National Police Misconduct Reporting Project

Chicago Spends Hundred of Millions on Police Misconduct Cases

From the Chicago Sun Times:

Over the past decade, the City of Chicago has spent more than $500 million on police-related settlements, judgments, legal fees and other costs — raising new questions about the adequacy of training and oversight in the Chicago Police Department, according to a review by the Better Government Association.

In 2013 alone, the city shelled out $84.6 million — the largest annual payout in the decade analyzed by the BGA, and more than triple the $27.3 million the city had initially projected to spend last year….

In all, the BGA found more than $521.3 million has been spent to handle police misconduct-related lawsuits from 2004 to the present day. The true cost, though, is even higher, as the BGA counted settlements and judgments, legal bills and other fees — but not less tangible expenses related to, say, insurance premiums, investigators and the cost of incarcerating innocents.

In all, the BGA found 1,611 misconduct-related lawsuits had been filed against Chicago police from 2009 to 2013, a majority alleging excessive force.

On Improving Trust between the Black Community and the Police

From the Associated Press:

Henderson had just left a meeting of the Community Empowerment Association, which seeks to address problems in poorer black neighborhoods, and that night, had discussed ways to improve communication and trust between the black community and the police.

Henderson was speaking to a photographer for the New Pittsburgh Courier, a newspaper that covers the city’s black community, in the street next to Henderson’s car when Gromek’s patrol car drove by close enough that Henderson and the photographer pressed against Henderson’s car for safety.

According to his lawsuit, Henderson said, “Wow!”—referring to the speed with which the officer was driving down a narrow street.

Gromek then turned around, stopped and confronted both of them and asked Henderson, “Do you have a problem?” eventually arresting the teacher when he and the photographer started using a cellphone to record the encounter as onlookers gathered.

Police Disciplinary Records: None of the Public’s Business?

From the Sacramento Bee:

[O]pen-records advocates say California residents today have some of the least access to law enforcement records of anywhere in the country. Bills to tighten the restrictions, pushed by politically influential law enforcement unions, routinely sail through the Legislature. Attempts to provide more disclosure have been few and unsuccessful.

Under state law, peace officer personnel records are confidential, including personal data, promotion, appraisal and discipline records, and “any other information the disclosure of which would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.” Only a judge can order their release as part of a criminal case or lawsuit.

The restrictions regularly come into play. In Lodi, police officials have released little about the officers involved in the Jan. 25 shooting of Parminder Singh Shergill, an Iraq War veteran. In West Sacramento, Latino groups demanded information after the June 2005 police beating of brothers Ernesto and Fermin Galvan. There also was anger at the lack of details following the April 2009 shooting of Luis Gutierrez Navarro by Yolo County sheriff’s deputies.

Civil-rights lawyer Cruz Reynoso said community members in such cases confront a police “wall of silence.”

Legal Payouts for Deputy Now Surpass $2 Million

From the Sacramento Bee:

Once referred to by a local attorney as the “Million Dollar Man,” a former sheriff’s deputy cost the county of Sacramento more than $2 million in awards and settlements during his 23 years on the force.

By the time Donald Black retired Oct. 1 following his arrest on suspicion of child molestation and steroid possession, his actions had resulted in at least 10 payouts by the county, most of them involving excessive force allegations, according to a spreadsheet provided to The Sacramento Bee in response to a Public Records Act request. The largest payout – $1.5 million – went to a woman who had a 3-inch chunk of flesh taken out of her calf by Black’s then-K-9 partner. In another case, according to a court complaint, Black and another deputy allegedly terrified a man during a traffic stop by pointing an unloaded pellet gun at his head and pulling the trigger….

At the time that he retired, Black, 43, earned about $95,000 annually, including educational incentive pay. He has begun to draw his pension, totaling almost $5,400 per month, according to county spokeswoman Chris Andis. Even if Black is convicted of any of the charges he faces, he is likely to remain eligible for that money, according to guidelines in the California Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act of 2014.

Lawsuit: Police Force Man to Sit/Kneel on Hot Asphalt

From the Associated Press:

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — An Albuquerque man suffered severe burns to his knees and buttocks after a Bernalillo County sheriff’s deputy forced him to kneel and sit on hot asphalt for nearly half an hour, according to a federal civil rights lawsuit.The lawsuit filed earlier this month in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque alleges Deputy Chris Starr made Jonathan Griego, 23, kneel on the scorching asphalt during a June traffic stop on a day when temperatures reached 96 degrees in the city.Starr demanded that Griego kneel and sit on the asphalt, where he was forced to “literally cook” after a needle was found in his pocket, court papers said….According to the lawsuit, Starr ignored Griego’s complaints that the heat was burning through his pants and undergarments.

Roadside Cavity Searches

From Yahoo News:

Last July in Texas, Angel and Ashley Dobbs were stopped by a state trooper while on a road trip to Oklahoma, allegedly for littering. The cops then thought they smelled marijuana in the car, and subjected both women to a genital search on the side of the road. The trooper, who’s since lost her job, did not even change the latex glove she was wearing in between searching the genitals of the women, the women allege. The Dobbs, an aunt and niece, settled the case for $185,000.

“It’s embarrassing, it’s humiliating,” said Scott Palmer, the Dobbs’ attorney. “I was proud of them, they didn’t use pseudonyms, but now their names are forever known as victims of this very intimate, nasty search and it happened on video and it’s all over the world.”

The shame associated with the searches may prevent more victims from coming forward, Palmer said.

Six weeks earlier, two other Texas women say they were genitally probed by state troopers near Houston after they were pulled over for speeding and told there was a marijuana smell in their car. Texas’ Department of Public Safety says troopers are prohibited from these types of searches and that there is no policy encouraging them.