National Police Misconduct Reporting Project

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 08-20-14

Here are the 7 reports of police misconduct tracked for Wednesday, August 20, 2014:

  • Update: Jemez Springs, New Mexico (First reported 08-11-14): A now-former Jmez Springs pled not guilty to rape charges. He was indicted on charges of kidnapping, criminal sexual penetration, criminal sexual contact and extortion.
  • Hobart, Indiana: The police chief said he will seek to have an officer placed back on unpaid administrative leave, now that a hearing on three administrative charges filed against him has been postponed. The officer is facing a charge of misdemeanor charge of conversion.
  • Update: Tulsa, Oklahoma (First reported 08-06-14): A police officer has pled not guilty to first-degree murder in the off-duty shooting death of his daughter’s boyfriend.
  • Glendale, California: A police officer on vacation in Las Vegas was charged with soliciting prostitution after a sting involving an undercover cop.
  • San Antonio, Texas: The attorney for a 23-year-old man who was shot and killed by police in a disturbance in the drive through lane of a Restaurant says a new autopsy report proves police used excessive force.
  • Milwaukee County, Wisconsin: A captain was arrested for first offense OWI. According to a release from the sheriff’s office she was driving without her tail lights on when she was pulled over. She allegedly showed her sheriff’s office credentials and asked to be let go as a “professional courtesy.”
  • Update: Swisher County, Texas (Previously reported 10-25-13): A now-former sheriff has pled guilty to charge of official oppression. He was charged for repeatedly fondling

Feds to the Rescue?

James Bovard on Attorney General Eric Holder’s record:

Attorney General Eric Holder arrives today in Ferguson, Missouri, in response to the unrest after a local policeman shot 18-year-old Mike Brown. Holder assured the people of Missouri: “Our investigation into this matter will be full, it will be fair, and it will be independent.”

But Holder’s own record belies his lofty promise. As the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia from 1993 to 1997, Holder was in charge of policing the local police. When police violence spiraled out of control, he did little to protect Washington residents from rampaging lawmen…

There was such a dearth of oversight from Holder’s office that Washington police failed to count almost a third of the people killed by their officers between 1994 and 1997. Even when police review boards ruled that shootings were unjustified or found contradictions in officers’ testimony, police were not prosecuted. In one case, a police officer shot a suspect four times in the back when he was unarmed and lying on the ground. But Holder’s office never bothered interviewing the shooter….

As the smoke clears in Ferguson, Missouri, Americans have no reason to presume that either the local police or the feds have the market cornered on truth or justice.

Read the whole thing.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 08-18-14

Here are the 10 reports of police misconduct tracked for Tuesday, August 18, 2014:

  • Berkeley County, California: A sheriff’s deputy resigned following the suspension of his driver’s license.
  • Palatka, Florida: A police detective has resigned after being arrested in a prostitution sting.
  • Update: Columbus, Ohio (First reported 02-18-14): A police officer convicted of stealing military surplus equipment from his employer was sentenced to 30 months in prison.
  • Update: Fayetteville, Arkansas (Previously reported 02-14-14): The fired police officer accused of raping a woman while on duty received five years probation in a plea deal with prosecutors. He will be required to register as a sex offender.
  • Lincoln Heights, Ohio: A police officer has been charged with theft. He is accused of stealing property “while on duty acting in an official capacity as a police officer.”
  • New Orleans, Louisiana: For a second time, a now-former police officer has been sentenced to more than 17 years in prison for burning the body of a man shot to death by another police officer in the chaotic days following Hurricane Katrina.
  • Onondaga County, New York: An off-duty sheriff’s deputy admitted leaving the scene of what turned out to be a fatal crash.
  • Rio Arriba County, New Mexico: A sheriff was arrested on charges he cornered a driver at a dead end, threatened him with a silver revolver as the driver begged not to be shot and had him falsely charged with assault.
  • Tampa, Florida: A man shot by the police has filed a federal lawsuit against the officer who shot him and the city. He claims the city failed to properly train its officers to deal with people suffering mental distress.
  • Update: Springfield, Missouri (First reported 07-15-14): A police officer who shot and wounded an unarmed panhandler resigned. The officer has been charged with third-degree assault for shooting the man as he ran from the officer.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 08-16-14 to 08-18-14

Here are the 6 reports of police misconduct tracked for Saturday, August 16 to Monday, August 18, 2014:

  • Emmett Township, Michigan: A police officer has been arrested by state troopers and is expected to be formally charged with two counts of first degree criminal sexual conduct.
  • Salem, Oregon: A police officer will face a charge of harassment in connection with a disturbance at a residence.
  • Tucumcari, New Mexico: Authorities say a state police officer has been arrested on suspicion of domestic violence. He’s not allowed to perform any police duties and has had to turn in his police vehicle, badge and department-issued firearms. e
  • Update: Richmond County, Georgia (First reported 08-06-12): Federal prosecutors say a now-former sheriff’s deputy has been sentenced in an identity theft and tax fraud scheme. Authorities said that he was sentenced to 2 years in prison for stealing personal information that was used to file fraudulent tax returns.
  • Update: Kern County, California (First reported 07-28-14): A sheriff’s deputy whose speeding patrol car killed two people has pleaded no contest to vehicular manslaughter.
  • Ellington, Connecticut: An off-duty state trooper has been placed on desk duty following his involvement in a crash after which he failed field sobriety tests, state police said.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 08-15-14

Here are the 10 reports of police misconduct tracked for Friday, August 15, 2014:

  • Unicoi County, Tennessee: A $2 million lawsuit has been filed in federal court against the county, the sheriff, and one of his deputies alleging violation of a woman’s constitutional rights, among other things, stemming from the alleged removal of a dog from her home.
  • St. Paul, Minnesota: A police officer has been charged with leaving the scene of a crash after he allegedly ran a red light and struck a woman’s vehicle.
  • Madison, Wisconsin: The family of a woman shot and killed by police have filed a lawsuit against the city and police department seeking unspecified damages.
  • North Hodge, Louisiana: The assistant police chief was arrested and charged with six counts of malfeasance in office. The sheriff says now seven women accuse the officer of committing sexual acts against them.
  • Springfield, Massachusetts: A judge has awarded $85,000 to two people in a police brutality and false arrest claim.
  • Marion County, Florida: Five deputies have been suspended without pay while authorities investigate whether they used excessive force while arresting a suspect in an alleged drug ring.
  • Hamilton County, Ohio: The family of a mentally ill man who was shocked by a taser and died has filed a federal lawsuit claiming that sheriff’s deputies used excessive force.
  • Montgomery County, Maryland: The police department launched an investigation into whether one of its officers acted appropriately in the arrest of a teen that was caught on video.
  • Update: Round Lake Beach, Illinois (First reported 07-10-14): A police officer pled not guilty to paying for thousands of dollars of gasoline with police department funds. He was placed on paid administrative after the state’s attorney’s office approved felony charges.
  • Birmingham, Alabama: A police officer has been arrested on drug charges. He has been charged with unlawful possession of a controlled substance and unlawful possession of marijuana.

Refresher on Stop & Frisk

The Michael Brown shooting has brought attention to certain police policies and how those policies scramble the opinions of liberals and conservatives.  Thus far, most of the attention has been on the militarization of police.  In this post, I want to briefly focus on another police tactic, “stop & frisk,”  and explain why this likely plays a part in the community unrest following the death of Michael Brown.

In 1968, the Supreme Court decided a case called Terry v. Ohio.  In that case, the Court approved the “stop & frisk” tactic.   Here is an excerpt from the Court’s opinion:

We … hold today that, where a police officer observes unusual conduct which leads him reasonably to conclude in light of his experience that criminal activity may be afoot and that the persons with whom he is dealing may be armed and presently dangerous, where, in the course of investigating this behavior, he identifies himself as a policeman and makes reasonable inquiries, and where nothing in the initial stages of the encounter serves to dispel his reasonable fear for his own or others’ safety, he is entitled for the protection of himself and others in the area to conduct a carefully limited search of the outer clothing of such persons in an attempt to discover weapons which might be used to assault him. (emphasis added).

Several things must be noted.  First, that is a rather sanitized description of what can happen out on the street (more on that below).

Second, in the 1990s, at the suggestion of conservative intellectual, James Q. Wilson, police officials like William Bratton tasked police units to go out and pro-actively stop & frisk city residents.  (Wilson is well known for his “broken windows” work, but his misguided promotion of stop & frisk is another reminder that ideas have consequences).  The number of stops–especially in New York City–started climbing.  The liberal Michael Bloomberg also championed the tactic when he became NYC Mayor after Rudy Giuliani.

Third, what happens if the police act unreasonably and use this tactic arbitrarily against people?  Persons holding contraband get busted, but what if there are tens of thousands of stops where the police officer’s actions were unreasonable against totally innocent persons?  Absent physical injury, who would take a day off of work to see an attorney about that?  And how many attorneys would take a case where there was an illegal 20 minute detention, illegal search of the person, and no injury?  No one.  For young, black men there has been no effective redress.  Anger and tensions simmer.  And when a young black man gets killed (recall Amadou Diallo ; and the shooting of Patrick Dorismond is also worth noting) the anger boils over into the protests and unrest we have seen in Ferguson.

The white experience with police is different because the police do not typically use the stop & frisk tactic in white communities.   Here is an example of what the complaints are about:

Short version reporting on the video that went viral:

Longer version (recommended):

Because these officers were “caught on tape,” the Philly Police Department was embarrassed and so took disciplinary action.  How many bad encounters are not captured on tape?  99%?

Back to the Michael Brown shooting.  We have been told that Officer Darren Wilson rolled up on Michael Brown and Dorian Johnson and told them to move to the sidewalk.  According to Johnson, Wilson started the interaction by cursing at them.  Did Wilson lose his temper after some back talk?  Or because he was dissatisfied with the speed with which the young men were complying with his command?  Did Wilson escalate the situation by grabbing Brown’s throat, as Johnson has said?  Did Brown passively resist by backing away so he could breath? (Recall poor Eric Garner  who lost his life waiting for the police to release their grasp!).    At some point, Wilson drew his weapon and shot Brown.  Several times.

Maybe Wilson was behaving like the abusive Philp Nace in the above video.  Maybe his conduct did not come close to that.  But these are some of the questions on the minds of minorities (and others) as the investigation continues.

More background on stop and frisk here and here.





National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 08-14-14

Here are the 7 reports of police misconduct tracked for Thursday, August 14, 2014:

  • Detroit, Michigan: Six members of the police narcotics unit that raided a suspected drug house have been suspended after a surveillance video captured them taking away a box they never logged as evidence.
  • Denver, Colorado: A police officer convicted of DUI will spend 10 days in jail. He also was given two years of probation. The officer tried to get out of it, by telling the arresting deputy, “Bro, I’m a cop.”
  • Syracuse, New York: A 20-year-old man and his family say police beat him and used racial slurs when they arrested him after a party. Police say they are reviewing the complain.
  • Alton, Illinois: The police department improperly destroyed evidence from 130 pending criminal cases, according to the Madison County State’s Attorney.
  • Titusville, Pennsylvania: State police have filed criminal charges against a police officer accused of touching a woman inappropriately at a business. He has resigned.
  • Hillsdale, Missouri: A lieutenant and officer pled guilty to charges of conspiracy to distribute and attempted distribution of heroin.
  • Update: Sulphur, Louisiana (Previously reported 06-06-14): The now-former police officer accused of fatally shooting a dog pled not guilty to aggravated cruelty to animals.

Cato Work on the Militarization of Police

New York Times reporter Matt Apuzzo:

[T]he criticism of the so-called militarization of police has largely come from libertarian quarters for several years. They have kind of been the lone voice on this, folks like the Cato institute.

Yes, even before 9/11, we were trying to draw attention to the trend in American policing: Warrior Cops.  Since then, Radley Balko has written extensively on the problem.  First, with the Cato report, Overkill.  Next, more in-depth, with his book, The Rise of the Warrior Cop.

Perhaps in time more attention will come to the work we’re doing here on police misconduct.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 08-13-14

Here are the 11 reports of police misconduct tracked for Wednesday, August 13, 2014:

  • New York, New York: The city has agreed to pay $2 million to settle a lawsuit filed by the family of a 27-year-old who died after a collision with a cop car.
  • Indianapolis, Indiana: An off-duty officer was arrested on drunk driving charges.
  • Madison, Wisconsin: A man who alleges police used excessive force against him and violated his constitutional rights has filed a lawsuit against the police chief and three police officers.
  • Tulsa, Oklahoma: A highway patrol trooper is facing serious charges after allegedly sexually abusing a woman while on duty.
  • Los Angeles, California: A 24-year-old was shot and killed by police. His mother said her son was complying with officers’ orders, and that the shooting was unjustified. Her son, she said, was lying on the ground when he was shot in the back. He later died at an area hospital. The LAPD’s Force Investigation Division is looking into the shooting.
  • Kansas City, Missouri: A wrongful death lawsuit was filed by the widow and parents of a man shot to death in a struggle with an off-duty police officer.
  • Columbus, Georgia: A now-former police officer was arrested and charged with two felony counts of violation of oath of office and two misdemeanor counts of simple battery as part of a Georgia Bureau of Investigation probe into his on-duty conduct.
  • Hebron, Illinois: A former police sergeant denied allegations that he stole weapons from the police department. He was arrested on seven felonies and entered a not guilty plea to all charges.
  • Appleton, Wisconsin: A federal civil rights lawsuit has been filed against the city of and two police officers, alleging excessive use of force.
  • Middlesex County, New Jersey: A woman who was attacked and wrongly arrested by a sheriff’s officer two years ago has settled her federal civil rights lawsuit against the county and the now-former cop. She agreed to the $90,000 settlement.
  • Willoughby, Ohio: An officer was suspended for three days after letting an officer off the hook for drinking and driving. The drunken driving officer was later stopped by the Ohio State Highway Patrol and arrested for OVI after his blood alcohol level was nearly two times the legal limit of .08.

Now Reporters Falsely Arrested

From the Washington Post:

Multiple officers grabbed me. I tried to turn my back to them to assist them in arresting me. I dropped the things from my hands.

“My hands are behind my back,” I said. “I’m not resisting. I’m not resisting.” At which point one officer said: “You’re resisting. Stop resisting.”

That was when I was most afraid — more afraid than of the tear gas and rubber bullets.

As they took me into custody, the officers slammed me into a soda machine, at one point setting off the Coke dispenser. They put plastic cuffs on me, then they led me out the door.


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