National Police Misconduct Reporting Project

Bizzare Police Work

From the Washington Post:

A Manassas City teenager accused of “sexting” a video to his girlfriend is now facing a search warrant in which Manassas City police and Prince William County prosecutors want to take a photo of his erect penis, possibly forcing the teen to become erect by taking him to a hospital and giving him an injection, the teen’s lawyers said. A Prince William County judge allowed the 17-year-old to leave the area without the warrant being served or the pictures being taken — yet.

I should add that it is bizarre work by prosecutors and judges too.  A near complete system breakdown.

Filming the Watchmen

Excerpt from a new paper, “Filming the Watchmen,”  from the Heritage Foundation:

Brandy Berning spent the night in a Florida jail because she used a cell phone to film a traffic stop on I-95. George Thompson of Fall River, Massachusetts, claimed that he was verbally abused, arrested, and locked up overnight for filming a profane police officer with a cell phone from his front porch. The officer was across the street in full view and within earshot of anyone who happened to be passing by his home.  Most recently, Florida police arrested and charged Lazaro Estrada with obstruction of justice for peacefully filming an arrest with his cell phone on a public street.

Why is this happening? Police are unhappy that people are using their cell phones—which often have video capabilities—to film police conduct. Some state statutes generally prohibit the recording or interception of oral communications unless all parties to the conversation consent. To prevent citizens from gathering and disseminating information about police conduct, police are relying on these statutes to arrest citizens who film police in public, even if those citizens have a right to be present in the locations from which they film.

The question arises: Are such filming and any subsequent publication protected by the First Amendment? If so, what can we do to better secure our rights?

This paper summarizes how federal courts of appeal have treated the filming of police officers in public. It then contends that there exists a First Amendment right not only to film police in such places, subject to reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions, but also to publish the content of those films.

Full paper here.  Still more here.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 07-08-14

Here are the 13 reports of police misconduct tracked for Tuesday, July 8, 2014:

  • Worcester, Massachusetts: A police officer has been arrested on home invasion and assault charges. He forced his way into his ex-wife’s home and struck her companion in the face and neck.
  • Hobart, Indiana: A woman claiming she was roughed up by police is suing the city’s department. She claims they verbally harassed her during transport to the police station and that she suffered injuries to her face from excessive force by the officers.
  • Lonoke County, Arkansas: A detective is facing felony charges after an investigation by state police. He is accused of accessing secure information about a case involving a family member that was being investigated by police.
  • Greene County, Ohio: The sheriff’s office has finalized a $130,000 settlement agreement with a man who alleged deputies used excessive force.
  • Update: Fort Smith, Arkansas (Previously reported 06-23-14): A now-former police officer has been sentenced to five years in prison for having sex with a girl who was 16 at the time.
  • Sequoyah County, Oklahoma: A state trooper has been arrested in for driving under the influence of alcohol while on duty after he crashed an Oklahoma Highway Patrol sport utility vehicle that was towing an OHP boat.
  • Walla Walla, Washington: A man has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the county and several local law enforcement officers, claiming he was repeatedly tasered by a sheriff’s deputy, arrested without cause and unlawfully transported across state lines.
  • Update: York, South Carolina (Previously reported 06-11-14): The police chief has been cleared of criminal wrongdoing after he was involved in a high speed police chase that ended with the suspect being stomped on.
  • Update: Clay County, Florida (First Reported 06-11-14): The sheriff has suspended two detectives and two supervisors without pay and will assign them to patrol for wrongfully arresting a Louisiana woman.
  • Maricopa County, Arizona: A man is suing a deputy after he says the deputy collided with his truck and then handcuffed the plaintiff when he tried to write down the deputy’s license-plate number.
  • Toledo, Ohio: A foster mother is suing the city, the police department, and an individual officer claiming her civil rights were violated and excessive force was used during her arrest.
  • Alamance County, North Carolina: The sheriff allegedly ordered his deputies to stop and arrest motorists who appeared to be Hispanic. The US Justice Department brought the charges after interviewing more than 125 victims and personnel over the course of several years. The investigation found that drivers who were Hispanic were being pulled over at an alarming rate for minor traffic infractions.
  • Sayreville, New Jersey: A police officer has admitted stealing more than $20,000 in rent paid by the Sayreville Housing Authority.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 07-08-14

Here are the 10 reports of police misconduct tracked for Friday, July 4 to Monday, July 7 2014:

  • Laurens County, South Carolina: A state trooper has been suspended after he threatened to use a Taser on a man during a traffic stop for speeding.
  • Update: Glouster, Ohio (First reported 05-27-14): A police chief suspected of helping a woman avoid arrest pled not guilty on 12 counts, including obstructing justice.
  • Montezuma County, Colorado: A civil-rights lawsuit claims that “incompetent” and “heavily armed” deputies have used “excessive force” under the sheriff’s direct supervision.
  • Update: Brattleboro, Vermont (Previously reported 02-26-13): A now-former state trooper has paid $27,000 to settle a civil lawsuit alleging that he assaulted two men while on duty.
  • Clayton County, Georgia: A police officer is under investigation, accused of losing his temper with a driver going too slow. After both pulled into a shopping complex parking lot, witnesses said the situation got out of control. “She opened her door up and that’s when he charged too her car,” said the witness, who was standing outside at the shopping center with her two children. The witness said the officer started to curse, used a racial slur and then spit on the driver.
  • Update: Osage County, Missouri (Previously reported 10-22-13): The sheriff pled guilty to a reduced charge of misdemeanor harassment. The judge suspended imposing any sentence and placed the sheriff in two years supervised probation.
  • Los Angeles, California: California Highway Patrol is investigating a video showing an officer pummeling a woman alongside a freeway during an arrest that began with an attempt to stop her from walking into traffic.
  • Update: Charlotte-Mecklenburg, North Carolina (First reported 02-21-14): A police officer pled guilty to secretly taking photos of girls’ underwear as they participated in a youth police program. He was placed on probation for 36 months. He will not be required to register as a sex offender.
  • Boston, Massachusetts: A police officer who has been on administrative leave was arrested after police said he took a vehicle he was unauthorized to use.
  • New York, New York: An off-duty officer who was allegedly intoxicated when he randomly opened fire and shot at two strangers was indicted on attempted murder charges.


Worst of the Month — June 2014

Earning worst of the month for June is police officer Ronald Harris.   Recall that he attempted to rob a woman at Memphis International Airport.  But this was an extraordinary theft.  Harris was trying to steal a bag from an employee of St. Jude Children’s Hospital who was, in turn, delivering the bag to a family. The bag was a gift from the Make-A-Wish Foundation—the organization that grants wishes to terminally-ill children.  The bag held several St. Jude t-shirts and a $1500 credit card for the family to use for travel.  Harris followed the St. Jude employee into the airport and then struck a member of the family who tried to stop him from stealing their wish away.  Harris has been suspended pending an investigation and faces a long list of charges. Police misconduct is never good, but plotting to steal the wish from a terminally-ill child and their family is just really low.

Full story here.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 07-03-14

Here are the 10 reports of police misconduct tracked for Thursday, July 3, 2013:

  • New York, New York: A now-former officer faces up to life in prison after he was found guilty ​of using his badge to help shake down drug dealers. Jurors found him guilty of taking part in a slew of stickups, sometimes while on duty and in uniform.
  • Albuquerque, New Mexico: A police officer is under internal investigation after allegations surfaced that he blackmailed a woman who works at a gentleman’s club.
  • Post Falls, Idaho: A family is seeking an undisclosed amount of money from the city and other entities for an incident with the police department that left a man permanently disabled.
  • Albany, New York: In a notice of claim a woman alleges that officers shoved her to the ground “and proceeded to drag her out of [a] building (and) while she was still on the ground caused contusions and trauma to her entire body.”
  • Update: Coupeville, Washington (First reported 02-10-14): A now-former deputy marshal said accusations that he handcuffed his former girlfriend during a roadside squabble and coached her about what to tell investigators are completely fabricated.
  • Baltimore, Maryland: The family of a man who died in police custody has filed a multimillion dollar wrongful death lawsuit against 11 officers and the city’s police commissioner.
  • Waterloo, Michigan: A resident who was cleared of pot-growing charges after a search warrant was deemed invalid is suing a small-town police chief and his township over what he calls a reckless investigation.
  • Lafayette, Indiana: Video was recently released of a police lieutenant who pushed over a man in a motorized wheelchair when he ran over his foot. “It’s clear to us that the whole use of force in this case could have been avoided just by different positioning, by offset positioning, by moving out of the way, by not standing where he was standing,” said the police chief.
  • Newburyport, Massachusetts: A former member of the police department allegedly embezzled money from a charitable organization set up to benefit injured, sick, and disabled police officers, and the families of police officers who die in the line of duty. He was charged with one count of larceny over $250 and one count of larceny over $250 by embezzlement.
  • Adams County, Colorado: A now-former sheriff deputy pled not guilty to sexually assaulting a child. He was arrested by his department and was charged with four charges, including sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust for a victim under age 15, sexual assault as a pattern of abuse and one count of incest.

Cop Overturns Man in Wheelchair


[Police Chief Patrick] Flannelly said after an internal review of the incident, he and six other members of the command staff unanimously felt Davidson used both conduct unbecoming an officer and an excessive use of force and should be fired….Flannelly said he still has full confidence in Davidson’s abilities.


More from

Flannelly said an electronic malfunction delayed the review of the case by about three months, but did not affect the outcome.

Electronic malfunction?  Hmm.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 07-02-14

Here are the 8 reports of police misconduct tracked for Wednesday, July 2, 2014:

  • Belfield, North Dakota: A police officer was fired after admitting to having sex with a woman in his patrol car while on patrol, according to employee records.
  • Update: Rock Rapids, Iowa (First reported 08-01-13): A now-former deputy pled guilty to lascivious conduct with a minor, a serious misdemeanor. The deputy was sentenced to a one-year suspended jail sentence and a fine of $315. He will be on probation for 10 years, and must attend and complete sex offender treatment.
  • Honolulu, Hawaii: A police officer has been indicted on multiple federal charges. According to police sources, he was involved in an elaborate scheme involving stolen cars.
  • Update: Warwick, Rhode Island (First reported 05-08-14): A suspended state trooper pled no contest to a charge of assaulting a suspect who was in custody.
  • Charlotte, Mecklenburg, North Carolina: A police officer has been arrested and charged with DWI after she was pulled over.
  • Chicopee, Massachusetts: A city police officer has pled guilty to drunken driving and negligent operation of a motor vehicle and will serve 30 days in jail for his crimes.
  • Los Angeles, California: A police officer pled not guilty to charges that he offered to furnish hydrocodone to an undercover detective on a classified ad website.
  • Update: Lexington, South Carolina (First reported 06-18-14): South Carolina’s longest-serving sheriff pled not guilty to federal bribery charges. He was released on $100,000 bond after a brief hearing in federal court. A judge also ordered him to surrender his passport and guns and not to leave South Carolina without court permission.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 07-01-14

Here are the 12 reports of police misconduct tracked for Tuesday, July 1, 2014:

  • Blackfeet Reservation, Montana: A law enforcement officer will be spending the next 24 months behind bars after being sentenced in federal court. He will also given three years of supervised release for receiving non-consensual oral sex in his patrol vehicle while armed and on duty, and then lying to investigators about it.
  • Denver, Colorado: The embattled Denver Sheriff Department has 114 open internal affairs investigations, with nearly a third of those involving allegations of excessive force by deputies.
  • Seattle, Washington: A police officer has been relieved of duty while the use of force against a handcuffed female prisoner is investigated.
  • Bothell, Washington: A police officer was given a one-day suspension for his involvement in a high-speed pursuit that ended in a death. The officer should have called off the pursuit earlier, said the police chief in a letter released recently under public records laws.
  • Update: Edison, New Jersey (Previously reported 06-06-13): A grand jury has indicted the police officer charged with attempted murder for allegedly setting fire to his police captain’s home. He was indicted along with his wife, who is charged with giving false information to protect her husband.
  • Hodgenville, Kentucky: Kentucky State Police have charged the police chief in with official misconduct and hindering prosecution.
  • Update: Cincinnati, Ohio (First reported 10-08-13): An officer pled guilty to two felony charges and resigned as an officer. He admitted guilt for attempting to tamper with evidence and for illegal use of a minor in nudity oriented material or performance.
  • Update: New York, New York (Previously reported 03-14-13): The conviction of a former police officer in a plot to kidnap, torture, kill and eat women was overturned by a federal judge who said there was not sufficient evidence to support it.
  • Seattle, Washington: A veteran police officer was arrested on suspicion of child molestation and related crimes.
  • Charlotte-Mecklenburg, North Carolina: A police officer was charged with DWI. He is also being charged with child abuse because he had a child in the car at the time he was pulled over.
  • Fruitland, Maryland: The police chief of was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol.
  • Rome, New York: A city police officer has been charged with raping a woman.

Creative Commons License
This work by Cato Institute is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.