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

Tulsa County Shooting

From the Tulsa World:

Robert Bates, the reserve Tulsa County deputy who fatally shot a man who was in a physical altercation with another deputy last week, has donated thousands of dollars worth of items to the Sheriff’s Office since becoming a reserve deputy in 2008.

Bates, 73, accidentally shot Eric Harris on Thursday, according to Maj. Shannon Clark, after Harris — the subject of an undercover gun and ammunition buy by the Sheriff’s Office’s Violent Crimes Task Force — fled from arrest and then fought with a deputy who tackled him. Bates, Clark said, thought he was holding a stun gun when he pulled the trigger….

First Assistant District Attorney John David Luton said Monday that the Tulsa County District Attorney’s Office had not received the case from the Sheriff’s Office but would seek to “move quickly” on a decision on possible charges against the reserve deputy once presented with the case.

Video of the shooting at the link above.

San Bernardino Deputies Filmed From News Helicopter



From the Los Angeles Times:

Charles “Sid” Heal, retired Los Angeles County sheriff’s commander

Heal, who has testified in dozens of force trials, said that when the man “fell off the horse and lay flat, he is done …. I think I am pretty conservative, given I have been in so many situations that have been misread, but I cannot see any explanation for their conduct here.”

As to the tactics, he said, the deputies exhibit almost none.

“It was like a feeding frenzy. It was like blood in the water with sharks,” Heal said. “The only thing is they thought they could get away with it.”

Adrenaline could be an explanation for the first unnecessary blows, he said.

“But it went on way too long and involved deputies who weren’t there in the initial stage; they took what we call cheap shots,” he said. “They thought they could get away with it.”

Heal said cameras capture everything today, and these deputies seemed to have forgotten that.

Public outrage over the video is shared by other law enforcement officers who believe such actions smear the badge, he said.

“Everybody I know is outraged,” he said. “This sets law enforcement back 20 years. All the things we have been saying basically get thrown out the window.”

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 04-09-15

Here are the eight reports of police misconduct tracked for Thursday, April 9, 2015:

  • Update: Ambridge, Pennsylvania (First reported 12-19-13): A now-former officer pled guilty to drug and obstruction charges and was sentenced to three years of probation.
  • Monroe County, Tennessee: Two now-former deputies were indicted and arrested for assaulting a man in their custody.
  • Franklin County, Kentucky: A now-former deputy was sentenced to 16 months in prison for stealing property during the search of a home.
  • Orange County, Virginia: A man is facing charges for assault on a police officer. The dash cam footage available shows no assault by the man but does show the officer throwing him to the ground and inflicting other injuries. The investigative news report revealed that the audio from the dash cam and all footage from other cameras that were on the scene are missing or otherwise unaccounted for.
  • Albuquerque, New Mexico: An officer admitted to illegally accessing a law enforcement database, a federal crime. No charges have been filed yet.
  • Update: Iowa City, Iowa (First reported 02-20-15): An officer facing a DUI charge is no longer with the department. The police chief declined to clarify whether the now-former officer resigned or was fired.
  • Houston, Texas: An officer was arrested on federal gun and drug distribution charges. The indictment alleges him to have been dealing cocaine since 2012.
  • Miami Gardens, Florida: Dash camera footage shows police fatally shoot a 25-year-old man. The state attorneys’ office is investigating the case and discouraged the man’s family from releasing the video while the investigation was ongoing. However, upon releasing the video, the family’s attorney said, “When you see this video, you will realize that this was not a justifiable shooting.”

The Walter Scott Case

My opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times:

A generation ago, when someone complained of police misconduct, we would learn that a police spokesperson denied the accusation and that was that. Because we were not there and did not know those involved, it was impossible to draw any conclusions. There was also an understandable reluctance to believe that the local department would spread falsehoods. Now more and more incidents are captured in cellphone videos, and that means citizens can judge for themselves whether the police broke the law. Smartphones are providing us with a glimpse of the widespread abuse that policymakers have been ignoring for years and changing the world of American policing….

To a certain extent, the authorities in South Carolina deserve praise for how they handled this incident. They disclosed the identity of the officer and his disciplinary record. They turned the case over to an independent agency to avoid a conflict of interest, and those investigators followed the evidence. Many people will say that the system “worked.” Did it?

Read the whole thing here.

Btw, with this case making national news, it is a good time to blast a note to all your friends and contacts about Cato’s Police Misconduct Reporting Project.  Just a quick note saying something like “check out this website–police misconduct is more common than you may realize.”  And don’t forget to Like us on Facebook.  Thank you for considering.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 04-08-15

Here are the eight reports of police misconduct tracked for Wednesday, March 8, 2015:

  • North Charleston, South Carolina: An officer was charged with murder for shooting a fleeing 50-year-old man in the back. In his police report, the officer claimed he “felt threatened” and administered CPR on the suspect after shooting him. A bystander came forward with video evidence contradicting the officer’s account. He was fired from the police department.
  • Baltimore County, Maryland: A now-former officer pled guilty to burglary and drug charges for breaking into dealer’s home to rob him.
  • Tampa, Florida: A now-former officer pled guilty to stealing evidence. She took tax refund checks seized from fraud cases and cashed them herself.
  • Bristol, Rhode Island: An officer was charged with breaking-in to a neighbor’s home to steal prescription pills. He resigned upon arrest.
  • Update: Ft. Lauderdale, Florida (First reported 02-24-15): An officer was charged with two counts of battery and one count of falsifying official record for slapping a homeless man and trying to cover it up. Video shows the exchange.
  • Maxton, North Carolina: An officer was arrested after shooting her firearm at two unoccupied vehicles during an altercation.
  • New Milford, New Jersey: A patrolman was arrested on drug charges after being found in parking lot acting suspiciously. He was allegedly in possession of a bag of crack cocaine and a hypodermic needle.
  • Update: St. Louis, Missouri (First reported 03-17-15): A now-former officer pled guilty to conspiracy charges for knowingly providing a drug dealer with a firearm.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 04-07-15

Here are the eight reports of police misconduct tracked for Tuesday, April 7, 2015:

  • San Francisco, California: Seven officers were suspended over racist texts uncovered during a corruption investigation. Their past cases are under review for bias.
  • Update: Rutland, Vermont (First reported 03-17-15): The officer arrested last month for DUI has been fired.
  • Albuquerque, New Mexico: A man is suing the department for excessive force. The officer at the heart of the suit was fired for insubordination and untruthfulness. The now-former officer had twice been involved in violent interactions that were not recorded by the body camera he was wearing. In addition to the incident in this lawsuit in which he claimed he was assaulted by the plaintiff, he fatally shot a 19-year-old woman. According to the news report, there is no record of the now-former officer receiving any discipline in the shooting case. The news report also notes he is petitioning to get his job with APD reinstated.
  • Update: Fresno, California (First reported 03-27-15): The deputy chief arrested for drug distribution has resigned.
  • Norfolk, Virginia: Four officers are “no longer with” the department after a K9 unit bit a female college student who was being held down by two officers.
  • New York, New York: An officer pled guilty to cocaine trafficking in Florida. He faces 10 years of imprisonment.
  • Honolulu, Hawaii: An officer was arrested for shooting a woman at a bar when off-duty.
  • Hunt County, Texas: A deputy is being investigated after video appears to show him repeatedly striking woman who was months pregnant at the time.

The Walter Scott Case

Yesterday, South Carolina’s Post and Courier released the video of a North Charleston police officer fatally shooting a fleeing man, Walter Scott, in the back. After the North Charleston mayor’s press conference late yesterday afternoon, the State Law Enforcement Division arrested the officer and charged him with murder. Under Tennessee v. Garner (1985), it is illegal for an officer to shoot a fleeing suspect absent an objectively reasonable fear of danger to the public or himself.

Post and Courier

Photo courtesy of the Post and Courier.

The officer had originally stated that he “felt threatened” before deploying lethal force against the 50-year-old man. The police report also stated that the officer performed CPR on Scott after the shooting, but video shows the officers left him handcuffed and on the ground with no attempt at CPR.

You should read the full story here.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 04-04-15 to 04-06-15

Here are the eight reports of police misconduct tracked for Saturday, April 4 through Monday, April 6, 2015:

  • Vineland, New Jersey: The police department is being investigated by the county prosecutor concerning the death of a man in custody.
  • North Augusta, South Carolina: The city settled with the family of a 68-year-old black man who was fatally shot by police for nearly $1.2 million.
  • Broward County, Florida: Three deputies were arrested for illegal protection and security at a gentlemen’s club.
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota: An officer was recorded threatening a 17-year-old while handcuffing him during traffic stop. According to the news report, the officer said, “Plain and simple, if you f— with me, I’m going to break your leg before you get the chance to run. I’m being honest, I don’t screw around.”
  • Update: Eugene, Oregon (First reported 05-14-14): A now-former officer was sentenced to seven years for child pornography and hiding a camera to record people urinate in the police restroom.
  • North Carolina State Police: A trooper has been charged with assault with a deadly weapon, kidnapping, and burglary. According to the news report, he allegedly broke into the home of his estranged wife and assaulted her.
  • Vidalia, Georgia: An officer was suspended without pay and charged with statutory rape of 15-year-old girl.
  • Victoria County, Texas: Two deputies were indicted by a grand jury for separate incidents of misconduct. One was charged with perjury, tampering, and official oppression. The other was charged with sexually harassing a suspect in custody and having a “sexual relationship” with her. He allegedly told her not to tell anyone, but she told her probation officer.
  • Ohio State Police/Lorain, Ohio: A trooper was fired for giving a ride home to a Lorain police officer who was driving drunk and the wrong way on a highway. The now-former trooper is the wife of a Lorain police officer. The officer she was driving home pled no contest to OUI and was ordered to pay a fine. He was suspended for two days in December and remains employed with the LPD.

Worst of the Month — March

For March, it has to be the conspiracy to frame an innocent man, Douglas Dendinger, in Bogalusa, Louisiana.

Mr. Dendinger agreed to take on the task of a “process server.”  That is, he would hand-deliver legal papers to a person who has been sued–putting that person on notice about the legal action.  In this instance, Mr. Dendinger was to serve papers upon a former police officer, Chad Cassard, who was being sued for police brutality.  Mr. Dendinger found Mr. Cassard as he was leaving the local courthouse and made the delivery.  At that moment, Mr. Cassard was in the company of several police officers and prosecutors.  These people became hostile and furious with Mr. Dendinger over what this lawsuit would mean for their friend/colleague.

Then the story takes a bizarre and disturbing turn.  Later that day, the police arrive at Mr. Dendinger’s home and place him under arrest on several charges, including two felonies (1) obstruction of justice and (2) witness intimidation.   Mr. Cassard and a few of his cohorts claimed that Mr. Dendinger had served the papers in a violent fashion.  Mr. Dendinger was in very serious legal trouble.  He was looking at many years in prison.

Fortunately, a cell phone video of the “incident” emerged.  Turns out, Mr. Dendinger did nothing wrong.  All he did was peacefully hand-deliver an envelope to Mr. Cassard.  The charges were then dropped.

But we now know that local police and prosecutors leveled false accusations about what happened that day.   Had the case proceeded to trial, it would have been Mr. Dendinger’s word against several witnesses with law enforcement backgrounds.  A jury would have been hard pressed to disbelieve several witnesses who claimed to see the same thing.  A miscarriage of justice was narrowly averted.

The cell phone video exposes an outrageous criminal conspiracy by officials in Bogalusa.  More here.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 04-03-15

Here are the eight reports of police misconduct tracked for Friday, April 4, 2015:

  • Update: Brooklyn, Illinois (First reported 03-27-15): An officer allegedly ran a towing scheme to boost revenue for the city and his family’s towing business. The entire department is under investigation for its practices.
  • St. Petersburg, Florida: An officer was suspended for four weeks after showing up to work drunk. He tested at .17 BAC.
  • Country Club Village, Missouri: A now-former officer was sentenced to three years of probation after pleading guilty to theft charges.
  • Tompkins County, New York: A deputy was arrested on assault and robbery charges.
  • Leadwood, Tennessee: An officer faces a felony child abuse charge for allegedly throwing a four-year-old against a wall in frustration.
  • Scotland County, North Carolina: A sheriff’s lieutenant was fired after a restraining order was filed against him for abuse.
  • Miami-Dade, Florida: An officer was indicted for fraud. He allegedly filed false ID theft reports to aid in an illicit credit-building scheme.
  • Hill County, Texas: The sheriff and chief deputy were arrested for falsifying documents and tampering.

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