National Police Misconduct Reporting Project

Police Disciplinary Records: None of the Public’s Business?

From the Sacramento Bee:

[O]pen-records advocates say California residents today have some of the least access to law enforcement records of anywhere in the country. Bills to tighten the restrictions, pushed by politically influential law enforcement unions, routinely sail through the Legislature. Attempts to provide more disclosure have been few and unsuccessful.

Under state law, peace officer personnel records are confidential, including personal data, promotion, appraisal and discipline records, and “any other information the disclosure of which would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.” Only a judge can order their release as part of a criminal case or lawsuit.

The restrictions regularly come into play. In Lodi, police officials have released little about the officers involved in the Jan. 25 shooting of Parminder Singh Shergill, an Iraq War veteran. In West Sacramento, Latino groups demanded information after the June 2005 police beating of brothers Ernesto and Fermin Galvan. There also was anger at the lack of details following the April 2009 shooting of Luis Gutierrez Navarro by Yolo County sheriff’s deputies.

Civil-rights lawyer Cruz Reynoso said community members in such cases confront a police “wall of silence.”

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 03-14-14

Here are the 12 reports of police misconduct tracked for Friday, March 14, 2014:

  • Washington County, Utah: A police officer has resigned after he was arrested for driving under the influence. He was driving with children in the car.
  • Las Vegas, Nevada: A woman is suing the police department saying she received third degree burns during an encounter with police after a traffic accident. She was held against hot pavement and burned as a result. The police would not comment on the pending lawsuit.
  • Filer, Idaho: The owners of a 7-year-old black Labrador retriever who was fatally shot by a police officer are in the process of filing a lawsuit against the police department.
  • Update: Springettsbury Township, Pennsylvania (Previously reported 11-06-13): The township has settled two federal civil-rights lawsuits filed by people who alleged officers used excessive force when arresting them. They will pay a total of $500,000.
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: A photojournalism student and his girlfriend are suing two police officers who they say wrongly arrested them while he was photographing a neighbor’s arrest. The lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive damages for assault, battery, false arrest and imprisonment, and malicious prosecution.
  • Countryside, Illinois: A now-former police chief has been indicted on multiple charges in the alleged misuse of more than $180,000 raised for a police helicopter program he ran.
  • Boise, Idaho: A police officer has been suspended after deputies arrested him on domestic violence allegations. “The Boise Police Department demands the highest professional conduct from its officers, both on and off duty, which includes conformance to laws,” the department said in a news release.
  • Chattanooga, Tennessee: A police officer has been charged with domestic assault in an incident in which her nephew said she hit him over an unpaid water bill. She was placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal affairs investigation.
  • Baltimore City, Maryland: A police officer fatally shot his ex-girlfriend and a city firefighter, and then himself. The incident is being investigated.
  • Austin, Texas: The family a man who was shot and killed by a police officer has sued the city and the officer. The suit alleges the officer used excessive force, and that the city has failed to discipline and provide its officers with adequate policies, practices and procedures.
  • Los Angeles, California: A sheriff’s deputy pled no contest to rape and bribery charges in a pair of incidents that date back four years. The investigation involved traffic stops of two female motorist. The officer allegedly offered to not arrest the women in exchange for sex acts.
  • Gaffney, South Carolina: A police officer admitted to driving under the influence in a crash that seriously injured his friend.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 03-13-14

Here are the 8 reports of police misconduct tracked for Thursday, March 13, 2014:

  • Aurora, Illinois: A now-former police officer pleaded guilty to misdemeanor theft; he stole more than $9,000 from a police union, officials said. He was sentenced to 12 months probation, 200 hours of community service, and resigned from his job after stealing from the Association of Professional Police Officers over a three-year span.
  • Johnston, Rhode Island: A police officer pled no context to willful trespass and simple assault. She was accused of barging into a man’s home and demanding money over an alleged drug transaction. Police say she also struck a 17-year-old girl in the face.
  • Allentown, Pennsylvania: An elderly man was tasered by police six times in a parking lot after being mistaken for his brother. He is now filing a lawsuit.
  • Update: Jackson County, Mississippi (Previously reported 12-13-13): Sheriff Mike Byrd has been sentenced to six months of home confinement, followed by six months of probation in federal court. Byrd pled guilty to misleading conduct toward another person with intent to prevent communication to a federal law enforcement officer.
  • San Jose, California: A police officer has been arrested and charged with raping a woman while on duty after she had argued with her husband. She requested to stay in a hotel the evening of the incident and the officer forced his way in and raped her.
  • Clayton County, Georgia: A sheriff’s deputy is being held without bond following his arrest on child sex charges. He was charged with sodomy and aggravated child molestation.
  • Dallas, Texas: A police officer has been indicted over allegations he assaulted a fleeing motorist during an incident. He was indicted for assault and official oppression.
  • Philadelphia: A police officer was suspended with intent to dismiss after being charged with false imprisonment and other counts in an arrest of a war veteran who had pointed out the officer was driving the wrong direction on a one-way street.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 03-12-14

Here are the 11 reports of police misconduct tracked for Wednesday, March 12, 2014:

  • Faulkner County, Arkansas: A deputy has been fired after being accused of the sexual assault of a 14-year-old girl. During the investigation process, the officer made undisclosed statements that are now part of the criminal investigation and led to his termination.
  • Washington, DC: A police officer has been indicted on charges of insurance fraud, attempted theft, and related charges. Officials say he filed a false insurance claim stating that her work radio, a personal laptop, and other items had been damaged.
  • Columbia, Missouri: A man who was freed after serving nearly 10 years for a murder he said he didn’t commit has filed a $100 million lawsuit for violations of his civil rights. The suit alleges nine separate counts including suppression and fabrication of evidence, failure to investigate, malicious prosecution, and more.
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota: A judge’s order in a police brutality suit pushed the city’s bill to $410,653.33 for two lawsuits filed against a police officer. The suits both involve cases in which the officer was off-duty and at downtown bars when he allegedly punched or kicked people who did not want to fight him.
  • Putnam County, Indiana: A sheriff’s deputy is in the spotlight after several people claim he went over the line with violence during their arrests. He has been charged with four counts of federal civil rights violations.
  • Marco Island, Florida: A police officer who was fired once and reinstated is now under investigation for excessive use of force. The police chief has recommended that he be terminated for a second time.
  • Lompoc, California: A police officer was arrested for DUI. He was off-duty when he allegedly crashed his personal vehicle into a tree.
  • Bellevue, Washington: A police officer has been punished for driving a police bomb squad truck to a brew pub, drinking two beers, then driving the department vehicle to another officer’s home, where he drank more.
  • Spokane County, Washington: A sheriff’s office deputy was placed on administrative leave while detectives investigate accusations that he stole upwards of $700 from the county. He is accused of working another job while he was supposed to be patrolling.
  • Little Silver, New Jersey: A police officer was sentenced to five years in state prison. The judge said that the nature of the misconduct that the officer was convicted of – beating a handcuffed prisoner and then lying about it – outweighed what good he did during what was portrayed as a spotless life.
  • Update: Ludlow, Massachusetts (First reported 08-19-13): A high-ranking police officer charged with stealing drugs from the department’s evidence locker has been suspended without pay. He had been suspended with pay until being indicted by a grand jury.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 03-11-14

Here are the 7 reports of police misconduct tracked for Tuesday, March 11, 2014:

  • Grand Forks, North Dakota: A now-former officer charged with holding his handgun to the head of a party guest in his home was sentenced to 100 hours of community service.
  • Robstown, Texas: The family of a student has filed a lawsuit after an officer allegedly choked the student to the point of passing out. The suit says the boy was throwing milk in his school’s cafeteria, which led to the police officer interaction.
  • Norfolk, Virginia: The attorney for the family of a man shot to death by police says surveillance video shows officers used excessive force. “Obviously there were mistakes made by [the victim],” said the attorney. “There were also mistakes made by police. The main thing is the police are the ones in control of the situation, and they set this up in a way that was not proper and, in my opinion, very much unreasonable.”
  • Montrose, Pennsylvania: A police officer pled no contest to voluntary manslaughter in the death of his estranged wide more than 30 years ago. The death was initially ruled a suicide.
  • Cleveland, Ohio: A family is suing the city for at least $2.5 million in damages related to a shooting in which a police officer killed a family dog and “recklessly” injured its owner. The officer pulled up in his cruiser and shot three times at the dog, killing it. The owner was hit with one of the pellets, which was later removed from her brain at a hospital.
  • Honolulu, Hawaii: A video of a police officer threatening the citizen filming him could lead to his demotion. Unnamed sources say that HPD administration wants the officer to be demoted and also be suspended for 10 days.
  • Lodi, California: The family of a man killed by police plans to filed a lawsuit against the city. Police said they were forced to shot the man when he charged at them. Eyewitnesses, however, dispute the official account, claiming the man was unarmed and never charged at officers.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 03-08-14 to 03-10-14

Here are the 9 reports of police misconduct tracked for Saturday, March 8 to Monday, March 10, 2014:

  • Update: East Lansing, Michigan (First reported 03-04-14): The city council approved a $35,000 settlement officer of a claim against the city involving a police officer. The claim says an officer used “excessive force” during an arrest involving two students.
  • Alpharetta, Georgia: A police officer has been charged with two country of party to a crime in connection to selling firearms to a felon.
  • Fall River, Massachusetts: A man says he was recording a police officer who was out of control, but instead, he was arrested and his cell phone was seized. Now the video he recorded is gone. Police say he erased it, even though they were the ones holding the phone.
  • Humboldt County, Nevada: A sheriff’s deputy has been accused of stopping travelers on a lonely stretch of an interstate and confiscating tens of thousands of dollars for the county without bringing charges, according to two federal lawsuits.
  • New York, New York: A police officer was arrested for punching a man during a pickup football game. He was charged with assault and placed on modified duty.
  • Detroit, Michigan: A police officer is charged in connection with the rape of a woman who called 911 to report being assaulted by her boyfriend.
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: A police officer who allegedly lied during court testimony about two arrests was suspended today with intent to dismiss. Three witnesses on the case testified that the officer’s description of an arrest was false.
  • Youngstown, Ohio: A woman says that three officers used excessive and unreasonable force to search her then 12-year-old son without just cause.  It also claims the police department continually allows officers to used such excessive force of young African American males without existence of probable cause. Superior, Wisconsin: A woman has alleged that an officer used excessive force in arresting her.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 03-07-14

Here are the 18 reports of police misconduct tracked for Friday, March 7, 2014:

  • Oakland County, Michigan: A deputy has been sentenced to probation in an on-duty car crash that claimed the lives of two men. He was reportedly heading to assist other deputies when he ran a red light, without his sirens being activated.
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: The widow of a man who was shot and killed by police after the man called officers to his home for the report of a burglary has filed a federal civil rights complaint against the municipality and three of its officers.
  • Titusville, Florida: A police officer is accused of trying to distribute at least 500 grams of cocaine worth $40,000. He was indicted on charges of participating in a drug deal while carrying a firearm.
  • Burbank, California: A police officer pled guilty to lying to federal authorities who were investigating an alleged plot involving his girlfriend and her estranged husband.
  • Upper Darby, Pennsylvania: A police officer out on medical leave was arrested on drunken driving charges after a hit-and-run crash. He was arrested when the driver of the vehicle he allegedly struck followed him until police arrived.
  • Robbinsdale, Minnesota: A man has filed a lawsuit against an officer in connection with a traffic stop. He alleges that excessive force was used by the officer and it resulted in injuries.
  • Prairie Village, Kansas: The city settled a lawsuit with the mother of a woman killed during a standoff at her apartment for more than half a million dollars. In the lawsuit the woman argued police should have used non-lethal weapons on her daughters. It also says officers sued excessive force and were inadequately trained to respond to a critical incident involving a mentally ill person.
  • Palm Beach County, Florida: A 20-year-old man who was shot four times by a sheriff’s deputy and is now a paraplegic has sued the officer and the agency, claiming there was no reason to stop him, much less shoot him. In the suit he says the man was talking on the phone while riding his bike when he was stopped. He was trying to comply with the officer’s orders to put his arms in the air when he was shot.
  • New York, New York: Internal affairs officers arrested a cop for pummeling a shoplifter the officer arrested at a Target. If convicted of the existing charges, the officer faces up to a year in jail.
  • Dover, Delaware: A police office has been suspended with pay pending the outcome of an investigation due to allegations of excessive force.
  • Chillicothe, Missouri: A police officer was arrested on suspicion of rape, sodomy, and supplying alcohol to a minor.
  • Merill, Wisconsin: A state patrol trooper pled no guilty to a charge of disorderly conduct after she’s accused of exercising authority while she was off-duty.
  • Chatham County, Georgia: A deputy sheriff was indicted on 26 counts of child molestation and related offenses involving minor victims. He was arrested on the molestation charge involving a male, who is now 17, that allegedly occurred in 2008. Prosecutors subsequently found at least six other alleged victims.
  • Update: Hillsboro, Oregon (First reported 02-08-13): A now-former police officer who exchanged gunfire with 10 officers, and threatened his wife in a domestic abuse case, will spend the next ten years in prison after a plea deal. He pled guilty to one count of aggravated animal abuse and three counts of aggravated attempted murder.
  • Dallas, Texas: A police officer pled guilty to a misdemeanor in connection with an assault on his estranged wife. He received two years of probation in a plea deal.
  • Update: Lauderhill, Florida (First reported 11-13-11): A now-former police officer who emptied his pistol into his ex-girlfriend’s car, and later begged fellow officers for one more bullet so he could kill himself, pled guilty to attempted murder charges.
  • Las Cruces, New Mexico: The family of a man fatally shot by police has filed a wrongful death lawsuit in federal court. The suit suggests that three officers knew the man was not armed with a lethal weapon, and that authorities delayed his access to medical attention after he was shot.
  • Girard, Ohio: A city police officer has been suspended for 20 working days under a lat change agreement. He will keep his job now that an investigation is complete into underage drinking parties at his house.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 03-06-14

Here are the 11 reports of police misconduct tracked for Thursday, March 6, 2014:

  • Update: Johnstown, New York (First reported 09-24-13): A suspended police officer pled guilty to one count of third-degree rape and officially resigned his position with the police department as part of a plea agreement. He admitted he had sex with someone under the age of 17.
  • Waterbury, Connecticut: A police officer was suspended without pay for 25 days after allegedly using unnecessary force during an arrest.
  • Miami-Dade, Florida: A police officer pled with a state trooper that they needed to “stick together” before he was arrested for driving under the influence during a traffic stop.
  • Baltimore, Maryland: A police officer beat and choked his girlfriend’s 7-month-old puppy and texted her a photo of the dog’s body, authorities. The five-year veteran was charged with aggravated animal cruelty, which is a felony, and abuse or neglect of an animal.
  • Update: Monterey Park, California (First reported 02-28-13): The city paid $875,000 to the family of a man whose slaying by police was captured on video. The suit says they violated the man’s rights and failed to provide medical attention after the shooting. The Sheriff’s department investigated the incident and found that both the officers had legal justification in their use of deadly force.
  • Midland, Texas: Two officers spent weeks competing to see who could take the most cardboard signs away from homeless people, even though panhandling doesn’t violate any city law. They were suspended for three days without pay.
  • Update: Manatee County, Florida (First reported 02-20-14): Another now-former sheriff’s deputy who played a significant role as a confidential informant in an undercover steroids investigation has been arrested. He faces three state-level charges of possessing steroids with intent to distribute.
  • Parma, Ohio: The city council agreed to pay $40,000 to settle a police brutality lawsuit brought forth by the mother of a 16-year-old boy. The suit accuses an officer of unjustifiably striking the boy twice in the head while placing him in a cruiser.
  • Baltimore County, Maryland: A police officer was arrested and charged with drunk driving. He was seen allegedly committing several traffic violations, including failing to stop for a red light.
  • Lakewood, New Jersey: An officer was charged with official misconduct stemming from what they say was an illegal search of a vehicle. He has been suspended without pay.
  • Valdosta, Georgia: An officer was indicted by a grand jury for two counts of sexual exploitation of children. He was investigated for being in possession of child pornography. He was fired.

Worst of the Month — February 2014

So for February, it was the case from Towson, Maryland, where the local police seem to think they can suspend the First Amendment.

A young man was recording a late night altercation involving arrests in downtown Towson when Baltimore County police noticed him recording, roughed him up, and threatened him with arrest if he continued to record the ongoing arrests. When the man cited the First Amendment right to record the police (which Baltimore County Police policy fully recognizes), the officer accosted him and shouted “You have no rights!”

Earlier in the recording, another officer tries to justify ordering the man to leave the scene, shouting “you diverted my attention from that… LEAVE!”  Then the officer immediately resorted to physical force to push the video recorder away from the scene.  The video shows multiple officers on the scene reacting violently to being recorded.  The fact that they are flouting the law and their department policy so willfully, while knowing they are being recorded, makes these Baltimore County police officers our prime candidates for the worst police misconduct for February.

For additional background, go here.

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