National Police Misconduct Reporting Project

Our First Week — Reader Feedback

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National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 05-25-12

Here are the 6 reports of police misconduct tracked for Friday, May 25, 2012:

  • A Denver, Colorado police officer allegedly sexually assaulted a woman during a traffic stop.  The officer was charged with rape and kidnapping charges
  • A lieutenant with the Schenectady County Sheriff’s Office has been demoted and suspended for striking a correction officer
  • Dallas City Council approves $500,000 settlement for motorcyclist, Andrew Collins, whose beating was caught on a police dash-cam.  “It was a good resolution to a bad situation,” said Mr. Collins’ attorney.  “It was an acknowledgment from the city that Mr. Collins’ civil rights had been seriously violated.”  Criminal charges are pending against the three former officers
  • A New Jersey officer tried to set up a sexual encounter with a 12-year-old girl.  The officer sent explicit photos of himself in uniform. The accused Woodland Park officer pleaded not guilty to charges ranging from attempted aggravated assault to luring and enticing a child
  • In Barre, Vermont, prosecutors alleged an off-duty cop left a bar Jan. 3, 2011, entered his neighbor’s apartment and stole a flat-screen TV from under her Christmas tree. When confronted at his home by two officers, the cop, Zak Winston, tossed the TV into the river behind his apartment. Winston was found guilty of felony unlawful trespass, misdemeanor unlawful mischief and misdemeanor resisting arrest
  • Lanagan, Missouri police chief and a officer have been indicted and suspended for forgery pertaining to racial profiling reports and citations

The Police Officer Was to Blame, Not the Man He Arrested

From the Arizona Republic:

Four months after a road-rage incident in northeast Mesa, police have concluded that a veteran officer was to blame, not the man he arrested.

Aggravated-assault charges against Randy Smyers were dropped after an investigation found inconsistencies in statements by Sgt. Mike Duke, who was off-duty when the incident occurred. …

The incident occurred about 7:30 a.m. on Dec. 18. According to court documents released at the time, Smyers became angry because he felt that Duke was tailgating him in his van, according to court document released by police after the incident.

Duke identified himself as a police officer and asked Smyers twice to move his car, but Smyers refused, shouted profanities at Duke and walked toward Duke’s van, the report said.

But on a 911 tape released Friday by the department, it is Duke that is heard yelling profanities at Smyers, while Smyers asks Duke several times to identify himself.

“My ID’s my gun, (expletive deleted),” Duke told Smyers at one point. “I’ll shoot you.”

Jerry Smyers, Randy’s brother, told police that Randy just wanted Duke to drive around him when he stopped his pickup in the street, according to a police report.

More here.

Officers Accused of Witness Tampering

Report about the Pasadena Police Department:

Pasadena’s police chief said he’s investigating two officers on accusations that they intimidated suspects and witnesses. One of those officers is a detective investigating the officer-involved shooting of Kendrec McDade. Pasadena police shot and killed 19-year-old McDade in March after they said he reached for his waistband. Police say they thought he had a gun because of a false emergency call, but McDade was not armed. Keith Gomez, a corporal with the Pasadena department, is looking into the incident.

Last week the Pasadena chapter of the NAACP filed a complaint with the police department alleging that Gomez intimidated a suspect and witnesses and manufactured evidence in a 2006 murder case he investigated.

“Sometimes officers may do things that are inappropriate,” said Joe Brown, the chapter president, “and there appears to be sometimes patterns that certain officers are using that are really going over the line.”

More here.

City Settles Lawsuit for False Arrest

Recent item from the New York Daily News:

Michael Warren and wife Evelyn, who is also a lawyer, claimed vindication in their lawsuit, which was scheduled for civil trial Monday.

The couple were stopped at a red light on Vanderbilt and Atlantic Aves. on June 21, 2007, when they observed cops tackle a man. The suspect was handcuffed when Sgt. Steven Talvy allegedly kicked the man in the head.

The Warrens got out of their vehicle and Michael Warren told the sergeant what he was doing was wrong and illegal. The couple alleged they were punched in the face before being charged with disorderly conduct. They spent about six hours in police custody.

“Without the witnesses, it would have been our words against the police version of the incident, which was totally wrong and false,” Evelyn Warren said outside Brooklyn Federal Court.

Their lawyer Jonathan Moore said the substantial payout confirms the officers engaged in wrongdoing and noted that Talvy and Officers Joseph Tillotson, Anthony Carozza and John Acconi have cost the city over a half a million dollars to settle multiple lawsuits.

The article goes on to say that Officer Talvy was promoted in 2009 even after complaints of misconduct were substantiated.

Police Break Into Man’s Home, Break His Neck

From the Sacramento Bee:

On the evening of June 2, 2007, Officers John Boyd and Jason Wentz entered Mr. Dagdagan’s residence shortly before midnight after responding to a call. They awoke Mr. Dagdagan, who was asleep in his bed, to ask him about a citizen complaint.  Mr. Dagdagan then told the officers to leave, but they arrested him, fired a Taser at him twice and handcuffed him.  The police officers then engaged in illegal and violent use of force that dislodged Mr. Dagdagan’s vertebrae and ruptured his disk, causing immediate paralysis and permanent damage to his spinal cord. 

Attorney Peter Alfert stated, “Our client sued because his civil rights were violated.  Through this settlement, he wants to send a clear message that all of us must not tolerate police misconduct and we will hold police accountable.  The police had no justification for going into the apartment, for arresting Macario, and certainly no reason to break his neck.”

On the night of the incident, after the arrest, a police sergeant arrived at Mr. Dagdagan’s apartment.  He heard the victim say that his neck was broken and observed and photographed Mr. Dagdagan’s bloody face.  However, neither the sergeant nor anyone in the department conducted an investigation to determine whether the officers used excessive force.

Attorney Todd Boley stated, “Under the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution, the police officers had no right to enter Mr. Dagdagan’s home without a warrant unless it was an immediate emergency or someone was in danger.  It is also widely accepted that police officers may only use sufficient force to carry out an arrest and nothing more.  In this case, the police violated their oath to uphold the Constitution by entering Mr. Dagdagan’s home without due cause, and they used excessive force.  No one should have to endure such pain and have their rights violated in such an egregious fashion.”

A Vietnam War veteran who worked his whole life before the incident, Mr. Dagdagan is now permanently disabled and expects to have increasingly more expensive healthcare costs in the coming years as a result of the severe injuries he incurred.

Dagdagan said, “I felt humiliated and degraded by the officers, and now I have to live with these terrible injuries for the rest of my life.  The police officers haven’t shown any guilt or compassion for what they did to me, and the police force didn’t launch an investigation even after I was hospitalized. I live in constant pain and am afraid even in my own home.  Holding the Vallejo police department accountable for their actions is the only thing I can do to ensure this doesn’t happen to someone else.”

The officers involved were hired by another city after the case.


False Accusations, Innocent People, and Plea Bargains

From time to time, you will find some posts here that concern problems that are not directly related to police misconduct.  This report concerns a young man who was falsely accused of rape.  On the advice of counsel, the young man pled guilty and went to prison.  Luckily for him, he was able to expose his accuser’s lie on videotape.

There are many problems with plea bargaining — one is that it extorts guilty pleas from the innocent.  Another, not at issue in the above case,  is that police misconduct escapes scrutiny because it does not come to light since there is no trial.  More here.

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