National Police Misconduct Reporting Project

Officer Tells Criminal to Plant Meth in Ex-Wife’s Car So He Can Win Child Custody Fight

From ABC News:

Madisonville police Sgt. Jeffrey Covington, was convicted last week of retaliation for planting methamphetamines in Laura Covington’s car in 2011 during a child custody battle. The drugs were found after she was stopped by police and she was promptly jailed….

The court determined that Jeffrey Covington and a second police officer arranged with a third person to plant drugs in Laura Covington’s vehicle. She was seven months pregnant when she was arrested and her two children were taken away from her for five weeks.

“Being arrested when I was seven months pregnant, going to jail, and then having my two young children taken from me was a nightmare that still causes me pain to this day,” she told ABC News.  “It’s like a bad dream, but the sad thing is that it’s not a dream because it actually happened.”

“Having my babies taken from me was the worst part about this entire ordeal and if Jeff would have succeeded in his scheme, I could have lost them forever.

Broward Deputies Accused of Excessive Force

From CBS Miami:

FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – Two Broward Sheriff’s Office Deputies are under fire, accused of using excessive force—and all of it was caught on camera.
BSO is conducting an internal affairs investigation to find out if the two officers involved were justified in using force and are also questioning why Sheriff Scott Israel wasn’t notified until three months after the incident….
This incident happened just three months after BSO shelled out $350,000 to settle a federal lawsuit involving Deputy Lambert, who allegedly beat and abused another Broward citizen.
Federal Documents obtained by CBS4 allege Deputy Lambert of “striking, pummeling and pounding” a party host while responding to a noise complaint in Dania Beach back in 2009.
Deputy Lambert ended up back on the streets, now embroiled in another internal investigation involving force. BSO says they are currently looking into why Lambert was allowed back on duty after that case.

Video at the link.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 04-30-14

Here are the 9 reports of police misconduct tracked for Wednesday, April 20, 2014:

  • Chicago, Illinois: A man claims he was unarmed and posed no threat when police officers shot him from behind after a cookout.
  • Tyler, Texas: A now-former trooper pled guilty to driving while intoxicated and was sentenced to 30 days in jail.
  • Update: Plattsburgh, New York (First reported 02-12-13): A former state trooper twice acquitted of rape charges involving two ex-girlfriends has accepted a plea deal in a case involving a third woman who claimed he had raped her.
  • Astoria, Oregon: A state police trooper has been arrested and jailed on child pornography charges. The officer, who served as a senior trooper until his resignation was arrested for 27 counts of second-degree encouraging child sex abuse.
  • Greene, New York: An officer, who is listed as the “officer in charge” on the Greene Police website, has been charged with harassment in the second degree and petit larceny.
  • Update: Yuba County, California (First reported 03-25-14): A sheriff’s deputy was arraigned for allegedly attacking a man. He is charged with felony counts of battery with the serious injury of unconsciousness, assault by means likely to produce great bodily injury and dissuading a witness from reporting a crime.
  • Mingo County, West Virginia: A state police trooper who was implicated in a political corruption scandal has resigned from his position.
  • Jacksonville, Florida: The former second in command of the Jacksonville Fraternal Order of Police pled guilty to illegally structuring financial transactions and running an illegal lottery as part of the Allied Veterans of the World public corruption scandal.
  • Buffalo, New York: Police have suspended one officer without pay pending an investigation into an incident that was captured on video. Five others were placed on administrative leave.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 04-29-14

Here are the 13 reports of police misconduct tracked for Tuesday, April 29, 2014:

  • Update: Park Forest, Illinois (First reported 04-03-14): A police officer pled not guilty tot guilty Tuesday to reckless conduct in connection with the death of a senior citizen shot last year with a beanbag gun.
  • Madisonville, Texas: A now-former police officer has been sentenced to five years of probation for having drugs planted in his ex-wife’s vehicle during a custody dispute.
  • East Hartford, Connecticut: A lawsuit charging police officers with brutality in an incident has been settled for $35,000.
  • Boone County, Kentucky: A small town is grieving and demanding answers from authorities after a deputy fatally shot a 19-year-old woman during an encounter outside a party. The eyewitness reports and the deputy’s story do not correlate.
  • New York, New York: A woman shot in the leg by police trying to subdue a deranged, drugged-up man says the cops were more dangerous than their target, according to a lawsuit.
  • Clay County, Florida: A deputy with a history of bad driving has been suspended for three days for crashing his patrol car into a vehicle that already had been involved in a fatal accident
  • St. Clair County, Michigan: A police officer pled guilty to granting concealed pistol licenses to a class but failing to provide all required training.
  • Butler, Wisconsin: A police officer has been suspended for 20 days for neglect of duty, unbecoming conduct, unsatisfactory performance, failure to properly complete an investigation, failure to make a written report when required, and failure to turn in seized, found or recovered property.
  • Lake County, Colorado: A former sheriff’s deputy is accused of illegally taking four guns out of evidence, unlawfully buying them from a crime witness and trying to sell at least one gun online.
  • Update: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (First reported 01-28-14): A former narcotics officer is going to prison for lying to federal investigators about his romantic relationship with a confidential informant.
  • Baltimore, Maryland: A police officer charged with rape has pleaded not guilty in the case.
  • Denver, Colorado: A police officer was accused of using reward points from department purchases to load up on electronics for his own use.
  • Plainfield, New Jersey: A federal appeals court has ruled a man has every right to sue officers who allegedly coerced him into confessing to gruesome child murders he didn’t commit, resulting in him spending 22 years in prison.

Buffalo Police Officers Suspended

From the Buffalo News:

Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda this afternoon announced that six police officers have been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation into an April 19 incident captured in a YouTube video that showed one of the officers slapping and kicking a man after he had been subdued and was lying on the ground in handcuffs.

Earlier this morning Derenda held a news conference, where he condemned the officers’ actions.

“The Buffalo Police Department does not condone or tolerate inappropriate behavior,” Derenda said, adding that he has spoken with U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr. and Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III about the incident.

He would not say whether a federal investigation has been opened into the alleged police brutality.

After receiving a copy of the video emailed to Derenda and Mayor Byron W. Brown late Friday, the commissioner said he immediately instructed his Internal Affairs Division to start an investigation, which continued through the weekend and is nearing completion.

Brown told The News today that he watched the video.

“Certainly, when I saw the video, I was extremely and deeply concerned about what I viewed,” Brown said. “I told Commissioner Derenda to conduct a swift and complete investigation. We have made it clear that we will not tolerate inappropriate behavior by police officers.“

The man who allegedly was assaulted has been identified as John Willet, 22, of Williamsville. He has been charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, suspected heroin and crack cocaine; unlawful possession of marijuana; resisting arrest and obstructing governmental administration.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 04-26-14 to 04-28-14

Here are the 11 reports of police misconduct tracked for Saturday, April 26 to Monday, April 28, 2014:

  • Update: Berthoud Colorado (Previously reported 12-01-13): A police officer who was fired pled guilty to one count of child abuse. He was fired after he allegedly admitted to abusing a 15-year-old girl almost daily for years including tying her up with handcuffs or plastic zip ties and slamming her head into a wall.
  • Update: Chicago, Illinois (First reported 03-19-13): A now-former police officer was sentenced to 10 years in prison in connection with a fatal DUI car crash. He was driving the wrong way down a street when he crashed into oncoming traffic, killing two people.
  • Lynden, Washington: A former police officer was arrested. Investigators say he had child pornography on his city-owned cell phone while he was with the department. He was arrested and booked into the county jail.
  • Folly Beach, South Carolina A man who was shocked with a stun gun by an officer as he videotaped an arrest is suing. The man claims he was unlawfully arrested and is seeking unspecified damages. He started videotaping after seeing two officers try to arrest a man. He also says he never interfered with officers, and was tackled and shot with a stun gun without warning, according to his lawsuit.
  • Ipswich, Massachusetts: A police officer has pleaded not guilty in an alleged assault on his girlfriend.
  • Monroe County, Pennsylvania: A state trooper has been suspended without pay after he allegedly assaulted his wife. The trooper was suspended without pay and charged with assault and harassment for the incident that allegedly happened off the job in his own home.
  • Update: Dallas, Texas (Previously reported 01-07-14): A now-former police officer has been indicted on a charge related to the shooting of 19-year-old.
  • York, South Carolina: Officials have asked the State Law Enforcement Division to investigate an allegation that the police chief used excessive force.
  • Broward, Florida: Two suspended deputies were charged with using their badges and abusing their power to protect a convicted Ponzi schemer and settle scores for some of his lawyer friends.
  • Cuero, Texas: A police officer has been charged with assault after his wife allegedly was hit by a pickup truck pulling a trailer at their home.
  • Knox County, Tennessee: The sheriff announced two deputies pictured in a series of photographs depicting another officer appearing to choke a University of Tennessee student have been placed on paid leave pending an internal investigation.

Double Standard for Shootings

From the Star-Tribune:

An Albuquerque police official says investigators waited more than 48 hours before they interviewed the officer involved in the troubled department’s latest shooting.  Deputy Chief Robert Huntsman tells KOB-TV ( ) there were several reasons for the delay in interviewing the officer who killed 19-year-old Mary Hawkes on Monday…. the department likes to give officers time to de-stress after a shooting.

If John Q. Citizen uses a gun in self-defense, the police do not give him/her a few days to “de-stress.”  Shouldn’t the police be held to the same, or perhaps even a higher standard?

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 04-25-14

Here are the 14 reports of police misconduct tracked for Friday, April 25, 2014:

  • Bellingham, Massachusetts: Allegations have surfaced that two police officers, using excessive force, falsely arrested a woman. “I look at police a whole other way now. You know, I don’t look at them as protectors or public servants. I fear them and you shouldn’t fear the people who are supposed to help you,” said the woman.
  • New Orleans, Louisiana: A police officer pled not guilty to one count of domestic abuse battery, according to court documents. The officer was placed on emergency suspension without pay pending the outcome of his criminal case, police said.
  • Warsaw, North Carolina: A police officer who was arrested by the SBI and accused of conspiring to sell Oxycodone, has been fired. She was also arrested for interfering with an investigation.
  • Spokane, Washington: A man wrongfully detained by deputies filed a $65,000 lawsuit against the county. The man says he thought he was being burglarized when he saw flashlights shining into his house.  He said that he opened his door to find deputies pointing a pistol at him.
  • Atlanta, Georgia: Three of ten metro officers accused of using their guns, badges and authority to facilitate drug deals have pled guilty in federal court.
  • Greeley, Colorado: A woman jailed for 49 days before forgery charges against her were dismissed is suing the city, its police department, and a police officer for false arrest and imprisonment.
  • Caseyville, Illinois: The police chief has been charged amid accusations he struck a man’s chest with his chest during a village board meeting. He has been charged with one count of disorderly conduct and one count of battery/makes physical contact.
  • DeKalb County, Georgia: A now-former police officer was indicted in connection with an arrest and statements he allegedly made. He was charged in a 19-count indictment of perjury, making false statements and violation of oath by a public officer.
  • New Orleans, Louisiana: A police officer has been arrested and charged with 38 counts of possessing pornography involving juveniles.
  • Lafayette, Indiana: The city, its police department and one of its officers are named in a lawsuit filed in federal court on behalf of a man who claims his constitutional rights were violated. The man accuses the officer of patting him down without cause.
  • Russell County, Alabama: A deputy has been arrested for his involvement in a drug trafficking operation. He was arrested for trafficking synthetic marijuana, also known as spice.
  • Tukwila, Washington: A lawsuit filed alleges police officers used excessive force in the events surrounding an arrest, after which charges were dismissed. A man was pepper-sprayed and broke his ankle during his contact with the police at a party.
  • San Diego, California: A police officer with seven years on the force was arrested in connection with a domestic violence incident.
  • Orlando, Florida: A man who was bitten by a police K-9 while he was riding his bicycle has filed a federal lawsuit against the city, claiming the officer used excessive force and he was wrongfully arrested.

From Our Mailbox

From the mailbox:

Twenty-two years ago I was a cop in Loudoun County, Virginia.  I testified that the Commonwealth’s Attorney and a Sheriff’s Office captain had withheld exculpatory evidence that led to the conviction of a man for attempted murder.  An almost twelve year career with a spotless record, commendations, Criminal Investigator of the Year in 1986, all meant nothing.  My reputation, character and integrity was attacked by corrupt officials including the sheriff.  It was a living hell for a year.  Thank God that I had an honest judge who after hearing my testimony believed me over the Commonwealth’s Attorney and the Sheriff’s Captain and released the man from jail and ordered a new trial (which he was later found not guilty.)   My point is the system, then and today, does nothing to protect honest cops who speak out against misconduct and corruption.  I lost my career because all I did was tell the truth.  If it was not for the local and national news media my story would have been lost in the pages of another sad statistic of someone who did the right thing and paid for it. 

About ten years ago I was lecturing at a police ethics class on what happened to me.  All the officers agreed that I did the right thing.  What was sad was that most of them told me if they were confronted with the same incident they probably would not have pushed the issue.  That, my friends, is very sad.  When I wore a badge it was a symbol of public trust. I lived by that standard all my professional career and years since.  I still pay the price for doing what is right.

More background here.

Two points worth repeating:

(1) The judge in the case listened to Mr. Poppa, the prosecutor’s denial, and then concluded that Mr. Poppa’s account was credible.

(2) The sheriff said Mr. Poppa’s reassignment and discipline were not related to his testimony.   Hmm.

The Byron Halsey Case

From Yahoo News:

In a strongly worded opinion (pdf), a federal appeals court has ruled a man has every right to sue cops who allegedly coerced him into confessing to gruesome child murders he didn’t commit, resulting in him spending 22 years in prison.

The Third Circuit’s opinion revives Byron Halsey‘s lawsuit accusing two cops of violating his Constitutional rights by bullying him into saying he’d tortured and killed two small children. That decision overturns a lower court’s decision, which found the police officers had qualified immunity from his lawsuit.

In his decision Thursday, Philadelphia-based Third Circuit Judge Morton Ira Greenberg almost expresses disbelief (pdf) about the way investigating officers treated Halsey, who was 24 at the time of the murders and had just a 6th-grade education.

“Except when an innocent defendant is executed, we hardly can conceive of a worse miscarriage of justice,” Greenberg wrote for the Third Circuit.

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