National Police Misconduct Reporting Project

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 10-03-14 to 10-06-14

Here are the 21 reports of police misconduct tracked for Friday, October 4 to Monday, October 7, 2014:

  • Chico, California: The mother of a woman shot by police has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city and the five officers who fired at her daughter.
  • Denver, Colorado: A jury has awarded $1.8 million to a family in a wrongful prosecution case in which police officers executed a warrantless raid on a home previously occupied by drug dealers and prostitutes.
  • St. Paul, Minnesota: The city council is due to approve a $95,000 settlement to a man who was left with a fractured skull and eye socket and a broken nose after an encounter with police.
  • Update: Des Plaines, Illinois (Previously reported 06-12-14): A now-former police commander who padded DUI arrest records so the department could get federal grant money was sentenced to six months in prison.
  • Kingston, Pennsylvania: One of two police officers involved in an quad crash was taken into custody for suspicion of driving under the influence, according to state police.
  • Plainfield, New Jersey: The two police officers accused of stealing more than $11,000 from the city by filing fraudulent timesheets have now been suspended without pay, according to the city’s department of public affairs and safety.
  • Update: Eddy County, North Dakota (Previously reported 05-07-14): A jury found the county sheriff not guilty of felony child abuse. He was accused of spanking his stepson and leaving a bruise. That bruise was discounted during the trial as being caused by a motorbike accident.
  • Seabrook, Texas: A police officer is under arrest, accused of a sexual assault of a woman while on the job.
  • Indio, California: Two police officers have been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of ongoing administrative and criminal investigations into allegations of misconduct that may have occurred during an arrest.
  • Grand County, Utah: A sheriff’s deputy was arrested following an argument with his wife that allegedly left her with serious injuries, according to investigators.
  • Update: Clark County, Indiana (First reported 07-30-14): A now-former sheriff is expected to plead guilty to federal charges in connection with alleged incidents involving a prostitute.
  • Update: Atwater, California (First reported 09-03-14): There will be no discipline of the police chief after he killed a little boy’s pet chicken that was being kept in town against a city ordinance.
  • Gonzales, Louisiana: Authorities say a police officer is under investigation after the state police accused him of DWI when he was involved in an accident while off duty.
  • Amite, Louisiana: Sheriff’s deputies say a police officer accused of sexually assaulting women after deceiving them online has been arrested. He was taken into custody and faces two counts of second-degree kidnapping, one count of aggravated rape, one count of sexual battery and one count of theft.
  • Rotterdam, New York: A police officer has been placed on unpaid leave for 30 days stemming from a domestic dispute at a city apartment where he allegedly assumed a boxer’s stance and then fought with cops.
  • Dallas, Texas: The police department fired a 28-year veteran officer for ignoring a woman whose children had been kidnapped as he was on his way to another call.
  • Cary, North Carolina: A 24-year veteran of the highway patrol was arrested after a fight at a bar, officials said.
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Police arrested one of their own after an officer allegedly assaulted his female partner while on-duty. Investigators believe it wasn’t the first time the officer struck the woman.
  • Amarillo, Texas: A now-former police officer is accused of making changes to a police report in connection with an incident in which he and another officer illegally entered a home.
  • Prince George’s County, Maryland: A police officer was suspended with pay after being charged with allegedly stealing an iPad.
  • Detroit, Michigan: Police say they received an emergency call about a man displaying a handgun during an incident of road rage. The man identified himself as a police officer.

Worst of the Month — September 2014

The worst misconduct of September goes to the still-unnamed police officer who shot John Geer last year and the police and federal investigators who have refused to release any information on the case a year after the shooting. Fairfax County police officers responded to a call from Geer’s longtime girlfriend who called 911 because Geer had been drinking and throwing her possessions into the lawn after she told him she was moving out. When officers arrived, they trained their weapons at Geer as they spoke with him in the doorway of his home for almost fifty minutes. Friends and family gathered to watch the situation. One of Geer’s daughters shouted from a neighbor’s home “Don’t you hurt my daddy!” Geer had been speaking calmly and holding his arms above his head, resting them on the doorframe from within, but when he moved his hands down the doorframe to about face-level, one of the officers abruptly fired a shot directly into Geer’s chest, as his best friend, father, and neighbors watched. Geer spun and closed the door before collapsing. The officers then waited an hour while Geer bled to death before sending in assistance. Over four hours later, Geer’s body was still left lying on the floor of his home.

Things haven’t been handled much better in the year since the shooting. Geer’s family and friends still don’t even know the name of the shooting officer—who has been on paid desk duty since—whether the shooting was declared justified or not, or why trained negotiators were not called. State and federal investigators have taken no substantial public action on the case, and the family, which exhibited incredible patience for the better part of a year, has finally had to resort to a lawsuit.

The refusal of the police to disclose even the name of the officer who shot and killed an unarmed man is just another example of the same troubling lack of transparency that we saw in the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson. Police officers are human, and yes they make mistakes, but what possible excuse is there for circling the wagons and denying the public—and worse, the victims’ family and friends—the right to know what their public servants have done and which of them needs to be to held accountable? The resulting feeling among those affected, as Geer’s father described it, is “Frustrating to say the least—not knowing anything and having a feeling of helplessness, sadness, anger. Just wondering what’s going on and why nobody would tell us anything.” This is a case of one man shooting another unarmed man in the chest in front of dozens of witnesses. No complication can justify forcing that feeling of helplessness and anger on John Geer’s friends and family for over a year.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 10-02-14

Here are the 6 reports of police misconduct tracked for Thursday, October 2, 2014:

  • Columbia, South Carolina: A now-former police officer is facing charges and has been fired for what agents are saying is misconduct in office. He is accused of sleeping with a prostitute.
  • Providence, Rhode Island: A 36-year veteran police officer is accused of stealing jewelry from the police department’s evidence room.
  • Update: Memphis, Tennessee (First reported 07-15-14): A now-former police officer has been sentenced to 11 years in prison without parole for raping a Rhodes College student.
  • Flordell Hills, Missouri: An officer was fired. He has been charged with stealing prescription drugs from the evidence room.
  • Sterling Heights, Michigan: A police commander, following a one-car crash, is being charged with one count of operating while intoxicated with high blood-alcohol content of at least 0.17 percent. That is more than double the legal standard of intoxication.
  • Tallahassee, Florida: A police officer has been placed on administrative leave after footage of an incident surfaced showing him tasing a 62-year-old woman who can be seen walking away from him, posing no immediate threat to the officer or his colleagues.

The David Hooks Case

A criminal comes on to your property and steals your SUV.  Later, the criminal, perhaps still under the influence of meth, tells the police that he found drugs on your property.  The police proceed to sneak on to your property and, without announcing themselves, break down your back door.  Frightened that the criminals have returned to your home, you retrieve a gun to protect yourself and your spouse.  The police then open fire and you are killed in your own home.  By the police.

According to the Hooks family attorney, that is what happened to his client.  Here is an excerpt from the attorney’s statement:

On Wednesday, September 24th at 9:56 p.m., drug task force agent Chris Brewer made application for a search warrant before Faith Snell a non-attorney Deputy Magistrate of the Laurens County Magistrate Court. The facts submitted to Deputy Magistrate Snell to convince her that probable cause existed to issue the warrant consisted of the statement by Rodney Garrett a confessed burglar, thief, and a meth addict who was under the influence at the time of his arrest that the approximately 20 grams of methamphetamine, a digital scale, and 2 firearms found on him at the time of arrest had been stolen by him out of another vehicle at the Hooks home. Investigator Brewer also stated information he claimed came from an investigation involving Jeff Frazier. That investigation was in August 2009 over 5 years ago. A search warrant was issued at 9:56 p.m. by Judge Snell. This search warrant is invalid on its face as it does not comport with the requirements of the Constitution of State of Georgia nor the United States Constitution. Armed with an invalid search warrant and with less than an hour of preparation, at approximately 10:55 p.m. several members of the Drug Task Force and the Laurens County Sheriff’s Response Team arrived at David and Teresa Hooks home unannounced by emergency lights or sirens. There is no question the Officers were aware the home had been burglarized only two nights earlier.

David and Teresa were under the impression that the burglars were back and that a home invasion was eminent. David armed himself to protect his wife and his home. Despite the fact that the illegal search warrant did not have a “no knock” clause the Drug Task Force and SRT members broke down the back door of the family’s home and entered firing in excess of 16 shots. These shots were from multiple firearms and from both 40 caliber handguns and assault rifles. Several shots were fired through a blind wall at David with the shooters not knowing who or what was on the other side of the wall. The trajectory of the shots, coupled with the number of shots infers a clear intent on behalf of the shooters to kill David Hooks.

From WMAZ:

Lauren’s County Sheriff’s department says they are not making any more statements on this case. They are directing all questions to the GBI. They’ve not responded.

Neither agencies has identified the deputies involved in the raid, said how many of them fired shots, or said how many times Hooks was hit.

Hooks was buried on Tuesday.

Read the whole thing.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 10-01-14

Here are the 8 reports of police misconduct tracked for Wednesday, October 1, 2014:

  • Corpus Christi, Texas: The police chief has placed two officers on paid leave as the department looks into allegations excessive force was used during an arrest.
  • Anderson County, Tennessee: A federal judge has ruled that police officers and a physician who medically paralyzed a man to conduct a cavity search for drugs are not immune from prosecution.
  • Gainesville, Georgia: A woman may pursue legal action against police and prosecutors after she spent more than a month in jail for possession of SpaghettiOs.
  • Update: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Previously reported 11-12-13): Fifty-nine more convicted criminals will be set free as a result of the actions of a corrupt police officer.
  • Update: Webb, Mississippi (First reported 02-19-14): A now-former chief of police has been sentenced to almost two years in prison for punching someone in the face while acting in his official capacity.
  • Portsmouth, New Hampshire: A police officer accused of exploiting an elderly woman with dementia to inherit her $2.7 million estate is scheduled to be deposed.
  • Wewoka, Oklahoma: A now-former police officer has been charged with four felonies after he allegedly had sexual contact with a 15-year-old girl. Charges against him include one count of second-degree rape.
  • Update: Tulsa, Oklahoma (Previously reported 09-16-14): A highway patrol trooper arrested on accusations that he raped and sexually assaulted three women during traffic stops has resigned from the patrol.

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.

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