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National Police Misconduct Reporting Project

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 07-11-15 to 07-13-15

Here are the nine reports of police misconduct tracked for Saturday, July 11 through Monday, July 13, 2015:

  • Washington Metro Transit Authority (Washington, DC): A police officer was arrested for exposing himself to a teenager.
  • Dothan, Alabama: An officer will not face criminal charges for fatally shooting a man after an altercation at an animal shelter. Mr. Robert Lawrence was apparently trying to turn in a stray animal when he was asked to show identification by a police officer who was present. Mr. Lawrence allegedly refused to show identification and during a subsequent physical struggle, was shot in the stomach and later died at the hospital.
  • Los Angeles County, California: A deputy has been accused of beating his girlfriend and setting her hair on fire.
  • Clare County, Michigan: A deputy resigned after her arrest for DUI. Officers responded to a car in a ditch and found her there.
  • Wilson County, North Carolina: A deputy was fired after his DWI arrest on July 4.
  • Chicago, Illinois: An officer will be allowed to stay on leave until his trial is concluded for beating a man in convenience store. The trial is scheduled for October of this year.
  • Austin, Texas: An officer was placed on leave after shooting a fleeing man.
  • Tuscaloosa, Alabama: The homicide unit is investigating a death in custody of a man who was pepper sprayed for resisting arrest.
  • Update: Lake County, Colorado (First reported 05-15-15): A deputy was sentenced to three years of probation for stealing a gun from evidence and selling it.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 07-10-15

Here are the ten reports of police misconduct tracked for Friday, July 10, 2015:

  • Indianapolis, Indiana: An officer was suspended and is being investigated for domestic violence against his wife.
  • Washington Park, Illinois: An officer was charged with official misconduct and stalking for actions on duty against his ex-girlfriend.
  • Ramsey County, Minnesota: A now-former deputy is being investigated for missing evidence. He is thought to have sold evidence to pawn shops.
  • Gloucester County, New Jersey: The county settled a lawsuit with a man who was initially stopped for carrying a video camera. The officers claimed there had been burglaries in the area. According to the report, he refused to turn off the camera and there was a scuffle between him and the officers. He was eventually arrested for drug possession for carrying a bag that contained cracker crumbs. He was acquitted. The settlement was for $35,000.
  • New York, New York: An officer was suspended for throwing semen on a female co-worker.
  • Stonewall, Mississippi: Jonathan Sanders died after an altercation with law enforcement near his property. His family claims that he was choked to death with a flashlight by a deputy. The incident is under state investigation.
  • Maryland State Police: A trooper was arrested for allegedly forcing a woman to perform sex acts at gunpoint.
  • Loudon County, Virginia: A deputy was indicted for embezzling $200,000 from the asset forfeiture fund.
  • Orleans Parish, Louisiana: A deputy was fired after his arrest for assault with a firearm.
  • Campbell County, Wyoming: A deputy will not be charged in the shooting death of Nikki Jo Burtsfield.

A Revolving Door in Colorado

Like many states, Colorado certifies its law enforcement officers. However, the state’s barriers to decertify officers are higher than those in other states. Being dismissed from one law enforcement agency, or even convicted of a crime, does not automatically make an officer ineligible for employment in another jurisdiction. And many police officers in Colorado have done exactly that.

Yesterday, the Denver Post ran a lengthy feature describing a revolving door of dismissed and disgraced police officers within the state of Colorado. Among other things, the Post found:

  • At least six Denver officers who were fired or resigned amid allegations of wrongdoing in the past decade found work at other smaller agencies.
  • Rogue cops can negotiate to keep past transgressions secret. Nadia Gatchell was fired from the Denver police force in 2012 for lies she told superiors during an investigation into abuse of off-duty secondary employment. The officer, who previously had been disciplined in Denver for destroying marijuana evidence, was able to keep the decision to fire her out of her personnel file by agreeing to drop a Civil Service appeal. The city’s safety manager at the time, Alex Martinez, agreed to remove her dismissal letter from her personnel file and have her file reflect that she had resigned.
  • Gatchell, who declined to comment, went on to work at the Elizabeth Police Department for about a year after her firing. Now she’s working as a parole officer for the Department of Corrections, her fourth law enforcement job.
  • Officers who have their certificate for police work revoked often are repeat offenders. Of the nearly 280 officers who have been decertified in the past decade in Colorado, at least 29 had past serious personnel issues or arrests. Many more likely are repeat offenders, but how many could not be determined because many agencies in the state won’t release discipline or personnel files for public review.
  • About a third of those 280 decertified for police work in Colorado had worked at more than one police agency. Seven of those officers had shuffled to four or more police agencies before they ended up with a conviction that brought a final end to their careers in law enforcement.
  • The state’s review panel, the Colorado Board of Peace Officer Standards and Training, does not always keep up with those who aren’t employed by a police agency but remain certified for law enforcement work.

According to the article, at least 18 states “require agencies to inform state review panels when an officer is fired or resigns,” but Colorado is not one of them.

The Colorado legislature passed a new law to require police agencies to disclose to any new law enforcement employer if their former officer “sustained violations for making “knowing misrepresentations” during their employment.” While this is an improvement, the new law does not require disclosure of excessive force, destruction of evidence, or other violations unrelated to lying on official documents.

The legislature also tried but failed to expand the number the offenses that trigger decertification in the last session. As a result, officers with convictions for misdemeanor child abuse, second-degree arson, and many other crimes remain eligible to be hired as sworn officers around Colorado.

Colorado is not the only state that has problems with “shuffling” bad police officers. Recall that the officer who shot twelve-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland, Ohio was deemed unfit for law enforcement by his previous employer due to incompetence with firearms. The CPD did not review that information before hiring the officer.

States should shore-up their reporting requirements and decertification procedures to prevent officers who commit serious misconduct from hopping job-to-job.

There are many more disturbing stories in Post feature here. You can read my testimony on the opacity of police disciplinary files before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights here.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 07-09-15

Here are the ten reports of police misconduct tracked for Thursday, July 9, 2015:

  • Minnesota State Police: A trooper was cited for going 94mph in 55mph zone without legal justification.
  • Cincinnati, Ohio: Several officers are being investigated for covering up an auto crash involving one of their own.
  • Update: Saratoga Springs, New York (First reported 06-05-15): An officer who pulled over and pepper sprayed a man who gave him the finger has resigned.
  • Carroll, New York: The police chief was charged with assault for allegedly hitting his wife.
  • Update: Cecil Township, Pennsylvania (First reported 03-19-14): The now-former chief is slated to stand trial in October for gambling $10,000 of DEA fund money at a casino.
  • Tilton, New Hampshire: An officer will not face prosecution for his role in the sale of a stolen gift card. He was suspended and demoted as a result of the investigation, but it is not clear whether this decision will prompt his reinstatement.
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Several officers face an internal investigation for a violent arrest and beating of a man caught on video.
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: An officer was charged with assault, unlawful restraint, and other charges related to domestic violence.
  • Update: Miami Springs, Florida (First reported 05-27-15): An now-former officer pled guilty to extortion in a cocaine trafficking operation that was actually an FBI sting.
  • New Orleans, Louisiana: An officer was arrested for obstruction of justice during the initial arrest of a man who later killed an NOPD officer during his escape from custody.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 07-08-15

Here are the nine reports of police misconduct tracked for Wednesday, July 8, 2015:

  • Madison County, Alabama: A lawsuit against the sheriff and two deputies for excessive force was settled out of court.
  • Westlake, Ohio: An officer was indicted for excessive force and lying to federal agents.
  • New Orleans, Louisiana: An officer was fired after using shackles to beat a 16-year-old girl in custody.
  • Lawrence County, Alabama: A grand jury declined to indict a former investigator in the fatal shooting of Shane Watkins.
  • Update: New York, New York (First reported 03-01-13): An officer was convicted of soliciting prostitution twice in two days back in 2013. He faces up to one year in jail.
  • Illinois State Police: A trooper was charged with home invasion and aggravated discharge of a firearm.
  • Macon County, Georgia: A detective pled guilty to stealing more than $100,000 from a federal fund meant for undercover drug buys.
  • San Antonio, Texas: An officer who had been fired for fatally shooting his girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend after the officer had been drinking on duty was reinstated by a labor arbitrator.
  • Alcorn County, Mississippi: The sheriff pled not guilty to fraud charges in alleged bid-rigging scheme.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 07-07-15

Here are the 15 reports of police misconduct tracked for Tuesday, July 7, 2015:

  • Tulsa, Oklahoma: The City agreed to pay $40,000 to settle a lawsuit alleging unlawful arrest by a corrupt now-former officer.
  • SEPTA (Philadelphia, PA): An officer is under investigation after a video-recorded arrest of a man holding toddler who allegedly tried to beat the fare.
  • Port Authority of New York & New Jersey: An officer was arrested for assaulting a firefighter during an incident at a charity football game.
  • Thomaston, Maine: An officer was charged with OUI after crossing the center lane and causing a head-on collision.
  • Update: Fairfax County, South Carolina (First reported 10-12-11): A now-former deputy was sentenced to 20 years in prison for sex crimes against an 11-year-old child.
  • Memphis, Tennessee: An officer was arrested for domestic violence against her son.
  • Dallas, Texas: An officer was captured on video verbally abusing and threatening teen, saying “I’ll break your f***ing neck,” among other things.
  • Update: Put-in-Bay, Ohio (First reported 03-03-15): The police chief will face trial in October on charges he interfered in sexual assault cases involving officers and employees in the department.
  • Masontown, Pennsylvania: A now-former officer is scheduled to stand trial for illegal gun possession, including one taken from the department’s evidence room.
  • Update: Polk County, Florida (First reported 11-18-14): A now-former deputy was sentenced to six months for stealing a DVD from a crime scene.
  • Chicago, Illinois: The City’s Independent Police Review Authority, for the first time in its nearly eight-year history, recommended firing an officer for giving false statements about a shooting. The incident was caught on video. The officer was off-duty and working security at the time when he shot 16 rounds at the wrong moving vehicle and injured the driver.
  • Update: Jeffersonville, Kentucky (First reported 11-04-13): An officer must resign after a plea agreement on charges stemming from steroid buy arrest.
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: A now-former was acquitted of perjury in a 2011 drug case involving a warrantless search. Still faces perjury count in a similar 2010 case.
  • Alamogordo, New Mexico: An officer was accused of assault for pulling a gun on rental center employees who were in his home.
  • Hartford, Connecticut: An officer was arrested for domestic violence against his ex-girlfriend.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 07-03-15 to 07-06-15

Here are the nine reports of police misconduct tracked for Friday, July 3 through Monday, July 6, 2015:

  • Roswell, New Mexico: An officer resigned after falsely accusing a fast food employee, whom he had arrested before, of spitting in his drink. The department recovered drugs and stolen property from his car after he turned it in. He was arrested.
  • Update: Drug Enforcement Agency (First reported 03-30-15): A now-former agent pled guilty to extorting Bitcoin from Ross Ulbricht during the Silk Road investigation. A now-former Secret Service agent also pled guilty to stealing Bitcoin during the investigation.
  • Troy, New York: A now-former officer had robbery charges dropped after he resigned from the department and his brother pled guilty to the crime.
  • St. Louis, Missouri: An officer is being sued by a blind woman who alleges he dragged her and her service dog through bar unlawfully. He was off-duty and working security at the bar at the time of the incident.
  • Update: Buffalo, New York (First reported 11-21-14): An officer was found guilty of taking money from woman’s wallet that had been turned in to him to return. He was fired from the department after the conviction was handed down.
  • Update: Calhoun County, Michigan (First reported 06-18-15): A deputy was formally charged with OWI, leaving the scene of an accident, resisting arrest, and gun charges.
  • Olathe, Colorado: A now-former chief was indicted for making large buys of ammunition for others using government’s tax-exempt status. He resigned when he learned of the investigation.
  • Champaign, Illinois: An officer was arrested on several counts of sexual assault and domestic battery.
  • Update: Bennington County, Vermont (First reported 05-30-14): A now-former deputy pled guilty to three misdemeanor and two felony drug charges. He also worked as an officer in Winhall and Manchester, Vermont. The felonies will be expunged after three years if he avoids any further legal troubles. He was sentenced to one to three years on the misdemeanor charges, but those sentences were suspended and he was placed on probation.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 07-02-15

Here are the nine reports of police misconduct tracked for Thursday July 2, 2015:

  • Plano, Texas: An officer was arrested for DUI and evading police.
  • Indianapolis, Indiana: An officer violated a court order while awaiting trial for attempted murder of his then-girlfriend.
  • Albuquerque, New Mexico: Two officers face a wrongful death suit in the 2013 shooting of Vincent Wood.
  • Greene County, Georgia: A deputy was arrested for DUI
  • Weslaco, Texas: An officer was arrested for involvement in prostitution.
  • Allegheny County, Pennsylvania: A deputy who was fired for testing positive for cocaine after an on-duty shooting was reinstated by a labor arbitrator.
  • Update: Atlantic City, New Jersey (First reported 01-27-15): An officer was sentenced to five years in prison for sexually assaulting a minor.
  • Chandler, Arizona: An officer received a letter of reprimand for fatally shooting a fenced-in family dog.
  • New York, New York: An officer was arrested for the third time since December. She was picked up for drug possession after crashing a motorcycle.

Worst of the Month — June

So the worst case for June goes to the police department in Carrollton, Kentucky.

Adam Horine was a homeless person who arrested for some petty offense.  He then appeared before Judge Elizabeth Chandler.  Horine wanted to represent himself in the case and he gave the judge some rambling answers to her questions.  Horine indicated that he had problems and did not seem angry when the judge ordered that he be sent to a hospital for a mental health evaluation.

This is when things took a bizzare turn.  Instead of following the judge’s order, the local police chief, Michael Willhoite, had one of his deputies put Horine, against his wishes, on a 28 hour bus ride to Florida.  No one accompanied Horine on the bus and no one was expected to meet him when the bus trip ended in Florida.  The idea seemed to be to push their problem prisoner on someone else.  One wonders whether this was the first time that this “police technique” was used.

Even though the police put the mentally distressed Horine on the bus, they would later charge Horine with a new crime, “escape from custody.”



National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 07-01-15

Here are the ten reports of police misconduct tracked for Wednesday, July 1, 2015:

  • Update: Lowell, Massachusetts (First reported 08-26-14): A now-former officer was acquitted of OUI for an incident in 2013. However, he still faces vehicular homicide charges for a 2014 crash.
  • Updates: Chattanooga, Tennessee (First reported 01-23-15): A sergeant resigned and surrendered his law enforcement certification after he was accused of prescription pill theft. The police chief is looking to rescind a detective’s certification after two arrests earlier this year, one for DUI and one for domestic violence.
  • Lowndes County, Georgia: A deputy was fired after his domestic violence arrest.
  • Mercy Health Hospital (Warren, Ohio): An officer was arrested after a road rage incident. He allegedly pulled his gun on a driver who flipped him off.
  • St. Louis, Missouri: An officer was arrested for drug distribution. Two guns, an unspecified amount of heroin, and $10,000 were recovered during a raid on her home.
  • Federal Heights, Colorado: An officer was caught on video beating a suspect. He was fired.
  • New York, New York: Two officers faced administrative trial for excessive force and an illegal search. The court’s non-binding decision will likely take a few months.
  • Takoma Park, Maryland: An officer was indicted for a road rage incident from nearly one year ago.
  • Cleveland, Ohio: A grand jury will consider charges against two officers for the in-custody death of Tanisha Anderson.
  • Baltimore, Maryland: An officer will not face criminal charges for assaulting a handcuffed man. Part of the incident was caught on video.

We’ll be back on Monday. Have a safe and Happy Fourth of July!

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