National Police Misconduct Reporting Project

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

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 05-28-14

Here are the 9 reports of police misconduct tracked for Wednesday, May 28, 2014:

  • Update: Fountain Hill, Pennsylvania (Previously reported 09-21-13): A police officer has resigned in exchange for $35,000 and a “neutral” reference. He was fired after he allegedly used excessive force on a suspect. An arbitrator reinstated him, but he was placed on paid administrative leave soon afterward and has not patrolled since. ow.ly/xmiR5
  • Palm Beach County, Florida: A deputy was arrested after allegedly battering a 5-year-old boy, leaving the child with hemorrhaging around the eyes and a swollen lip, according to a police report. ow.ly/xmhV3
  • El Paso County, Colorado: The county sheriff has refused to put himself on unpaid administrative leave or resign. The county commissioner asked him to step down. He is facing accusations of sex with subordinates, abusive treatment of employees and dismantling oversight of the office budget. ow.ly/xlXeO
  • Fort Smith, Arkansas: Police arrested another officer and his wife on several charges, including child endangerment and intoxication. Deputies said the officer pointed a gun at a 5-year-old’s head. He has resigned. ow.ly/xlWjV
  • Columbia, South Carolina: An officer has been arrested in connection with a domestic incident involving his wife, officials say. He had threatened her and stuck a gun in her face. ow.ly/xlW41
  • Update: DeKalb County, Georgia (First reported 04-21-14): County prosecutors say a now-former police officer has been sentenced on child molestation charges. The officer was sentenced to 10 years and is ordered to serve five of them in detention. ow.ly/xlVfE
  • Update: Ottawa County, Ohio (First reported 01-30-14): A now-former sheriff has been fined $1,000 for misspending government funds. He pled guilty to improperly spending more than $5,000 from federal funds earmarked for law enforcement needs. ow.ly/xltki
  • San Francisco, California: Two college students are taking the first steps toward filing a lawsuit against the city and county, saying they were the victims of police brutality. ow.ly/xlKxQ
  • Lompoc, California: A sergeant was arrested on suspicion of criminal threats and felony vandalism following a dispute at his home. ow.ly/xli7m

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 05-24-14 to 05-27-14

Here are the 9 reports of police misconduct tracked for Saturday, May 24 to Monday, May 27, 2014:

  • Vermilion County, Illinois: A state trooper has been charged with bribery and official misconduct for allegedly offering to buy another police officer dinner in exchange for giving his ex-girlfriend a ticket, according to a complaint filed. ow.ly/xjCX6
  • Update: Spokane County, Washington (Previously reported 05-02-14): A deputy who was fired for having sex on duty was given his job back. The sheriff said he was not happy about it. He terminated the deputy after he admitted to visiting a former girlfriend while on the job and having sex with her during that time. ow.ly/xjCDy
  • New Hanover County, North Carolina: A now-former sheriff’s deputy was sentenced to more than 27 years in prison following a conviction on several sex offense charges. He was convicted of attempted first-degree sexual offense, first-degree sexual exploitation of a minor, six counts of indecent liberties with a child and 18 counts of felony secret peeping. ow.ly/xjCr9
  • Lake County and Newton County, Indiana: Both county sheriff’s departments are being sued over locking up the wrong woman. The woman went to pay bond for a friend. Upon arrival, sheriff’s police arrested her on an outstanding warrant, despite the warrant being issued for a woman with a different middle name, date of birth and Social Security number on the arrest warrant. ow.ly/xjzf7
  • Update: Irving, Texas (Previously reported 06-26-13): A now-fired female state trooper pleaded guilty to criminal charges after conducting illegal cavity searches on two women along the side of the road. The incident was recorded on the trooper’s squad car dashboard video camera. The judge sentenced her to two years probation after suspending a one-year prison sentence. She must also pay a $1,000 fine for each of the two cases. ow.ly/xjpWi
  • Glouster, Ohio: A police chief is accused of tipping people off about their arrest warrants. He has been charged with two felony counts of obstruction of justice. ow.ly/xjkJI
  • Bucks County, Pennsylvania: The deputy sheriff resigned amid allegations he was found unconscious in a vehicle. ow.ly/xiMAi
  • Maricopa, Arizona: A police detective accused of assaulting his wife and son during a domestic dispute was arrested and put on paid leave. ow.ly/xivXM
  • Memphis, Tennessee: A police officer charged with molesting a child is out of jail on bond. He’s accused of sexually abusing a girl for the last five years. ow.ly/xitSA

National Police Misoconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 05-23-14

Here are the 10 reports of police misconduct tracked for Friday, May 23, 2014:

  • Fall River, Massachusetts: A police lieutenant arrested for domestic assault and battery with a dangerous weapon has been released on home confinement. He was arrested after a violent incident. ow.ly/xcytZ
  • Mount Oliver, Pennsylvania: The police chief was accused of stealing more than $8,000 from his department to pay his credit card, cellphone, and utility bills. He told investigators “things in the borough were crazy” and he was “in over his head” when money went missing, court records show. ow.ly/xcxVG
  • Update: Caseyville, Illinois (First reported 04-25-14): The police chief has been fired for a third time in a span of three months. And for a third time, he will try to get his job back. He’s been on paid administrative leave in response to being charged with two misdemeanors after an outburst at a public meeting. ow.ly/xcxCd
  • Los Angeles, California: A police officer has been charged with the attempted murder of his estranged wife during an off-duty incident of domestic violence. ow.ly/xcwKX
  • Boston, Massachusetts: A police officer has been suspended from the force for four months for allegedly stalking a woman while on duty. ow.ly/xcwsT
  • Bethany, Oklahoma: A judge will decide whether or not a now-former police officer should face trial for allegedly stealing prescription drugs from police evidence. He was charged with 10 felony counts of larceny of a controlled dangerous substance. ow.ly/xc1UT
  • Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana: A ranking deputy pled guilty to a reduced charge in a case stemming from a fight in a casino. ow.ly/xbZJg
  • Mineral County, Montana: A deputy sheriff misrepresented his past law enforcement experience and didn’t reveal when he was hired that he’d been terminated from police departments previously. The officer, who was disciplined last year for tasing a restrained prisoner in the county jail, was dismissed because his credibility as a witness was “absolutely nil.” ow.ly/xbXSm
  • Phenix City, Alabama: A woman has filed suit after she says an officer beat her after she tried to stop him from coming into her home without permission. ow.ly/xbSys
  • Update: Robbinsdale, Minnesota (First reported 03-25-14): The now-former police chief pled guilty to engaging in prostitution. He was charged with the misdemeanor after being arrested in a prostitution sting. ow.ly/xbClm

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 05-22-14

Here are the 14 reports of police misconduct tracked for Thursday, May 22, 2014:

  • Update: Pike County, Illinois (First reported 05-20-14): The sheriff pled not guilty to a felony misconduct charge after prosecutors say he botched the death investigation of a woman who overdosed on heroin. ow.ly/x9jpZ
  • Lincoln County, Tennessee: A deputy has been accused of domestic assault. Officials with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said he was arrested after an alleged altercation with his wife. ow.ly/x9psa
  • Champaign County, Illinois: A sheriff’s deputy has been accused of drunken driving. He was charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated. ow.ly/x9nbr
  • Palm Beach County, Florida: A sheriff’s deputy has been arrested. He is charged with official misconduct, possession of cocaine and false statements to a law enforcement officer during an investigation. ow.ly/x9pkg
  • Update: Miami, Oklahoma (Previously reported 02-04-14): A police officer has been indicted by a grand jury. She is charged with two counts of perjury and engaging in a pattern of criminal offenses relating to a traffic stop. According to the indictment, she lied about being the officer who stopped a man, lied about ordering him to stay in his truck multiple times, and was involved in a scheme to protect the arresting officers. ow.ly/x9o58
  • Prince George’s County, Maryland: A former police officer pled guilty to second-degree assault for taking a lewd photo of a woman who was unconscious. ow.ly/x9mzk
  • Frederick County, Maryland: A sheriff’s deputy is on probation after he pled guilty to an off-duty, drunken driving offense. ow.ly/x9noU
  • Update: Cedar Grove, West Virginia (First reported 02-27-14): The police chief who was arrested for assaulting a man pled guilty to the charges. ow.ly/x9kWI
  • New York, New York: Two police officers are among 70 men and one woman arrested on charges of trading child pornography in what federal officials say is one of the largest-ever roundups in the New York City area. ow.ly/x9kvu
  • Vanderburgh County, Indiana: For more than a month, a sergeant has collected a paycheck while being on paid administrative leave. He was placed on leave after an ‘intimidation’ or ‘stalking’ complaint was filed against him. ow.ly/x9iOy
  • Vermilion, Ohio: A police officer who allegedly broke into his captain’s office and lied about the incident to police will not be fired. He faces a 30-day unpaid suspension from the police force and must take four classes on ethics, liability, justice and report writing on his own time. ow.ly/x99Jx
  • Albuquerque, New Mexico: A drunken driving suspect has alleged that an officer’s brutality caused him to lose a testicle. Patrick Davis, a former police officer and now head of a progressive advocacy group, said that for active resistance, such as in this case, the officer could have used his hands to twist the victim’s arms to get initial compliance. “This officer escalated far beyond what was necessary,” Davis said. “He had plenty of time to be proactive, and get backup earlier.”
  • South Jersey, New Jersey: Two long-serving officers have been accused of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old. An Atlantic City officer and a Brigantine officer were both arrested after a lengthy investigation. ow.ly/x921h
  • Los Angeles County, California: A sheriff’s deputies facing corruption and civil rights charges pleaded guilty to a weapons violation. He was charged with illegally building and possessing an unregistered rifle. ow.ly/x8XkG

Two Year Anniversary

It’s now been two years since we launched policemisconduct.net — so here’s a brief update on our efforts.   We still consider the project a work-in-progress.   We’re pleased with what we have thus far produced and with the steadily increasing queries we receive from academics, university students, reporters, local activists, lawyers, and victims of police misconduct.  We also know that we are not catching all of the misconduct stories out there (much less the actual number of (the unreported) misconduct incidents).  Thanks to folks who send us stories–especially those who do it on a regular basis!  We will keep working to improve our reporting.

A simple and easy way you can help us out is to spread the word about our web site with social media.  So if you haven’t blasted one of our stories/posts to all of your friends lately, now would be good time to do so.   Thanks for your support.

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