National Police Misconduct Reporting Project

Mayor Moves to Assist a Disgraced Officer

From NBC10.com:

The Mayor of Vineland, New Jersey is at the center of controversy after he reportedly ordered that all charges be dismissed against a disgraced former police officer.

Former Vineland Police Detective Gamaliel “Gami” Cruz was fired two years ago after investigators discovered that he lied to a judge while trying to secure a search warrant.

Cumberland County prosecutors moved to drop the charges against 39 defendants — which in most cases involved drug offenses — because Cruz’s testimony would have been needed to carry on with the prosecutions.

Officials said the dismissals were necessary “in the interest of justice.”

Cruz was suspended and then fired from the Vineland Police force in 2012.

Two years later however, Cruz could possibly be rehired after Vineland Mayor Ruben Bermudez issued an order on May 21 which dismissed all the charges against the ex-officer, according to the Daily Journal.

Former Vineland Mayor Robert Romano told NBC10 he was outraged.

“To rehire this guy without being ordered by a judge is a travesty to the city of Vineland,” Romano said.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 06-05-14

Here are the 5 reports of police misconduct tracked for Thursday, June 5, 2014:

  • San Jose, California: A police officer posted $20,000 bail and was released from custody following his arrest for felony possession of marijuana with intent to sell after a stash of pot was discovered inside a storage space associated with him, according to authorities. ow.ly/xFnbp
  • Winston County, Alabama: A sheriff’s sergeant faces a charge of manufacturing methamphetamine. He is charged with second-degree manufacturing methamphetamine. ow.ly/xFlaE
  • Cedar City, Utah: A police officer was charged for driving under the influence after allegedly leaving the scene of an accident in his patrol car. ow.ly/xFk44
  • Huntington, WV police officer sues: says other officer attacked him w pepper-spray, smashed his face into concrete ow.ly/xDjKC
  • Huntington, West Virginia: A Charleston police officer says a Huntington police officer attacked him in downtown Huntington, pepper-spraying him, smashing his face into concrete and punching him in the head. He has filed suit. ow.ly/xDjKC
  • Ferriday, Louisiana: The interim police chief is investigating a complaint that police officers used excessive force and beat a man that was arrested.ow.ly/xDhvh

Trouble in the LA Jail System

From the Los Angeles Times:

The deputy described beating inmates unprovoked, slapping them, shooting them with a Taser gun and aggressively searching them to pick a fight — something he learned “on the job.” He would huddle with other jail guards to get their stories straight and write up reports with bogus scenarios justifying the brutality. If the inmate had no visible injuries, he wouldn’t report the use of force, period..

He did all this with impunity, former Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Gilbert Michel testified Tuesday, knowing that even if inmates reported the abuse it “wouldn’t go anywhere.” If they were to put it in writing and drop it in a complaint box, it was his fellow deputies who opened that box too….

From the witness stand, Michel, broad-shouldered with short-cropped hair, described a culture among deputies guarding the high-security floors of the jails that led to excessive force and frequent coverups. He matter-of-factly recounted incidents in which he said he and at least five other sheriff’s employees brutalized inmates on the third, or “3000,” floor of Men’s Central Jail, then falsified reports to legitimize their actions.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 06-04-14

Here are the 14 reports of police misconduct tracked for Wednesday. June 5, 2014:

  • Anderson, California: A now-former police officer pled guilty in federal court to a civil rights offense for sexually assaulting a woman while transporting her to jail. ow.ly/xDgmT
  • St. John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana: A resident has accused deputies of falsely arresting him and using excessive force during an incident that left him with nerve damage in his hand. ow.ly/xDgAP
  • Update: Jersey City, New Jersey: A police officer has admitted he stole more than a half a million cigarettes and extorted $20,000 from a person he thought was a drug courier. ow.ly/xDfc6
  • Marion County, Florida: Two deputies have been found responsible for using excessive force against a man who was killed in an altercation with them. ow.ly/xDgUI
  • Update: Cleveland, Ohio: A grand jury indicted six police officers for their roles in a police chase and shooting that left two people dead ow.ly/xDfVC
  • Update: Parker, Arizona: The now-former police chief lost his credentials to be a police officer anywhere in Arizona. He resigned while under investigation both internally for policy and ethical violations as well as criminally for allegedly tampering with evidence. ow.ly/xDes8
  • Tulsa, Oklahoma: A police officer is on paid leave for firing his gun at a car in which teens were messing around. ow.ly/xDcIs
  • Anson County, North Carolina: A deputy sergeant was charged by the SBI with “failure to store a firearm to prevent access by a minor,” a class one misdemeanor. His 5-year-old son shot himself in the ear. ow.ly/xD6Fg
  • Update: DeSoto County, Florida: State prosecutors have filed perjury charges against a now-former sheriff’s deputy for reportedly lying to investigators about an inmate’s beating and cover-up. ow.ly/xD6fe
  • Jal, New Mexico:  An officer has been fired after authorities say he hid a video camera and released footage of his police chief having sex in the back of an ambulance. The police chief was suspended for two weeks. ow.ly/xCRrG
  • Update: Madison County, Tennessee: A jury has acquitted a fnow-ormer sheriff of assault charges involving one of his deputies. ow.ly/xCM7t
  • Boulder, Colorado: A now-former police officer was found guilty of illegally shooting and trying to cover up the death of a beloved neighborhood elk nicknamed “Big Boy.” ow.ly/xCmoY
  • Fulton County, Georgia: A sheriff’s deputy has been charged with fondling women involved in court cases. ow.ly/xCdDt
  • Bexar County, Texas: A sheriff’s deputy was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated after being pulled over ow.ly/xAGTx

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 05-31-14 to 06-03-14

Here are the 12 reports of police misconduct tracked for Saturday, May 31 to Tuesday, June 3, 2014:

  • Update: Buffalo, New York (First reported 04-30-14): A video of a man’s arrest, recorded by a bystander, shows an officer kicking and slapping the handcuffed suspect while he lies face-down on the sidewalk. But, admission that the officer struck the man in the face a second time, while in the patrol car, could send the former officer, who resigned, to federal prison for up to two years. ow.ly/xADqr
  • Espanola, New Mexico: A man says he was harmless, defenseless and holding a puppy when an officer used a taser on him. The man is suing the officer. ow.ly/xAD7w
  • Update: Astoria, Oregon (First reported 04-30-14): A now-former state trooper pled not guilty to child pornography charges. He faces 29 counts of encouraging child sex abuse by possessing explicit images. ow.ly/xACTt
  • Buffalo, New York: A police officer was suspended without pay pending a departmental investigation after police arrested him on a minor charge after a domestic argument with his wife. ow.ly/xACFM
  • Newport Beach, California: The city has agreed to pay $50,000 to settle a lawsuit alleging that a police officer used excessive force against a man before arresting him. The settlement includes no admission of wrongdoing, and city attorney said the city believes officers acted properly. ow.ly/xACpL
  • Dayton, Ohio: A police officer was recently fired for failing to charge a firefighter for driving while intoxicated after the firefighter struck several cars when he drove the wrong way. ow.ly/xAhZG
  • Update: Nassau County, New York (First reported 05-07-14): A police officer has been indicted on felony assault charges that accuse him of repeatedly striking a man during a traffic stop recorded on video. The officer pled not guilty to two felony counts of second-degree assault and one count of third-degree assault, a misdemeanor. ow.ly/xA6Q8
  • Gwinnett County, Georgia: A now-former police officer was arrested following an incident involving a handgun and a witness to a crime. He was arrested and charged with simple assault and disorderly conduct, both misdemeanors. ow.ly/xzZK4
  • Athens-Clarke County, Georgia: A police officer was arrested in connection with a domestic dispute. She was charged with simple battery following an investigation. ow.ly/xzNdP
  • Mercer County, New Jersey: A sheriff’s officer who remains on suspension for allegedly pepper-spraying a handcuffed woman has been indicted. The grand jury charged the officer with second-degree official misconduct and third-degree tampering with public records. ow.ly/xzCPC
  • Holyoke, Massachusetts: A firefighter and police officer have both resigned amid police accusations of drug possession. An internal investigation has been launched in both departments. ow.ly/xzyeF
  • Neillsville, Wisconsin: The family of a man fatally shot by a police officer has filed a claim asking the city and the officer for a $2 million settlement. They allege negligence on the officer’s part, while the district attorney says the officer was justified in his action. ow.ly/xAmoM

Worst of the Month — May 2014

Our choice for May was not difficult–the Georgia police officers who threw a flashbang grenade into an infant’s crib after ramming the door open to look for a drug dealer.  The officers were executing a no-knock warrant when they threw the flashbang grenade through the cracked door without looking or knowing who was inside the room.  The grenade (sometimes the government uses the euphemism “distraction device”) landed on the 19-month-old’s pillow and exploded, causing severe burns to his face and chest.  The child and his relatives, who were also sleeping in the converted garage room, were temporary visitors in the home because theirs had recently burned down.  The person the police were looking for was not there.  Hmm.

The officers involved expressed regret, and said that they had no idea there was a child present and that if they had, they would have done things differently.  The police chief said the incident is going to make them “double question” next time.  Hmm.  First, why would anyone not already “double question” before blindly tossing a grenade into a room?  Second, is the indication that a child is present really the only reason not to go full-Rambo on a house where human beings live?  Think about it.  Even if the police had solid proof that an adult was selling marijuana, meth, or cocaine from his home, is a flash bang grenade on his pillow a legit police tactic?  A legit risk?

Cases like this one not only underscore the brutal collateral damage of the drug war, but also the lack of adequate oversight over police raids like this one.   Yes, there will be a lawsuit, but that’s an insufficient response.

Check out the Cato raid map for more police raids that went awry.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recp 05-30-14

Here are the 7 reports of police misconduct tracked for Friday, May 30, 2014:

  • Update: Bloomington, Indiana (Previously reported 03-19-14): A now-former police officer was sentenced to 24 months of court supervision for driving under the influence of alcohol in a single-car accident. ow.ly/xp8s2
  • Bennington, Vermont: A deputy pleaded not guilty to drug charges. A press release says the deputy was arrested and charged with possession of regulated drugs, forgery and counterfeiting of documents, neglect of duty by a police officer, and extortion. ow.ly/xpfDM
  • Cleveland, Ohio: A police officer has been punished for uploading vulgar pictures of himself to women. Investigators said he even tracked down a woman he had given a ticket to. He was given a 25-day suspension without pay. ow.ly/xpaJS
  • Update: San Bernardino, California (First reported 09-06-13): A now-former police officer has been convicted of forcing two prostitutes to perform sex acts on him while he was on duty. ow.ly/xp9yN
  • Crossville, Tennessee: The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation indicted a police officer after a 14-month drug investigation. ow.ly/xpgJJ
  • Update: North Olmsted, Ohio (First reported 05-14-14): A now-former police officer accused of allowing teenagers to drink at his house during a New Year’s Eve party has pleaded no contest. ow.ly/xpgk0
  • Brooklyn Park, Minnesota: A case is to go back to trial after a U.S. District Judge suggested that a jury might reasonably conclude that excessive force was used. The suit claims police sicced a dog on a man while he was kneeling and had his hands in the air. ow.ly/xp8SN

Cleveland Officers to be Prosecuted for Barrage of Gunfire

From Cleveland.com:

CLEVELAND, Ohio — A Cuyahoga County grand jury Friday indicted six Cleveland police officers for their roles in a 2012 police chase and shooting that left two people dead and carved deep schisms into the community. The grand jury charged Patrolman Michael Brelo with two counts of voluntary manslaughter, a first-degree felony. The panel also accused five supervisors of dereliction of duty…

On Friday, McGinty said that after officers fired more than 100 shots at the car, Brelo started shooting again and fired at least 15 shots, including fatal ones, downward through the windshield into the victims at close range as he stood on the hood of Russell’s car.

“This was now a stop-and-shoot, no longer a chase-and-shoot,” McGinty said. “The law does not allow for a stop-and-shoot.” …

“Let’s be clear what happened here,” McGinty said about the case. “(Russell) was fully stopped. Escape was no longer even a remote possibility. The flight was over. The public was no longer in danger because the car was surrounded by police cars and 23 police officers in a schoolyard safely removed from pedestrians and traffic.

Police Throw Grenade into Home and It Lands in Baby’s Crib

From the Associated Press:

Officers raiding a Georgia home in search of a drug suspect used a flash grenade not knowing children were inside, severely burning a toddler who was sleeping just inside the door, authorities and the boy’s family said.

Habersham County Sheriff Joey Terrell said the officers were looking for a suspect who may have been armed and followed proper procedure by using the device, which creates a bright flash and loud bang to distract suspects

“It’s a tragic incident,” Terrell said. “The baby didn’t deserve this.”

Alecia Phonesavanh told local media her son was sleeping in his playpen when the raid began Wednesday morning.

“The cops threw that grenade in the door without looking first, and it landed right in the playpen and exploded on his pillow right in his face,” Phonesavanh told WSB-TV.

No one thinks the police set out to hurt this child.  But were the tactics sloppy, reckless, and unnecessary?  Yes.

These raids and injuries are more common than many realize.  Check out the Cato raid map.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 05-29-14

Here are the 9 reports of police misconduct tracked for Thursday, May 29, 2014:

  • Alexandria, Virginia: A deputy sheriff was arrested for sexually assaulting an inmate. ow.ly/xmF2b
  • Update: Bridgeport, Connecticut (First reported 01-28-13): Video of officers kicking a man on the ground made national news and triggered protests. It also launched an FBI investigation into the officers’ conduct. City officials have agreed to settle the man’s civil rights lawsuit for $198,000. ow.ly/xmne6
  • La Vergne, Louisiana: Police are conducting an internal investigation to determine if officers used excessive force while trying to restrain a man after they responded to a reported fight. ow.ly/xml2D
  • Romulus, Michigan: A now-former police chief pled guilty to racketeering, embezzlement and misconduct charges. Prosecutors say the chief and detectives used drug forfeiture money to pay for prostitutes, alcohol and marijuana, and to buy a tanning salon for the chief’s wife. http://ow.ly/xp8dt
  • Killen, Alabama: A police officer was arrested on a grand jury indictment for domestic violence. Investigators said he bit his mistress on the nose during a fight. http://ow.ly/xp3iL
  • Update: Odessa, Texas (First reported 03-18-14): A now-former police officer, who allegedly groped women during traffic stops, has been indicted and fired. ow.ly/xmkxE
  • Evansville, Indiana: The police department is investigating an off-duty officer’s use of force on a 78-year-old man inside the lobby of a bank branch. http://ow.ly/xoU3q
  • Schererville, Indiana: A motorist whose blood alcohol level was below the legal limit filed an $11 million federal lawsuit against. Police used a catheter to forcibly obtain a urine sample from him. After being detained for about 45 minutes, he was taken to a hospital where he voluntarily provided a blood sample that produced a 0.07 blood alcohol content reading, just under the 0.08 legal limit. The officer was unsatisfied with this result and demanded the man provide a “voluntary” urine sample. http://ow.ly/xp1Ke
  • Update: Kobuk, Alaska (First reported 01-02-14): A now-former police officer was sentenced to three years in jail for sending text messages asking a 12-year-old girl for sex while on duty. http://ow.ly/xp4VM

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