National Police Misconduct Reporting Project

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. http://ow.ly/wg9qU
  • 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. http://ow.ly/wgaoD
  • 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. http://ow.ly/wgaSb
  • 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. http://ow.ly/wgcmz
  • Ipswich, Massachusetts: A police officer has pleaded not guilty in an alleged assault on his girlfriend. ow.ly/wfxzk
  • 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. ow.ly/wfwWW
  • 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. ow.ly/wfsQV
  • York, South Carolina: Officials have asked the State Law Enforcement Division to investigate an allegation that the police chief used excessive force. ow.ly/wfpD1
  • 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. ow.ly/wfhiS
  • 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. ow.ly/weZWC
  • 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. http://ow.ly/wj0fb

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 (http://bit.ly/1pz2JzK ) 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. ow.ly/waufQ
  • 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. ow.ly/watHM
  • 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. ow.ly/waqGi
  • 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. ow.ly/waqvK
  • 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. ow.ly/waqbB
  • 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. ow.ly/wapbZ
  • 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. ow.ly/wanCi
  • 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. ow.ly/wan3I
  • New Orleans, Louisiana: A police officer has been arrested and charged with 38 counts of possessing pornography involving juveniles. ow.ly/w8o4P
  • 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. http://ow.ly/wg4Y4
  • 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. ow.ly/w8nOg
  • 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. ow.ly/w8ojt
  • San Diego, California: A police officer with seven years on the force was arrested in connection with a domestic violence incident. ow.ly/w8mZf
  • 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. ow.ly/w8lPu

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.

National Police Misconduct Reporting Project 04-24-14

Here are the 11 reports of police misconduct tracked for Thursday, April 24, 2014:

  • Tampa, Florida: A police detective was fired amid a federal grand jury investigation into potential criminal conduct, the police chief said. “It’s clear that [the officer’s] alleged criminal behavior is so egregious that it’s necessary to take this step immediately,” she said. “His actions do not represent the good men and women of this organization, and he does not deserve to wear the uniform of the Tampa Police Department.” ow.ly/w8vxl
  • Rains County, Texas: The sheriff’s deputy who shot a dog after responding to a burglary call has been fired. ow.ly/w8oKn
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Two plainclothes police officers shot an innocent man who was delivering pizzas. The police commissioner has said that it was a tragic mistake. “They feel terrible,” he said. “It’s just unfortunate all around, and we’re just praying that this young man is able to fully recover.” ow.ly/w8aHW
  • Houston, Texas: A former police officer has been charged with helping distribute cocaine when he was on the force. Federal prosecutors announced arresting the officer, who recently resigned. ow.ly/w812M
  • Reading, Pennsylvania: A police officer is accused of stealing money that was being held as evidence in criminal cases. He faces numerous theft charges for stealing money from the evidence room that he was assigned to protect. ow.ly/w7ZqZ
  • Marion, South Carolina: The Department of Justice announced that a federal grand jury returned a two-count indictment charging two now-former police officers with using unreasonable force against a female citizen.  ow.ly/w7Wfi
  • Nogales, Arizona: A deputy has been fired after an allegation of domestic violence surfaced against him. ow.ly/w7RH4
  • New Miami, Ohio: The village council voted 5-1 to fire the police chief. The council found that he used excessive force on a suspect who was in custody, and that he didn’t investigate one of his officers when he was using excessive force in that same incident. ow.ly/w7PI3
  • San Diego, California: Federal court records suggest former and current police leadership may have covered for a corrupt cop. ow.ly/w7DGz
  • Los Angeles County, California: Two now-former sheriff’s deputies have been charged with conspiracy, perjury, and altering evidence in connection with planting guns inside a medical marijuana dispensary to justify two arrests. ow.ly/w7z0E
  • Eunice, Louisiana: Two police officers accused of not helping another officer in a fight were booked into jail on counts of malfeasance in office. ow.ly/w7pRT

A New Law Regarding Deaths in Police Custody

From the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

For nearly 10 years, Michael Bell has waged a campaign for greater accountability when police use lethal force.

He has spent more than $1 million on billboards, newspaper advertisements and a website, all of them asking some variation of this question: When police kill, should they judge themselves?

Gov. Scott Walker on Wednesday answered with a resounding “no,” signing into law a bill that requires outside investigation when people die in police custody — the first of its kind in the nation. Bell, along with more than two dozen family members and supporters, attended the private signing ceremony in the governor’s office….

[State legislators] credited the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, along with other media, with informing the public about the issue and keeping people up-to-date on the bill’s progress.

“Without stories like the ones that you did, I don’t know if this bill would have passed,” Taylor told the Journal Sentinel.

The Journal Sentinel first reported on the Bell family’s activism in 2005. The newspaper’s coverage of Williams’ death resulted in the medical examiner reclassifying it from natural to homicide in 2012.

Kudos to the Bell family, the Journal Sentinel, and the pols who pushed for this much needed reform.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 04-23-14

Here are the 12 reports of police misconduct tracked for Wednesday, April 23, 2014:

  • Sumter County, Georgia: A deputy will be fired after the Georgia Bureau of Investigation arrested him. He was arrested and charged with possession of cocaine, possession of marijuana, possession of drug related objects, and violation of oath by public officer. http://ow.ly/w5VNK
  • Suffolk, New York: A man says a police officer threatened to take him to a wooded area and beat him after a traffic stop. The lawsuit he filed alleges his civil rights were violated after an officer pulled him over in and falsely arrested him. In addition, it says police used excessive force when an officer allegedly “pushed, assaulted and strip searched” the man. http://ow.ly/w5LwD
  • Cecil County, Maryland: A police officer has resigned from his post after pleading guilty to assault. He was accused of having inappropriate sexual contact with women. http://ow.ly/w5UMo
  • Lamar, South Carolina: The police chief has been fined by the SC Ethics Commission. The fine totals $15,000 for campaign finance violations. ow.ly/w5JhI
  • Port Authority, New York: A now-former police officer accused of rocking out on stage as the lead singer of a metal band, while he claimed he couldn’t work because of an arm injury, pled guilty to fraud. ow.ly/w5HLp
  • Wilmington, Ohio: A highway patrol officer appeared in court and entered not guilty pleas on two counts of domestic violence. ow.ly/w5Ghc
  • Nye County, Nevada: The assistant sheriff was arrested for possession of stolen property, conspiracy to commit a crime and resisting arrest in connection with stolen campaign signs. ow.ly/w5Cnb
  • Spartanburg, South Carolina: A now-former police officer pled guilty to third-degree assault and battery. A charge of misconduct in office was dropped. ow.ly/w5qbS
  • Hillsboro, Ohio: A police officer has been placed on leave following an initial appearance in court on a first-degree misdemeanor domestic violence charge following an alleged incident. ow.ly/w5kpG
  • Mt. Gilead, North Carolina: The police chief was pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving. He was pulled over after another driver called 911 and reported seeing a car driving erratically. ow.ly/w5cdG
  • Upland, California: A man who was shot 10 times by police is suing the city, claiming the officer-involved shooting at close range was unjustified. The lawsuit alleges the police officers used excessive force when they shot the 18-year-old several times at close range, and that he did not pose a threat to law enforcement. ow.ly/w4WBE
  • Beaufort, South Carolina: A high ranking police officer has been charged with assaulting a child. Deputies say the captain was arrested on a charge of misdemeanor assault on a child who was 10 years old. ow.ly/w4Ljp

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