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National Police Misconduct Reporting Project

Police Officer Shoots a Trainee

From the Baltimore Sun:

According to sources familiar with the investigation, Kern was at the Rosewood Center for a training exercise when recruits peered through a window from another room. He playfully pointed a weapon in their direction, the sources said, and did not intend to harm anybody.

The shot struck the trainee — who remained in critical condition Thursday and has not been identified — in the front of the head, and a second officer was injured from broken glass, police have said.

Looks like an accident, not a (real) crime.  Should he still be a trainer?  Still be a cop? Probably not, but let the investigation proceed and let his full record be taken into account as higher-ups decide how to handle the incident.

But let’s consider how an ordinary citizen would be treated under similar circumstances.  Let’s say an NRA instructor had been “playing around,” picked up a loaded weapon, and accidently fired at some spectators during a training session.  Would reckless endangerment charges be brought?

If a Virginia gun owner drove into Washington,DC and forgot that his rifle was still in the trunk from his time at the shooting range over the previous weekend, DC prosecutors would bring charges if the gun was discovered during a traffic stop.  Even if no one was harmed.  Even if it was an accident.  And even if the owner had a stellar reputation for integrity.

People do get criminal records and go to jail for having unregistered guns (no one hurt).    The “universal background check” sounds nice, but it means that if one hunting buddy tells another “Hey, I’ll give you $300 for that shotgun you never use anymore” and the other says “You’re right. I don’t use it much anymore and I could use that money to fix a problem on the house.  Here you go.”   Federal crime–“unauthorized transfer.”   Recently, here in DC, a man saved the life of a boy who was being attacked by pit bulls.  The man saw what was going on, ran into his house, got his gun, ran back out and shot one of the dogs.  That man saved a life and instead of being praised, he’s under criminal investigation.

DC Moves to Reduce Wrongful Convictions

From the Washington Post:

Courts and police in the nation’s capital will change how they conduct lineups of suspects, when they notify defendants about informants and how long they retain criminal trial records, all in response to errors that have put innocent people in prison.

A task force created by D.C. Superior Court Chief Judge Lee F. Satterfield recommended that police use computers and staff not associated with a particular case to administer photo lineups to prevent influencing potential witnesses.

The court acknowledged that DNA often has cleared defendants long after their convictions, so officials will by March begin keeping trial records permanently rather than destroying them after 10 years.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 02-13-13

Here are the 7 reports of police misconduct tracked for Wednesday, February 13, 2013:

  • Honea Path, South Carolina: A police officer was charged with causing a two-vehicle accident. He was backing a truck across the highway when he was hit by a car.
  • Newton Falls, Ohio: The village council voted unanimously to terminate the police chief amid an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment made by a female employee. The measure was passed as an emergency “to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the community.”
  • Greenville, South Carolina: The family of a man shot and killed by officers is filing a wrongful death suit. The family’s attorney said, “They didn’t fire any warning shots. There was no effort, apparently, on the part of the officers to ascertain whether he was, in fact, a threat to them.” He was shot seven times.
  • Box Elder County, Utah: A sheriff’s deputy accused of sexually assaulting women during a series of traffic stops has reached a plea agreement that could land him in state prison for up to five years.
  • Kettering, Ohio: A police officer remains on paid administrative leave after being found guilty of misdemeanor assault.
  • Salem, Ohio: A police officer charged with drunk driving is on unpaid leave. Police charged the patrolman with operating a vehicle under the influence.
  • Selmer, Tennessee: A police officer has been charged with domestic assault; he is accused of throwing his girlfriend to the floor and then grabbing her by the neck during an argument. According to a Lieutenant, the police are taking the accusations very seriously. He has put on suspension without pay pending the investigation.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 02-12-13

Here are the 10 reports of police misconduct tracked for Tuesday, February 12, 2013:

  • Atlanta, Georgia: Ten current and former law enforcement officers across several metro Atlanta agencies have been charged in an undercover police corruption investigation. Federal agents made most of the arrests. The officers are accused of taking thousands of dollars in payoffs to drug dealers.
  • Irvington, New Jersey: An officer was found guilty of kidnapping, aggravated assault, hindering apprehension, and official misconduct. He was sent to jail to await sentencing.
  • Jackson, Mississippi: Bond was denied for a police officer who was charged with capital murder in connection with the death of his one-year-old daughter. An autopsy confirmed that she died of internal hemorrhage after suffering blunt-force trauma to the abdomen.
  • Rushville, Indiana: A police officer has been arrested after state police say he had an inappropriate relationship with a teenage girl. According to court documents, he sent the 15-year-old girl messages on Facebook and via text.
  • Update: Boulder, Colorado: A police officer accused of stalking and plotting to kill a fellow officer pleaded guilty in a county courthouse. He faces one to three years in prison and remains free on a $500,000 bond.
  • Maplewood, Minnesota: A police officer is scheduled to appear in court on allegations he provided alcohol to juvenile girls at his home. He has been reinstated to active duty, but will not interact with the public until the incident is resolved.
  • Douglas County, Colorado: A sheriff’s deputy has been fired after being tied to a child sex exploitation investigation. Investigators received information about inappropriate text messages involving a juvenile, and determined a deputy was alleged to be involved.
  • Plattsburgh, New York: A state trooper charged with raping two women has been charged with attacking a third woman.
  • Bonita Springs, Florida: A man is suing the sheriff and a deputy, alleging excessive force, and that his civil rights were violated, when he was arrested after questioning why his 5-year-old son couldn’t bring a lime green toy gun to the county fair.
  • Haines City, Florida: A police officer who was arrested in an investigation of underage prostitution has pleaded guilty and received 10 years in prison. The report says that the man, Paul Aaron, who ran the prostitution ring, exploited runaway girls younger than 18; one of them was forced to have sex with the officer for free so Aaron could receive favors from him in the future.

More on Police Lies

Letter to the editor published in the New York Times:

Last fall, the criminal defense clinic at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law represented a young black man charged with possession of a knife (recovered from his pants pocket) after he was searched by a police officer who swore — under penalty of perjury — that the client was blocking the entrance to a building in violation of a disorderly conduct statute. A video obtained from an adjacent store revealed a very different reality — just a young kid talking with friends, never blocking anyone’s way.

Too often, though, without a video, our clients’ accounts of the lies told by police fall on deaf ears. Prosecutors and judges engage in cognitive dissonance — on the one hand understanding that police lie; on the other, failing to address the issue in any meaningful way.

Perhaps this is because our criminal justice system relies so heavily on the assumption of police as truth tellers. Acknowledging the problem threatens the very foundation of an already dysfunctional system.

For those who have experienced the corrupting effect of police lies, however, the question remains: what will it take to break a police practice that leads to so much injustice?

New York, Feb. 4, 2013

The writer is a clinical assistant professor at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 02-09-13 to 02-11-13

Here are the 9 reports of police misconduct tracked for Saturday, February 09 to Monday, February 11, 2013:

  • Auburn, Washington: A police officer is under investigation for allegedly groping a pregnant, handcuffed woman. Another police department is now conducting a criminal investigation.
  • Orlando, Florida: A veteran officer, who was jailed twice last year on allegations of domestic violence, has been fired. He violated two department policies.
  • Springdale, Pennsylvania: A police officer is facing federal charges after he allegedly punched and used a taser on a man who was in handcuffs.
  • Nashville, Tennessee: A police officer was decommissioned after an investigation into his use of force during the arrest of a woman suspected of driving under the influence. He had been an officer for 23 years at the time of the incident.
  • Orange County, California: A sheriff’s deputy was arrested and charged with accepting bribes, including some connected to businesses, from a murderer inmate. He faces a maximum sentence of four years and eight months in state prison if he is convicted on all counts.
  • Los Angeles, California: A mother and daughter who were mistakenly shot by police hunting for a rampage suspect had no warning before bullets started whizzing through their newspaper-delivery truck, their lawyer said. “They still have to give the guy an opportunity to surrender. You can’t just execute him,” the lawyer said. The LAPD had no comment.
  • Yardville, New Jersey: A corrections officer who helped smuggle contraband into a prisoner is now in prison for 30 months.
  • Update: Pasadena, California: A detective will be placed on administrative leave after a judge declared a mistrial in a homicide case because of the detective’s mishandling of evidence.
  • East Chicago, Illinois: An 18-year veteran was indicted on 12 fraud charges relating to an alleged ghost payrolling scheme, federal court records state. “It is never good to see a police officer’s name on a federal indictment,” said the police chief.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 02-08-13

Here are the 17 reports of police misconduct tracked for Friday, February 8, 2013:

  • Hillsboro, Oregon: An officer surrendered after a gun fight with ten county officers. He allegedly got into a domestic dispute with his wife, when she called the police. When they arrived he armed himself, and fired at officers attempting to enter the house numerous times. His wife finally convinced him to leave the house with her, and their 6-year-old daughter.
  • Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania: A state police trooper has been placed on unpaid leave after he was charged with assaulting his wife. According to documents, he got into an argument with her, and pushed her, causing her to fall down a flight of stairs and break her ankle.
  • Twin Peaks, California: A sheriff’s deputy pleaded guilty to a grand-theft charge stemming from a salary-boosting scheme involving seven former department employees. They allegedly falsified department records to increase their pay.
  • Pueblo County, Colorado: An officer will face multiple counts of sexual assault and kidnapping, along with menacing and another count of tampering with evidence. He is accused of kidnapping his estranged girlfriend at gunpoint, taking her to his home and sexually assaulting her, before taking her back to her home.
  • Meigs County, Tennessee: An officer was arrested after being indicted by a grand jury on charges stemming from a shooting incident. He allegedly shot at his stepfather twice, although he did not hit him.
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: A police officer has been ordered to serve six months in federal prison for his role in a multi-state steroid distribution ring orchestrated by a former police colleague. Both men were active-duty officers at the time of the activity but were later fired from the force.
  • Hendersonville, North Carolina: An officer was arrested for driving while under the influence. He was on-duty and in his highway patrol cruiser.
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota: A police officer is in jail after his arrest for allegedly having off-duty sexual encounters with several girls between the ages of 12 and 14, according to the Sheriff’s office. He was arrested on suspicion of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a person under 13 that caused personal injury.
  • Los Angeles, California: Seven sheriff’s deputies have been notified that the department intends to fire them for belonging to a secret law enforcement clique that allegedly celebrated shootings and branded its members with matching tattoos.
  • Memphis, Tennessee: A police officer who allegedly threatened a man has now been arrested on a charge of harassment.
  • Rindge, New Hampshire: A police officer accused of sexually assaulting a teenager is slated to plead guilty to lesser charges. He allegedly engaged in sex acts with a girl he knew between the age of 13 and 16, according to court documents.
  • Mount Joy Borough, Pennsylvania: A police officer was suspended for two days without pay for unspecified misconduct. The discipline is the latest in several involving Mount Joy police.
  • Weymouth, Massachusetts: An officer charged with assaulting his 9-year-old twin daughters has resigned. They told other officers he pushed them and warned them not to tell anyone because no one would believe them, according to a police report on file.
  • Rockwood, Michigan: A now ex-police officer has pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges in connection with an allegation of inappropriate contact involving a female prisoner in his custody. As part of his plea, he has agreed not to challenge his termination.
  • Cincinnati, Ohio: An officer admitted that he deposited money meant to avoid bank-reporting requirements in an alleged marijuana smuggling operation.
  • Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania: An officer has been suspended with pay amid a police investigation into an “alleged excessive force incident,” city officials have said.
  • Hale County, Alabama: A deputy has been indicted on charges accusing him of keeping drugs he acquired during investigations.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 02-07-13

Here are the 11 reports of police misconduct tracked for Thursday, February 7, 2013:

  • Minneapolis, Minnesota: A state trooper, who was named Officer of the Year in 2002, has been found guilty of theft by swindle and four counts of forgery. She took $1,500 from the International Association of Women Police, and when a coworker discovered the money missing, she falsified a checkbook register and financial records in an attempt to make the withdrawal appear legitimate. She resigned after the incident.
  • Lafayette, Louisiana: A police corporal has been indicted by a grand jury on charges of sexual battery and malfeasance for allegedly battering a woman while he was on duty.
  • South Salt Lake, Utah: An officer has been charged with stalking a former girlfriend and hacking her computer accounts. He is on extended administrative leave.
  • Nelsonville, Ohio: An officer was in court on a third-degree felony charge of tampering with evidence levied against him. He is on paid administrative leave.
  • Update: Albemarle County, Virginia: A now-former police lieutenant has pleaded guilty to embezzlement and was sentenced to 10 days in jail. He later returned the $380 that he stole from a petty cash fund. The lieutenant had been an officer for 27 years.
  • Madison County, Tennessee: Two former law-enforcement officers were in court, on unrelated charges. One was being charged with stealing money from the passenger in a car. The other has been charged with attempted first-degree murder, employing a weapon during the commission of a dangerous felony, aggravated kidnapping, and aggravated assault.
  • Somerset, Massachusetts: An officer has been arrested and charged with larceny under $250 by false pretenses, two counts of possession of a class E substance and two counts of possession of a class C substance.
  • Bismarck, North Dakota: An officer has pleaded not guilty to roughing up suspects during two separate arrests. A grand jury indicted him on four counts.
  • Alger County, Michigan: A deputy is facing possible charges following the investigation into an alleged assault of an inmate. The deputy is now on administrative leave.
  • Naperville, Illinois: The wife of a man killed in a motorcycle accident involving a state trooper has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit, blaming the officer.
  • Indianapolis, Indiana: A seizure patient has filed a lawsuit against the police department, claiming officers beat and arrested him after mistaking his symptoms for being high on drugs. The man’s sister tried to advise officers that he was suffering from epilepsy and not under the influence of drugs, but the lawsuit says officers ignored her.

Worst of the Month — January 2013

We are starting a new feature here on the web site.  We’re basically going to highlight what we think was the worst police misconduct story each month.   We invite feedback from our readers–whether by email or postings on our Facebook page–as the stories come in during the month.  We’re not going to try to tally up votes or anything like that, but having constructive feedback is always helpful to us.   If our choices seem arbitrary and subjective–that’s probably because they are.  Maybe after several months of hearing from our readers and the reasons they offer for particular stories, we’ll find some kinda consensus criteria. Maybe not.  In any event, let’s start this.

For January 2013, it’s the story from the Los Angeles Times about two cops who would use their official police powers to coerce sex from women.  According to the authorities, these officers would drive women to secluded places, threaten arrest,  and then offer them  “a way  out.”  Faced with such threats under such circumstances, the women not only feared the consequences of a false arrest (and that no one would believe them), they feared for their lives.   How would one know what these cops were prepared to do?

The runner-up story comes from Ohio.   Sgt. Brian Dulle died in the line of duty.  A fellow officer, William Hunt, started a memorial fund for Dulle’s widow.  But it turns out that Hunt stole money from that fund to pay off personal loans.  Sheriff Larry Sims said, “To steal from your friend who was killed and his family, it’s just unspeakable.”    Yes, it is, and it makes you wonder why the prosecutors are only asking for probation in this matter.

Two Women Shot by LAPD

From the LA Times:

Two women who were shot by Los Angeles police in Torrance early Thursday during a massive manhunt for an ex-LAPD officer were delivering newspapers, sources said.

The women, shot in the 19500 block of Redbeam Avenue, were taken to area hospitals, Torrance police Lt. Devin Chase said. They were not identified. One was shot in the hand and the other in the back, according to Jesse Escochea, who captured video of the victims being treated.

It was not immediately known what newspapers the women were delivering. After the shooting, the blue pickup was riddled with bullet holes and what appeared to be newspapers lay in the street alongside.

To clarify/remind visitors here, the alleged crimes of ex-LAPD officer, Christopher Dorner, the subject of today’s  manhunt, will not be listed here on the site.  One of our criteria for news stories is that the person must have been police at the time of the wrongdoing. According to the news reports we’ve seen,  Dorner has not been a police officer for some time.

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