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National Police Misconduct Reporting Project

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.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 05-26-15

Here are the eleven reports of police misconduct tracked for Friday, May 22, 2015:

  • Columbus, Ohio: An officer was charged with eight criminal counts after chasing down and restraining a man while off-duty. He allegedly told the man to “Sit the [expletive] down before I blow you away!” He is suspended pending the outcome of the investigation.
  • Clay County, Missouri: A now-former deputy was sentenced to one year’s probation and ordered to pay a $2,000 fine for abusing an inmate in 2008. He had been acquitted on state charges, but federal civil rights charges were brought because he doused the inmate with a chemical spray and punched him.
  • Clyde, Ohio: An officer resigned after being accused of buying a 16-year-old boy alcohol and getting him drunk. The criminal investigation is ongoing.
  • Havelock, North Carolina: An officer was fired after an investigation of possible misconduct during a traffic stop. Authorities did not release details of the incident, but the report mentioned that the now-former officer could not be relied upon to be called as a prosecution witness.
  • Neenah, Wisconsin: A sergeant was arrested for domestic disorderly conduct while off duty.
  • Hall County, Georgia: Two now-former deputies pled guilty to bribery and drug charges in separate cases. One took a bribe to alert a drug dealer of any possible investigations. The other pled guilty cocaine distribution charges.
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota: The chief is investigating police conduct at a public demonstration against police violence. A ten-year-old boy was treated at the scene for chemicals in his eyes.
  • Update: North Port, Florida (First reported 03-05-15): A now-former officer was sentenced to one year of probation after he pled no contest to misdemeanor battery of his fiancée.
  • Update: Michigan State Police (First reported 01-21-15): A trooper’s case for DUI and an open container violation ended in a mistrial. The state plans to retry the case.
  • Update: Greensburg, Indiana (First reported 02-19-15): The now-former police chief was sentenced to four years in prison, with two years suspended, for stealing $75,000 from evidence. She was also ordered to pay restitution. She claimed it was to feed her gambling addiction.
  • Update: Huntsville, Alabama (First reported 11-20-12): An officer faces federal civil rights charges for excessive force during a 2011 incident. He was fired after the incident but re-hired. The City settled a lawsuit with the victim for $22,500.

Protests in Cleveland Follow Brelo Acquittal

From the Associated Press:

The acquittal of a white Cleveland police officer Saturday set off angry but mostly orderly protests while shining little light on how an event that started with a car backfiring could end in a 137-shot barrage, the patrolman firing from the hood of the car and the deaths of two unarmed black suspects.

Michael Brelo, 31, put his head in his hands as the judge issued the verdict followed by angry, but peaceful, protests outside the courthouse. Police blocked furious protesters from going inside while across the city others held a mock funeral with some carrying signs asking, “Will I be next?”

As demonstrations continued into the night, police in riot gear made multiple arrests.

The acquittal came at a time of nationwide tension among police and black citizens punctuated by protests over the deaths of black suspects at the hands of white officers–and following a determination by the U.S. Department of Justice that Cleveland police had a history of using excessive force and violating civil rights.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 05-21-15

Here are the nine reports of police misconduct tracked for Thursday, May 21, 2015:

  • El Dorado County, California: A deputy who was also a narcotics team member was arrested for drug possession and trafficking charges in Nevada.
  • Glasgow, Kentucky: An officer was arrested for public
  • Houston, Texas: A now-former officer had a warrant issued for his arrest. He illegally used police database and gave the information to a man accused of theft. The man allegedly stole $200,000 worth of law enforcement equipment from a private contractor and re-selling it online.
  • Whitehouse, Texas: The police chief suspended himself and three of his officers after a chain of events that allegedly involved intoxication, drunk driving, unwanted sexual advances, and physical violence. The Texas Rangers are investigating the episode, which ended with one officer arrested for beating up the chief.
  • Indianapolis, Indiana: An officer was arrested for DUI.
  • Lincoln County, Wisconsin: A deputy was arrested and charged with molesting a 15-year-old girl. He has resigned.
  • Update: Chatham County, Georgia (First reported 01-14-15): The sheriff fired nine deputies who were involved in the detention of Matthew Ajibade, a 22-year-old mentally ill man who died in their custody.
  • Update: Hudson County, New Jersey (First reported 01-12-10): Two officers were sentenced for giving a bounty hunter credit for fugitive captures that were actually apprehended by law enforcement. They would split the bounty proceeds among themselves.
  • Update: Covington, Louisiana (First reported 03-26-13): A now-former officer had a battery charge dropped for allegedly beating a man in custody. Video evidence indicated he was not the officer responsible for the man’s injuries. Another officer was previously convicted for his role the incident and was sentenced to 10 days in jail.


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