National Police Misconduct Reporting Project

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 01-30-15

Here are the eight reports of police misconduct tracked for Friday, January 30, 2015:

  • Fairfax, Virginia: The police use a SWAT team to raid a home poker game and seize 40 percent of the money through asset forfeiture. ow.ly/Id7HW
  • Las Vegas, Nevada: A detective was arrested for attempted sexual assault and battery. The incident allegedly began as a dispute over fees for prostitution and escalated when the detective attempted to retrieve his money. ow.ly/Id9ud
  • Valdosta, Georgia: An officer was arrested on evidence tampering and theft charges. He was fired. He allegedly failed to turn in a shotgun he had collected as evidence.  http://bit.ly/1HMXLZj
  • California Highway Patrol: A now-former officer was sentenced to three years of probation for sending nude photos from arrestees’ phones to himself and others. After arresting female drivers, he would go through their cell phones to find pictures of them and forward them to fellow officers. The two other officers involved were not charged.  ow.ly/Ie4Cm
  • Update: Franklin County, Ohio (First reported: 03-31-14): A now-former deputy pled guilty to possession of child pornography. ow.ly/IejNh
  • Kankakee County, Illinois: A now-former deputy who had once served as president of the state’s chiefs of police pled guilty to fraud and tax evasion. He misused $250,000 from a fund for helicopters. According to the news report, he’ll be sentenced in May for mail fraud, money laundering, tax evasion, and filing false tax returns. ow.ly/IeBfd
  • New Orleans, Louisiana: A now-former officer pled guilty to stealing nearly $160,000 of government funds. The money was a subsidy meant to encourage landlords to rent out their spaces cheaply to those displaced by Hurricane Katrina. The officer filed for the paperwork but did not lower the rates on the properties she rented out, thereby violating the law’s requirements. ow.ly/IePJw
  • Update: Holcomb, Missouri (First reported 05-16-14): A now-former officer pled guilty to failure to execute an arrest warrant, a misdemeanor. He was initially charged with obstruction, a felony, for warning a burglary suspect that she was wanted for arrest. http://ow.ly/IeTDg

“So, where does one find the officer safety exception to the Constitution?”

Officer safety is important. Public safety is also important. Police should follow the law and respect the rights of citizens as part of their day-to-day jobs to keep both themselves and the public safer.

Over at Law and Order, a magazine for police management, three experienced leaders in law enforcement training and leadership explain the ethical and professional imperative of constitutional policing:

Federal Constitutional law governs a number of the most critical and often high-risk police actions: use of force, seizures of persons, investigative detentions and arrests, searches of persons, vehicle stops and searches, entry into private premises, and the concepts of reasonable suspicion and probable cause.

Violations of the Federal Constitution can cause evidence suppression in major cases, massive civil liability, career devastation, and even criminal prosecution of law enforcement officers. But avoidance of these horrendous negatives is not the best reason for an officer to follow the Constitution. The best reason is a shining positive: keeping faith with the oath of office.

On the day an officer takes that oath, the Constitution becomes more than a legal obligation. It becomes an ethical duty, a matter of promise keeping—keeping the most solemn promise made in a law enforcement career—to support, uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States of America.   But however lofty that promise, it is hollow—without a thorough understanding of what the Constitution requires of us.

Our training helps provide that understanding by teaching what we can and cannot lawfully do under the United States Constitution. This knowledge is a powerful tool for achieving investigative goals. It also helps us stay out of trouble. Most importantly, it empowers us to attain the ethical standards that we have so ardently pledged, adding meaning and value to our oath of office—the promise made to a community by those who police it, the promise in exchange for which one is allowed to be a police officer.

[…]

Awareness and self-discipline are the first lines of defense. Positive peer pressure must be normative and organizational discipline should enter the picture as necessary.

More demand for accountability and transparency grants us opportunities to build stronger relationships with our communities that enhance officer safety in the most comprehensive sense. This atmosphere expands trust and exposes the true villains in our communities. We are not soldiers fighting a war, but servant leaders striving to find a way to inspire others to be accountable and to participate actively in securing safety and prosperity for all law-abiding community members, including police officers.

You should read the whole thing here.

H/T: Prof. Sean Stoughton

NYC Settles Lawsuit Involving Teen Killing

From the New York Times:

The family of a Bronx teenager who was fatally shot by a police officer who had barged into his apartment after suspecting him of taking part in a drug deal has agreed to settle a wrongful-death lawsuit against the city for $3.9 million.

The agreement to settle the case, reported Friday by The Daily News, comes nearly three years after the Feb. 2, 2012, shooting of the teenager, Ramarley Graham….

A criminal case against Officer Haste collapsed in August 2013 when a Bronx grand jury chose not to indict him. An earlier case in which he had been indicted on manslaughter charges related to the shooting was dismissed by a judge on a technicality.

More on the John Geer Shooting

From the Washington Post:

How and why Geer died that afternoon in August 2013 after police responded to a domestic dispute at his home have remained a mystery, as police and prosecutors have declined to comment on the case for 17 months. But Friday night, under a court order obtained by lawyers for the Geer family, Fairfax released more than 11,000 pages of documents that shed new light on the police shooting….

Mike Lieberman, an attorney for the Geer family, said: “If this was a similar situation involving two ordinary citizens, there is little doubt that any individual who shot an unarmed man who was holding his hands up in the air and claiming that he did not want to hurt anyone would have been arrested and charged.

“Within days of the shooting, the police department, at the highest levels, knew of the gross discrepancies between Officer Torres’s version of the events and the accounts provided by every other eyewitness.”

According to the report, the local prosecutor was unable to get information from the police department about the officer who shot Geer.  Why did the police department withhold the information?  Hmm.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 01-29-15

Here are the eight reports of police misconduct tracked for Thursday, January 29, 2015:

  • San Francisco, California: A police inspector arrested a public defender for resisting arrest, but video evidence released by the public defenders’ office shows the attorney attempting to advise her client of his constitutional rights.  ow.ly/I9rQm
  • St. Louis, Missouri: An airport policeman was arrested and charged with conspiracy to possess child pornography. ow.ly/I9Lj9
  • Horry County, South Carolina: An officer was arrested for fleeing on foot after he was pulled over for a traffic stop. ow.ly/I9VBb
  • Update: Honolulu, Hawaii (First reported 09-17-14): Sexual assault charges against a police officer have been dropped. The criminal case is closed, but the officer remains on administrative duty without police powers until the internal investigation is concluded.  ow.ly/Ia3TG
  • Seattle, Washington: The police department has apologized to a 69-year-old black man who was arrested for swinging a golf club at a police officer. The dashboard camera footage of the incident did not support the officer’s story. The officer has been reassigned to administrative duty pending an investigation. http://bit.ly/1uJQ5Me
  • Update: Detroit, Michigan (First reported 03-12-13): An officer will not face a third trial for killing a seven-year-old girl during a raid for a murder suspect. The incident happened during a taping of the reality show, “The First 48.” The officer’s two previous trials ended with hung juries. ow.ly/IawcI
  • Edinburg, Texas: An officer resigned after being arrested and charged with selling synthetic marijuana in his novelty store. ow.ly/IaOgc
  • New York, New York: An officer was arrested for DUI after a traffic accident. No injuries and only minor damage were reported. ow.ly/IaV5n

Welcome Jonathan Blanks

I have a new research associate, Jonathan Blanks, who will be working with me on criminal justice issues, particularly on police misconduct matters.  Jon’s primary responsibilities will include tweeting the misconduct incidents, preparing the Daily Recaps, and searching for more misconduct stories (because I know I fall short of finding them all).

By way of introduction, Jon graduated from Indiana University with a BA in political science.  He has been working here at the Cato Institute since 2007 and he has published articles all over the place–including in the Washington PostThe New RepublicDenver Post, Chicago TribuneCapital Playbook (New York), ReasonLibertarianism.orgRare.us, and the Indianapolis Star.

In 2015, we hope to make this web site even better!

 

 

Problems in Cleveland

From the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

Of the nearly $8 million the city of Cleveland has paid in the past decade to resolve allegations of police misconduct, more than $630,000 went to people who said they were wrongfully arrested — charged with crimes they didn’t commit or jailed for having the same names as suspects.

Today, Northeast Ohio Media Group and The Plain Dealer Publishing Co. examine some of these cases, culled from more than 100 lawsuits that ended in settlements or judgments against the city. They include complaints of unprovoked beatings, of needlessly mistaken identities and of insensitivity.

The allegations, while often disputed by the city, are similar to those recently cited by U.S. Justice Department investigators as evidence that Cleveland officers too often abuse their powers.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 01-28-15

These are the seven reports of police misconduct tracked for Wednesday, January 28, 2015:

  • Nolensville, Tennessee: A now-former officer was sentenced to four years of probation and ordered to pay a $1000 fine for official misconduct and tampering with evidence. He solicited inappropriate texts from a minor. ow.ly/I5dpz
  • Miramar, Florida: A federal appeals court upheld a $7,000,000 judgment against two now-former officers. In 1983, the officers coerced a mentally challenged 15-year-old boy to confess to rape and murder and withheld exculpatory evidence in his case. He served 26 years before being exonerated by DNA evidence in 2009.  ow.ly/I5eRY
  • Assumption Parish, Louisiana: A deputy was fired after an arrest for domestic violence. He allegedly threw his wife to the ground repeatedly. When a female deputy responded to the home, he assaulted her and attempted to disarm her.  ow.ly/I63iQ
  • Ogden, Utah: A now-former police officer and Weber-Morgan drug task force agent was arrested for drug distribution. According to the news report, on two occasions, he approached a woman to buy prescription drugs from a third party in exchange for money. The officer, who was then assigned to the narcotics unit, never paid the woman and she subsequently reported him to authorities. One criminal case has already been dismissed and others may be threatened by the officer’s alleged misconduct. ow.ly/I5N7M
  • Stanislaus County, California: A detective was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence. ow.ly/I6hlz
  • Chesapeake, Virginia: The City settled a lawsuit for $50,000 brought by a 70-year-old woman who claimed police wrongfully arrested her and slammed her onto the ground in her own home. The City did not accept responsibility in the incident. The officer and now-former officer involved in the incident disputes the plaintiff’s claims, but the body camera evidence submitted in the lawsuit has not been made public. ow.ly/I6iCw
  • Update: Tallahassee, Florida (First reported 10-02-14): The officer who shot a taser into a 61-year-old woman’s back has been suspended for one month without pay. Video of the incident showed the woman walking away and then falling to the ground face-first after the officer tasered her.  ow.ly/I6ubc

Police Arrest Public Defender

San Francisco Public Defender Jami Tillotson was arrested by police officers in the hallway of a courthouse for “resisting arrest.”  The false arrest was captured on tape.  Tillotson made the work of the police inconvenient, but that is not a crime.  Yet,  it is telling that the police think it is.  And if the police are willing to arrest a public defender in a courthouse hallway while being videotaped, what sort of illegal searches, detentions, and arrests occur in the neighborhoods?

More here.

Problems in Minneapolis

From the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

The Minneapolis Police Department must revamp its system for identifying and weeding out problem officers if it hopes to regain public confidence, according to a new U.S. Department of Justice report.

A full version of the report, prepared by the Justice Department’s Office of Justice Programs, was released Wednesday at a community meeting at police headquarters. The study comes at a time of heightened scrutiny of police conduct, following a series of high-profile police encounters across the country….

But several speakers at the meeting said the recommendations didn’t go far enough.

Longtime civil rights activist Spike Moss said federal officials had previously intervened, but had little to show for it. He wondered whether this time would be any different.

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