National Police Misconduct Reporting Project

Jason Rios Files Brutality Lawsuit

In the video the police take three steps to conceal their actions from impartial bystanders/witnesses: (1) “Go inside with the camera,” orders one; (2) the fire truck is moved to block the view of the people watching across the street; (3) next, after noticing that the bystanders can still see Rios from another angle, police move the squad car so they can no longer see Rios.

Fighting City Hall — The Kelly Thomas Case

From Huffington Post:

Kelly’s Army worked tirelessly to publicize the beating, which Establishment types would have liked to sweep under the carpet, subtly or not-so-subtly trying to blame Kelly for his own death. Kelly’s Army got the ear of the Orange County DA, which in itself was a stunner considering how the System protects its own. For the first time ever in Orange County an on-duty police officer was charged with murder — as if it were the first time in the history of Orange County that an innocent person was killed by rogue cops.

Kelly’s Army then dealt with the other part of the System. They got the unresponsive city council majority recalled. Travis Kiger, a smart and mild-mannered computer professional, who was one of the first to express his outrage and blog about Kelly’s killing, went from anti-Establishment blogger to City Councilman. The winds of change are indeed blowing through Fullerton.

Read the whole thing.   Previous coverage here.

Anaheim Shooting Brings Protests, Which, In Turn, Bring Still More Police Controversy

From the Washington Post:

As officers were investigating what happened at the scene, Dunn said an angry group of people began yelling and throwing bottles at them. He said that as officers detained several people, the crowd advanced on the officers so they fired tear gas and beanbag rounds at them.

Video captured by a KCAL-TV crew showed a chaotic scene in which officers fired beanbag rounds as some people ducked to the ground and others scattered screaming. A man is seen yelling at an officer even as a weapon is pointed at him; two adults huddled to shield a boy and girl. Meanwhile, a police dog ran into several people sitting on the grass, including a woman and a child in a stroller, before biting a man in the arm.

Dunn said the dog somehow got out of a patrol car and was “deployed accidentally.”

Throughout the night, police in multiple marked and unmarked squad cars attempted to control an unruly crowd gathered near the shooting scene, the Register reported.

Some in the crowd moved a Dumpster into an intersection and set its trash on fire on at least three separate occasions, while officers kept responding to move it out of the way of traffic.

Dunn said gang detectives are involved in the investigation.

Crystal Ventura, a 17-year-old who witnessed the shooting, told the Register that the man had his back to the officer. Ventura said the man was shot in the buttocks area. The man then went down on his knees, she said, adding that he was struck by another bullet in the head. Ventura said another officer handcuffed the man, who by then was on the ground and not moving.

“They searched his pockets, and there was a hole in his head, and I saw blood on his face,” Ventura told the newspaper.

Dunn said he could not comment on these allegations because the shooting is under investigation.

One reporter said that several witnesses told him that police offered to “purchase” cell phones containing video footage of the bean bag/pellet gun shootings and the “accidentially deployed canine.”   Hmm.

‘Not in the Face’

From the Los Angeles Times:

The Los Angeles County sheriff’s captain who ran the Men’s Central Jail fostered a culture of brutality by protecting dishonest deputies and permitting his underlings to use excessive force on inmates, his former lieutenant alleged in testimony Friday.

Capt. Daniel Cruz even joked at the department’s annual Christmas party about hitting inmates, according to Michael Bornman, who is now a department captain. While toasting deputies at the party, Cruz allegedly asked a banquet hall-full of jailers: “What do I always tell you guys?”

In unison, Bornman said, the jail deputies – many of whom were laughing – responded “Not in the face.”

“That’s right,” Cruz replied, according to Bornman. “Not in the face.” Bornman said the slogan was an instruction to strike inmates on parts of the body where their blows wouldn’t leave marks.

 

The Robert Charles Leone Arrest Video

A short video documentary was recently released about the 2010 arrest of  Robert Charles Leone by Pennsylvania State Troopers.    The gist of the story is that when Leone failed to pull his vehicle over to the side of the road–despite the presence of several police cars with flashing lights and sirens right behind his slow moving car–the police became enraged, forced him off the road, and then brutally beat their  submissive prisoner. 

Much of the documentary consists of the dash cam footage from one of the police cars on the scene.   A man named Larry Hohol created the documentary film and he is apparently working with the Leone family to draw more attention to the criminal case, now on appeal, and a federal civil lawsuit alleging police brutality.  Mr. Hohol says he has a law enforcement background, and in the video, he comments on the conduct of the officers–reminding viewers that even if an arrestee is a murderer, it is not only unprofessional, but illegal, for the police to beat up a prisoner.  Mr. Hohol also says that Leone has a bi-polar condition and that’s why he did not pull his car over.  That is, since Leone knew he had not done anything wrong, he was locked in a mindset that the police cars in his rear view mirror were not focusing upon him and that they would eventually pass his slow moving car whenever they were good and ready to do so.

Pennsylvania authorities claim that Leone was under the influence of drugs and that Leone attacked the officers–so the police only used the force that was necessary to subdue Leone.  

Go here to see the video.   The documentary has graphic and disturbing images–so viewer discretion is advised.  Additional background here.  Readers are invited to gather more information and draw their own conclusions.   My own view is that a special prosecutor needs to be appointed to fully investigate this matter.

Rodney King, George Holliday, and Police Misconduct

Rodney King died today.  For the younger readers, some quick background: In March 1991, several Los Angeles police officers beat and tasered King when he would not obey their verbal commands to lay down, put his hands behind his back, etc.  (more details here). The police response was excessive, brutal, illegal, and ugly.   King received much of the attention, but we ought to remember the role played by the lesser known George Holliday, the white bystander who was appalled by what he was witnessing and had the presence of mind to videotape the event.   It turned out to be powerful evidence and a  pivotal moment in the history of police misconduct in the United States.  Replayed over and over again on network television, the scales suddenly fell (or started to) from the eyes of middle-class America.   Without Holliday’s video, the event would have been buried in the LAPD files–’the subject in question, R. King,  resisted arrest and was eventually subdued by officers on the scene.’   With the video, a very different story.  King received several million dollars and the officers involved were held accountable for their actions–prosecuted for crimes.  That was just the start of the fallout.  There were riots and then a blue ribbon commission to study problems in the police department.  The long time police chief, Daryl Gates, eventually lost his job.

Capturing police misconduct on tape is happening with greater frequency–thanks to smart phones–and that is making the problem harder to ignore.

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

Because Everything Else in the IL Budget is Absolutely Vital

From Frontline:

In a scandal that’s unraveled over decades, a longtime Chicago police commander and some of his subordinates allegedly tortured more than 100 people, all of them black and some of them teenagers into confessing to murders and other crimes in the 1970s and 1980s.

Now, after pursuing only a fraction of the cases, the commission set up to investigate the abuse victims’ complaints is set to close later this month due to budget cuts.

The Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission was established in 2009 after reports emerged that Jon Burge, a Chicago police commander, and some of his subordinates had beaten, suffocated and in a few cases, submitted suspects to electrical shocks to force confessions.

David Thomas, the inquiry’s executive director, said Wednesday that he’d been given 48 hours notice of the loss of funding. The budget for the first year was $150,000, but it was set to rise to $235,000 this year. “I’ve heard it was a question of priorities and allocation of money,” he said.

The budget for the state will be about $24 billion next year.

Fort Lauderdale ‘Raiders’ Arrested

From Local10.com:

Three Fort Lauderdale police officers bonded out of jail Thursday night after they were arrested on charges of falsifying a police report and sworn testimony in connection with an officer-involved crash.

The Fort Lauderdale Police Department said that Sgt. Michael Florenco, Detective Matthew Moceri and Officer Geoffrey Shaffer surrendered Thursday at the Broward County Main Jail.

Their arrests stem from an investigation initiated after Kenneth Post filed a complaint following his Nov. 22, 2009, arrest.

According to the arrest warrants, the three officers responded to a report of the thefts of some liquor bottles that morning at the Hilton Hotel on Southeast 17th Street and saw Post, a suspect, trying to flee the scene. The officers followed him, and at some point, Post’s vehicle and an unmarked police vehicle driven by Florenco collided, police said.

Surveillance video shows Post stealing several liquor bottles from the hotel bar and three Fort Lauderdale officers arresting him.

Investigators said Moceri and Shaffer were also in the vehicle and helped Florenco arrest Post, who was charged with attempted homicide on a law enforcement officer, burglary, aggravated fleeing and eluding, resisting arrest with violence, aggravated assault and felony vandalism.

“The police say that he basically turned his car to intentionally try to kill them,” Local 10′s Bob Norman said to said Assistant Public Defender Kelly Murdock.

“And since Day 1, Kenneth has denied that that has ever happened. That’s something that the police said once he was beaten so bad. He was in the hospital. He suffered a broken nose because of this,” Murdock said. “They had beat him up and … they lied to cover themselves.”

The Public Corruption Task Force alleged in its investigation that physical evidence and at least one witness’ statement contradicted the officers’ reports, probable cause affidavits and sworn testimony. Crime scene photos did not show any damage to the front of Post’s white Cadillac nor to the side of the officer’s unmarked police car. Witnesses told investigators that what they saw was not what the officers said happened.

“This went from someone with an allegation of stealing liquor bottles to, ‘He’s out trying to kill police officers.’ And that never happened,” Murdock said.

All three officers face four counts of official misconduct and one count of conspiracy to commit official misconduct, both felonies, and four misdemeanor counts of falsifying records. Florenco and Moceri also face one charge of perjury in an official proceeding.