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National Police Misconduct Reporting Project

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 03-12-13

Here are the 9 reports of police misconduct tracked for Tuesday, March 12, 2013:

  • Jackson, Mississippi: Three former law enforcement officers now face 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to federal charges of stealing government property. As part of the conspiracy, the FBI alleges that they would discuss how to steal cash from drug dealers traveling into Mississippi from other states.
  • New York, New York: A sergeant with 15 years on the force was arrested and charged in connection with having child pornography on his computer. He has been suspended with pay pending the outcome of the criminal proceeding brought against him.
  • Marfa, Texas: A highway patrol trooper has resigned after having allegedly been involved in a hit-and-run. The investigation is ongoing.
  • Update: Greenville, North Carolina (First reported 2-20-13): A deputy, who has since resigned, has been charged with misdemeanor simply assault. He and a fellow deputy were suspended after getting into a fight with a former highway patrol trooper.
  • Vallejo, California: Upon firing tear gas into a home, police ignited and destroyed the residence and killed two dogs in search of robbery suspects. The city attorney said that lobbing tear gas into a home where robbers were thought to be hiding “seems a reasonable and appropriate response.” The family has filed a lawsuit.
  • Logan County, West Virginia: The county commission has settled a woman’s lawsuit alleging two deputy sheriffs not only falsely arrested her, but also played a role in setting fire to her house and car in retaliation for complaints she made about their conduct. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed in court records.
  • Detroit, Michigan: An officer has been charged with felony involuntary manslaughter and careless discharge of a firearm causing the death of 7-year-old Aiyana Jones. A motion to dismiss the charges against the police officer was denied.
  • Henderson, Nevada: An officer has been suspended after he drove a damaged SWAT vehicle at least a mile and a half, with sparks flying, until it caught fire. “My first thought was a drunk driver or something. It was evident that the tire was completely gone on the car,” said the man who called 911.
  • Lakeport, California: A hearing led to the public disclosure of findings that the sheriff lied about shooting at a man who held a can of pepper spray. According to a statement by a sergeant, shooting at a person with pepper spray would have been a violation of sheriff’s office policy.

Undercover Cops Ensnare a Special Ed Student, Get Him Expelled

From the Press-Enterprise:

The parents of an autistic student accused of selling marijuana last year to an undercover deputy have prevailed in their effort to have the teen reinstated at the Temecula high school.

An administrative law judge who heard the special education student’s case issued a scathing ruling against the Temecula Valley Unified School District Friday, March 8. Judge Marian H. Tully wrote the district left the student “to fend for himself, anxious and alone, against an undercover police officer” and said the parents had “overwhelmingly demonstrated” that the teen’s behavior with the deputy was significantly influenced by his disability.

An Office of Administrative Hearings judge who heard the case challenging a move to expel the special education student, Tully found that the district failed to provide the teen with required counseling and other services while knowingly exposing the teen to the deputy.

Dealing with pressure from the officer was a challenging social situation that “would have been difficult even for typical high school students,” the judge wrote.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 03-09-13 to 03-11-13

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

  • Williamson County, Illinois: A sheriff says that the job status of one of his deputies is cloudy after he was arrested for suspected drunken driving for the second time in five years.
  • Update: Lake County, Florida (First reported 7-16-12): The family of a man shot and killed by police have filed suit. Deputies showed up at the wrong apartment in the middle of the night, looking for an attempted-murder suspect, and when the man answered holding a gun, they shot him. The deputies admitted that they didn’t identify themselves as police.
  • Milwaukee, Wisconsin: A veteran police detective is facing criminal charges after a bar fight. He pleaded not guilty to three charges: strangulation and suffocation, a felony; and battery and disorderly conduct, both misdemeanors. The fight happened while he was with his 13-year-old son on a trip.
  • Rochester, New York: State police arrested a state trooper for driving while intoxicated following the investigation of crash.
  • Homestead, Florida: Two police officers accused of assaulting men outside of a bar were fired along with another officer who allegedly covered up the incident. “It is an embarrassment to the police department,” said the police spokesman.
  • Albany, Georgia: A man has filed a multimillion dollar federal lawsuit against an officer, saying he was jailed for 16 months even though the officer knew he was innocent. He was arrested and charged when he was 17-years-old and put in jail for the next year and four months; the charges against him were later all dropped.
  • New York, New York: A man has filed suit against officers saying that they are targeting him. He claims that they assaulted him in his building, and, after he filed a lawsuit, showed up again. The NYPD’s internal affairs department is investigating.
  • Update: Springdale, Pennsylvania (First reported 2-11-13): An officer pleaded guilty to depriving a handcuffed man of his civil rights by using a stun gun on him. He admitted to using excessive force against a non-resisting victim.
  • Louisville, Kentucky: An officer was fined $2.00 after being convicted of official misconduct and harassment for striking a handcuffed suspect.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 03-08-13

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

  • Wilmington, North Carolina: The SBI has agreed to open an investigation into possible criminal activity by the police department on behest of the District Attorney’s Office. A news release said a separate investigation stated the officers acted outside of acceptable standards for the use of alcohol on an undercover prostitution and drug sting, but did not break any laws.
  • Wheeling, West Virginia: A police officer was arrested on sexual assault charges after he was allegedly seen peering in the window of a local grade school where one of the alleged witnesses in the case is employed.
  • Mendenhall, Mississippi: A former police chief was arrested on charges that he detained and arrested people and demanded money or property in exchange for their release. He was charged with eight counts including conspiracy, extortion, soliciting bribes and witness tampering, according to court records. The indictment said he instructed “his officers to seize cash at every arrest, including money from people arrested for misdemeanors.”
  • Laredo, Texas: An officer pleaded guilty in federal court to violating the civil rights of an arrestee. He admitted that while using his authority as an officer, he entered the backseat of a patrol car where the victim was handcuffed and detained and struck the victim several times.
  • Update: New Athens, Illinois (First reported 11-16-12): A former police chief has pleaded guilty to official misconduct for removing an Apple iPod and Apple iPad from the department’s locker for personal use.
  • Itasca County, Minnesota: A deputy was charged for allegedly recording video of a 17-year-old girl undressing in a bathroom on a county-issued smart phone. He was charged with felony interference with the privacy of a minor under 18. The officer resigned.
  • Markham, Illinois: A deputy police chief has been indicted on civil rights charges alleging aggravated criminal sexual abuse.
  • Kanawha County, West Virginia: A woman says that a deputy sheriff’s distracted driving led to the death of her mother. She has filed a wrongful death suit. It states the officer was talking on his cell phone when the crash that ultimately killed her mother occurred.

Nightmare: System Forgets About Man Left in Solitary Confinement

From the NY Daily News

A New Mexico prisoner who languished for nearly two years in solitary confinement — and was so neglected that he had to yank out his own tooth — has been awarded one of the largest federal civil rights settlements in history. Stephen Slevin, 59, will be paid $15.5 million after Dona Ana County agreed to settle with the former inmate, who was jailed at the county detention center from 2005 to 2007 on a DWI arrest. … Those 22 months in solitary was an inhumane and hellish experience for Slevin: His toenails grew so long that they curled around his foot; he was denied showers, causing fungus to form on his skin; and he developed bedsores.  Jail officials also didn’t allow him to see a dentist, his lawyer said, so Slevin grew so desperate that he extracted a painful tooth on his own. Before and after pictures of the inmate show the dramatic difference during his time in jail. After two years, his hair was long and unkempt, his face became haggard. He said he lost 50 pounds. Now, he still faces an uphill battle with his health after doctors diagnosed him with lung cancer, he said.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 03-07-13

Here are the 8 reports of police misconduct tracked for Thursday, March 7, 2013:

  • Mcallen, Texas: A federal grand jury indicted three more law enforcement officers on drug conspiracy charges. The indictment charges them with conspiring to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, marijuana, and methamphetamine.
  • Update: Bourne, Massachusetts: A state trooper who was reported for driving erratically has pleaded not guilty to drunken driving charges.
  • Miami, Florida: Two police officers were arrested in the first-ever federal case of identity theft and tax-refund fraud involving South Florida law enforcement. They are accused of stealing people’s identities from police databases and using the information to file fraudulent tax returns with the IRS.
  • Chalfont, Pennsylvania: A police officer was sentenced to nine to twenty-three months in prison for lying about being shot in an elaborate hoax.
  • Orono, Maine:  Police say that an officer has been fired after being arrested on a drunken driving charge.
  • Winton-Salem, North Carolina: A police officer who faces an assault charge following a bar incident has resigned. The police said in a statement that “the diagnosed injuries to [the victim] met the statutory threshold for ‘serious injury.”
  • Bethel Township, Delaware: A former police officer is accused of stealing thousands from a little league. He allegedly used his position as the treasurer of the league to steal $13,000.
  • Update: Little Rock, Arkansas: An officer pleaded not guilty on manslaughter charges in connection to the death of a 15-year-old boy.

ACLU Looks into Militarization Trend in Police Depts

From Huffington Post:

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has launched a nationwide campaign to assess police militarization in the United States. Starting Wednesday, ACLU affiliates in 23 states are sending open records requests to hundreds of state and local police agencies requesting information about their SWAT teams, such as how often and for what reasons they’re deployed, what types of weapons they use, how often citizens are injured during SWAT raids, and how they’re funded. More affiliates may join the effort in the coming weeks.

Additionally, the affiliates will ask for information about drones, GPS tracking devices, how much military equipment the police agencies have obtained through programs run through the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security, and how often and for what purpose state National Guards are participating in enforcement of drug laws.

“We’ve known for a while now that American neighborhoods are increasingly being policed by cops armed with the weapons and tactics of war,” said Kara Dansky, senior counsel at the ACLU’s Center for Justice, which is coordinating the investigation. “The aim of this investigation is to find out just how pervasive this is, and to what extent federal funding is incentivizing this trend.”

For additional background, check out  Radley Balko’s study, Overkill, which is found on the right margin of our home page.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 03-05-13

Here are the 13 reports of police misconduct tracked for Tuesday, March 5, 2013:

  • Update: Denver, Colorado: A police officer has been sentenced to eight years in prison for sexual assault and kidnapping. He was in uniform when he came into contact with the victim and discovered she had an outstanding arrest warrant. He then took her to an isolated area and coerced her into “performing a sexual act to avoid being taken to jail,” said the DA’s office.
  • Albuquerque, New Mexico: An officer has been convicted of obstruction of justice and sent to jail. He tipped off a friend about a federal drug investigation.
  • Watertown, Massachusetts: An officer will be charged. He allegedly stole an ID while he was on the force, and then used to it get oxycodone and other prescription drugs.
  • Morehouse Parish, Louisiana: An officer has been arrested on one count of theft and one count of conspiracy. He has resigned from the force.
  • Miami County, Ohio: An officer pleaded not guilty to fifth-degree felony charges that occurred while he was on-duty. He allegedly stole a digital camera from the Sheriff’s office, as well as trash bags and paper reams. If convicted, he faces a year in prison, fines, and restitution. He has been fired.
  • Update: Eric, Pennsylvania: A trooper has pleaded no contest to homicide by motor vehicle while driving under the influence. He crossed the middle line while driving, striking another car, and killed the driver.
  • Cave City, Kentucky: A trooper was arrested and charged with DUI 1st offense. His blood alcohol content was more than two times the legal limit.
  • Update: Milwaukee, Wisconsin: A police officer has been fired after his conviction. While responding to a burglary call he stole cash from the register of a convenience store.
  • Waynesboro, Virginia: An officer has been charged with reckless driving. She crashed into another car and sent a 71-year-old woman to the hospital.
  • Milwaukee, Wisconsin: An officer has been fired for driving drunk and causing a car accident. He also faces a misdemeanor charge of causing injury while operating under the influence.
  • Cincinnati, Ohio: A police officer has been indicted on two counts of obstruction and four counts of unauthorized use of property. He has been accused of accessing the police data base for his own purposes and helping two men avoid prosecution on robbery charges.
  • Blackwell, Oklahoma: A police officer has been charged. He brought a Russian-made AK-47 machine gun into the country illegally from Afghanistan. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.
  • Bourne, Massachusetts: A state police trooper who was on leave for a knee injury has been charged with drunken driving.

Worst of the Month – February 2013

This month it is the story from California where totally innocent people were shot by police during the manhunt for Christopher Dorner.   There is no greater responsibility for a police officer than his/her use of deadly force.  If they get that wrong, the less important tasks hardly matter.  Alas, there is a tendency for departments to back up questionable conduct–perhaps out of fear of lawsuits.  But if the officer did exercise lousy judgment in the incident, and he is not relieved of duty (or charged), what do you say to the next victim?

The runner-up comes from Bozeman, Montana.   At first, the complaint was about excessive force by certain officers.  Then, in response to that complaint, the police went back and intentionally altered an audio tape–deleting the portions they did not want the judge and jury to hear.   If civilians engaged in conduct like that, the government would call it obstruction of justice, spoliation of evidence, and possibly perjury.

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