National Police Misconduct Reporting Project

National Police Misconduct Daily NewsFeed Recap 06-07-12

Here are the 8 reports of police misconduct tracked for Thursday, June 7, 2012:

  • An Edmonds, Washington police officer was arrested on allegations of sexual misconduct involving a woman he detained after she jaywalked
  • Chicago, Illinois police officers are being accused of excessive force after using a stun gun on a pregnant woman.  Police arrested the woman and her boyfriend after an argument over a parking ticket.  
  • A Melbourne, Florida police officer has been suspended without pay pending an ongoing criminal investigation.  The officer has been off the job since May 26 and already turned in his badge, weapon, and patrol car
  • Old Forge, Pennsylvania Police Chief Larry Semenza is being investigated by the FBI.  The probe was sparked after an alleged victim reported a sexual relationship with Chief Semenza from 2004-2007
  • Fullerton, California cop charged with the Kelly Thomas murder has been accused in another case of assault.  A disabled man claims he was thrown to the ground and stomped during his arrest last year by the officer
  • New York Supreme Court judge claims he was struck by a police officer during a chaotic scene in Queens.  The judge said the officer rushed forward and delivered a sharp blow to the his throat, which sent him reeling back and doubled over in pain
  • Former Ocala, Florida police officer was sentenced to more than six years in federal prison and ordered to pay more than $874,000 in restitution for helping conspirators in a tax fraud scheme
  • A Hingham, Massachusetts officer was arrested for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend.  The officer has been put on paid leave after he was arrested on four counts of domestic assault and battery

The Stop and Frisk Scandal

I have an article over at The Crime Report concerning the stop and frisk policy of the New York City Police Department. 


By way of background, a “stop” is an involuntary citizen-police encounter—but it is an encounter that has not yet escalated to the point of a full blown arrest. 

In other words, the person has not been handcuffed and taken into custody, but neither is he free to walk away.  Often in full view of neighbors or passersby, the person may have to “assume the position” by placing his outstretched arms against a wall or the hood of a police car; or even lay down, prostrate, on the sidewalk. 

It can be a degrading and humiliating event to endure….

There have been two important developments concerning the stop-and-frisk doctrine.  The first concerns the absence of a remedy in the situations where the police violate a person’s constitutional rights.  That is, what happens if the cops just whimsically  stop someone, frisk his garments, and pepper him with questions for 5-10 minutes? 

Mere curiosity as to whether the person might be holding some marijuana is not enough of a valid basis for a frisk, at least in theory. 

What’s a poor person, who is totally innocent going to do in situations where the police are just fishing around?  If there’s no injury, is it realistic to expect poor residents to go meet with an attorney?  Even if that happened, most attorneys would turn the potential client down quickly. 

An unjustified detention that lasted only a few minutes?  They would likely respond that the case just isn’t worth the time and expense of litigation. 

With no practical remedy for innocent persons stopped and frisked, there is not much of a downside for police to skirt the rules. So they have….

Well-to-do Americans do not realize it yet, but their right against unreasonable detentions is being trampled.  They are oblivious because it’s been the minorities in the poorer sections of the city who have borne the brunt of expanding police powers.

The stop and frisk policy is a low-visibility type of police misconduct.  On paper, in theory, the tactic can comply with the rules laid out by the courts, but those rules are also violated frequently with no consequences for the officers involved.  

For more about the stop & frisk tactic and how it has undermined the legal protection against false arrests, see my paper on that subject, “We Own the Night.”


National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 06-06-12

Here are the 7 reports of police misconduct tracked for Wednesday, June 6, 2012:

  • New Jersey State Police video captures troopers slamming a disabled man to the ground and punching him repeatedly.  “The actions toward this young man and his family’s struggle for a response are disturbing and unacceptable,” said Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver
  • A New Haven, Connecticut officer arrests a bystander for videotaping police.  The allegations against the officer came from two women who observed a tussle between cops and an unruly man outside of a nightclub
  • Fairfield, New Jersey off-duty police officer pleaded guilty to lying to law enforcement officials who were investigating a bar brawl involving two of his friends, both known associates of the Hells Angels motorcycle gang
  • Aurora, Colorado police officers searching for suspected bank robbers stopped every car at an intersection, handcuffed all the adults and searched cars
  • A Memphis, Tennessee police officer has been indicted on charges of official misconduct, theft of more than $500 and less than $1000, accessory after the fact and facilitation of a felony
  • Former Downers Grove, Illinois police officer has been accused of using his position on the force in a scheme to rip off drug dealers.  The officer was sentenced to probation and periodic imprisonment 
  • A Florence, Texas family accuses the police chief of shooting 2  pet dogs.  The family says they believe the chief shot their pets because the dogs had gotten loose earlier in the day.  The dogs were back on the family’s property at the time of the shooting

NY Cop Went for the Jugular — of a Local Judge

From today’s New York Times:

Thomas D. Raffaele, a 69-year-old justice of the New York State Supreme Court, encountered a chaotic scene while walking down a Queens street with a friend: Two uniformed police officers stood over a shirtless man lying facedown on the pavement. The man’s hands were cuffed behind his back and he was screaming. A crowd jeered at the officers.

The judge, concerned the crowd was becoming unruly, called 911 and reported that the officers needed help.

But within minutes, he said, one of the two officers became enraged — and the judge became his target. The officer screamed and cursed at the onlookers, some of whom were complaining about what they said was his violent treatment of the suspect, and then he focused on Justice Raffaele, who was wearing a T-shirt and jeans. The judge said the officer rushed forward and, using the upper edge of his hand, delivered a sharp blow to the judge’s throat that was like what he learned when he was trained in hand-to-hand combat in the Army….

When they first came upon the crowd, the judge said, he was immediately concerned for the officers and called 911. After he made the call, he said, he saw that one of the officers — the one who he said later attacked him –was repeatedly dropping his knee into the handcuffed man’s back.

His actions, the judge said, were inflaming the crowd, some of whom had been drinking. But among others who loudly expressed their concern, he said, was a woman who identified herself as a registered nurse; she was calling to the officer, warning that he could seriously hurt the unidentified man, who an official later said was not charged.

Justice Raffaele said that after the officer struck him and he regained his composure, he asked another officer who was in charge and was directed to a sergeant, who, like the officer who hit him, was from the 115th Precinct. He told the sergeant that he wanted to make a complaint.

The sergeant, he said, stepped away and spoke briefly with some other officers — several of whom the judge said had witnessed their colleague strike him — and returned to tell the judge that none of them knew whom he was talking about. As the sergeant spoke to the other officers, the judge said, the officer who hit him was walking away….

Asked whether he intended to sue, Justice Raffaele said, “At this point, no, I don’t.”

He added:  “I do feel that it’s  important for this person to be disciplined.  I don’t know if he should be an officer or not —  what he was doing was so violent.”


National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 06-05-12

Here are the 8 reports of police misconduct tracked for Tuesday, June 5, 2012:

  • A Hackensack, New Jersey police chief was ordered by a judge to forfeit his job.  A jury convicted Hackensack Police Chief Ken Zisa of official misconduct and insurance fraud two weeks ago
  • A Yemassee, South Carolina police officer accused of stealing more than $10,000 will answer to those charges in a Richland County courtroom.  Capt. Gregory Alexander has been charged with one count of misconduct in office and two counts of breach of trust with fraudulent intent
  • Baltimore, Maryland city police officer has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for his role in a towing company extortion scheme
  • Two Orange County, California police officers have been charged with illegally conspiring to dismiss a traffic ticket given to a driver who promised the officers “a bunch of alcohol.”
  • Former Sabetha, Kansas police officer has been charged with two felonies.  The officer was arrested on a warrant charging him with one count each of distribution of methamphetamine and official misconduct
  • Readstown, Wisconsin Police Chief Shay Larson was arraigned on charges of sexual assault misconduct.  Larson is facing two felony counts and six misdemeanor charges 
  • In Miami, Florida a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer groped three women who were in custody at the Miami International  Airport.  A six-count indictment charges the officer with three felony counts of abusive sexual contact and three misdemeanor counts of deprivation of civil rights
  • Chicago, Illinois approves $6.2 million settlement for police misconduct in the 2003 Iraq War protests.  The settlement will be split between the 900 anti-war protest participants that filed the lawsuit

Forced Catheterization?!


The police applied for a warrant and it was granted–so this is not a case of rogue police acting on their own.  I was aware that the police can forcibly remove blood from DUI suspects but I had not heard of this outrageous procedure.  Will have more on this later.

Update:  In a case called Schmerber, the Supreme Court approved the involuntary extraction of blood by hospital personnel at the direction of the police.  With that precedent on the books, some argue that it is just a small step to forcibly extract urine via catheterization.  Some readers sent me news stories of this practice in other states.  As far as court rulings, there’s only a few–and that tends to help the officers who are sued.  The courts stress that since there is no clear court ruling declaring the catheterization unconstitutional, the officers are entitled to immunity.  (See, for example, Miller v. Christopher Yount (Supreme Court of Idaho) (May 18, 2011)).

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