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More on Police Lies

Letter to the editor published in the New York Times:

Last fall, the criminal defense clinic at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law represented a young black man charged with possession of a knife (recovered from his pants pocket) after he was searched by a police officer who swore — under penalty of perjury — that the client was blocking the entrance to a building in violation of a disorderly conduct statute. A video obtained from an adjacent store revealed a very different reality — just a young kid talking with friends, never blocking anyone’s way.

Too often, though, without a video, our clients’ accounts of the lies told by police fall on deaf ears. Prosecutors and judges engage in cognitive dissonance — on the one hand understanding that police lie; on the other, failing to address the issue in any meaningful way.

Perhaps this is because our criminal justice system relies so heavily on the assumption of police as truth tellers. Acknowledging the problem threatens the very foundation of an already dysfunctional system.

For those who have experienced the corrupting effect of police lies, however, the question remains: what will it take to break a police practice that leads to so much injustice?

New York, Feb. 4, 2013

The writer is a clinical assistant professor at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 02-09-13 to 02-11-13

Here are the 9 reports of police misconduct tracked for Saturday, February 09 to Monday, February 11, 2013:

  • Auburn, Washington: A police officer is under investigation for allegedly groping a pregnant, handcuffed woman. Another police department is now conducting a criminal investigation.
  • Orlando, Florida: A veteran officer, who was jailed twice last year on allegations of domestic violence, has been fired. He violated two department policies.
  • Springdale, Pennsylvania: A police officer is facing federal charges after he allegedly punched and used a taser on a man who was in handcuffs.
  • Nashville, Tennessee: A police officer was decommissioned after an investigation into his use of force during the arrest of a woman suspected of driving under the influence. He had been an officer for 23 years at the time of the incident.
  • Orange County, California: A sheriff’s deputy was arrested and charged with accepting bribes, including some connected to businesses, from a murderer inmate. He faces a maximum sentence of four years and eight months in state prison if he is convicted on all counts.
  • Los Angeles, California: A mother and daughter who were mistakenly shot by police hunting for a rampage suspect had no warning before bullets started whizzing through their newspaper-delivery truck, their lawyer said. “They still have to give the guy an opportunity to surrender. You can’t just execute him,” the lawyer said. The LAPD had no comment.
  • Yardville, New Jersey: A corrections officer who helped smuggle contraband into a prisoner is now in prison for 30 months.
  • Update: Pasadena, California: A detective will be placed on administrative leave after a judge declared a mistrial in a homicide case because of the detective’s mishandling of evidence.
  • East Chicago, Illinois: An 18-year veteran was indicted on 12 fraud charges relating to an alleged ghost payrolling scheme, federal court records state. “It is never good to see a police officer’s name on a federal indictment,” said the police chief.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 02-08-13

Here are the 17 reports of police misconduct tracked for Friday, February 8, 2013:

  • Hillsboro, Oregon: An officer surrendered after a gun fight with ten county officers. He allegedly got into a domestic dispute with his wife, when she called the police. When they arrived he armed himself, and fired at officers attempting to enter the house numerous times. His wife finally convinced him to leave the house with her, and their 6-year-old daughter.
  • Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania: A state police trooper has been placed on unpaid leave after he was charged with assaulting his wife. According to documents, he got into an argument with her, and pushed her, causing her to fall down a flight of stairs and break her ankle.
  • Twin Peaks, California: A sheriff’s deputy pleaded guilty to a grand-theft charge stemming from a salary-boosting scheme involving seven former department employees. They allegedly falsified department records to increase their pay.
  • Pueblo County, Colorado: An officer will face multiple counts of sexual assault and kidnapping, along with menacing and another count of tampering with evidence. He is accused of kidnapping his estranged girlfriend at gunpoint, taking her to his home and sexually assaulting her, before taking her back to her home.
  • Meigs County, Tennessee: An officer was arrested after being indicted by a grand jury on charges stemming from a shooting incident. He allegedly shot at his stepfather twice, although he did not hit him.
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: A police officer has been ordered to serve six months in federal prison for his role in a multi-state steroid distribution ring orchestrated by a former police colleague. Both men were active-duty officers at the time of the activity but were later fired from the force.
  • Hendersonville, North Carolina: An officer was arrested for driving while under the influence. He was on-duty and in his highway patrol cruiser.
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota: A police officer is in jail after his arrest for allegedly having off-duty sexual encounters with several girls between the ages of 12 and 14, according to the Sheriff’s office. He was arrested on suspicion of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a person under 13 that caused personal injury.
  • Los Angeles, California: Seven sheriff’s deputies have been notified that the department intends to fire them for belonging to a secret law enforcement clique that allegedly celebrated shootings and branded its members with matching tattoos.
  • Memphis, Tennessee: A police officer who allegedly threatened a man has now been arrested on a charge of harassment.
  • Rindge, New Hampshire: A police officer accused of sexually assaulting a teenager is slated to plead guilty to lesser charges. He allegedly engaged in sex acts with a girl he knew between the age of 13 and 16, according to court documents.
  • Mount Joy Borough, Pennsylvania: A police officer was suspended for two days without pay for unspecified misconduct. The discipline is the latest in several involving Mount Joy police.
  • Weymouth, Massachusetts: An officer charged with assaulting his 9-year-old twin daughters has resigned. They told other officers he pushed them and warned them not to tell anyone because no one would believe them, according to a police report on file.
  • Rockwood, Michigan: A now ex-police officer has pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges in connection with an allegation of inappropriate contact involving a female prisoner in his custody. As part of his plea, he has agreed not to challenge his termination.
  • Cincinnati, Ohio: An officer admitted that he deposited money meant to avoid bank-reporting requirements in an alleged marijuana smuggling operation.
  • Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania: An officer has been suspended with pay amid a police investigation into an “alleged excessive force incident,” city officials have said.
  • Hale County, Alabama: A deputy has been indicted on charges accusing him of keeping drugs he acquired during investigations.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 02-07-13

Here are the 11 reports of police misconduct tracked for Thursday, February 7, 2013:

  • Minneapolis, Minnesota: A state trooper, who was named Officer of the Year in 2002, has been found guilty of theft by swindle and four counts of forgery. She took $1,500 from the International Association of Women Police, and when a coworker discovered the money missing, she falsified a checkbook register and financial records in an attempt to make the withdrawal appear legitimate. She resigned after the incident.
  • Lafayette, Louisiana: A police corporal has been indicted by a grand jury on charges of sexual battery and malfeasance for allegedly battering a woman while he was on duty.
  • South Salt Lake, Utah: An officer has been charged with stalking a former girlfriend and hacking her computer accounts. He is on extended administrative leave.
  • Nelsonville, Ohio: An officer was in court on a third-degree felony charge of tampering with evidence levied against him. He is on paid administrative leave.
  • Update: Albemarle County, Virginia: A now-former police lieutenant has pleaded guilty to embezzlement and was sentenced to 10 days in jail. He later returned the $380 that he stole from a petty cash fund. The lieutenant had been an officer for 27 years.
  • Madison County, Tennessee: Two former law-enforcement officers were in court, on unrelated charges. One was being charged with stealing money from the passenger in a car. The other has been charged with attempted first-degree murder, employing a weapon during the commission of a dangerous felony, aggravated kidnapping, and aggravated assault.
  • Somerset, Massachusetts: An officer has been arrested and charged with larceny under $250 by false pretenses, two counts of possession of a class E substance and two counts of possession of a class C substance.
  • Bismarck, North Dakota: An officer has pleaded not guilty to roughing up suspects during two separate arrests. A grand jury indicted him on four counts.
  • Alger County, Michigan: A deputy is facing possible charges following the investigation into an alleged assault of an inmate. The deputy is now on administrative leave.
  • Naperville, Illinois: The wife of a man killed in a motorcycle accident involving a state trooper has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit, blaming the officer.
  • Indianapolis, Indiana: A seizure patient has filed a lawsuit against the police department, claiming officers beat and arrested him after mistaking his symptoms for being high on drugs. The man’s sister tried to advise officers that he was suffering from epilepsy and not under the influence of drugs, but the lawsuit says officers ignored her.

Worst of the Month — January 2013

We are starting a new feature here on the web site.  We’re basically going to highlight what we think was the worst police misconduct story each month.   We invite feedback from our readers–whether by email or postings on our Facebook page–as the stories come in during the month.  We’re not going to try to tally up votes or anything like that, but having constructive feedback is always helpful to us.   If our choices seem arbitrary and subjective–that’s probably because they are.  Maybe after several months of hearing from our readers and the reasons they offer for particular stories, we’ll find some kinda consensus criteria. Maybe not.  In any event, let’s start this.

For January 2013, it’s the story from the Los Angeles Times about two cops who would use their official police powers to coerce sex from women.  According to the authorities, these officers would drive women to secluded places, threaten arrest,  and then offer them  “a way  out.”  Faced with such threats under such circumstances, the women not only feared the consequences of a false arrest (and that no one would believe them), they feared for their lives.   How would one know what these cops were prepared to do?

The runner-up story comes from Ohio.   Sgt. Brian Dulle died in the line of duty.  A fellow officer, William Hunt, started a memorial fund for Dulle’s widow.  But it turns out that Hunt stole money from that fund to pay off personal loans.  Sheriff Larry Sims said, “To steal from your friend who was killed and his family, it’s just unspeakable.”    Yes, it is, and it makes you wonder why the prosecutors are only asking for probation in this matter.

Two Women Shot by LAPD

From the LA Times:

Two women who were shot by Los Angeles police in Torrance early Thursday during a massive manhunt for an ex-LAPD officer were delivering newspapers, sources said.

The women, shot in the 19500 block of Redbeam Avenue, were taken to area hospitals, Torrance police Lt. Devin Chase said. They were not identified. One was shot in the hand and the other in the back, according to Jesse Escochea, who captured video of the victims being treated.

It was not immediately known what newspapers the women were delivering. After the shooting, the blue pickup was riddled with bullet holes and what appeared to be newspapers lay in the street alongside.

To clarify/remind visitors here, the alleged crimes of ex-LAPD officer, Christopher Dorner, the subject of today’s  manhunt, will not be listed here on the site.  One of our criteria for news stories is that the person must have been police at the time of the wrongdoing. According to the news reports we’ve seen,  Dorner has not been a police officer for some time.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 02-06-13

Here are the 8 reports of police misconduct tracked for Wednesday, February 6, 2013:

  • Herkimer, New York: A police officer has been charged with second-degree murder in his son’s shooting at a motel. He says he shot his son after mistaking him for an intruder.
  • Swansea, Massachusetts: A long-time police officer is facing drunken driving charges. He reportedly left the scene of a crash; the responding officer claims the offending officer drove over a snow bank and away from the officer when he first approached the car.
  • Abita Springs, Louisiana: A police lieutenant was found guilty of cocaine distribution. He was sentenced to 35 years in prison after a judge decided that he fit the definition of a habitual offender.
  • Update: Vero Beach, Florida: A now-former officer has been sentenced to life in prison on three counts of lewd or lascivious sexual battery. He was convicted on the charges involving a victim who is now a senior in high school.
  • Henderson County, North Carolina: A state trooper has been arrested for driving while under the influence of alcohol. His driver’s license was immediately revoked during his arrest, and he resigned from his position.
  • Martinsburg, West Virginia: A woman has filed a lawsuit against a sheriff’s deputy and the Berkeley County Council for being falsely arrested and wrongfully imprisoned after spending a night in jail.
  • Houston County, Georgia: An appeals court affirmed a federal court ruling that a former state trooper did not have arguable probable cause to arrest a man who cursed him during an incident. They found that the man’s speech was protected.
  • San Luis Obiuspo, California: A detective has been arrested by the FBI and charged with one count of bribery in a criminal complaint. The Department of Justice Report says, “he allegedly took cash and narcotics from two individuals. In return, the police officer allegedly provided these ‘cooperating witnesses’ with narcotics for their own use, as well as fake drugs to sell to drug dealers.”

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 02-05-13

Here are the 6 reports of police misconduct tracked for Tuesday, February 5, 2013:

  • Miami-Dade, Florida: The police department has fired a sergeant and two officers and suspended three others without pay in what is considered one of the worst incidents of delinquency in the department’s history. The accusation include: failing to respond to emergency calls, pretending to be on calls when they weren’t and falsifying police records.
  • Valrico, Florida: A now-former officer  charged with possessing child pornography changed his plea deal to guilty. He retired nine days after federal authorities searched his home and seized a computer, saying they found illegal images of children.
  • Indianapolis, Indiana: An officer has been charged with three counts of robbery and three counts of official misconduct. He is accused of robbing men during traffic stops.
  • Tattnall County, Georgia: A deputy was sentenced to nine years in prison for selling illegal drugs he stole from the evidence room.
  • Cobb County, Georgia: Another deputy was arrested in connection with alleged sexual assault of a female inmate.
  • Fountain Hill, Pennsylvania: An officer has been fired. He allegedly used “unreasonable force” on a suspect in custody and then lied about the incident. The mayor recommended he be fired for “conduct unbecoming a police officer.”

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 02-02-13 to 02-04-13

Here are the 10 reports of police misconduct tracked for Saturday, February 2 to Monday, February 4, 2013:

  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: A police officer has been charged; he fired 13 bullets in the direction of a building. After the police were called to the scene, he made a false 911 call to distract them.
  • Independence, Iowa: A police officer who had an expired driver’s license when his cruiser hit a woman’s car is being sued. A councilman says that they city will defend the officer, but that the officer clearly screwed up and got caught in this situation.
  • Allegheny County, Pennsylvania: A police officer was arrested on drug and child endangerment charges. She called the police to her house after a dispute with her son, and they found her drug paraphernalia and it smelled of marijuana.
  • Northbrook, Illinois: A 12-year veteran has been charged with felony counts of residential burglary and official misconduct. He was caught on video stealing jewelry from a home he had been sent to check on.
  • Lake County, Illinois: A deputy who tracked predators is being investigated. He allegedly had sexual contact with a teenage boy. He has been placed on paid administrative leave.
  • Orient, Ohio: An officer has been accused of sexual assault on a female staff member at a prison. He has been placed on indefinite leave.
  • Update: Miami, Florida: Another officer has been charged. He recently resigned while under investigation and pleaded guilty to extortion charges. The charges are related to a FBI corruption probe involving a police-protection racket for a sports-betting ring operating out of a barbershop.
  • East St. Louis, Illinois: An officer who lied to federal agents about demanding sex from a traffic violator was vilified in federal court as a prime example of poor law enforcement that fosters rampant crime in his community. He was ordered to 30 months in prison, which is 2 ½ times the maximum recommendation under sentencing guidelines. He pleaded guilty to lying about the encounter.
  • Hanford, California: An officer entered a no-contest plea to carrying narcotics with intent to sell. He has resigned from the department. Two witnesses testified that the officer supplied them with prescription drugs, drug paraphernalia, and meth.
  • Macon, Georgia: A police officer pleaded guilty to violating his oath of officer and was sentenced to five years probation. He was on duty when he drove a 20-year-old to an inn, where he had sex with her.

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