From the Washington Post:
[W]hen I interviewed community members who had filed complaints against officers, I was disappointed to learn that, despite my reassurances and best efforts to conduct impartial inquiries, many complainants believed that a fair investigation was simply not possible. Nor do misconduct investigations satisfy a skeptical public. If an officer is exonerated, the community often believes that malfeasance is being covered up. …
And why shouldn’t every police contact with the community — every traffic stop, every interrogation — be recorded on video? If Dorner and his partner had had a cop-cam, his claim that his partner used excessive force might have been resolved the same day. There’s just no excuse for not recording police contacts with the public. Technology has made cameras effective and affordable. Some officers already record their arrests to protect themselves against false allegations of misconduct. This should be standard operating procedure.
WKYC in Cleveland has a report about lawsuit settlements against the city for police misconduct.
Video at the link above.
From the Washington Post:
IF A WITNESS hadn’t shot video of two Prince George’s County police officers savagely beating John McKenna, a University of Maryland student, after a March 2010 men’s basketball game, that would probably have been the end of it. The officers didn’t file a report, as required, on their use of force. When initially questioned about the beating, they lied. And when they filled out the initial paperwork on the incident, police said Mr. McKenna had sustained his injuries, including a concussion, from being kicked by a police horse.
Yes, a real eye-opener. Consider: If there was no video, the cover-up would have succeeded. Even with compelling videotaped evidence of wrongdoing, just a slap on the writs–just enough to say, “something was done about it.”
More from the Atlanta-Journal Constitution here.
From the Miami Herald:
The U.S. Justice Department shut down Bal Harbour’s celebrated federal forfeiture program and ordered the police to return more than $4 million, slapping the agency with crushing sanctions for tapping into drug money to pay for first-class flights, luxury car rentals, and payments to informants across the country. …
One former prosecutor who ran the South Florida Money Laundering Strike Force said he was stunned by the development.
“Bal Harbour is going to have to answer for their transgressions,” said David Macey, a former Miami-Dade assistant state attorney who specialized in forfeitures. “I’ve never read any correspondence to a law enforcement agency threatening the entire agency with penalties and criminal sanctions.”
From the San Francisco Chronicle:
People who’ve e-mailed Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan over the past year about Occupy Oakland probably didn’t get much of a response.
That’s because he used a spam filter to dismiss messages sent to him with “Occupy Oakland” in the subject line, according to a federal court filing Monday. Same goes for the phrases “stop the excessive police force,” “respect the press pass” or “police brutality.” Instead of landing in his in-box, those messages went straight into his junk mail folder, which he apparently never looked at.
Because of those filters, Jordan missed e-mails from other city officials and a federal court monitor, who oversees the department’s compliance with court-ordered reforms stemming from a police abuse scandal.
Robert Warshaw, the monitor, had sent Jordan an e-mail with the subject line “Disciplinary Actions-Occupy Oakland.” Jordan told the court on Oct. 18 that he never saw those e-mails, infuriating Thelton Henderson, the federal judge in San Francisco who appointed Warshaw.
From the Associated Press:
A Metro Nashville police officer charged with domestic violence has been disciplined 31 times in his 24-year career.
The Tennessean reports (http://tnne.ws/S6LrFJ ) Andre Johnson was decommissioned earlier this month after he was charged with misdemeanor domestic violence. Last week he was booked on another domestic violence charge.
Johnson remains employed while criminal and internal investigations continue.
So this morning I received an angry email from a police chief in Michigan. His complaint concerns a story we related about a dog getting shot by a police officer. This is the item from our September 11 recap:
- St. Louis, Michigan: A local family says their dog was shot and killed at the hands of a police officer. Lori Walmsley, a neighbor, says she saw the incident. Walmsley said the officer asked if the was dog hers. She said “no,” but told the officer Scout wasn’t dangerous. She says the officer tried to catch the dog, who apparently didn’t want to be caught. The dog tried to run away and when cornered by the officer, let out a little growl. Walmsley says she couldn’t believe what happened next. “He just started shooting him, he just kept shooting him in the head,” she said. “I said, ‘What are you doing? He’s just a puppy!’” bit.ly/PjQbJf
Here’s the email from the Police Chief, Patrick Herblet:
Wow is all I can say. Your general statement to all says you publish strong cases supported by third-party witnesses or other compelling evidence. You need to get the incident report/investigation from the independent agency, (Michigan State Police) that I by the way requested be done less then 12 hours after the incident. All you have is the words of a so called witness that changed her story several times and only said, the vicious things she said after the TV camera was in her face. I could and at some time will tell this whole story, but in the meantime I will stand by the officer making the right decision under the circumstances and the Investigation done by the Michigan State Police and the decision of our county Prosecutor. I now have zero respect for anything you put in print when I have first hand knowledge that you do absolutely no investigation before you print your vicious hate toward public servants.
There has been a very recent development in the case: No charges against the officer. I’m not sure why Mr. Herblet is reluctant to tell us the “the whole story” now, but he is confused about a few things. This site gathers news stories from around the country relating to police misconduct. We do not have the investigative capacity to go forth and interview the witnesses in each case. We don’t even have the capacity to do that for the police force here in Washington, DC, much less police incidents around the entire country. So Mr. Herblet’s real complaint seems to be with our news gathering method or the local media who, he thinks, originally “printed vicious hate toward public servants.” But even that complaint seems misplaced. The reporter related what the witness said. Of course, a good reporter should always ask the police for their side of the story, but there is no indication that that did not happen here, so what gives? Even now Mr. Herblet says we don’t have the “whole story.” He seems to be saying “just trust me!”
I think Mr. Herblet did the right thing as far as calling in a separate agency to conduct an investigation into the shooting. I do not know whether that agency did a good job or not. I do not know whether the neighbor/witness is reliable or not. I do not know whether the dog was “coming at” the officer or whether “coming at” means “walking toward” or “attacking.” I do know that using a gun is serious business–deadly force!–and that if a gun is used inappropriately, there should be accountability. There are situations where a cop should not be criminally charged, but neither should he be a sworn officer anymore (accidents, bad judgment, etc). As always, readers here are invited to come to their own conclusions. You have the news stories and we have shared Mr. Herblet’s point of view. We are as transparent as possible.
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.