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National Police Misconduct Reporting Project

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 04-15-15

Here are the eight reports of police misconduct tracked for Wednesday, April 15, 2015:

  • Update: Boston, Massachusetts (First reported 01-07-15): An officer who allegedly assaulted an Uber driver in January has been indicted for assault. He was suspended without pay after the indictment.  ow.ly/LDFTr
  • Palm Beach County, Florida: A deputy was indicted on federal charges for excessive force against a restrained but uncooperative jail inmate and attempting to cover it up. According to the U.S. Department of Justice press release, “The complaint alleges that [the deputy]…placed his hands around the inmate’s neck, struck the inmate’s head against the wall and pulled the inmate to the floor.  The complaint further alleges that the defendant then struck the inmate in the face with his knee.”  ow.ly/LDO9f
  • Update: North Augusta, South Carolina (First reported 04-06-15): The now-former officer who fatally shot a 68-year-old black man in his own driveway has been charged with illegal discharge of a firearm. The City has already paid $1.2 million to the man’s estate as the result of a wrongful death suit. http://ow.ly/LE3ST
  • Update: Prichard, Alabama (First reported 08-05-13): A now-former officer was sentenced to 36 years in prison after being convicted of drug trafficking and related charges. http://ow.ly/LE2Uj
  • Update: Maxton, North Carolina (First reported 05-08-15): The officer who allegedly shot her weapon at unoccupied cars has been fired. http://ow.ly/LDWZC
  • Clayton, New Mexico: An officer was fired after he was arrested and charged with false imprisonment and aggravated assault & battery after an incident with a 17-year-old girl. ow.ly/LETBR
  • Melrose Park, Illinois: A detective was arrested for conspiracy to rob police lab evidence of 2kg of seized cocaine. He was caught in a sting discussing his plan to replace the cocaine with fake cocaine after the evidence had been tested. ow.ly/LEW46
  • Lafayette Parish, Louisiana and Louisiana State Police: One parish deputy and one state trooper were arrested for their alleged participation in a drug and racketeering conspiracy. ow.ly/LEX56

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 04-14-15

Here are the nine reports of police misconduct tracked for Tuesday, April 14, 2015:

  • Chicago, Illinois: An officer is under FBI investigation for fatally shooting teen. He fired 16 rounds that hit the 17-year-old boy. ow.ly/LAwVA
  • San Pablo, California: An officer was arrested for buying drugs out of his car and possession of illegal guns. He was on administrative leave at the time and also had 2-year-old girl in the car with him. ow.ly/LAxh7
  • Update: Fairfax County, Virginia (First reported 02-09-15): The sheriff defended the actions that led to a 37-year-old woman’s death in custody. She was fully restrained when she was Tased four times. ow.ly/LAUH2
  • Update: Houston, Texas (First reported 04-24-14): A now-former officer was sentenced to 5 years and 10 months in prison for providing police protection to drug deals. ow.ly/LAzC4
  • Albuquerque, New Mexico: Two officers were placed on administrative leave after an APD employee accused them of excessive force. ow.ly/LAxCu
  • Jacksonville, Florida: An officer was arrested for petit theft and misconduct for falsifying time sheets. ow.ly/LAXpv
  • Update: Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania (First reported 08-25-14): A now-former officer agreed to a plea bargain in a bank fraud conspiracy case. His sentence is yet to be determined. Presumably in exchange for cooperation against his co-conspirators still awaiting trial or a detailed allocution in court, prosecutors have agreed they “will dismiss the remaining charges and will recommend a reduction in sentence if [he] adequately shows he accepts responsibility.” He faces up to 30 years and a $1 million fine. ow.ly/LAZVX
  • Update: South Burlington, Vermont (First reported 03-23-13): A lieutenant pled guilty to DWI. He was ordered to pay a fine. He remains on leave. ow.ly/LBywq
  • Update: Detroit, Michigan (First reported 11-03-14): Two now-former narcotics officers were indicted on federal charges for robbing and extorting drug dealers. ow.ly/LBDOV

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 04-11-15 to 04-13-15

Here are the seven reports of police misconduct tracked for Saturday, April 11 through Monday, April 13, 2015:

  • Tulsa County, Oklahoma: An officer was shown on video holding down suspect who had been shot and was complaining of shortness of breath. He said, “F*** your breath!” The man had been shot by a 73-year-old reserve officer who is also a substantial financial donor to the department. The reserve officer has been charged with negligent homicide. ow.ly/Lvz0w
  • United States Secret Service: A uniformed officer was arrested for burglary and destruction of property after allegedly kicking down the door of his ex-girlfriend’s home when he was off duty. ow.ly/LxryG
  • Tuscon, Arizona: Four officers were placed on administrative leave during investigation into undisclosed misconduct. Their names will not be released during the investigatory process. ow.ly/LxIKb
  • New York, New York: A detective was suspended for stealing rent money from a deli during a raid for selling untaxed cigarettes. The proprietor thought employees had stolen the money but surveillance video shows the detective removing the over $2,500 in cash from the place the owner left it. The receipt the proprietor was given for the seized funds was just under $600. The officer’s supervisor has been placed on desk duty. ow.ly/LxMZf
  • Akron, Ohio: An officer was arrested for assault in an “attack” outside a hotel in Cleveland, though the officer claims self-defense. Two suspects remain at large. ow.ly/Lymid
  • Cleveland, Ohio: A transit officer was placed on administrative probation after an excessive force complaint by passenger. ow.ly/LyvAI
  • Update: Vineland, New Jersey (First reported 04-06-15): An officer is shown on video sitting on a man’s back, punching him, and siccing a K-9 unit on him while he was face down on ground. He died in custody. ow.ly/LyAeX

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 04-10-15

Here are the seven reports of police misconduct tracked for Friday, April 10, 2015:

  • Ohio State Police: A now-former trooper was sentenced to five years in prison for coercing drivers for sexual favors in exchange for throwing-out traffic tickets. ow.ly/Lr96Z
  • Germantown, Tennessee: An officer was suspended after his arrest on aggravated rape and assault charges. ow.ly/Lrb1x
  • San Bernadino County, California: Several deputies shown on video repeatedly kicking and beating man after chase on an allegedly stolen horse. The footage was provided by a news helicopter following the chase. The sheriff is investigating. ow.ly/LrcG7
  • Weld County, Colorado: A deputy was placed on leave because he may have withheld evidence in an investigation into woman’s death. ow.ly/Lrllt
  • Harris County, Texas: An officer allegedly struck his sleeping girlfriend with his motorcycle helmet and strangled her. She survived. ow.ly/LrLHg
  • Update: Paris, Maine (First reported 12-01-14): The police chief pled guilty to DUI. He lost his driver’s license for five months and was ordered to pay a fine. ow.ly/LrMqT
  • Newbern, Tennessee: The chief was suspended for 14 days on allegations of providing a hostile work environment. He encouraged falsification of time sheets to minimize overtime and incentivized high-volume ticketing. ow.ly/Ls8vs

Few Police Prosecutions in Shooting Cases

Over the weekend, the Washington Post ran a front-page story on the rarity of prosecutions of police officers for on duty shootings. They teamed up with researchers at Bowling Green State University to look at the few cases in which charges were brought against officers. Since 2005, they found 54 criminal cases against police officers filed for police-involved shootings:

In half the criminal cases­ identified by The Post and researchers at Bowling Green, prosecutors cited forensics and autopsy reports that showed this very thing: unarmed suspects who had been shot in the back.

In a third of the cases­ where officers faced charges, prosecutors introduced videos into evidence, saying they showed the slain suspects had posed no threat at the moment they were killed. The videos were often shot from cameras mounted on the dashboards of patrol cars, standard equipment for most police departments.

In nearly a quarter of the cases, an officer’s colleagues turned on him, giving statements or testifying that the officer opened fire even though the suspect posed no danger at the time.

And in 10 cases, or about a fifth of the time, prosecutors alleged that officers either planted or destroyed evidence in an attempt to exonerate themselves — a strong indication, prosecutors said, that the officers themselves recognized the shooting was unjustified.

While 19 of the 54 cases they found are still pending, 21 officers were acquitted of charges and only 11 officers were convicted.

It is important to note that untold thousands of people were killed in police-involved shootings during that period. Just in Los Angeles County, California, there have been at least 409 police-involved shootings since 2010—and yet there hasn’t been a single prosecution for one since 2001.

As my colleague Matthew Feeney noted, the cell phone footage of Walter Scott’s death was integral to the officer’s firing and criminal charge. Without it, South Carolina authorities may not have filed any charges, let alone murder. Indeed, even with the video, conviction is not certain.

Read the whole Washington Post piece here.

Cross-posted at Cato at Liberty

Tulsa County Shooting

From the Tulsa World:

Robert Bates, the reserve Tulsa County deputy who fatally shot a man who was in a physical altercation with another deputy last week, has donated thousands of dollars worth of items to the Sheriff’s Office since becoming a reserve deputy in 2008.

Bates, 73, accidentally shot Eric Harris on Thursday, according to Maj. Shannon Clark, after Harris — the subject of an undercover gun and ammunition buy by the Sheriff’s Office’s Violent Crimes Task Force — fled from arrest and then fought with a deputy who tackled him. Bates, Clark said, thought he was holding a stun gun when he pulled the trigger….

First Assistant District Attorney John David Luton said Monday that the Tulsa County District Attorney’s Office had not received the case from the Sheriff’s Office but would seek to “move quickly” on a decision on possible charges against the reserve deputy once presented with the case.

Video of the shooting at the link above.

San Bernardino Deputies Filmed From News Helicopter

 

 

From the Los Angeles Times:

Charles “Sid” Heal, retired Los Angeles County sheriff’s commander

Heal, who has testified in dozens of force trials, said that when the man “fell off the horse and lay flat, he is done …. I think I am pretty conservative, given I have been in so many situations that have been misread, but I cannot see any explanation for their conduct here.”

As to the tactics, he said, the deputies exhibit almost none.

“It was like a feeding frenzy. It was like blood in the water with sharks,” Heal said. “The only thing is they thought they could get away with it.”

Adrenaline could be an explanation for the first unnecessary blows, he said.

“But it went on way too long and involved deputies who weren’t there in the initial stage; they took what we call cheap shots,” he said. “They thought they could get away with it.”

Heal said cameras capture everything today, and these deputies seemed to have forgotten that.

Public outrage over the video is shared by other law enforcement officers who believe such actions smear the badge, he said.

“Everybody I know is outraged,” he said. “This sets law enforcement back 20 years. All the things we have been saying basically get thrown out the window.”

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 04-09-15

Here are the eight reports of police misconduct tracked for Thursday, April 9, 2015:

  • Update: Ambridge, Pennsylvania (First reported 12-19-13): A now-former officer pled guilty to drug and obstruction charges and was sentenced to three years of probation. ow.ly/Lo55X
  • Monroe County, Tennessee: Two now-former deputies were indicted and arrested for assaulting a man in their custody. http://bit.ly/1GxXQyQ
  • Franklin County, Kentucky: A now-former deputy was sentenced to 16 months in prison for stealing property during the search of a home. ow.ly/LoeeU
  • Orange County, Virginia: A man is facing charges for assault on a police officer. The dash cam footage available shows no assault by the man but does show the officer throwing him to the ground and inflicting other injuries. The investigative news report revealed that the audio from the dash cam and all footage from other cameras that were on the scene are missing or otherwise unaccounted for. ow.ly/LoByW
  • Albuquerque, New Mexico: An officer admitted to illegally accessing a law enforcement database, a federal crime. No charges have been filed yet. ow.ly/LoIGj
  • Update: Iowa City, Iowa (First reported 02-20-15): An officer facing a DUI charge is no longer with the department. The police chief declined to clarify whether the now-former officer resigned or was fired. ow.ly/LoRCz
  • Houston, Texas: An officer was arrested on federal gun and drug distribution charges. The indictment alleges him to have been dealing cocaine since 2012. ow.ly/Lp1xO
  • Miami Gardens, Florida: Dash camera footage shows police fatally shoot a 25-year-old man. The state attorneys’ office is investigating the case and discouraged the man’s family from releasing the video while the investigation was ongoing. However, upon releasing the video, the family’s attorney said, “When you see this video, you will realize that this was not a justifiable shooting.”  ow.ly/Lp3Ky

The Walter Scott Case

My opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times:

A generation ago, when someone complained of police misconduct, we would learn that a police spokesperson denied the accusation and that was that. Because we were not there and did not know those involved, it was impossible to draw any conclusions. There was also an understandable reluctance to believe that the local department would spread falsehoods. Now more and more incidents are captured in cellphone videos, and that means citizens can judge for themselves whether the police broke the law. Smartphones are providing us with a glimpse of the widespread abuse that policymakers have been ignoring for years and changing the world of American policing….

To a certain extent, the authorities in South Carolina deserve praise for how they handled this incident. They disclosed the identity of the officer and his disciplinary record. They turned the case over to an independent agency to avoid a conflict of interest, and those investigators followed the evidence. Many people will say that the system “worked.” Did it?

Read the whole thing here.

Btw, with this case making national news, it is a good time to blast a note to all your friends and contacts about Cato’s Police Misconduct Reporting Project.  Just a quick note saying something like “check out this website–police misconduct is more common than you may realize.”  And don’t forget to Like us on Facebook.  Thank you for considering.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 04-08-15

Here are the eight reports of police misconduct tracked for Wednesday, March 8, 2015:

  • North Charleston, South Carolina: An officer was charged with murder for shooting a fleeing 50-year-old man in the back. In his police report, the officer claimed he “felt threatened” and administered CPR on the suspect after shooting him. A bystander came forward with video evidence contradicting the officer’s account. He was fired from the police department. ow.ly/LjCq9
  • Baltimore County, Maryland: A now-former officer pled guilty to burglary and drug charges for breaking into dealer’s home to rob him. ow.ly/Ll8iV
  • Tampa, Florida: A now-former officer pled guilty to stealing evidence. She took tax refund checks seized from fraud cases and cashed them herself. ow.ly/LlhJM
  • Bristol, Rhode Island: An officer was charged with breaking-in to a neighbor’s home to steal prescription pills. He resigned upon arrest. ow.ly/LlDx1
  • Update: Ft. Lauderdale, Florida (First reported 02-24-15): An officer was charged with two counts of battery and one count of falsifying official record for slapping a homeless man and trying to cover it up. Video shows the exchange. ow.ly/LlZTd
  • Maxton, North Carolina: An officer was arrested after shooting her firearm at two unoccupied vehicles during an altercation. ow.ly/LlY5l
  • New Milford, New Jersey: A patrolman was arrested on drug charges after being found in parking lot acting suspiciously. He was allegedly in possession of a bag of crack cocaine and a hypodermic needle. ow.ly/LlXvE
  • Update: St. Louis, Missouri (First reported 03-17-15): A now-former officer pled guilty to conspiracy charges for knowingly providing a drug dealer with a firearm. ow.ly/LmhtO

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