National Police Misconduct Reporting Project

Chicago Police Misconduct Cases Drag on for Years

From the Chicago Tribune:

A Chicago police officer cracked Greg Larkins’ head open with a baton back in 2006, requiring him to be stitched up at a hospital.

Within a few days, several relatives of Larkins who said they witnessed the allegedly unprovoked attack gave statements to an investigator for the city. His mother also handed over photos of his injuries.

Yet more than five years passed before the Independent Police Review Authority, which investigates allegations of wrongdoing against police, filed charges of excessive force against Officer Bruce Askew and called for his firing.

But the long delay proved costly. Late last month, the Chicago Police Board, which decides the most serious disciplinary cases, dismissed the charge not based on the evidence, but because by state law, the disciplinary action had to be filed before a five-year statute of limitations ran out.

“It just went on and on,” Larkins’ mother, Alice, 71, said of the investigation into her son’s alleged beating.

National Registry of Exonerations

From the McClatchy-Tribune (Washington Post, June 10):

WASHINGTON — Obie Anthony served hard time in California prisons for a crime he didn’t commit.

 He’s not alone, and he’s not forgotten. Anthony is one of nearly 900 exonerated former prisoners whose wrenching stories are wrapped into a new database. The National Registry of Exonerations, being formally unveiled Monday, is the largest of its kind, and it will get bigger over time.

“This is useful, because if we want to prevent false convictions, we have to learn how we make mistakes,” Samuel Gross, a University of Michigan Law School professor, said in an interview….

Disturbingly, the database also identifies 71 individuals who were exonerated of crimes to which they’d ended up pleading guilty.

The database still captures only a slice of the exonerated population. All told, more than 2,000 exonerations have been identified since 1989. Many of these, totaling 1,170, involved individuals whose names were cleared in “group exonerations” after revelations of police corruption, including the plantings of guns and drugs.

More on problems with plea bargaining here.  Link to the National Registry here.


National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 06-14-12

Here are the 7 reports of police misconduct tracked for Thursday, June 14, 2012:

  • Former Memphis, Tennessee police officer pleaded guilty to federal drug charges.  The officer illegally obtained painkillers from an undercover informant.  He is facing up to five years in prison for his actions.
  • A Las Vegas police officer resigned after being charged with coercion and oppression under the color of office and a misdemeanor lewdness.  These charges are the result of accusations made by several female motorists after being pulled over by the officer.
  • A former Albany, New York police officer is charged with criminal mischief and harassment. He has been sentenced to one year in jail.
  • A Selma, Alabama police officer resigned after being arrested for drug charges.  The officer is accused of smuggling more than 27 pounds of marijuana across state lines.
  • Frederick, Maryland police officer has been charged with a DUI after causing a single vehicle car accident.  The officer’s trial has been scheduled for August.
  • Phoenix, Arizona police officer who resigned last year after being accused of assaulting a handcuffed inmate has pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct.  The officer has been sentenced to one day of probation.
  • Former Gardner, Massachusetts police officer will not be reinstated after rape charges against him were dropped. “I would not be considering it (rehiring Mr.Landry),” said Gardner Police Chief Neil C. Erickson. “I couldn’t imagine that I would be considering it at any point.”

More Police Using Videos and Youtube

From Yahoo News:

After a dozen Occupy Minnesota protesters were arrested at a downtown demonstration, the group quickly took to the Internet, posting video that activists said showed police treating them roughly and never warning them to leave.

But Minneapolis police knew warnings had been given. And they had their own video to prove it. So they posted the footage on YouTube, an example of how law enforcement agencies nationwide are embracing online video to cast doubt on false claims and offer their own perspective to the public.

“It certainly frustrates the street officers to see their work being twisted into something that didn’t happen or things being taken out of context,” said Minneapolis police Sgt. Bill Palmer. “Frankly, the use of force, which is what most people want to film, is never going to look good, and the context can easily be twisted.”

After years of seeing officers’ misconduct captured on video, police departments across the nation are trying to use the medium to their advantage, releasing footage of their own to rebut allegations and to build trust within communities. One department even posted video of an officer punching a woman to show why he was fired.

Weeks before the Occupy demonstration in April, Minneapolis police created their own YouTube channel to give officers a venue to tell their own stories.

“We want to be transparent,” Assistant Chief Janee Harteau said. “Here is what we did. You can see for yourself and be your own judge.”


DC Police Treated Iraq Veteran ‘Like Trash’

From the Washington Times’s  Emily Miller:

It all started a bit before midnight on Feb. 2, 2010. Sgt. Corrigan had called the National Veterans Crisis Hotline for advice on coping with nightmares from his year in Iraq hunting for improvised explosive devices. Without his permission, he says, the hotline operator dialed 911 and reported Sgt. Corrigan “has a gun and wants to kill himself.” The drill sergeant told me he said nothing of the kind and his weapons were stowed away to avoid theft.

Around 1 a.m., the police knocked on the door of Tammie Sommons, Sgt. Corrigan’s upstairs neighbor in the row house. Ms. Sommons had lived there since 2008 with her three roommates and, in that time, had become a close friend of Sgt. Corrigan’s. She often walked his dog, Matrix. “One officer told me that Matt called a suicide hotline and was about to kill himself,” she told me in an interview. “I said that was impossible, he wasn’t that kind of guy. I told the police I see him every day and would know if he was suicidal.”

MPD officers told Ms. Sommons that someone had reported the smell of gas coming from Sgt. Corrigan’s apartment. “I told them that there was no gas in his apartment – it was all electric,” she recalled. “I said if they smelled something, it’s just my roommate, who was cooking chicken Parmesan.”

They weren’t interested in the simpler explanation. “The cops said we needed to leave our house because Matt was going to shoot through the ceiling,” Ms. Sommons said. “They painted this picture like Rambo was downstairs and ready to blow up the place.”

At 4 a.m., the SWAT team awoke Sgt. Corrigan by calling his name on a bullhorn. He surrendered outside without incident. He was restrained and forced into a mobile tactical command truck. Without reading him his Miranda rights, he said, officers began questioning the Iraq veteran, trying to get him to admit to owning guns. He remained silent about his two handguns and one rifle, which he had not registered after moving into the city.

A police commander then jumped into the truck and demanded to know where Sgt. Corrigan put his house key. “I’m not giving you the key. I’m not giving consent to enter my house,” Sgt. Corrigan recalled saying. He said the officer responded, “I don’t have time to play this constitutional [game] with you. We’re going to break your door in, and you’re going to have to pay for a new door.”

“Looks like I’m buying a new door,” Sgt. Corrigan replied. His only request was they not hurt his dog.

Sgt. Corrigan was taken to the Veterans Affairs hospital, where, he said, he signed himself in to avoid being admitted involuntarily. “After having all those guns at me, I was broken,” he recalled. “I just wanted to sleep.” The reservist spent two nights in the hospital. When he got out, the police were waiting to charge him formally for the unregistered guns found during the warrantless raid.

Because Sgt. Corrigan had refused to permit a search of his house, the police broke down his door – without bothering to seek a search warrant before doing so, according to court papers. “They were all keyed up because they had been there and ready to go all night,” surmised Sgt. Corrigan’s attorney, Richard Gardiner.

The first to enter the supposedly dangerous apartment was not the bomb squad but a team that secured Matrix and handed him off to animal control, according to police reports. During what the cops called “explosive threat clearing efforts,” they found “hazardous materials,” which included two pistols, a rifle, binoculars, ammunition, fireworks and materials from Sgt. Corrigan’s days in Iraq.

Police Lt. Robert T. Glover was pleased with the seven-hour operation, which resulted in securing items commonly found in millions of homes across the country. He told Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier in his report that there were no recommendations for improvement.

The dry after-action notes give no clue to the property damage done that night. Officers tore apart the 900-square-foot place. Instead luggage being unzipped, knives were used to cut open and destroy the bags. The raiders dumped over bookshelves, emptied closets and threw clothes on the floor, Sgt. Corrigan said.

In the process, they knocked over the feeding mechanism for the tropical fish in the sergeant’s 6-foot-long aquarium. When he finally was released from jail two weeks later, all of his expensive pet fish were dead. The police turned on the electric stove and did not turn it off. They left without securing the broken door.

When Ms. Sommons came back to her home the next day, she looked into Sgt. Corrigan’s apartment. “I was really upset because it was ransacked. It made me lose respect for the police officers involved,” she said. “Here was Matt, who spent a year fighting for our country in Iraq – where these police would never set foot in – and they treat him like trash off the street.”

National Police Misconduct Daily NewsFeed Recap 06-13-12

Here are the 6 reports of police misconduct tracked for Wednesday, June 13, 2012:

  • Springdale, Utah police officers wrote citations to foreign tourists, required them to pay cash and didn’t document the fines.  Thousands of  dollars in fines collected by the officers are missing according to a Utah State audit
  • Former Battleboro, Vermont police officer pleaded not guilty to two counts of simple assault.  The officer allegedly assaulted two men he thought had stolen his $125 canoe while on duty in April
  • A Gwinnett, Georgia police officer was arrested on charges of pandering for a prostitute.  The officer solicited an undercover cop who had posed as a prostitute.  The officer’s arrest was part of a sting operation with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation  
  • A St. John’s County Sheriff’s deputy has resigned after being arrested for battery after a fight with his girlfriend.  The officer had worked for the sheriff’s office for 31 years
  • Former Salisbury, Massachusetts police chief has been accused of stealing from crime scenes and allowing the sale of seized vehicles.  The police chief faces three felony charges involving the theft of vehicles and two felony charges of receiving stolen property worth more than $250 
  • In San Diego, California an investigation is under way following allegations that two border patrol agents engaged in public sexual misconduct and attacked a woman who asked the pair to stop.  The witness claims the male agent held her while the female agent punched her in the face

National Police Misconduct Daily NewsFeed Recap 06-12-12

Here are the 8 reports of police misconduct tracked for Tuesday, June 12, 2012:

  • San Diego, California city attorney will brief council members on 12 cases involving former officer Anthony Arevalos, who was sentenced to nearly nine years in prison and a $10,000 fine.  There were five women whose encounters with Arevalos during DUI stops led to his conviction on a dozen counts ranging from sexual misconduct to bribery
  • NYPD officer will be prosecuted on manslaughter charges in the shooting death of an 18-year-old who was killed by a single bullet after a team of narcotics officers broke into his Bronx home.  The officer is being charged with first and second-degree manslaughter
  • One of the three Havermill, Massachusetts officers suspended without pay for his role in a retired state trooper’s accident coverup is facing another unpaid suspension and possible termination for failing to properly investigate a 2005 hit-and-run automobile accident involving yet another retired high-ranking state trooper 
  • Liberty County, Texas Sheriff’s Office is being sued by a couple that claims the sheriff acted on a tip from a psychic about 25-30 dismembered bodies being buried under their house.  The couple is seeking damages for defamation, negligence, and unreasonable search and seizure
  • Former Corpus Christi police officer pleaded guilty to solicitation of a minor, using the internet to entice a 14-year-old to engage in sexual misconduct. The officer will be back in court for a hearing on violating bond conditions.  He faces 10 years to life in prison
  • A North Carolina State Trooper is back on the road after a two-day suspension given after a Winston-Salem motorist says he was shot with a stun gun and repeatedly kneed in the face for calling the trooper a derogatory name.  The trooper served his unpaid disciplinary suspension this week, said N.C. Highway Patrol spokesman 1st Sgt. Jeff Gordon
  • Portland, Oregon police officer who shot an unarmed man in the back two years ago will not be reinstated.  Attorneys argued that rehiring the officer would violate public policy because his use of deadly force was “unjustified and egregious.”
  • Lafayette, Louisiana police chief features prominently in a federal lawsuit, which alleges a cover-up of that chief allegedly  choking a homeless man who had cursed at the officer after being arrested.  The lawsuit alleges that five officers witnessed the incident, but no formal report was ever made

“Too much public scrutiny and too much free speech”

The executive director of  North Carolina’s  Police Benevolent Association says there is a ‘conspiracy’ against the Fayetteville Police Department and is seeking a federal probe of those lodging complaints against that department.  Here’s an excerpt from an editorial from the Fayetteville Observer:

John Midgette, head of the N.C. Police Benevolent Association, has treated us to a doozy of a warm-up act. Let’s watch and see what else he’s got.

Midgette, presumably speaking for the organization and its membership, last week delivered himself of an oration against unnamed conspirators bent on undermining the Fayetteville Police Department.

Chief Tom Bergamine, who leaves the department June 18, wasn’t there to hear his jurisdiction described as awash in crime and “a cesspool of corruption and anti-police hatred,” and offered no immediate comment.

Only one specific emerged – a recent allegation, not supported by police videotape of the incident, by a black motorist who accused the officer who stopped him of having used a racist slur. But the gist of Midgette’s complaint seems to be that the department has been the object of too much public scrutiny and too much free speech.

“People can’t just scream ‘Fire!’ in a crowded theater and act like it’s protected speech,” he said. He’s right. They can’t. But who did that, and when, and when do we get to hear their names and a detailed account of their conspiratorial abuse of the First Amendment?

What did the conspirators do that drove officer morale to an all-time low – and who provided him that datum, anyway? In what way are officers finding it hard to stop heavily armed thugs with high-powered weapons from “preying on Fayetteville”?

Perhaps we’ll find these things out once Midgette has taken his allegations, whatever they are, to the U.S. Office of Civil Rights and demanded an investigation.

For now, we’re left to speculate – based on his extreme unhappiness with the City Council’s decision to heed the advice of its consultant – that this all harks back to the long-running controversy over “consent” traffic stops and the great racial disparities found in police stop data. Midgette seems to be implying that it was somehow wrong of public officials and city residents in general to concern themselves with those disparities.

That’s odd. Others, including officials with no dog in the fight, examined the data and found that concern entirely reasonable. Failing to address it could very well have exposed the city to costly lawsuits. The consultant’s recommendations, almost all of which Chief Bergamine has embraced, resulted from a city’s proper concern for its own interests.

Fayetteville is putting its house in order. If the Police Benevolent Association regards that as subversion, it’s getting bad advice from somewhere.

NY Officer Faces Manslaughter Charges

From the New York Times:

A police officer will be prosecuted on manslaughter charges in the shooting death of Ramarley Graham, an 18-year-old who was killed by a single police bullet in his bathroom after a team of narcotics officers broke into his Bronx home, three people briefed on the charges said Monday.

The officer, Richard Haste, a four-year veteran of the Police Department, is expected to turn himself in on Wednesday for arraignment, the people said. A grand jury recently voted to indict Officer Haste, 30, on charges of first- and second-degree manslaughter, but the indictment has not been unsealed, they said. It was unclear if he would face additional charges.

This is the first time a New York City police officer has been indicted on a charge stemming from an on-duty shooting since three detectives were charged in March 2007 in the death of Sean Bell, a 23-year-old who was leaving a strip club hours before he was to be wed. The detectives were later acquitted. (Another officer, Rafael Lora, was indicted in December 2007 for an off-duty shooting that killed the driver of a minivan.)

Mr. Graham was unarmed when he was shot….

On Friday, Mr. Graham’s family and other supporters held a rally next to City Hall, calling for Officer Haste’s prosecution. Protesters described the shooting as an “execution.” A banner showed an image of Mr. Graham with the text: “I am Ramarley. You seen my hands. No gun. Why did you shoot?”

“My son didn’t have to get killed,” Mr. Graham’s mother, Constance Malcolm, said at the rally. “It’s hard for me to even talk about. It didn’t have to happen.”

Last month, the grand jury heard evidence from Officer Haste and at least three other officers who were involved in the episode. It was also expected to hear testimony from Mr. Graham’s family.

In a statement, the president of the Patrolman’s Benevolent Association, Patrick J. Lynch, stood by the officers’ original belief that Mr. Graham had a gun.


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