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National Police Misconduct Reporting Project

Problems in Cleveland

From the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

Of the nearly $8 million the city of Cleveland has paid in the past decade to resolve allegations of police misconduct, more than $630,000 went to people who said they were wrongfully arrested — charged with crimes they didn’t commit or jailed for having the same names as suspects.

Today, Northeast Ohio Media Group and The Plain Dealer Publishing Co. examine some of these cases, culled from more than 100 lawsuits that ended in settlements or judgments against the city. They include complaints of unprovoked beatings, of needlessly mistaken identities and of insensitivity.

The allegations, while often disputed by the city, are similar to those recently cited by U.S. Justice Department investigators as evidence that Cleveland officers too often abuse their powers.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 01-28-15

These are the seven reports of police misconduct tracked for Wednesday, January 28, 2015:

  • Nolensville, Tennessee: A now-former officer was sentenced to four years of probation and ordered to pay a $1000 fine for official misconduct and tampering with evidence. He solicited inappropriate texts from a minor. ow.ly/I5dpz
  • Miramar, Florida: A federal appeals court upheld a $7,000,000 judgment against two now-former officers. In 1983, the officers coerced a mentally challenged 15-year-old boy to confess to rape and murder and withheld exculpatory evidence in his case. He served 26 years before being exonerated by DNA evidence in 2009.  ow.ly/I5eRY
  • Assumption Parish, Louisiana: A deputy was fired after an arrest for domestic violence. He allegedly threw his wife to the ground repeatedly. When a female deputy responded to the home, he assaulted her and attempted to disarm her.  ow.ly/I63iQ
  • Ogden, Utah: A now-former police officer and Weber-Morgan drug task force agent was arrested for drug distribution. According to the news report, on two occasions, he approached a woman to buy prescription drugs from a third party in exchange for money. The officer, who was then assigned to the narcotics unit, never paid the woman and she subsequently reported him to authorities. One criminal case has already been dismissed and others may be threatened by the officer’s alleged misconduct. ow.ly/I5N7M
  • Stanislaus County, California: A detective was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence. ow.ly/I6hlz
  • Chesapeake, Virginia: The City settled a lawsuit for $50,000 brought by a 70-year-old woman who claimed police wrongfully arrested her and slammed her onto the ground in her own home. The City did not accept responsibility in the incident. The officer and now-former officer involved in the incident disputes the plaintiff’s claims, but the body camera evidence submitted in the lawsuit has not been made public. ow.ly/I6iCw
  • Update: Tallahassee, Florida (First reported 10-02-14): The officer who shot a taser into a 61-year-old woman’s back has been suspended for one month without pay. Video of the incident showed the woman walking away and then falling to the ground face-first after the officer tasered her.  ow.ly/I6ubc

Police Arrest Public Defender

San Francisco Public Defender Jami Tillotson was arrested by police officers in the hallway of a courthouse for “resisting arrest.”  The false arrest was captured on tape.  Tillotson made the work of the police inconvenient, but that is not a crime.  Yet,  it is telling that the police think it is.  And if the police are willing to arrest a public defender in a courthouse hallway while being videotaped, what sort of illegal searches, detentions, and arrests occur in the neighborhoods?

More here.

Problems in Minneapolis

From the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

The Minneapolis Police Department must revamp its system for identifying and weeding out problem officers if it hopes to regain public confidence, according to a new U.S. Department of Justice report.

A full version of the report, prepared by the Justice Department’s Office of Justice Programs, was released Wednesday at a community meeting at police headquarters. The study comes at a time of heightened scrutiny of police conduct, following a series of high-profile police encounters across the country….

But several speakers at the meeting said the recommendations didn’t go far enough.

Longtime civil rights activist Spike Moss said federal officials had previously intervened, but had little to show for it. He wondered whether this time would be any different.

SWAT Team Raids a Poker Game

From the Washington Post:

On a quiet weeknight among the stately manors of Great Falls, ten men sat around a table in the basement of a private home last November playing high stakes poker. Suddenly, masked and heavily armed SWAT team officers from the Fairfax County Police Department burst through the door, pointed their assault rifles at the players and ordered them to put their hands on the table. The players complied. Their cash was seized, including a reported $150,000 from the game’s host, and eight of the ten players were charged with the Class 3 misdemeanor of illegal gambling, punishable by a maximum fine of $500….

[The police cut the players] a deal: stay clean for six months and the gambling charge would be dismissed, and eligible to be expunged from their record. And for those who had cash seized from them — one player had more than $20,000, the regular player said — the police agreed to return 60 percent of the money, and keep 40 percent….

The regular player said the police told him, “The reason we’re here is there are Asian gangs targeting these games,” and it’s certainly true that some private gambling events in Fairfax County have been robbed by nefarious elements. The player said he wanted to respond, “So you robbed us first,” but he did not.

Police Misconduct NewsFeed Recap 01-27-15

These are the seven reports of police misconduct tracked for Tuesday, January 27, 2015:

  • Atlantic City, New Jersey: A now-former officer pled guilty to official misconduct and sexual assault of a minor. In addition to instances of sexual contact, he exposed himself while on video chat with the girl while on duty. ow.ly/I17xa
  • New York, New York: The district attorney for Brooklyn is investigating claims that officers planted guns on innocent people. ow.ly/I1dd6
  • Indianapolis, Indiana: An officer was arrested for domestic battery. ow.ly/I1hw9
  • Chesapeake, Virginia: A deputy was charged with DUI and misdemeanor hit and run. He allegedly collided with and spun out another car and drove away. The driver of the car was discharged from the hospital but had not yet returned to work at the time of the news report. The deputy was arrested at his home. ow.ly/I1ps7
  • Yellow Springs, Ohio: A sergeant was charged with assault, interfering with civil rights, and disorderly conduct for forcefully taking away a witness’s camera. ow.ly/I28Lf
  • Update: Sturgis, Michigan (First reported 10-31-14): A now-former officer pled guilty to DUI. He crashed his pickup and had a BAC more than twice the legal limit.  ow.ly/I2Q8Q
  • Darke County, Ohio: An auxiliary deputy pled guilty to sexual contact with a minor. He had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl who attended the high school where he worked. ow.ly/I38D2

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 01-24-15 to 01-26-15

Here are the nine reports of police misconduct tracked from Saturday, January 24 through Monday, January 26, 2015:

  • New York, New York: Two undercover narcotics officers are under investigation for an illegal stop and excessive force against a decorated Marine veteran. The officers allegedly jumped out of a blue van and ordered the veteran, lunching in his car, to get out of his car and forcefully pulled him out of it. When he asked for identification to prove they were police officers, the veteran says he was punched in the face. Two of the veteran’s brothers are police officers in the NYPD.   ow.ly/HWvKM
  • Niles, Illinois: A retired officer is facing trial for theft and misconduct charges from 2010. If convicted of crimes committed while he was an active duty officer, he would lose his pension in addition to whatever sentence he received. ow.ly/HWuoZ
  • Bayonne, New Jersey: An officer was arrested at his home. The FBI had been investigating brutality charges against the officer. The officer “stormed into” the victim’s home where he and his colleagues pepper sprayed the victim and his mother.  According to the  news report,  the lawsuit alleges that the victim was beaten with a “flashlight or other blunt instrument” that caused “permanent injury or disfigurement” after he had been handcuffed.  ow.ly/HWtxY
  • Walsenburg, Colorado: A now-former officer was sentenced to five years in prison for aiding her husband to possess heroin for distribution. ow.ly/HXCg6
  • New Orleans, Louisiana: An officer was suspended after a one-car accident in his police vehicle while off-duty. He was charged with DUI.  ow.ly/HXFcw
  • Dallas, Texas: A corporal was arrested for driving while intoxicated. ow.ly/HXIRM
  • Hightstown, New Jersey: A officer escaped criminal charges but faces disciplinary action for having sex while on duty. ow.ly/HXRQ7
  • Sacramento County, California: The sheriff’s department is being sued for unlawful arrest and excessive force. Responding to a noise complaint, a deputy approached a man at the residence from behind and shoved him into a trash can. The man was arrested for public drunkenness but the charge was later dropped. The family has video of the incident.  ow.ly/HYjvv
  • Carbondale, Illinois: An officer is being investigated after a man recorded him sleeping on duty in his patrol vehicle. After waking up, the officer falsely told the man that it is illegal to film police. ow.ly/HYOB3

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 01-23-15

Here are the nine reports of police misconduct tracked for Friday, January 23, 2015:

  • St. Francis, Minnesota: A now-former officer is under criminal investigation for illegally accessing private data. He’s alleged to have found and shared information on candidates applying for promotion within the department. He was fired earlier in the month.  ow.ly/HMxk4
  • Chattanooga, Tennessee: An officer was arrested for domestic assault. He had already been on administrative leave for a DUI arrest when he allegedly struck his mother-in-law. When she threatened to call the police, he allegedly said “Go ahead and call the cops, they will believe me before you because I’m a cop.”  ow.ly/HMK1Y
  • McLean County, Illinois: A now-former sheriff’s deputy was indicted for embezzling more than $100,000 from the police union. According to the news report, the money was originally intended for a variety of charities. ow.ly/HN30V
  • Des Moines, Iowa: An officer resigned after allegations he peeped into the women’s locker room at the department.  ow.ly/HPqnA
  • Ann Arbor, Michigan: An officer was charged with misconduct in office and unauthorized access of a police database.  ow.ly/HPtZ8
  • Orange County, Texas: A detective was arrested for DUI after routine traffic stop. ow.ly/HPGoV
  • Travis County, Texas: A detective was fired after his arrest for DUI. He was also charged with unlawfully possessing a weapon and possession of controlled substances for two types prescription pills he had in his pocket.  ow.ly/HPIl6
  • New York, New York: An officer with the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority (MTA) was charged with drug distribution and conspiracy charges. He was apprehended collecting a shipment of MDMA from a mailbox registered under a false name.  ow.ly/HPLSB
  • New Bedford, Massachusetts: An officer pled not guilty to three charges of indecent assault and battery on a 10-year-old girl. He has been suspended without pay.  ow.ly/HQ3tm

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 01-22-15

Here are the nine reports of police misconduct tracked for Thursday, January 22, 2015:

  • Shelby County, Tennessee: A now-former sheriff’s detective pled guilty to official oppression and assault. He told a 22-year-old woman involved in a domestic assault case to undress and pose for pictures on two separate occasions. He also made inappropriate sexual comments to her during those sessions. http://bit.ly/1842iXh
  • Update: Des Moines, Iowa (First reported 01-07-14): An officer who was fired after a domestic assault arrest has been reinstated by the City. ow.ly/HIyv7
  • DEA: The agency settled a lawsuit for $134,000. They used woman’s identity, including her name and personal photos, without her permission to lure suspects in facebook-based sting. ow.ly/HL7Ek
  • Cleveland, Ohio: An officer was arrested for possessing a weapon while intoxicated and public indecency. ow.ly/HLKqT
  • Dupont, Pennsylvania: A now-former officer goes to trial for role in Oxycodone distribution scheme. He and an officer from another police department allegedly broke into a police desk to steal pills turned-in by the public and sold them. ow.ly/HLM7v
  • Pinole, California: A now-former officer was sentenced to 66 days in jail and five years of probation for lying on a bankruptcy filing. He had been on trial for elder abuse and fraud, but the victim had dementia and could not testify capably on the witness stand, prompting the plea bargain on the bankruptcy charge. He was alleged to have befriended an elderly woman and convinced her to make him an heir to her estate. He retired as second-in-command in his department when he learned he was being investigated. ow.ly/HLWsJ
  • San Francisco, California: An officer was seen on video attempting to dump paralyzed man out of his wheelchair. The department has launched an investigation into the matter. ow.ly/HM1mZ
  • Winston-Salem, North Carolina: An officer was arrested and charged for stealing three tractors. ow.ly/HM0rs
  • Update: Rio Arriba, New Mexico: A now-former sheriff was sentenced to 10 years in prison on civil rights and firearms charges. He engaged in an unnecessary high-speed pursuit and then beat up the driver of the car, assaulting him with his firearm and slamming his badge into the victim’s face. The victim required surgery for some of his injuries. The U.S. Attorney on the case said, “When he attacked a defenseless innocent civilian, [the sheriff] chose to abuse his power rather than uphold his oath to protect the public.”  ow.ly/HMssj

When Cops Cause Automobile Crashes

From NBC News:

On Nov. 23, 2007, Jessica Uhl, 18, and her sister Kelli Uhl, 13, were in heavy post-Thanksgiving Day traffic on Interstate 64 as they headed home to their mother, Kim Schlau, in Collinsville, Illinois, after a holiday photo session at their father’s home in the Illinois town of Mascoutah.

Matt Mitchell, an Illinois state trooper, was also on Interstate 64, responding to a call while talking on his cellphone and using his police computer. He crossed the median and plowed into the sisters’ car at an estimated speed of 126 mph, killing them both instantly. Mitchell pleaded guilty to reckless homicide and reckless driving, lost his license, and can never be an officer again.

“After we learned all of the facts, we knew that this crash was completely preventable,” Schlau said. “I had no idea that a lot of police officers have more training with their firearms than they do with their driving, yet they drive every part of their job.”

Police officers are often brave and heroic, and their jobs are harder than ever, frequently requiring them to talk on their cellphones and police radios and even type on computers as they drive. The results can be tragic.

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