National Police Misconduct Reporting Project

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.

 

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.

The Wire: Police Commanders Discuss Prospects of Grand Jury Indictment for Brutality Case

Does this scene from an HBO show tell us that the outcome in every grand jury case involving police misconduct is preordained?  Of course not.  Do prosecutors exert their power and influence to have grand juries refrain from criminal charges against police officers — even when the available evidence is incriminating?  It happens.

Cato study on grand juries here.

The Eric Garner Case: Time to Open Your Eyes

Harry Siegel in the New York Daily News:

Garner had a heart attack in the ambulance, and died.

As he lay dying, he was treated like a piece of meat. By Pantaleo. By the other cops on the scene. Even by the medical technicians.

Had Garner been treated with basic human dignity after he was violently, and needlessly, taken down, he might not be dead.

I’m no lawyer, but this is section 125.15 of New York’s penal code: “A person is guilty of manslaughter in the second degree when: 1. He recklessly causes the death of another person.”

So I’m stunned, and saddened, by a Staten Island grand jury’s decision to level no charges against Pantaleo.

Anyone unsure why so many people of color are upset with the police, and suspicious of the American justice system, put your politics down, open your eyes and watch the videos.

Regular visitors will recall that we selected the Garner case as the ‘worst of the month’ for July.

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