National Police Misconduct Reporting Project

Chicago is Ready for Reform

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

We stand at a watershed in the long history of efforts to address patterns of police abuse in Chicago. On March 10, the state appellate court held in Kalven v. Chicago that documents bearing on allegations of police misconduct are public information. On July 11, the Emanuel administration announced that it will not appeal Kalven and that it has adopted a set of procedures for implementing the decision…

As the plaintiff and attorneys in Kalven, we engaged in extended negotiations with Corporation Counsel Steve Patton and his staff in order to settle the case. The Emanuel administration is to be commended. Not only does its new transparency policy conform to Kalven, in some respects it goes beyond what the decision requires.

This is real reform. It is important to understand why.

The documents at issue are: (1) the investigative files generated when a citizen files a complaint charging police misconduct, and (2) lists of officers who accumulated repeated complaints of abuse….

Until now, the city has fiercely resisted any and all efforts via the Freedom of Information Act and civil discovery to make public the identities of officers with repeated complaints and the contents of police misconduct files. From our perspective, it has often seemed to allocate more resources to maintaining official secrecy than to addressing the underlying problems.

The Emanuel administration’s new policy breaks with the past. From now on, the city will honor FOIA requests for police misconduct files, subject only to the redaction of private information such as the names of complainants and the accused officer’s address and Social Security number. If it believes a request is unduly burdensome, it will provide summary digests, detailed narratives of the investigation. Requesters will then have the option of asking the city for a subset of the requested files or specific documents they have identified within the files.

This policy will allow the public and the press to assess the quality of investigations and to identify groups of officers with a pattern of complaints. It will create incentives for investigators, knowing their work is subject to public scrutiny, to conduct rigorous investigations. And it will ultimately, we believe, move the department to address patterns of police abuse.

Problems in San Diego

From NBCSanDiego.com:

The San Diego Police Department enforced an “unwritten policy” that encouraged police misconduct and led to scandals involving former officers Anthony Arevalos and Christopher Hays, a new lawsuit against the department alleges….

The lawsuit claims officers felt they could get away with such inappropriate behavior after former SDPD Chief William Lansdowne and other officials disbanded the anti-corruption unit called the Professional Standards Unit (PSU) around 2003.

“The elimination of the PSU, this specialized unit, was a signal and affirmation to the SDPD, its police officers and its supervisory officials that those police officers who chose to exploit their positions of power, authority and trust by victimizing members of the very community they had sworn to protect would not be investigated, prosecuted, pursued or punished for their actions,” the lawsuit reads.

As an example, the court document claims another officer reported to his supervisors that Arevalos had taken Polaroid pictures of a nude, mentally disabled woman, taunting her to pose in a lewd manner with his baton.

Instead of punishing Arevalos or reporting the incident up the chain of command, the lawsuit claims his superiors instead destroyed the pictures and evidence of the incident and intimidated the officer who had reported it.

The lawsuit says the alleged cover-up is part of a “long-standing, unwritten SDPD policy that encouraged a two-tiered system of justice.”

That system includes laws that apply to ordinary citizens and a set of privileges and immunities that apply to SDPD officers and other members of the law enforcement community, according to the suit.

Additionally, the SDPD is accused of instituting a process that prevented the public from lodging complaints against officers directly with the internal affairs unit.

$40 Million Settlement in NY Central Park Case

From the New York Times:

The five men whose convictions in the brutal 1989 beating and rape of a female jogger in Central Park were later overturned have agreed to a settlement of about $40 million from New York City to resolve a bitterly fought civil rights lawsuit over their arrests and imprisonment in the sensational crime.

The agreement, reached between the city’s Law Department and the five plaintiffs, would bring to an end an extraordinary legal battle over a crime that came to symbolize a sense of lawlessness in New York, amid reports of “wilding” youths and a marauding “wolf pack” that set its sights on a 28-year-old investment banker who ran in the park many evenings after work….

The five black and Hispanic men, ages 14 to 16 at the time of their arrests, claimed that incriminating statements they had given had been coerced by the authorities. The statements were ruled admissible, and the men were convicted in two separate trials in 1990….

The lawsuit had accused the city’s police and prosecutors of false arrest, malicious prosecution and a racially motivated conspiracy to deprive the men of their civil rights, allegations which the administration of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg denied and fought vigorously for more than a decade in federal court….

If the proposed settlement is approved by the comptroller, Scott M. Stringer, it would then be submitted for approval to Judge Deborah A. Batts of Federal District Court in Manhattan. In 2007, Judge Batts rejected the city’s motion to dismiss the suit and allowed most of the claims to proceed.

In such settlements, the city typically does not admit liability or wrongdoing

Cleveland Officers to be Prosecuted for Barrage of Gunfire

From Cleveland.com:

CLEVELAND, Ohio — A Cuyahoga County grand jury Friday indicted six Cleveland police officers for their roles in a 2012 police chase and shooting that left two people dead and carved deep schisms into the community. The grand jury charged Patrolman Michael Brelo with two counts of voluntary manslaughter, a first-degree felony. The panel also accused five supervisors of dereliction of duty…

On Friday, McGinty said that after officers fired more than 100 shots at the car, Brelo started shooting again and fired at least 15 shots, including fatal ones, downward through the windshield into the victims at close range as he stood on the hood of Russell’s car.

“This was now a stop-and-shoot, no longer a chase-and-shoot,” McGinty said. “The law does not allow for a stop-and-shoot.” …

“Let’s be clear what happened here,” McGinty said about the case. “(Russell) was fully stopped. Escape was no longer even a remote possibility. The flight was over. The public was no longer in danger because the car was surrounded by police cars and 23 police officers in a schoolyard safely removed from pedestrians and traffic.

You Can’t Fight City Hall, Part XXIVXX

From the New York Post:

He’s been dead for eight years, but try telling that to the NYPD.

Cops have barged into James Jordan Sr.’s family home looking for him more than a dozen times since he died in 2006 — prompting his exasperated relatives to finally post his death certificate on the front door.

“I tell them over and over, ‘James isn’t here! He’s dead! It’s that simple. What’s so difficult to understand about that?’ ” the Brooklyn security guard’s widow, Karen, told The Post on Monday….

Jordan said the NYPD’s visits leave their home a wreck.

“They tell me to be quiet or they’ll lock me up,” she said. “So they go through my entire house, turning out drawers, looking in closets, harassing my children and asking them terrible questions.

The Jordans are filing a lawsuit to try to halt the police raids on their home.

Deputy Crashes into Woman’s Car, Then Falsely Charges Her With DUI

 

From UPI:

A Wisconsin woman is still fighting to make things right after a sheriff’s deputy allegedly hit her with his car and then arrested her for drunk driving more than a year ago.

Tanya Weyker’s Camry was allegedly struck by Milwaukee County Deputy Sheriff Joseph Quiles’ patrol car last February and she suffered a broken neck in the collision….

Blood tests later revealed that Weyker had no alcohol or drugs in her system at the time of the crash and the district attorney declined to file charges.

Officer Tells Criminal to Plant Meth in Ex-Wife’s Car So He Can Win Child Custody Fight

From ABC News:

Madisonville police Sgt. Jeffrey Covington, was convicted last week of retaliation for planting methamphetamines in Laura Covington’s car in 2011 during a child custody battle. The drugs were found after she was stopped by police and she was promptly jailed….

The court determined that Jeffrey Covington and a second police officer arranged with a third person to plant drugs in Laura Covington’s vehicle. She was seven months pregnant when she was arrested and her two children were taken away from her for five weeks.

“Being arrested when I was seven months pregnant, going to jail, and then having my two young children taken from me was a nightmare that still causes me pain to this day,” she told ABC News.  “It’s like a bad dream, but the sad thing is that it’s not a dream because it actually happened.”

“Having my babies taken from me was the worst part about this entire ordeal and if Jeff would have succeeded in his scheme, I could have lost them forever.

Broward Deputies Accused of Excessive Force

From CBS Miami:

FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – Two Broward Sheriff’s Office Deputies are under fire, accused of using excessive force—and all of it was caught on camera.
BSO is conducting an internal affairs investigation to find out if the two officers involved were justified in using force and are also questioning why Sheriff Scott Israel wasn’t notified until three months after the incident….
This incident happened just three months after BSO shelled out $350,000 to settle a federal lawsuit involving Deputy Lambert, who allegedly beat and abused another Broward citizen.
Federal Documents obtained by CBS4 allege Deputy Lambert of “striking, pummeling and pounding” a party host while responding to a noise complaint in Dania Beach back in 2009.
Deputy Lambert ended up back on the streets, now embroiled in another internal investigation involving force. BSO says they are currently looking into why Lambert was allowed back on duty after that case.

Video at the link.