National Police Misconduct Reporting Project

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 03-08-11

Here are the 15 reports of police misconduct tracked in our National Police Misconduct News Feed for this Tuesday, March 8, 2011:

  • St Paul MN settled a lawsuit for $270k to a woman claiming she needed over 300 stitches after a police officer allegedly threw her through a glass door. Police still insist that she fell. [3]
  • Three Hamilton County OH deputies are the subject of a lawsuit filed by a man who was tasered 7 times in about a minute while he was suffering from a diabetic episode. The suit was filed after prosecutors refused to file charges over the incident because an “expert” they hired cleared the officers of wrongdoing. In fact, that expert told reporters she has never found wrongdoing by any officer she’s investigated in her career as a “use of force expert”. [5]
  • Ottawa County MI is being sued by a college student who was unarmed when he was shot in the chest by a deputy during a raid on his apartment because he raised his arm to shield his eyes from a flashlight glare when he opened the door for the officers. [0]
  • A Seaside CA police officer has been arrested on 2 assault and 6 sexual battery charges involving incidents that allegedly occurred while he was on duty. [1]
  • A Fort Worth TX police officer is under investigation after a couple complained that the officer was overly aggressive and used excessive force when he injured a woman at a park while throwing her into his cruiser then falsely ticketing the man she was with for violating the park’s curfew while many others were in the park playing with their dogs and watching softball games. [2]
  • Danbury CT has settled a lawsuit for $400k to 8 of 11 day laborers who claimed that an immigration raid was a matter of racial profiling. Oddly, the lawyer representing the city called the $400k payout “vindication” for the city. [1]
  • A New Melle MO police officer has been sentenced to probation for sexually harassing a school teacher via text messages and an alleged illegal traffic stop. Previous reports about the case also included allegations he threatened her inside a school classroom with a taser but subsequent articles didn’t mention it. [0]
  • Four Milwaukee WI police officers were suspended from 1-3 days for failing to properly investigate a fatal hit-and-run accident that involved a relative of a police officer. [1]
  • A Bennington County VT deputy was arrested on a domestic assault charge on allegations he threw a can at a woman then grabbed her by the throat and threw her to the floor. [0]
  • And finally, a Baltimore MD police major is under investigation for allegedly leaving the scene of an accident involving his city-owned car. [0]

Yes, today’s numbers are a little low for a regular Tuesday but it was a difficult day today unfortunately. Beyond just being a bad day overall I wasn’t able to catch up on the news feed during my 1.5-2 hour bus rides home as both the buses I take were packed.

Hopefully I’ll find some of the reports I missed tomorrow. As always, I’ll give it my best effort.

Anyway, that’s it for today, stay safe out there!

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 03-07-11

Here are the 20 reports of police misconduct tracked in our National Police Misconduct News Feed for this Monday, March 7, 2011:

  • An Oneonta NY police officer is on unpaid leave after an investigation found that he used excessive force during a traffic stop for using a cell phone while driving. [0]
  • A Vermont State trooper resigned while he was under investigation on allegations that he sexually assaulted a teen girl and took explicit photos and videos of her. No charges have been filed in the case and police are having difficulty finding anything other than legal photos of the girl but say his cell phone was damaged in a way that appears as though it was a matter of evidence tampering. [0]
  • A San Diego CA police officer has resigned while under investigation on allegations made public last month that he raped a college student with the help of a female college employee. [0]
  • Peoria AZ and Maricopa County AZ are being sued by a woman who owned a day care business who was wrongly arrested, prosecuted and then exonerated three times in a highly questionable murder case. [3]
  • The New Melle MO police department is being sued by a female teacher who was subjected to sexual harassment by a police officer that the suit claims was hired despite his criminal history which included similar allegations involving a minor. [3]
  • Kansas City MO is settling a lawsuit that may cost that city $3,650,000 that could be awarded to upwards of 500 people who had their assets and cash seized in drug cases, some of which were dismissed or ended in exoneration because the police mismanaged forfeiture funds. This just a day after a $3,000,000 judgment was levied against Bernalillo County New Mexico and it’s former sheriff over forfeiture practices as well. [0]
  • A DeKalb County GA police lieutenant resigned before he was arraigned on bribery charges though officials aren’t giving any specifics on what those charges are based on at this time. [1]
  • San Francisco CA has dropped charges in 5 drug cases as yet another video, the fourth so far, has been released by the city’s public defender’s office which alleges it provides even more evidence that officers lied in sworn statements to justify arrests made during warrantless searches. [3]
  • Harford County MD settled a lawsuit for unspecified sum to women who were arrested while participating in an anti-abortion protest. At least one of the women claims she was strip searched multiple times. [3]
  • A Lorain OH police officer has been fired for abuse of authority on allegations that he harassed her and had her followed and watched while at a party then pulled her over as well as another car that was similar to the one she was in. [0]
  • A Woodlawn OH police officer has resigned after he was arrested for allegedly stealing from a grocery store he was working at while off-duty as a security guard. [0]
  • A West York PA police officer was suspended while she is the subject of a criminal investigation on allegations that she illegally recorded conversations with her domestic partner. [1]
  • And finally, a Chicago IL police officer has been suspended while under investigated on allegations that he placed a fake 911 call in order to get away from a police officer who pulled him over on suspicion of drunk driving. Oddly, the Niles IL police officer who pulled him over was trying to give him a break by not having him take a breathalyzer and was going to let him go, though the department insists that wasn’t a matter of “professional courtesy. [2]

That’s it for today, stay safe out there!

Police Misconduct NewsFeed Weekend Recap 03-05-11 to 03-06-11

Here are the 13 reports of police misconduct tracked in our National Police Misconduct News Feed for this Saturday and Sunday, March 5-6, 2011:

  • Seaside Heights NJ police are the subject of three excessive force lawsuits that were all filed in February. This is after facing 6 that were filed last year, two of which settled out of court. The first claims police used excessive force after they entered a home w/o a warrant or permission. The second claims he was beaten by police while falsely arrested then waffled (where police spike breaks to injure handcuffed passengers) on the way to jail. The third claims he was assaulted by cops while waiting for his girlfriend outside a bar. [3]
  • The Oakland CA police department was forced by an arbitrator to rehire a police officer who fatally shot an unarmed man in the back as he was fleeing which cost the city $650,000 in the resulting lawsuit settlement stemming from that case. [0]
  • A Kansas City KS police officer has been suspended while he’s under investigation for allegedly shooting a bouncer in the stomach twice while he was being escorted out of a bar for being too drunk and disruptive. Police allegedly questioned him but no charges have been filed. [4]
  • Portland OR has settled a lawsuit for nearly $82,000 to a man who was tasered in back by a police officer while he was on his knees with his hands on his head in a case where an arbitrator assigned to the case offered a stinging rebuke when the officer’s testimony was contradicted by four witnesses. A second case discussed in this report was settled early last year and was in our database already. [3]
  • Elk NJ and Clayton NJ were able to keep a $35,000 settlement made to two pastors and a third person a secret for nearly 5 months. The suit alleged that officers searched a home that was being converted into a church and wrongly accusing the man living there while doing the renovations of selling drugs there. [4]
  • New York NY settled a lawsuit for $170,000 to 9 people who were part of a class action suit claiming the city’s stop and frisk practices were a violation of civil rights. lawsuit, 6 cases pending [0]
  • Bernalillo County NM and its former sheriff have been ordered by a judge to pay over $3,000,000 to approximately 500 motorists who had their money taken by deputies who claimed they were seizing it to use as evidence in cases that never happened. [0]
  • A Pueblo CO police officer has been charged with misdemeanor assault, harassment and menacing concerning an alleged altercation with female officer at the police station. [1]
  • A Contra Costa County CA deputy was arrested on suspicion of selling drugs as part of an ongoing corruption probe into a state narcotics task force that resulted in the arrest of a state officer and a private eye. [0]
  • A Chicago IL police commander is the subject of an investigation into unspecified allegations of child abuse involving her teenage daughter. [1]
  • A Medford MA police officer has been suspended for 9 months without pay after receiving a suspended sentence in a plea deal to a solicitation charge last year. [0]
  • And finally, a New York NY police officer is being accused of speeding in 3-wheeled police cart before crashing into a light pole, uprooting the pole and injuring himself in the process. [3]

Before I end this report I did want to mention that I am still working on the 2010 full statistical report. This will be the first full year report once I get it done and I’m trying to get it done before we’re evicted from our home.

It takes a lot of time and focus to do these statistical reports and those are things might not have depending on what kind of living situation we have to resort to once we’re forced out of here. So hopefully I’ll be able to get this done sooner rather than later.

That’s it for today, stay safe out there!

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 03-04-11

Here are the 23 reports of police misconduct tracked in our National Police Misconduct News Feed for this Friday, March 4, 2011:

  • A Los Angeles CA civilian commission ruled against the police chief’s decision to exonerate two officers involved in the shooting death of an unarmed autistic man who they claim was pointing a cellphone at them despite that cellphone being found in the man’s belt holster afterward. [0]
  • A Washington County MO chief deputy was convicted on civil rights charges for orchestrating inmate beatings in jail and for beating some inmates himself as well, including one that had to be hospitalized with a broken orbital bone, then lying about it to federal investigators. [0]
  • A Midland MI police officer has been suspended after he was arrested on several charges over allegations that he used his position to sexually assault a disabled woman in her home. Officials are refusing to release any other details including whether he was actually on duty or not at the time. [1]
  • A New Orleans LA police officer has been sentenced to 45 years in prison after he was convicted of on kidnapping and sexual assault charges for detaining a woman then driving her behind an abandoned warehouse where he raped her. [0]
  • The Dallas TX police department is being sued by the alleged victim of excessive force in an incident that was caught on dashcam. One officer involved in that incident has been fired. [0]
  • A retired Cleveland OH police officer has been  sentenced to 52 and a half years in prison after pleading guilty to attempted rape and possession of child pornography. As many of our readers know we don’t track incidents involving people when they are no longer law enforcement officers, however prosecutors in this case alleged that the officer used tools and techniques he learned as a police officer investigating child exploitation cases to do what he did, which appears to indicate he was doing it, or planning to do so, while he was a cop. [0]
  • A Chicago IL city alderman is demanding to know why a police officer who is the subject of a pending $3,000,000 lawsuit settlement was promoted after he was suspended for 30 days when video proved he lied about fatally shooting an unarmed man in the face. While the settlement itself was recorded in our database yesterday as the current conclusion of that excessive force incident, this report is being recorded as an accountability issue. [3]
  • A Palm Springs CA police lieutenant has been arrested on domestic violence and kidnapping charges involving his girlfriend who was reported as missing as of March 1 and still has not been located. (Update, the alleged victim was found alive in Arizona today after missing for 8 days, no word on how this might affect the charges against the officer.) [0]
  • The Elberta AL police chief has been arrested on multiple charges on allegations that he fired a shot through his own office window then reported that he chased down and fired shots at the pretend shooter. [0]
  • A Johnson City NY police officer was sentenced to 48 months in prison for claiming disability pay after he stabbed himself then falsely reported that he was stabbed by two suspects who were never found. [0]
  • Two Trenton TX police officers have been indicted on official oppression charges after accused of unlawfully detaining a man under color of law in an unspecified incident. [1]
  • Six San Francisco CA police officers are now the subject of an FBI investigation into allegations that they committed unlawful searches and raids and lied about arrests in at least three incidents that where captured on video. As a result of this the department has shut down that undercover unit. [3]
  • The Powell WY police department was the subject of a $30,001 civil suit judgment after they were sued by a woman who claimed officers forced her to walk in front of them at gunpoint as a human shield during a raid and then unsafely deployed a flash-bang grenade without checking the room they threw it into first. [0]
  • An FBI agent assigned to the US Attorney General’s security detail reportedly had a .25 BAC when he caused an accident that killed an 18-year-old and critically injured his passenger. The incident is still under investigation without any charges being filed yet. [0]
  • Another Philadelphia PA police officer was convicted on intent to distribute heroin and armed robbery charges over a fake traffic stop that was performed with the intent to steal 300 grams of heroin. [0]
  • A Houston TX police officer is the subject of an investigation on allegtions that she falsely arrested a woman on public intoxication charges after being informed that the woman had trouble walking and talking due to a stroke she had suffered. [0]
  • Two Apopka FL police officers have resigned and may face criminal charges after they admitted to vandalizing a suspect’s car because he fled when stopped. [0]
  • An Oregon State trooper resigned after he was arrested on allegations that he repeatedly harassed a woman via phone, email and text messages. [0]
  • Mason City IA has settled a lawsuit for $85,000 to a church that the police chief had claimed was a cult and had a secret arsenal. The claims the chief made against the church also sparked an IRS investigation that turned up no wrongdoing on the church’s part. [0]
  • And finally, the police chief of Kennebunkport ME has resigned after he berated one of his officers when that officer pulled him over on suspicion of drunk driving. The officer ultimately didn’t charge the police chief and drove him home instead. [0]

Just to keep everyone up to speed, our landlord decided to kick us out a day after she accepted just about 90% of my first paycheck as a payment towards the rent we’re behind on. It was a turn around from an agreement we had that would have caught us up on rent within a couple months and it’s unfortunate that she backed out of it, but there isn’t much we can do about it now but start packing yet again for our third move in the last 7 months.

We haven’t been given a specific date yet, so we’ll see how long we have before we’re formally evicted. I doubt it will be long enough to save up for a move into another rental, even if we could find a place that would let us rent. So we’re hoping we at least have long enough for another paycheck to roll in so we can move our things into storage and hold out in a motel or something.

Things might get a bit difficult for tracking reports, depending on how things go, but as I’ve said all along I’ll try to keep the project going no matter what.

That’s it for today, stay safe out there!

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 03-03-11

Sorry these are a straight dump from our news feed again, but things have been very hectic since I’ve started this new job.I don’t have the ability to keep things updates as much as I used to so it’s a lot more work to get things caught up.

You know, about a third of the time I spend writing for the site or news feed is done on a bus during my commute so it’s not easy bringing this data to you sometimes. Isn’t it strange to think that America’s largest statistical database of police misconduct (heck, for all I know it’s the only statistical database of police misconduct in the world) might be sitting right next to you during your next bus trip?

I also wanted to remind everyone that we still need donations to get through to the end of next week if at all possible. Thank you all for helping us survive this long, it certainly hasn’t been easy.

With that said, here are the 19 reports of police misconduct tracked in our National Police Misconduct News Feed for this Thursday, March 3, 2011:

  • Chicago IL settles suit for $3mil to family of unarmed man fatally shot in face by cop in videotaped incident [0] http://is.gd/bTHlJI
  • Long Beach CA police sued by man claiming cops tasered & beat him so badly several witnesses called 911 to report it [4] http://is.gd/BaDMJ7
  • Overland MO settles wrongful death suit for undisclosed sum due to officer facing trial for shoving man down stairs [0] http://is.gd/mxrGSp
  • Chicago IL police sued by innocent man who spent 10yrs in prison after indicted cop allegedly planted drugs on him [3] http://is.gd/WFiIBj
  • Northampton MA police sued by man alleging cops pushed for charges against him despite evidence he was innocent [4] http://is.gd/m5t0z1
  • 6 Chicago IL cops must pay $15k each in $200k jury award to cop they falsely arrested in his yard with his friends [0] http://is.gd/KiomUs
  • 1 Natchez MS cop convicted for stealing man’s credit cards, other cop acquitted of brutality in same case [0] http://is.gd/vXbkzt
  • Montgomery AL cop arresed on sexual abuse & enticement charges, accused of on duty sexual encounter w/juvenile [0] http://is.gd/wd3X5t
  • Buffalo NY police officer allegedly suspended w/o pay in connection with drug bust involving motorcycle club [4] http://is.gd/qt5MKw
  • Diboll TX police chief resigns during on-going investigation into unspecified allegations [3] http://is.gd/UtkVyf
  • Macomb Co MI deputy suspended w/o pay after charged w/home invasion, stalking, domestic violence & other charges [0] http://is.gd/yubLkE
  • Valencia County NM deputy charged w/extortion & kidnapping for forcing woman to strip & bend over during traffic stop [3] http://is.gd/sRXXrh
  • Canada RCMP officer sentenced to 2 years jail for attempting to sexually assault 17yr-old girl while on duty [0] http://is.gd/0CAtEn
  • Louisville KY cop resigns to end probe into allegations he used police computers to spy on ex-wife and her boyfriend [0] http://is.gd/r3luHx
  • Orangeville ON police sued by man who had charges against him dropped by judge who rebuked cops for excessive force [3] http://is.gd/x4aBq7
  • Mesquite TX police sergeant arrest for theft after caught on video in FBI sting op stealing $2k in staged drug bust [0] http://is.gd/kLueGr
  • Fort Pierce FL police officer arrested on false imprisonment & battery charges for alleged strip search of woman [0] http://is.gd/3l7ena
  • Spokane WA man who was shot in back of head by now-former cop loses lawsuit because he couldn’t get a lawyer [0] http://is.gd/tMxMoi
  • Tulare CA police officer arrested on drunk driving charge after her patrol car left road & hit street signs & fence [0] http://is.gd/QvJ49w

That’s it for today, stay safe out there!

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 03-02-11

Here are the 21 reports of police misconduct tracked by our National Police Misconduct News Feed for this Wednesday, March 2, 2011:

  • A South Ogden UT police officer was arrested on 10 sodomy of a child charges on allegations that ranged over a number of years. The officer had resigned late last year while he was under investigation. [0]
  • A Kingville ON police officer was charged with assault causing bodily harm for fracturing a teen’s arm while responding to a noise complaint. [1]
  • A Newport News VA police officer has been charged with sexual battery and indecent liberties by a custodian charges on allegations involving a child who was visiting relatives. We’re now hearing that the alleged victim was 2-years-old.  [1]
  • An El Paso TX police officer has been suspended for 56 hours and is still the subject of a criminal investigation into an unspecified excessive force and false reporting incident. [3]
  • A Searcy AR police officer who worked in a middle school has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for having illegal sexual contact with a 16-year-old girl that apparently began when she was in 8th grade. The officer was arrested after he was caught crawling through a window into the girl’s bedroom. [0]
  • The police chief of South Beloit IL resigned that position but will still work there as a patrol officer after serving a 2 week suspension for allegedly putting his hand around a teen’s throat.  [0]
  • A Seattle WA gang unit officer is likely to be suspended for 30 days over a video last year that showed him yelling “I’ll beat the Mexican piss out of you” to a man on the ground who later turned out to be innocent. The video shows his foot grazing that man’s head while he stomped on his hand then another officer stomping on his leg. Police insist the stomping wasn’t a problem, just the language. [0]
  • A Seguin TX police officer was sentenced to probation for evidence tampering in a plea deal which dropped child solicitation charges but only punished him for his efforts to hide the acts of child solicitation by deleting his cell phone text messages. [0]
  • San Francisco CA police are accused of lying in their reports in order to justify two different illegal searches of hotel rooms that were captured on video which is claimed to prove that they perjured themselves. [4]
  • The police chief of Phoenix AZ may be on his way out according to some sources who say he’s already cleaned out his office. The chief is in some hot water now that an investigation was launched into how he came up with the number of border-related home invasion kidnappings and how that allegedly flawed and controversial data was used to get lucrative federal grants. [2]
  • The police chief of Wayne OK was arrested on three counts of embezzlement on allegations he was using funds intended for child abuse victims to buy personal items. [1]
  • A Miami FL police officer was arrested on grand theft and fraud charges for taking money from the non-profit police group that she led. [0]
  • A Pacific MO police officer was arrested on drunk driving charges after he was stopped for speeding while behind the wheel of an unmarked cruiser. [0]
  • The police chief of Everett WA apparently broke his own rules when he suspended the investigation into one of his officer’s use of deadly force but now he’s accused of being less than honest about it after an attorney who deposed him alleged that the chief knew this wasn’t the first time something like this happened in that department. [3]
  • Sherrill NY officials are citing state laws that they say protect the disciplinary records of cops from public records requests in their refusal to say why they fired their police chief.[4]
  • And finally, a New Orleans LA police officer has been placed on desk duty while he’s under investigation over videos and pictures of a woman wearing his uniform shirt in a couple different bars. [1]

That’s it for today, stay safe out there!

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 03-01-11

First, just wanted to mention there was a nice writeup about us over on California Watch today in case anyone was interested.

With that said, here are the 20 reports of police misconduct tracked in our National Police Misconduct News Feed for this Tuesday, March 1, 2011:

  • A Houston TX police officer is being accused of hitting a former professional athlete in the head with his nightstick while the man was leaving a sporting goods store with his son. The man and several witnesses, including the store’s own security personnel, are claiming that the officer did so without any reason and some say he used a racial epithet afterwards when the threatened to kill the man. That same officer was involved in a highly questionable shooting incident just 10 months prior to this incident. [5]
  • A Miami-Dade FL police officer was found by a judge to have violated rights of unarmed man she fatally shot in back as he tried to run away, the finding sends the wrongful death suit filed by the man’s family into mediation or settlement negotiations. [0]
  • A Webster TX police officer’s version of why he shot a woman in the face while he was responding to a call at a bar is being disputed by multiple witnesses. [1]
  • Dakota County MN settled a lawsuit for $315,000 to a woman who suffered a broken leg when a deputy knocked her out when he shoved her into a wall while transporting her to a rehab facility. [0]
  • Cash-strapped Bell CA settled a lawsuit for $750,000 to a woman who was sexually assaulted by an officer during a traffic stop. That officer is currently serving a 9-year prison sentenced after he was convicted of that crime. [0]
  • Meanwhile, back in Bell CA, the police department is the subject of scrutiny over a memo that came to light which turned the practice of handing out tickets and making arrests a game, literally. Different types of tickets or arrests netted different scores in a baseball-like game where felony arrests were a home-run. [3]
  • It didn’t help, again in Bell CA, that the police union is now under fire as well over their political campaign mailings featuring photos of uniformed police officers which apparently violate state laws that bar officers from using their position for political causes. City officials say they may start an investigation which can lead to disciplinary action for the officers involved while they also consider disbanding the police department due to a lack of funds. [0]
  • An unknown number of Waynesville OH police officers are the subject of a lawsuit filed by a couple who claim that officers entered their home illegally on two occasions. The first time they claim they were forced to stand naked while officers searched their home and the second time the police chief let a woman into their home to retrieve property they say she wasn’t entitled to. [3]
  • A Franklin IN narcotics officer who is the subject of a large number of allegations and is currently facing criminal charges is now the subject of a federal lawsuit alleging that he falsely arrested a man on drug charges which resulted in him spending 16 months in jail before the case was dismissed. [3]
  • The police chief of Grand Isle LA is the subject of a lawsuit alleging that he tried to obstruct a criminal case against his fried who was accused of molesting a young boy on his houseboat. [5]
  • An unknown number of Miami FL police officers are under investigation on allegations they roughed up and falsely arrested a woman because she asked an officer why he was being rude. That officer accused her of assaulting him and resisting arrest. [3]
  • A Houston TX police officer was suspended after he reportedly threw a tear gas canister into a competitor’s booth during a cooking competition at a rodeo, resulting in several people, including spectators, becoming ill. [0]
  • A Lee County FL deputy has resigned after an investigation into several allegations inlcuding that he had sex with a woman that he detained but never charged, that he took drugs from suspects and gave them to a woman later arrested on drug charges and that he lied about that and other incidents to investigators. [0]
  • An Iberia Parish LA deputy was arrested on possession of drugs with intent to distribute charges after officers were tipped off that he was planning to smuggle drugs into the jail and sell to inmates. [0]
  • An Auburn NY police officer was convicted on 29 charges including bribery and official misconduct for misusing his position to get free and discounted services and goods including one incident where he threatened to retaliate against a paving company he owed money to by falsely ticketing that company’s drivers. [0]
  • An Inkster MI police officer accepted a plea deal to get a 90 day sentence on reduced charges where he previously faced the possibility of life in prison for felony perjury. He’s the second officer to plead in the case and cooperate with the prosecution of a prosecutor and judge in that case relating to their testimony in a drug case.[0]
  • A Toronto ON police officer is facing an unauthorized use of a computer charge for running background checks on his neighbor whom he was having a dispute with at the time. [0]
  • A Detroit MI police officer was convicted on an aggravated stalking charge involving an assistant prosecutor who was her ex-girlfriend. [0]

That’s it for today, stay safe out there!

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 02-28-11

Sorry these are just a dump from the news feed, I’ll try to edit them a bit later today if I get a moment.

Meanwhile, here are the 15 reports of police misconduct tracked in our National Police Misconduct News Feed for this Monday, February 28, 2011:

  • Basalt CO settles suit for unspecified sum to man beaten & arrested by 3 cops over snide remark in bar [3] http://is.gd/BizvRp
  • Schenectady NY police officer fired after on paid leave for nearly 4 years over bar fight & fleeing accident scene [0] http://is.gd/Wp01GV
  • Orange Cove CA cop on leave after arrested on domestic violence allegations involving estranged wife [0] http://is.gd/XXr17V
  • Kingston NY police lt suspended on allegations of double dipping before suspension for theft allegations expired [0] http://is.gd/445J2n
  • Orange County CA deputy sentenced to 19days jail for domestic violence & obtaining gun in violation of court order [0] http://is.gd/L6K1JB
  • Linwood NJ police chief sued by 2 cops & family of murdered woman alleging he ordered cops to lie about incident [3] http://is.gd/vSqZvU
  • Windsor ON cop under investigation after pic on internet appears to show him plaing solitaire on patrol car computer [2] http://is.gd/uJlmyX
  • Baltimore MD to settle suit for $95k to man claiming he was tasered while cuffed & strip searched in public [0] http://is.gd/SOZBRM
  • Trenton NJ police officer resigns after internal investigation into allegations he harassed 2 superior officers [1] http://is.gd/V82kOQ
  • North Charleston SC cop fired for allegedly breaking T-Mobile store window w/chair for not fixing his phone [0] http://is.gd/jPdBph
  • New York NY now-former cop sentenced to 22yrs after pleading to transporting teens across state line for sex [0] http://is.gd/de4GQT
  • Inkster MI police sgt takes plea deal reducing perjruy charge, agrees to testify against judge & cop in perjury case [0] http://is.gd/hDQhDc
  • Buckeye AZ cop faces decertification hearing after fired for allegedly plagiarizing police reports [1] http://is.gd/apjAFH
  • Anchorage AK police sued by family of teen shot w/o warning in arm by cop mistaking bb gun for rifle [3] http://is.gd/KKrIoh
  • Horry County SC deputy will not be cited despite investigation indicating he caused on-duty accident that injured 5 [1] http://is.gd/yHlPSd

Stay safe out there!

Police Misconduct NewsFeed Weekend Recap 02-26-11 to 02-27-11

It was a slow news cycle this weekend for our National Police Misconduct News Feed, so there are only 6 reports in our weekend review for February 26-27, 2011:

  • A Miami FL police officer who shot two unarmed men during a traffic stop is now the subject of a lawsuit filed by the passenger who claims there was no reason for the officer to open fire resulting in him suffering permanent injuries from three bullets while the driver was fatally wounded. Police union representatives and official still refuse to say why the officer shot the pair other than to suggest that something made him afraid for his safety. [3]
  • An Escambia County FL deputy has been suspended after arrested on allegations that she injured her son when she hit him in the arm with her police-issue retractable metal baton. [0]
  • An Orleans Parish LA deputy was arrested on an aggravated assault charge for brandishing her firearm at her own son on a school bus while she was in uniform. [0]
  • A Memphis TN police sergeant was arrested after allegedly beating his wife then abducting her and their 3-week-old child before police stopped the car and the officer tried to flee on foot. [0]
  • And finally, a Los Angeles County CA deputy is under investigation after he was accused of tainting prospective jurors by telling them that the trial they were about to be a jury on was a waste of time and that he knew the defendant was guilty which prompted the judge to dismiss the entire jury pool and ask for an investigation into the “unprofessional and inexcusable” behavior. [0]

Before I go, I do need to ask for donations today. We talked with our landlord and if we can get current on our utility bills she’ll let us stay a bit longer. Otherwise we might get evicted a bit sooner than we had hoped. So, if at all possible, if anyone out there was thinking about donating, today would be a great day to do it if possible. Thanks!

Well, that’s it for today, stay safe out there.

The Problem with Prosecuting Police in Washington State

Recently, here in the state of Washington, King County prosecutors announced that they would not charge Seattle Police Officer Ian Birk for the shooting death of Native American woodcarver John T. Williams despite a police firearms review board deciding that the shooting was unjustified. In this case, prosecutors cited Washington State law which they say sets such a high bar against prosecuting police officers in such cases that they could not charge Birk even though his actions appeared negligent at best.

While most legal experts cited in the news confirmed that Washington’s laws, which require a nearly impossible burden of proving malicious intent to charge an officer who kills in the line of duty, could be a plausible reason for refusing to prosecute Birk. Other experts also cited how difficult it is in general to prosecute a police officer anywhere in the US for any reason, especially when the alleged criminal act occurred on duty. But this presents us with a question; could this be just a Washington problem or is this indicative of a much more systemic problem in the US?

The National Police Misconduct Statistics and Reporting Project has been gathering data including criminal cases against law enforcement officers for nearly two years, perhaps the answer to some of these questions resides within that data.

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To establish a baseline we can look to the latest data released by the US Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) which indicates that the conviction rate for members of the general public who were tried on criminal charges ranged around 68% from 2002 through 2006. Furthermore, the US BJS reports indicated that the incarceration rate remained fairly stable at an average of 70% and the average length of post-conviction incarceration for the general public was 49 months.

For a comparison we can use data from our National Police Misconduct Statistics and Reporting Project (NPMSRP) which tracked over 8,300 credible reports involving allegations of police misconduct in the US from April of 2009 through December 2010 which involved nearly 11,000 law enforcement officers within those 21 months. Of those reported allegations, only 3,238 resulted in criminal charges against law enforcement officers. Of those 3,238 criminal cases against law enforcement officers in the US, only 1,063 officers were ultimately convicted of those charges or reduced charges associated with the original allegations. Of the law enforcement officers who were ultimately convicted, 36% were ultimately sentenced to spend any time incarcerated and the average length of incarceration for those sentenced to prison or jail was approximately 34.6 months.

This would appear to indicate that there are disparities on a national scale between how law enforcement officers are treated in the criminal justice system since conviction and incarceration rates for law enforcement officers are nearly half that of the conviction and incarceration rates for the general public and, even when convicted, law enforcement officers spend 29% less time behind bars on average than the rest of the public.

The disparity becomes even more apparent when we focus only on excessive force cases. Of the 2,716 law enforcement officers involved in alleged incidents where use of force was questioned, only 197 were ultimately charged with a criminal offense and, of that 197, only 77 were convicted. Of even more relevance, for the 426 law enforcement officers who were accused of using excessive force in incidents where a fatality occurred, only 28 faced charges and half of those who were prosecuted ended up being convicted.

It is interesting that, even though the prosecution rates for non-fatal and fatal excessive force incidents are at an identical 7%, the conviction rate for fatal excessive force cases is 11% higher, at 50%, than the non-fatal excessive force conviction rate of 39%. As a comparison point, off-duty assault allegations result in criminal charges 55% of the time and end in a conviction 24% of the time. Off-duty murder allegations result in a prosecution rate of 71% and conviction rate of 45% which appears to indicate that on-duty violence is tolerated more than off-duty violence.

Oddly, this would give the appearance that it may be easier, not harder, to convict police officers accused of fatal use of excessive force, in fact the conviction rate for fatal excessive force cases was higher than any other type of case according to the data we’ve gathered (followed by murder at 45% and sexual offences at 41%). This would also appear to indicate that successfully prosecuting excessive force cases may not be as difficult as suggested since the conviction rates for these cases are actually higher than the overall average law enforcement conviction rate of 37%.

However, these numbers could also indicate that prosecutors are far more particular about what excessive force cases they pursue since the charge rates for both non-fatal and fatal excessive force cases are so much lower than any other type of case. In fact, there does appear to be an inverse relationship between prosecution and conviction rates when it comes to law enforcement officers (when excluding drug-related cases).

So, examining data on the national scale appears to present us with a mixed picture of how the justice system treats law enforcement officers. While it is clear that police are treated with much more leniency than the general public when facing criminal allegations, this still leaves the question of whether the laws themselves have some effect on this pattern.

When we examine the same data on a state-by-state basis the results give us a very interesting answer to this question. To demonstrate, here are the five states with the lowest prosecution rates for law enforcement officers in the US (AVG 32%):

  1. Washington DC        05%
  2. Washington        16%
  3. Vermont        18%
  4. West Virginia        20%
  5. Oregon            20%

And here are the five states with the worst law enforcement conviction rates (AVG 37%):

  1. Alaska            14%
  2. Washington        17%
  3. Connecticut        18%
  4. Colorado        19%
  5. Georgia            19%
  6. New Mexico        19%

Notice how Washington resides near the top of both lists. In fact, for the 21 months of the sample period, Washington state police officers were implicated in 186 alleged incidents of misconduct but only 30 cases resulted in criminal charges and, of that 30, only 5 were ultimately convicted of a criminal act. Of those 5, none were sentenced to any prison or jail time.

Also, of the five convictions in Washington, none involved excessive force and two occurred during the course of the officer’s duties:

  • A Washington State Trooper was convicted on a custodial sexual misconduct charge for groping a woman in a cruiser.
  • A Medical Lake police officer was sentenced to probation in a plea deal in a sexual harassment case.
  • A Wahkiakum County deputy pled guilty to a disorderly conduct charge which was reduced from the original domestic violence charge.
  • A Seattle police officer was convicted in Grays Harbor County for driving under the influence in a case where he was accused of asking for some professional courtesy when he was arrested.
  • A Kitsap County deputy received a diversionary sentence for a DUI charge.

Four of the incidents which resulted in criminal charges for law enforcement officers involved allegations of excessive force and two of those involved fatalities. One of those cases, an Everett Washington police officer charged with manslaughter for fatally shooting an unarmed man in a parking lot, resulted in a not-guilty verdict during a jury trial. This brings us to consider the possible reasons for the apparent difficulties in holding police officers accountable before the law in Washington State.

When we examine the history of law enforcement officers who were prosecuted for excessive use of force in Washington in recent history here is what we find:

  • In December of 2008, US Attorneys failed to convict King County deputy Brian Bonnar on allegations that he dropped a knee on a restrained woman’s head and slammed her head into a cruiser fender after she was compliant, despite testimony from a number of other deputies that supported the prosecution’s case.
  • In March of 2009, King County prosecutors failed to convict King County deputy Don Griffee despite testimony from fellow deputies that supported allegations that Griffee had punched a cuffed man detained on false allegations in his cruiser.
  • In April of 2009, the Spokane Washington prosecutor refused to charge a Spokane County Sheriff’s Sergeant over allegations he was peeping into a teen girl’s window and resisted responding officers despite sufficient evidence. The prosecutor, in an alleged conversation with a sheriff’s lieutenant, claimed that “he felt their job was to go after criminals and not law enforcement officers demonstrating a temporary lapse in judgment.”
  • In August of 2009, a Spokane Washington jury found Sponake police officer Jay Olsen not guilt of assault and reckless endangerment charges for shooting an unarmed man in the back of the head outside of a bar while off-duty.
  • In September 2009, a Spokane Washington jury refused to convict Spokane Police Officer Rob Boothe on allegations he kicked a handcuffed suspect in the face despite testimony from two fellow officers who claimed they saw him kick the prone man.
  • In April of 2010, a Snohomish County jury acquitted Everett Washington police officer Troy Meade of second degree murder and/or first degree manslaughter for shooting an unarmed man to death in a parking lot after tasering him while he was intoxicated behind the wheel of his car but blocked in by police cars and a fence. The verdict was reached despite the testimony of a fellow police officer who claimed that the use of fatal force was unnecessary and that he heard Officer Meade remark “enough is enough, time to end this” before opening fire.
  • In July of 2010, after failing on two occasions to successfully prosecute King County Deputy Paul Schene on a misdemeanor assault charge for beating a 15-year-old girl in a holding cell, prosecutors dropped all charges. The trial and retrial resulted in hung juries both times despite the existence of videotape showing the assault.

In each of these cases juries discounted or ignored the testimony of police officers against the accused and/or video evidence supporting the charges. Additionally, since the specific law cited in the Williams case doesn’t apply to most of these cases it appears as though there are other factors affecting the conviction rate against law enforcement officers in the state of Washington.

What does this mean?

An examination of the numbers indicates that, while law enforcement officers generally enjoy favorable treatment when facing criminal charges in the US generally, the problem appears significantly pronounced in Washington State. When we examine the data in combination with the history of criminal cases involving police officers in Washington it begins to appear as though the reason why police officers are so infrequently prosecuted is a combination of laws that prevent officers from being held accountable, juries who consistently refuse to convict police officers accused of criminal acts even when there is compelling testimony and evidence in favor of conviction, and prosecutors who appear risk averse when it comes to the prospects of prosecuting police officers for any reason.

It also becomes clear that, while it is generally difficult to prosecute law enforcement officers in the US in general, the ability to do so in Washington State is greatly hampered by a perfect storm of all these factors combined together in a way that forms a feedback loop of sorts which discourages prosecutors from prosecuting police officers with the same vigor as other members of the general population.

Because of this complex dynamic at play, bringing the prosecution and conviction rates back towards the norm in Washington would require more than just changing the law, it would also require a sea change of public perception, better training for prosecutors who need to use  tactics than usual when prosecuting officer-involved cases against lawyers who specialize in defending police officers along with efforts to provide incentives to prosecutors who decide whether prosecuting a cop is worth the political risk of angering police unions that represent the officers they depend upon to do their jobs.

Certainly Washington State’s problems with police accountability are not unique to this state, yet they do appear to be far more exaggerated than in any other state. Thus it will take far more than simple fixes to address these problems and the first step must involve convincing the public that such changes need to be made and that holding law enforcement officers to the same standards we are all held to is vital to maintaining a sustainable criminal justice system.

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