National Police Misconduct Reporting Project

Worst of the Month — March 2014

So for March it was the case of the soon-to-be-former Philadelphia police officer, Kevin Corcoran.  Mr.  Corcoran was driving the wrong way down a one-way street near a group of individuals when one of them pointed out that the officer had made an illegal turn. The officer got out and aggressively approached the individuals, who readied their cell phone cameras to capture the incident.  The footage (warning: graphic language) shows Corcoran accosting one of the persons filming, an Iraq war veteran, and shouting “Don’t fucking touch me!” before slapping the vet’s phone out of his hand, throwing him up against his police vehicle, arresting him, and driving off.   Another of the cameras showed the vet with his hands up in a defensive posture, retreating from the officer.  When the vet asked why he had been arrested, Corcoran said it was for public intoxication.  Corcoran later cooled off and, after finding out the individual was a veteran, let him off without charges. 

Corcoran has a history of alleged misconduct, including allegations in 2008 that he entered a home without a warrant (and then administered a beating), allegations in 2009 that he falsely accused a man of assault and possession of a controlled substance (after administering a beating), and other similar situations.  In each case, the defendants ended up being acquitted of the charges.

Civil suits over Corcoran’s abuse of authority have been settled out of court in the past, but thanks to the quick cameras of the individuals he encountered here, Corcoran faces charges of false imprisonment, obstructing the administration of law, and official oppression—along with a suspension with intent to dismiss.  This incident shows the importance of the right to film police behavior.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 04-05-14 to 04-07-14

Here are the 10 reports of police misconduct tracked for Saturday, April 5 to Monday, April 7, 2014:

  • Buffalo, West Virginia: A lawsuit says that an officer had an affair with another man’s wife while on duty as a police officer.
  • St. Louis, Missouri: A detective has been disciplined for running improper criminal background checks on about 200 people.
  • Chicago, Illinois: A lawsuit says that police conspired to cover up evidence that Mayor Richard Daley’s nephew killed a man with a single “brutal” punch.
  • Houston, Texas: A sergeant was fired and seven others punished after an internal investigation of the homicide division determined nearly two dozen murder cases were ignored or investigative work was shoddy, the Chief said. “There were certainly some mistakes of the heart and mistakes of the mind,” said the Chief of the seven, “But as it pertains to [the sergeant], it is evident from the IAD investigation that he was lazy, he was a liar, he was not forthright with his supervisors, and he misled his other coworkers.”
  • Concord, California: A police officer has resigned from his job as he faces charges of burglary and elder abuse for taking prescription drugs from residents at a seniors complex, prosecutors said.
  • Darlington County, South Carolina: A deputy has resigned after the sheriff says he failed to take critical steps that would have sent a murder suspect to trial. He resigned “for failing to follow procedure and, subsequently, attempting to cover up that fact,” said the sheriff.
  • Tremonton, Utah: A police officer has been charged with 15 offenses in the collection of thousands of photos of a teenage girl in various stages of undress.
  • Long Beach, California: A police officer has been arrested on three counts of sexual battery of a juvenile; he is accused of having sexual relations with a 15-year-old girl.
  • Edgewood, Indiana: An off-duty police officer was arrested after a car crash. He rear-ended a vehicle, injuring a 9-month pregnant woman and killing her husband. Police say he was possibly under the influence of prescription medication at the time of the accident.
  • Update: West Sacramento, California (Previously reported 02-28-14): A now-former police officer was sentenced to 205 years behind bars on 18 counts of kidnapping and sexually assaulting women while patrolling. “These were reprehensible crimes,” the Mayor said after the sentencing. “He violated the sacred oath he took and the trust of the city he served. It is an appropriate sentence for the crimes he committed.”

FBI Raids First, Asks Questions Afterward

From the Indianapolis Star:

FBI agents Wednesday seized “thousands” of cultural artifacts, including American Indian items, from the private collection of a 91-year-old man who had acquired them over the past eight decades.

An FBI command vehicle and several tents were spotted at the property in rural Waldron, about 35 miles southeast of Indianapolis.

The Rush County man, Don Miller, has not been arrested or charged….

The aim of the investigation is to determine what each artifact is, where it came from and how Miller obtained it, Jones said, to determine whether some of the items might be illegal to possess privately.

My Cato colleague, Walter Olson, writes:  “Might be illegal. Or might have been acquired lawfully. They’re not saying! But to satisfy its curiosity the government gets to seize everything and sort through at its leisure over longer than “weeks or months.”   Read his blog post here.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 04-04-14

Here are the 7 reports of police misconduct tracked for Friday, April 4, 2013:

  • Snohomish County, Washington: A now-former sheriff’s sergeant was charged with felony promoting prostitution and official misconduct for allegedly tipping off bikini baristas in exchange for sexual favors. He reportedly warned baristas when their businesses were targeted by undercover officers.
  • Los Angeles, California: A lawsuit says the police department attempted to bury a case of sexual assault involving two of its officers, even telling the victim not to seek legal counsel after she came forward.
  • Fond du Lac, Wisconsin: A police officer has been suspended for 20 days. She has had 3 high-speed crashes in one year while on-duty. The police chief said that “further violations of city policies…will not be tolerated.”
  • Las Vegas, Nevada: A police officer accused of attempting to gain sexual favors from women he cited for traffic violations pled guilty to five gross misdemeanors.
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: A police officer was charged with assault and making terroristic threats. He backed his car into a man, and the man pounded on the trunk of the officer’s car to alert him. The officer then got out of his car, pulled up his shirt to display a handgun, and rushed at the man yelling racial epithets and threatening to kill him. He has been suspended for 30 days with intent to dismiss.
  • Tulsa, Oklahoma: A police officer is charged with five felony counts, including two counts for receiving bribes. He was charged with taking bribes from an individual who was a part of a “sting” operation. He is also is charged with two counts of violating the Computer Crimes Act and one count of Attempted Intent to Deliver an Illegal Narcotic.
  • Bluffton, Georgia: The police department says they have suspended two officers without pay after they were involved in a bar fight. One was in possession of a firearm at the time.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 04-03-14

Here are the 8 reports of police misconduct tracked for Thursday, April 3, 2014:

  • Hendry County, Florida: A deputy has been arrested on charges of felony battery on his girlfriend. The sheriff’s office reports he was arrested on the highway after a call was received regarding a woman allegedly having been beaten.
  • Update: Taylor County, Kentucky (First reported 10-04-13): A former deputy sheriff pled guilty to charges of distributing anabolic steroids, a Schedule III controlled substance.
  • Belen, New Mexico: A now-former police detective has pleaded guilty to using excessive force while arresting a man. Prosecutors say he entered his plea in federal court to violating an arrestee’s civil rights.
  • Update: Prince George’s County, Maryland (Previously reported 11-14-12): A now-former officer has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for his role in a conspiracy to sell untaxed cigarettes and cocaine. He pleaded guilty to cocaine trafficking, extortion and firearm offenses. He admitted protecting the sale and transport of multiple shipments of contraband cigarettes., Maryland: A police officer pled guilty to a second-degree assault charge. He was placed on administrative duties after he was arrested for assaulting his girlfriend while they were vacationing.
  • Update: Cleveland, Ohio (Previously reported 08-23-12): A jury found a veteran police officer guilty of raping and kidnapping a woman. He face multiple charges of rape, kidnapping and gross sexual imposition involving two separate women.
  • Park Forest, Illinois: An officer was charged in the police killing of a 95-year-old World War II veteran who was fatally shot with beanbag rounds in his apartment at a senior facility. A Cook County State’s Attorney said the patrolman was charged with one count of reckless conduct, a Class 4 felony.
  • Update: Cincinnati, Ohio (First reported 01-30-14): Police have concluded an internal investigation of allegations by a woman who said she was raped. The woman filed a federal lawsuit against a police officer, alleging that she arrested her instead of helping her.
  • Frederick, Maryland: A police officer pled guilty to a second-degree assault charge.

Chicago Spends Hundred of Millions on Police Misconduct Cases

From the Chicago Sun Times:

Over the past decade, the City of Chicago has spent more than $500 million on police-related settlements, judgments, legal fees and other costs — raising new questions about the adequacy of training and oversight in the Chicago Police Department, according to a review by the Better Government Association.

In 2013 alone, the city shelled out $84.6 million — the largest annual payout in the decade analyzed by the BGA, and more than triple the $27.3 million the city had initially projected to spend last year….

In all, the BGA found more than $521.3 million has been spent to handle police misconduct-related lawsuits from 2004 to the present day. The true cost, though, is even higher, as the BGA counted settlements and judgments, legal bills and other fees — but not less tangible expenses related to, say, insurance premiums, investigators and the cost of incarcerating innocents.

In all, the BGA found 1,611 misconduct-related lawsuits had been filed against Chicago police from 2009 to 2013, a majority alleging excessive force.

Cop Pulls Gun on Boys Building a Tree Fort


A fifth-grader says he was terrified when a police officer pointed a gun at him and his friends while they built a tree fort.

Omari Grant, 11, said he and his friends often play in a wooded area behind his home and were building a fort when a neighbor in the next subdivision called police to complain about what the boys were doing.

But no one anticipated what Omari and his mother say happened next….

Omari told Diamant that two officers, one with his gun drawn, rolled up on him and a few of his friends as they built a fort in the trees behind his home.

“I was thinking that I don’t want to be shot today, so I just listened to what they said,” Omari said.

More here.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 04-02-14

Here are the 9 reports of police misconduct tracked for Wednesday, April 2, 2014:

  • Galveston, Texas: Twelve people say they were brutally beaten when more than 30 police officers burst into a wedding party at an outdoor bar. Police say the accusations are exaggerated and any force used was justified.
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: A now-former police officer withdrew his guilty plea to charges relating to drugs, assault, and promoting prostitution.
  • Bennington, Vermont: A man who police arrested after a car and foot chase is suing the town, police department, and an officer for at least $500,000 over an incident in which he was allegedly hit in the face with an object and denied medical attention while he bled profusely.
  • Baltimore, Maryland: A police officer pled guilty to two counts of sexual abuse of a minor. A state’s attorney said the officer sexually abused a child after knowing her and her family for years.
  • Dallas, Texas: A police officer was fired and arrested on a charge of sexual assault. He was accused of raping a woman without her “consent or awareness.”
  • New York, New York: A woman spent seven years in prison on an attempted murder conviction before it was dismissed. She said never laid eyes on the man she was accused of setting up to be attacked with gunshots to his chest and stomach. Her attorneys are filing a notice of claim charging false arrest, wrongful conviction, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution and other civil charges.
  • Charles County, Maryland: A sheriff has denied allegations of excessive force during a traffic stop. The victim says he plans to file suit.
  • Opelika, Alabama: A police officer shot an Air Force Airman in the stomach after the Airman and a tractor trailer had pulled over to the side of an interstate following a seemingly routine, minor traffic accident. The Airman was told he would likely have to wear a colonoscopy pack his entire life. His father says this is a case of excessive force. OPD, which has yet to file charges against the Airman, has suspended the police officer with pay as the state investigation continues.
  • South Bend, Indiana: Local pastors and activists gathered to call for the firing of a police officer accused of excessive force. A man was seriously injured and hospitalized after being arrested. The man has yet to be formally charged by the county prosecutor’s office and his family complained about the force used.

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