National Police Misconduct Reporting Project

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 11-23-13 to 11-25-13

Here are the 9 reports of police misconduct tracked for Saturday, November 23, to Monday, November 25, 2013:

  • Update: Jackson County, Mississippi (First reported 09-03-13): The sheriff, who was already indicted on 31 charges, has been named in four more federal lawsuits accusing him of violating the civil rights of people arrested by the sheriff’s department.
  • Natchez, Mississippi: A police officer and his son were indicted by a grand jury for their alleged involvement in the murder of a man. The officer is on administrative leave without pay pending the outcome of the case.
  • Atlantic City, New Jersey: Two now-former police officers pled guilty to charges of official misconduct. They both pled guilty to third-degree official misconduct. As a result, they forfeit any future public employment.
  • Fayette County, Georgia: A now-former sheriff’s deputy has been sentenced to five years in prison for looking up child pornography websites on his sheriff’s department computer.
  • Norristown, Pennsylvania: A police officer has been charged with sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl.
  • Omaha, Nebraska: A police officer was sentenced to three years probation and fined $8,000 after being convicted of improper computer searches. He was looking for information that would assist car dealerships, owned by relatives of his.
  • New Hanover, North Carolina: A deputy was charged with driving while intoxicated. He has resigned.
  • Will County, Illinois: A firefighter arrested on suspicion of looting has filed a lawsuit against the deputy who arrested him. He claims false arrest, unreasonable seizure, malicious prosecution and defamation. The charges against him have been dropped.
  • San Antonia, Texas: A police officer was arrested and accused of raping a 19-year-old woman. At a news conference, police said the officer has been accused of sexual assault before. The officer is accused of handcuffing and raping a woman he pulled over while on duty. Police said he will continue to receive pay, pending an indictment.

Rape of a Teen in Patrol Car

From Breitbart:

Police said the 11-year veteran pulled the victim over on the south side and managed to get her to stand behind his squad car. San Antonio police Chief William McManus described the events that followed as “unthinkable.” An investigation was opened after the victim contacted police. According to a statement issued by the department, Neal was taken into custody by SAPD Special Victims’ Unit detectives after officers pulled him over around 2 a.m. Saturday. He was arrested on a warrant for sexual assault, a second-degree felony.”I am angry. I am outraged. It’s a punch in the eye to the police department, this kind of conduct,” McManus said. “We won’t tolerate it for a second. And I think the swiftness of the investigation and the arrest is indicative of that.”

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 11-22-13

Here are the 7 reports of police misconduct tracked for Friday, November 22, 2013:

  • Haledon, New Jersey: The Police Chief has been suspended with pay as borough officials investigate a sexual harassment complaint filed against him by two female police employees, his lawyer said. He denied any allegations of harassment, and pledged to fight the disciplinary action.
  • Buffalo, New York: A police officer was arraigned on charges of operating a marijuana-growing operation in the basement of his home. A six-month investigation led by the police department also resulted in his immediate dismissal from the force on which he served for less than a year.
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: A man cleared of trying to lure a girl into his car has now sued a the township police department, alleging he was wrongfully arrested even though he, his vehicle and its license plate number didn’t match the description initially given by the victim.
  • Update: Atlantic City, New Jersey (First reported 11-11-13): Another person has come forward claiming she was the victim of police brutality from an officer. In only five years on the force, Officer Sterling Wheaten has already been named in half a dozen lawsuits.
  • Margate, Florida: A police officer faces a misdemeanor charge of making a harassing telephone call to his immediate superior and threatening to kill her, police said.
  • Maui County, Hawaii: A police officer is facing a domestic abuse charge for allegedly slapping a 13-year-old female family member. Police officials say the officer hit the girl so hard she suffered a concussion after her head snapped backwards and hit an air conditioning unit.
  • Buffalo, New York: A police officer is behind bars after being arrested. The officer was arrested on multiple drug charges following a criminal complaint.

Police Depts Getting Military Vehicles from Iraq War

From the Associated Press:

Coming soon to your local sheriff: 18-ton, armor-protected military fighting vehicles with gun turrets and bulletproof glass that were once the U.S. answer to roadside bombs during the Iraq war.

The hulking vehicles, built for about $500,000 each at the height of the war, are among the biggest pieces of equipment that the Defense Department is giving to law enforcement agencies under a national military surplus program.

For police and sheriff’s departments, which have scooped up 165 of the mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles, or MRAPS, since they became available this summer, the price and the ability to deliver shock and awe while serving warrants or dealing with hostage standoffs was just too good to pass up….

An Associated Press investigation of the Defense Department military surplus program this year found that a disproportionate share of the $4.2 billion worth of property distributed since 1990 – everything from blankets to bayonets and Humvees – has been obtained by police and sheriff’s departments in rural areas with few officers and little crime.

For related Cato work, go here and here.

Trouble with Maryland Correctional Officers

From the Washington Post:

Fourteen current or former Maryland corrections officers were arrested Thursday, accused of aiding members of a violent prison gang, the latest development in a sweeping corruption investigation at two state-run detention facilities.

A federal grand jury indictment unsealed Thursday charges the prison guards with racketeering and drug- and money-laundering conspiracies. Officers allegedly smuggled cellphones inside of sub sandwiches and Percocet pills in their underwear. One estimated making as much as $15,000 in one week….A former corrections officer authorities interviewed in July estimated that 75 percent of the guards at the detention center engage in smuggling….In court papers, federal officials renewed their criticism of the state’s disciplinary process for corrections officers. The system was overhauled three years ago, with O’Malley’s backing, giving officers the right to appeal certain punishments to a board of their peers….

It is “well-known to [corrections officers] that it is very unlikely that they will be fired or severely disciplined for smuggling contraband or fraternizing with inmates,” according to the affidavit. The system set up by the so-called Correctional Officers’ Bill of Rights is “ineffective as a deterrent to [corrections officers] smuggling contraband or getting sexually involved with BGF gang members.”

Friendly reminder to readers: The focus of this web site is on sworn police officers and prison guards are usually not sworn officers.  However, from time to time, we will highlight other matters pertaining to the American criminal justice system and this story falls into that category.  Sometimes readers send us misconduct stories about judges, prosecutors, prison guards, security guards, but they fall outside the purview of this project.


False Arrests in Miami Gardens

From the Miami Herald:

Earl Sampson has been stopped and questioned by Miami Gardens police 258 times in four years….

Miami Gardens police have arrested Sampson 62 times for one offense: trespassing.

Almost every citation was issued at the same place: the 207 Quickstop, a convenience store on 207th Street in Miami Gardens.

But Sampson isn’t loitering. He works as a clerk at the Quickstop.

So how can he be trespassing when he works there?

It’s a question the store’s owner, Alex Saleh, 36, has been asking for more than a year as he watched Sampson, his other employees and his customers, day after day, being stopped and frisked by Miami Gardens police. Most of them, like Sampson, are poor and black….

Saleh was so troubled by what he saw that he decided to install video cameras in his store. Not to protect himself from criminals, because he says he has never been robbed. He installed the cameras — 15 of them — he said, to protect him and his customers from police….

The videos show, among other things, cops stopping citizens, questioning them, aggressively searching them and arresting them for trespassing when they have permission to be on the premises; officers conducting searches of Saleh’s business without search warrants or permission; using what appears to be excessive force on subjects who are clearly not resisting arrest and filing inaccurate police reports in connection with the arrests.

If the story checks out, Alex Saleh, should be nominated for an award of some kind.  How many Earl Sampsons are out there without a lawyer to defend their rights?  Without a supportive employer like Mr. Saleh?

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 11-21-13

Here are the 8 reports of police misconduct tracked for Thursday, November 21, 2013:

  • South Brunswick, New Jersey: A schizophrenic man who was off his medications barricaded himself in his house for hours and assaulted a police officer before he was shot and killed, authorities said. His death marks at least the third fatal police shooting in northern or Central New Jersey in the past two weeks.
  • Nashville, Tennessee: A police officer was arrested after he allegedly choked his teenage son and pushed his wife down the steps.
  • Allegheny Co, Pennsylvania: A man who was charged with luring a child, corruption of minors, harassment, and stalking was found not guilty on all charges after evidence showed that police had concealed aspects of the victim’s initial report. The man now has filed a complaint that says the officer filed an arrest warrant that “contained material falsehoods and omissions,” ignoring the discrepancies between youth reports.
  • Avalon, Pennsylvania: A police officer will report to jail after his conviction on an assault charge related to mistreatment of a prisoner.
  • Jefferson Parish, Louisiana: A now-former sheriff’s deputy, pled guilty to one civil rights violation, five bank fraud violations, and one aggravated identity theft violation.
  • Update: Greenfield, Wisconsin (First reported 09-27-13): A police officer has resigned as part of a plea agreement to resolve criminal charges filed against him for violently throwing a woman into a jail cell.
  • Fayetteville, North Carolina: A man has filed a lawsuit against a police officer who shot him after a chase. He alleges in his suit that he has suffered “numerous physical health problems,” after being shot four times.
  • Baltimore, Maryland: A police officer has been charged with lying to get a warrant to search a home. The 19-year veteran of the department lied when he said he saw a suspect leaving a house carrying a black bag, according to the state’s attorney’s office. He faces charges of perjury and misconduct in office

‘Give me the phone, you bitch’


Costantino says [Officer] Wheaten arrested her brother after he got into an altercation with another patron.

“Wheaten had my brother in a headlock and his arms were limp and his legs were weak,” Costantino said. “I screamed out that it was police brutality and that I was videotaping it all.”
That’s when she claims Wheaten turned on her.

“He was running at me and he says, ‘Give me the phone you b**h,’” she said. “He grabbed my bun and he was slamming my forehead into the floor.”

Wheaten then arrested Costantino but court records show the charges against her were later dropped. Costantino says she’ll never forget what one officer told her the night of the incident.

“He’s like, ‘Oh, that’s your first mistake,’” she said. “You shouldn’t be videotaping police officers.”

And then the story says:

The Atlantic City Police Department is also at the center of another lawsuit from one of their own. Sergeant Mark Benjamin sued the department after claiming he received death threats for reporting police misconduct to his superiors.


Highway Robbery

From NewsChannel 5:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – There was stunning testimony Wednesday before a state Senate committee as a local drug task force found itself facing tough questions.

The director of the 23rd Judicial District Drug Task Force responded to those questions — about whether his agency was “policing for profit” — with new claims that agents are really taking money out of the hands of terrorists.

While there’s absolutely no evidence that the terrorism claim is true, the task force director ended up inadvertently conceding that interstate interdiction units do indeed have a profit motive.

“You said if the money is not there they could potentially lose their jobs or they could potentially lose those bonuses,” observed Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, toward the end of the hearing.

Hmm.  It is a very, very bad idea to set up a situation where police officers must find their next rent check or mortgage payment (or aspiring for a better personal vehicle or boat or whatever) by hunting for violations.

For more on the abuse of civil asset forfeiture laws, go here.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 11-20-13

Here are the 6 reports of police misconduct tracked for Wednesday, November 20, 2013:

  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: A victim of a now-former police officer who offered women legal breaks in exchange for sex acts filed a federal lawsuit today saying the officer, the city and several bureau administrators violated her civil rights.
  • Columbia, Mississippi: A former police chief pled no contest to a lesser charge in an embezzlement case. The indictment alleged he used city funds to buy “squad equipment” and “shotgun shells,” which later turned out to be two firearms that weren’t recorded into police inventory.
  • Bloomington, Illinois: An off-duty police officer is on paid administrative leave following a crash that led to his arrest on drunken-driving charges.
  • Update: Toledo, Ohio (First reported 11-20-13): A police officer facing a domestic violence charge pled not guilty. In court documents, police allege that the veteran officer grabbed the woman he lives with by her arms and threw her into a wall, knocking her down.
  • Laredo, Texas: A police officer has been arrested and accused of driving drunk following an accident, according to police.
  • Burlington, Massachusetts: A police officer was arraigned on charges of falsifying prescriptions and making false disability claims.

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