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National Police Misconduct Reporting Project

The Julian Dawkins Case

From the Washington Post:

According to police, Dawkins, 22, a shuttle driver for the “PBS NewsHour,” was fatally shot by an off-duty Arlington County sheriff’s deputy. Family members say they are still struggling to understand why.

“He was a working guy. Didn’t bother nobody,” said Curtis Dawkins, Julian Dawkins’s father. “It’s just so sad and senseless that these things had to occur.”

The officer was interviewed, but not charged.  Police declined to offer details about the incident.

Update:  Questions

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 05-22-13

Here are the 8 reports of police misconduct tracked for Wednesday, May 22, 2013:

  • Lucas County, Ohio: A sheriff’s deputy was fired after a slew of charges were filed against her. A review board recommended the termination, which the sheriff accepted.
  • Hays County, Texas: A man has filed a lawsuit against officers. He was driving his car when a SWAT truck rammed his car head-on, and then was pinned in from behind by another police car. “I saw my windshield crack, and I ducked down as low as possible,” he said. “I really thought I was going to die.” Seconds later, he says, three deputies were pointing assault rifles at him. “That’s when I heard one of the officers say, ‘Oh, (expletive), we got the wrong guy,’” the man said. Even after the officers realized that he was not the suspect, they kept him in handcuffs and questioned him, and ran a warrant check that came up with nothing. They then let him go. He is suing for injuries sustained during the incident.
  • Waukesha County, Wisconsin: Sheriff’s officials say a detective was arrested for an OWI. He has 23 years of service with the department and was off-duty at the time of the incident.
  • Los Angeles, California: Prosecutors have filed charges against a veteran police officer who allegedly lured two young girls into his home and molested them. He pleaded not guilty to two felony counts of lewd acts on a child under 14 years of age. He is currently on paid administrative leave pending the outcome.
  • Spokane, Washington: A detective is being charged with second degree assault because of alleged assault against his girlfriend.
  • Update: Los Angeles, California (First reported 04-15-13): A sheriff’s deputy pleaded not guilty to assaulting a 19-year-old inmate in the back of a patrol car. “‘Every deputy charged with a felony is relieved of duty without pay’” pending the outcome of their case,” said a defense attorney.
  • Update: Battle Creek, Michigan (First reported 04-10-13): A police officer who was arraigned on alcohol related charges has resigned. The arraignment came for driving drunk and possessing a firearm while intoxicated.
  • Placer County, California: A 58-year-old truck driver has filed suit against the state of California and the Highway Patrol officers he says injured him. According to private medical records taken from the emergency room immediately after the incident on the highway, the truck driver suffered life-threatening injuries including a crushed left orbital eye socket, multiple facial fractures, a broken left arm, a concussion, unconsciousness and possible neurological damage.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 05-21-13

Here are the 9 reports of police misconduct tracked for Tuesday, May 21, 2013:

  • Yamhill County, Oregon: A lawsuit has been filed claiming law enforcement officers used excessive and unnecessary force in making an arrest. The victim suffered a broken elbow and ribs during his arrest for resisting arrest. He was acquitted of the charge.
  • Monroe, Michigan: One of two former State Police lieutenants who served in the drug unit, and were charged in a police corruption case, has pleaded no contest to misconduct in office. “The Michigan State Police does not tolerate criminal behavior within its ranks,” the director of the MSP said in a statement.
  • Rogers, Arkansas: The police department has put a sergeant on paid administrative leave following his arrest on suspicion of choking his wife and threatening to kill her, deputies said. He was booked into a detention center and faces charges of aggravated assault on family, terroristic threatening, and third-degree domestic battery.
  • Spokane, Washington: An unidentified woman indicated to investigators that a police officer raped her. She claims the officer used the GPS location provided on Facebook messages to figure out where she lived.
  • Update: Lakewood, Washington (First reported 06-28-12): A former police officer already convicted on federal charges for stealing donations from a fallen officers’ fund has admitted to identity theft and forgery. He acknowledged that he stole the identity of the accountant for the Lakewood Police Independent Guild to cover up the theft of the $159,000 from a fund established after four officers were killed.
  • Baltimore, Maryland: A police officer faces a second-degree assault charge after police and prosecutors accused him of overstepping his powers and beating a young man.
  • Update: Mendenhall, Mississippi (First reported 03-08-13): A former police chief already charged with demanding money or property in exchange for dropping criminal charges against people has been indicted on nine new federal counts. The new indictment says he sometimes made people sign over their vehicles in exchange for him dropping charges and also demanded cash payments, in one case $4,500.
  • Belmont, Massachusetts: A state trooper was convicted in court of extortion for threatening a gambler who owed their fellow bookie more than $3,000 in debts. He has been a trooper for more than 20 years.
  • Wilmington, North Carolina: The police department has placed an officer on administrative leave after he was in two car accidents in three days.

‘I really thought I was going to die.’

From the Austin American-Statesman:

Driving in the early morning hours to his job at a metal shop in Buda, Miguel Montanez at first thought the approaching lights were a school bus or a tow truck.

But Montanez says it was a Hays County SWAT truck that rammed his car head-on. As they collided, another police vehicle pinned him from behind, he says.

He heard a shot.

“I saw my windshield crack, and I ducked down as low as possible,” Montanez said. “I really thought I was going to die.”

Seconds later, he says, three deputies were pointing assault rifles at him. “That’s when I heard one of the officers say, ‘Oh, (expletive), we got the wrong guy,’ ” Montanez said.

First there’s the close-call on an innocent person losing his life.  Next comes the troubling, circle-the-wagons response–which is 100% deliberate.

H/T: Instapundit

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 05-20-13

Here are the 11 reports of police misconduct tracked for Saturday, May 18 to Monday, May 20, 2013:

  • Update: Prescott, Arizona (First reported 05-07-13): A deputy whose actions were investigated following a brawl involving a motorcycle club at a bar has been fired. The report released alleged that members of a law enforcement motorcycle club assaulted patrons at a bar, and high-ranking officers tried to cover it up.
  • Schaumburg, Illinois: A police officer has been suspended with pay for allegedly keeping a gun that had been turned in to the department. The same officer also faces scrutiny for a case involving heroin that allegedly went missing from a crime scene.
  • Update: Harford County, Maryland (First reported 04-19-13): A deputy has resigned after pleading guilty to accepting payments in exchange for providing unauthorized access to police databases. He was sentenced to five years in prison and a $1,000 fine, all of which was suspended. He was placed on three years of supervised probation.
  • Sterlington, Louisiana: The assistant police chief has been indicted by a grand jury in connection with an investigation into the sale of fake moonshine to minors. He was charged with intimidating witnesses, unlawful sales to persons younger than 21, and more.
  • Marinette, Wisconsin: An officer has been charged in a misdemeanor complaint alleging that he forged and cashed checks to support his gambling addiction. If convicted, he could spend up to nine months in jail for each count.
  • Lee County, Florida: A deputy and his girlfriend were arrested after 30 marijuana plants were found growing in their home. They are facing possession and production charges and the deputy was fired.
  • Update: Panola County, Texas (First Reported 05-06-13): The now-former sheriff pled guilty to tampering with a government document. He was sentenced to three years probation and surrendered his peace officer’s license.
  • Terrell County, Georgia: A deputy has resigned after an internal investigation into a high-speed chase that ended with a crash. The sheriff says the deputy chased a motorcyclist when he shouldn’t have, and also failed to turn on his dash cam. With no video, the sheriff was left with some unanswered questions.
  • Newport News, Virginia: A police officer has been indicted on a felony charge of indecent liberties with a child, arrested for a second time. A grand jury indicted him on one count of felony indecent liberties with a child under the age of 15, five counts of misdemeanor obscene sexual display and seven counts of misdemeanor indecent exposure, according to a police department news release.
  • Update: Newark, New Jersey (First reported 05-09-13): A police officer admitted he scammed his insurance carrier out of more than $10,000. It is the second time this month that he has pleaded guilty in a fraud case.
  • Okolona, Mississippi: A trial will be held for a police officer charged with DUI-other substance by the Mississippi Highway Patrol.

One-Year Anniversary

Good morning!  Today we are celebrating our one year anniversary here at!

Our job here is to gather news reports about police misconduct in America in a fair and unbiased way.  Our primary objective is to study the scope of the problem and to identify policies that can minimize misconduct.

This site is hosted by the Cato Institute, the world’s leading libertarian think tank.  We expect thousands of new visitors here today because Cato’s marketing team is blasting a notice about our work far and wide this morning.  So, if this is your first visit, welcome!  Quick virtual tour: Over on the right margin of the home page, you will find the stories we are tracking today.  On the main page (where you are looking now), we post a “Daily Recap” of the stories from the previous day along with additional details we could not include in a tweet.  There is always a link to our news story source for anyone who wants to read the full story.  We are as transparent as possible.  In addition to the recap, we also use the main page to highlight stories or news articles on related aspects of the American criminal justice system.  You’ll also see links to Cato books and events–these resources are offered to persons who wish to deepen their understanding of our constitutional rights and police misconduct issues.  At the top of the page, you’ll find links for additional background information, including Frequently Asked Questions.

Let me take a moment here to mention a few other things.  First, whether you are a regular reader or first time visitor, one easy way that you can help this project is by spreading the word–so please take two minutes to go over to our Facebook page and “Like” us and recommend us to your friends.

Second, we invite you to work with us.  We want to expand our reporting capacity.  We’re grateful to the dozens of readers who take a moment out of their day to send us police misconduct stories that they come across in their own community, or just as they scan the news generally.  As we grow, we’ll eventually have ‘scouts’ in all of our major metropolitan areas–and beyond.   Consider doing this yourself.  Really.  If you read the news and can email, you’re qualified!   We will not interrupt your evening with phone calls asking you to renew your support.   We don’t roll like that.  Help us out whenever you can.  Here is our form for story submissions.

We’re pleased with the work we have done over the past year, but we will be striving to do better work in the coming months and years.  Thanks for visiting!

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 05-17-13

Here are the 8 reports of police misconduct tracked for Friday, May 17, 2013:

  • Boynton Beach, Florida: A police sergeant has been fired for downloading pornographic images while on duty. The city manager, in his termination letter, wrote, “There are several contradictions in your remarks pertaining to your use of the laptop at work and whether or not you personally accessed pornographic sites on your computer.”
  • Tisbury, Massachusetts: An officer has a court date after he allegedly interfered with firefighters and threatened to kill two police officers responding to a blaze at her home.
  • Horry County, South Carolina: A former police officer, who is facing a domestic violence charge, pleaded guilty to a charge of misconduct in office. The domestic assault occurred while he was on duty.
  • Update: Prince George’s County Maryland (First reported 09-04-12): A former police officer who faced criminal charges for striking a teen with a gun was found not guilty on all counts after a three day bench trial that revolved around surveillance footage of the incident.
  • Washington Court House, Ohio: A police officer was sentenced to six years in prison after pleading guilty to burglarizing his ex-wife’s house. He used a sledge hammer to bust down the door of his ex-wife’s home and stole $300 worth of lingerie.
  • East Washington Borough, Pennsylvania: A former police chief is facing prison for offering paid protection to undercover agents he thought were dealing drugs and taking money to buy them stun guns only lawfully used by police. A U.S. attorney called the chief’s actions “stark and brazen criminal conduct” that violated both laws and ethics.
  • Fort Worth, Texas: A former high-ranking officer has officially lost his job after being arrested for DWI. “Public trust is the foundation of Public Safety. The Chief of Police is expected to hold all employees accountable for their actions, on or off duty, regardless of rank, tenure, or position,” the police chief said in a written statement.
  • Greensboro, North Carolina: Several students claim an officer used excessive force, and the department is looking into the incident. Their lawyer has said that he thinks the police overreacted.

Hero Cop Now Under Felony Arrest

From the Washington Post:

A former Philadelphia police officer, once hailed as a hero and given a seat next to the first lady at a 2009 speech by President Obama, has been arrested and charged with rape and other crimes.

Authorities allege that Richard DeCoatsworth left a party with two females early Thursday and took them to another location, where they allege that he produced a handgun and “forced the two females to engage in the use of narcotics and sexual acts.”

LAPD Says Its Rehabilitation is Complete

From the Los Angeles Times:

The federal judge who oversaw a dramatic, forced transformation of the Los Angeles Police Department has freed the department from the final vestiges of federal oversight….

The dismissal of the so-called consent decree, which arose largely out of the Rampart corruption scandal and addressed basic problems of accountability that stretched back decades, delivered a largely symbolic, but nonetheless important milestone for the LAPD as it continues to disassociate itself from a past marked by abuses and turmoil. Following revelations in 1999 that officers assigned to the LAPD’s Rampart Division were implicated in serious misconduct, including physical abuse of suspects, evidence tampering and perjury, public trust in the police plummeted and federal officials responded to calls from a growing chorus of critics for intervention.

Jailed for Remaining Silent?

From the New York Times:

“I anticipate that the government will seek an order from the court holding Jerry in civil contempt,” said the lawyer, Susan V. Tipograph, adding that her client had refused to testify as “a matter of principle” and because “he has no knowledge whatsoever” about the bombing or who caused it….

Mr. Koch was subpoenaed to testify in front of a grand jury examining the matter in 2009, Ms. Tipograph said, and refused then with no consequences. She added that his continued refusal was motivated by a conviction that “the grand jury was being used in a manner to fish for information about the political movements he’s been involved in.”

Most Americans are unaware of the astonishing powers of grand juries.  To learn more, go here.

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