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National Police Misconduct Reporting Project

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 05-30-15 to 06-01-15

Here are the eight reports of police misconduct tracked for Saturday, May 30 through Monday, June 1, 2015:

  • Mobile, Alabama: An officer was terminated for misconduct and jailed for second-degree theft.
  • Update: Onondaga, New York (First reported 12-17-14): A deputy, one of three who have been indicted for fraud, has retired from the department. The criminal cases are still pending against them.
  • Donnellson, Iowa: The police chief was arrested for domestic assault. He resigned a few days later.
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota: An officer faces federal civil rights charges for assaulting four people and committing perjury.
  • Update: Lafayette, Indiana (First reported 07-03-14): The City settled with a wheelchair-bound man who was hit and verbally abused by an officer. The officer was demoted after the incident.
  • New York State Police: A trooper was acquitted on three out of four rape charges. The jury hung on the fourth charge, third-degree rape.
  • Update: Amarillo, Texas (First reported 10-06-14): An officer is seeking to overturn his discipline for actions following officer-involved shooting.
  • Portland, Oregon: An officer skirted parking fines totaling more than $1,000. He resigned, but officials are pushing to revoke his law enforcement certification for life.

Washington Post Tracking Police Shooting Fatalities

On Sunday, the Washington Post ran a lengthy story about police shootings in the USA thus far this year.  Fatalities are now 385, about twice a day–and those are only the fatalities (if someone is shot and is crippled or is on life support, that’s not part of this tally).


The most troubling ­cases began with a cry for help.

About half the shootings occurred after family members, neighbors or strangers sought help from police because someone was suicidal, behaving erratically or threatening violence.

Take Shane Watkins, a 39-year-old white man, who died in his mother’s driveway in Moulton, Ala.

Watkins had never been violent, and family members were not afraid for their safety when they called Lawrence County sheriff’s deputies in March. But Watkins, who suffered from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, was off his medication. Days earlier, he had declared himself the “god of the fifth element” and demanded whiskey and beer so he could “cleanse the earth with it,” said his sister, Yvonne Cote.

Then he started threatening to shoot himself and his dog, Slayer. His mother called Cote, who called 911. Cote got back on the phone with her mother, who watched Watkins walk onto the driveway holding a box cutter to his chest. A patrol car pulled up, and Cote heard her mother yell: “Don’t shoot! He doesn’t have a gun!”

“Then I heard the gunshots,” Cote said.

Lawrence County sheriff’s officials declined to comment and have refused to release documents related to the case.

Read the whole thing.  Excellent reporting.

Note that it’s a private institution that’s gathered this important information together, not the government itself.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 05-29-15

Here are the nine reports of police misconduct tracked for Friday, May 29, 2015:

  • Update: Colchester, Vermont (First reported 11-12-14): A now-former officer entered a guilty plea for stealing drugs from the evidence room.
  • South Whitehall Township, Pennsylvania: Three officers were suspended and demoted for undisclosed misconduct.
  • Barstow, California: Officers tackled and arrested a pregnant woman after she refused to show identification. According to the ACLU statement quoted in the report, “A person who is not suspected of a crime has no obligation to identify herself. Even if an officer is conducting an investigation, in California (unlike some other states), he can’t just require a person to provide ID for no reason. The officer can ask for ID, but the person can say no.”
  • Update: Pennsylvania State Police (First reported 02-11-15): A now-former trooper pled guilty to reckless endangerment for the fatal shooting of a colleague during a firearms safety training exercise.
  • Update: Inkster, Michigan (First reported 03-30-15): The City settled with the man whose beating by police was recorded on a dashcam and released to the public. The settlement was for $1,400,000. The office in question was fired.
  • New York, New York: An officer who had been caught repeatedly lying to Internal Affairs had evidence tossed from a felony drug and gun case. The judge ruled that the multiple instances of proven dishonesty rendered his work and testimony not credible.
  • Detroit, Michigan: An officer was accused of assault. She has previously been arrested for domestic and alcohol-related incidents.
  • Update: Reno County, Kansas (First reported 05-15-15): A detective arrested for domestic violence has resigned.
  • Update: Gasconade Co., Missouri (First reported 02-03-15): A deputy previously arrested for multiple felonies was charged with four counts of forcible rape in an amended filing.

The Jermaine McBean Case

From the New York Times:

OAKLAND PARK, Fla. — The witnesses who saw a Broward County deputy sheriff kill a man who had strolled through his apartment complex with an unloaded air rifle propped on his shoulders agreed: Just before he was gunned down, Jermaine McBean had ignored the officers who stood behind him shouting for him to drop his weapon.

Nothing, the officer swore under oath, prevented Mr. McBean from hearing the screaming officers.

Newly obtained photographic evidence in the July 2013 shooting of Mr. McBean, a 33-year-old computer-networking engineer, shows that contrary to repeated assertions by the Broward Sheriff’s Office, he was wearing earbuds when he was shot, suggesting that he was listening to music and did not hear the officers. The earphones somehow wound up in the dead man’s pocket, records show.

Repeat: Somehow those earphones wound up in Mr. McBean’s pocket.


National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 05-28-15

Here are the nine reports of police misconduct tracked for Thursday, May 28, 2015:

  • Sarpy County, Nebraska: A longtime deputy was fired and sentenced to one year’s probation, 200 hours of community service for inappropriately touching woman off duty. He claims he was blackout drunk at the time of the incident.
  • Dexter, New Mexico: A police chief was placed on leave by the mayor. There is an ongoing state police investigation into his alleged sexual harassment women around town.
  • Update: Chicago, Illinois (First reported 09-02-14): A commander will face trial in June for allegedly putting his gun into a suspect’s mouth. The officer is highly decorated, but had “dozens” of citizen complaints filed against him between January 2006 and July 2014. He was not disciplined for any of those complaints.
  • Mission, Texas: An investigator was arrested for misdemeanor DWI after running her vehicle onto the sidewalk when she was pulled over.
  • Rutgers University-Newark, New Jersey: An officer was arrested for embezzling $30,000 from the police union.
  • Update: San Francisco, California (First reported 03-05-14): A now-former officer was sentenced to one year for pleading guilty to drug conspiracy. He testified against other officers in the conspiracy and received leniency for his cooperation. Those two now-former officers were found guilty and sentenced to 41 months and 39 months for their roles.
  • Edmonston, Maryland: The police chief faces criminal charges for alleged ticket fixing.
  • Update: Greenfield, Indiana (First reported 04-09-14): An officer was sentenced to a year of probation and fined for OWI. He was previously convicted of bribery and misconduct in office for which he was sentenced to a year of home detention. He still faces prostitution charges.
  • Dundee, Michigan: The police chief was arrested for domestic violence at his home.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 05-27-15

Here are the seven reports of police misconduct tracked for Wednesday, May 27, 2015:

  • Prince George’s County, Maryland: An officer was arrested and charged with first-degree murder for a shooting at fast food restaurant. One man died in the incident and the officer’s ex-wife was injured.
  • Update: Los Angeles, California (First reported 03-18-15): The now-former officer who was wanted for killing a man in an off-duty fight was apprehended in Mexico and extradited to United States.
  • Miami Springs, Florida: An officer was arrested for extortion. He allegedly aided someone he thought to be a drug trafficker who was an undercover FBI agent.
  • Polk County, Florida: A lieutenant was arrested for indecent exposure.
  • Christian County, Missouri: The sheriff resigned after he pled guilty to embezzling county funds. He was sentenced to one year and one day.
  • King County, Washington: A deputy who worked at Sea-Tac airport was fired for a number of violations in one incident. He was found passed out drunk at the helm of a boat and he had left his firearm unattended on shore. When confronted by responding officers, he assaulted them.
  • Springfield, Missouri: An officer won’t be charged for fatally shooting an unarmed man. The officer said he thought man reached for a weapon.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 05-23-15 to 05-26-15

Here are the eleven reports of police misconduct tracked for Saturday, May 23 through Tuesday, May 26, 2015:

  • Update: Cleveland, Ohio (First reported 06-04-14): An officer was acquitted of all charges in the shooting deaths of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams. Although he climbed on the roof of their car and shot the unarmed pair multiple times, evidence was not conclusive that his final barrage were the fatal rounds of the total 137 bullets fired into their vehicle.
  • Alton, Illinois officer on leave after video surfaced of him pepper spraying cuffed teens in
  • Bexar County, Texas: A deputy was arrested for domestic violence.
  • San Antonio, Texas: A 25-year veteran officer was arrested for DUI.
  • Orange County, California: A deputy was arrested for charges related to illegal possession of prescription medication.
  • South Bend, Indiana: An officer was charged with federal civil rights violations for punching an inmate in 2010.
  • Update: Lawrence, Massachusetts (02-28-13): A now-former officer was convicted of sex crimes against minor. He faces more allegations in other jurisdictions.
  • Sevier County, Tennessee: A deputy was fired and indicted for misconduct for having sex on duty with a woman after responding to a 911 call.
  • Douglasville, Georgia: The police chief was suspended during an investigation into allegations he used excessive force during a traffic stop.
  • Baltimore, Maryland: An officer was charged with stealing $3,000 in a federal sting.
  • Update: Pembroke, North Carolina (First reported 09-11-14): A now-former officer as given 12 months’ probation after he pled guilty to assault. The sexual assault charges were dropped in exchange for his plea.


Lessons from Baltimore

Last Friday, the Cato Institute held a briefing on Capitol Hill about the lessons we can take from the events in Baltimore. Cato colleagues Matthew Feeney and Michael Tanner join me on the panel. The discussion was moderated by Cato’s Peter Russo.

Policing Double Standards

Over at the Huffington Post, Ryan J. Reilly reports that St. Louis was one of the cities to receive MacArthur Foundation grants to improve the relationship between the police and the public. When discussing the award, the police chief made some frank admissions about the double standard that infects policing in the greater St. Louis area:

In an interview ahead of the announcement, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar called the reform effort a “positive that came out of a tragedy.”


Belmar… said it is simply unrealistic for law enforcement to be able to enforce the hundreds of thousands of outstanding warrants in the county, many of them in connection with missed court dates for minor violations of municipal codes.

“I’m looking at cities that have 50,000, 39,000, 30,000 outstanding warrants today. You’re never going to catch up to that,” Belmar said. “You might have a city like Pine Lawn, which is 360 acres, that has 30,000 outstanding warrants. How can that be? The math doesn’t work.”

Belmar acknowledged that the protests in Ferguson have given a voice to populations that had been overlooked in the past.

“If you went to a very affluent area in St. Louis County, how long do you think a program would last where speed cameras were put up on arterial roads coming into subdivisions, and people were given letters saying they were going to be arrested? It would last about five hours,” Belmar said.

As Judge Janice Rogers Brown recently wrote in a concurrence in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, such double standards are not limited to St. Louis. Describing roving patrols for guns that are standard practice in Southeast D.C.—an area of predominantly poor and minority neighborhoods—she wrote:

As a thought experiment, try to imagine this scene in Georgetown. Would residents of that neighborhood maintain there was no pressure to comply, if the District’s police officers patrolled Prospect Street in tactical gear, questioning each person they encountered about whether they were carrying an illegal firearm? Nothing about the Gun Recovery Unit’s modus operandi is designed to convey a message that compliance is not required. While viewing such an encounter as consensual is roughly equivalent to finding the latest Sasquatch sighting credible, I submit to the prevailing orthodoxy, but I continue to reject its counterintuitive premise.

Georgetown is an affluent, predominantly white area that is home to many D.C. elites and features high-end shopping and dining. It is indeed difficult to imagine SWAT teams shaking down tourists and well-to-do residents for very long.

Because many neighborhoods around the United States continue to be segregated along both economic and racial lines, this policing double standard has the effect—whether intended or not—of alienating poor minorities and undermining police legitimacy in those communities. Extracting money from the impoverished and using dubiously constitutional tactics in specific areas is the wrong way to treat the people who live there.

This was cross-posted at Cato@Liberty.

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