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National Police Misconduct Reporting Project

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 11-01-12

Here are the 13 reports of police misconduct tracked for Thursday, November 1, 2012:

  • Cherokee County, Georgia: The parents of a 16-year old boy who was suicidal had called police officers in for help when he took a gun and threatened to kill himself. The boy wound up being shot by a sniper, and now the parents say they regret their decision to call the police in the first place.
  • Tularosa, New Mexico: A ten-year-old boy was tasered by a police officer with 50,000 volts of electricity on a school playground after refusing to clean the officer’s car. The officer responded to the boy’s refusal by saying, “Let me show you what happens to people who do not listen to the police.” He then tasered the boy, who weighs less than 100 pounds, causing him to black out. When the boy came to, instead of calling for emergency medical assistance, he took the boy to the principal’s office. The boy was left with scars resembling cigarette burns and has since been suffering from PTSD, often waking up in the middle of the night grabbing his chest, fearful of never waking up again.
  • Colleton County, South Carolina: A now-former lieutenant pleaded guilty to giving false statements to the FBI. He faces up to five years in prison and could be forced to pay a fine of up to $250,000. Prosecutors say the officer told a suspected drug trafficker that he was being followed by federal agents, and then denied doing so. Telephone calls proved that he was lying.
  • Brownfield, Texas: A police officer has been fired from the department after allegations were confirmed of his lying on an application about his inappropriate past in Kermit. He was accused of falsifying court documents and perjuring himself to conceal his improper past with a minor while he was a police officer.
  • North Chicago, Illinois: The police chief was arrested and charged with theft of more than $140,000 that had been seized from drug arrests. He was accused of using the money to buy a new car and do home repairs on his kitchen, among other personal expenditures.
  • Lincoln County, Oklahoma: A Gary, Indiana police officer was caught with 48 pounds of marijuana in her suitcase during a traffic stop. She did not show up to her court date, and is now considered a fugitive.
  • Pennington Gap, Virginia: The police chief was arrested on prescription drug distribution and gun charges, and is also accused of burglarizing a Rite Aid. He was fired.
  • Flomaton, Alabama: Two officers were arrested and charged with an ethics violation each and tampering with evidence. One was released on a $30,000 bond, and the other is being held on a $50,000 bond.
  • *Note* The link originally attached to this story when we tweeted it was, by mistake, the Kaukauna, WI link. This link is the correct one. Thank you to a reader who pointed this out.
    Bryan County, Oklahoma: A now-former chief of police was sentenced to time in jail; he was convicted of embezzlement after being accused of taking guns out of evidence.
  • Kaukauna, Wisconsin: A trooper tried to pull a man over for a seat belt violation, and he sped away. The chase that resulted reached more than 100 miles per hour before there was a crash, putting the man in an ICU.
  • Knox County, Missouri: A sheriff’s deputy was arrested after a warrant was issued. He is charged with a felony count of stealing and a count of disposing of stolen property. He as also been charged with resisting arrest by fleeing. He is no longer employed with the sheriff’s department.
  • Long Beach, California: An officer was sentenced to at least 12 years in prison for repeatedly beating his wife using a police-issue baton, a flashlight, and sometimes a broom. He was arrested during a stand-off with other officers.
  • South Barrington, Illinois: An officer is charged with official misconduct, forgery, and possession of a controlled substance. He has resigned from the police force.

LAPD Withholds Key Details

From the Los Angeles Times:

The Los Angeles Police Department’s news release on an Oct. 12 officer-involved shooting seemed fairly routine.

Officers searching for several suspects who had fled after being stopped for questioning found one hiding under an SUV on Woodlawn Avenue in South L.A. The officers pulled the suspect out by his ankles, saw what looked like a metallic object in his hands and opened fire, critically wounding him.

But one crucial piece of information was left out of the release: The suspect’s hands were cuffed behind his back at the time and he was lying on his stomach.

Hope Springs Eternal Award

From the Associated Press:

A Metro Nashville police officer charged with domestic violence has been disciplined 31 times in his 24-year career.

The Tennessean reports ( ) Andre Johnson was decommissioned earlier this month after he was charged with misdemeanor domestic violence. Last week he was booked on another domestic violence charge.

Johnson remains employed while criminal and internal investigations continue.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 10-27-12 to 10-31-12

Here are the 10 reports of police misconduct tracked for Saturday, October 27 to Wednesday, October 31, 2012:

  • Ash Flat, Arkansas: The sheriff says that a detective resigned after sexually explicit photos of him were found on a county-owned cell phone. He turned in his letter of resignation after being told he could either resign or be fired.
  • Nashville, Tennessee: A police officer charged with domestic violence has been disciplined 31 times in his 24-year career. Despite this, he has never faced termination, in part because they occurred over a span of many years.
  • Dallas, Texas: A police officer got a ten-day suspension after an internal investigation concluded he put a handcuffed mental patient in a chokehold and pushed him up against a wall, causing his head to hit the wall.
  • Orange County, Florida: A sheriff’s deputy was arrested and accused of insurance fraud. The sheriff’s office said the officer, who bonded out of jail, was suspended without pay.
  • Update: Whitaker, Pennsylvania: A police officer who was charged with breaking a woman’s car window and threatening her with his gun has been suspended from the force, without pay, for 10 days.
  • Chicago, Illinois: An officer has been sentenced to 18 months in federal prison. He used his badge to extort protection payoffs from heroin and crack dealers. The judge called it “outrageous” that a police officer would violate the trust placed in him to protect a neighborhood ravaged by drugs and crime.
  • Homewood, Alabama: A police officer has been fired after authorities say an 18-year-old girl complained he pulled her over for no reason and later sent her a series of inappropriate text messages that frightened her. He was fired for conduct unbecoming a classified employee, failure to record the traffic stop and for acting in such a manner that brings discredit upon the officer and the police department.
  • La Joya, Texas: A state trooper fired on a pickup truck from a helicopter and killed two illegal immigrants during a chase. An expert on police chases said that the decision to fire on the truck was “a reckless act” that served “no legitimate law enforcement purpose.”
  • Colorado Springs, Colorado: An officer has been found guilty of 123 counts. The counts include child exploitation and pornography, including that he touched the children. The prosecution hopes the case sends a message to the community that it doesn’t matter who you are, or what authoritative position you are in; if you sexually abuse children, you will be prosecuted.
  • Bradford, Pennsylvania: A state trooper is facing false-arrest claims against a mother. He ticketed her and detained and accused her of drunken driving for over an hour, while her daughter was throwing up in the back seat of the car. The mayor of the city where she was stopped even took photos of the incident.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 10-26-12

*Note* Due to Hurricane Sandy, Cato was shut down 10-29-12 and 10-30-12. When Cato shuts down, there will not be tweeting/blogging on  Back up now :)

Here are the 9 reports of police misconduct tracked for Friday, October 26, 2012:

  • Trenton, New Jersey: A trooper has been suspended without pay after he allegedly punched a man, cutting him above and below the eye. He was charged with simple assault and threatening a police officer.
  • Washington, DC: A FBI agent has been charged and convicted with vehicular manslaughter and related charges. He killed one teen and injured another in a car crash.
  • Update: Dallas Texas: A deputy got a 38 day suspension for stopping a motorcyclist without cause and seizing his helmet camera. When the motorcyclist was pulled over the officer told him, “the reason you’re being pulled over is because I’m gonna take your camera and we’re gonna use it as evidence of in the crimes that have been committed by other bikers.” Said a criminal justice expert, “I think we should applaud the agency. There were days in American law enforcement when nothing would’ve happened.”
  • Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania: An officer was accused of murdering his wife almost 30 years ago. He has been suspended and is currently being held in jail.
  • Cokeville, Wyoming:  A motorist has filed suit the town after he says that the police chief took cash from drivers for ‘traffic tickets’ and then took the money and disappeared.
  • Varnall, Georgia: An officer was indicted for 1st degree vehicular homicide and reckless driving in the death of a contract newspaper carrier. He has resigned. The police chief said that an internal investigation showed the officer violated several department policies.
  • Parkersburg, West Virginia: An officer was suspended after he was arrested in Ohio. He was charged initially with operating a vehicle while intoxicated. He failed a series of field sobriety tests, at one point losing his balance and nearly falling onto the parking lot, says the report. “He talked to the police officer and the prosecuting attorney and said they were not going to charge him with DUI, but with another offense,” said the Parkersburg Mayor.
  • Dekaulb, Georgia: A police chief was sentenced to three years and seven months in prison for conspiring to take bribes. He admitted that “no one should sell their badge” and that he did just that.
  • Update: Downey, California: An officer who killed a man he mistook for a robbery suspect will not face criminal charges.

Police Shoot From Helicopter, Kill Two

From the Associated Press:

A Texas state trooper who fired on a pickup truck from a helicopter and killed two illegal immigrants during a chase through the desert was trying to disable the vehicle and suspected it was being used to smuggle drugs, authorities said Friday.

It is astonishing when police officers disregard the most serious rule governing their conduct–the use of deadly force.  Even if the police were 100 percent certain the vehicle had a trunk full of marijuana and cocaine and that the vehicle was highly likely to elude capture by the police on the ground, that would not justify the use of deadly force.  Not even close.   The story reminds me of one of the early scenes in the movie Black Hawk Down, where Delta snipers disable the engine of a vehicle from an Army helicopter in order to capture one of the occupants.  This may be another example of military tactics spilling over to the civilian world of policing.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 10-25-12

Here are the 7 reports of police misconduct tracked for Thursday, October 26, 2012:

  • Woodbridge, Virginia: A secret service officer who guarded the home of V.P. Joe Biden has been charged with three counts of aggravated sexual battery and three counts of taking indecent liberties with a child by a custodian this week. Police say the victim was a 14-year-old girl and was sexually assaulted by her family member between August and October this year.
  • Chattanooga, Tennessee: A highway patrol sergeant has resigned in lieu of termination following an internal investigation. The investigation revealed that he misused state property and equipment, was negligent in the performance of his duties, and violated the department’s rule on conduct unbecoming.
  • New York, New York: An officer who allegedly planned to kidnap, cook, and eat as many as 100 woman has been arrested following an NYPD and FBI investigation. “The allegations in the complaint really need no description from us,” said the FBI’s acting assistant director. “They speak for themselves. It would be an understatement merely to say [his] own words and actions were shocking.”
  • Sampson County, North Carolina: A deputy has been charged with statutory rape, second degree rape, taking indecent liberties with a minor and contributing to the delinquency of a minor, according to a release from the Sheriff’s office.
  • Anderson County, South Carolina: A deputy has been fired after he was identified in a video kicking a man who bit another deputy’s finger. “The video shows that he came up to the guy and actually kicked him in the head,” said the police chief. “He was fired for conduct unbecoming of an officer.”
  • San Diego, California: An officer is being investigated after he was caught on camera violently pulling a woman’s hair as her home burned down. It is not the first time the officer has been under investigation for unreasonable force.
  • Update: Wilcox County, Georgia: The sheriff is facing jail time. Prosecutors say he admitted to attacking inmates and trying to cover it up.

Police Chief Sounds Off

So this morning I received an angry email from a police chief in Michigan.  His complaint concerns a story we related about a dog getting shot by a police officer.  This is the item from our September 11 recap:

  • St. Louis, Michigan: A local family says their dog was shot and killed at the hands of a police officer. Lori Walmsley, a neighbor, says she saw the incident. Walmsley said the officer asked if the was dog hers.  She said “no,” but told the officer Scout wasn’t dangerous. She says the officer tried to catch the dog, who apparently didn’t want to be caught. The dog tried to run away and when cornered by the officer, let out a little growl. Walmsley says she couldn’t believe what happened next. “He just started shooting him, he just kept shooting him in the head,” she said. “I said, ‘What are you doing? He’s just a puppy!’”

Here’s the email from the Police Chief, Patrick Herblet:

Wow is all I can say. Your general statement to all says you publish strong cases supported by third-party witnesses or other compelling evidence.  You need to get the incident report/investigation from the independent agency, (Michigan State Police) that I by the way requested be done less then 12 hours after the incident.  All you have is the words of a so called witness that changed her story several times and only said, the vicious things she said after the TV camera was in her face.  I could and at some time will tell this whole story, but in the meantime I will stand by the officer making the right decision under the circumstances and the Investigation done by the Michigan State Police and the decision of our county Prosecutor.  I now have zero respect for anything you put in print when I have first hand knowledge that you do absolutely no investigation before you print your vicious hate toward public servants.

There has been a very recent development in the case: No charges against the officer.  I’m not sure why Mr. Herblet is reluctant to tell us the “the whole story” now, but he is confused about a few things.   This site gathers news stories from around the country relating to police misconduct.  We do not have the investigative capacity to go forth and interview the witnesses in each case.   We don’t even have the capacity to do that for the police force here in Washington, DC,  much less police incidents around the entire country.  So Mr. Herblet’s real complaint seems to be with our news gathering method or the  local media who, he thinks,  originally  “printed vicious hate toward public servants.”  But even that complaint seems misplaced.  The reporter related what the witness said.  Of course, a good reporter should always ask the police for their side of the story, but there is no indication that that did not happen here, so what gives?  Even now Mr. Herblet says we don’t have the “whole story.”   He seems to be saying “just trust me!”

I think Mr. Herblet did the right thing as far as calling in a separate agency to conduct an investigation into the shooting.  I do not know whether that agency did a good job or not.  I do not know whether the neighbor/witness is reliable or not.   I do not know whether the dog was “coming at” the officer or whether “coming at” means “walking toward” or “attacking.”  I do know that using a gun is serious business–deadly force!–and that if a gun is used inappropriately, there should be accountability.  There are situations where a cop should not be criminally charged, but neither should he be a sworn officer anymore (accidents, bad judgment, etc).   As always, readers here are  invited to come to their own conclusions.  You have the news stories and we have shared Mr. Herblet’s point of view.  We are as transparent as possible.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 10-25-12

Here are the 7 reports of police misconduct tracked for Wednesday, October 25, 2012:

  • Battle Creek, Michigan: An officer was charged with a felony of resisting and obstructing police officers, and two misdemeanors of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and failure to report an accident to fixtures.
  • Spokane, Washington: An officer will be sentenced after being convicted of using excessive force, and lying about it to investigators.
  • Phoenix, Arizona: The family of an inmate who was found not breathing in his jail cell has filed a lawsuit against the city and the county sheriff’s office. The notice claimed the man’s fatal injuries were a result of a jailer’s riot allegedly started by two police officers. The family also claims excessive force was used by employees.
  • Paterson, New Jersey: A police officer who arrested an assemblyman was charged with misconduct, submitting a false report, and other offenses. The assemblyman filed 27 criminal complaints against him.
  • South Miami, Florida: A police chief is being accused of violating ethics laws for steering city business to his wife’s companies.
  • Update: East Haven, Connecticut: A police officer will plead guilty in federal court to charges of filing a false police report. He is facing 12-24 months in prison.
  • Ulster, New York: The now-former police chief Matthew Taggard admitted he believed sex crimes were being committed in a neighboring community and failed to take any steps to prevent them. In a press release, the DA said “disturbing allegations” concerning the chief were brought to his attention. He said the “allegations were particularly troubling in that it was alleged Taggard engaged in criminal conduct during the course of a program run by the Boy Scouts of America known as the Ulster Police Cadet Program.”

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