National Police Misconduct Reporting Project

False Arrest for Spaghettios

Via Tulsa Channel 8:

GAINESVILLE, Ga. – A woman spent more than a month in jail after deputies confused leftover Spaghetti-Os for drugs.

The Gainesville Times reports, deputies arrested 23-year old Ashley Gabrielle Huff of Gainesville, after they found a spoon covered with a suspicious residue inside the car she was riding in.

Huff was booked into the Hall County Jail and charged with possession of methamphetamine.

She spent more than a month in jail after she could not afford bond, the newspaper reports. She even attempted to go through the drug court program.

When a crime lab analysis report came back, it confirmed the spoon was encrusted with spaghetti sauce, not drugs.

Huff was released after spending nearly 30 days in jail.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 09-30-14

Here are the 8 reports of police misconduct tracked for Tuesday, September 30, 2014:

  • Dover, Delaware: The ACLU is suing the city and one of its police officers on behalf of a man who claims he was assaulted by the officer.
  • Update: New York, New York (First reported 08-07-14): A newly decorated police officer has been indicted; he is accused of beating a woman in her home. He allegedly broke through the chain-locked door of an apartment, threw the woman to the floor and beat her about the head.
  • North Augusta, South Carolina: A 68-year-old great-grandfather was killed by a police officer who repeatedly fired through the driver’s side door after a slow-speed chase as the man parked in his own driveway. Investigators determined the officer broke the law. A prosecutor sought to charge him with voluntary manslaughter, punishable by up to 30 years in prison. But the grand jury disagreed and indicted him on a misdemeanor.
  • Buncombe County, North Carolina: A sheriff now serving 15-year federal sentence for extortion and corruption, threatened a 16-year-old with life behind bars if he did not give the false testimony that sent an innocent man to prison for murder, a federal lawsuit claims.
  • Waukesha County, Wisconsin: A now-former sheriff’s lieutenant was sentenced to nine months in jail and two years of probation. She was accused of stealing prescription medication from her sick grandmother.
  • Update: Cincinnati, Ohio (First reported 09-11-14): A police officer was indicted on multiple charges from a fight outside a bar. The officer faces felony charges of felonious assault and tampering with evidence as well as misdemeanor charges of using weapons while intoxicated and obstructing official business.
  • Collingdale, Pennsylvania: A couple is suing three police officers, claiming their rights were violated during a tense confrontation captured on cellphone video. The woman said of one officer that “His behavior was so aggressive that the first thing I thought was to pull out my phone and video. He told me that if I continued to video he was going to come in my house and confiscate my phone and place me under arrest.”
  • Barrington Hills, Illinois: A police officer is on administrative leave after he was charged with domestic battery.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 09-29-14

Here are the 11 reports of police misconduct tracked for Tuesday, September 29, 2014:

  • Update: Fort Wayne, Indiana (Previously reported 08-08-14): A now-former police officer who pled guilty to raping a woman he had pulled over during a drunk driving patrol was sentenced to six years in prison and two years of probation.
  • Etowah County, Alabama: A former deputy was arrested on a domestic violence charge. He was terminated from the sheriff’s office as a result of his arrest.
  • Update: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (First reported 08-22-14): The police officer accused of sexually assaulting women is facing 10 new charges.
  • Assumption Parish, Louisiana: Two sheriff’s deputies have been placed on leave pending the outcome of an investigation of a complaint that says excessive force was used on a youth.
  • Update: Rio Arriba County, New Mexico (Previously reported 08-16-14): A sheriff who has fought off accusations of misconduct throughout his career was convicted of abusing a driver during a traffic stop that prosecutors called a fit of road rage. He faces up to 17 years in prison.
  • Jackson, Mississippi: The now-former top official of the Mississippi Highway Patrol may be held accountable for not reporting an assault by a trooper on a woman.
  • Doddridge County, West Virginia: The estate of a 71-year-old man who died during a police search of his home is suing six state troopers for excessive force, unreasonable search and seizure and wrongful death.
  • Update; Carter County, Kentucky (First reported 03-27-14): A now-former sheriff’s deputy accused of forcing sexual favors in exchange for not serving an arrest warrant pled guilty, avoiding a trial.
  • Update: San Diego, California (Previously reported 08-22-14): The now-former police officer who was prosecuted for groping four women was sentenced to three years probation and 365 days in county jail.
  • Red Bank, Tennessee: A prosecutor has asked the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to review the arrest of a man who says police used excessive force when they took him into custody.
  • Update: Williamsport, Pennsylvania (Previously reported 02-26-14): The police officer accused of killing a man as he was responding to a high speed chase is expected to be fired.

Judge Tynia Richard

From the New York Times:

In past Rikers Island brutality cases, correction officers have frequently managed to escape serious punishment. But in a highly unusual legal decision published on Monday, Tynia Richard, an administrative law judge, wrote that the six officers had lied about what had happened; that Mr. Hinton had been handcuffed during the entire episode, and that because such “brazen misconduct” must be put to an end, she was recommending the most severe sanction available: termination of employment for all six….

The judge’s decision is a fresh indication that pressure by federal prosecutors, as well as scrutiny by the media, may be starting to have an effect on the way such brutality cases, long tolerated at the Department of Correction, are handled.

Nevertheless, the fact that two and a half years elapsed between the episode and the judge’s decision underscores what continues to be a crucial issue at Rikers: the slow pace of internal investigations of guards accused in brutality cases….

She ruled that Captain Behari, Officer Almanzar and Officer Vincent Siederman were guilty of using excessive force and of lying to investigators.

She found Officers Bunton, Raul Marquez and Ramon Cabrera guilty of lying to investigators and writing false incident reports.

What a contrast with Judge Beverly Woodard.

(Quick reminder:  This site focuses on police misconduct, not prosecutor or prison guard, or judicial misconduct.  However, from time to time, we will post related news items.  This post is an example.)


Problems with the Border Patrol

From the Washington Post:

FEW FEDERAL government agencies have grown as quickly as U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which includes the 21,000 agents, double the number in 2004, who patrol the nation’s frontiers with Mexico and Canada. That growth has been accompanied by an alarming number of incidents involving the use of lethal force, particularly along the Mexican border and all too frequently under circumstances that suggest the agency is indifferent or hostile to the most basic standards of restraint, transparency and self-policing.

Reports by news organizations and independent experts — including one report that was suppressed by Customs and Border Protection for more than a year — have finally prompted the agency to address its problems with accountability. The agency’s new commissioner, R. Gil Kerlikowske …has promised that the agency will be more forthcoming about future incidents involving the use of deadly force, which would be a constructive change from its deeply ingrained habit of stonewalling. To that end he is establishing a rapid-reaction force of investigators whose mission will be to gather evidence following incidents and allegations of abuse.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 09-26-14

Here are the 11 reports of police misconduct tracked for Friday, September 26, 2014:

  • New York, New York: The police department says its internal affairs division is investigating after a video was posted that appeared to show officers push a pregnant woman to the ground when she tried to intervene as her son was being taken into custody.
  • Burlington, Vermont: A judge has decided a police officer should face trial on charges he shot a mentally ill man.
  • Dayton, Ohio: The father of a man fatally shot by police as he held an air rifle inside a Wal-Mart said he believes his son was murdered, despite a special grand jury declining to criminally charge the officers. The U.S. Justice Department has announced a probe to determine if his 22-year-old son’s civil rights were violated.
  • El Paso, Texas: A witness said that police stopped several men from trying to save a woman in a submerged car. The witness said she saw the woman moving her hands inside the car and that police stopped three men from attempting to get her out. The woman drowned. Now the department’s Special Traffic Investigations unit is conducting an investigation.
  • Boulder, Colorado: A detective was arrested on charges that he warned a sex crimes suspect that BPD was preparing to arrest him.
  • Galveston, Texas: A now-former police officer has been sentenced to 40 years in prison for sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl.
  • Meridian, Idaho: A police officer seen passing another motorcycle rider on the right side of an interstate has been disciplined.
  • Allentown, Pennsylvania: Lawyers for a man whose arrest was caught on a cellphone video that showed a police officer kneeing him twice as he lay on the ground, and another one punching him, have filed a federal lawsuit claiming the police used excessive force.
  • Pickens, South Carolina: The police chief said one of his officers was fired amid a domestic investigation and his arrest. The officer was terminated for violation of city policy.
  • Update: Los Angeles, California (Previously reported 08-01-14): A woman who was punched repeatedly by a California Highway Patrol officer in an incident caught on film will receive $1.5M as part of a settlement reached.
  • Janesville, Wisconsin: An officer is being charged with misdemeanor battery and domestic violence. The chief has called that grounds for potential termination.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 09-25-14

Here are the 6 reports of police misconduct tracked for Thursday, September 25, 2014:

  • Healdton, Oklahoma: The chief of police entered a not guilty plea to a felony gun charge. He was fired.
  • Okeechobee County, Florida: Ten months after a crash involving a deputy that killed two women, an investigation has found the deputy was at fault. Crash witnesses said the deputy did not have his lights or sirens on and was traveling at least double the speed limit.
  • Atlantic Beach, Florida: The police chief resigned in the wake of being the subject of an active criminal investigation. Sources said the investigation is related to the illegal purchase of steroids from Mexico.
  • Montgomery County, Maryland: A police officer has been charged with perjury and workers’ compensation fraud.
  • Fulton, New York: A decorated veteran police sergeant has pled guilty to beating a handcuffed man and now faces up to 10 years in prison. He pled guilty in federal court to one count of deprivation of rights under color of law.
  • Greece, New York: A now-former police officer has been charged in federal court with possession of child pornography.

Internal Affairs Investigating Treatment of Pregnant Woman

From NBC New York:

The NYPD says its internal affairs division is investigating after a video was posted over the weekend that appeared to show officers push a pregnant woman to the ground when she tried to intervene as her son was being taken into custody.

The video, which the woman’s attorneys say was captured on Fifth Avenue at 41st Street in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park at around 2:15 a.m. Sunday, shows an officer who was trying to arrest another suspect grabbing Sandra Amezquita, who is five months pregnant, before pushing her belly-first onto the ground and then hopping atop her back.

The video then shows a second, unidentified woman being shoved to the ground in the middle of the street as she comes to help Amezquita.

Amezquita’s attorney, Sanford Rubenstein, told media Wednesday that the 43-year-old woman suffered vaginal bleeding and bruises on her arms and stomach after the encounter. He said she has persisting abdominal pain and showed a photo of bruising on her stomach.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 09-24-14

Here are the 7 reports of police misconduct tracked for Wednesday, September 24, 2014:

  • Update: West Yellowstone, Montana (First reported 08-12-14): A police chief who was fired after a state investigation found he selectively enforced the law and violated court orders will not face criminal charges.
  • Wise Co, Texas: A man who claims a sheriff’s deputy forced him to take nude photographs while registering for the state’s sex offender database says he thinks there are other victims.
  • Update: Warren, Ohio (First reported 05-05-14): A now-former police officer has been convicted on less serious charges than those filed after he was accused of towing a car from private property to keep for himself.
  • Hamilton Co, Tennessee: A now-former deputy sheriff was indicted by a federal grand jury for sexually assaulting a woman while he was on duty.
  • Bossier Parish, Louisiana: A deputy was fired after his arrest on a domestic violence charge.
  • Tupelo, Oklahoma: Sheriff’s deputies arrested the police chief on suspicion of forgery and obtaining cash under a false pretense.
  • Hollywood, California: A man is suing city for wrongful arrest. He has accused the department of discrimination against him.
  • Louisville, Kentucky: An attorney says, “It appears the actions of one of the officers — who clearly had the word “police” labeled across the back of his shirt — were illegal and unconstitutional.”
  • Tunkhannock Township, Pennsylvania: A man claims a police officer used a stun gun on him for no reason. HE filed a federal lawsuit against the officer, township and another man.

Police Shooting in South Carolina

From NBC News:

A South Carolina state trooper who was fired after being captured on video shooting an unarmed driver during a routine traffic stop was arrested on Wednesday. Lance Corporal Sean M. Groubert was charged with assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature in connection with the shooting in a gas station’s parking lot, which was filmed by a camera in his patrol car.

On Sept. 4, Groubert pulled over Levar Edward Jones for a seatbelt violation in Columbia, South Carolina, and subsequently shot the unarmed man in the hip. In newly released video, Groubert is heard asking Jones for his license. As Jones reaches into his car, the officer is seen moving quickly while pointing his gun and shouting, “Get out of the car!” He then fires four shots at Jones as he falls backwards away from the car with his hands in the air. Groubert cuffs the injured driver, who can be heard asking, “What did I do, sir?”

Chilling video.   To the department’s credit, upon review, the officer was promptly discharged and criminal charges are now pending.  That’s the manner in which one would expect an incident like this to be handled.   Safe to say that the video was the critical factor and that’s why body cameras are needed.

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