National Police Misconduct Reporting Project

Problems in Milwaukee

From the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

Two Milwaukee police officers who admitted they were present during invasive body cavity searches that led to felony convictions against a third officer were neither criminally charged nor fired from the department after making deals with prosecutors, according to court records.

One of the two officers, Michael Gasser, was on the scene during a 2010 search that caused the victim to bleed from his anus for several days, according to Gasser’s deposition in a federal civil rights lawsuit.

Not only did Gasser avoid termination, he has been allowed to continue training rookie officers — even though he told internal investigators he didn’t think there was anything wrong with the search, he testified in June.

The second officer, Zachary Thoms, admitted in a deposition that he and Officer Michael Vagnini coerced a suspect to try to defecate into a cardboard box at the District 5 police station in 2011, hoping he would expel hidden drugs.

Meanwhile, two supervisors who were in charge of District 5 while illegal searches were occurring there have been promoted to the highest levels of the department.

Problems in Newark, NJ

From the New York Times:

A three-year federal investigation has found that the Newark Police Department engaged in a pattern of unconstitutional practices, chiefly in its use of stop-and-frisk tactics, unwarranted stops and arrests, and discriminatory police actions, officials said on Tuesday.

The inquiry by the Justice Department, which found that the Police Department’s practices “have eroded the community’s trust,” said that about 75 percent of pedestrian stops documented by the police did not provide a sufficient basis for the stop. Also, it found that Newark police officers stopped black people at a considerably higher rate than white people and underreported the use of force by officers, said Paul J. Fishman, the United States attorney for New Jersey. Officials also said there was a pattern of theft of citizens’ property, mostly by officers working in the narcotics, gangs and prisoner processing units.

Note this:

Chief Campos said it was unclear if officers who took part in the unconstitutional behavior cited in the Justice Department report would face consequences.

Unclear?  Hmm.

Problems at the Border Patrol

From the Washington Post:

FOLLOWING MONTHS of damning disclosures about the use of deadly force by Border Patrol agents, Department of Homeland Security officials tightened the rules of engagement this spring. But it remains unclear whether U.S. Customs and Border Protection — with 43,000 agents, the biggest federal law enforcement agency — will end what appears to be a culture of impunity that has shielded agents from consequences and even meaningful investigations following senseless and unjustified killings.

Full editorial here.

Conservatives and the Police

From National Review Online:

Imagine if I were to tell you there is a large group of government employees, with generous salaries and ridiculously cushy retirement pensions covered by the taxpayer, who enjoy incredible job security and are rarely held accountable even for activities that would almost certainly earn the rest of us prison time. When there is proven misconduct, these government employees are merely reassigned and are rarely dismissed. The bill for any legal settlements concerning their errors? It, too, is covered by the taxpayers. Their unions are among the strongest in the country.

No, I’m not talking about public-school teachers.

I’m talking about the police.

We conservatives recoil at the former; yet routinely defend the latter — even though, unlike teachers, police officers enjoy an utter monopoly on force and can ruin — or end — one’s life in a millisecond….

But it’s time for conservatives’ unconditional love affair with the police to end….

The new video and photo evidence invites the troubling thought that this kind of behavior has long been routine. Only now is it coming to the attention of people who have led lives insulated from heavy interaction with the police. There is some statistical reason to believe that police today may actually be better-disciplined than they were in the past, and there’s certainly reason to hope that dashboard cams, wearable audio and video devices, and other technologies will lead to better outcomes for law-abiding cops as well as for law-abiding civilians.

 

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.

Death by Chokehold

From the New York Times:

The 350-pound man, about to be arrested on charges of illegally selling cigarettes, was arguing with the police. When an officer tried to handcuff him, the man pulled free. The officer immediately threw his arm around the man’s neck and pulled him to the ground, holding him in what appears, in a video, to be a chokehold. The man can be heard saying “I can’t breathe” over and over again as other officers swarm about.

Now, the death of the man, Eric Garner, 43, soon after the confrontation on Thursday on Staten Island, is being investigated by the police and prosecutors. At the center of the inquiry is the officer’s use of a chokehold — a dangerous maneuver that was banned by the New York Police Department more than 20 years ago but that the department cannot seem to be rid of.

Read the whole thing.

30 Days in Jail for Years of Abuse?

From the Denver Channel:

LOVELAND, Colo. – Fired Berthoud police officer Jeremy Yachik was sentenced Monday to three years of supervised probation and 30 days in a jail work-release program for physically abusing a 15-year-old girl.

A Larimer County judge also ordered Yachik to perform 80 hours of community service and to undergo a domestic violence evaluation to determine if he will be required to participate in a domestic violence-treatment program.

According to court records, the girl told Loveland police investigators that Yachik abused her almost daily for years. The abuse allegedly included restraining her hands with handcuffs or plastic zip ties and then slamming her head into a wall hard enough to leave a hole and choking her until she blacked out, according to a Loveland Police Department arrest affidavit.

The girl also said he beat her with ropes, restricted her food, shackled her in a darkened room for hours and force-fed her “ghost pepper sauce” that’s roughly 10 times hotter than habanero peppers, the affidavit said.

During a voluntary Sept. 27 interview with Loveland investigators, Yachik, who is 5 feet 11 inches tall and weighs 270 pounds, admitted doing many of these things to the girl, the affidavit said.

Cop Overturns Man in Wheelchair

From Wane.com:

[Police Chief Patrick] Flannelly said after an internal review of the incident, he and six other members of the command staff unanimously felt Davidson used both conduct unbecoming an officer and an excessive use of force and should be fired….Flannelly said he still has full confidence in Davidson’s abilities.

Hmm.

More from Wane.com:

Flannelly said an electronic malfunction delayed the review of the case by about three months, but did not affect the outcome.

Electronic malfunction?  Hmm.