cindy Colasanto, seeing it just once was enough.

“I can’t even tell you how I felt, how devastating it was to see,” Colasanto said.

Colasanto fought in Richmond to change laws requiring police lights and sirens after being forced to watch her daughter’s life end on a dash camera. McIntosh was killed by a police cruiser that slammed into her car. The officer had run a red light at a high rate of speed without using a siren.

Good reporting.

NYT on Police Misconduct: Millions of Americans Subjected to Intimidation

New York Times editorial:

The Justice Department report describes the Cleveland Police Department as something far closer to an occupying military force than a legitimate law enforcement agency. The officers, for example, seem to take a casual view of the use of deadly force, shooting at people who pose no threat of harm to the police or others. In one case in 2013, for example, they actually fired at a victim who had been held captive in a house — as he escaped, clad only in boxer shorts.

The report cataloged numerous incidents of wanton violence, with officers beating, pepper-spraying and Tasering people who were unarmed or had already been restrained. Officers escalated encounters with citizens instead of defusing them, making force all but inevitable.

The record in Cleveland is extreme. But aspects of illegal police conduct can be found in cities all over the country, subjecting millions to intimidation and fear that they could be killed for innocent actions.

Subjecting millions to intimidation.  Stop what you’re doing and think about that.

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