UPDATE: “Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood said he asked the FBI to get involved after learning that one of two phones seized from witnesses had no footage on it.” Hmm.
This month we have two particularly egregious cases in which police officers have been accused of crimes against victims. That is, these are instances in which people called the police for help, but the police instead victimized them all over again.
The worst case is from Bolivia, North Carolina. According to the complaint filed by a minor’s guardian ad litem, a police officer, Jaymin Lenwood Murphy, came to a home to investigate allegations that an adult had sent inappropriate photos via cell phone to a minor child. The officer said he needed to question the minor in private. Once in private, the officer had the minor remove her clothing so he could take photos for his ‘investigative file.’ It gets worse. The officer later returned on minor’s fourteenth birthday and raped her.
The runner-up story comes from Bakersfield, California. A 21-year-old woman called the police to report a burglary. Two deputies arrived and one led her into a room where she was then sexually assaulted under the pretense of a ‘pat-down’ search by the deputy. The authorities did move promptly against this deputy–so good for them.
When police abuse their authority everyone loses. Victims may get hurt or even lose their life, police damage their credibility and taxpayers end up shouldering huge payouts to victims and their families.
Last week, the Los Angeles Police Department settled a lawsuit brought against it by two women officers mistakenly shot at during the Dorner manhunt in February. The settlement will cost the city $4.2 million and attorneys called it “a bargain.“
The article has a good summary of the six settlements, including this:
Police apprehended Woodman who was drinking beer near the Fenway area with a group of fans. Woodman collapsed, according to reports, and was taken to a hospital where he died 11 days later.
An investigator’s report concluded he died of a pre-existing heart condition. However, his family said they believed police lied about what happened during their son’s arrest. Woodman had more than a dozen abrasions, bruises, cuts or lacerations that were not mentioned in the investigator’s report.
Read the whole thing.
The parents of an 11-year-old Canfield girl cleared of false rape charges is suing the city, police department and investigators for $5 million, alleging investigators pursued the case because of political connections even after they learned the accusations were false.
The parents alleged in a lawsuit filed Tuesday in U.S. Northern District Court in Youngstown that Canfield Police Chief Chuck Colucci pressured investigators and juvenile prosecutors to pursue the case against the girl despite investigators believing that her three accusers were lying to get her in trouble.
Colucci “in turn applied political pressure to Detective McGivern, demonstrating to McGivern that this prosecution was a personal priority of the chief’s that would affect McGivern’s career at the Canfield Police Department if he did not listen to” him.
The suit says police questioned the girl April 20, 2012 for about five hours without food, water or rest. …
The girl was arrested April 24, rape charges were filed against the girl and she was taken to the Juvenile Detention Center “without her parents even having a chance to say goodbye,” the suit alleges.
One of the accusers later told police they conspired to lie during the investigation, yet the case against the girl continued the suit says.
Since this web site is all about police misconduct, we cannot let the twentieth anniversary of the Waco incident pass without comment.
April 19, 1993 marks the worst police action in modern American history. Here are the main things to know:
- 76 people, including 27 children, died that day. That loss of life is a sufficient explanation as to why this incident is important and worth remembering.
- The federal police operation did not involve a handful of “rogue” agents. The incident is disturbing because it supposedly involved the best units of the ATF and the FBI. And much of the decision-making was done by the top people at headquarters facilities in Washington, DC.
- Make no mistake, crimes were committed by federal agents at Waco. And those crimes were covered-up.
- If the feds can successfully cover-up the worst police action in modern American history–an event that was highly publicized and that eventually brought extensive congressional hearings and the appointment of a special prosecutor– it is frightening to consider what police agencies would be able to get away in instances where there is no media scrutiny or legislative oversight.
For those interested in the details, read this paper that we published in 2001 (I also recommend the documentary film, Waco: The Rules of Engagement, which was nominated for an Academy Award in 1997). For today, let me just highlight some facts for all the people who do not have the time or inclination to study the details.
- When the Branch Davidian residence burned to the ground and it became apparent that the FBI tank assault on April 19 backfired–resulting in almost everyone losing their lives, Attorney General Janet Reno told the media that the reason she ordered the assault was because “babies were being beaten” – so the feds had no choice–they just had to move in. About a week later, Reno testified before Congress. Under oath, she admitted she had no evidence that babies were being beaten! What!?
- The FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team kept saying they were there to save lives and that they were especially concerned about the safety of the children in the residence. But their tanks drove into the side of buildings even as the agents admitted they did not know the whereabouts of the children.
- Some of the Branch Davidians survived the inferno of April 19. They were arrested and charged with “murdering ATF agents.” In a stinging rebuke to the federal prosectors, the jury acquitted the Davidians of those very serious charges.
- One of the primary reasons the cover-up was successful was that government officials kept deflecting attention away from their actions to the Branch Davidian leader, David Koresh. And, later, the feds would deflect attention by pointing out the crimes of the Oklahoma City bombers. The feds seemed to taunt everyone with the question, “Who are you going to side with? Koresh? McVeigh and Nicols?” That was always a false choice. One can, for example, condemn excessive force against a shoplifter without “siding with” shoplifting.
- There are, to be sure, some wild conspiracy theories out there about the feds and Waco. But the existence of a conspiracy theorist(s) does not make all government conduct lawful and ethical, at least in logic.
What’s the takeaway from all this? First, recognize that this awful incident really did happen. Crimes were committed and then the government tried to deceive everyone about what actually happened there. Second, when it comes to government power, especially police power and the use of deadly force, be impartial, ask questions, and follow the evidence. We must remember that, in a free society, police agents may not use the “color of their office” to commit crimes.
Update: Podcast interview here.
FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — A police officer who was waiting in the drive-thru line at a McDonald’s restaurant in Forsyth County is accused of pulling a gun on the customer ahead of him because the officer was angry at having to wait for his food.
The off-duty officer is Detective Sgt. Scott Biumi, 48, of the DeKalb County Police Department. Biumi is charged with felony aggravated assault on the customer. 11Alive News was not able to reach him for comment Wednesday night.
“He put his hand right here,” said the customer, 18 year old Ryan Mash, pointing to his upper chest and shoulder area, “then he pulled the gun and put it, pointed it at, like, my neck area.”
There’s a security camera video at the link above. The report says the officer is on leave with pay pending the outcome of the criminal case. Question: When are officers accused of crimes suspended without pay?
From Columnist George F. Will:
There were abundant dystopian aspects of New York City in the 1980s, when crime, crack and AIDS produced a perfect storm of anxiety about the fraying social fabric. This was the context — a city on edge — when on April 19, 1989, a 28-year-old white woman who worked on Wall Street went for a jog after dark in Central Park. She became a victim of what was immediately called “wilding,” a word probably unknown by the four blacks and one Hispanic, ages 14 to 16, who were arrested and charged with raping her and beating her nearly to death.
After up to 30 hours of separate interrogations by detectives who are paid to be suspicious of suspects, four of the five confessed to a crime they did not commit. Why? Watch this documentary by Ken Burns, David McMahon and Sarah Burns. To see the old videotapes of the interrogations is to understand the dynamic that sent the five to prison despite the absence of evidence to bolster a rickety case that consisted entirely of those contradictory confessions.
More information here.
Prosecutors say the video has nothing to do with the charges being dropped. Hmm.
No word on charges against the officer on the tape.
Consider the dire consequences if the camera had not been rolling here.
From the NY Daily News
A New Mexico prisoner who languished for nearly two years in solitary confinement — and was so neglected that he had to yank out his own tooth — has been awarded one of the largest federal civil rights settlements in history. Stephen Slevin, 59, will be paid $15.5 million after Dona Ana County agreed to settle with the former inmate, who was jailed at the county detention center from 2005 to 2007 on a DWI arrest. … Those 22 months in solitary was an inhumane and hellish experience for Slevin: His toenails grew so long that they curled around his foot; he was denied showers, causing fungus to form on his skin; and he developed bedsores. Jail officials also didn’t allow him to see a dentist, his lawyer said, so Slevin grew so desperate that he extracted a painful tooth on his own. Before and after pictures of the inmate show the dramatic difference during his time in jail. After two years, his hair was long and unkempt, his face became haggard. He said he lost 50 pounds. Now, he still faces an uphill battle with his health after doctors diagnosed him with lung cancer, he said.