National Police Misconduct Reporting Project

Policing in Prince George’s County, Maryland

From the Washington Post:

Other Maryland students were roughed up and badly injured by the police after the basketball game. At least three were knocked unconscious; two of them required medical care. Nine students (in addition to Mr. McKenna) received a total of $1.6 million in settlements from the county stemming from police violence.

In the absence of video evidence in those cases, the officers who used Maryland students as punching bags faced no disciplinary consequences. Amazingly, the police department’s internal affairs division, which handled the abuse complaints, did not even interview most of the students who were injured. It follows that if no video had surfaced of Mr. McKenna’s beating, that too would have been swept under the rug of police impunity and official indifference.

Read the whole thing.   You really should do it.

Chicago Bartender Gets Her Day in Court — 5 Years Later

A drunk, off-duty cop, Anthony Abbate, beat up a petite lady bartender, Karolina Obrycka in 2007.  The video below went viral at the time.    The case is now back in the news because the civil lawsuit is now underway in Chicago.  The Chicago Tribune has the sordid details here.  Apparently, the key issue in the civil trial is whether the department engaged in misconduct in response to Abbate’s criminal attack.  In other words, did certain officers falsify reports, intimidate witnesses, and so forth.

One must consider what would have happened in the case if there was no videotape.  Before the tape was released, Abbate was charged with a misdemeanor.  After the tape surfaced, he was charged with a felony.  Even with the taped beating as evidence, and even after his criminal conviction, a judge ordered 2 years probation.  No jail time at all for Abbate.

Philadelphia Cop Under Investigation for Excessive Force

From ABC News:

A Philadelphia cop under investigation for punching a woman in the face has been taken off the streets and restricted to administrative duties during the investigation, police said.

A video posted on YouTube shows the unidentified cop punching a woman in the face and knocking her to the ground before she is led off bloodied and handcuffed.

It was decided today that the officer would be placed on “restricted status,” meaning that he is relegated to “administrative duties pending the outcome of the investigation,” according to Lt. Ray Evers.

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.