National Police Misconduct Reporting Project

Video Shows Police K-9 Attack

From WNCN:

A Wilmington police officer involved in an incident in October has been cleared of any wrongdoing, but new dash camera video showing exactly what happened has started a debate in the community over if excessive force was used.

New video shows WPD K-9 officer, Stafford Brister, lifting his police dog and forcing it through the driver’s side window right into the driver’s lap. Brister was one of the law enforcement officers who responded to a chase in Wilmington.

The video shows the police dog attacking the driver. Later, an injury report detailed that Johnnie Williams had lacerations to his face.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 12-10-13 to 12-11-13

Here are the 10 reports of police misconduct tracked for Tuesday, December 10 to Wednesday, December 11, 2013:

  • Lake Arthur, Louisiana: A police officer has been charged with aggravated rape and molestation of a juvenile, state police said.
  • Broken Arrow, Oklahoma: A police officer was arrested and booked into jail on a complaint of public intoxication. He is also being investigated for sexual battery, but he was not arrested for that.
  • Update: Ripley, West Virginia (First reported 07-02 -13): A now-former police officer has been sentenced one year and one day in prison after pleading guilty to possession of child pornography. His prison time will be followed by ten years of supervised release.
  • Lafourche Parish, Louisiana: A sheriff says a deputy has been fired and arrested after being accused of bringing forbidden items to a jailed friend. The felony charge carries up to five years at hard labor and a $2000 fine.
  • Update: Newton County, Georgia (First reported 09-23-13): A now-former sheriff’s deputy has pleaded guilty to possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
  • Johnson County, Kansas: A sheriff’s deputy was charged following a stand-off. He was charged with aggravated assault, criminal restraint, and domestic battery. He is now on administrative leave.
  • Madison County, Alabama: A sheriff’s deputy has been arrested after a grand jury indicted him. He was indicted on two felonies including theft and receiving stolen property. He could get 1-10 years in prison for each charge.
  • Nye County, Nevada: A sheriff’s deputy was arrested after police say he broke into his estranged wife’s home and held her captive there. He was taken into custody on charges of domestic battery, stalking, burglary and false imprisonment.
  • Update: Burlington, Vermont (First reported 07-31-13): The deputy police chief who was arrested for his second DUI pleaded no contest. After the judge accepted his plea agreement, he was allowed to retire.
  • Dallas, Texas: The city council has agreed to pay nearly $1.2 million to the mother of a bicyclist who died after being run over by a police car. Two officers were fired for the incident and one was charged criminally. Police determined the officer did not immediately call for an ambulance after the cyclist was hurt, and later told paramedics that someone else hit him.

An ‘Epidemic’ of Prosecutorial Misconduct

On December 10, five federal appellate judges acknowledged that there is a whole lot of prosecutorial misconduct going on in our criminal justice system:  “There is an epidemic of Brady violations abroad in the land.”

“Brady” refers to the landmark Supreme Court case that says the due process guarantee is violated when prosecutors suppress evidence that is favorable to the accused when such evidence is material to that person’s guilt or innocence.  The problem is that prosecutors are typically not punished when a Brady violation occurs–so the rule is too often ignored.

Alex Kozinski, Chief Judge of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, wrote the dissenting opinion in United States v. Olsen (No. 10-36063).  An excerpt:

I wish I could say that the prosecutor’s unprofessionalism here is the exception, that his propensity for shortcuts and indifference to his ethical and legal responsibilities is a rare blemish and source of embarrassment to an otherwise diligent and scrupulous corps of attorneys staffing prosecutors’ offices around the country.  But it wouldn’t be true.  Brady violations have reached epidemic proportions in recent years, and the federal and state reporters bear testament to this unsettling trend.

“Epidemic proportions.”   Another aspect of the broken, dysfunctional system exposed.

For additional background, go here and here.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 12-07-13 to 12-09-13

Here are the 9 reports of police misconduct tracked for Saturday, December 7, to Monday, December 9, 2013:

  • Kansas City, Missouri: A man says he’s been terrified since an encounter with police. He says officers came to his home in looking for people he’d never heard of. He said they needed a warrant to enter his home. Then he said one police officer started threatening him saying, “If we have to get a warrant, we’re going to come back when you’re not expecting it, we’re going to park in front of your house, where all your neighbors can see, we’re gonna bust in your door with a battering ram, we’re gonna shoot and kill your dogs, who are my family, and then we’re going to ransack your house looking for these people.”
  • Miami Gardens, Florida: Nearly a dozen plaintiffs have filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the mayor and police chief, alleging the use of racial profiling, stop-and-frisks and other questionable police tactics targeting African-American citizens.
  • Post Falls, Idaho: A woman has sued the city and police officials after her home was searched without a warrant. In the lawsuit the woman contends she sustained physical injuries, emotional pain, lost wages and other damages because of the search.
  • Los Angeles, California: FBI agents began arresting sheriff’s officials as part of a wide-ranging investigation into allegations of abuse and misconduct in the county’s jails. At least three people — including a lieutenant, a sergeant and a deputy — were taken into custody as part of a federal obstruction of justice probe into how sheriff’s officials handled an FBI informant.
  • Orlando, Florida: A police officer was fired recently after an investigation revealed he had racially profiled drivers and misused Florida’s driver-and-vehicle database, an internal affairs report states.
  • New Orleans, Louisiana: The city has settled with a man who sued over his arrest by two police officers who quit amid allegations they falsely arrested him on a drug charge.
  • Update: Taos, New Mexico (First reported 11-18-13): A state police officer who fired at a minivan full of children during a traffic stop has been suspended with pay pending a disciplinary investigation into the traffic incident.
  • Long Beach, California: A now-former police detective was arrested for allegedly passing on information to the city’s Baby Insane Crips street gang as her department investigated a slaying, officials said. She faces charges of conspiracy to obstruct justice with an additional allegation the acts were committed to benefit a criminal street gang.
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: The police are filing DUI charges against an officer after they say he allegedly came to work intoxicated.

Mother Jones on Overcriminalization

Chase Madar:

If all you’ve got is a hammer, then everything starts to look like a nail. And if police and prosecutors are your only tool, sooner or later everything and everyone will be treated as criminal. This is increasingly the American way of life, a path that involves “solving” social problems (and even some non-problems) by throwing cops at them, with generally disastrous results. Wall-to-wall criminal law encroaches ever more on everyday life as police power is applied in ways that would have been unthinkable just a generation ago….

The term “police state” was once brushed off by mainstream intellectuals as the hyperbole of paranoids. Not so much anymore. Even in the tweediest precincts of the legal system, the over-criminalization of American life is remarked upon with greater frequency and intensity. “You’re probably a (federal) criminal” is the accusatory title of a widely read essay co-authored by Judge Alex Kozinski of the 9th Circuit of the US Court of Appeals. A Republican appointee, Kozinski surveys the morass of criminal laws that make virtually every American an easy target for law enforcement. Veteran defense lawyer Harvey Silverglate has written an entire book about how an average American professional could easily commit three felonies in a single day without knowing it.The daily overkill of police power in the US goes a long way toward explaining why more Americans aren’t outraged by the “excesses” of the war on terror, which, as one law professor has argued, are just our everyday domestic penal habits exported to more exotic venues. It is no less true that the growth of domestic police power is, in this positive feedback loop, the partial result of our distant foreign wars seeping back into the homeland (the “imperial boomerang” that Hannah Arendt warned against).Many who have long railed against our country’s everyday police overkill have reacted to the revelations of NSA surveillance with detectable exasperation: of course we are over-policed! Some have even responded with peevish resentment: Why so much sympathy for this Snowden kid when the daily grind of our justice system destroys so many lives without comment or scandal? After all, in New York, the police department’s “stop and frisk” tactic, which targets African American and Latino working-class youth for routinized street searches, was until recently uncontroversial among the political and opinion-making class. If “the gloves came off” after September 11, 2001, many Americans were surprised to learn they had ever been on to begin with.A hammer is necessary to any toolkit. But you don’t use a hammer to turn a screw, chop a tomato, or brush your teeth. And yet the hammer remains our instrument of choice, both in the conduct of our foreign policy and in our domestic order. The result is not peace, justice, or prosperity but rather a state that harasses and imprisons its own people while shouting ever less intelligibly about freedom.

Read the whole thing.  The article by Judge Kozinski appears in my book, In the Name of Justice, found on the home page here.


National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 12-06-13

Here are the 9 reports of police misconduct tracked for Friday, December 6, 2013:

  • Vermilion Parish, Louisiana: A now-former law enforcement officer pleaded guilty to federal charges of unauthorized use of an FBI database to check the criminal history of two people for non-law enforcement purposes.
  • Maysville, Kentucky: The former director of a now defunct narcotics task force has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of theft of public funds. An investigation revealed the officer was the only suspect in the disappearaance of about $90,000 that was seized during drug investigations and cash the organization kept on hand for drug buys. Fegan’s indictment reads he is accused of taking $98,000.
  • Andover, Massachusetts: A police officer resigned amid an investigation into an alleged hit-and-run, drunken-driving accident.
  • Jennings, Louisiana: The family of a man who died Parish jail shortly after he was arrested has filed a lawsuit against the Sheriff’s Office asserting sheriff’s deputies violated the man’s constitutional rights and used excessive force that led to the man’s death.
  • Update: Schaumberg, Illinois: A now-former police officer was sentenced to 18 months of probation after he admitted he kept a handgun that two village residents had turned in to the Police Department for safe disposal.
  • King County, Washington: According to a termination letter written the county sheriff, an officer was fired for “proven deception” and for “refusal to accept responsibility” when confronted about a financial impropriety.
  • Sheboygan, Wisconsin: Two off-duty police officers were arrested for operating while intoxicated. Both officers were off duty and driving their personal vehicles at the time of the crash.
  • Bellevue, Washington: A police officer was charged with driving under the influence. He is the same police officer suspended by his department last year for drunk and disorderly conduct at a Seattle Seahawks game.
  • Washington, DC: The search for a missing teenager led investigators to the apartment of an officer where the girl was found, sources say. Officers found both a missing 15-year-old girl and an unknown quantity of drugs.

When Resident Tells Police They Need a Warrant, Police Threaten Resident with Violence


Eric Crinnian, a lawyer, heard a loud banging at his door Monday night, he was instantly alarmed since a neighbor’s house was robbed a few weeks ago, so he grabbed a crow-bar. Crinnian said three police officers were outside his house. “I open the door a little bit wider and he sees that I have something in my hand, so he pulls his gun, tells me to put down whatever I’ve got and then come out with my hands up, so I do,” Crinnian said. They wanted to know where two guys were, and Crinnian later found out police believed they violated parole. “I said, ‘I have no idea who you’re talking about I’ve never heard of these people before,’” he said. To prove it, he said police asked to search his house, Crinnian refused multiple times.  He said they needed a warrant. Then he said one police officer started threatening him saying, “If we have to get a warrant, we’re going to come back when you’re not expecting it, we’re going to park in front of your house, where all your neighbors can see, we’re gonna bust in your door with a battering ram, we’re gonna shoot and kill your dogs, who are my family, and then we’re going to ransack your house looking for these people.”

H/T: Turley Blog

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 12-05-13

Here are the 12 reports of police misconduct tracked for Thursday, November 5, 2013:

  • California Borough, Pennsylvania: A police officer who had been suspended earlier this year now is accused of assaulting a handcuffed suspect. The chief charged the officer with misdemeanor counts of official oppression and simple assault.
  • Los Angeles County, California: A now-former deputy was sentenced to three years probation for driving drunk at twice the legal limit, hitting another car and fleeing the scene. He will also have to wear an alcohol-monitoring system for two years and is required to install a breathalyzer lock on any vehicle registered under his name.
  • Cleburne, Texas: A state trooper was arrested after allegedly buying 6 grams of methamphetamine. Police also found more drugs and drug paraphernalia in the officer’s home. He was charged with possession of a controlled substance.
  • Leon Valley, Texas: The police department is investigating a claim that a police officer stole money from an eye wear shop over after he died.
  • Milwaukee, Wisconsin: A detective was fired after being charged with one count of misconduct in public office after he allegedly used excessive force on a suspect during an interrogation.
  • North Kingstown, Rhode Island: The town has agreed to pay $7 million to the family of a teenager left paralyzed after the police shot him nine times during a confrontation. The police officers have been cleared by a grand jury in the incident.
  • Jefferson Parish, Louisiana: A patrol deputy was fired after he admitted to procuring prescription drugs for a relative. The police chief said that after the deputy admitted to the incident he had no choice but to terminate him, “We have a very low tolerance for that.”
  • Minerva, Ohio: A police officer accused of assaulting his girlfriend pleaded no contest to a reduced charge of disorderly conduct. He allegedly pushed her down a flight of stairs, causing her to hit her head.
  • San Diego, California: A police officer has been arrested on suspicion of drunken driving. She was ticketed by the California Highway Patrol and let go.
  • Middlesex, Massachusetts: An off-duty sergeant with the sheriff’s office is facing charges in what is described as a road-rage incident. He is accused of stopping a driver, frisking him, and then punching the driver when the driver asked him for identification. He has been suspended with pay pending the investigation.
  • Ravenswood, West Virginia: Two top officers have been accused of violating a woman’s civil rights. The woman claims she was falsely arrested and that the officers deliberately roughed her up knowing that she has “serious impediments of her spine.”
  • Update: Madison County, Tennessee (First reported 11-04-13): A sheriff has been indicted and arrested for a felony count of criminal attempt to commit aggravated sexual battery and a misdemeanor count of domestic violence assault.


Worst of the Month — November 2013

For November, it had to be the repeated, forced, anal rape-search of young men—in two separate occurrences—in New Mexico.  The first victim, David Eckert, was pulled over and detained for not making a complete stop at a stop sign.  After a judge gave the arresting officers a warrant for a body cavity search because the officers said the victim appeared to be “clenching his buttocks,” the officers took him to a local hospital.  After a doctor at the first hospital denied the agents’ demands, they took Eckert to another hospital, where the officers demanded he be subject to forced, repeated anal penetration.

First, the doctors took an x-ray of Eckert’s abdomen, which showed no hidden narcotics.  Next, the doctors forcibly probed Eckert’s anus with their fingers, which uncovered no hidden narcotics.  Undeterred, the doctors penetrated Eckert once again to insert an enema and force Eckert to defecate in front of the officers: no drugs.  Eckert was given two additional enemas and forced to defecate so the officers could watch a few more times.  No drugs were found. Another x-ray was taken: no drugs.  To cap off Eckert’s torture-rape-search, the officers had the doctors sedate Eckert and give him a colonoscopy, penetrating his anus, colon, rectum, and large intestines.  No drugs found.  All of this was done against Eckert’s protest, in a county not covered by the search warrant, with part of the search done after the warrant had expired.

Timothy Young was brutalized in the same manner after failing to put his blinker on before a turn.  He was taken to the same hospital and subjected to similar searching methods against his protests.  In both cases, the police officers used the same uncertified K-9 to get a positive alert for marijuana to justify the warrants.

This website often reports instances of police rape and sexual misconduct, but in these cases, the offending officers typically do not contend that they have the right to abuse their victims’ bodies and are typically punished for their crime, even if often more lightly than others would be punished.  Cases like this are entirely different.  These cases show that officers can drum up warrants—for a dog’s bark and a perceived “clench”—to repeatedly and forcefully penetrate the depths of the human body for hours on end, and still think they have the power and lawful authority to repeat the process.  Even worse, the futile, repeated nature of the searches seriously calls into doubt whether the officers were actually searching for drugs or just torturing the victims under the banner of law enforcement.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 12-04-13

Here are the 7 reports of police misconduct tracked for Wednesday, December 04, 2013:

  • Update: Hartleton, Pennsylvania (Previously reported 09-06-13): A jury found the suspended police chief guilty of theft by extortion. But, he was found not guilty of other charges including conspiracy.
  • Lexington, Massachusetts: An off-duty police officer was allegedly involved in a bar fight in Westford. The officer on the call asked the Lexington officer to pay his tab and leave, which resulted in the Lexington officer calling the Westford officer and the Westford Police Department “a joke,” questioning the camaraderie of members of their profession, with the Lexington officer beginning to walk back into the bar.
  • Rio Grande City, Texas: A now-former police sergeant was charged with two counts of sexual assault of a minor.
  • Midlothian, Illinois: A federal brutality indictment was handed up against a top south suburban police official. These charges involve the alleged beatings of two different suspects. The charges are unreasonable force by law enforcement, and if convicted, carry hefty prison sentences.
  • Kanawha County, West Virginia: A sheriff’s deputy tackled a blind Vietnam veteran in his own house and tripped him on the way to the squad car, in a bogus arrest for public intoxication, which charge was dropped, the veteran claims in court.
  • Concord, California: A 64-year-old man filed a federal lawsuit accusing an off-duty police officer of using excessive force during an apparent road-rage incident. The suit says the officer intentionally rammed into the man’s car, broke his arm and bruised his ribs.
  • New York, New York: An officer was arrested at his home and charged with conspiracy and an attempt to commit extortion. “The victim was further betrayed when seeking the assistance of … an N.Y.P.D. officer whose sinister intentions were shrouded by his badge of honor,” said the assistant director in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s New York field office.

Creative Commons License
This work by Cato Institute is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.