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National Police Misconduct Reporting Project

Worst of the Month — February 2015

So the worst case for February goes to an officer with the San Antonio, Texas Police Department.  Daniel Lopez held his wife and children at gunpoint, striking his wife in the head with his gun, and had a 20 minute standoff with police before surrendering. He pled no contest to disorderly conduct. But get this: He was sentenced to just one day of probation and ordered to pay a $100 fine!   According to the news report, “The plea deal struck out any reference to a gun or family violence,” and so Lopez will retain his peace officer’s license whether or not the SAPD terminates his employment.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 03-04-15

Here are the seven reports of police misconduct tracked for Wednesday, March 4, 2015:

  • Columbus, Ohio: An officer was arrested for drunk driving after a police chase.
  • Kenosha, Wisconsin: A now-former officer testified at a criminal trial that he planted evidence—an identification card and a bullet—in a backpack that was seized during a homicide and robbery investigation. He resigned when an investigation was launched into his conduct. Making matters worse, the defense attorney claims the prosecutor’s office did not reveal the potentially exonerating information until days into the trial.
  • Update: Baltimore, Maryland (First reported 02-05-15): An officer was charged with multiple assault and endangerment charges. She was assigned to a middle school and got into a violent altercation with three female students.
  • St. Louis County, Missouri: An officer was charged with felony theft for moonlighting during his shift. He claimed to be working for the County when he was working as a private security guard and collected $6,000 in inappropriate pay.
  • Update: Washington Township, New Jersey (First reported 05-01-14): The officer who was accused of falsification and misconduct for a bad DUI arrest of assemblyman was acquitted.
  • New Orleans, Louisiana: An officer was arrested for misdemeanor solicitation.
  • Dothan, Alabama: An officer was charged with multiple counts of identity theft and fraud. He was asked to resign after his arrest.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 03-03-15

Here are the nine reports of police misconduct tracked for Tuesday, March 3, 2015:

  • Greenville County, South Carolina: A deputy was charged with selling police information to an illicit gambling operation.
  • Pickens County, South Carolina: A deputy was fired for inappropriate use of force. He twice Tasered a 65-year-old wheelchair-bound man and also threw him out of the wheelchair.
  • Lansing, Michigan: A federal judge threw out an excessive force civil claim against the city but allowed the case to proceed against the officer involved in the case. The plaintiff’s 17-year-old daughter broke into a bank and was apprehended by the officer and two others present. The suspect was shot in the stomach after producing a sharp object. However, the plaintiff alleges that her daughter had already surrendered and was on her knees when the officer fatally shot the suspect in the head. The prosecutor had previously ruled the shooting justified.
  • Put-in-Bay, Ohio: The police chief was charged with aggravated menacing, dereliction of duty, and falsification.
  • Orient, Illinois: The police chief brandished his weapon at bars twice in one night. He has been charged with intimidation and official misconduct.
  • Memphis, Tennessee: A police officer is accused of performing a lewd act and solicitation of a minor. He allegedly picked up a teen on the way to school and masturbated while she was in the car.
  • Ottawa, Kansas: An officer was arrested for DUI after crashing his truck into a utility pole while off duty.
  • Hawaii Island, Hawaii: An officer was arrested for negligent homicide after fatally striking a bicyclist with his car on a narrow roadway.
  • Grand Rapids, Michigan: An officer was charged with home invasion and sexual assault of his ex-girlfriend in Wyoming. He resigned upon his arrest.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 02-28-15 to 03-02-15

Here are the nine reports of police misconduct tracked for Saturday, February 28 through Monday, March 2, 2015:

  • Red Bank, Tennessee: A grand jury will examine an officer’s actions during a forceful arrest. The internal investigation cleared him of wrongdoing, but the prosecutor referred the case to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. The incident was caught on video but was not initially released by the Red Bank Police Department. The prosecutor decided to present the case to the grand jury after reviewing the report from the “months-long” investigation by the TBI. According to the news report, the officer punched the suspect “in the arm and face while other officers held him down, stun-gunned him and tried to handcuff him. The encounter left [the suspect] with a swollen-shut eye, a fractured eye socket and cuts and bruises on his face.”
  • Bogalusa, Louisiana: A disabled veteran on a fixed income will not go to prison after a video proved his alleged battery of a police officer never happened. The veteran acted as a process server to deliver notice of a police brutality lawsuit to a police officer. Although the handoff went smoothly enough, he was accosted by the served officer’s companions, who were also officers. He was later pulled over and arrested for battery against the officer. Because of a prior cocaine conviction, the veteran faced up to 80 years as a multiple offender. The officers swore depositions that he assaulted the served officer. But the veteran had members of his family use their cellphones to record the delivery of the envelope to the officer. Charges were quickly dropped against him when the video was brought to light. However, the veteran had already spent almost a year fighting the case. A federal lawsuit is pending.
  • Miami Gardens, Florida: The police chief was arrested and fired after being caught in prostitution sting.
  • Los Angeles, California:  Officers fatally shot a homeless man after a scuffle on Skid Row. A bystander’s cell-phone footage and nearby surveillance video have been released, but police body cam footage is currently being withheld.
  • Denver, Colorado: An officer with 40 citizen complaints against him was taken off patrol duty. Despite previous civil lawsuits for his behavior costing the City more than $1,000,000 in settlements, this suspension is his first discipline.
  • Update: Shreveport, Louisiana (First reported 02-13-15): An officer was fired for violation of department policies.
  • Broward County, Florida: A deputy dragged mentally ill woman through a courthouse hallway.
  • San Francisco, California: An officer was shown on video beating homeless man with a baton after an argument on a city bus.
  • Los Angeles, California: An officer’s case ends in a mistrial. The officer was shown on video kicking and shoving suspect who later died in custody.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 02-27-15

Here are the nine reports of police misconduct tracked for Friday, February 27, 2015:

  • Update: San Francisco, California (First reported 03-05-14): A now-former officer was sentenced to 3.4 years in prison and ordered to pay a $25,000 fine for his role in robbing hotel guests during a drug raid.
  • New Orleans, Louisiana: An officer was arrested for making or maintaining false public records and theft over $1,500.
  • Denver, Colorado: An officer was arrested for domestic violence and 3rd-degree assault.
  • Monroe, Michigan: An officer was arrested for DUI.
  • Firebaugh, California: An officer was arrested for domestic violence. He claims he was breaking up a fight between two women that left one woman with a bloody nose.
  • Winslow Township, New Jersey: An officer pled guilty to falsely reporting he was fired upon. He shot his own car. As a result of the plea deal, he will be forbidden to hold public office and must forfeit the personal firearm he used in the incident.
  • Sweetwater, Florida: An officer was arrested for public corruption. He allegedly used a stolen license plate to avoid paying tolls via EZ Pass.
  • Detroit, Michigan: An officer was arrested for carrying her firearm while she was intoxicated.
  • Alexandria, Louisiana: An officer was arrested for carnal knowledge of a juvenile.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 02-26-15

Here are the nine reports of police misconduct tracked for Thursday, February 26, 2015:

  • Palm Beach County, Florida: The sheriff’s department is being sued for withholding evidence and improperly investigating a fatal deputy-involved shooting.
  • Lompoc, California: An officer was arrested for domestic violence. He is the fourth LPD officer arrested since 2014, and the second arrested for domestic violence in the last four months.
  • Port Barre, Louisiana: An officer was arrested for simple battery against his ex-girlfriend.
  • Update: Bethlehem, Pennsylvania (First reported 08-14-13): An arbitrator ruled that a former officer should be reinstated after being fired for misconduct. He had crashed a car while intoxicated.
  • Update: Maywood, Illinois (First reported 02-18-12): A now-former officer’s official misconduct conviction was thrown out by a judge after a post-trial motion. He stood trial for sexual assault and official misconduct, but had been acquitted of the sexual assault charge.
  • St. Paul, Minnesota: The City settled a lawsuit for $23,000. Police pinned in a man’s car at a gas station, broke his car windows, pulled him out of the car—thereby disconnecting his dialysis—and threw him on the ground. Officers claim they pulled him out of the vehicle because he was attempting to swallow the narcotics they were trying to arrest him for dealing. The City has a policy of not admitting liability when settling lawsuits.
  • Lawrence, Kansas: An officer was arrested and suspended on suspicion of domestic battery.
  • Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania: A sergeant was arrested for slapping his wife.
  • Indian Lake, Texas: The police chief was charged with 14 counts of tampering. Allegedly, he lied about officers’ firearms qualifications in official documents.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 02-25-15

Here are the nine reports of police misconduct tracked for Wednesday, February 25, 2015:

  • Union Township, Ohio: An officer pled guilty to reckless operation of a vehicle after a DUI arrest. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail, with 27 of those days suspended. The remaining three days of his sentence will be served in a “driver intervention program.” He was also sentenced to six months of probation. His employment status with the department is not known.
  • Chatham County, Georgia: A deputy was fired and arrested for sexual assault of an inmate and filing false statements to cover it up.
  • Update: Schaumburg, Illinois (First reported 01-18-13): The City and two former officers are being sued for actions stemming from the officers’ drug theft and dealing scheme. This latest suit is the 16th filed since the scheme has been brought to light.
  • Sandusky, Ohio: A detective was forced to resign after maintaining and lying about his inappropriate relationship with an informant.
  • Louisville, Kentucky: An officer entered an Alford plea to disorderly conduct. The official misconduct charge was dropped in exchange for the plea. He told woman to remove her pants on false warrant claim. He was arrested during a police sting for meeting her a second time and fondling her on that occasion. His current employment status with the department is not known.
  • Medford, Massachusetts: An officer was charged with DUI, causing an accident, and fleeing the scene.
  • Detroit, Michigan: The disbanded narcotics unit is now under investigation by the U.S. Attorneys’ Office.
  • Baltimore County, Maryland: An officer shot a teenage boy while working as a security guard off-duty. The officer has been placed on leave pending an investigation.
  • Clackamas County, Oregon: A deputy pled guilty to misconduct for masturbating while female inmate performed strip tease. As part of his plea agreement, he was forced to resign and was stripped of his law enforcement certification. He was also sentenced to 12 months of probation and ordered to serve 48 hours of community service.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 02-24-15

Here are the ten reports of police misconduct tracked for Tuesday, February 24, 2015:

  • Romulus, Michigan: An officer was demoted after he was caught on video Tasing a man in his jail cell. The officer is suing the department for improper training in the use of force. Incident caught on video.
  • Update: Davidson County, Tennesee (First reported 02-09-15): The deputy who was arrested for domestic violence has resigned.
  • Santa Fe, New Mexico: An officer was charged with four felony counts of “paying/receiving public money for services not rendered” for incidents in which he allegedly falsified time cards in 2013. He resigned his post after the initial investigation, but was rehired to the SFPD when a new police chief came in. He faces a preliminary hearing to determine whether there is probable cause to go to trial.
  • Española, New Mexico: An officer was charged with embezzlement. He allegedly traded government-issued ammunition for t-shirts from a graphic shop. Like the officer in Santa Fe, he too faces a preliminary hearing.
  • Chicago, Illinois: The Guardian (UK) reported that the CPD run a “black site” to illegally hold Americans incommunicado for police questioning. A summary of the report may be found here. The original story is here:
  • Round Rock, Texas: An officer was arrested and charged with assaulting his ex-girlfriend.
  • Atlantic Beach, North Carolina: Two officers were charged with DWI-related offenses while off duty. One was charged with DWI with reckless driving after being pulled over with a BAC of .12 and. The other was charged with aiding and abetting DWI. They both resigned.
  • Fort Lauderdale, Florida: An officer was suspended for slapping and pushing a homeless man at a bus stop. The incident was caught on video and a criminal investigation is pending.
  • Nampa, Idaho: The City and one if its officers are being sued for forceful arrest that left a man with shattered shoulder blade. The man claims said he was being peaceful when he was slammed to the ground by the officer for arrest on an outstanding warrant. The suit also calls for the department to review how it trains officers to handle individuals with obvious disabilities.
  • Update: Huntsville, Alabama (First reported 12-16-14): A now-former officer pled guilty to a federal conspiracy charge. The former officer of the year was initially arrested for trying to get someone else’s drug charges dropped.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 02-21-15 to 02-23-15

Here are the nine reports of police misconduct tracked for Saturday, February 21 through Monday, February 23, 2015:

  • Update: Milwaukee, Wisconsin (First reported 12-05-13): A now-former detective was acquitted on two felony excessive force charges, despite video showing him punch a handcuffed suspect. He had been fired from the department for his actions.
  • Indianapolis, Indiana: An officer was arrested for attempted murder of his girlfriend.
  • Kronenwetter, Wisconsin: An officer was suspended one week for misconduct and is back on the force. He had an inappropriate relationship with a known illicit drug user and used a police database to find information about her. He has been reprimanded several times over his career for various policy violations on and off duty. Information about the officer had been withheld from the public but was obtained via lawsuit by local media.
  • Maricopa County, Arizona: The sheriff faces contempt of court charges for failing to comply with federal court orders to cease and desist policies of racial profiling.
  • Douglasville, Georgia: An officer was investigated for taking an engagement ring during an arrest following a traffic stop. The dashcam footage of the arrest shows the officer discovering the ring, but it was never logged into evidence. Police deny the charge that the officer stole it and he has since returned to duty.
  • Update: Victoria, Texas (First reported 12-17-14): The city council rejected the appeal of a former officer to be re-hired. He was fired for tackling and twice Tasing a 76-year-old man during a traffic stop.
  • Fremont, Ohio: An officer was charged with DUI and failure to yield after being involved in a 2-car accident. He left the scene and may face more charges.
  • Update: Phoenix, Arizona (First reported 11-03-14): An officer pled guilty to disorderly conduct for pointing his service weapon at someone in a ‘road rage’ incident. He had initially been charged with aggravated assault.
  • Update: Victoria, Texas (First reported 02-06-15): An officer who was indicted for DWI and felony property damage has been fired.

Disturbing Report from Chicago

Those of us who follow police misconduct closely know that patterns of abuse can become normalized when tolerated or unchecked by police supervisors. Abuses that went unreported or were unsubstantiated in years past have been exposed by the growing presence of camera phones and other technologies that record police-public interactions. But they can’t catch them all.

The Guardian’s Spencer Ackerman has reported a truly disturbing practice in Chicago. The police have established a “black site” area where Americans are held incommunicado to be interrogated. Prisoners are held without charge and in violation of their constitutional rights and without access to legal counsel:

The facility, a nondescript warehouse on Chicago’s west side known as Homan Square, has long been the scene of secretive work by special police units. Interviews with local attorneys and one protester who spent the better part of a day shackled in Homan Square describe operations that deny access to basic constitutional rights.

Alleged police practices at Homan Square, according to those familiar with the facility who spoke out to the Guardian after its investigation into Chicago police abuse, include:

  • Keeping arrestees out of official booking databases.
  • Beating by police, resulting in head wounds.
  • Shackling for prolonged periods.
  • Denying attorneys access to the “secure” facility.
  • Holding people without legal counsel for between 12 and 24 hours, including people as young as 15.

At least one man was found unresponsive in a Homan Square “interview room” and later pronounced dead.

Unlike a precinct, no one taken to Homan Square is said to be booked. Witnesses, suspects or other Chicagoans who end up inside do not appear to have a public, searchable record entered into a database indicating where they are, as happens when someone is booked at a precinct. Lawyers and relatives insist there is no way of finding their whereabouts. Those lawyers who have attempted to gain access to Homan Square are most often turned away, even as their clients remain in custody inside.

“It’s sort of an open secret among attorneys that regularly make police station visits, this place – if you can’t find a client in the system, odds are they’re there,” said Chicago lawyer Julia Bartmes.

This is not Chicago’s first brush with systematic abuse of citizens. Just this month, a retired CPD detective was released from prison for covering up the torture and false confessions of over 100 people in the 1970s and ‘80s. He still collects a $4,000 per month pension.

Police transparency is essential to effective policing, but police organizations often protect their officers from outside scrutiny, making it difficult to hold officers accountable for repeated violations of policy. Secretive internal investigations can stonewall public inquiry into disputed officer-related shootings committed in broad daylight. Left unchecked, entire police departments can develop institutional tolerance for constitutional violations in day-to-day policing.

But what Ackerman reports seems to be the ultimate lack of police transparency. If what he reports is true, a full investigation should be launched by government officials outside of the Chicago Police Department to examine such egregious violations of civil and constitutional rights.

Read the whole thing here.

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