National Police Misconduct Reporting Project

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.”
  • Rains County, Texas: The sheriff’s deputy who shot a dog after responding to a burglary call has been fired.
  • 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.”
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Nogales, Arizona: A deputy has been fired after an allegation of domestic violence surfaced against him.
  • 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.
  • San Diego, California: Federal court records suggest former and current police leadership may have covered for a corrupt cop.
  • 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.
  • Eunice, Louisiana: Two police officers accused of not helping another officer in a fight were booked into jail on counts of malfeasance in office.

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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Lamar, South Carolina: The police chief has been fined by the SC Ethics Commission. The fine totals $15,000 for campaign finance violations.
  • 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.
  • Wilmington, Ohio: A highway patrol officer appeared in court and entered not guilty pleas on two counts of domestic violence.
  • 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.
  • Spartanburg, South Carolina: A now-former police officer pled guilty to third-degree assault and battery. A charge of misconduct in office was dropped.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 04-21-14

Here are the 8 reports of police misconduct tracked for Tuesday, April 21, 2014:

  • Georgetown, Texas: The police department has placed an officer on paid administrative leave after video surfaced showing him tripping and pushing students who were rushing onto a field after a soccer game.
  • Manteca, California: A federal judge approved a settlement that calls for the family of a man who was shot and killed by a police officer to collect $2.2 million from the city.
  • Medina, Tennessee: A man has asked the board of Aldermen for an investigation into two incidents. He alleges an officer used excessive force in two arrests involving acquaintances and that the police chief never even reprimanded the officer.
  • Tucson, Arizona: The ACLU claims the police department racially profiled two construction workers in an incident that caused a small riot in the streets.
  • Humansville, Missouri: A man who had called an ambulance for his wife who suffers from dementia says he was beat up by police. “I didn’t know what to think. I ever had anybody jump on me for doing nothing,” he says.
  • Las Cruces, New Mexico: A now-former detective, who focused on child abuse and sex crimes investigations, pleaded guilty to violating the civil rights of a student intern when he sexually abused her while on duty.
  • Orange County, Florida: A deputy was relieved from duty after his arrest in a hit-and-run crash.
  • Green Bay, Wisconsin: Cell phone video involving police is making the rounds on social media. A police lieutenant says the department is investigating whether one of its officers acted inappropriately.

The NYPD Twitter Campaign

From Yahoo News:

New York police Tuesday were eating extra helpings of humble pie after asking people to post images of themselves and NYPD officers on Twitter — only to face a deluge of pictures of alleged police brutality.

“Do you have a photo w/ a member of the NYPD? Tweet us & tag it #myNYPD. It may be featured on our Facebook,” the department posted on its NYPD News Twitter feed, hoping to fuel a feel-good, low-cost public relations campaign.

The result was anything but.


NYPD's Twitter photo contest backfires with images of aggressive police force

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 04-19-14 to 04-21-14

Here are the 20 reports of police misconduct tracked for Saturday, April 19 to Monday, April 21, 2014:

  • Update: Chicago, Illinois: A now-former police officer accused of having sex with a transgender man while he was locked up at a police station pled guilty to a felony bribery charge and was sentenced to 2 1/2 years of probation.
  • Detroit, Michigan: A woman has filed a lawsuit against the FBI and other agencies for detaining and strip searching her because of her ethnicity.
  • Hartford, Connecticut: A lawsuit has been filed against two police officers, the police chief and a dispatcher, among others, in connection with an erroneous dispatch that led officers to overlook a body at a crime scene.
  • St. Paul, Minnesota: Two protesters who smoked marijuana given to them by law enforcement as part of a discredited police training program can proceed with their federal lawsuit, a judge has ruled.
  • DeKalb County, Georgia: A now-former police officer has been indicted on three counts of child molestation. According to police he allegedly molested a friend of his teenage daughter.
  • Lincoln, Arkansas: The assistant police chief was arrested on misdemeanor charges of assault on a family member and endangering the welfare of a minor, police said.
  • Update: Ottawa County, Michigan: A jury sided with a sheriff’s deputy who was sued by a woman whose arm broke during an encounter in a holding area. They determined he did not user excessive force.
  • Bibb County, Georgia: A deputy has been charged with misdemeanor stalking, making harassing phone calls and a felony charge of identity theft fraud when using or possessing identifying information concerning a person.
  • Williamston, South Carolina: A police officer was fired after being charged with criminal domestic violence for the second time in five weeks.
  • Morgan County, Alabama: Police say a deputy has been charged with second-degree assault in connection with a shooting at a Wal-Mart.
  • Memphis, Tennessee: A police officer is facing sexual battery charges for what a woman says he did to her in the back of his squad car.
  • King Co, Washington: Three veteran deputies were placed on paid administrative leave after investigators began looking into a prostitution allegation. The investigation is focused on one deputy whose wife is a professional sexual escort and that her husband was somehow complicit regarding the illegal activities.
  • Update: Chesterfield County, South Carolina: A now-former sheriff has been sentenced to two years in prison for misconduct in office. The judge issued the penalty after he was convicted by a jury of all eight counts against him.
  • New Town, North Dakota: fed jury convicted officer: felony count, misdemeanor count of excessive force on persons in his custody
  • North Bergen, New Jersey: An off-duty police officer has been charged with biting a man’s thigh and causing serious injury during a fight.
  • Battle Creek, Michigan: The city says it’s re-investigating whether a police officer used excessive force when arresting an assault suspect.
  • Alexander City, Alabama: A claim is being filed with the city and one of its police officers following an officer-related shooting death of a man at a local restaurant.
  • Update: Brusly, Louisiana: The police chief pled guilty to one count of malfeasance in office and was sentenced to 18 months of probation.
  • DeKalb County, Georgia: An now-former sheriff’s deputy has been convicted in a brutality case. District Attorney’s officials say the deputy pled guilty to battery for injuring a suspect
  • Bellevue, Washington: A police officer was fired after failing to arrest a fellow officer he had pulled over for an alleged DUI.

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