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National Police Misconduct Reporting Project

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 1-25-13

Here are the 10 reports of police misconduct tracked for Friday, January 25, 2013:

  • Los Angeles, California: A secretive cellphone spy device known as StingRay, intended to fight terrorism, was used in far more routine LAPD criminal investigations 21 times in a four-month period during 2012, apparently without the courts’ knowledge that the technology probes the lives of non-suspects who happen to be in the same neighborhood as suspected terrorists.
  • Pasadena, California: A police officer illegally recorded a conversation between a man in custody and his attorney, the attorney says. California protects the confidentiality of recording between attorneys and clients, said the lawyer. He points to provisions of the state Penal Code that prohibit police officers from recording or eavesdropping on conversations between in-custody suspects and their lawyers.
  • Monmouth County, New Jersey: The plaintiff in a case says he was assaulted, threatened with death, refused access to an attorney, and even denied use of the bathroom by a pair of officers. Both officers declined comment, but a police commander said “they’re two outstanding officers.”
  • Mt. Vernon, Illinois: A former trooper who struck and killed two sisters is making an argument for why his driver’s license should be reinstated. He was driving 125 mph when his police cruiser left the roadway and struck the car holding the sisters. He was sentenced to probation for the crash.
  • Highland Park, Michigan: Four police officers face charges including accepting bribes and distributing sham cocaine. One of the officers is accused, among other allegations, of agreeing in principal to kill someone for $20,000.
  • Elkton, Kentucky: Units conducted an undercover investigation and performed a controlled delivery  to a police officer; it was determined he was attempting to buy narcotics while on duty.
  • Wichita, Kansas: A former police officer waived his right to a jury trial and was found guilty by a judge of sexually abusing two children. He was found guilty of two counts of aggravated indecent liberties with a child after a five-minute bench trial.
  • South Lake Tahoe, California: An officer has been arrested for allegedly influencing witness testimonies and asking witnesses to tamper with evidence.
  • Newport News, Virginia: A police officer was arrested on federal mail and wire fraud charges.
  • Macon, Georgia: Two officers were arrested on allegations that they stole a tractor from a plumbing business. They were charged with theft by taking, criminal trespass, burglary, conspiracy to commit a crime, and violation of the oath of office.

Illegal Detentions by New York Police

From the New York Times:

The judge excoriated the city for flagrant indifference to the Fourth Amendment. The amendment has been interpreted by the courts to mean that police officers can legally stop and detain a person only when they have a reasonable suspicion that the person is committing, has committed or is about to commit a crime.

The department’s patently illegal strategy, the judge said, encouraged officers to “stop and question first, develop reasonable suspicion later.” The ruling focuses on detentions that occurred as people were entering or leaving one of many residential buildings in the Bronx whose managers had simply asked the department to patrol the area and arrest trespassers. The Trespass Affidavit Program, or TAP, has thus not only led to unjustified detentions but has also placed untold numbers people at risk of detention merely for entering their own homes or visiting friends and relatives. Their experiences, as described in the ruling, makes perfectly clear why the largely minority citizens targeted and victimized by the program come away feeling angry and ill used.

Describing the typical, humiliating sequence of events, the judge wrote: “The police suddenly materialize, stop the person, demand identification, and question the person about where he or she is coming from and what he or she is doing.” She added that “attempts at explanation are met with hostility; especially if the person is a young black man, he is frisked, which often involves an invasive search of his pockets; in some cases the officers then detain the person in a police van,” where he or she is grilled about drugs or weapons. In some cases, the stop escalates into an arrest, the judge noted, with the person fingerprinted and held overnight. Even if the charges are quickly dropped, the arrest can follow the person for years.

Previous coverage here.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 1-24-13

Here are the 14 reports of police misconduct tracked for Thursday, January 24, 2013:

  • Bexar County, Texas: A deputy constable is under arrest for allegedly helping other officers get credit for training they never completed.
  • Update: Readstown, A 375-page investigation report released this week portrays Readstown’s former police chief as a womanizer and bumbling cop who posed a danger to the community. He was found guilty of three counts of felony misconduct in office. He resigned and served a little more than a week in jail.
  • Bibb County, Georgia: A deputy has been fired amid allegations he stole about $4,000 from an inmate’s electronic bank transaction card and used the money to buy Christmas presents, a dog, and cash for advances to his own account.
  • McHenry, Illinois: A police officer pleaded guilty to theft and official misconduct. He admitted that he stole seized drug money.
  • Mesa, Arizona: An officer lost his job because he used a stun gun on his stepson for bringing home an unsatisfactory report card.
  • Update: Southern View, Illinois: A woman is suing the village, and a now ex-officer, in connection with the officer’s alleged sexual assault of her during a traffic stop.
  • Lake County, Indiana: An officer was indicted on charges of conspiring to Sheriff’s Department letterhead to buy automatic machine guns and laser sights intended strictly for law enforcement departments or the military and selling the parts for a profit online.
  • Update: New Orleans, Louisiana: A federal judge set a new trial date for a former officer accused of helping cover up a man’s death after Hurricane Katrina. The court ordered a new trial because of newly discovered evidence. The officer was the alleged triggerman in the shooting.
  • Milwaukee, Wisconsin: An officer has been accused of stealing about $200 from a store where he was investigating a separate burglary complaint.
  • South Amboy, New Jersey: A woman is seeking $2 million in damages from the sheriff’s office and one of its officers she said assaulted her then falsely charged her with assaulting him.
  • Greenville, Mississippi: A police officer has pleaded guilty in federal court to a charge of withholding information on a crime.
  • Miami, Florida: A police officer faces an extortion charge in court. He is the first of several officers expected to be swept up in a broad anti-corruption dragnet of the city’s police department. He allegedly helped organize a protection racket for a sports-betting ring working out of a barber shop. He pleaded not guilty to a single charge of extortion conspiracy, alleging that he “protected and facilitated illegal activity — gambling — in exchange for receipts of cash payments.”
  • Chicago, Illinois: A family filed a federal lawsuit saying that police officers wrongfully shot their family member and taunted them. The suit has been filed against the city, the police department, and 4 officers, alleging misconduct. It claims officers repeatedly used the n-word when talking to the victim’s relatives at the scene.
  • New York, New York: A teenager testified that an ex-officer persuaded her to have sex with him when she was 14 years old. The former police officer is charged with second-degree rape and other charges. He faces up to seven years in prison on the top count.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 1-23-13

Here are the 9 reports of police misconduct tracked for Wednesday, January 23, 2013:

  • Fort Deposit, Alabama: An officer was sentenced to more than three years in prison. He pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy against rights and four counts of deprivation of rights under color of law.
  • Fairfax County, Virginia: A 12-year veteran was arrested for allegedly attempting to take a purse and blouse from a department store.
  • Florida: At least 74 law enforcers have been suspected of misusing the D.A.V.I.D (Driving and Vehicle Information Database) in 2012. That number is a nearly 400% increase from 2011.
  • Melbourne, Florida: A police officer has been accused of having sex with prostitutes while on duty. He was fired after investigators set up surveillance video claiming to show him in the act.
  • Jefferson Parish, Louisiana: A sheriff’s deputy has been fired when an investigation determined that he had been selling synthetic marijuana online after it was outlawed in Louisiana.
  • Chicago, Illinois: A coroner has reversed his office’s ruling from “undetermined” to “homicide” in the case of a man who died after police restrained him, hit him with batons, and shocked him with a Taser. The coroner said he used the “but for” principle; the man probably wouldn’t have died but for the actions of the police.
  • New York, New York: A man whose beating by two police officers was caught on videotape has filed a civil rights lawsuit against the officers and the city. He spent two days in jail, and the charges were eventually dropped.
  • Multnomah County, Oregon: A deputy has been accused of running a red light and colliding with another car, authorities said. Witnesses said the deputy did not have his emergency lights flashing when his patrol car struck the driver’s side of another car.
  • Cobb County, Georgia: A deputy is accused of sexually assaulting a female inmate. He has been charged with aggravated sodomy, aggravated sexual battery, sexual assault by a member of law enforcement, and violation of oath of public office.

More on the Aaron Swartz Case

From the One Generation Away blog:

Aaron Swartz was an influential man with very important friends, and that’s why this case is getting so much attention.  Sadly, this kind of behavior by prosecutors is not an extreme example, but instead par for the course.

“[I]t’s important to realize that what happened in the Swartz case happens it lots and lots of federal criminal cases. Yes, the prosecutors tried to force a plea deal by scaring the defendant with arguments that he would be locked away for a long time if he was convicted at trial. Yes, the prosecutors filed a superseding indictment designed to scare Swartz even more into pleading guilty (it actually had no effect on the likely sentence, but it’s a powerful scare tactic). Yes, the prosecutors insisted on jail time and a felony conviction as part of a plea. But it is not particularly surprising for federal prosecutors to use those tactics. What’s unusual about the Swartz case is that it involved a highly charismatic defendant with very powerful friends in a position to object to these common practices. That’s not to excuse what happened, but rather to direct the energy that is angry about what happened. If you want to end these tactics, don’t just complain about the Swartz case. Don’t just complain when the defendant happens to be a brilliant guy who went to Stanford and hangs out with Larry Lessig. Instead, complain that this is business as usual in federal criminal cases around the country — mostly with defendants who no one has ever heard of and who get locked up for years without anyone else much caring.”

That was law professor Orin Kerr.  He has a proposal for change:  “Felony liability under the statute is triggered much too easily. The law needs to draw a distinction between low-level crimes and more serious crimes, and current law does so poorly.”  Some have proposed “Aaron’s Law” which would remove terms of service violations from the federal criminal code….

Aaron Swartz knew he was breaking the law when he downloaded those articles.  What he did not know, was that if a prosecutor wanted to make his life hell, she could credibly see to it that he was locked up until his mid 50’s.  We should make sure that punishments fit crimes, and that when we collectively threaten to remove a human being from society for a generation or two, they actually did something worthy of such a profound punishment.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 1-19-13 to 1-22-13

Here are the 10 reports of police misconduct tracked for Saturday, January 19 to Tuesday, January 22, 2013:

  • Memphis, Tennessee: An officer has been suspended after accusations of sexual assault were brought up. He has been relieved of duty with pay while the incident is investigated.
  • Adams County, Colorado: A man is in shock after he says deputies shot and killed his dog. Jeff Fisher said deputies went to his house by mistake. He said when they forced their way through the door his dog Ziggy ran outside and a deputy shot and killed him. http://ow.lyh2uh6 ‪‪
  • Update: Milford, Connecticut: A police officer has been sentenced to five years in prison for a high-speed crash that killed two teenagers. The officer was returning from a mutual aid call in another town when his cruiser struck a car turning in front him at about 94 mph. Authorities say the cruiser’s emergency lights and sirens were off at the time.
  • San Juan County, New Mexico: A deputy who beat a suspect with a flashlight was sentenced to three years probation and a $10,000 fine to cover the expenses of his probation. He will not spend time behind bars.
  • Update: Chicago, Illinois: A police officer was found guilty of committing perjury when she testified in a battery trial.
  • Morgan County, Alabama: A deputy was accused of domestic violence and attempted murder. He is charged with domestic violence, domestic violence by strangulation or suffocation, and attempted murder.
  • Hillsboro, Oregon: An off-duty officer has been arrested on suspicion of attempted aggravated murder after a standoff that injured a sheriff’s deputy.
  • Update: Boulder, Colorado: Two officers face felony charges for killing an elk. An investigation uncovered that the officers had planned to shoot and kill the elk nearly 21 hours before, and then collect the animal for the “personal gain” of trophy and meat.
  • Winnemucca, Nevada: An officer has been who has been on administrative leave for six months was arrested following a lengthy investigation into his off-duty conduct. He was charged with sexual assault, battery with the intent to commit sexual assault, and abuse, neglect or endangerment of a child. He also faces two misdemeanor charges of domestic battery.
  • Durham, North Carolina: Three officers were charged with one count of false imprisonment and one count of assault. All three officers, who were off duty when the incident occurred, are currently on administrative leave.

Florida Police Abuse Database. 400% Increase in Officers Involved Since 2011.

From the Orlando Sentinel:

Florida’s driver-and-vehicle database, the system that can help law enforcement identify victims of fatal crashes and decipher the identity of a suspect, can be a useful tool for cops.

But the system — known as D.A.V.I.D., for Driving and Vehicle Information Database — can also be easily abused.

Data obtained by the Orlando Sentinel show the number of Florida law-enforcement officers suspected of misusing D.A.V.I.D. skyrocketed last year.

At least 74 law enforcers were suspected of misusing D.A.V.I.D. in 2012, a nearly 400 percent increase from 2011, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Officers who needlessly pull information or photographs from D.A.V.I.D. that would otherwise be private could face criminal charges, sanctions or disciplinary action.

And yet the temptation of looking up a relative, a celebrity’s address or a romantic interest is too great for some law enforcers.

Deputy: ‘You can get a new dog’

From Denver

An Adams County man is in shock after he says deputies shot and killed his dog.

Jeff Fisher said deputies went to his house by mistake. He said when they forced their way through the door his dog Ziggy ran outside and an Adams County Sheriff’s deputy shot and killed him.

“(He went to the door) to see who it was and the police officer shot him three times,” Fisher said. “They killed my dog for no reason.”

Video at the link above.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 1-18-13

Here are the 7 reports of police misconduct tracked for Friday, January 18, 2013:

  • Update: Las Vegas, Nevada: A now-former police officer is going to prison for two years. He pleaded guilty to charges of coercing women to expose their breasts after stopping them on the road. The Judge, after hearing victims’ statements, looked right at him and said: “You are nothing short of a sexual predator with a badge.”
  • Garfield, New Jersey: The girlfriend of a city teen fatally shot by police has filed a federal lawsuit claiming wrongful death. In it, she claims he was “viciously and unjustifiably shot” by officers from the city force and the Bergen County Police Department, according to court documents.
  • Los Angeles, California: Sheriff’s department investigators are probing a deputy’s allegations that she was the victim of sexual misconduct involving three top sheriff’s officials. “I take this very seriously, and I will find out what did or did not happen,” said the Sheriff.
  • Schaumburg, Illinois: Three officers robbed drug dealers of their stash while executing search warrants. They then turned around and sold the heroin, cocaine and marijuana, pocketing the cash, said prosecutors.
  • Beacon, New York: A city police officer was suspended from duty with pay after an investigation into his conduct with a police informant, according to court documents.
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: According to a federal lawsuit filed, the police have shown a pattern of wrongfully arresting people who videotaped officers in public. It seeks monetary compensation and confirmation of the public’s right to videotape the police.
  • Miami-Dade, Florida: Two female officers have gone public with sexual harassment accusations against the school police chief, saying they have lost faith in the district’s investigation of their complaints.

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