As seen in...
Washington Post
The Atlantic
The Economist
ABC News
National Police Misconduct Reporting Project

Dept of Justice to Investigate Baltimore

Attorney General Loretta Lynch has just announced a federal “pattern and practice” investigation of the Baltimore Police Department.   This is a mistake.  We already know serious problems exist there.  A report is unnecessary.  Baltimore’s elected officials should be taking bold steps right now to overhaul the police department.  Governor Hogan should also be more engaged to propose and move on necessary reforms.  A federal investigation will result in unnecessary delay.  More here later…

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 05-06-15

Here are the eight reports of police misconduct tracked for Wednesday, May 6, 2015:

  • Indiana University-Bloomington: A police officer resigned after he was accused of raping a student.
  • DEA: Six agents who left a man alone in a cell without food or water for five days, forcing the man by circumstance to drink his urine to survive, were given short suspensions and reprimands. None of them lost their positions to termination.
  • Dover, Delaware: An officer was indicted for assault. He kicked a man in the head and broke his jaw when responding to a call. The dashcam video of the incident was recently released. The former state attorney general was unable to secure an indictment from a grand jury shortly following the 2013 incident. However, the new attorney general re-presented case to the grand jury and had more success.
  • Columbia County, Florida: Two officers were charged in beating of an inmate at the jail and an attempt to cover it up.
  • Lee County, Florida: A deputy was fired for not responding to 911 call instead finishing his lunch, though he was not on his lunch break. He was sitting with three fellow deputies when he responded verbally to the dispatcher twice but did not move for assistance either time. He waited nearly 30 minutes to tell another deputy to respond. That deputy arrived on the scene 53 minutes after the initial 911 call.  The caller had succumbed to a fatal heart attack. The sheriff said the now-former deputy’s actions were “beyond negligent.”
  • Ramapo, New York: The police department is being sued for stopping four black parole officers at gunpoint and holding them even after they successfully identified themselves.
  • Anne Arundel County, Maryland: An officer was arrested for biting another man’s testicles during a fight.
  • Update: Victoria, Texas (First reported 12-17-14): The officer who was fired for twice tackling and then tasing a 76-year-old man during a traffic stop has been hired by Beeville PD.


Minneapolis Paid $10.7 Million in Lawsuits


When allegations of police misconduct move from the street to the courtroom — more often than not, Minneapolis has to pay.

KARE 11 requested numbers from the City of Minneapolis and found since January 2010, Minneapolis has dealt with 141 “Officer Conduct lawsuits.” The city won 51 of them — either at trial or when a judge dismissed the case.

But the city had to pay money in 90 of those cases — settling 86 times — and losing four trials.

In that time — Minneapolis has paid $10.7 million for officer conduct lawsuits. That includes two years — 2011 and 2013 — when the city had to pay more than $4 million each year….

In 2011, Minneapolis paid nearly $2.2 million to he family of Dominic Felder, who died in 2006 — shot seven times by two officers.

And in 2010, David Smith died after police used a Taser and held him down outside the downtown Minneapolis YMCA. Minneapolis settled with his family in 2013 for nearly $3.1 million.

A key point here:

David Harris said in his research, one alarming thing he’s found is the lawsuits don’t always lead to a change in police department policies.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 05-05-15

Here are the 11 reports of police misconduct tracked for Tuesday, March 5, 2015:

  • Hillsborough, North Carolina: An officer pled guilty to acts of indecency with two 13-year-olds. He was sentenced to 20-33 months, suspended.
  • Chaska, Minnesota: An officer was fired after and investigation into alleged racial profiling of Latinos.
  • Update: Meeker County, Minnesota (First reported 04-01-15): A now-former deputy pled guilty to assault. He tasered the police chief from Eden Valley during an argument.
  • Wellford, South Carolina: An officer was charged with misconduct for illegally possessing and mishandling evidence.
  • Cottonwood Shores, Texas: The police chief resigned and surrendered his law enforcement certification in exchange for a harassment charge against him being dropped.
  • Aransas Pass, Texas: An officer was arrested for forgery. It was his second stint with the department, with a brief stint at another law enforcement agency in between. He lied about military training on his second stint with the department.
  • Update: Yonkers, New York (First reported 10-09-14): Two officers were sentenced for perjury and misconduct charges. They lied on paperwork to acquire a search warrant. During the raid based on the flawed warrant, the suspect fell from a third story window and died. After the incident, the officers attempted to cover-up the nature of the warrant by urging a confidential informant to lie and say they had done several drug buys in the apartment. One officer was sentenced to eight weekends in jail; the other officer was sentenced to spend every weekend in jail for six months.
  • Los Angeles County, California: A deputy received an undisclosed discipline for a fatal collision with a cyclist.  He had been looking at his dashboard computer at the time of the incident.
  • Update: Fort Collins, Colorado (First reported 09-19-14): A now-former officer was sentenced to four years in prison for stalking a woman. It had been his second law enforcement job
  • Hayward, California: A now-former officer was charged with grand theft. Allegedly, he began a coercive relationship with a sex worker while he was an officer and, over several years, fraudulently took more than $500,000 from her.
  • Update: Algona, Washington: An officer and former chief resigned after his arrest for theft from a youth program.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 05-02-15 to 05-04-15

Here are the 11 reports of police misconduct tracked for Saturday, May 2 through Monday, May 4, 2015:

  • Update: Isabella County, Michigan: A deputy was charged with multiple accounts of sexual assault.
  • Cleveland, Ohio: An officer was charged with OVI. Her SUV was pulled over after it was observed swerving on the road.
  • Update: Barren County, Kentucky: A now-former sheriff had his convictions for witness tampering upheld by Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.
  • Prince George’s County, Maryland: An officer entered an Alford plea for the 2012 beating of handcuffed 15-year-old boy. He’s due to be sentenced in June.
  • Pembroke Pines, Florida: The lawsuit against a now-former officer who shot a man having a seizure in 2010 was dismissed.
  • Maryland State Police: A trooper was arrested for punching a handcuffed man in custody at the MSP Glen Burnie barracks.
  • Update: Fairfax County, Virginia:  The state medical examiner ruled that the death of Natasha McKenna was an accident. McKenna was a 37-year-old woman with mental health issues who was Tased four times while fully restrained in order to prepare her for a transfer to another jail. She died as a result.
  • Hammondville, Alabama: The police chief was arrested for insurance fraud. The charge is related to a house fire in 2014.
  • Lee County, North Carolina: The sheriff’s office fired one deputy and arrested another after an investigation into how jail inmates began sharing a cell phone smuggled in for them.
  • Connellsville, Pennsylvania: An officer was charged for coercing a minor for sexual favors in exchange for not filing drug charges against her.
  • Decatur, Indiana: An officer was fired and charged for sending pictures of his genitalia to two teenage girls.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 05-01-15

Here are the eight reports of police misconduct tracked for Friday, May 1, 2015:

  • Update: Los Angeles, California (First reported 10-28-14): An officer who was named in an excessive force lawsuit has been charged with assault for the incident that prompted it.
  • Plainfield, New Jersey: An officer charged was with misconduct and receiving stolen property.
  • Baltimore, Maryland: Six officers were charged with felonies for the death of Freddie Gray. Charges include manslaughter, 2nd degree murder, false imprisonment, and assault.
  • South Daytona, Florida: An officer was arrested for hitting a handcuffed suspect.
  • Update: South Burlington, Vermont (First reported 03-23-15): A lieutenant who pled guilty to DWI was suspended for four weeks and will keep his job. He will also see a pay decrease during the time his driver’s license is suspended.
  • Virginia Beach, Virginia: An officer was placed on administrative leave for violating department’s use of force policy against a 17-year-old boy. The officer used pepper spray on the boy during a traffic stop but deployed a stun-gun too soon after the pepper spray.
  • Billings, Montana: An officer was fired for lying about the circumstances that led to a high-speed chase.
  • Northampton, North Carolina: Five deputies and six other current and former law enforcement officers were caught in an FBI drug bust.

Apps for Recording the Police

From Wired:

With smartphones, we the citizens have in our pockets the power to hold our government responsible. Apps are cropping up to make it easier to videotape incidents like this. And organizations like the Electronic Frontier Foundation and National Lawyers Guild are working to make sure we, the people with cameras in our hands, know our rights under the law.

First of all, it’s important to state up front that it is completely within a US citizen’s constitutional rights to record interactions with police officers, according to the ACLU. The EFF has created a guide for knowing your legal rights to digital property. Unless you are on private property, you have the right to photograph, film, or record anything in plain sight. Officers are not allowed to confiscate this material—or even search your cell phone—without a warrant. Yet, law enforcement frequently confiscates these recordings, while harassing, detaining, and arresting those who fail to comply.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 04-30-15

Here are the nine reports of police misconduct tracked for Thursday, April 30, 2015:

  • Update: Tampa, Florida (First reported 12-20-13): A now-former school resource officer was sentenced to six years for having sex with a 17-year-old student.
  • Atlanta, Georgia: An officer was arrested for approaching a woman who was sitting in her car and allegedly masturbating in front of her. He was off-duty at the time but was later identified by the victim’s description.
  • Jackson, Mississippi: An officer was arrested for assault after an alleged fight with a cousin’s ex-boyfriend.
  • Millville, New Jersey: A lieutenant was arrested for DUI after sideswiping another car while off duty.
  • Millville, New Jersey: A lieutenant was arrested for assault for shoving man in a liquor store. Video of the confrontation was found while the press looked into the DUI arrest of another lieutenant (in the case just above).
  • Wichita, Kansas: A now-retired officer is on trial for sexual assault of minors during last six years of his career and several years after.
  • Fountain, Colorado: An officer was arrested for stalking and promotion of obscenity to a minor.
  • Update: Knox County, Tennessee (First reported 11-07-14): A now-former deputy was last of six law enforcement offcers to be sentenced in gambling sting. All received probation and a period of home confinement.
  • Rio Grande City, Texas: An officer and Starr County drug task force member was arrested for cocaine distribution conspiracy.

Police Unions Lobby for Special Legal Protections

From the New York Times:

As Justice Department officials began meeting with community leaders in Baltimore this week in the early stages of their civil rights inquiry into the death of Freddie Gray, they heard repeated complaints about a state law that gives special legal protections to police officers suspected of abusing their power.

The law is similar to at least a dozen across the country, commonly known as police officers’ bills of rights. But Maryland’s, enacted in the early 1970s, was the first and goes the furthest in offering layers of legal protection to police officers. Among its provisions is one that gives officers 10 days before they have to talk to investigators….

The United States Supreme Court in 1967 determined that because police officers had in some instances been deprived of their constitutional right against self-incrimination, officers could not be compelled to give evidence against themselves, including as part of administrative investigations.

Since then, the extra layer of legal protection for officers has expanded, in large part because of the power of police unions, which have had similar rules inserted in union contracts and have frequently paid for television advertisements that label politicians who disagree with them as antipolice. In Maryland, law enforcement unions have donated tens of thousands of dollars to state and local elected officials, including to Ms. Rawlings-Blake.

Officers Charged in Freddie Gray’s Death

This morning Baltimore prosecutors announced that they have filed criminal charges against the six police officers who were involved in the Freddie Gray incident.  The driver of the police van, Officer Caesar Goodson, has been charged with second degree murder.   In theory, this is the way in which our system is supposed to work.  That is, everyone agrees that if police officers break the law, they should be held accountable and treated like anyone else.  In practice, the system does not always work that way.

It is important to remember how the Freddie Gray case is different:

  • Gray’s arrest was caught on cell phone camera.
  • Gray’s family has retained one of the best attorneys in Maryland, Billy Murphy.
  • The incident brought scrutiny from the federal Department of Justice.
  • Protesters in Baltimore brought international media attention and scrutiny to the case.

With all of these factors in play, the police and prosecutors moved on the case aggressively.  The accused officers will be able to consult with defense counsel and assert their rights in court.  If these cases go to trial, a jury will hear from both sides before rendering a verdict.

It’s also important to remember that the protests in Baltimore and other U.S. cities are not just about the Freddie Gray case.  They are about police misconduct and tactics that trouble Americans all around the country.


Creative Commons License
This work by Cato Institute is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.