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National Police Misconduct Reporting Project

Judge Declines to Throw Out Excessive Force Lawsuit

From the Associated Press:

Although Fry testified he only remembered stunning Boucher three times, information downloaded from the device showed he used it six times in a 75-second span.

A third officer, Bradley Walker, testified that when he arrived at the scene, he saw McCormick hit a motionless Boucher with the baton about five times and saw Fry use his stun gun on him.

The officers handcuffed Boucher, patted him down and turned him over, only to find that he wasn’t breathing and his face was covered in blood. Boucher was dead minutes later despite attempts to revive him.


National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 03-20-13

Here are the 9 reports of police misconduct tracked for Wednesday, March 20, 2013:

  • Saginaw, Michigan: The family of a man who died after being shocked by a taser by police has filed a lawsuit against officers that claims his civil rights were violated. The man’s uncle says that the incident was not his nephew’s first encounter with police and they should have known he had mental problems.
  • Update: Bal Harbour, Florida (First reported 12-12-12): The police chief was fired after a months-long investigation. The Justice Department alleged that he abused his position for personal benefit.
  • Grapevine, Texas: A former police officer pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of production and one count of possession of child pornography, authorities said. He faces between 15 and 40 years in federal prison, a $500,000 fine and a lifetime of supervised release. Child Protective Services took custody of his child shortly after his arrest with the hopes of placing the child with relatives.
  • Lebanon, Tennessee: A narcotics detective was indicted on allegations that he traded money for sex from a confidential informant. He was indicted on one count of official misconduct and one count of patronizing prostitution.
  • Update: Ogden, Utah (First reported 6-20-12): A now-fired officer pleaded guilty to trying to bribe an officer to get out of a drunken-driving charge. He is awaiting sentencing.
  • Bristol, Tennessee: A police officer is accused of offering to drop a driving under the influence charge in exchange for sex. He resigned as soon as the internal investigation began.
  • Portsmouth, Virginia: A deputy has been sentenced to two years in prison on charges of taking indecent liberties with a child. He entered an Alford plea, which means that he did not admit guilt but acknowledged he probably would have been convicted had the case gone to trial.
  • Pender County, North Carolina: A deputy has been charged with DWI, failure to reduce speed to avoid colliding with a vehicle, and reckless driving. Dispatch centers received several calls regarding a patrol car operating unsafely.
  • Update: Highland, New York (First reported 03-14-13): The officer who fired a shot from his service weapon in a hallway at a high school has resigned from the police force. An investigation concluded that the incident, though unintentional, was due to “officer error,” the department said.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 03-16-13 to 03-19-13

Here are the 10 reports of police misconduct tracked for Saturday, March 16 to Tuesday, March 19, 2013:

  • Update: Hanford, Connecticut (First reported 02-04-13): The police officer who admitted to keeping drugs with him to sell, while on duty, was sentenced to 180 days in jail. “He violated the public’s trust,” the judge said. “People look up to and respect the badge. That uniform means a lot…you’ve left a black mark on every person who has ever worn the badge.”
  • Altoona, Pennsylvania: An officer who helped beat up a bar patron nearly three years ago and then participated in a cover-up said during his sentencing hearing, “I should have come forward and said what happened.” The judge put him on probation for four years for simple assault and conspiracy to obstruct justice, saying to him, “Nobody – not judges, lawyers, police officers or government officials – are above the law.”
  • Des Moines, Iowa: A former police officer has been given probation for using excessive force on a man during a traffic stop. He was accused of beating the driver with a baton.
  • Wilmington, North Carolina: A second police officer who has been linked to a botched undercover prostitution sting has resigned. The police department said that three officers were disciplined for the incident.
  • Update: Charleston County, South Carolina (First reported 12-11-12): A deputy has been charged and is on administrative leave after dashcam video of an arrest was released. Some are calling the incident police brutality.
  • Chicago, Illinois: A judge set bail at $500,000 for an officer accused of causing a traffic accident that killed two people. Witnesses say the car was going at least 60 mph as it went in the wrong direction on the highway, where the speed limit is 45. The collision totaled both vehicles. Prosecutors said the officer’s BAC was more than twice the legal limit at the time of the incident.
  • Update: Morrow, Ohio (First reported 1-31-13): The now-former officer who stole from the fund of a fallen deputy’s memorial golf outing, and then repaid the funds with money stolen from a client of his printing business, will spend 90 days in jail. “Dishonoring your friend’s memory is going to be a terrible flaw on your character for the rest of your life,” the judge told him. “There’s no way to remove that stain nor should there be.”
  • Memphis, Tennessee: A police officer has been arrested and charged with simple assault/DV, DUI, and refusal to submit to a BAC test. He is currently relieved of duty.
  • Hennepin County, Minnesota: A man has filed a lawsuit against an officer accusing him of “excessive force and violation of his constitutional rights…” The officer was previously involved in an excessive force complaint that cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars.
  • Chicago, Illinois: Police shot a store owner 11 times after armed gunmen robbed him, then handcuffed him to his hospital bed and harassed him to cover up their “gross misconduct,” the businessman has said in court.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 03-15-13

Here are the 10 reports of police misconduct tracked for Friday, March 15, 2013:

  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: A police officer was arrested and charged with driving under the influence after an accident involving another vehicle.
  • Chicago, Illinois: A woman filed a federal excessive force lawsuit against a police commander who has been sued by civilians numerous times. She claimed that he pushed his fist into her nose until she bled at a police station after she was arrested after a domestic disturbance.
  • Miami-Dade, Florida: A federal appeals court is allowing a woman to file a false arrest lawsuit against officers who arrested her for being up to no good.
  • St. Paul, Minnesota: A man has alleged in a lawsuit that he was left with a broken jaw and fractured vertebrae after an encounter with two officers. “This was a low-level offense, he was completely complying, he was surrendering, and they used deadly force on him,” said the man’s attorney.
  • Nelsonville, Ohio: A man has alleged that two police officers beat him and delayed taking him to a hospital after he complained of chest pains and fears he was having a heart attack after an unwarranted traffic stop. He has filed a federal lawsuit.
  • Lemay, Missouri: Police are investigating a report that an off-duty officer driving a patrol car struck a gas truck and left the scene.
  • York, Pennsylvania: A pair of federal civil lawsuits claim that police officers beat two suspects in separate incidents and then made false reports to cover up the assaults. Both were partially captured on film.
  • Newport News, Virginia: A police officer has been charged with perjury after authorities said they found “discrepancies” in his testimony during a driving under that influence case.
  • Oswego, Illinois: A police officer is in custody after a standoff. He was charged with disorderly conduct, obstructing a police officer and driving while under the influence of alcohol. He is an 11-year veteran.
  • Chittenango, New York: A police officer was arrested on two felony counts of first-degree offering a false instrument for filing. “It’s an uncomfortable situation when, as a member of law enforcement, you have to investigate one of your own,” the sheriff said, “As law enforcement professionals we take an oath, swearing to support and enforce the law.”

50 Years Since Gideon v. Wainright

This week marks the 50th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court case of Gideon v. Wainright, which held that if someone accused of a crime cannot afford an attorney, the government would provide a lawyer for him or her.   This video tells the story of the case.

So, do the poor stand in a much better position in 2013?  Karen Houppert, author of Chasing Gideon, observes:

[O]ver time the war on drugs, the “three strikes” laws and the lock-’em-up mentality of politicians have led to indigent clients flooding the courts. Courts are overburdened, and across the country, lawyers for the poor are routinely buried beneath crushing caseloads and working in underfunded offices. Without adequate resources, it’s hard to hire the investigators, experts or paralegals to mount a good defense. The stakes are high — for the man on death row to the teen picked up for marijuana possession.

To keep up with the crushing caseloads, many propose more public defenders and more funding.    That view is mistaken–both in theory and as a matter of practical politics.   Budgets are tight everywhere.  In this policy climate, politicians are not going to allocate more money for persons accused of crimes.  Not happening.

To improve the administration of justice for poor persons, we need to work on the “front end” of the system.  Ending the drug war would greatly reduce the flood of persons entering the system–persons who do not belong in the system.  Ending the drug war would save the taxpayers money and it would actually enhance public safety.

And, instead of a public defender monopoly, a better approach would be to allow persons accused of crimes to use vouchers to choose their own attorneys.  Just as school vouchers empower poor persons to bypass the local public school, defense vouchers would empower poor persons to hire their own attorney, instead of having one imposed upon them by the government.  For additional background information, go here.

Police Misconduct Costs Chicago Residents Millions

From the Associated Press:

With three new settlements this week and more lawsuits pending, Chicago’s price tag for legal claims against its police force is climbing and has already surpassed the $27 million the city set aside for this year.

The City Council agreed to settle three lawsuits this week for nearly $7 million. That’s on top of the more than $32 million aldermen signed off on weeks ago in two police misconduct cases. With three more lawsuits stemming from one of the most shameful chapters in the department’s history — the torture of murder suspects by detectives under the command of former Lt. Jon Burge — still in the legal pipeline and two more federal lawsuits filed this week, the total could climb significantly higher. …

Aldermen said that while they believed the three settlements last week were fair, they’re angry that such cases continue to come before the council. They said they still hear that the officers involved either remain on the payroll or continue to receive their pension, including Burge.

“These guys are untouched and unscathed, and they keep their jobs by and large and they keep getting a paycheck,” said Alderman Howard Brookins Jr. “It has to stop.”

Note well that the victims that receive compensation are just a fraction of the victims out there.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 03-14-13

Here are the 9 reports of police misconduct tracked for Thursday, March 14, 2013:

  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: A former police officer already under indictment for insurance fraud has been charged with extortion in an alleged loan-sharking scheme. He is charged with four counts of making an extortionate extension of credit, four counts of collecting an extension of credit by extortionate means, and eight counts of obstruction.
  • Highland, New York: An officer was suspended without pay while officials investigate an incident at a high school in which his gun fired. The officer’s weapon was taken for evidence. No one was injured, and no staff or students were nearby when the gun went off.
  • Baltimore, Maryland: A police officer pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute heroin and possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking. A U.S. Attorney said his “treacherous conduct harms all police officers. He helped a drug dealer avoid arrest while planning an armed robbery and filing false police reports about other suspects.”
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: An officer pleaded guilty to charges that he tried to extort sexual favors from women in return for legal help. He was immediately handcuffed and taken to prison where he will serve 3.5-8 years.
  • Update: New York, New York (First reported 10-25-12): A police officer was convicted in a bizarre plot to kidnap, torture, kill and eat women. He could receive life in prison for one count of kidnapping conspiracy when he is sentenced. The police department fired him upon conviction.
  • Update: Dekalb, Illinois (First reported 02-26-13): A now-former Northern Illinois University police officer pleaded not guilty to raping a student. A state’s attorney previously dismissed the case without publicly revealing that the officer had signed a statement acknowledging that he continued to have sex with the student after she told him to stop.
  • Hingham, Massachusetts: A police officer has been charged with stealing $500 in gas from the town to fill up his own car. “I think anybody that’s going to commit any crime, whether they be town employees or otherwise, would know if they get caught, they will be charged,” said the police chief.
  • Laurinburg, North Carolina: A police officer resigned after he was accused of inappropriate behavior. He was suspended before he resigned. The investigation into the accusations is still ongoing.
  • Garland, Texas: Surveillance cameras at a home captured officers rummaging through duffle bags, searching a car parked in the front driveway and turning a surveillance camera in the back yard. The officers were looking for the homeowner’s brother, a convicted felon with an arrest warrant. The homeowner says his brother doesn’t live with him and he and his wife are upset that police officers took it upon themselves to conduct searches on his property without permission.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 03-13-13

Here are the 10 reports of police misconduct tracked for Wednesday, March 13, 2013:

  • Cleveland, Ohio: A federal jury awarded $13.2 million to a man after finding two detectives fabricated or withheld evidence in a murder trial. “These detectives didn’t do their job at all,” a juror said. “they manipulated the evidence, and didn’t look at anyone else except the most convenient suspect to convict.”
  • Jefferson County, Louisiana: The sheriff announced the arrest and termination of a deputy. The arrest occurred after a criminal investigation into systematic theft of the police department’s property.
  • Update: Manchester, New Hampshire (First reported 03-03-12): The bar patron who whose bloodied, beaten face shocked residents was paid $200,000 to settle a federal lawsuit. The suit was filed against the city and four police officers accused of beating him. An investigation concluded that the officers had not committed a crime.
  • Northbridge, Massachusetts: A police officer who pleaded guilty charged of driving drunk and causing a head-on collision that left another man seriously injured was spared a jail sentence. He was instead placed on probation, at the urging of the victim and his family.
  • Update: Atlantic City, New Jersey (First reported 07-30-12): A State Police trooper pleaded guilty to changing the license plate numbers on his patrol car to conceal his role in an unauthorized, high-speed escort of sports cars. He and a second trooper also involved agreed to forfeit their jobs.
  • Shelbyville, Indiana: The police department suspended an officer who was arrested on an intoxicated driving charge.
  • Taylor, Michigan: A former police officer was found guilty in court on two of three charges of a stealing a department-issued shotgun.
  • Update: West Sacramento, California (First reported 02-26-13): A former police officer pleaded not guilty in court to 35 counts of sexually assaulting women while on patrol. He has been held in lieu of $29.3 million bail since his arrest on allegations including rape, sodomy, and kidnapping of six women.
  • Las Vegas, Nevada: An officer is now on paid administrative leave, after being recorded during a traffic stop. The YouTube video shows the officer react angrily after rear-ending a motorcycle.
  • Limestone County, Alabama: A former police officer charged with sexual abuse pleaded not guilty. A grand jury indicted him and he faces nine counts of sexually abusing a child under 12 involving three of the victims. The charges involving the fourth victim include four counts of sexual abuse of a child under the age of 12 and four counts of sexual abuse of a child under the age of 16.

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