National Police Misconduct Reporting Project

Police Shoot From Helicopter, Kill Two

From the Associated Press:

A Texas state trooper who fired on a pickup truck from a helicopter and killed two illegal immigrants during a chase through the desert was trying to disable the vehicle and suspected it was being used to smuggle drugs, authorities said Friday.

It is astonishing when police officers disregard the most serious rule governing their conduct–the use of deadly force.  Even if the police were 100 percent certain the vehicle had a trunk full of marijuana and cocaine and that the vehicle was highly likely to elude capture by the police on the ground, that would not justify the use of deadly force.  Not even close.   The story reminds me of one of the early scenes in the movie Black Hawk Down, where Delta snipers disable the engine of a vehicle from an Army helicopter in order to capture one of the occupants.  This may be another example of military tactics spilling over to the civilian world of policing.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 10-25-12

Here are the 7 reports of police misconduct tracked for Thursday, October 26, 2012:

  • Woodbridge, Virginia: A secret service officer who guarded the home of V.P. Joe Biden has been charged with three counts of aggravated sexual battery and three counts of taking indecent liberties with a child by a custodian this week. Police say the victim was a 14-year-old girl and was sexually assaulted by her family member between August and October this year. ow.ly/eLRaS
  • Chattanooga, Tennessee: A highway patrol sergeant has resigned in lieu of termination following an internal investigation. The investigation revealed that he misused state property and equipment, was negligent in the performance of his duties, and violated the department’s rule on conduct unbecoming. ow.ly/eLKFe
  • New York, New York: An officer who allegedly planned to kidnap, cook, and eat as many as 100 woman has been arrested following an NYPD and FBI investigation. “The allegations in the complaint really need no description from us,” said the FBI’s acting assistant director. “They speak for themselves. It would be an understatement merely to say [his] own words and actions were shocking.” ow.ly/eLDcZ
  • Sampson County, North Carolina: A deputy has been charged with statutory rape, second degree rape, taking indecent liberties with a minor and contributing to the delinquency of a minor, according to a release from the Sheriff’s office. ow.ly/eLmzS
  • Anderson County, South Carolina: A deputy has been fired after he was identified in a video kicking a man who bit another deputy’s finger. “The video shows that he came up to the guy and actually kicked him in the head,” said the police chief. “He was fired for conduct unbecoming of an officer.” ow.ly/eLh4G
  • San Diego, California: An officer is being investigated after he was caught on camera violently pulling a woman’s hair as her home burned down. It is not the first time the officer has been under investigation for unreasonable force. ow.ly/eLfjO
  • Update: Wilcox County, Georgia: The sheriff is facing jail time. Prosecutors say he admitted to attacking inmates and trying to cover it up. ow.ly/eKgQL

Police Chief Sounds Off

So this morning I received an angry email from a police chief in Michigan.  His complaint concerns a story we related about a dog getting shot by a police officer.  This is the item from our September 11 recap:

  • St. Louis, Michigan: A local family says their dog was shot and killed at the hands of a police officer. Lori Walmsley, a neighbor, says she saw the incident. Walmsley said the officer asked if the was dog hers.  She said “no,” but told the officer Scout wasn’t dangerous. She says the officer tried to catch the dog, who apparently didn’t want to be caught. The dog tried to run away and when cornered by the officer, let out a little growl. Walmsley says she couldn’t believe what happened next. “He just started shooting him, he just kept shooting him in the head,” she said. “I said, ‘What are you doing? He’s just a puppy!’” bit.ly/PjQbJf

Here’s the email from the Police Chief, Patrick Herblet:

Wow is all I can say. Your general statement to all says you publish strong cases supported by third-party witnesses or other compelling evidence.  You need to get the incident report/investigation from the independent agency, (Michigan State Police) that I by the way requested be done less then 12 hours after the incident.  All you have is the words of a so called witness that changed her story several times and only said, the vicious things she said after the TV camera was in her face.  I could and at some time will tell this whole story, but in the meantime I will stand by the officer making the right decision under the circumstances and the Investigation done by the Michigan State Police and the decision of our county Prosecutor.  I now have zero respect for anything you put in print when I have first hand knowledge that you do absolutely no investigation before you print your vicious hate toward public servants.

There has been a very recent development in the case: No charges against the officer.  I’m not sure why Mr. Herblet is reluctant to tell us the “the whole story” now, but he is confused about a few things.   This site gathers news stories from around the country relating to police misconduct.  We do not have the investigative capacity to go forth and interview the witnesses in each case.   We don’t even have the capacity to do that for the police force here in Washington, DC,  much less police incidents around the entire country.  So Mr. Herblet’s real complaint seems to be with our news gathering method or the  local media who, he thinks,  originally  “printed vicious hate toward public servants.”  But even that complaint seems misplaced.  The reporter related what the witness said.  Of course, a good reporter should always ask the police for their side of the story, but there is no indication that that did not happen here, so what gives?  Even now Mr. Herblet says we don’t have the “whole story.”   He seems to be saying “just trust me!”

I think Mr. Herblet did the right thing as far as calling in a separate agency to conduct an investigation into the shooting.  I do not know whether that agency did a good job or not.  I do not know whether the neighbor/witness is reliable or not.   I do not know whether the dog was “coming at” the officer or whether “coming at” means “walking toward” or “attacking.”  I do know that using a gun is serious business–deadly force!–and that if a gun is used inappropriately, there should be accountability.  There are situations where a cop should not be criminally charged, but neither should he be a sworn officer anymore (accidents, bad judgment, etc).   As always, readers here are  invited to come to their own conclusions.  You have the news stories and we have shared Mr. Herblet’s point of view.  We are as transparent as possible.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 10-25-12

Here are the 7 reports of police misconduct tracked for Wednesday, October 25, 2012:

  • Battle Creek, Michigan: An officer was charged with a felony of resisting and obstructing police officers, and two misdemeanors of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and failure to report an accident to fixtures. ow.ly/eJWjG
  • Spokane, Washington: An officer will be sentenced after being convicted of using excessive force, and lying about it to investigators. ow.ly/eK4VK
  • Phoenix, Arizona: The family of an inmate who was found not breathing in his jail cell has filed a lawsuit against the city and the county sheriff’s office. The notice claimed the man’s fatal injuries were a result of a jailer’s riot allegedly started by two police officers. The family also claims excessive force was used by employees. ow.ly/eJyMl
  • Paterson, New Jersey: A police officer who arrested an assemblyman was charged with misconduct, submitting a false report, and other offenses. The assemblyman filed 27 criminal complaints against him. ow.ly/eJr07
  • South Miami, Florida: A police chief is being accused of violating ethics laws for steering city business to his wife’s companies. ow.ly/eJoPm
  • Update: East Haven, Connecticut: A police officer will plead guilty in federal court to charges of filing a false police report. He is facing 12-24 months in prison. ow.ly/eHHrA
  • Ulster, New York: The now-former police chief Matthew Taggard admitted he believed sex crimes were being committed in a neighboring community and failed to take any steps to prevent them. In a press release, the DA said “disturbing allegations” concerning the chief were brought to his attention. He said the “allegations were particularly troubling in that it was alleged Taggard engaged in criminal conduct during the course of a program run by the Boy Scouts of America known as the Ulster Police Cadet Program.” ow.ly/eHGq5

Chicago Bartender Gets Her Day in Court — 5 Years Later

A drunk, off-duty cop, Anthony Abbate, beat up a petite lady bartender, Karolina Obrycka in 2007.  The video below went viral at the time.    The case is now back in the news because the civil lawsuit is now underway in Chicago.  The Chicago Tribune has the sordid details here.  Apparently, the key issue in the civil trial is whether the department engaged in misconduct in response to Abbate’s criminal attack.  In other words, did certain officers falsify reports, intimidate witnesses, and so forth.

One must consider what would have happened in the case if there was no videotape.  Before the tape was released, Abbate was charged with a misdemeanor.  After the tape surfaced, he was charged with a felony.  Even with the taped beating as evidence, and even after his criminal conviction, a judge ordered 2 years probation.  No jail time at all for Abbate.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 10-23-12

Here are the 8 reports of police misconduct tracked for Tuesday, October 23, 2012:

  • Wallkill, New York: A state trooper has been suspended without pay after he was charged with assault and choking his girlfriend during a domestic dispute. He was also charged with unlawful imprisonment. ow.ly/eHDTR
  • Chattanooga, Tennessee: A man is suing the police after he had to undergo surgery to repair a rotator cuff injury he claims was caused by their mistreatment. The man says that he wanted to photograph a car crash that damaged his fence and retaining wall, and the officer told him he could not. When the man asked to speak to his supervisor, the officer threw him to the ground, handcuffed him, and put him in the back of a patrol car. ow.ly/eHDlL
  • Modesto, California: A police officer has been arrested on charges that he sexually molested a female victim under 18 years old. “I was shocked to learn of the allegations. No person is above the law and we will professionally investigate criminal complaints, no matter what the occupation of the suspect is,” said the interim police chief. “We have a high expectation of our employees and will hold them accountable for their actions, whether they are on-duty or off-duty.” ow.ly/eHCQw
  • Flagstaff, Arizona: An officer who used his baton, book and a cable to kill an injured dog has resigned from the department right before the investigation was completed. ow.ly/eHxUh
  • Whitaker, Pennsylvania: A police officer was charged with official oppression, attempted extortion, and related crimes. He was accused of using his gun to break a female driver’s window and threatening to send her to jail if she did not admit responsibility and pay the damage. Investigators found that “Officer Davis clearly provided (the woman) only two choices: accept total ‘responsibility’ for the incident … in which case Davis would not file any charges … or refuse to accept ‘responsibility’ and be charged. … This option … included the immediate threat of going to jail and the potential long-term negative impact on her employment.” ow.ly/eGd7v
  • Update: New York, New York: The officer accused of stealing guns from his department and selling them on the street for drug money has pleaded guilty. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison. ow.ly/eHwoZ
  • Tulsa, Oklahoma: A man filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against two officers, alleging that one of the officers made him do push-ups on the side of the road after the officers illegally searched his car and found no drugs. “The most fundamental rights in our society are those of civil rights,” said his attorney. “We take very seriously these rights, particularly when they are violated by those entrusted with enforcing the law.” ow.ly/eHuUL
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: An officer has been accused of assaulting his wife. He was arrested and charged with aggravated assault, simple assault and reckless endangerment, among other charges. ow.ly/eGe4r

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 10-22-12

Here are the 9 reports of police misconduct tracked for Saturday, October 20 to Monday, October 22:

  • Omega, Georgia:  The police chief was sentenced to two years in prison for slapping and punching an inmate at a county jail. “There was no excuse for this use of force on a restrained individual and excessive force by those sworn to uphold the law will not be tolerated. The Justice Department will continue to vigorously prosecute law enforcement officers who violate the constitutional rights of others,” said the Assistant Attorney General. ow.ly/eGewJ
  • Lebanon, Pennsylvania: An officer was charged in a drunk driving crash. He crashed into a home with his BAC measuring .236, nearly three times the legal limit. ow.ly/eGbUn
  • Kansas City, Missouri: The Platte County prosecutor has charged an officer with a felony of defrauding an insurer. Fraud unit detectives investigated the case. ow.ly/eG2EY
  • Update: Sioux Falls, South Dakota: The police chief accused of covering up his girlfriend’s meth use was given 120 days of community service. He tried to cover it up by hiding her needles in his office, and has since resigned his position. ow.ly/eFWPn
  • McAlester, Oklahoma: An officer has been arraigned and charged with felony assault and battery for allegedly tasing a handcuffed woman at point blank range. He pleaded not guilty, but if he is convicted he faces up to ten years in the state penitentiary. ow.ly/eFOkH
  • Rowan County, North Carolina: A deputy has been fired after he was charged with stalking a former girlfriend. Investigators say he placed a tracking device on her car. ow.ly/eFCOC
  • Madison, Wisconsin: A capitol police officer was fired after he accidentally fired his gun inside of the governor’s mansion. No one was injured in the accident. ow.ly/eFrrh
  • Pennington Gap, Virginia: The police chief is in federal custody after being arrested on charges related to the distribution of prescription drugs. “It’s sad for the profession, but there’s no excuse for a corrupt police officer. He’s got the trust of the public, and with something like this, there’s no greater violation of that trust,” said Sheriff Gary Parsons. ow.ly/eFkPV
  • San Jose, California: An officer was arrested and booked on one count of felony grand theft as a result of suspected time sheet fraud. He is currently on paid administrative leave. ow.ly/eFg2m

National Police Misconduct Daily NewsFeed Recap 10-19-12

Here are the 8 reports of police misconduct tracked for Friday, October 19, 2012:

  • Mayflower, Arkansas: The police chief was suspended pending the results of an investigation. It involved allegations that he turned in fraudulent paperwork for a radar speed gun class and test for his department. ow.ly/eBLNf
  • Milwaukee, Wisconsin: An officer who was originally charged with endangering safety by a deadly weapon pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of disorderly conduct. His gun inadvertently went off and shot a girl in the mall because it wasn’t secured in his holster. ow.ly/eBM7G
  • Brooklyn, New York: An off-duty police officer was arrested today for a domestic dispute that turned violent, authorities said. He was given a misdemeanor assault charge. ow.ly/eBPF3
  • Winnsboro, South Carolina: A highway patrolman has been fired after he was charged with third-degree assault and battery against his ex-girlfriend. He reportedly grabbed the woman’s neck and shook her; officers observed bruising around her neck and face. ow.ly/eBNCd
  • Baltimore, Maryland: Two officers have been charged with assaulting a man after he fled a drug arrest and tried to hide in one of the officers’ girlfriend’s home. They are charged with second-degree assault of a man inside of a home. ow.ly/eC9eg
  • Pinellas Park, Florida: An officer was arrested on a misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence with property damage. He was placed on administrative duty with pay immediately, and then resigned. ow.ly/eAs7D
  • Spring Valley, California: An officer was arrested and jailed on suspicion of misdemeanor child cruelty. He exhibited a firearm in a threatening manner, according to jail records. ow.ly/eAuB5
  • Hopewell, Virginia: A police officer who claimed he was the victim after authorities learned he used his authority to sexually assault three women was sentenced to serve six years in prison. “He was a predator with a badge and a gun, and I’m glad we were able to get him off the streets and put him where he belongs,” said the police chief. “He’s just a disgrace to the uniform.” ow.ly/eAt4a

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