National Police Misconduct Reporting Project

The Jason Fyk Case: Attempted Murder for Using a Cell Phone?!

Story from WBFF Fox45:

A man who took out his cell phone to record an act, that turned out to be a crime, has ended up in jail.

The next time you hit record in public in Baltimore you might want to think twice. A fateful decision to do just that, put a Pennsylvania business owner in jail for first degree murder. It was a move that web site publisher Jason Fyk cost him dearly. “I couldn’t believe, I could not believe the ignorance of how they twisted this story into something I did,” says Fyk.

His ordeal started last February in a downtown parking garage new Power Plant Live. Fyk had been conducting an interview for his web site with stunt bicyclists when they decided to leave to resume the talk elsewhere. They encountered another group of downtown revelers parked nearby.

After a few heated exchanges, a fight with both sides exchanging blows ensued. Fyk said he stopped recording and intervened when the brawl turned violent. Both parties went their separate ways.

Shortly after posting his video of the scuffle online, police showed up at his home with a search warrant. Several weeks later, another warrant was issued, for his arrest. Fyk says he was charged with “conspiracy to commit first degree murder for taking a cell phone video.”

The charges against Fyk have since been dropped. University of Baltimore Law professor Byron Warnkin says it’s technically not a crime to hit record, even if you catch someone breaking the law.

Both the police department and the attorney general’s office have declined to comment on the issue.

The level of ignorance here is truly astounding.  This isn’t a new cop and a new prosecutor screwing up the appropriate charge in some off-the-wall misdemeanor case.  One must presume the more experienced people are handling the murder and attempted murder cases–and yet Jason Fyk finds himself facing the most severe cases on the law books!  And do note how the system offered him a “break” if he pled guilty.  A less sophisticated person might have caved in and accepted that nightmarish deal.  Plea bargaining is a problem folks.

For additional background, go here, here, here, and here.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 06-21-12

Here are the 8 reports of police misconduct tracked for Thursday, June 21, 2012:

  • A Philadelphia police officer was fired after he was arrested and charged in federal court with four counts of distributing heroin and two counts of carrying a firearm during a drug crime
  • Reno, Nevada photo editor Tim Dunn was ‘roughed up’ by Nevada sheriff’s deputies while he was taking photos of a fire. Dunn said the deputies accused him of trying to impersonate a firefighter because he was wearing yellow protective fire gear, a helmet and goggles. But he noted that area fire personnel who conduct annual training for media are adamant about wearing such clothes while covering wildfires. Dunn’s Executive Editor released a statement stating that, “the brutal nature in which Tim, a veteran photographer with more than 20 years of experience, was treated by sheriff deputies is beyond comprehension. Their use of excessive force on a fellow professional who also has an important job  to do is shocking. His rights were clearly violated.”
  • Dallas, Texas Deputy Sheriff pulled over a motorcyclist who hadn’t committed any crimes in order to confiscate the camera attached to his helmet. After being pulled over the motorcyclist stated, “I haven’t committed any crimes, and you cannot take my personal property from me, sir.” To which the officer replied simply, “that’s fine. Need to see your license and registration.”
  • A Carlsbad, California police officer was placed on paid administrative leave after he was arrested for stealing heroin from his police department’s evidence room
  • Harrisburg, Illinois police officer, Joel Stanley, was arrested for driving under the influence of drugs. The officer has been suspended and will be fired if the merit board votes to do so
  • A Long Beach, California police officer has been charged with 40 sex-related counts involving 13 underage girls and 3 young women. The nine-year police veteran is currently in jail on more than $1.2 million bail
  • A north Minneapolis woman has filed a suit against the Minneapolis Police Department. The suit charges that enraged officers ransacked her house, breaking windows and doors, damaging furniture, ripping a large-screen TV from the wall and dumping a fish tank onto the floor, killing the children’s pet fish and hermit crabs. The officers also killed her 8-month-old dog after shooting it 10 times
  • Prince George’s County, Maryland deputy sheriff raped an inmate while she was in a holding cell at the county courthouse. The deputy sheriff has been charged with second-degree rape and has been suspended without pay while the incident’s investigated

NPMRP in the News

From Frontline:

Rodney King, who was found dead this weekend in a swimming pool at his house, once said that he believed his beating by Los Angeles police officers back in 1991 had “made the world a better place,” by bringing attention to the problem of police abuse.

Following the King incident and other scandals, LAPD entered a consent decree with the Justice Department that imposed major reforms, including more aggressive internal audits and officer training. But in the 20 years since King’s beating, allegations of police misconduct have remained a serious problem in several cities nationwide.

What impact, if any, did the King case have on the problem? “Not enough,” said Ezekiel Edwards, director of the criminal law reform project at the American Civil Liberties Union.

Edwards said that better training has made the police more professional and that there are more opportunities for accountability with the proliferation of cellphone cameras. But, he said, “This is still a significant problem around the country.

“People that have to deal with excessive force are often the most disenfranchised, living in communities that don’t have a lot of political power,” he said. “A lot of things happen in those communities that people aren’t seeing.”

The most recent data from the National Police Misconduct Reporting Project, which offers one of the only comprehensive accountings of misconduct allegations against the 18,000-some law enforcement agencies nationwide, showed a slight uptick in the number incidents of reported misconduct and a 6 percent increase in the number of reported incidents involving excessive force from 2009 to 2010 (the most recent years for which data is available).

Under the Obama administration, the Justice Department has taken on more active role in pursuing abuse allegations, which has brought some changes on state or city levels.

Last year, we noted that the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division had 17 ongoing investigations into law enforcement agencies to pursue allegations of excessive force or discrimination — more than at any time in the division’s history. Those investigations are still open.

The DOJ also has entered into a consent decree to require major reforms, or a memorandum of understanding to address specific concerns, with seven departments: Los Angeles, Detroit, the Virgin Islands, Beacon, NY; Warren, Ohio; Easton, Penn.; and the Orange Country Sheriff’s office in California.

In Seattle, a federal investigation found last December that the Seattle Police Department engaged in “a pattern or practice of unnecessary and excessive use of force,” and that about 20 percent of the cases suspects’ civil rights were violated.

In Chicago, police paid $45.5 million in damages in cases of police misconduct between January 2009 and November 2011, according to a recent investigation by the Chicago Reporter, with 75 percent of those cases involving excessive force. Meanwhile, an independent commission set up to investigate allegations of two decades of torture by police has lost its funding after following up on only five cases. The court filings detail repeated, brutal abuse of suspects by police.

The Newark, N.J. police department is currently under investigation by the DOJ for an alleged pattern of excessive force and discrimination after the ACLU documented 407 allegations of police shootings, sexual assault, false arrests and other abuses.

And then there’s the investigation into police misconduct in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, which we’ve been following since 2009 in our Law and Disorder project. The DOJ has accused the department of a “systemic violations of civil rights,” and is working to establish a consent decree with the department.  One of the incidents that drew the attention of the Justice Department: the conviction of five officers in the shooting deaths and cover-up of two civilians on the Danziger Bridge.

In September, Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez, who heads the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, said the bridge shooting was the “most high-profile incident” since the beating of Rodney King.


National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 06-20-12

Here are the 8 reports of police misconduct tracked for Wednesday, June 20, 2012:

  • Rochester, New York police and federal agents raided the wrong home for a drug bust. The police released a statement saying, “upon encountering an elderly resident, the team realized they were  at the wrong location and left the premises”
  • A Reno, Nevada police officer was arrested and charged with assault causing bodily injury and family violence. After a warrant was issued for his arrest the officer turned himself in
  • A 35-year veteran of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department has been charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated and failure to stop after an accident resulting in injury after a suspected hit-and-run
  • An Ogden, Utah police officer was fired after he was charged with bribing a Utah Highway Patrol trooper on behalf of his friend, an ex-officer. The officer paid the trooper $2,000 not to appear at a hearing regarding his friend’s DUI arrest
  • Savannah-Chatham, Georgia police officer was fired after being arrested for domestic violence battery and domestic violence simple assault.  The officer pleaded guilty and was given four years probation
  • Chariton, Iowa police officers tased a “mentally troubled” woman after they had handcuffed and confined her to a police car
  • A former Auburn, New York police officer was found guilty of stealing thousands of dollars from his fellow officers. The District Attorney issued the following statement, “I am disheartened by the shameful conduct of this former police officer, hired to uphold the law.” The officer faces four to twelve years in prison
  • An Atlanta, Georgia police officer was arrested for drunk driving after reaching speeds over 120 mph. The officer has been placed on administrative duty pending an investigation

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 06-19-12

Here are the 9 reports of police misconduct tracked for Tuesday, June 19, 2012:

  • Former Austin, Texas police officer sentenced to a year in prison for tax evasion after failing to report $63,000 in federal taxes on a $323,000 income. The District Judge said the sentence is designed to deter others from evading taxes
  • A Highland Heights, Kentucky former police chief has been accused of wire fraud after using credit cards in the name of the Highland Heights Southgate Police Authority and in the names of other members of his police department to steal over $115,000
  • A former Charleston, South Carolina state trooper pleaded guilty to growing and possessing at least 100 marijuana plants with intent to distribute. The trooper used his police cruiser to transport the marijuana to avoid the possibility of being pulled over
  • Executive officer of the Minneapolis Police SWAT Unit punched a man in the head, who is now on life support.  Following the incident, the officer allegedly fled on foot immediately.  The officer’s commander stated, “that type of behavior is out of line for civilian employees but it’s egregious on the part of a sworn law enforcement officer.”
  • Long Beach, California police officer was charged with 20 felony counts of domestic violence for the alleged on-going abuse of his wife. The officer has been suspended without pay and is being held without bail until his trial
  • A former Grand Junction Police Officer and Firefighter has been charged with four counts of sexual assault on a child while in a position of trust, with a pattern of abuse
  • A Dallas County, Texas sheriff’s deputy resigned while under investigation for tipping off a business that was going to be raided by a special task force
  • A former San Jose, California police officer has pleaded “no contest” to two counts of unlawful sexual contact with minors. The officer faces up to three years and eight months in state prison
  • A Coconut Creek, Florida sheriff’s deputy has been booked in jail on charges of DUI, leaving the scene of an accident involving injury, and careless driving

DUI Arrest for Off-Duty Cop Clocked at 128 MPH

From the Atlanta Journal Constitution:

A DeKalb police officer clocked Jarvis Farley at 128 mph in a 55 mph zone on I-285, near Lavista Road, just before 3 a.m. May 25, police said. The officer pursued Farley, who was driving southbound in a 2010 Chevrolet Camaro, until he exited onto Ga. 78 and pulled over.

The officer approached the car, and Farley immediately showed his police identification and apologized for speeding. The officer noted on the report that Farley’s eyes were “very bloodshot and glassy, and he had a strong unknown type alcohol on his breath with his speech being mumbled.”

When told how fast he was driving, Farley replied, “Oh, for real?” according to the report.

Farley told the officer he consumed a “few” beers that night and had been drinking throughout the day.

When the officer asked him to perform a walking test, Farley stumbled and failed to maintain a straight line, police said. The officer administered a field alcohol breath test, which indicated a positive result for alcohol.

Farley was then placed under arrest. As the officer searched him, he found an unopened miniature bottle of Tequila in the motorist’s left cargo shorts pocket. Farley was taken to jail and submitted an official alcohol breath test, which showed a .142 blood alcohol content.

Farley was charged with DUI, speeding and reckless driving, according to the report. A spokesman for the Atlanta Police Department said he has been placed on administrative duty pending an investigation.

Full story here.

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